Life Sciences – Regional Management in Mountain Areas (the Alpine Master’s)

The MSc for professionals in regional development and mountain areas. Hone your methodical and management skills, and your specialist knowledge in forest or agricultural sciences with a focus on mountain areas.

MSc in Life Sciences degree programme – Regional Management in Mountain Areas (the Alpine Master’s)

  • makes you a specialist in mountain areas: all the subject matter is geared to mountainous regions and addressed using examples from the Alps.

  • makes you an expert in regional development: the focus is on the interactions between nature, land use, society and policy.

  • prepares you for future leadership roles: in addition to specialist knowledge, you will acquire a wide range of methods, you will also hone your social and leadership skills.

  • expands your network: in class, internships and your thesis work, you will interact with a host of players in the sector.

  • is practice-based: excursions, presentations and case studies will be based on real-life practical examples, and your master’s thesis will take a hands-on approach.


  • Title/Degree MSc BFH in Life Sciences
  • Specialisations Agricultural Science or Forest Science
  • Mode of study Full-time (3 semesters), part-time (4-6 semesters)
  • Start date Spring: calendar week 7
    Autumn: calendar week 38
  • Application deadline Programme start autumn: 30 April
    Programme start spring: 30 September
    Later registrations will be considered up to 30 June or 30 November at the latest, subject to availability of places.
    Deadline for people who need a visa: 30 April or 30 September.
  • ECTS credits 90 ECTS credits
  • Teaching language English and German
  • Location Zollikofen (Switzerland)
  • School School of Agricultural, Forest and Food Sciences HAFL
  • Next info event 20.08.2024, 7.30pm–8.30pm (CET), ONLINE via Microsoft Teams
    19.09.2024, 6.30pm–7.30pm (CET), ONLINE via Microsoft Teams


Structure + Content

Mountain areas have special potential and present special challenges. They provide unique landscapes, decentralised value creation and diverse social and cultural patterns. At the same time, though, nature conservation and protection of the landscape often seem incompatible with economic interests. Climate change, growing integration into world markets and the emigration of the mountain population are giving rise to new challenges.
The regional management of mountain areas requires specialists who are familiar with these features and trends and can adopt an interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral approach to their work, focusing on practicality and goals. The MSc in Life Sciences with the ‘Regional Management in Mountain Areas’ (Alpine master’s) major equips you for precisely this task.

Learning Outcomes

  • The Alpine master’s programme will equip you with sound professional knowledge of regional management in mountain areas – you will become an expert in your field.

  • You decide whether to focus on agricultural or on forestry aspects – the Alpine master’s builds on expertise from both sectors.

  • You will develop the ability to delve quickly and independently into unfamiliar areas, then implement your new knowledge in practice.

  • You will master a broad spectrum of methodological and leadership skills and learn to manage complex projects competently.

  • You will become adept at making scientific contributions in multidisciplinary teams.

Testimonial Tabea Bischoff Enlarge image

Programme structure

You will take interdisciplinary foundation modules such as Innovation and Project Management. These core-competence modules are offered to all students on all MSc in Life Sciences programmes. You will also take modules which teach key agricultural and forest skills. From a range of major-specific modules, you choose those modules that will best help you to hone your specialist knowledge and develop your interests in current and exciting subject areas.

At the heart of your studies is your master’s thesis. This is generally embedded within a BFH-HAFL project, but may also be conducted with an external institution or company – for example, your employer.

 Master’s thesis – the core of your studies     30 credits
 Specialisation modules  min. 30 credits
 Cluster-specific modules (Environment Cluster)  min. 9 credits
 Core-competence modules (Data and Business Management)  min. 12 credits



You decide in the light of your previous education, interests and career plans whether you want to focus on agricultural science or in forest science in the Alpine master’s programme.

During this major, you will combine your knowledge of ecological and socio-economic issues with the management of regional development in mountain areas. You will therefore be studying how nature, land use, society and politics interact. In particular, you will examine:

  • the agricultural use of the Alpine region
  • specific natural hazards and risk management
  • current methods for geospatial analysis, such as GIS
  • changing living conditions in the Alpine region
  • project management
  • regional planning
  • nature reserves
  • tourism
  • leadership and human resources management
  • public relations and conflict management

The content relates specifically to mountain areas and is illustrated by examples from the Alps.

Testimonial Kevin Suhr Enlarge image

Mode of study + Duration

The degree programme is completely modular and allows you to choose those modules which correspond to your interests and which are compatible with your professional activity and/or family obligations. The high proportion of self-study also contributes to this flexibility.

Some cooperation modules are offered as one-week compact courses. The others take place over seven weeks on Thursdays or Fridays. The advanced modules usually last five weeks in a row - from Monday to Wednesday. In the autumn semester, a two-week block takes place at the Ospiz Chapella field station in the Engadin valley in eastern Switzerland.

The full-time programme lasts three semesters. If you study part-time, you should ideally complete your studies after six to seven semesters. You will study part-time together with the regular students, but take fewer modules per semester. As the timetable changes each quarter, your employer and/or family will need to be flexible.

Structure + Modules

Effective from 1 August 2023
Code   Module title   ECTS   Module type
    Major-specific modules – compulsory        
AF-51   Agricultural and Forest Production in Mountain Areas    → Module video   5   compulsory
AF-52   Natural Hazards and Risk Management    → Module video   5   compulsory
AF-53   Analysis of Spatial Data – GIS    → Module video   5   compulsory
AF-55   Regional Management, Tourism and Parks    5   compulsory

RMA Integrated Project

  5   compulsory
AF-56   Landscape development and planning   5   compulsory
    Minimum required   30    
    Further specialization modules – compulsory optional        
AF-03   Integrated Natural Resources Management   5   optional
AF-24   Advances in Agricultural and Forest Sciences   5   optional
AF-32   Policies and Institutions as Drivers for Development and Innovation   5   optional
    Cluster-specific modules – compulsory optional        
E1   Journal Club Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences   3   optional
E2   Life Cycle Assessment   3   optional

Sustainable Natural Resource Management   

  3   optional

Ecological Infrastructure in Landscapes

  3   optional


  3   optional

Water Management for Households, Industry and Agriculture

  3   optional
    Minimum required   9    
    Core competence modules – compulsory optional        

Business Administration for Life Sciences

  3   optional

Management and Leadership for Life Sciences

  3   optional

Innovation and Project Management

  3   optional

Politics and Society

  3   optional

Handling and Visualising Data

  3   optional

Design and Analysis of Experiments

  3   optional

Modelling and Exploration of Multivariate Data

  3   optional
D4   Data and Ethics   3   optional
    Minimum required
One of the modules D1, D2 or D3 must be successfully passed
All areas   Minimum required (has to be completed by taking optional modules)   60    
Thesis   Required from master’s thesis   30    
Total   Minimum required   90    

Student mobility

Outgoing Mobility

You can spend an exchange semester at one of our partner universities during your Master's programme. Inform us at an early stage if you are planning a study exchange. We are happy to advise and support you.

Incoming Mobility

Would you like to spend an exchange semester or year at BFH-HAFL in Switzerland? If your home university is on our list of partner universities, please contact your International Office. If not, they should contact us.

  • Application deadline
    For the autumn semester: 15 April
    For the spring semester: 15 October
  • Language
    The Master’s programme is taught in English.
  • Accommodation
    There is a hostel for students on the BFH-HAFL campus. However, the demand for rooms is much higher than the availability.

Students’ projects + theses


The MSc in Regional Management in Mountain Areas is part of the Master of Science in Life Sciences programme, which is offered in cooperation by four Swiss universities of applied sciences:

Eligibility + Entry

To take our Alpine master’s course, you must hold a bachelor’s degree in agriculture or forest science or a related field and have a good knowledge of English and German.

You will be accepted to the programme if you hold a bachelor’s degree from a Swiss university of applied sciences in one of the following fields of study and graduated with a grade of at least 5:

  • Agriculture
  • Forest science
  • Geography
  • Biology
  • Tourism
  • Landscape architecture
  • Environmental engineering
  • Nature management

Do you have a degree in a different discipline? Was your final grade lower than a 5? Did you earn your degree in a different country? If so, you must pass an aptitude assessment.

Do you have a bachelor’s degree from an academic university? If so, you must provide evidence of at least half a year of work experience in an area we have approved.

Language skills

The teaching languages in this major are English and German. We recommend that you have at least B2 level of the European Language Portfolio in both languages. You may write your master’s thesis in English, German or French (or in Italian or Spanish, by request).

Applying from abroad

We review each international application individually. Please send questions to before submitting your official application.


If you do not meet all of our requirements, you may work with the programme administrators to create an individual action plan for filling these gaps.

At the heart of the aptitude test is a structured interview, graded according to the following criteria: conceptual skills, analytical thought, ability to make connections, specialised knowledge and motivation.

Qualification + Career prospects

Upon completing this programme, you will have acquired the skills that employers demand for management positions: practical specialists who can work scientifically and manage complex, multidisciplinary projects competently.

Title + Degree

Upon successful completion of the programme you will be awarded the title «Master of Science in Life Sciences with Specialisation in Forest Science» or «Master of Science in Life Sciences with Specialisation in Agricultural Science» from Bern University of Applied Sciences.

Testimonial Franziska Imhof Enlarge image

Career prospects

With the Alpmaster’s you will be well prepared to take on challenging leadership roles in companies, associations, NGOs or local government or to pursue applied research – in the public or private sector. You will be qualified for posts in the fields of regional development, nature parks and protected areas or in related sectors including agriculture and forestry.

Practicalities + Application

Planning ahead will help you organise and coordinate your studies so that they fit with work or family obligations.

Programme start autumn

  • Deadline for registration: 30 April
  • Start of programme: calendar week 38 (AF-03 calendar week 36)

Programme start spring

  • Deadline for registration: 30 September
  • Start of programme: calendar week 7

A place on the programme is guaranteed if the registration is submitted by the applicable date and all conditions are met. Registrations after this date will be considered up to 30 June (autumn start) or 30 November (spring start) if places are available. 

Deadline for people who need a visa: 30 April or 30 September.


At BFH, different fees apply for programmes and examinations.

Application (per application)*

CHF 100


CHF 100

Tuition fees (per semester)

CHF 750

Tuition fees for international students*** (per semester)

CHF 950

Examination fee (per semester)

CHF 80

Fee for social, cultural and sport offerings (per semester)

CHF 24

Membership fee for the Bern University of Applied Sciences Student Association (VSBFH) (per semester)

CHF 15

* plus CHF 10 processing fee if paying by paying-in slip/paper invoice.
** If the application leads to matriculation, the matriculation fee is covered by the application fee.
*** International students are defined as persons of foreign citizenship who at the time of obtaining their university entrance qualification were domiciled under civil law neither in Switzerland nor the Principality of Liechtenstein. This rule applies as of the 2018/19 autumn semester.

Grants, loans and other funding options

Financial aid is available through grants and loans. Grants are one-off or ongoing payments that don’t usually have to be paid back provided you complete your course. Loans are one-off or ongoing payments that must be paid back after you finish your course.

Cantonal grants

Grants and loans for Swiss students and overseas students are generally paid out by the canton where the students’ parents are tax residents.

Students who have been tax residents in the Canton of Bern for at least two years are able to apply for cantonal grants and loans. Applications should be submitted to the Financial Aid Office at the Department of Education.

Further information (incl. financial aid calculator):

The websites, and European Funding Guide cover all the key information about grants in Switzerland and overseas.

Foundations and funds

There are also numerous private foundations and funds that offer financial support to students. The electronic foundation directory administered by the Federal Department of Home Affairs offers a comprehensive summary of these organisations and can be searched by keywords (e.g. student, research, financial aid, etc.). Other sources of funding include the foundation directories for individual cantons and private foundations.

The following foundations offer funding specifically to BFH students and students from other universities:

The full-time programme lasts three semesters. Part-time study is possible upon request but requires your employer and/or family to be flexible. Part-time and full-time students study together, with part-time students completing fewer modules in each semester.

Unsure whether this option is right for you? Please get in touch.


Please upload the following documents when registering online:

  • statement of personal motivation
  • curriculum vitae
  • identity card or passport
  • academic degree certificate(s)
  • transcript(s) of records
  • references/certifications of practical experience
  • upper secondary education (university entrance) certificate
  • confirmation of exmatriculation (if previously enrolled at another university)

Important: We require a certified translation of all documents issued in a language other than German, French, English, Italian or Spanish.


Still have questions about the degree programme? Attend one of our information events or arrange a personal consultation.

Student advisory service

The programme coordinator is happy to talk to you personally and answer any questions you may have.


Information events

Location + Facilities

The BFH-HAFL campus is located in Zollikofen, near Bern. Nestled among fields and forests, the location offers both the modern facilities you need for your studies and countless recreational options.

The campus of BFH-HAFL in Zollikofen provides modern lecture halls, labs and trial fields.

But our campus is more than just a place for studying: the pool, barbecue area, sauna and many other recreational offerings make it a fun place to spend your free time. There is also a student residence on site with some 140 furnished rooms and a cafeteria.