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Double Degree Program with Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

This double degree program enables graduate students at the ZHAW School of Management and Law (ZHAW) and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VT) to pursue a Master’s degree at both institutions simultaneously.

Upon successful completion of the double degree program, graduates are awarded the following titles by the partner institutions:

Students enrolled in the program spend their first year at their home university and the second year at their host university.  

About the Double Degree Partner – Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The Pamplin College of Business at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (VT) is a nationally and internationally renowned business school. It is accredited by AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business). In recent years, VT has received consistently high rankings among U.S. business schools. In the U.S. News education rankings, VT is currently ranked 74th of 310 in the category “Best National Universities”, 27th of 133 in the category “Top Public Schools,” and 7th of 215 in the category “Part-Time MBA.” The SML has enjoyed a fruitful partnership with VT since 2012.

Find out more about the university

Program Structure

The regular period of study of the double degree program is 22 months, including 12 weeks for writing the Master’s thesis. Double degree students spend their first year at their home university and the second year at their host university. Each university provides full information to the other concerning the courses completed by double degree students.

At their host university, double degree students have access to the same courses as the graduate students enrolled in the regular Master’s program. They also enjoy the same rights and privileges and are subject to the same rules and regulations. They are registered as degree-seeking students at the host university only for those parts of the study program that are delivered by the host university. Students admitted for the double degree program complete the study program as set out below.

Study Program for the Double Degree

Master’s Thesis

In addition to their compulsory coursework at both institutions as set out in the agreement, double degree students are required to write a Master’s thesis. All students of this double degree program write their Master’s thesis at ZHAW. The Master’s thesis is worth 12 ECTS credits (equivalent to 6 U.S. credits). The partner institution ensures that the legal and organizational requirements are met to enable double degree students to start writing their Master’s thesis in their second year of study.

In writing their Master’s thesis, students are supervised by a ZHAW faculty member. The Master’s thesis can be reviewed by a VT faculty member, thus ensuring joint supervision. The Master’s thesis must be written in English.

Completing a Master’s thesis at ZHAW also requires students to defend their thesis. If the Master’s thesis is supervised by faculty members from both institutions jointly, both supervisors participate in the thesis defense. The thesis defense is conducted in English.

Selection and Documents

Candidates for the double degree program are selected by their home institution according to selection criteria jointly defined and agreed by VT and ZHAW. Due to the higher workload compared to an ordinary Master’s program, only highly qualified students are eligible to enroll in the double degree program. Each institution is entitled to admit up to three students per year to the double degree program.

Double degree candidates must satisfy all admission requirements of the host institution, including the following:

Fees and Graduate Assistant Positions

The double degree program offered jointly by ZHAW and VT is based on a fee-paying arrangement. Double degree students have to pay the tuition and other pertinent fees required of regular degree-seeking students at each institution, including administrative fees at VT and ZHAW.

VT offers two part-time “graduate assistant” positions to ZHAW double degree students studying at VT. Graduate assistants work 50% of a full-time workload and receive a 50% discount on their tuition. The graduate assistant positions cannot be guaranteed and are always subject to availability.

The host university reserves the right to refuse admission to a double degree candidate from the home institution on academic grounds or for some other substantial reason.

Documents to be submitted by double degree candidates include

  • Completed application form
  • Proof of qualifications: copies of diploma, diploma supplement, grades, transcript of records (ECTS credits)
  • Letter of motivation
  • Evidence of English language proficiency
  • CV, incl. photo