Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Frequently asked questions about the MSc programme in Physiotherapy
- What does “professional development” mean in the context of the MSc programme?
In the context of the MSc programme, the term “professional development” means taking on a pioneering role in the development of physiotherapy as a profession. This can be achieved by developing new clinical treatment and implementation concepts and ideas. This improves clinical practice in the long term and results in the promotion of physiotherapy and the whole profession.
- How long does it take to complete the MSc in Physiotherapy programme?
The MSc in Physiotherapy is a part-time course of study that takes six semesters to complete. Classes (attendance days) usually take place every Wednesday and Thursday.
- What are the entrance requirements?
To be admitted, applicants require a Bachelor of Science in Physiotherapy from a Swiss university (incl. Modules B/C) or from a foreign university worth a minimum of 180 ECTS credits, or a recognized, equivalent qualification in physiotherapy (physiotherapy diploma) including a subsequent title acquisition (NTE) and evidence of experience in scientific work amounting to 5 ECTS credits.
- What are the admission requirements for foreign applicants?
You need a foreign university degree (e.g., a BSc in Physiotherapy) worth a minimum of 180 ECTS credits (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 credits. Proof of scientific work can also be obtained, for example, by completing the “Reflektierte Praxis – Wissenschaft verstehen» course (reflecting on practice - understanding science) offered at ZHAW. Foreign physiotherapy diplomas are considered as equivalent to a Swiss diploma if the NTE requirement is met. In this case, proof of experience in scientific work must also be provided. Evidence of at least 10 months of full-time professional experience as a physiotherapist (or the equivalent in part-time work) with a license to practise, must be submitted. Excellent English and German language skills are also a prerequisite, although a formal certificate is not necessary. We recommend knowledge of English at Level B2 and, for applicants for whom German is a foreign language, German at Level C1. The application will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
- Can I work as a physiotherapist in Switzerland with a foreign diploma?
While you are enrolled in the MSc programme, you must have access to patients in your chosen clinical focus area. Employment conditions for foreign physiotherapists vary depending on the employer. As a rule (especially in the outpatient sector), the foreign diploma must be approved by the Red Cross .
- How much does it cost to complete a MSc programme?
While a continuing education course must pay for itself, a Master’s degree (postgraduate Master) programme is largely funded by the state. MSc in Physiotherapy students therefore pay only a semester fee. At ZHAW, this is currently CHF 720. Additional one-off costs and semester fees are listed under Costs and Fees.
- Who must undergo the admission procedure to verify their professional aptitude (“fachliche Eignung”)?
All applicants must undergo the admission procedure to verify their professional aptitude. 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
- Can I work while I’m enrolled in the MSc programme?
Employment with a workload of 30-60% in the physiotherapy profession is recommended. The workload may be higher in individual cases, but care must be taken to leave sufficient time for self-study. Alternatively, it may be possible to negotiate on the basis of annual working; based on the 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, all students must have access to patients in their chosen clinical focus area during the course of study.
- Do I have the opportunity to gain experience abroad while I’m enrolled in 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.
- Is the Master in Physiotherapy recognised abroad?
Master of Science degrees are internationally recognised and enable graduates to pursue clinical and scientific careers in Switzerland and abroad. With this MSc, it is also possible to study for a PhD in Switzerland or at a foreign university.
- Can I transfer credit from another Master’s programme?
The transfer of ECTS credits from another degree programme (university of applied sciences or other university) is reviewed on a case-by-case basis. ECTS credits from scientific and physiotherapy-specific subjects in the chosen clinical focus area are reviewed individually to decide if credit can be transferred.
- Can I transfer credit from professional physiotherapeutic training courses?
ECTS credits from university-level continuing education courses in physiotherapy are reviewed for recognition towards the modules of the chosen clinical focus area.
- I still have only a little work experience – on which considerations should I base my choice of clinical focus area?
You should choose a clinical focus area that appeals to you, but on the other hand we recommend that you choose a clinical focus area in which you will be active as a physiotherapist during your studies. You need to have access to patients in your chosen clinical focus area throughout your entire course of study to enable you to apply to them what you learn. If you are uncertain about which clinical focus area to choose, you can contact our study counselling office.
- According to what criteria are places on the programme allocated?
Whether an applicant is allocated a place on the programme depends on the result of the professional aptitude assessment in the admission procedure.
- 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 can 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 a clinical focus area offered in the following year. If you really want the clinical focus area you have initially chosen, you may have to wait for two years.
- How is this course of study linked to practice?
This MSc programme has a strong practical component. All our lecturers are active in their professional fields and teach the theoretical content with direct relevance to practice. The modules related to the clinical focus areas teach clinical assessment and interventions among other things that the students can practise using on each other under supervision. During the research internship and the transfer modules, the students apply what they have learned. During their research internship, students work in teams on research projects. In the Transfer Module 1, they can (for example) develop an implementation concept, carry out a research project, or apply the assessment and intervention skills learned during the clinical specialisation using patients under supervision. The optional Transfer Module 2 familiarizes students with the common daily roles and activities of an advanced physiotherapy practitioner at home and abroad. Internship institutions MSc Physiotherapy (available only in the German language).
- What are the professional advantages of an MSc title?
With a Bachelor’s degree or diploma, you are qualified to work as a physiotherapist in a clinical setting, but a Master’s degree is needed to take on more the advanced roles, functions, and tasks of physiotherapy. Detailed information can be found here.
- 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 of study that builds on the BSc. It imparts knowledge and skills that enables graduates to work as a (physiotherapy) expert in an advanced, consultative role. Graduates may also work in professional development, research, and teaching. With an MSc, you can also study for a doctorate (PhD). The MAS in a specialist area, on the other hand, is an extensive advanced training programme at university of applied sciences level. It focuses on the knowledge and skills needed for a career as a physiotherapist in a clinical setting.
- Is a Master’s degree from a university of applied sciences equal to one from another university?
In principle, yes. However, the orientation differs in term of the content. A Master’s degree from a university of applied sciences has a stronger clinical focus compared to a university Master’s, which has a stronger theoretical orientation.
- Who can answer further questions?
If you have any questions regarding admission and registration, please contact the Programme Administration Office. For questions specific to the MSc in Physiotherapy or career planning in general, please contact the Study Counselling Service.
“What I particularly like about this MSc programme at ZHAW is the fact that it is part-time and offers a combination of clinical and scientific content. This gave me the opportunity to simultaneously gain practical experience in paediatrics, advance my specialist professional knowledge, and learn the fundamentals of research.”
Marine Goedert, MSc in Physiotherapy graduate, Paediatrics