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Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) MSc Physiotherapy

Frequently Asked Question about the MSc programme in Physiotherapy (MScPT)

  1. What is meant by the term professional development on the MSc Programme?
    The term professional development on the MSc course means: to take on a pioneering role model in the development of the physiotherapy profession by, e.g. the development of new treatment and implementation concepts and ideas for the clinic. This will bring lasting improvements to clinical practice and result in the promotion of physiotherapy and the whole physiotherapy profession.
  2. How long does the MSc in Physiotherapy last?
    The MSc in Physiotherapy lasts for 6 semesters, part-time. Normally classes (attendance days) take place every Wednesday and Thursday.
  3. What are the requirements for admission?
    A Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy from a Swiss university (incl. module B/C) or from a foreign university with a minimum of 180 ECTS credit points; or, a recognized, equivalent qualification in physiotherapy (physiotherapy diploma) plus a subsequent title acquisition (NTE) and certificate of experience in scientific work amounting to 5 ECTS credit points.
  4. Which admission requirements must foreign candidates fulfil?
    A foreign university degree or BSc in Physiotherapy with a minimum of 180 ECTS credit points (to be submitted with a copy of the transcript of records). The transcript of records must include proof of experience in scientific work amounting to 5 ECTS credit points. Otherwise, proof of scientific work can be obtained, for example, with the course «Reflected Practice - Understanding Science» (NTE) at the ZHAW or BFH. Foreign physiotherapy diplomas will be considered as equivalent to Swiss diplomas, provided that the requirements of the NTE are fulfilled. In this case, proof of knowledge in scientific work must also be provided. Evidence of full-time professional experience of at least ten months (or equivalent extrapolated to part-time) following the granting of permission to practise as a physiotherapist is to be submitted. Very good English and German skills are a precondition, although a formal certificate is not necessary. We recommend knowledge of English at level B2 for the course and German at level C1 for applicants with German as a foreign language. The dossiers will be examined individually in each case.
  5. Can I work in Switzerland as a physiotherapist with a foreign diploma?
    Access to patients in the chosen clinical focus area must be guaranteed during the programme. Employment conditions for foreign physiotherapists vary depending on the employer. As a rule (especially in the outpatient sector), recognition of the foreign diploma by the Red Cross is required.
    (available only in the German, French and Italian language)
  6. How much does the MSc programme cost?
    In contrast to a continuing education course, which must be self-financed, a master’s degree (postgraduate master) is largely financed through state funds. Postgraduate master students therefore pay only a semester fee. Currently this is CHF 720.- at the ZHAW. Additional one-off costs and semester fees are listed under Costs and Fees.
  7. Who must take the admission procedure «aptitude for the profession»?
    All applicants must take the «aptitude for the profession» admission procedure. This entails an examination of the application dossier and an interview to clarify knowledge of scientific principles, goals and motivation. Information on Professional Aptitude (PDF 322,9 KB)(available only in the German language)
    Registration and Dates
  8. Can I work during the MSc programme?
    An employment rate of 30-60% in the physiotherapy profession is recommended. Employment can be higher for an individual, but we recommend that you plan sufficient time for self-study. Alternatively, annual working hours can be negotiated; based on programme workload and previous experience, the limit is about 70% employment. No proven experience in the relevant field is required when choosing a clinical focus area. However, access to patients in this chosen clinical focus area must be guaranteed during the studies.
  9. Is there the opportunity to gain experience abroad during the programme?
    In principle, the module Transfer 2 can be completed at an internship institution abroad. Semester holidays and lecture-free periods during the semester (for example while writing the master’s thesis) also offer opportunities for a stay abroad.
  10. Is the Master recognised abroad?
    Master of Science degrees are internationally recognised and enable graduates to pursue clinical and scientific careers in Switzerland and  abroad. Additionally, it is also possible to study for a PhD in Switzerland or at a foreign university with the MSc.
  11.  Can I get credits for another master’s programme?
    The crediting of ECTS points from another university degree programme (university of applied sciences or other university) will be clarified individually. ECTS points from scientific and physiotherapy-specific studies in the chosen clinical focus area will be reviewed for recognition.
  12.  Can I get credits for professional physiotherapeutic training courses?
    ECTS points from university-level continuing education courses in physiotherapy will be reviewed for recognition in the modules of the chosen clinical focus area.
  13. I still have only a little work experience – on which considerations should I base my choice of clinical focus area?
    On one hand, you should choose a clinical focus area that appeals to you, but on the other hand, it is recommended that you choose a clinical focus area in which you are active as a physiotherapist during your studies. It is necessary to ensure access to patients in the chosen clinical focus area during the entire study period, so that you can transfer your acquired knowledge and skills into practice. If you are uncertain about your choice of clinical focus area, you can make use of our Programme Advisory Office.
  14. According to which criteria are the study places awarded?
    The study places will be allocated according to the results achieved in the admission procedure «aptitude for the profession».
  15. What options do I have if I don’t get a place in my chosen clinical focus area?
    In those years in which several clinical focus areas are offered, you have the option to specify two clinical focus areas when you register. Your second clinical focus area would then be a possible alternative. In years when only one clinical focus area is offered, it is possible to wait one year and choose the clinical focus area offered in the following year. If you really want to complete your initially-chosen clinical focus area, then you will need to wait for 2 years. 
  16. How is a link to practice achieved during the studies?
    On the MSc programme a good connection to practice is guaranteed. All our lecturers are active in their professional fields and teach the theoretical content with direct relevance to practice. In the modules of the clinical focus areas, clinical assessments and interventions are taught (amongst other things) that the students can then apply to each other under supervision. The students practise their learned knowledge and skills during the research internship and the transfer modules. During the research internship students work in a team on a research project. In the transfer module 1, you can (for example) develop an implementation concept, conduct your own research project, or apply your assessment and intervention skills learned during the clinical specialisation on patients under supervision. The optional transfer module 2 familiarizes you with the common daily roles and activities of Advanced Practice Physiotherapists at home and abroad. Internship institutions MSc Physiotherapy (available only in the German language).
  17. What are the professional advantages of an MSc title?
    With a bachelor’s degree or diploma you are qualified to work clinically as a physiotherapist, but a master’s degree is needed to take on more advanced roles, functions and tasks in physiotherapy. Detailed information can be found here.
  18. What is the difference between a postgraduate Master of Science (MSc) and a Master of Advanced Studies (MAS)?
    The MSc in Physiotherapy is a course that builds on the BSc. The MSc imparts knowledge and competences: to act as an (physiotherapy) expert in advanced, consultative roles; for functions in professional development; research; and teaching. The MSc also opens the door to studying for a doctorate (PhD).  The MAS in a specialist area is an extensive advanced training at the university of applied sciences’ level. The MAS teaches the knowledge and competences needed for a clinical career as a physiotherapy specialist.
  19. Do I have the same degree with a master from a university of applied sciences as someone with a master from a University?
    In principle, they are equivalent academic degrees. However, the orientation of the content differs. The master from a university of applied sciences has a stronger clinical focus compared to a university master, with the latter more concentrated on theoretical aspects.

«What I particularly like about the MSc at the ZHAW is that the programme is part-time and offers a mix of clinical and scientific studies. This gives me the opportunity to simultaneously gain practical experience in paediatrics, advance my specialist professional knowledge and learn the fundamentals of research.»

Marine Goedert, MSc Graduate in physiotherapy with clinical focus on peadiatrics