M.Sc. in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Sciences Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Musculoskeletal disorders generally lead to pain and restricted mobility. They are the leading cause of functional disabilities and physiotherapy treatment.
Scientific research on musculoskeletal health and clinical treatment has increased exponentially over the last 15 years. By learning to conduct clinical research yourself, as a clinician or therapist you will better understand and value the possibilities, limitations, and results of scientific evidence from clinical research as well as its translation into clinical practice.
In this one-year Master’s program, you will receive theoretical education within the context of clinical challenges on musculoskeletal disorders and physiotherapy, as well as skills in clinical experimental data collection, data analyses, and research methodology.
This master's is unique in its multidisciplinary focus on both clinical experimental research (e.g., underlying mechanisms of pain or pathophysiology) and applied studies (like virtual reality or eHealth interventions).
To follow this program, a background with skills in clinical reasoning is needed and a pre-master is not required. The program is fully in English and can be followed part-time.
This Master’s program is unique in its multidisciplinary focus on clinical experimental research in musculoskeletal physiotherapy.
The program has close connections with the Master’s program in Human Movement Sciences but differs mainly in its focus and approach to addressing musculoskeletal problems from a clinical and applied perspective.
It offers you the necessary scientific expertise, grounded in an academic attitude and skills, to advance physiotherapy practice.
The Master's program in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Sciences is a one-year, full-time program. It is also possible to do the program part-time. The program is taught in English.
Dynamic teaching methods
In this program, we use various teaching methods such as lectures, practicals, workgroups, seminars, and directed self-guided learning. We also apply blended learning by combining on-site and online teaching. This makes the program and your learning dynamic. The different formats enhance your theoretical knowledge and research skills and integrate those within the context of practical problems related to physiotherapy.
This Master’s program consists of 60 EC. In the first semester, you will take 6 required courses (each 6 EC), in which you will acquire in-depth knowledge of physiotherapy, develop scientific skills, and apply methodology regarding data acquisition and analyses. During the second semester, you will take elective courses related to research skills and methods (generally 3 EC) and conduct your individual research project (24 EC).
Individual research project
During the program, you will conduct a five-month substantial individual research project. This project can be conducted within the labs of our own faculty or in clinical practice, such as one that is part of the VU Science Network. You can also choose to conduct your research project abroad. Regardless of where you decide to conduct your internship, you will be supervised by an experienced member of our academic staff.
Optional: Become a qualified lecturer in higher education
As part of this master’s program, you can also choose to obtain the qualifications to become a lecturer in higher education (taught only in Dutch). This additional program component consists of an additional 30 EC. Additional information about this option can be found here.
The Master’s program can also be followed part-time over a two-year period. Please contact the academic advisors to discuss the possibilities for adapting this part-time option to your individual situation.
The program is spread over 6 blocks. In blocks 1 – 3 (September – January), you will take courses on clinical experimental research related to current physiotherapeutic topics such as:
- current challenges in musculoskeletal health (for example osteoarthritis, aging, low back pain)
- clinical exercise physiology
You will be trained in the basic principles of data acquisition and data processing in measuring human movement. This is supported by advanced knowledge of research methodology (design, statistics, and appraisal). The focus is on translating this knowledge and these skills into clinical practice.
In blocks 4 – 6 (February – June), you can select two elective courses based on your interest. In parallel, you will prepare and conduct your individual research project.
Teaching in higher education
If you’re considering a future in education and academia, you may want to enhance your teaching skills as well. Each year, the Research Master’s program offers 15-20 students the opportunity to acquire an accreditation for teaching in higher education. Because this accreditation is only valid in the Netherlands, this additional program is taught exclusively in Dutch.
As a graduate of the program, you can use your scientific perspective and training to join or return to clinical practice.
Your degree will enable you to work as an academically trained scientist/therapist, pursue a scientific career in physiotherapy sciences, become a teacher in higher (physiotherapy) education, or can make you a more competitive candidate for senior and leadership positions.
What can you do after your Master's degree?
Start working or continue your career
The Master’s program in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Sciences makes you well-qualified for a variety of professional positions, including:
- Academically-trained clinician/physiotherapist
- Clinical movement analyst
- Clinical exercise physiologist
- Product specialist in technological rehabilitation
- Embedded scientist
- Lecturer in higher education
- Researcher (Ph.D.)
- Manager/policy maker