The Master in Health Sciences at the University of Lucerne offers students from a wide range of disciplines the necessary knowledge and skills towards a comprehensive understanding of health, functioning and disability.
The program provides a broad background in health sciences from a biopsychosocial perspective and has a focus on the interaction of individuals and their environment within the context of health. Students will also have the opportunity to choose a major in a specific area to get more in-depth knowledge depending on their professional interest and career direction.
The two-year Master’s program with 120 ECTS-credits includes core courses that will be offered during the first three semesters. The core courses include different modules: Human Functioning Sciences, health systems and services, research design, and qualitative and quantitative methods. Other core courses include scientific and professional skills development.
Starting in the second semester, students will be able to choose a Major, according to their interest. In the third semester, students are required to do an internship and start a research project, while the fourth (final) semester is dedicated to completing the research project and the master thesis.
The program offers a list of Majors that will provide students with the unique opportunity to closely work with their supervisors. Students will be able to work in small groups to further develop expertise in their chosen area of interest. After completion of the first semester, students can then choose from the following Majors:
- Health Communication
- Health Behavior and Management
- Health Economics and Health Policy
- Health Services Research
- Research Methods
Communication is a central process in the provision of health care and the promotion of health. Health communication “encompasses the study and use of communication strategies to inform and influence individual and community decisions that enhance health” (Healthy People 2010).
The Major in Health Communication offers a scientific understanding of how health information is produced and exchanged and its impacts on individuals, community groups, institution and public policy.
This Major approaches the study of Health Communication at three levels:
- At the individuals level, with a focus on interpersonal face-to-face and technology-enhanced communication;
- At the public level, with a focus on social marketing, health campaigns and health education;
- At the institutional level, with a focus on the translation of knowledge from researchers to legislative/administrative/clinical and industrial decision makers.
Specific topics of the Major include:
- Health communication theory and research
- Communication theories and models
- Argumentation, rhetoric and persuasion
- Interpersonal communication ethics
- Medical humanities
- Communication and health education
- Consumer health informatics
- Social marketing
- Knowledge translation in health care
- Participatory design
The Major in Health Communication represents the ideal preparation for a career as researcher in the field of communication sciences. Graduates of the Major are in an excellent position to further their career as managers in state and federal health agencies, managers in knowledge translations for healthcare institutions, public health leaders as well as educators and communication analysts for health promotion, advertising and marketing.
Health Behavior and Management
Psychological aspects as well as the social environment are important factors influencing health and health behavior. Factors such as attitudes, expectations, experiences or emotions and stress affect how individuals behave in general, but importantly also how they behave regarding their health, and how they experience their health state. Similarly, the social and material environment influences individuals’ behavior and their health. For both, individuals and society, it is thus important to gain an in-depth knowledge of health behaviors and health experiences. Appropriate interventions will help to improve individual and public health.
The Major in Health Behavior and Management will provide:
- A broad theoretical background in psychological, social and cultural determinants of health;
- A methodological background to design, run, analyze and evaluate studies in this field.
The curriculum includes lectures, seminars and workshops covering the following topics:
- Health Behavior and Interventions
- Health Inequalities
- Stress, Coping and Health
- Positive Psychology and Health
- Physical Activity and Health
The Major in Health Behavior and Management will prepare students for diverse professional areas such as: research (continue with a PhD), public health sector, or health organizations.
Health Economics and Health Policy
Expenditures for health care constitute are large and growing share of total public and private expenditures, which has led to concern amongst policy-makers in many countries. On the other hand, the health sector produces a valuable output, health and health care, and hence it contributes to the general well-being of the population.
The Major Health Economics and Health Policy approaches the health system from two complementary perspectives, the economic and the political science perspectives. The principal goal is to characterize how scarce resources can be allocated in the health care market, combining both positive and normative aspects. We will discuss how health can be valued economically, why there is a demand and supply of health care, and how the specific characteristics of health as a good influence the behavior of the key actors (individuals/patients, health care providers and health insurers) in the market. We consider the role of policy-makers in regulating the health sector and bringing change towards improving the health of the population. To this end, students will develop the skills to design, implement and evaluate public health policies.
The curriculum covers the following topics:
- Principles of Health Economics
- Health Policy
- Health Insurance Economics
- Behavioral Health Economics
- Economics of Disability
- Evaluation of Public Health Policies
- Health Care Management
- Health Care Financing
- Health Systems Research
The Major Health Economics and Health Policy is designed for students building up a professional or academic career in the public health sector, or in a health related field, and aiming at a leadership position.
Health Services Research
The Major in Health Services Research involves the study of the roles of organizations, finance, manpower, technology, and prevention in the provision of health care services, and their impact on utilization, cost, and quality of care. It explains the last mile to the patient by bridging between clinical research and medical care performed under everyday conditions. The goal is the provision of higher quality, more efficient medical care to populations.
The Major in Health Services Research introduces the research domains of the health system and covers the basic methodological tools necessary to examine access, utilization, quality and cost of health care. A focus will be to learn the methodology to evaluate the effectiveness of health services for populations.
Specific topics covered are:
- Review and Analysis of Health Systems
- Structure and Outcomes of Health Care
- Assessing Health System Performance
- Data and Information Sources for Health Services Research
- Efficiency and Effectiveness – Randomized Controlled Trials, Comparative Clinical Effectiveness and Policy Research
- Regulations in Health Care Provision and related Research
The learned practical skills are equally important for stakeholders in private health care organizations, decision makers in health policy and researchers in academia. Thus, the Major program is designed for students with interest in research methodology who have a commitment to dedicate their career in improving health care services.
The Major in Research Methods offers a comprehensive understanding on how evidence in medicine and health care is examined and attained. It provides insight into the processes involved in drug development and preparation of health care policies. The principles of biostatistics are taught and methodological tools are introduced to design, analyse, interpret and critically appraise clinical research.
Specific topics of the Major include:
- Study design
- Sampling methods
- Advanced bio-statistical methods
- Conducting and reporting of clinical trials
- Drug development/regulatory affairs
- Good clinical practice and research ethics
The Major in Research Methods has been designed for candidates with a strong interest in quantitative research methods, scientific computing, policy making and interdisciplinary aspects of health sciences, with the ideal to ultimately improve public health and disease prevention. It prepares for a career as key collaborator in an interdisciplinary clinical research team. This role includes managerial positions in industrial drug development, as scientific expert for health care providers or as consultant for health agencies, amongst others.
Lectures / Schedule
The schedule of the current term is available for download:
Scope and duration
This master program comprises 120 ECTS-credits. One credit point represents an average of 25-30 hours of study. The study period is 4 semesters (2 years).
This master program includes core courses that will be offered during the first three semesters. The core courses include different modules: Human Functioning Sciences, Health Systems and Services, Research Design, and qualitative and quantitative methods. Other core courses include scientific and professional skills development.
Area of Specialization (Major) - Research Internship - Master Thesis
Towards the end of the 1st semester, students choose a major according to their interest. As a mandatory part of the curriculum, master students complete a 6-month research internship in their area of specialization, starting after the 2nd semester and lasting until the end of the 3rd semester. During the internship, students work in a research project out of which they develop their master thesis. The fourth and final semester is dedicated to completing the master thesis.
The Master of Health Sciences is entirely taught in English. Our students also deal with international issues and they take advantage of the opportunities at the University of Lucerne to expand their intercultural competence and language skills. Please consider that the Master Program in Health Sciences requires a good command of English. The recommended level within the European Language Portfolio is C1 (Cambridge English Advanced).
Students have the opportunity to apply for a paid internship with a collaborating partner organization of the Department of Health Sciences and Health Policy. They will have the chance to gain first-hand experience in applying their knowledge and skills in health sciences research and practice. During their internship in the third semester, students will also be expected to develop their master thesis proposal, which will be supported by their supervisor and members of their research group. Internships can be done within our own research groups at the Department Health Sciences and Health Policy but in addition the following partners provide also internships for the Master students:
The Health Sciences program offers the ideal preparation for students who aspire to have careers in healthcare in a dynamic and interdisciplinary environment and to undertake research in health sciences. In our master program, we are dedicated to educating students so they are in an excellent position to further their career in health-related areas including positions in research, health administration/public health, health education and health promotion, management in state and federal health agencies, and other health-related industries.
Application and Admission
The Master in Health Sciences program starts in the fall term only. The application period for each fall intake lasts from mid-February until April 30. Late applications are accepted until June 30, however, a supplementary fee of 150 Swiss francs will be charged. Please note that application fees can neither be reimbursed nor transferred to another semester.
The online application will be available from mid-February on the website of the Student Administration Office: https://www.unilu.ch/en/study/application-and-admission/
Due to the national commitment to education and the generous funding from federal and cantonal governments, tuition fees at Swiss universities are relatively low. Please click here for detailed information regarding fees at the University of Lucerne.
The program is suited for students with different educational backgrounds (health-related or non-health-related). The Master in Health Sciences is designed for motivated students who are looking for the challenges of a demanding program. With its interdisciplinary perspective, the Master of Health Sciences attracts candidates from a variety of educational backgrounds. Some students will have earned their first degree in fields such as social sciences, economics, medicine, psychology and other health related disciplines (nursing, physiotherapy etc.). This will allow graduates to benefit from the interactions within a diverse class of academic peers.
The required qualification for admission to the Master of the Health Sciences program is a Bachelor’s degree (or an equivalent higher education degree) with at least 180 ECTS points from a University recognized by the University of Lucerne. Please refer to Admission Guidelines for detailed information.
Candidates with a Bachelor’s degree in the following fields are admitted:
Economics, Business Administration / International Relations
- Business Administration
- Political Science
- Business Informatics
Medicine, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Health
- Human Medicine
- Nursing Sciences
- Veterinary Medicine
- Pharmaceutical Sciences
Social Sciences, Social Work
- Social and Cultural Anthropology
- Education / Special Education
- Social Work and Politics
Other Bacherlor’s degrees
- Communication and Media Studies
- Human Movement and Sports Sciences
Candidates with a Bachelor’s degree in any other relevant discipline may also apply and are welcome to get in touch with the Program Manager (healthsem). @ unilu.ch
Study regulations and Master’s examination procedure
For detailed information regarding the study and examination regulations and the Master examination procedure, please refer to the following documents:
- the Study and examination regulations for the Master of Arts in Health Sciences,
- the Guidelines on the Master's degree in Health Sciences,
- the Guidelines Master's Degree Examination Health Sciences,
all available for download here: https://www.unilu.ch/studium/lehrveranstaltungen-pruefungen-reglemente/ksf/reglemente/#c16464
Program Director Master in Health Sciences
Prof. Stefan Boes
T +41 41 229 59 49
e-mail: stefan.boes @ unilu.ch
Program Manager Master in Health Sciences
T +41 41 229 59 59
e-mail : ute.laun @ unilu.ch
Administrative Assistant Master in Health Sciences
T +41 41 229 59 44
e-mail : claudia.trautwein @ unilu.ch
Opening Hours of the Master in Health Sciences Administration Office:
Mon – Thu: 14.00 – 16.00 hrs, Wed 10.00 - 12.00 / 14.00 - 16.30 hrs
e-mail : healthsem @ unilu.ch
University of Lucerne
Department of Health Sciences and Health Policy
Master in Health Sciences
P.O. Box 4466