Maarten Franssen studied Physics at the University of Amsterdam from 1974 to 1981 and History at the same university from 1979 to 1989. In physics he specialized in theoretical physics and wrote a master's thesis on the measurement problem in quantum mechanics. In history his major topic was eighteenth-century history of ideas. He received a cum laude degree in both studies.
In the 1980s he became a collaborator of Professor Jon Dorling, chair of Philosophy of Science at the University of Amsterdam. After an interlude spent on a brief career in publishing, he received his PhD in philosophy from the University of Amsterdam in 1997, for a thesis on the problem of methodological individualism in the social sciences. He joined the Philosophy Section in Delft in 1996, and is an associated Professor now for the faculty of Technology, Policy and Management.