Master in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Sciences


Program Description

Application deadline update

  • Non-EU/EEA students: 1 May (the original deadline of 1 April has been extended due to COVID-19)
  • EU/EEA students and students who do not need a study visa/residence permit through VU Amsterdam*: 1 June (the original deadline of 1 May has been extended due to COVID-19)

MSc in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy

If you are interested in clinical research and in musculoskeletal health, the Master programme Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Sciences might be exactly what you are looking for.

Musculoskeletal disorders are the leading cause for functional disabilities and physiotherapy treatment. Scientific research on musculoskeletal health has increased exponentially over the last 10 to 15 years, both in volume and quality. As a clinician or therapist, reading the literature is one way to stay up-to-date. Yet, you will much better understand and value the ins and outs of scientific research when you do research yourself.

In our Master programme, you will learn how to conduct high quality research in the field of musculoskeletal physiotherapy; from searching for theoretical evidence of clinical problems to translating knowledge into clinical solutions. You will perform pre-clinical research in a lab-environment, and apply the acquired knowledge and skills in your own (clinical) research project. This Master programme is unique in its multidisciplinary focus on clinical experimental research in musculoskeletal physiotherapy. It offers you the necessary scientific expertise to advance physiotherapy practice.

Study programme

The Master's degree programme Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Sciences is a one-year, full-time programme (for part-time options, see below). The programme is taught in English. Various teaching formats are used: lectures, practicals, work groups, seminars and directed self-guided learning. The different formats enhance your theoretical knowledge and research skills, and integrate those within the context of relevant physiotherapy-related problems. The programme also involves a 5-month substantial individual research project. This project can be conducted within the labs of our own faculty or in clinical practices that are part of the VU Science Network. Selected students can conduct their research project abroad. Regardless of the location, you will be supervised by an experienced staff member from our faculty.

The programme
The Master programme consists of 60 EC. The study load of most courses is 6 EC, elective courses are 3 EC and the research project is 24 EC. The programme is spread over 6 blocks. In block 1-3 (September – January), the educational programme will start with courses on clinical experimental research related to current “hot” topics as pain, body and mind, arthroses, aging, low back pain and clinical exercise physiology. Basic principles of data acquisition and data processing in measuring human movement will be trained and supported by advanced knowledge on research methodology (design, statistics and appraisal). The focus will be on the translation of this knowledge and skills to clinical practice. In blocks 4-6 (February – June) you will prepare and perform your individual research project. In parallel, you can select two elective courses based on your individual interest.

Studying part-time
The Master programme can also be followed part-time over a two-year period. Please contact the academic advisors to discuss the possibilities for tuning this part-time option to your individual situation.

Career prospects

With a Master's degree in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Sciences a large and varied range of career opportunities awaits. Graduates of the programme may use their scientific perspective and training to join or return to clinical practice, being more competitive for (more senior and leadership) positions. Having a Master's degree from a leading institution can be helpful when applying for management or policy-making positions in physiotherapy, exercise therapy, occupational therapy or physician/ specialist care. Others may aspire to an academic or commercial research career. The programme is an ideal preparation to commence a PhD in Physiotherapy or related fields in Health Sciences.

Shortlist of career opportunities:

  • Academic trained clinician / physiotherapist
  • Clinical movement analyst
  • Clinical exercise physiologist
  • Embedded scientist
  • Lecturer in higher education
  • Researcher (PhD)
  • Manager / policy maker
Note that since the Master’s programme Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Sciences is an academic programme, clinical training is not included. Therefore, you will not receive a Certificate of Registration (BIG-registration) within the programme.

Why VU Amsterdam?

A programme with a unique focus
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is the first university in The Netherlands (and probably the world) to offer a dedicated scientific Master programme in clinical experimental research in musculoskeletal physiotherapy. It is an excellent stepping-stone to a clinical or research career.

Learn and team up with the best
We have a long tradition of providing excellent education and research. Our staff are recognised as international experts and leaders in various fields, such as physiotherapy, human movements sciences, clinical psychology, biomechanics and physiology.

An integrated approach
We conduct applied clinical research and fundamental research to discover, diagnose and manage biologically plausible contributors to pathology of musculoskeletal disorders. Both biological and psychosocial factors are considered. Thanks to the integration of basic and applied clinical sciences – often within one research group – discoveries in the lab influence clinical practice, and clinical research questions drive lab experiments. The overall goal is to advance physiotherapy practice.

A national and international network
We have a vast national and international network. The Master's degree programme is linked to the Professorial Chair in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy at VU Amsterdam, which is supported by the Dutch Physiotherapy Association (KNGF). Our faculty has a national science network of physiotherapy clinical practices which participates actively in research. (Exchange) students and staff collaborate closely with international partners in Europe, Australia and the United States.

A personal touch while being part of an international group
We value personal interaction and student well-being. There is flexibility in the programme thanks to optional courses and a wide range in choices in research topics. We value close interactions between students, lecturers and researchers. It is also inspiring to be part of an international group of like-minded people who want to advance physiotherapy practice. The student social club of the faculty further enhances the friendly and welcoming environment.

Enjoy your time in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is an inspirational and vibrant city that provides plenty of opportunities for relaxing, making friends, and expanding your horizons. Living in this charming city will give an extra boost to your experiences as an international student.

Admission and application

To gain admission to the programme we have 3 requirements:

First, to gain admission to the programme we require sufficient knowledge and insight on clinical reasoning. Applicants who a successfully completed the following Bachelor of Science programmes meet this requirement:

  • Physiotherapy
  • Occupational or exercise therapy (Cesar Mensendieck)
  • Medicine

Second, sufficient knowledge on basic mathematical and analytical skills are required to successfully complete our academic Master programme. This requirement can be met in either of the following ways:

  • By successfully completing an academic Bachelor of Science programme
  • By successfully completing courses on mathematical and analytical skills at an academic level. The Admission Board will determine whether the courses taken are of a sufficient level.
  • By completing a GMAT test. For admission, a minimum score of 300 is required to be eligible for admission. Note that successful students of the master’s programme Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Sciences typically have a GMAT score of at least 450. If your score is between 300-450, we therefore advise you to follow an additional educational programme to meet the required mathematical and analytical standards.

More information on the GMAT and the costs. Please note that it takes time to make a GMAT test and to receive the results! On average the process will take you three months. The cost of this test is about 250 US Dollar.

Third, VU Amsterdam requires all applicants for a Master’s programme, taught in English, to have a sufficient level of English. Therefore all apllicants have to to take an English language test and to submit their score as part of their application.

An exception is made for:

  • Students who completed their education in Canada, USA, UK, Ireland, New Zealand or Australia

The minimum English language proficiency requirements for admission are:

  • IELTS: 6.5 - please note that candidates must take the Academic test and not the General one!
  • TOEFL paper-based test: 580
  • TOEFL Internet-based test: 92
  • Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE): A, B, C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): A, B, C
  • VU-test English-language proficiency: TOEFL ITP: 580

To apply for the Master programme Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Sciences, you need to complete the appropriate forms and submit them together with the required documents. Please consult the complete admission procedure. You will receive a letter from the Admission board with their decision regarding your admission within 4 weeks.

The following documents are required (to be submitted in English):

  • Copy of your valid passport
  • Copy of your diploma(s)
  • Transcript of records from you Bachelor's programme
  • Relevant courses in statistics and methodology and the use of SPSS
  • English language test results

What if you do not meet all admission criteria? If you do not meet the admission criteria, the Admission board may decide that you are admissible after you have eliminated your deficiencies. These deficiencies depend on your educational background. Please contact us as soon as possible to find out whether this is the case for you, and which options you have to become admissible before the start of the new term.

  • For international students who have obtained a relevant Bachelor's degree in higher education in The Netherlands, this implies direct admission. Relevant Bachelor’s degrees obtained in the Netherlands are:
    • Physiotherapy
    • Occupational therapy
    • Exercise therapy (Mensendieck, Cesar)
    • Medicine

For students with another Bachelor's or Master's degree than those listed above, the Admission board will decide on whether or not you are admissible after you have eliminated specific deficiencies.

  • The Admission board will also determine whether the courses on mathematical and analytical skills are of an adequate standard.

Overview Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Sciences.

  • Language of instruction: English
  • Duration: 2 years
  • Application deadline: 31st of May for Dutch students and EU/EEA students with an international degree who do not need housing services through Vrije Universiteit
  • Start date: 1 September
  • Study type: Full-time
  • Field of interest: Health and Movement

Last updated Apr 2020

About the School

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is an internationally renowned research university founded in 1880. The university offers over 150 English taught programmes at Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD level to 23,00 ... Read More

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is an internationally renowned research university founded in 1880. The university offers over 150 English taught programmes at Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD level to 23,000 students from all over the world. Students and staff of 122 nationalities create a dynamic international academic community. The University distinguishes itself in research and education through four interdisciplinary themes: Human Health and Life Sciences, Science for Sustainability, Connected World and Governance for Society. Curious about student life at VU Amsterdam? Click here to ask our International Student Ambassadors. Read less