Student Experiences

Alumni from our International MSc programme


Ricardo Mesquita, Portugal, 2015-2017

I know I am biased but I am confident to say out loud and without doubt that this is one of the best master’s out there. Specially (but not only) if you are into scientific research! I did my MSc in Jyväskylä in 2015-2017, majoring in Exercise Physiology. Shortly after graduating, I was fortunate enough to be given a PhD scholarship here at Edith Cowan University (Australia). My passion towards Sports Science research came at an early age and I am absolutely sure that studying in Jyväskylä was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Once you step out of your comfort zone, you will feel amazed by the immensity of the potential you have and, more importantly, you will get to know a bit more about yourself. Why not do that in a beautiful country, with a fascinating culture, and in one of the best universities in the world? Jyväskylä enhanced my confidence and motivation to pursue my dream of bringing something truly meaningful to the world of Sports Science. You will be living in a multicultural environment, enrolled in an internationally recognised degree where students are given a very active role – you get to choose what to study and when to be assessed. Furthermore, you will have the tools and the mentors to engage in world class research and the opportunity to develop your own ideas under great supervision. During those 2 years, I found a passion towards neuromuscular research, I had the chance of working within the Research and Development team at the headquarters of Polar, I got to publish my research outputs and I was supported by the university to do a summer research internship in Canada and to travel and present at international conferences twice. Having said that, a lot of doors will be available to you – knock knock and open them! I was also lucky enough to witness the Aurora Borealis show more than 20 times... No kidding, a beautiful bonus! I had to say goodbye (for now) to the northern lights and frozen lakes but I am still in contact with Jyväskylä (of course I am!), collaborating in research projects by distance. I know that sooner or later, I will be there again for a visit. So maybe, see you soon? Embrace this opportunity and dare to step out of the box in the land of one thousand lakes!


Luca Ruggiero, Italy, 2013-2015

Luca Ruggiero.jpgLooking back on my time studying for an MSc in Jyväskylä (2013-2015), majoring in Biomechanics, it was a wonderful experience, both academically and personally. I graduated with a BSc degree in Sport Sciences in Italy (2009-2012), and spent almost one year doing both research and working with sport in the UK. I enrolled in this MSc programme as I wanted to better understand the neuromuscular aspects of human movement. The positive learning environment, the mentorship from my teachers, and the vibrant sport and movement culture in this city allowed me to really widen my knowledge and develop solid bases for the future, which I can now use to support athletes with research, as well as to train and improve their sport performance. I am applying for a PhD at the moment, and it is hugely satisfying that wherever you apply, this University is recognized for its outstanding quality and excellent reputation in the field of human movement science.     

Pedro Valadão, Brazil, 2010-2012

Pedro Valadao.jpgI did my master degree in Jyväskylä in 2010-2012, majoring in biomechanics. Shortly after graduating, I began working at Minas Tênis Clube, the biggest multi-sports club in Brazil. I had never worked with swimming before, and did not have any idea about technique, physiological demands etc. During my interview I explained that my knowledge in biomechanics could be applied to analyze any type of movement, and I just needed some time to adapt in order to figure out how to train the athletes. The fact that I had worked in the biomechanics lab during my bachelor degree summed with the master degree in Jyväskylä was definitely an important factor in them trusting me to handle such a specific demand with no previous experience. I’m working with the professional swimming team, which won the 3 main competitions in Brazil in 2013. I am responsible for the strength and flexibility training of over 40 high level athletes, including Cesar Cielo, currently ranked #1 in the world, and Nicolas Oliveira, ranked among the eight best in the world. Most of our athletes are ranked among the 8 best in Brazil, and several are South American record holders. It is great to be working as part of a multi-disciplinary team, and I’m sure that my time in Jyväskylä helped me to get here.

Marika Noorkõiv, Estonia, 2006-2008

Marika Noorkoiv.jpgI graduated as a physiotherapist in 2004 in Estonia and spent two years working as a clinical physiotherapist in neurological and orthopedic rehabilitation. These clinical experiences motivated me to direct my career towards understanding neuromuscular mechanisms of movement and adaptation through exercise. When I heard about the MSc Programme in Biology of Physical Activity majoring in Biomechanics at the University of Jyväskylä, I knew that this was the right place for me. The 2-year master’s course offered exciting and challenging study and research experience working with internationally recognised researchers. I cannot say it was easy to move from the practical clinical world to the world of more basic research and academia, however, it was exciting and I realised rather quickly that this was my ‘world’. Also, living in Jyväskylä with fellow international students, working part-time at the hospital and experiencing the Finnish nature and culture was great. I completed my MSc degree in 2008, and wrote my thesis about the effects of oestrogen replacement therapy on muscle strength and fatigability in monozygotic postmenopausal twins, supervised by Professor Taija Finni. After my gradation I was awarded a PhD scholarship under the supervision of Associate Professor Tony Blazevich and Professor Ken Nosaka at Edith Cowan University, Australia, and I received my PhD in February 2013. After that I undertook a Research Associate position within the Stroke Research Group at the Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University, UK. I wish to continue my career as a researcher in the field of clinical movement science, with one of the aims to build upon my PhD work to understand the role of muscle length (and stiffness) in muscle activation, and examine various parameters of myofascial tension in healthy and clinical populations.

Susann Wolfram, Germany, 2006-2008

Susann.jpgAfter my undergraduate studies in sports sciences and engineering in Germany, I started my MSc studies in Jyväskylä in 2006 majoring in biomechanics. I wanted to understand musculoskeletal interactions and the biomechanics of human movement better, and the University of Jyväskylä with the Master’s programme in Biology of Physical Activity turned out to be the best place for that. Content is taught in modules on muscle-tendon mechanics, applied biomechanics and research methodology. The modules are very comprehensive, up to date and of very high quality, and the teachers are incredibly knowledgeable. They were always on hand if I needed help or advice.

After graduation in 2008, I went on to start a part-time PhD at Manchester Metropolitan University where I focus my research on non-uniform strain distribution of the triceps surae. I feel that the Master’s programme with its comprehensive teaching in research methodology and statistics equipped me very well and my supervisors have commented many times on the research experience I have brought with me.

Overall, I really enjoyed my time in Finland on an academic and personal level. Living in this wonderful city, I learned a great deal, made new friends from all over the world and got to know Finnish culture and language.

Neil Cronin, England, 2005-2007

Neil Cronin.jpgI studied for my degree in the MSc program’s inaugural year in 2005, majoring in biomechanics. After graduating I moved to Denmark to complete my PhD, and then spent 18 months working on a post-doctoral project on the Gold Coast in Australia. In 2011, I was fortunate enough to be given a tenure track position back here in Jyväskylä, which allowed me to complete the circle- instead of being a student in the MSc program, I now play the role of the teacher. Obviously I am using the skills that I first learned during my MSc years now that I’m on the other side of the classroom, and I hope to be able to use my experience to help develop the course and maintain the high standard that has been set. In my opinion this program does an excellent job of equipping students with valuable work and life skills, which is evident in the fact that so many former students have since begun successful careers in a wide range of academic, industrial and sport-related fields. 

Benjamin Jensen, USA, 2005-2007

BJ Jensen.jpgI graduated with a BSc degree in Exercise Science from Utah State University in 2003. I was in the inaugural year of the Master’s program offered at JYU. After graduating in 2008 with my degree in Science of Sport Coaching and Fitness Testing, a lot of opportunities arose. I first accepted the job as Head Coach of the Finnish Junior National Team (American Football) in 2009. I was able to use my educational background to help create a single strength and conditioning program for the athletes, and also organized numerous strength and conditioning camps that doubled as fitness testing days. I was very proud to be working with the best young athletes in the country, and also to represent Finland in tournaments in Spain, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. The following year I accepted a job offer to become the Head Coach of the Jyväskylä Jaguaarit, which is the local professional team. Between coaching jobs, I also continued my studies at JYU at the Health Sciences Department. In 2011 I was accepted into the Teacher Education College at the University of Applied Sciences (JAMK). I continued both coaching jobs until 2013 when I began an internship at Firstbeat Technologies. The next year I was hired full time as the Key Account Manager for Professional Sports and Research, working specifically with the US market. The combination of my coaching and exercise physiology background has been extremely beneficial in the transition from the coaching/university environment into the corporate world. I have now represented Firstbeat at numerous sports science and coaching congresses throughout the United States. I have also had the opportunity to give an elevator speech on behalf of the company to investors at a Silicon Valley event. Having a degree from JYU’s Master program has been beneficial in many ways. I still remain in contact with numerous colleagues at the university, catching up on the latest research and discussing collaboration opportunities between the University and Firstbeat Technologies. When potential employers looked over my CV they were always impressed to see my degree from JYU, because they know the high quality and standards that come with the program.


We celebrated the 10-year history of the international Master's programmes at the Faculty of Sport and Health Sciences in December 2015. The weekend was full of alumni stories, current issues, sports, celebration and networking.

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