Master in Health Sciences
The Master’s program 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 an interdisciplinary perspective. It focuses on describing, understanding, and improving the health of individuals, and the optimal response of society and health systems to the health needs of the population.
The two-year Master’s program with 120 credits includes core courses in the principles of health sciences, advanced research methods, and academic and professional skills. Students choose one of the following majors to get more in-depth knowledge depending on their professional interests and career direction:
- Health Communication
- Health and Social Behavior
- Health Economics and Policy
- Health Services Research
- Health Data Science (NEW)
During a mandatory research internship, students can apply the knowledge gained in the program, and possibly write their Master’s thesis based on the internship.
(full-time; part-time studies are possible)
(based on the European Credit Transfer System – ECTS;
workload about 25-30 hours per ECTS)
|MSc in Health Sciences|
|In the fall semester|
|April 30 via Uniportal, late applications possible (see here)|
Submit applications via the UniPortal
Module Principles of Health Sciences
- Human Functioning Sciences
- Health Systems and Services
- Basic Research Methods
- Basics in Clinical Medicine
- Introduction to Public Health
Module Advanced Research Methods
Flexible choice of 3-4 courses, for example in Advanced Quantitative Methods, Survey Methodology, Applied Biostatistics, Life Course Epidemiology.
Module Academic and Professional Skills
Flexible choice of 2 courses, e.g., in Scientific Communication, Professional Development Interprofessional Collaboration, Project Management, Leadership and Communication.
Module Master Thesis and Oral Examination
The program is completed with a master’s thesis, showing original and independent research of the student in the domain of health sciences, and with an oral examination.
ARM= Advanced Research Methods
APS= Academic and Professional Skills
Communication is central 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, institutions, 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 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 and Social Behavior
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 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 theories and models
- Public health interventions and strategies
- Inequalities in health and health behaviors
- Stress, coping, and health
- Positive psychology and health
- Physical activity and health
The Major in Health and Social Behavior will prepare students for diverse professional roles in research, in the public health sector, or in health organizations.
Health Economics and Policy
Expenditures for health care constitute are large and growing share of total public and private expenditures, which has led to concern amongst policymakers 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 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 positive and normative approaches. 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 in the market. We consider the role of policymakers 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:
- Health policy and governance
- Health economics and economic evaluation
- Decision-modeling and cost-effectiveness analysis
- Evaluation of public health policies
- Health systems research and comparison
- Global health policy and economics
- Applied health econometrics
- Health care management
The Major in Health Economics and Policy is designed for students building up a professional or academic career in the public health sector, the industry, or in health-related organizations, 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 on learning 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.
Health Data Science (NEW FROM SPRING 2023)
Health data become available in ever larger quantities, level of detail, and they can and need to be accessed from a variety of sources. The Major in Health Data Science provides you with the necessary skills and knowledge to manage large and diverse datasets, to apply statistical and machine learning approaches to study and learn from the data, and to draw meaningful conclusions to inform health care practice and policy.
The Major in Health Data Science combines approaches and methods from statistics, computer science, and software engineering. Embedded in the health sciences program, this offers you a critical understanding of the issues related to health data science, including aspects related to data security, ethics, and information governance.
Specific topics covered are:
- Introduction to health data science
- Machine learning methods for causal inference
- Computational epidemiology and systems modeling
- Analysis of routinely collected health care data
- Quantitative genomics and genetics
- Statistical programming
- Health data challenges
This major is designed for students with an interest in entering the exciting world of health data science, and with the ambition of fostering a career as a health data scientist, in academic research, the public sector, or in the industry.
The Master of Health Sciences is an English-speaking program. 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 skills. For this reason, we require our students to have a good command of English. The recommended level within the European Language Portfolio is C1. A language diploma is, however, not mandatory.
The internship is a mandatory element of the study program. Students will have the chance to gain first-hand experience in applying their knowledge and skills in a health sciences environment, research and practice. Internships can be done within our own research groups at the Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine. In addition, students have the opportunity to apply for an internship with a partner organization, e.g.,
- Swiss Paraplegic Research
- Swiss Paraplegic Center
- Lucerne Cantonal Hospital
- Interface Politikstudien Forschung Beratung
- Partners in the public health sector
- Partners in the pharmaceutical industry
- Partners in the insurance sector
- Partners in health care provision
Internships are self-organized by students, but the Faculty of Health Sciences and Medicine maintains an internship platform with regular internship offers and can support students in the search of a suitable internship position.
The Master in Health Sciences offers the ideal preparation for students who aspire to have careers in the health sector, in a dynamic and interdisciplinary environment, or who aim at undertaking research in the broad field of health sciences.
In our program, we are dedicated to educating students, so that they are in an excellent position to further their career in health-related areas, including positions in:
- Health administration/public health
- Health education and health promotion
- Management in state and federal health agencies
- other health-related industries.
Our graduates are working as (inter alia):
- Marketing Communication Manager
- Supply Chain Specialist
- Patient Relations Manager
- Pricing and Reimbursement Associate
- Lean Hospital Promotor
- Research Assistant
- Clinical Application Specialist
- Project Manager
- Academic Associate
- and more
“Acquiring a Master in the Health Sciences was a key component towards acquiring specialized knowledge in a professional field. It allowed me to develop in-depth understanding of real-world application of health economics and policy concepts. My current job consists of applying evidence-based research into professional policy projects, the program’s curriculum was fundamental as it allowed me to strengthen my research skills.”
Sonia Barbosa ¦ Graduate 2017 ¦ Major in Health Economics and Health Policy ¦ Scientific Collaborator at the Swiss Medical Association
“The MA Health Sciences program gave me the required skills to switch from the health provider front – as my professional background is physiotherapist – into health policy where I hope to contribute my part in overcoming current provider issues on a system level in Switzerland.”
Fabienne Lüthi ¦ Graduate 2017 ¦ Major in Health Services Research ¦ Scientific Associate Section Healthcare Professions, Federal Office of Public Health
"Coming from a background in the life sciences, I was interested in how society may impact our health and vice versa. The health sciences program gave me the foundational knowledge I was seeking on the individual, population and systems level, as well as the skills to evaluate, analyse and communicate effectively within the realm of the health sciences. "
Clara MacNaughton ¦ Graduate 2021 ¦ Major in Health Services Research ¦ PhD Candidate Swiss Paraplegic-Research
The Master in Health Sciences starts every fall term. The application period for each fall intake lasts from mid-February until April 30.
Late applications are accepted as follows (with an additional fee of CHF 150):
until 31.08.: For applicants who do not require a visa (citizens of CH, EU, EFTA, Japan, New Zealand)
until 30.06.: For applicants who require a visa (citizens of all other countries)
If you are not sure whether you require a visa, please check the website of the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM): https://www.sem.admin.ch/sem/en/home/publiservice/weisungen-kreisschreiben/visa/liste1_staatsangehoerigkeit.html
Please note that application fees can neither be reimbursed nor transferred to another semester.
The online application is 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. 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, including social sciences, economics, medicine, psychology, and other health-related disciplines. This will allow students to benefit from the interactions within a diverse class of academic peers.
The required qualification for admission is a Bachelor’s degree (or an equivalent higher education degree) from a university recognized by the University of Lucerne. Please refer to Admission Guidelines for detailed information and exceptions.
For detailed information regarding the study and examination regulations of the Master of Science in Health Sciences, please refer to the following website: https://www.unilu.ch/studium/lehrveranstaltungen-pruefungen-reglemente/gmf/reglemente/
In the Frequently Asked Questions section you will find answers and lots of useful information about your studies.
Prof. Dr. Stefan Boes
Program Director MSc in Health Sciences
T +41 41 229 59 49
Alpenquai 4, Room 10
Dean's Office Health Sciences
T +41 41 229 59 59
Student counselling: University Lucerne, Room 1.B01
Coming from a background in the life sciences, I was interested in how society may impact our health and vice versa. The health sciences program gave me the foundational knowledge I was seeking on the individual, population and systems level, as well as the skills to evaluate, analyse and communicate effectively within the realm of the health sciences.