Study in Switzerland
If you are a student who loves chocolate, high-end things, and gorgeous landscapes, Switzerland was tailor-made for you.
A great plus is the kind population, the great shops and economy, and the international atmosphere, where students and people from all over the world come in search of great education and living conditions.
We cannot stress enough how great your decision of studying in Switzerland is, but we can elaborate on some details and break some of the stereotypes of yodelling and shady banks where mobsters keep their money.
Why Study in Switzerland?
1. Tuition fees are affordable
Given the fact that Switzerland has one of the most advanced free market economies, it's quite surprising that tuition fees are relatively affordable. Both EU/EEA and non-EU/EEA students usually pay between 400 and 3,700 EUR per academic year.
Not spending a lot on your education is a great advantage because living costs in Switzerland are well above the European average.
2. Swiss universities are among the world's best
Institutions like Times Higher Education, TopUniversities, and US News release their global university rankings every year. And every year Swiss universities earn their places among the best educational institutions out there.
Swiss universities stand out by providing some of the best study programmes in Business, Tourism and Hospitality, Culinary Arts, and Engineering.
3. Explore multilingualism and cultural diversity
If you dream of becoming a polyglot one day and knowing a little bit about as many cultures as possible, Switzerland can help you fulfil this dream.
There are 4 official languages — German, French, Italian, and Romansh — and the Swiss society and people are very welcoming towards internationals from all over the world.
4. High salaries and low unemployment rates
High livings standards go hand in hand with high salaries — and this is so true in Switzerland. The country has a healthy economy, a stable society, and one of the best healthcare systems out there. Unemployment rates are also very low.
All in all, Switzerland is a great place to settle, especially after your graduation. You'll already be familiar with the language(s), lifestyle, and locals, which will make it so much easier to find your place and build a life you're proud of.
5. Travel and enjoy nature's beauty
Living in Switzerland isn't only about hard study, work, and a lot of money. It's also about travel, nature, and enjoying yourself. And there are certainly enough places where you can do that.
These are only a few of the popular destinations that attract tourists from all over the world, although, we must confess, the iconic mountains and peaks have already won our hearts: the Matterhorn, Interlaken, Lucerne, Lake Geneva, Chillon Castle, Lake Lugano and Ticino, the Rhine Falls, the Swiss National Park, etc.
Which universities to attend in Switzerland?
Switzerland has some amazing universities, with its education system being ranked very high, and international students flocking to its programmes like it’s the promised land.
In case you don’t know where to start, you could always check out these universities we recommend wholeheartedly:
- University of St.Gallen (HSG)
- Sustainability Management School (SUMAS)
- Robert Kennedy College
- Geneva Business School
- EHL (Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne)
- Swiss School of Higher Education
What is it like to study in Switzerland?
You will feel like home in Switzerland. Seeing as I’m not sure what your country of origin is, that’s a great assumption on my part, but I’m backed up by the international environment.
Students who share their studying abroad experience always applaud the people and the diverse market of nationalities the universities accommodate.
Also, the distances between the university, campus, library, and so forth, can be really small, considering the country and cities are tiny, but the spaces are beautiful and fit for students.
Another point in favour of Switzerland is that the universities here focus more on papers and thesis, the grade being awarded after considering your whole learning process, not just what courses you crammed in the night before.
What to study in Switzerland?
Switzerland is famous for the neutral, yet special position it holds in the EU. Seeing as they produce the best bankers and the best lawyers, it comes as no surprise that the best and most sought-after degrees in Switzerland are in fields such as:
- Finance degrees in Switzerland
- MBA degrees in Switzerland
- International Law degrees in Switzerland
- Mathematics degrees in Switzerland
- International Business degrees in Switzerland
Where to study in Switzerland?
Switzerland doesn’t have a de jure capital, meaning that no city is recognised as the capital. However, the de facto city recognised as the governmental seat is Bern.
And, because Switzerland won’t make things easier for us, the largest city in the country is Zurich.
There’s not just only one good location. You can take your pick from the list below:
How to apply
Switzerland, unlike other countries, doesn’t have a special website or application centre that can manage your documents and apply on your behalf.
As it stands, you simply have to check the website of the programme you chose and:
- Complete the online application
- Pay the application fee
- Upload all the necessary documents before the deadline expires
Because each degree and university has its own requirements, you have to pay attention and check the list of documents carefully.
Usually, the documents required are:
- A printed and signed copy of your application form
- Two passport photos
- A copy of your ID
- Official academic transcripts, from each university you attended
- High school diploma or your Bachelor’s degree
- Language proficiency certificates for German, French, or English
- Evidence you paid the application fee
- Personal essay or motivation letter
You can also make sure you’re accepted to a university if you:
- Show how you performed as a student, and be sure to know what your Grade Point Average (GPA) was during your studies.
- Can increase your chances of going to Switzerland by being sure to apply to more than one university!
Helpful ways to make sure you qualify for a Swiss university
Take Preparation Courses
These kinds of courses enable degree-seeking students to get an extra educational boost just before they start their Master’s degree or other post-graduate degree programmes.
Try a pre-M.B.A., pre-Law, or pre-Medicine programme, as well as any other foundation or preparation courses that will allow you to study in the degree programme of your choice.
Improve your English through an English-language prep course
If you’re attending a degree programme in Switzerland, you will need to prove that your language skills are good enough to participate in the classes and understand the lectures. These courses will also prepare you for any of the English-language tests that universities require.
Switzerland has three official languages: German, French, and Italian.
The language in which your degree will be taught depends on where you wish to apply to. In addition, most universities also offer a wide range of programmes taught in English.
The certificates of proficiency you will need to provide, depending on the language you wish to study, are:
- For German: DSH, TestDaF, OSD, telc, and others
- For French: DELF or DALF
- For English: IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic
If you don’t hold a language certificate, you can take a language test at the university and they can decide if your level is sufficient for you to complete your studies.
This option is not available in all universities, so always check with the institution!
Living in Switzerland
Let's take a closer look at tuition and living expenses in Switzerland:
Tuition fees in Switzerland
In Switzerland, both EU/EEA and non-EU/EEA students pay the same tuition fees at most public universities (with a few exceptions listed further below). For Bachelor's and Master's degrees, students pay between 400–3,700 EUR per year.
Private universities are much more expensive. Their tuition can go over 40,000 EUR per academic year. But not all study programmes cost that much; it depends on the discipline and the university.
Students who come to Switzerland on an exchange programme don’t pay any tuition fee. At universities from Fribourg, Lucerne, Neuchatel, St. Gallen, Zurich, and Lugano, you can encounter 2 different situations:
- only non-EU/EEA students pay higher tuition
- both EU/EEA and non-EU/EEA students pay higher tuition compared to local (Swiss) students
Accommodation, food and other expenses
Switzerland is one of the most expensive countries in Europe, but every penny is worth it, thanks to the high standard of living and the high average salaries. To live there as a student you need to budget around 1,300–1,700 EUR per month.
Here's a breakdown of the average living costs in Switzerland:
- Rent: 400–800 EUR per month
- Utilities: 220–250 EUR per month
- Monthly transport pass: 74 EUR
- 1 litre of milk: 1.45 EUR
- Loaf of bread: 2.60 EUR
- Meal at an inexpensive restaurant: 23 EUR
Facts about Switzerland
Switzerland, also known as Confoederatio Helvetica (CH) in Latin, is famous for its neutral position throughout history. In the immortal words of Frank Liebkind, from “The Producers”: “I had nothing to do with the war! I didn't even know there was a war on! We lived at the back, near Switzerland. All we heard was yodelling.” The history behind that joke is the almost 500 years of independence of the Swiss; aside from Napoleon’s occupation, at the beginning of the 19th century, Switzerland was independent since 1499.
That’s one of the reasons why the Vatican is protected by the Swiss Guards, these men being the only ones allowed to serve foreign armies. That can be a very good thing, too, seeing how the Swiss are rather bad at the whole “military” thing: let’s not forget that, in 2007, Switzerland accidentally invaded Lichtenstein. Makes the time you forgot the milk on the stove feel rather small, when put into perspective.
Now, getting back to praising Switzerland.
Everybody can tell you that it’s really famous for its chocolate, cheese, banking system, watches, alpine areas, and, let’s not forget, that the flag is, also, a huge plus. Heh!
Also, Switzerland is the quintessence of a perfect destination for students. For instance:
- The first convenience food was invented here, by Julius Maggi and Carl Knorr, in 1886. By convenience food, we mean the famous “just add water” cup of soup. So you could say the Swiss invented the broke student’s menu;
- The APPP was founded here, APPP standing for the Anti-PowerPoint Party. It is exactly what you imagine: a bunch of politicians working to decrease the number of PowerPoints used in professional presentations, claiming that “Microsoft PowerPoint and its other software products are economically harmful”. Also, their motto? “Finally do something!”
- Finally, the Swiss government mandated a program to provide every Swiss citizen a bomb shelter, making it one of the safest and readily equipped countries in the world.
Before we go, you should also know that Switzerland has a law that makes owning only one guinea pig illegal, so they wouldn’t get lonely. If this fact doesn’t make you happy, nothing will.
Universities, colleges and schools in Switzerland
- University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (8 Short courses)
- University of Basel (39 Short courses)
- School of Management Fribourg (1 Short course)
- Webster University Geneva (1 Short course)
- Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights (5 Short courses)
- CREA - INSEEC U. (1 Short course)
- Swiss School Of Business and Management (10 Short courses)
- Geneva School of Diplomacy and International Relations (2 Short courses)
- Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (7 Short courses)
- University of Geneva (15 Short courses)
- Glion Institute of Higher Education (3 Short courses)
- IMI International Management Institute Switzerland (1 Short course)
- SBS Swiss Business School (4 Short courses)
- Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (5 Short courses)
- Business School Lausanne (2 Short courses)
- AISTS (International Academy of Sport Science and Technology) (7 Short courses)
- University of Lausanne (23 Short courses)
- EHL Hospitality Business School (24 Short courses)
- Business and Hotel Management School - Switzerland (1 Short course)
- Culinary Arts Academy Switzerland (3 Short courses)
- University of Lucerne (1 Short course)
- Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts (7 Short courses)
- Swiss Education Academy (3 Short courses)
- Distance University (1 Short course)
- HTMi, Hotel and Tourism Management Institute Switzerland (7 Short courses)
- Les Roches (1 Short course)
- Architectural Association (1 Short course)
- Constructor Academy (3 Short courses)
- ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences (14 Short courses)
- UZH International Summer Schools (3 Short courses)
- ETH Zurich - Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (34 Short courses)
Zürich (Kreis 11) / Seebach
- Zurich Elite Business School (ZEBS) (3 Short courses)
How to Apply to a Master's in Switzerland
If you've decided to study a Master's degree at a university in Switzerland, you will have to gather the right documents to prove that you fit the university requirements. Provide complete personal information, previous qualifications, financial information, and a personal statement.
What documents do I need to provide to apply in Switzerland?
You'll be asked to present supporting documents including:
- signed application form;
- two passport-size photos;
- copy of your identity document;
- academic transcript(s) from each university you attended;
- high school or Bachelor's diploma;
- language proficiency certificates (German/French/English);
- receipt of the application fee;
- motivation letter.
If a document/statement is not written in English/French/ German a translation may be required, from a recognised translator – confirmed by an official stamp. In some cases, universities may ask for additional documents after you have submitted your application. To avoid delays or missed deadlines send your evidence with plenty of time in advance.
Prove your language skills
To show that you have the right English skills, you'll have to also present an IELTS or TOEFL language certificate. If you don't meet the minimum language scores you will have to improve them by taking an English preparation course.
If you want to study in French or German, you’ll need one of the following certificates:
- German: DSH, TestDaF, OSD, Telc and others
- French: DELF or DALF
Application deadlines for Switzerland
The deadlines for applying to a Master's in Switzerland are usually during autumn (November), or in spring (April). Many universities have rolling applications, which means you can apply whenever you are ready.