Master's Programme in Life Science Technologies
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About the studies
Technological innovations have become an essential part of modern healthcare, well-being and bioeconomy. Therefore, both in academic research and industry there is an increasing need for people who can deal with today's increasingly complex biomedical problems.
The Master's Programme in Life Science Technologies offers a multidisciplinary curriculum focusing on important aspects of current biomedical research, covering fields such as bioinformatics, bioelectronics, biomaterials, biomedical engineering, biosystems, complex systems and neuroscience. The programme is closely linked to research conducted in the participating schools and departments.
In the programme, students get cutting-edge knowledge of biological systems and phenomena in life sciences, acquire skills in modelling, data analysis, measurement technologies, designing, conducting and reporting experiments, and learn to apply the skills and knowledge in important problems related to life sciences.
Major or field of specialisation
Students can choose from six majors:
- Bioinformatics and Digital Health,
- Biomedical Engineering,
- Biosensing and Bioelectronics,
- Biosystems and Biomaterials Engineering,
- Complex Systems, and
- Human Neuroscience and Technology
It is possible to combine different fields with minor and elective studies.
The graduates from the Life Science Technologies programme find careers include R&D and consulting in the medical and health technology industry as well as research in the academia. Health technology is one of the most significant high growth technology sectors in Finland, with over 300 companies currently employing over 11000 people. Helsinki region is one of the most important hubs in health technology in Northern Europe. According to HealthTech Finland (https://healthtech.teknologiateollisuus.fi/en), Finnish health tech companies often combine advanced technology including artificial intelligence, robotics, internet of things, digital services, and information collected by national health authorities like genomic data. These products, services and solutions are also often based on new and innovative cooperation between the municipalities, hospital districts and private companies.
In research, the high number of research groups in life sciences (several hundred) in the region provide good opportunities for internship and thesis work. The majors offered within the Life Science Technologies programme provide the graduates with cutting-edge scientific knowledge and skills enabling them to integrate into the international life science technologies job market, or to pursue doctoral studies in specialist fields.
The programme qualifies for doctoral studies (Doctor of Science in an applicable field).
Language of instruction
The language of instruction is primarily English, and the programme can be completed entirely in English. Some courses can be taken in Finnish or Swedish. More information is available in the General information about studies page (aalto.fi).
Content of the studies
The students selected to the programme may freely choose their major, provided they have the required background. The major will be selected as part of the personal study plan in the beginning of the studies.
Bioinformatics and Digital Health
The studies in Bioinformatics and Digital Health cover a wide range of topics in bioinformatics and computational systems biology. To better understand the methodological basis commonly used in the field, the major will provide students with a comprehensive background in probabilistic modeling, machine learning and data science.
The major is designed to give strong competences in
- computational and data science,
- skills for developing new computational methods and models, and
- applying them to real-world biomolecular data.
Examples of research questions studied include predicting drug-target interactions, reconstructing biological networks, finding associations between genotypes and diseases, and modelling dynamical behavior of complex biological pathways.
The major in Bioinformatics and Digital Health also offers a competitive doctoral track where a limited number of top students can be admitted. Students selected to the doctoral track can have their studies tailored towards pursuing PhD studies, and can start working towards a PhD in one of the department’s research groups already during their master studies. Applicants are asked to indicate their interest in entering the doctoral track in a motivation letter (as part of the online application). The best doctoral track applicants will be interviewed. Read more >>.
Biomedical Engineering builds on a solid basis of physics and technology to characterize, monitor, image and influence biological systems. This major introduces the student to the physics of biological systems in order to efficiently measure, image, and model such systems. In addition, it provides the student with basic knowledge and skills needed for developing novel engineering solutions for diagnosis and treatment in health care.
After completing the major, the student will be able to
- characterize biophysical systems by conceptual and quantitative models
- explain how the laws of physics enable and constrain the operation of biological systems
- follow the progress of biomedical engineering
- deepen his/her knowledge and skills of specific topics within biomedical engineering
- apply existing scientific knowledge of the field to research and development in the industry
- start translating new research results into product development in biomedical technology.
Biosensing and Bioelectronics
The major in Biosensing and Bioelectronics combines both theoretical and practical studies in designing, developing, fabricating and characterizing biosensors, biomedical devices and medical instrumentations. Hands-on experience is gained in order to understand the biocompatibility of both organic and inorganic materials used in electronics, as well as interactions between low frequency electromagnetic fields and living tissue, and in special applications these interactions even with single cells and biomolecules.
The target is to educate engineering experts, who have versatile comprehension of biosensors and other electronic applications. To accomplish this, the student is introduced to
- nanoscale phenomena,
- microfabrication techniques,
- biomaterials science,
- biochemical recognition of biomolecules,
- physical transducers,
- sensor technologies, and
- clinical equipment like medical imaging.
The tools needed in the development of innovations in the field of biosensors and bioelectronics are provided and the students are strongly encouraged to commercialize their own ideas.
Biosystems and Biomaterials Engineering
The major in Biosystems and Biomaterials Engineering provides a solid understanding of biological phenomena, biomaterials and small organic molecules important to the field of life science. At the core of the teaching are:
- the understanding of molecular and cellular level phenomena,
- reprogramming of cells,
- molecular design and characterization of small pharmaceutically active molecules, and
- the synthesis and characterization of biomaterials.
Specialization during the major allows acquiring in depth understanding in one of the selected fields or studying at the interface of the different fields.
The major in Biosystems and Biomaterials Engineering is strongly research driven and is tightly linked to research activities related to the fields of biotechnology, organic chemistry, chemical and biological microdevices, and polymer science at the School of Chemical Engineering. Employment sectors for graduates are within the broad context of engineering combined with chemistry and biotechnology within the pharmaceutical and medical technology industries.
Complex Systems is a transdisciplinary research area that builds on statistical physics, computer science, data science, and applied mathematics. The major in Complex Systems provides the students with tools to understand systems with large numbers of interacting elements, from the human brain to social networks and from living to technological systems.
Studies in Complex Systems will focus on system-level understanding as well as on giving the students hands-on experience in data-intensive research. The set of tools in the curriculum includes
- network science,
- nonlinear dynamics,
- agent-based modelling,
- machine learning, and
- Bayesian statistics, together with
- the fundamentals of dealing with empirical data and computational data analysis.
This interdisciplinary major is suitable for students from different backgrounds (e.g. physics, bioinformatics, computer science), and students can choose to put emphasis on computational data analysis, theory, or application areas, according to their own wishes.
The major in Complex Systems also offers a competitive doctoral track where a limited number of top students can be admitted. Students selected to the doctoral track can have their studies tailored towards pursuing PhD studies, and can start working towards a PhD in one of the department’s research groups already during their master studies. Applicants are asked to indicate their interest in entering the doctoral track in a motivation letter (as part of the online application). The best doctoral track applicants will be interviewed. Read more >>.
Human Neuroscience and Technology
Studies in Human Neuroscience and Technology draw from the world-class research conducted at the Department of Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering. The grand challenges in brain research are in better understanding the function of the human brain in health and disease, as studied in well-controlled and increasingly complex experimental settings, including during social interaction.
The aim of the major is to provide students with
- a profound understanding of the structure and functions of human brain,
- brain research methods and instrumentation, and
The teaching faculty consists of recognized scientists in their research fields studying functions of sensory systems and cognitive functions, and developing brain research technologies. The curriculum reflects the research interests of the teaching faculty.
The curriculum of the Human Neuroscience and Technology major is a carefully tailored combination of
- modern systems-level research methodology of the brain, mind, and human cognition,
- signal and computational analysis, and
- modelling methods.
The emphasis of the curriculum is experimental. Although regular lecture and course work is also required, part of the studies will take place in small groups under
the guidance of a senior scientist.
Structure of the studies
The Master’s Programme in Life Science Technologies consists of major studies (60 – 65 ECTS), elective studies (25 - 30 ECTS), and a master’s thesis (30 ECTS). See detailed course data for each major on the student portal Into.
Students are required to complete a Master's thesis, which is a research assignment with a workload corresponding to 30 ECTS credits. The student and the supervising professor agree upon the topic of the thesis. Master's theses are typically written for a company or for one of the research projects of the department in question.
The study environment in the Life Science Technologies programme is strongly international, and studies are conducted in multicultural groups. The School of Science offers diverse possibilities for student exchange all over the world. Exchange studies can be included in the degree e.g. as an international minor. Other possibilities for developing one’s global competence are e.g. conducting practical training abroad, taking a summer course abroad or acting as a tutor for first-year students.
Co-operation with other parties
The schools and departments have strong collaborations in with the academic and industrial partners in the HealthTech field nationally and internationally. In particular, Aalto contributes to the Health Capital Helsinki, an alliance formed by the City of Helsinki, the University of Helsinki, Aalto University and HUS – Helsinki University Hospital as well as Biodesign Finland (http://www.biodesignfinland.fi), an entrepreneurial program developed at Stanford University.
Health and Wellbeing (H&W) is one of the key research areas of Aalto University, with ca. 75 professors active in H&W. The research ares of H&W (http://health.aalto.fi/en/researchareas_faculty/) are closely aligned with the Life Science Technologies Msc programme. The H&W research area has very high scientific level, demonstrated by several National Centers of Excellence, a high-impact publication record, and the high volume of competitive research funding.
Programme-specific admission requirements
In addition to the general eligibility criteria and language requirements, applicants to the Life Science Technologies programme must meet the major-specific requirements listed below regarding the contents of their previous degree. The academic assessment of the applications is based on the evaluation criteria (see below).
Applicants to the Life Science Technologies programme should have a high-quality Bachelor's degree, primarily in the field of Engineering, Technology or Science. A suitable degree should contain in total at least 90 ECTS (90 ECTS corresponds to approximately 1,5 years of full time studies) credits of studies belonging in at least two of the three following subject categories:
- computational sciences: algorithms and data structures, artificial intelligence, computer programming, databases, human-computer interaction, machine learning and data science
- mathematics: calculus, discrete mathematics, linear algebra, probability, statistics
- natural sciences: biomedicine, biophysics, biotechnology, chemistry, molecular biology, neuroscience, material science, physics
Students selected to the programme may freely choose their major, provided that they have the required background. Please use the online self-evaluation form (link to be added soon), an additional part of the application requested from the LifeTech applicants, to test how well your background matches the required knowledge of your two most preferred majors. The suitability of each applicant for the two most preferred majors as indicated on the self-evaluation form is assessed during the admission. Students with insufficient background for their preferred majors can be rejected or might be asked to take complementary studies of up to 20 ECTS. The major selection will be finalized as part of the personal study plan in the beginning of studies.
The majors offered have the following specific requirements:
The student selection process is competitive and only the best applicants are selected. The evaluation of applications is conducted in the following two phases.
In phase I, the paper applications submitted by the applicants are evaluated based on the following criteria:
• Content of the previous degree(s)
• Study success: grades achieved and pace of studies
• Self-evaluation by the applicant
• Recognition and quality of the applicant's home institution
• Motivation for studies in the programme
• Language proficiency
• Relevant work experience or other relevant activities (publications, patents, etc.)
The two most important criteria are the previous study success and the contents of the degree completed. The applicant's study success in previous studies will be evaluated based on the grade point average (GPA) and results in key courses. Very good study success is expected. Self-evaluation is used to check the applicant’s study background against the requirements of the majors.
Based on the evaluation in phase I, the best applicants are allotted a time for an online interview. The final student selection decisions to the programme will be made on the basis of the interviews.
The programme does not have a minimum quota to be fulfilled, and not all eligible applicants will necessarily be admitted.
Studies in the Master's programme should provide genuinely new knowledge for the applicant. If the applicant already has a Master's degree, the motivation letter should clearly indicate why another Master's degree is necessary.
Required application documents
In addition to the compulsory application documents, applicants to this programme are requested to provide the following additional documents:
- Degree certificate and/or an official transcript of records for studies that are referred to in the application, but are not included in the Bachelor's degree transcript.
- At least one academic recommendation letter.
- Copies of relevant certificates of other activities such as patents, publications, work certificates (optional).
- GRE test results if taken (please include a paper copy of the result).
- Applicants are also asked to submit LifeTech's self-evaluation form online (link to be added soon).
Applicant’s motivation letter (compulsory part of the online application form) should be written in English. Also additional application documents described above (recommendations letter(s), work or other certificates, and publications) should preferably be submitted in English. If some other language than English, Finnish or Swedish is used in them, the applicant must provide precise, word-for-word translations of them.
For enquiries regarding the application process, application documents and language tests, please contact [email protected].
For enquiries regarding the content of programme and studies at the School of Science, please contact Learning Services of Aalto University School of Science, [email protected].
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