With its prestigious education system, low university fees and high standard of living, studying in Switzerland is a smart choice
A small country located at the heart of the Alps in Western Europe, Switzerland is popular with students and graduates wanting to study abroad. Bordered by France, Germany and Italy, it gives you ample opportunity to visit other culturally diverse countries.
While known for academic excellence, Switzerland is also a great place to study if you want to pick up a second language, thanks to the multilingual Swiss population. Depending on where you study you could get to grips with German, French, Italian or Romansh. Each linguistic area has its own institutions, traditions and cultures, so do your research before you go.
In your study-free hours you’ll be able to explore what is widely thought of as one of the most beautiful countries in the world. The Alps dominate 60% of the country, but the striking scenery isn’t all that’s on offer. You’ll be able to enjoy arts and music festivals in Swiss meadows and visits to theatres and museums in metropolitan cities. In the winter months you’ll have the opportunity to participate in sports such as skiing, ice-hockey and skating.
You’ll also be able to sample famous Swiss cuisine such as coffee, chocolate and cheese.
Switzerland has three types of university:
- Universities (UNIs) – of which there are 12. Offering degree programmes at a high scientific and theory-based level, you can study humanities, science and some engineering courses.
- Universities of Applied Sciences and the Arts (UASAs) – provide scientific and professional education. These eight institutions run courses in landscape architecture, health sciences, music, art, theatre, film and design.
- Universities of Teacher Education (UTEs) – offer practice-oriented training such as pre-primary, primary, secondary and special needs education. There are 20 UTEs in Switzerland
For a full list of Swiss universities, see Study in Switzerland.
Due to the requirements of the Bologna Process, higher education institutions in Switzerland follow the cycle of:
- Bachelors degrees
- Masters degrees
- Doctoral (PhD) degrees.
The Swiss academic year is split into two semesters – autumn and spring. The autumn semester usually runs from September to December, and the spring semester from February to May.
Three Swiss universities feature in the top 100 of the QS World University Rankings 2020, including:
- ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute ofTechnology (6th)
- EPFL – École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (18th)
- University of Zurich (76th)
Popular student cities include Basel, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne and Zürich.
EU – a triple-accredited, multicampus, international business school offers innovative Bachelor, Master and Doctorate of Business Administration programmes.
A leading institution that provides cutting-edge Swiss quality education. Our programmes are taught 100% in English and our campuses are located in major European cities such as Geneva, Madrid, and Barcelona.
Degree courses in Switzerland
There are a variety of undergraduate degree courses on offer in Switzerland and such programmes can be studied at universities, universities of applied sciences and arts, and universities of teacher education.
Bachelors courses typically take three years to complete full time and are open to all foreign students who have a secondary/high-school-leaving certificate and a good command of the tuition language (this could be French, German or Italian depending on where you study). You’ll learn through a combination of lectures, seminars and practical work.
To gain a place on a Bachelors programme, students need to apply online directly to their chosen university.
Programmes are available in a range of areas including the arts, engineering, law, medicine and science. Courses are designed to build on first-degree knowledge and enable students to specialise in a particular field.
When studied full time, programmes usually last three to four semesters (one-and-a-half to two years). You’ll study taught core and elective modules and finish with a dissertation.
When applying for a Masters programme, you’ll need a Bachelors degree in a relevant subject. If your course is taught in French, German or Italian, a good working knowledge of that particular language will be essential. However, there are an increasing number of Masters courses taught in English.
Entry requirements vary for each university, so contact institutions directly to ensure your application is correct.
A PhD is the highest level of qualification for postgraduate students in Switzerland. Offered by universities, subjects cover a variety of areas. Courses can take around three to five years to complete, and during this time you’ll carry out independent research as you work towards a Doctoral thesis.
Assessment usually takes the form of an oral examination.
To study for a PhD in Switzerland, you’ll need a Masters degree from an accredited or recognised university. Again, entry conditions vary so you should check with your prospective institution.
UK students can study in Switzerland by taking part in the European Union’s (EU) education, training and youth support programme Erasmus+ (confirmed for the 2020/21 academic year). As a non-member of the EU, Switzerland is a ‘partner country’, which means it can take part in certain actions under Erasmus+, subject to specific criteria or conditions.
The scheme offers study, training and work experience placements to help you develop personally and professionally.
Opportunities are open to students at Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate level. Placements can last from three months to one academic year.
When compared with EU countries, Swiss tuition fees are relatively low. However, at some institutions international students are charged higher rates than Swiss nationals.
Private universities will charge higher fees than public institutions. Study in Switzerland estimates that a Masters degree will cost between CHF 3,000 (£2,563) and CHF 13,000 (£11,130). The most well-known public universities will charge less than CHF 1,000 depending on the course.
Bear in mind that you may incur other costs such as registration, examination and student association fees
Learn more about the cost of living in Switzerland at Studying in Switzerland.
Funding to study in Switzerland
Swiss scholarships, grants and bursaries are few and far between and available opportunities are difficult to secure.
The Swiss government does not offer scholarships to students from the UK, so be prepared to find your own method of funding. While the cost of living is high, this should be counterbalanced by the reasonable tuition fees.
UK students may be eligible for university/department scholarships, so check individual institution websites to see what they offer.
International students in Switzerland are also allowed to work part time for up to 15 hours a week during term time. During holiday periods foreign students can work full time, but you’ll need to make the relevant immigration authorities aware of this.
If you’re from a country other than the UK, you may be entitled to a government scholarship. Check to see if your country of origin is eligible by visiting Swiss government excellence scholarships for foreign scholars and artists.
Whether you need a visa to study in Switzerland depends on where you come from.
Students from the EU, European Economic Area (EEA) and the UK do not need a visa to study in the country. However, students from these countries still need to register as a foreign resident within 14 days of arrival. You can do this at your local Residents Registration Office and you’ll need:
- a valid passport
- proof of university registration
- a bank statement to provide evidence of funds
- proof of health insurance
- proof of address
- two passport photographs.
Non EU, EEA or UK students must apply for a visa before travelling to Switzerland – you can do this from the Swiss embassy in your home country. Visas can take several months to process so factor this into your plans and apply early.
Health insurance is mandatory for everyone living in Switzerland. If you intend to live in the country for longer than three months, you must purchase your own health insurance. For more information, visit StudyinSwitzerland – Entry, visa and residence permits.
How to apply
The country does not have a centralised admissions procedure. Most applications to Swiss universities are made online directly to institutions. For specific information and admission deadlines, contact the admissions office of your chosen university.
On your application form you’ll need to indicate the faculty and degree programme you’re interested in. You’ll then receive written confirmation of your application along with an application fee invoice and a list of the supporting documents required.
After submitting the requested documents, and upon receipt of the application fee, you’ll be sent formal confirmation of your place.
As Switzerland is a multilingual country, the languages spoken at different universities will vary. The majority of the country speaks German, but French is used in the west and Italian in some areas in the south. Romansh is also spoken by a small minority
If you wish to study for a Bachelors or Masters in one of the above languages, you’ll need to prove your proficiency as part of your application.
English is widely spoken and an increasing number of courses (especially Masters) are taught in the language. However, while living in Switzerland it would be beneficial to learn one of the country’s native languages.
Switzerland is more than chocolates, cheese and watches. Education, cutting-edge research and innovation are driving the country. Here are five top reasons why Switzerland is the place to take your academic career to the next level:
1. High quality education
All Swiss universities share a drive for quality in teaching and research, resulting in their consistent ranking among the best universities in the world. In fact, so many Swiss universities are ranked amongst the top 200 universities worldwide that around 50% of all students in Switzerland can claim to attend one of those top institutes.
The Swiss higher education landscape comprises academic studies at the ten Cantonal Universities and the two Federal Institutes of Technology. In addition, there are seven public and two private Universities of Applied Sciences that take a more professionally-oriented focus.
2. at affordable costs
Switzerland prides itself on its high standard of a publicly funded education system that is affordable for both Swiss and non-Swiss students. In fact, the average cost for a year’s tuition is approximately CAD1,300 for Swiss, and CAD1,500 for international students.
3. World champion in innovation
Switzerland is consistently ranked as one of the most innovative and competitive economies in the world; this is made possible thanks to the universities’ cutting-edge research and considerable investments by the public and private sectors.
Did you know that in terms of Nobel Prizes per capita, since 1950, Switzerland scores at the top of the international table? Swiss researchers continue to produce a high number of scientific papers with considerable impact in their respective disciplines. This is supported by excellent infrastructures, such as the world-renowned CERN in Geneva. In addition, the private sector invests heavily in research, particularly in the pharmaceutical, chemical and engineering sectors.
4. At the crossroads of cultures and languages
Switzerland is in the heart of Europe and at the crossroads of several languages and cultures, attracting people from all over the world. Many UN organizations and international NGOs are located in Geneva, and over 10,000 multinational companies are headquartered in Switzerland. Similarly, Swiss universities are very international. Over half of the PhD students and post-docs, and 45% of the faculty members at Swiss universities, come from another country.
At the same time, Switzerland is an excellent starting point to discover Europe. Thanks to international airports in Basel, Geneva and Zurich, and train stations in almost every town, cities such as Paris, Rome, Vienna or Berlin are only a few hours away.
5. High living standard
On a worldwide scale, the cost of living in Swiss cities is not cheap; however, the quality of life is correspondingly high. In an international quality-of-living comparison of 350 cities, Zurich and Geneva ranked second and third, while Bern, Switzerland’s capital, ranked ninth.
Switzerland as a country needs no introduction. From the Alps to its chocolates, from the famous Swiss bank to the watches, people have loved the European nation across the world for centuries. Students also flock to this country in large numbers every year, from every corner of the world, to take advantage of the high standard of education that the nation offers.
Why Study in Switzerland?
1. Quality Education
Swiss universities offer a wide range of courses across disciplines, at various levels (undergraduate, post-graduate, doctoral and post-doctoral), and at different institutions of higher education like academic universities, universities of applied sciences, university of teacher education, etc. Some of the top ranking educational institutions of the world are from this country. Whether one wants to study hotel management or hospital management, MBA or Masters in Science or Arts, Switzerland will offer the best institutions and internationally accepted courses.
Top Universities in Switzerland:
2. Best Student Cities
As it can be seen above, Zurich and Geneva are home to some of the Top Ranked Universities in the world. Not only they are home to Best Universities in Switzerland, Zurich has the famous Swiss Stock Market, the world’s fourth largest. Lake Zurich and Geneva are the main attraction to the cities. Lausanne and Bern are other mention-worthy student cities, with Lausanne being francophone culturally rich city and the Bern declared as a world heritage site by UNESCO. Student Cities in Switzerland are perfect mix of tradition and modern.
3. International Hub to the World
We have already talked about the Zurich stock market, but it does not stop there. It is home to many international organisations from around the world, including FIFA. The other internationally significant city in Switzerland is Geneva. Home to the most number of headquarters of NGO, including the prestigious WHO and WTO, World Health Organisation and World Trade Organisation respectively. This will take us to our next two points.
4. A Country of Innovation
One needs only to count the number of Nobel prizes that have gone to the citizens of Switzerland to understand what we are indicating at. It is not a country that believes in making education a dull and boring everyday affair that students must go through, for a certain number of years. Education in Switzerland is synonymous with thinking newly and differently, and leads to innovations that help humankind.
5. Career Options
This is the best part about studying in Switzerland. As a country whose standard and system of imparting education is not only renowned but also well respected across the world, a student passing out of any course finds himself or herself walking on the red carpet of the professional life, straightaway. This is a huge advantage when the general norm is to struggle and find a foothold in an industry.
6. Scenic Landscapes
It is a peaceful European country, placed right in the lap nature. With time, Switzerland has become modern, but has managed to retain its beautiful equation with nature. Spanning in eight countries, Alps mountain range has become a postcard image for Switzerland over the years. Leisure travellers, hikers and campers, or adventure sportsmen, Switzerland is the place for everyone who loves nature.
The Swiss lifestyle is a perfect balance between the industrious German and the relaxed French lifestyles. The country actively encourages a culture where all work is done on time and without corruption, but at the same time, the quality and enjoyment of living life is not compromised upon. Swiss themselves are adventure loving people, and you can find them roaming and hiking around the country, which makes it a lively place.
8. Location in Central Europe:
Switzerland is located in central Europe, and it is landlocked. Switzerland shares its borders with five countries of EU: Austria, Liechtenstein, France, Italy, and Germany. Moreover, it is very well connected with all of these countries. You can hope in a train and take a trip to any of these countries. Switzerland literally puts rest of the Europe to your doorstep.
Study in Switzerland is a synonym to diversity. Officially, there are 4 languages and 26 federal states. Add to that a large population of international students, and the country becomes a global village in a true sense. People from different ethnicity and cultures make Switzerland a country where one can make friends from different countries and learn many things with the interchange of the cultural influences.
10. Safest and Happiest Country:
Last but not the least, with all the perks above, there is no doubt that Switzerland is one of the happiest countries in the world. Along with that, Swiss policy of staying neutral makes it one of the safest countries in the world. Whether you are roaming around the streets or the Alps, you will feel safe in Switzerland. For international students, it is one of the most essential reasons.
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