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Bachelor in Occupational Therapy

«Do you want to provide support to people with mental and physical health problems by unfolding and actively bringing in your own creativity? Occupational therapists and their clients develop together rehabilitation strategies for carrying out important activities and functions as independently as possible.»

Maren Kneisner, Head BSc in Occupational Therapy Programme

Activities of Daily Living Specialists

Three good reasons for studying at ZHAW

A study programme that suits my needs

(Filmclip in Swiss German)

Occupational therapists support and assist people who experience limitations in daily life activities due to an accident, disability or illness. The occupational therapist's goal for those affected is to achieve as independent, productive and satisfying a lifestyle as possible. For this purpose, occupational therapists analyse each individual step of an activity in the clients' daily environment to capture their difficulties and strengths to subsequently formulate together therapeutic goals with individual and creative solutions.

Entry requirements for BSc in Occupational Therapy

  • Baccalaureate + additional module
  • Federal Specialised Baccalaureate + additional module
  • Federal Vocational Baccalaureate + additional module
  • Degree from a College of Higher Education and Training

Additional information on entry requirements

Structure of the study

The full-time undergraduate course lasts three years. The BSc in Occupational Therapy offers a double benefit:

  • first, the licence to practice as a fully qualified occupational therapist
  • second, the applied degree bachelor of Science ZFH in Occupational Therapy

Study achievements are evaluated with ECTS credits (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) which make your degree comparable across Europe. The study course is valued at 180 ECTS credits, with one credit equal to 30 hours of student work.

Our bachelor programme in Occupational Therapy fulfils the required national and international standards as well as the educational requirements. The study programme is divided into 40 percent of classroom teaching and 60 percent of self-directed study. The teaching consists of a combination of presentation-based teaching and independent and action-oriented learning (exercises, case studies, project work, workshop instruction and role playing).

Profession-specific module

  • Occupation and age: development from infancy to old age, meaning of life transitions such as puberty or retirement, typical occupations in different stages of life, concepts of occupational therapy and action as well as fundamentals in medicine, psychology and education.
  • Professional context: places of work and organisational cultures, professional history, professional ethics and professional policy, healthcare and social work.
  • Methodical action: learning and reflection methods, action and decision-making processes, scientific writing.
  • Professional specialisation: understanding, practising and applying of procedures in occupational therapy using practical case studies.

Multi-/interprofessional modules

The School of Health Professions unites under one roof the bachelor degree programmes in Occupational Therapy, Health Promotion and Prevention, Midwifery, Nursing and Physiotherapy; offering students the opportunity to engage in intensive interprofessional exchanges during their studies. Topics that are important for all five professional fields are addressed in joint lessons with students of other health professions as learning with, from and about each other stimulates thinking beyond professional boundaries, a quality that is essential to the exercise of the professional activity.

Practical experience

Students complete three clinical placements  (2. year: 19 weeks; 3. year: 23 weeks) in different professional fields during their studies. In the sixth semester, a project workshop takes place that involves a practical project with clients. Clinical placement providers are mostly located in German-speaking Switzerland and can be contacted through the ZHAW.

Bachelor thesis

Students work on a profession-relevant topic for their bachelor thesis and apply their sound theoretical and scientific methods from classroom learning.

"I really enjoyed the Skills Training, because we could act out real life cases - even some with simulated patients. The project workshop was great too: I was able to get my own project up-and-running."

Mathias Giger, alumni BSc in Occupational Therapy

Professional profile and training objectives

Occupational therapists work with people of all ages in hospitals, rehabilitation centres, mental health hospitals, care homes, special needs schools or private practices. Experienced professionals can be responsible for a team, run an entire department or their own private practice on a self-employed basis. They can also fill positions in teaching, research or in health promotion and prevention.

Competencies in seven roles

Graduates will be able to perform the versatile profession-specific roles competently and responsibly by applying their sound theoretical and scientific knowledge to their practical work.

  • As an expert, you are committed to ensuring that people who are limited in their everyday tasks continue to participate in society. You consider the different needs and respect the individual’s cultural and social background as well as his or her existing resources.
  • As a communicator, you establish a client-centred therapeutic relationship and communicate your expertise in occupational therapy in a clear and comprehensible way.
  • As a collaborator, you proactively participate in interdisciplinary and interprofessional team work.
  • As a manager, you competently document the occupational therapy services and are committed to quality assurance measures.
  • As a health advocate, you identify the factors that influence health, quality of life, equal treatment, barriers and resources at the societal and individual level.
  • As a scholar, you are committed to the development, transfer and application of effectiveness-based knowledge.
  • As a professional, you promote further development and professionalism in occupational therapy and are committed to competent occupational therapy practice.

At a glance

Degree: Bachelor of Science ZFH in Occupational Therapy

Workload: 180 ECTS credits

Duration of study: 3 years

Course structure: full-time, practice-oriented bachelor degree programme

Start of the course: Autumn

Registration deadline: 15 January

Teaching location: Winterthur

Language of instruction: German

Tuition fees: CHF 720 semester fees + additional study and living expenses

Postgraduate courses: European Master of Science in Occupational Therapy