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Master of Science in Life Sciences - Pharmaceutical Biotechnology

Therapeutic proteins and antibodies are bioengineered drugs, so-called biopharmaceuticals, that enable diseases to be treated in a completely new way. Biotechnological techniques are now essential tools for medical progress.

Best prospects for a successful future!

Career - from gene to medicine

Recombinant DNA technology allows drugs to be produced from genes. As a professional in pharmaceutical biotechnology, you will have the necessary skills in the field where applied research meets commercial applications.

The Master's programme lays the foundation for an international career. You will be a sought-after expert in a growing market, as well as in adjacent fields such as medical diagnostics, process engineering, marketing and sales, product management, food technology, cosmetics and environmental biotechnology.

As a Master's graduate, you will ...

  • have the foundation required for various career paths in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries.
  • be able to play an active role in scientific and medical research and development, and use your sound practical experience to develop new products.
  • provide new impetus to address the challenges of the future through creative and innovative ideas.
  • be able to work in a field where health, technology and medicine meet, and combine entrepreneurial with scientific thinking.
  • be able to apply for international positions in Switzerland and abroad.
  • be a sought-after employee for global companies, both nationally and internationally.
  • be able to continue studying for a doctorate in cooperation with foreign research institutions.
  • be very well prepared for interesting and diverse leadership roles in industry and public research institutions in areas, such as cell culture and cell engineering, biotechnology processes and equipment, bioprocess informatics, biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, environmental sciences, pharmaceutical technology and natural materials, and diagnostic and sensors.

The programme offers you ...

  • an individually designed Master's programme that can be attended on a full-time or part-time basis.
  • an attractive mix of modules covering research, science, practice and the economy.
  • the opportunity to conduct a business case study with renowned coaches from industry.
  • the opportunity to develop both professionally and personally, and thus become a sought-after specialist and leader.
  • exciting research projects to choose from for your Master's thesis.
  • the chance to be part of an active research group in which you will be able to strengthen your knowledge through intensive scientific work.
  • modern infrastructure and equipment to use for your research, for example confocal laser scanning microscopy and electron microscopy, the latest bioreactors and single-use systems for the cultivation of microorganisms to stem cells, 3D printers, RT-PCR, a biogas plant, MALDI-TOF and HPLC-MS analysis devices.
  • small classes in the specialisation modules and interactive lessons that you co-design.

New from autumn semester 2018

The cooperation modules will be revised and redesigned.

In the Master of Science in Life Sciences you benefit from the knowledge and network of the four universities of applied sciences ZHAW, BFH, FHNW and HES-SO. One third of the study takes place across universities - in Wädenswil, Olten and / or Bern.

  • Individuality: You can tailor the Master's program to your needs. Modules from different clusters Bio / Pharma, Food, Environment, Chemistry and Biomedical Engineering and Computational Science (BECS) can be combined individually.
  • Future-oriented: You adopt competences in "Management, Business and Society" but also in topics that are becoming more and more important in the future, such as "Handling and Understanding Data" (so-called Core Competences).
  • Practical: You are part of a research group at the corresponding institute of the ZHAW in Wädenswil right from the beginning. You are in exchange with students from the other three universities.

«Fact sheet on the ReDesign Master in Life Sciences» (PDF 277,9 KB)

At a glance

Degree / Title: Master of  Science (MSc) ZFH in Life Sciences with specialisation in Pharmaceutical Biotechnology
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)
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: Englisch or German depending on the module
Study fees: CHF 720.00 per semester + additional study-related expenses ...»
Admission requirements / acceptance: University of Applied Sciences Bachelor's degree ...»

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

Studies – Structure and Content

Your studies include three areas of competence plus a Master's thesis, with a total of 90 credits (ETCS). A part-time study is possible.

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).

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

Master's thesis - 40 credits

The core of your studies. On the basis of research you have carried out, you answer a specific question in this field and work out 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.

Specialisation Skills- 20 credits

Your scientific studies take place at the Institute of Chemistry and Biotechnology at the ZHAW in Wädenswil. teaching is scheduled on three weekdays (Monday to Wednesday) and other learning activities may occur throughout the week. They deepen and specialize your knowledge in pharmaceutical biotechnology.

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.

Cluster-specific modules – minimum 9 credits

Cluster-specific modules complement the specialisation modules. The specialisation Pharmaceutical Biotechnology is part of the cluster Bio/Pharma. You choose at least three from the offered modules out of the cluster Bio/Pharma. In addition you also can choose elective modules out of other clusters (see list by the module descriptions).


Do you want to make your studies international? The modular structure of the study programme allows you to study abroad for a year or to focus your Master's thesis on a foreign topic.

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

From the beginning of your Master’s studies you will be part of a research group at the Institute of Chemistry and Biotechnology that is appropriate for the topic of your Master's thesis. You will work in various research and development projects, and will be embedded in a creative research environment. The application-oriented research focus of your Master's thesis will foster your ability to innovate, change perspectives, and combine entrepreneurial with scientific thinking.

The work in the research group will not only develop your creativity, initiative and critical ability, but also your leadership and teamwork.

Film Master's programme Pharmaceutical Biotechnology

Brochure Master's programme Pharmaceutical Biotechnology

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