Structure and contents
The world is becoming increasingly complex, with simultaneous opposing demands for more specialisation, a broader understanding of issues, as well as an international outlook. While this is true for most fields, it is particularly the case in the domain of health, where science and its applications continue to gain in complexity and sophistication.
The Università della Svizzera italiana, Switzerland, offers a Master in Communication Management and Health (CMH), a degree that will prepare you to grasp the complexity of the health sector and to pursue fulfilling and diversified careers in health.
The purpose of the MCMH is to enable students to:
- comprehend the health sector;
- learn the required analytical/methodological skills to better understand and interact with the health sector and its changes;
- acquire practical skills in communication and management appropriate for the health context.
With an international and cross-disciplinary approach to both business and communication, the master in Communication, Management and Health provides you with a solid theoretical background in multiple academic disciplines such as:
- Health Communication
- Quantitative and qualitative Research Methodologies in Health Communication
- Introduction to Public Health
- Health policy
- Marketing and Management in Health Settings
Please note that the study programme refers to the 2019-2021 edition.
Previous study programmes are listed in the Quicklinks section.
Core topics in Health Communication & Management
6 3 6 6 6 6
Total ECTS - Fall semester
6 3 6 6 6
Total ECTS - Spring semester
3 3 3 3 3
Health Campaign Development and Evaluation
6 6 3 3
Total ECTS - Fall semester
Thesis and Field Project
21 Total ECTS - Spring semester 30 TOTAL ECTS 120
Slight changes in the study programme may occur.
*Courses organized by the Faculty of Economic Sciences
As part of their study curriculum, second-year students undertake a field project for a company, a non-profit association or any other organization in the health sector. It is a three-month consultancy project conducted in teams of three to four students under the supervision of the Institute of Communication and Health tutor teams.
The Field Projects: win-win for the students and the client organizations
The field projects provide a unique opportunity to the students to put into practice their theoretical knowledge and skills in communication, management and health acquired over two years. The students gain professional experience and meet with professionals and organizations in health that may become future employers.
The field project is a very sophisticated recipe. The client expects a refined dish. The ingredients needed are curiosity, creativity, discipline, timing and good organization. The possibility to work in a professional cuisine with experienced Chefs will help you through the process. The end result might tastes initially a bit spicy because of its challenging character, but the remaining flavor is a whole lot of satisfaction." Edoardo Madussi, MCMH student
The field projects are also very appreciated by the client organizations who can benefit from a free high quality consultancy project from a team of international Master's students qualified in communication, marketing and management, with a health focus. In a business environment where time and workforce resources may be stretched, students can bring a fresh external perspective to projects, as well as provide evidence-based analysis and recommendations. The organizations are promoted among the students and establish strong ties with the Institute of Communication and Health for potential future collaboration.
"The field project was a very useful experience for our foundation. With limited resources in time and money, we received an interesting report in high quality and as basis for further discussions. I am very satisfied with the process of the study as well as with the result." Günter Ackermann, quality and evaluation project manager, Health Promotion Switzerland.
Our partners for the field projects are:
Peter Schulz, Institute of Communication and Health, Full Professor, Director of ICH
What is MCMH all about? (i.e. could you briefly explain the topic of the master)
MCMH offers a unique opportunity to have a focused and in depth programme in the health sector while at the same time gain a broad understanding of how business and marketing functions operate.
What are the issues that you are passionate about within the field of CMH? and why?
Health communication, combined with management and marketing, are a real innovative and growing field both in academic research as well as in practice. Working in this field allows students to make an impact, to change something to the better in this area.
Could you mention the main strengths of the MSc in CMH offered at USI, compared to other Master’s programmes in CMH?
MCMH combines theoretical and practical knowledge and creates a solid link between concepts and their use in business by illustrating how theory can inform business analysis and decisions. It also offers the unique opportunity to acquire a focused and in-depth set of knowledge and skills related to the health sector, analytical skills and a broad understanding of how business and marketing functions operate.
What career opportunities are there for a graduate from the Master in CMH?
The primary job market for candidates earning this degree is the marketing and communication functions of pharmaceutical, bio tech, and insurance companies, hospitals, government and other organizations in the health sector where the combination of analytical skills and understanding of the health sector will provide a competitive advantage. The skills and knowledge obtained from the degree can also be used in many other areas such as communication, management, marketing and other market related functions.
What kind of skills and competencies should a student develop to start a successful career in CMH?
In order to lead a successful career in CMH, students need to acquire theoretical knowledge and research skills in the health sector and at the same time get a preparation in business and marketing. It is also helpful to get acquainted with the complexities of communicating and working in multicultural settings, which is becoming more and more crucial for both business and health sectors, and to develop the skill to collaborate on ongoing research projects commissioned by different stakeholders in the health domain (health promotion institutions, etc.)
What do you appreciate about USI/ or what features make USI special?
USI offers a professional, friendly, and personal learning environment as well as a highly innovative research spectrum. As such, USI is both rooted in the Swiss university system, as well as linked to numerous international research networks.
Unlike other Swiss universities, which are firmly rooted in the Swiss academic context, USI has no long and solid tradition to rely on. But this is hardly a drawback, however; on the contrary, a young USI is receptive to all sorts of opportunities to explore and pioneer. It is willing to take on enriching new initiatives; free to put forward strategies to meet the challenges confronting modern man: the environment, the economy, society, and the new technologies. If USI stands out in the Swiss academic landscape, it is partly for its original teaching programmes. These are informed by regional and historical-cultural motives, but equally by an inspired readiness to act on the reforms currently implemented in higher education.
What aspects of Lugano do you like?
Lugano is located in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, a privileged geographic position at the crossroads between Northern and Southern European cultures. It combines so to say the Northern sense of order with the flair of Italian life style. mountains, see, and a mild climate in winter.
Is there any academic figure that especially inspires you ?
One of the fathers of the discipline of communication science, Elihu Katz – he is still active and came to Lugano last year, teaching a seminar to the students –, conducted from his very beginning in academia several studies in the field of health. I was particularly impressed by one of these studies that dealt with how a medicament had become well-known in a community, with other words how certain idea had been diffused. The field of health communication had not yet been established, but he already anticipated a question that still today, 50 years after this study, is relevant and object of many other studies in the field.
What vision do you have for the future of the Master in CMH?
The Master in CMH should develop into the direction as it had been founded: to offer students an academically exciting program that combine both advanced research skills and theoretical knowledge on one side with real and relevant questions from the field on the other side. An international study program that will be at the forefront of the field, and which will continue to attract – as it does already now – highly qualified students from Switzerland and abroad.
Prof. Dr. Annegret Hannawa, Institute of Communication and Health, Università della Svizzera italiana, Lugano
In your opinion, why does health communication matter?
The way we communicate with each other impacts our health. In clinical settings, for example, patients and physicians need to exchange messages competently to facilitate positive treatment outcomes. This task is much more complex than it sounds. An ample amount of empirical investigations focus on the challenge of achieving optimal understanding among medical staff and in provider-patient dyads across diverse medical contexts. But the association between communication and health is also evident in interactions outside of medical care. For example, the way we communicate with our friends and loved ones can impact our psychological and physiological well-being. Also, how and what the media communicate to us can have an effect on our health. These are just a few examples of the many versatile facets that make health communication such a dynamic and trendy field of study.
Why are experts in health communication needed?
As I mentioned before, the study of health communication is very complex. It entails thorough investigations of verbal, nonverbal, and mediated human interaction that influences or is influenced by people's health status, health behaviors, and health beliefs. Furthermore, health communication occurs on a number of different levels, for example between a few individuals, among small groups, within or across institutions, and even on societal or cultural dimensions. Research to this date has only touched the tip of an iceberg, and many more future investigations are needed to enhance our understanding of what constitutes competent communication related to health. Experts are needed to contribute high-quality research to this endeavor and also to eventually translate the scientific findings into practice.
In Europe, Health Communication is a relatively new field compared to the USA. How do you see its future?
Health Communication is in fact a newer field of investigation in Europe. But interestingly, it also looks quite different. In the U.S., health communication is primarily investigated either in the communication discipline or in medicine-related fields. In Europe, the inquiry is much more interdisciplinary and international in nature. At our Institute of Communication and Health, for example, we represent a large variety of cultural and disciplinary backgrounds that range across humanistic and social scientific traditions. Integrating our perspectives adds great value to our research. Recent research by European scholars has made a visible impact on the field, and I have no doubt that we will continue to contribute to the study of health communication in significant ways.
What are the advantages for a student to pursue the Master in Communication, Management and Health?
Students will truly benefit from the diverse personal and scholarly perspectives we can offer them at the ICH. In addition, they get the opportunity to meet with top scholars in the field that visit us every semester in the framework of our Ph.D. program. In their fourth semester, they also get a chance to apply their knowledge in the form of a field project in local companies. These are just a few examples that add to the uniqueness and versatility of our Master program.
What do you appreciate about USI and about Lugano?
There are many sides of USI and Lugano that I appreciate very much. If I had to pick one, it would be the collegiate and scholarly character of the University, and of course the diverse scenic attractions Lugano has to offer!
The admission to English-language Master programmes at USI requires a good command of English. Non-native English speakers applying to the Master’s or whose previous degree was obtained in another language, are required to provide an internationally acknowledged language certificate equal to the B2 level as defined by the Common European Framework of Reference for language learning (CEFR) or equivalent (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS, etc.).
The B2 level on the CEFR corresponds to the following scores in internationally acknowledged exams:
Listening & Reading: 785
*Due to the current health emergency, USI temporarily accepts TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition and IETLS Indicator as alternatives to the standard tests.
Students admitted under the above-mentioned condition must achieve a C1 competence in English within the maximum time required to obtain the Master's degree.
The level can be certified either by attending a language course offered at USI during the Fall and Spring semester, and by taking the final exam, or by providing an internationally acknowledged language certificate*.
* The C1 level on the CEFR corresponds to the following scores in internationally acknowledged exams:
C1 Advanced, grade C or above
BEC (Business English), grade C or above
Listening & Reading: 945
We only accept the English qualifications mentioned above. The certificate must still be valid at the point of the application. In general, we are not able to accept language test results older than 3 years, as of September 1st.
As Lugano is located in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, students might be interested in acquiring the basics in Italian.
The Università della Svizzera italiana offers a free of charge Italian language course: further information can be found here.
Exceptional Measure for the A.Y. 2020/21: when do I have to submit my English language certification?
Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society / Economics / Informatics: by 30 December 2020.
If a student/student fails to obtain the required level of English by the deadline, enrolment in the 2021 winter session will be cancelled, the exams taken in the intermediate session will be invalidated and admission to the Master's degree will not be confirmed.
Candidates will also be required to reach level C1 by the deadline for obtaining the degree.
- Faculty of Communication, Culture and Society / Economics / Informatics: by 30 December 2020.