Frequently asked questions

Master in Life Sciences

What is the Bologna reform?

The name of this university reform originated at the meeting of education ministers in the city of Bologna in 1999. Switzerland committed, together with 45 other European countries, to implementing the goals of the Bologna Declaration by 2010. Some salient features of the reform include the two-stage study system with Bachelor's and Master's degrees, and the introduction of a credit system (ECTS European Credit Transfer System), which promotes transparency and mobility. In this way, the mutual comparability of qualifications, mobility to other universities abroad, and Europe-wide employability are encouraged.

What is meant by a ‘Bachelor's degree’?

Bachelor's degree programmes take at least three years to complete and have high recognition in the world of work. They replace the previous university of applied sciences higher education diploma.

What is meant by a ‘Master's degree’?

Consecutive Master's degrees follow on from a Bachelor's study programme and provide more in-depth and specialised learning. They are simultaneously scientifically based and practically oriented. Master's degree programmes take at least one and a half years.

MAS Master of Advanced Studies programmes are part of the range of continuing education courses and require specific professional experience.

EMBA Executive Master of Business Administration programmes are also continuing education programmes, focusing on the area of business administration.

What added value does a Master's programme have in comparison to a Bachelor's degree?

Building on the Bachelor's degree programmes, Master's degrees provide subject specialisation with a focus on scientific competence. At the same time they have a strong practical focus. They provide enhanced analytical and reflective skills, enabling graduates to take advantage of career opportunities in middle and upper management, or in positions that require above-average skills.

Does a university of applied sciences Master's degree have the same recognition as one from a traditional university?

In principle, these academic qualifications are the same; the content focus, however, is different. University of applied sciences Master's programmes have a stronger practical orientation, while those at a traditional university concentrate more on theoretical aspects.

Why the combination of scientific and practical orientation?

Scientific competence, such as the ability to use scientific methods and tools, is systematically taught and practised in the study programme so that university of applied sciences Master's graduates have important job-related skills. This practical orientation is a feature of universities of applied sciences and is especially valuable for graduates.

What is the status of the Master's degree in the labour market?

In many areas, employers increasingly need highly qualified specialists and managers who can demonstrate profound knowledge, analytical skills, leadership skills and a strong action orientation. Recent studies confirm this. The consecutive Master's degree responds to a need in the labour market.

Is the Master's degree recognized abroad?

All Bachelor's and Master's degrees are recognized internationally and prepare graduates for an international career.

What is a consecutive Master’s degree?

The new Master’s programmes are called consecutive (i.e. ‘following on’) because they connect to Bachelor’s degree programmes and build on them. The consecutive Master’s is a second stage of tertiary education after a Bachelor’s degree.

Who can study for a consecutive Master's degree?

The Master's degree is aimed mainly at exceptionally qualified and ambitious Bachelor’s graduates who would like to gain a further academic qualification. In addition, candidates should also be particularly interested in scientific matters.

Applicants must normally meet the following basic requirements above-average Bachelor's degree or equivalent and an exceptional motivation and performance.

What is the difference between a consecutive Master’s and a Master of Advanced Studies (MAS)?

The new consecutive Master’s is a second stage of tertiary education and should not be confused with the MAS (Master of Advanced Studies) or MBA (Master of Business Administration).

In the consecutive Master's programme, the study requirements and scientific demands are higher than for the MAS. The MAS is part of continuing education, while a consecutive Master's is part of a student's main educational path. MASs are usually studied part-time in conjunction with work and only undertaken after several years of experience. A consecutive Master's degree can be completed immediately after completion of a Bachelor's degree in full-or part-time study modes.

Can students be admitted to the Master's programme with an FH-Diploma from the previous system?

A university of applied sciences diploma awarded under the previous system will be accepted as equivalent to a Bachelor's degree provided that the admission requirements (e.g. a grade point average of at least 5.0) are satisfied.

The Conference of Rectors of Universities of Applied Sciences Switzerland (KFH) has issued a recommendation for the recognition of professional practice or qualifying continuing education for the Master's programme. Graduates with a university of applied sciences diploma awarded under the previous system (predecessor of the Bachelor's degree) may receive a maximum of 30 credits for at least two years of professional experience and an additional maximum of 15 credits for postgraduate studies in a corresponding professional area.

Can students be accepted for a Master's programme without a Bachelor's degree?

For those working in a field that corresponds to their intended specialisation, this is theoretically possible, but difficult and subject to special conditions. That is, unique skills and qualifications must be demonstrated which are equivalent to those expected for a Bachelor's degree. In some cases, there is also the opportunity to catch up on qualifications during the Master's programme. Such 'sur dossier' decisions are at the discretion of the university.

Which is better, a full-time or part-time Masters?

Part-time Master’s students have the advantage that the studies are constantly enriched by experience from practice, and new knowledge from the studies can be immediately transferred to everyday work (theory-practice transfer). In addition, financing the study programme is eased by professional activity. Full-time Master's study programmes have the advantage that students can concentrate fully on their studies, so that their burden is reduced. The choice of a full- or part-time study programme ultimately depends on the candidate's personal preferences and living situation.

Can I work between the Bachelor's and Master's study programmes?

It is perfectly possible to fit in a brief spell of work between the Bachelor's and Master's study programmes. However, it is recommended that this time period is of limited duration.

Which Master's degree programmes are offered at Swiss universities of applied sciences?

In December 2007, the DEA (Federal Department of Economic Affairs) approved 64 university of applied sciences Master's degree programmes. These include the ZHAW's new Master's programmes (Business Administration, Banking and Finance, Social Work, Applied Psychology, and Engineering). The Master of Life Sciences was approved on 11 March 2008.

Current information on university of applied sciences Master’s programmes can be found at www.bbt.admin.ch.

What other study programmes are there at universities of applied sciences apart from Bachelor's and Master's degree programmes?

Master of Business Administration (MBA), Executive MBA, Master of Advanced Studies (MAS), Diploma of Advanced Studies (DAS), und Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS): these are all part of the continuing education programmes.

The current range of study programmes offered by the School of Life Sciences and Facility Management can be found at www.zhaw.ch/lsfm/weiterbildung/.