FAQs by Students

The Swiss higher education system includes 12 doctoral/research universities (including 2 federal institutes), 8 universities of applied sciences and arts and 20 universities of teacher education. The federal institutes – ETH Zurich and EPFL – are both placed among the world’s top 20 universities.

The educational remit of Switzerland’s doctoral/research universities is to offer degree programmes on a high scientific and theory based level and to undertake basic research. The remit of the universities of applied sciences and arts and the universities of teacher education is to provide scientific and professional education, to conduct applied research, and to promote cooperation with practice and industry. Source

Here are some of the frequently asked questions by students who wish to study in Switzerland –

Where can I find the list of Swiss Universities and the courses they offer?

For detailed information on the 10 Swiss universities and 2 Federal institutes, click here. To know more about Universities of Applied Sciences and Arts (UAS), click here.

What are the academic calendars for Swiss University?

The academic year is divided into two semesters, fall and spring:
Autumn: Lectures from September (week 38) to December (week 51)
Spring: Lectures from February (week 8) to May (week 22)

What are the Admission Requirements for PHD, Master and Bachelor programs in Swiss Universities?

PHD – Admission requirements and application information can be found on the websites of each of the 10 public universities, 2 Federal Institutes and 8 University of Applied Sciences. Doctoral students plan and write their dissertations within the framework of a traditional doctorate or within the framework of ‘schools’ or ‘programs’. For open PhD positions, one can refer to ETH GET HIRED website pages on academic jobs.

Masters – To be eligible for admission to a Master’s program at a Swiss university, you need to have a Bachelor’s degree or an equivalent first academic degree from an internationally recognized university. The degree must be in a related subject to the Master’s program you wish to apply to. Your previous studies must comply in quality, depth and breadth with the requirement profile of the chosen Master’s program. Master’s courses in engineering, sciences and management are primarily offered in English.

If you have not yet completed your Bachelor’s program you can apply and be conditionally admitted with the requirement that you obtain your Bachelor’s degree before the start of the Master’s program.

Bachelors – For access to Swiss universities a valid Swiss maturity certificate or an equivalent foreign upper secondary school-leaving certificate qualifying for university entrance is required. Each university has its own criteria for certificates and qualifications it recognizes. The University of St. Gallen (selected courses) and hospitality schools (eg. École hôtelière de Lausanne) offer complete bachelor courses in English. In other universities, bachelor courses are offered either in German, French or Italian.

Can Indian students apply for both fall and spring semesters?

International students (including Indian students) can only apply for the autumn semester.

When do I have to submit my applications?

Applications for the autumn semester should be submitted between 1 November and 31 December of the previous year.

What is the language of instruction in Swiss universities?

A PhD can usually be completed in English. The language of instruction for Master’s programs varies from university to university. Most programs are predominantly taught in English. Some programs offer courses that are taught in English and German/French. The language of instruction especially on Bachelor’s level is the official language of the location of the university, i.e. German, French or Italian.

Which of the English proficiency tests are recognized in Swiss universities?

IELTS or TOEFL test scores are required in most cases to apply for master’s courses in Swiss universities.

Do I require GRE or GMAT scores to apply for master’s courses?

GRE or GMAT scores are not mandatory (except for certain master’s courses in engineering at ETH Zurich and EPFL). However, a good score in GRE/GMAT is always an added advantage for Indian students, as it validates the quality of the student irrespective of the ranking of the university in which he/she has finished her bachelor studies.

I left university a long time ago and I am no longer in touch with my professors. How should I proceed to get letters of recommendation?

You are advised to request letters from your teachers/professors. However, Swiss universities also accept one letter from a colleague/professional mentor, if you have left the university for some time.

How important are extracurricular activities in the admissions process?

By far the most important selection criterion are the applicant’s academic performance. Relevant project or research work done during bachelor or master studies gives an additional advantage. However, extracurricular or professional activities, such as internships or work experience, are an important complement.

Fee details

Higher education in Switzerland is publicly funded. Hence the fee – for both Swiss and international students – are very modest. Currently, the fee per year (2 semesters) for international students for master’s courses vary from CHF 1266 to CHF 8’000 depending on the university. Click here for more details.

Doctoral candidates receive a monthly stipend to cover their expenses. The stipend amount vary from university to university.

Living expenses

A typical student budget is around CHF 1’800 to 2’500 per month, including tuition, housing, subsistence, insurance, transport and other living costs (depending on the location of the university and personal demands). For doctoral students with a higher living standard the budget may be between CHF 2’000 and 3’500.

Dormitories/Housing

Most universities have a number of rooms reserved for international students. The International Student Services and the Housing Office are at hand to help finding accommodation.

Visa requirements

Indian students going to Switzerland for academic exchange or higher studies can apply for a student visa. Visa related questions can be answered on the website of the Embassy of Switzerland in India, New Delhi.

For the visa application procedure, please refer to the VFS Global website. If your question cannot be answered with the information provided on the website, you may direct your inquiry by email to ndh.visa@nulleda.admin.ch.

swissnex India and the Consulate General of Switzerland in Bangalore do not handle visa or provide assistance in the application process (neither over email nor telephone).

Can I work in Switzerland while studying?

During the lecture period, international students are generally allowed to work a maximum of 15 hours a week. Within the first six months, Bachelor’s students from non-EU countries are not allowed to work and Master’s students from non-EU countries are only allowed to work at their university (assistantship).

The detailed regulations for work permits depend on the canton of the university in Switzerland and your country of origin. Please check the website of the corresponding migration office or the Cantonal Office for Economy and Labour for exact details.

Can I work in Switzerland after graduation?

Yes, international students who have earned a Swiss university-level degree or diploma will be entitled to stay in Switzerland for six more months from the time of completing their education or postgraduate studies to find a job.

Got more questions? Please write to 

Maitree Dasgupta
Head Academic Relations and Projects / maitree.dasgupta@nullswissnexindia.org