FAQ Master

Find the answer to the most frequently asked questions
Annual research event IBI | © EPFL Murielle Gerber

block is passed (and thus all the credits associated with the block are acquired) when all the subjects it contains have been examined at least once and the weighted average of the block is 4,00 or above.


Bloc 1 Core courses Life Sciences Engineering” block is passed when the 11 credits are obtained.

A group is passed when enough subjects in the group are passed (final grade 4,00 or above) to reach the number of credits associated with the group. Although an average is calculated, it has no bearing on the passing of the group.

Group 1 “Core courses Life Sciences Engineering” is passed when at least 12 credits are obtained.

Group 2 “Options” is passed when 45 credits are obtained. The 45 credits include the 30 credits of a minor (optional).
Courses from Group 1 “Core courses Engineering and Computation” and Group 5 “Innovation and entrepreneurship” (except MTE courses) may be counted in Group 2 “Options” if they are not validated in Group 1 or 5 respectively.

Group 3 “Industry internship” is passed when 8 credits are obtained.

Group 4 “Scientific thinking” is passed when the 4 credits are obtained

Group 5 “Innovation and entrepreneurship” is passed when 4 credits are obtained.

Group 6 “SHS” is passed when 6 credits are obtained.

Validation of a Specialization is optional and requires at least 30 ECTS credits with the same label (B, J, K, L) from “Core courses Engineering and Computation” and “Options”. However, a course can only be validated once, either in Group 1 “Core courses Engineering and Computation” or in Group 2 “Options”

Validation of a Minor is optional and requires at least 30 ECTS from the corresponding Minor study plan. N.B.: Students enrolled into the Minor in MTE are not allowed to take any additional credits in the Master in MTE (max. 30 and not more).

No, the Minor (30 ECTS specialization) “eats” credits of optional courses (Group 2 “Options”). Specific Minor courses, including a semester project, can be taken instead of optional courses. The total of the Master remains 120 credits.

You should contact the person responsible for the given Minor. There is a responsible person in each section.

No, you can only do one Specialization or Minor (45 ECTS optional courses; Master cycle = 90 ECTS).

You have until the end of the first semester (MA1) to choose a Specialization or a Minor and validate the Academic Registration Form (FRAC): http://is-academia.epfl.ch/page-6244-en.html.

Yes, you need to indicate your Specialization or Minor when you validate the registration form (before the start of the second semester).

No, every course counts ONLY ONCE.

Yes, but you cannot validate one course twice (e.g. Group 1 and Group 2). If you reach 12 credits in Group 1 “Core courses Engineering and Computation”, the additional credit won’t count in the Group 2 “Options”.

Yes, you may exceed 45 credits. However, once you validated all Groups/blocs in the Master cycle (90 ECTS), you will be enrolled into the Master project (30 ECTS).

Student projects are available in SV laboratories or discussed with a potential head of lab.

Timing :

During the semester : 16h (or 24h/week for 12 ECTS) during 14 weeks
During the summer : 5 (or 8 weeks for 12 ECTS) full time; week = 42h

Or as discussed with a potential head of lab

Total workload = 240 or 360 hours

We encourage you to see different labs during your Master studies.

Registration: When you register on IS-academia, please download the form, ask your supervisor to sign it and send it to [email protected] for record.

Caution: You cannot do a Lab immersion in industry.

Lab immersion outside EPFL in academia (BIO-504)

Lab immersion outside EPFL in industry (BIO-506)

Download and complete the project proposal form (http://sv.epfl.ch/master_en ; under “FORMS) and submit it to the SV Section ([email protected]).

The form must be approved and signed by an EPFL supervising professor and the section’s representative.

External Master students must validate at least 90 ECTS credits within EPFL. This implies that external Master students may do a 22-credit lab immersion outside EPFL or a 30-credit Master thesis project outside EPFL but they may not do both.

No more than 30 credits can be taken from Lab immersions (including a minor project).

Yes, and priority will be given to 2nd attempts according to EPFL study regulations.

Caution: no withdrawal after registration deadline (Friday of the second week of the semester).

Yes, you can take 10 credits “Autres” (not listed in Life Sciences Engineering study plan) of optional courses (Group 2), in agreement with your study advisor.

Introduction to the project (3 credits) is in the fall. Don’t forget to register in MA1!

You can modify your course choice during the first two weeks of the semester.

Deadline for course registration: two weeks after the start of the semester.

If external Master students have an admission condition, they have to give priority to the requested course(s) and need to register in the first year of the Master.

Doing an internship in a company has become an integral part of the program for EPFL Master students. Its duration is minimum 8 weeks, maximum 1 semester (6 months).

It is possible to combine the industry internship with the Master project, by doing both in the same company, under certain conditions (see below). It is then necessary to differentiate between the internship part, of which the subject must ideally be related to an industrial objective, and the PDM part, which aims to develop deeper knowledge, understanding and skills on a topic related to the program of study, and to demonstrate the ability to carry out independent work in research or advanced development.

The industry internship must be done before the PDM and the combination of the two is dependent on having previously validated/completed all the groups of the Master cycle (except group 3 “Industry internship”). Please note that in addition to the mandatory industry internship, the student can do the PDM or a lab immersion out of EPFL (22 credits) in industry, but not both.

The validation procedure is different for the industry internship and the PDM :

  • The duration of the industry internship remains between 8 weeks and 6 months, and the internship agreement must be signed. The validation of the internship is done exclusively through the IS-Academia internship portal and does not require registration for a course. Read more information about the industry internship.
  • The duration of the PDM outside EPFL can be 17 weeks, or 25 weeks. It is necessary to find an EPFL supervisor who will have to validate the subject as a PDM, and fill in the registration form to be returned to Igor Allaman. It is possible, but not mandatory, to have an additional agreement signed for the PDM (under the responsibilty of the EPFL supervisor). Read more information and find documents for the PDM.

Yes, according to Swiss regulations is possible to extend your Master cycle (90 ECTS) from 3 semesters to max. 6 semesters and you have maximum 2 attempts for the Master thesis.

You have 2 attempts to pass a course according to EPFL requirements.

Only a limited number of students will be selected (max. 12), based on their application file. Selection of team participants is highly competitive. It usually takes place in February.


  • Project design during the spring semester (BA4, BA6, MA2)
  • The team will then model and ultimately build the proposed genetically engineered machine in the wet-lab portion of the project during the summer
  • Competition end of October (BA5, MA1, MA3)

Bachelor (BA4 and BA6)

  • BIOENG-390: Bachelor project in Life sciences (6 credits); registration in BA6

Master Life Sciences Engineering (Group 2 optional courses)

  • BIO-510: iGEM (12 credits); registration in MA3
  • BIO-511: iGEM Lab (6 credits)
    • Students who took iGEM as a bachelor project (BIOENG-390) may validate additional 6 credits in the Master; registration in MA1, MA2 or MA3