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Tesla Minor

Creating positive impact through connecting science and society

Tesla is a minor program for MSc students (UvA or other universities) who want to make a positive impact beyond academia. During this intensive 30 EC minor program, a selected group of students gets to work in interdisciplinary groups on a real-world societal challenge for five months. In collaboration with partners such as government, NGOs, non-profits and social businesses, students have the opportunity to create meaningful change while gaining invaluable experience.

Besides working on a project, students participate in – and co-organize – trainings, lectures, coaching and an integrated sports program. All designed to prepare students for a fulfilling career as an effective change maker.

  • What will you learn?
    • Continuously learning and adapting to new knowledge, perspectives, and tools in order to stay up-to-date with the latest developments and approaches to address societal challenges.
    • Developing an empathetic and inclusive approach to working with diverse groups of people, including those from different cultures, backgrounds, and disciplines.
    • Combining, analyzing and structuring complex information from a diverse range of (academic and non-academic) sources
    • Building resilience and adaptability to navigate uncertainty and overcome challenges in complex and dynamic environments.
    • Building strong networks and relationships with stakeholders across various sectors (e.g., government, non-profits, private sector) to leverage resources and expertise to address societal challenges.
    • Demonstrating leadership skills, including the ability to inspire and motivate others towards a common vision, while also being open to feedback and collaboration.
    • Developing project management skills to effectively plan, execute and evaluate initiatives aimed at addressing societal challenges.
    • Practicing self-care and prioritizing work-life balance in order to maintain personal well-being.
    • Embracing a growth mindset, which involves embracing challenges, persevering through setbacks, and seeing failures as opportunities to learn and grow.
  • Programme

    During the minor you work in a small group with a partner organization on a complex societal challenge, combining science, teamwork and change making skills. Hereby Tesla minor goes beyond traditional boundaries between disciplines and professional environments. Besides working on a project, you attend workshops, lectures and assignments. You also participate in an integrated sports program. All this is designed to prepare you for a fulfilling career as an effective change maker. Through co-organizing these learning opportunities, you are encouraged to actively participate in shaping this unique learning experience.

    During the program, you have full-time access to your own office space at Startup Village Amsterdam. Most trainings, guest lectures and project work take place here. Surely, other locations will be visited as well (relevant organizations, going on excursions, engaging in training sessions, etc.). The program takes place in the second semester of the second year of your Masters’ programme.

    Project work

    The projects we do are different every year. We look for partners that share our vision and are motivated to support the Tesla students to develop themselves. We look for projects that:

    • Have a clear positive societal impact (e.g. sustainability, health, justice).
    • Are complex and interesting enough to deal with by an interdisciplinary team of science students for 5 months.

    Each project team is coached by a Tesla tutor. Additionally, an academic staff member of the UvA science faculty supervises and safeguards the scientific content of the project.

    A selection of partner organizations we have worked with:

    • TNO
    • Waag
    • Municipality of Amsterdam
    • Naturalis
    • King’s College London
    • ARTIS
    • Climate Cleanup

    Trainings, lectures and assignments

    You will participate in activities on a broad range of topics. Some examples are:

    • Information Management (structuring, analysing and presenting information)
    • Systems Thinking
    • Self-reflection (what are your talents, values and needs)
    • Theater (improving communication & presenting)
    • Storytelling
    • Visual Thinking
    • Project Management
    • Communication (interaction, influencing, conversational- & interview techniques)
    • Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
    • Job interviewing


    Tesla includes an integrated sports program, designed in cooperation with the University Sports Center to encourage health and team building.


    You participate in peer-coaching sessions, coordinated by a professional coach. Additionally, you will have individual coaching sessions with a Tesla tutor.

  • Criteria and selection

    In general, the following criteria apply to Tesla minor candidates.

    • You are enrolled in a 2-year MSc program at a science faculty (UvA or another university)
    • You are eligible to participate according to the requirements of your MSc-program, usually stated in its Teaching and Exam regulations, with permission of the examinations board.

    Additionally, you:

    • Have a strong desire to create a positive impact on society using your scientific knowledge and skills.
    • Seek opportunities to apply your academic background outside of traditional academia and make a tangible difference in the world.
    • Are excited to collaborate with a partner organization on a real-world societal challenge that requires interdisciplinary solutions.
    • Recognize the value of improving your professional and interpersonal skills and are committed to actively explore and developing them.
    • Want to work in an interdisciplinary team environment where diverse perspectives and expertise are leveraged to drive progress towards a common goal.
    • Want to embrace the opportunity to go beyond your comfort zone, take calculated risks, and learn from both successes and failures.
    • Are motivated to collaborate together in a strong community to make the minor a memorable, educative and impactful experience
    • Are prepared to commit to an intensive 5-month program and have a relevant track record in both your academic and extracurricular pursuits (reflected in your GPA and CV).


    Please note that there is a maximum of 24 participants for the program. A selection, based on the above-mentioned criteria, is part of the admission procedure.

  • How to apply

    The Tesla minor has limited space (24 participants), which means that not all applicants might be granted admission.

    Application process

    1. Approval examination board

    If you consider applying for the Tesla Minor, inform your study advisor a.s.a.p. and make sure you get approval of the Examinations Board of your MSc program. For FNWI students: to request approval, you have to fill in your Study Plan (SPA) on your personal page in DataNose and submit this to the Examinations Board for approval.

    2. Application  

    Every applicant is required to submit a CV, list of courses and grades, and a motivation letter (maximum one page).

    3. Presentation

    Based on the ‘paper application’ the applicant may be invited to participate in the second phase. In this phase of the intake procedure each applicant is asked to prepare a short presentation (10 minutes). The general theme of the presentation is ‘connecting your science background to practice’, in which applicants are free to choose their own specific topic and approach.  The audience will consist of other candidates and UvA staff. Each of the applicants will present their story and provide feedback and questions on the presentations of the others.

    4. Intake 

    After the presentation round follows a collective intake with all applicants. In this meeting the Tesla tutors will share the vision of the Tesla minor and explain what the minor entails and there will be time to ask questions. The main aim of this meeting is to assess if there is a match between the Tesla minor and the applicants. An additional personal intake with a tesla tutor might be part of the selection procedure.

    Upon completion of the application process you will be personally contacted whether you are selected for the Tesla minor (before the end of June).


    The application deadline for Tesla 2024 is May 23.
    The presentations will be held on May 30, 31 and June 1
    The collective intake will be held on June 6, 17:00 – 18:30h


    UvA students
    When the application for Tesla is open, you can apply using the Tesla application form in Datanose and upload the required documents. Log in to Datanose using your UvANetID and password.
    Non-UvA students
    Please send an e-mail to


    If you have any question about the Tesla minor, please feel free to contact us: