Study programs structure
The Master’s programs at EPFL are designed to be flexible and give students the opportunity to customize their curricula according to their ambitions and aspirations. All programs consist in two steps: the Master’s cycle (60 or 90 ECTS depending on the program) followed by a one-semester Master’s thesis (30 ECTS).
The Master’s cycle consists of compulsory courses, a wide range of elective courses, and semester projects undertaken in research laboratories. Courses can be grouped together to form an orientation, a specializations or a minor.
Orientations, specializations and minors
Depending on their course of study, Master’s students may choose a number of courses in order to form an orientation, a specialization or a minor. All three allow students to broaden their knowledge and diversify their profile, thus giving them a major advantage in the professional world and opening the way to a wide variety of career perspectives.
An orientation is a grouping of courses within the same field. Orientations allow students to broaden their knowledge of key topics in their main discipline and build their curriculum around these topics, thus giving a certain coloration to their Master’s studies. The number of ECTS relative to orientations varies according to the programs. The credits must be acquired during the Master’s studies.
A specialization is a set of courses allowing students to deepen their knowledge of a specific aspect of their main discipline. It therefore offers them the opportunity to develop expertise in a particular area of their Master’s program. A specialization corresponds to 30 ECTS that must be acquired during the Master’s studies. The specialization is mentioned in the Diploma Supplement.
A minor is a group of compulsory and optional courses from one or more Master’s programs. Minors allow students to complement the learning in their main discipline with knowledge related to another field of competence. EPFL offers a wide choice of disciplinary and interdisciplinary minors. They all correspond to 30 ECTS that must be acquired during the Master’s studies. The minor is mentioned in the Diploma Supplement.
All Master’s degree fields offer a disciplinary minor to students from other study programs. Therefore, all students have the possibility of adding a minor to their curricula to complete their initial training by creating a synergy with another EPFL course of study. For example, a Master’s degree in Architecture can be complemented with a minor in Civil Engineering, or a Master’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering with a minor in Mechanical Engineering.
Interdisciplinary minors often group together courses from several Master’s programs. Some consist of a multidisciplinary topic, such as the minor in Energy, which is related to several EPFL study fields. Others offer complementary education to the classical engineering curriculum, such as the minor in Management, Technology and Entrepreneurship, which adds entrepreneurial skills to the knowledge acquired in engineering.
Internship and Master’s thesis
In addition to the compulsory and optional courses that form the basis of Master’s studies, students who follow an engineering program complete an internship in a company and all students perform a Master’s thesis. These two major projects encourage autonomy and foster a quick integration into working life.
All students who follow an engineering program are required to complete an internship in a company. The internship, which lasts a minimum of eight weeks, is an integral part of the curriculum. This experience offers Master’s students a practical immersion in the professional world and allows them to be operational as soon as possible when they start their career.
The 17-week Master’s thesis is a research project in an EPFL laboratory. It can also be performed at a partner university, but must be under the supervision of an EPFL professor. An extension to 25 weeks is possible if the Master’s thesis is carried out in an industry milieu, which allows for an early immersion in a professional environment.
Diploma and title obtained
Upon completion of their Master’s curricula, students obtain an EPFL Master of Science. Depending on the Master’s study program, the diploma also gives graduates the right to use the title of EPF qualified Engineer, Mathematician, Physicist, Chemist or Architect.