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Master of Science in Life Sciences - Applied Computational Life Sciences

Life «in Silico».

Due to the developments of the “digital revolution”, the life sciences are undergoing profound changes. Skills in the use of digital tools and dealing with large amounts of data will be central additions to subject-specific competence. Develop these skills and combine them with your subject-specific experience and interests. Become a data scientist or simulation expert in your field.

Film Mastervertiefung Applied Computational Life Sciences

Best prospects for a successful future!

«The specialisation in ACLS offers students with a background in life sciences the opportunity to explore the potential of digital developments, based on the core discipline from their Bachelor’s programme.»

Prof. Dr. Thomas Ott

«The programme offers international perspectives as a data scientist in a subject-specific environment, for example, as a bioinformatics specialist or a simulation expert. The programme allows students to further develop in the fields of IT and management.»

Dr. Manuel Gil

«The ZHAW offers a programme in an international environment with a familiar atmosphere. When possible, the Master’s thesis is completed in close collaboration with industry.»

Dr. Maria Anisimova


There is a growing need in the biomedical, pharmaceutical and other life sciences industries for experts who understand the specifics of data management, modelling and computation in life sciences and the connected business environment. The specialisation in Applied Computational Life Sciences lays the foundation for a career in a rapidly developing field of research and business. This programme provides you with essential knowledge in a field where science meets business, and opens up career paths in international companies, agile start-ups and research institutions. Life Sciences are undergoing a profound change as a result of the developments of the digital revolution. Expertise in dealing with digital tools and large amounts of data will be key additions to subject specific skills in the future. In this Master’s programme, you will acquire these skills and combine them with your subject-specific experience and interests from your Bachelor’s degree.

Become a data scientist or simulation expert in your field! 

The Master of Science in Life Sciences (MSLS) is a Master’s programme that is run in partnership by a network of four universities of applied sciences: ZHAW, BFH, FHNW and HES-SO. The Institute of Applied Simulation is responsible for the specialisation in «Applied Computational Life Sciences».

I have a Bachelor's degree in electronics and communication engineering. I have always been fascinated by life sciences, biotechnology in particular. I wanted to work in a interdisciplinary field between biology, engineering and technology. The specialisation Applied Computational Life Sciences offers exactly what I was looking for and much more, including machine learning courses.

Jithin Peechatt

In my Bachelor degree in biology at ETH Zurich I first heard about bioinformatics as part of genomics and systems biology courses. It soon became obvious to me that this is what I want to work in - an interdisciplinary field, using the power of computers to answer unsolved problems in biology. Not only the possibility to work together with an industry partner caught my attention but also the lecture concepts, which can be directly applied in the Master's Thesis interested me utterly which was the main reason, that I decided to apply for the Applied Computational Life Sciences program in the familial atmosphere of ZHAW.

Matteo Delucchi

When I had to decide on a vocation after school, I had two options: Natural sciences or computer science. I decided to take the first option. After my Bachelor in Chemistry, I worked for a few years in the pharmaceutical industry, where I was constantly creating Excel files in order to make my work easier. This is why I decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Applied Computational Life Sciences, which unites my two passions. The courses I like the most are Programming, Mathematical Modelling and Machine Learning, because I can apply the skills I have learned in other scientific projects and they have similarities with practical laboratory work.

Ta Cam Phuong

As a Master's graduate ...

  • you acquire skills for processing and analysing data of various sizes and levels of complexity.
  • you develop the conceptual and technical skills to combine your expertise in a Life Sciences discipline with the potential of computational methods.
  • you become knowledgeable in computational modelling and the simulation of processes in your Life Sciences discipline.
  • you are introduced to programming using modern scripting languages such as Python or R, you understand the basic concepts of software and computer architectures.
  • you will analyse and solve complex problems in a life sciences field, and combine scientific, social and entrepreneurial thinking.
  • you will be able to plan, implement, evaluate and present major research and development projects.
  • career opportunities will open up in a dynamic and future-oriented field of work in international companies, agile start-ups and academic institutions.

    The programme offers you ...

    • a flexible modular structure that allows you to specialise in your preferred field of application.
    • an attractive mix of modules that combine scientific, social and economic topics in theory and practice.
    • an international environment with a familiar atmosphere.
    • a fascinating Master’s thesis on a state-of-the-art topic, and the benefit of individual support from an experienced mentor.
    • The opportunity to gain extensive experience as part of a research group at the ZHAW and in close cooperation with industry partners.

    At a glance

    Degree / Title: Master of  Science (MSc) ZFH in Life Sciences with specialisation in Applied Computational Life Sciences
    Duration: Full-time 3 semesters, part-time possible (recommendation 4-7 semesters)
    Start of studies: twice a year in February (spring semester) and September (autumn semester). If you start in February we recommend to study in part-time due to the structure of the specialisation modules.
    Cooperation: Some modules take place jointly with the universities of applied sciences BFH, FHNW and HES-SO.
    Workload: 90 credits (ECTS), one credit point corresponds to 25 – 30 hours of work
    Teaching locations: Wädenswil, Olten or Berne. Block weeks can also be held directly at partner universities.
    Language: English 
    Study fees: CHF 720.00 (EUR 650 / USD 730) per semester + additional study-related expenses ...»
    Admission requirements / acceptance
    : University of Applied Sciences Bachelor's degree ...»

    Registration deadlines: 30th April and 31th October ...»

    Missed the deadline? Please contact the Registrar's Office Master Life Sciences, master.lsfm@zhaw.ch

    Studies – Structure and Content

    Your studies include different areas of competence plus a Master's thesis, with a total of 90 credits (ETCS).

    Before commencing your studies, you will develop, together with the specialisation team and your supervisor, your personal training goals, define the topic for your Master's thesis and create your individual curriculum from the modules on offer.

    The selected modules are recorded in your Individual Study Agreement (ISA).

    General structure of a full-time Master’s programme. Students determine the actual sequence and focal points themselves.

    Modules, topics and tracks

    The study consists of different categories of modules::

    1. Modules in the specialisation (Specialisation Skills):

    • Core modules: Competencies in the handling of digital tools, including dealing with data, modeling and simulation
    • Track modules: Preparation for the Master Thesis in a specific field of application
    • Master's thesis: The core of your studies

    2. Modules in combination with the MSc Life Sciences:

    • Core Competences: Generic modules to deepen topics that are relevant to your studies
    • Cluster-specific modules: Interfaces between the technical and scientific core area and the economic and social environment

    Module descriptions

    Core Modules - 20 credits

    This module group consists of the following 4 modules: Programming, Algorithms and Data Structures, Mathematical Modeling, Databases and Data Architecture Systems, Machine Learning and Data Analytics

    Classes are usually held on Mondays and Tuesdays in Wädenswil.

    Track Modules - 10 credits

    During two modules, you can deepen the thematic scope of your master's thesis. Classes are usually held on Monday and Tuesday in Wädenswil.

    Master's thesis - 30 credits

    On the basis of research you have carried out, you answer a specific question in this field and work out concrete solutions that are relevant for research, industry and society, often in co-operation with national and international partners. Through the thesis you not only demonstrate your knowledge and skills, but also expand the state of research in your specific field of scientific expertise.

    Core Competences – minimum 15 credits

    Visualisation Core competences «Management, Business and Society»
    Visualisation Core competences «Handling and Understanding Data»

    These modules provide you with work-oriented skills. With these core competences you acquire knowledge in the following areas: «Management, Business and Society» as well as «Handling and Understanding Data». Each module lasts half a semester – 2/3 of the lessons are held centrally in Olten and 1/3 consists of decentralised teaching (accompanied exercises, case studies etc.) directly in Wädenswil. You choose at least five from seven modules, of which all «Handling and Understanding Data»-modules are mandatory for the ACLS specialisation.

    Cluster-specific modules – minimum 9 credits

    Cluster-specific modules complement the specialisation modules. The specialisation Applied Computational Life Sciences is part of the group BECS (Biomedical Engineering and Computational Science). You choose modules out of the group BECS, two of which are mandatory modules. In addition you also can choose elective modules out of all other clusters (see list by the module descriptions).

    Study models

    The Master's programme in Life Sciences takes 3 full-time semesters and comprises 90 credits (ECTS). This corresponds to a workload of approximately 2,700 hours. This intensive workload requires good planning and organisation.

    Part-time study opens up numerous ways to achieve the objectives of the programme - adapted to your personal circumstances and needs. We recommend that students do not engage in any additional professional activities that exceed a maximum workload of 50% of a full-time position. You should consult your specialisation team individually about this matter. For administrative questions, please contact the registrar's office.

    How you structure your part-time studies should be discussed and determined before commencement thereof when creating your Individual Study Agreement (ISA).

    Researching for Practice

    During your studies, you will expand your personal skills profile, in terms of your technical and methodological expertise as well as your self-competence. The focus on the Master's thesis encourages creative approaches to problem solving, re-examination of perspectives and a combination of entrepreneurial and scientific thinking.

    Work in the research group will help you develop teamwork skills, initiative, critical thinking and leadership skills. We promote independent, research-based learning in small classes with interactive lessons.

    Brochure Master's programme Applied Computational Sciences

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