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Studium Biologie Masterstudium

General information

Admission and enrolment

Students who have successfully completed their Bachelor degree program in Biology at UZH will be admitted to any of the 12 concentrations of the consecutive Masters program in Biology (application for a direct entry via the semester enrolment).


Students with an equivalent Bachelor degree from an university other than the University of Zurich must apply online at UZH. All information about the application procedure, deadlines and fees are given there. Questions must be addressed to the admissions office of UZH. 
For admission, a degree which is equivalent to a BSc in Biology at UZH is required. To be considered equivalent, the study program of your BSc must be similar in content, scope and quality to the respective UZH program, and the university at which you obtained the degree must be of equivalent standing (e.g. QS ranking). This is very strict, and usually less than 5% of applicants from outside Switzerland get admission, mostly with one semester of conditions/additional requirements to fulfill before starting the Masters. The chances of being admitted do not depend on the chosen concentration.

Mono or combination of Major and Minor

Mono Major Minor combination

The MSc program in Biology comprises either 90 or 120 credit points (120 ECTS = 90 ECTS major and 30 ECTS minor). The structure and content of the major Biology are the same in both cases:

  • Course work of 20 ECTS credits: 15 ECTS from core elective modules (according to the regulations of the concentration), 5 ECTS from elective modules
  • MSc thesis of 60 ECTS credits (twelve months full time)
  • Mandatory module BIO 520 "Integrated knowledge in Biology" of 10 ECTS credits
  • Mandatory module BIO 338 "Introduction to Scientific Writing" of 0 ECTS credits

Course work

Lectures and courses are typically completed before the master's thesis.

Mandatory module The mandatory module BIO 338 "Introduction to Scientific Writing" consists of one day shortly before the start of the semester and should be completed before starting to write the master's thesis (either before or in the first half).

Elective modules The elective modules worth 15 ECTS must be chosen according to the regulations of the specialization. Usually, a maximum of 12 ECTS from block courses (WP 2) are chosen, but it can be fewer. If a third block course is chosen, there is no priority in allocation (even if the other block courses have already been transferred from the bachelor's program).

The elective modules worth 5 ECTS can be chosen from all modules at UZH and ETHZ, as long as the specific requirements there are met, and both the master's thesis supervisor and coordinator agree to the choice (as they are also part of the Learning Agreement). If elective modules from Biology/Biomedicine/Biodiversity are chosen, they must be appropriate for the master's level, i.e., from the advanced studies (WP 2 or 3), but not from the foundational studies of any of these three programs. Similarly to the elective modules, the supervisor and coordinator have a say in whether the proposed elective modules are appropriate for your studies. Research internships are not creditable in the master's program.

The supervisor or coordinator may require additional modules (i.e., more than 20 ECTS of coursework) to be listed in the Learning Agreement if additional knowledge is needed for the respective master's specialization or project (e.g., a module in statistics or bioinformatics, among others). All modules listed in the LA are binding, considered mandatory modules for you, and must be successfully completed.

Additional Modules:

Requirements: All modules that you must fulfill as requirements or conditions for the master's program must also be listed in the Learning Agreement. These should be entered as "Requirements". Requirements and conditions must typically be completed successfully before the confirmation of the Learning Agreement and in any case before the start of the master's thesis project.

Minor Modules: Minor modules cannot be completed concurrently with the one-year master's thesis. For the sake of scheduling and overview, it is advisable to also list the modules of any potential minor in the Learning Agreement (entered as "Minor"). However, these are not binding and can be changed without altering the Learning Agreement, or the minor can be deselected or replaced by another minor. It is your responsibility to follow the requirements of the chosen minor, which will be verified only upon completion of the studies.

Additional Modules: It is allowed to take additional modules not included in the LA at any time during the master's program. The LA does not need to be amended for this purpose. You can choose whether these should be credited upon application for graduation or not. Modules up to 10 ECTS additionally can be credited, i.e., included in the GPA. Further modules will be listed under "non-credited achievements" in the graduation certificate.

Master thesis project

The Master thesis project is a project work that takes one year full time (60 ECTS credits) and is completed with a written Master thesis usually in English. Seminars and colloquia are seen as parts of this and do not yield extra credits.

The Master thesis project is not paid. Doing it part-time is not possible, unless you have a disability/chronic ilness or care duties. The Learning Agreement is not a work contract, therefore there are no official rules about working times or holidays. Usually, 2-4 weeks of holidays are possible, but the requirements of the project work must be taken into account. You should discuss working times and holidays in advance with your thesis supervisor.

The Master thesis project takes exactly one year, start date and end date are fixed in the Learning Agreement. If you do one or two 3.5-weeks block courses in between, you can allow for this time in he Learning Agreement.

A prolongation of the MSc thesis project time is only possible in case of an unforeseen, imperative event such as a longer illness. In such a case, you must contact your supervisor, the Master coordinator and the Studienkoordination immediately.

Download FAQ on Master's thesis layout (PDF, 96 KB) (PDF, 79 KB)

The master's thesis must be submitted in its final version in printed form to the office of the study coordination by the submission deadline, and also sent as a PDF document via email to

The PDF must also be uploaded to The master's coordinator is responsible for grading and has the authority to reject unsatisfactory master's theses. A single repetition of the master's thesis (with a new topic) is allowed.

Very rarely, it is possible to do a 45 ECTS (9 months) thesis project and a 3 months Research Project (BIO 500, 15 ECTS), er even a 30 ECTS thesis (6 months) and two Research projects. This must be planned in advance and noted in the Learning Agreement.

The mandatory module BIO 520 "Integrated Knowledge in Biology"

This module contains about 6-8 weeks of self study, followed by an oral and a written exam in the same week (usually on the same day). Usually, it is scheduled 8 weeks after hand-in of the Masters thesis. In some concentrations, it can done before or during the MSc thesis project year, in this case about 2 months time must be allowed in the Learning Agreement.

In this exam, students demonstrate their understanding and command of relevant biological facts, methods and concepts. They identify and explain interrelationships between the various facts, methods and concepts and show they are able to summarize and critically review scientific literature efficiently and effectively. The module allows students to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of specialized areas of the Biology curriculum, especially – but not only – in the area of their chosen Master's concentration.

The content and dates of the exams is given by the Master coordinator of your concentration. The written exam takes 3 hours, the oral exam 30-60 minutes. 

If you are ill, you must inform the examinators immediately, the exam will then be postponed to the next possible date. You must pass both the oral and the written part. The module is considered as passed when in each of the two parts (oral exam / written exam) the grade of 4 is reached. Each part can be repeated once.

Apply for the Masters degree (twice!)

At the end of your studies, as soon as you completed all requirements (including handing in the MSc thesis and doing the exam for BIO 520, and the Minor modules if you have a Minor), you must apply for graduation via the StudentAdmin tool of the Faculty of Science:
In case of questions you will be contacted by the Office of Student Affairs (Studiendekanat MNF) by e-mail.

Subsequently, when all grades are visible in your account, you must apply to graduate via the “Study Progress & Graduation” app (see After having received a provisional confirmation of your degree by the Office of Student Affairs (Studiendekanat MNF), you can then withdraw from UZH.


Weiterführende Informationen

Do you own a Bachelor degree from an university other than the University of Zurich?

Mehr zu Do you own a Bachelor degree from an university other than the University of Zurich?

Students with a Bachelor degree from an university other than the University of Zurich must apply online at UZH


UZH Zurich

Division of Biology

Academic support office

Universität Zürich-Irchel
Winterthurerstrasse 190
CH-8057 Zürich

studienkoordination *

Phone +41 44 63 54863