Swiss Universities - Application & Admission

There is a wide variety of courses taught in Switzerland. Many of Switzerland’s business schools have a strong international outlook and offer more in-depth professional training, e.g. an international Master of Business Administration (MBA). Doctorates are awarded for original research.


Swiss universities are often international in character. The number of university graduates continues to rise each year in Switzerland. Nevertheless, all study programs have remained open to students having a valid maturity certificate or other certificate qualifying for university entrance.

The only exceptions are study programs in medicine and chiropractic. There are entrance examinations to the study programs depending on the number of applicants for admission in any given year. The limited number of openings is the reason why international students, apart from some special cases, are not admitted to these study programs ((human medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and chiropractic).

Since 2001-2002, the universities in Switzerland have been instituting reforms in degree programs in accordance with the Bologna Declaration. This is a two-cycle (undergraduate/postgraduate) system and qualifications structure:

  • Bachelor’s degree – Comprises of 3 years of full-time study
  • Master’s degree – Comprises of 1.5-2 years of full-time study beyond the Bachelor’s degree. Access to a Master’s degree program requires the successful completion of the Bachelor’s degree.
  • After Master’s – Access to doctoral level studies (dissertation) requires successful completion of a Master’s degree with good grades.
  • Master of Advanced Studies – The universities also offer an additional post-graduate degree called Master of Advanced Studies. The MAS does not give access to doctoral level programs.

As the implementation of the Bologna reforms is not yet complete in Switzerland, academic degrees following the older system are still being awarded. In the older system, students are awarded the Licentiate or Diploma after completion of 4-5 years of full-time studies. Completion of a Licentiate/Diploma with good grades gives the holder access to doctoral level studies.

Admission to a Bachelor's Program

The decision concerning admission to a course of studies rests with the individual institution. The basic admission requirement is a Swiss secondary high-school-leaving certificate (Matura, Maturit?, Maturit?) or a foreign secondary high-school-leaving certificate considered equivalent. Students not holding fully recognized certificates qualifying for university entrance may be required to take a university entrance exam.

Admission to a Master's Program

The prerequisite for access to a Master’s program is a successfully completed Bachelor’s level program. Each university makes its own decisions as to whether a foreign Bachelor’s degree can give the holder access to Master’s programs, and what are the conditions, if any (entrance examinations, further requirements).


Admission to a Doctoral Program

To be eligible for a PhD program at a Swiss university, applicants must hold a Master’s degree or equivalent from a recognized or accredited university. As conditions vary among universities, interested students should check the admission requirements of their prospective university.

Language Requirements

All Swiss universities require good knowledge of the language of instruction. The Universities of Fribourg, Neuchetel, Geneva and Lausanne, as well as the Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, are in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Fribourg is officially a bilingual university, with courses offered both in French and German, while Italian is the teaching language at the Universite della Svizzera italiana, located in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. The universities of Basel, Bern, Lucerne, St. Gallen, Zurich and the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich are located in the German-speaking part of Switzerland.
An increasing number of study programs at Master’s level are offered in English, thus a solid knowledge of English language is advisable for all prospective students.

Universities Offering Programs in English

For List of Universities Offering programs in English, CLICK HERE

University Entrance Examination

  • Central Entrance Examination

Students that do not hold fully recognized certificates qualifying for university entrance must pass a university entrance examination. This applies mainly to students with foreign educational qualifications (see section 5).

The central entrance examination for students with foreign educational qualifications is conducted twice a year (June and August/September) in Fribourg by VKHS (Preparatory Courses for University Studies in Switzerland). VKHS also offers a University Preparatory Course (UPC) for the central entrance examination. To be admitted to a UPC, students must have (among other things): knowledge of either German or French corresponding at least to the level of B1/B2 in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, and provisional admission to a Swiss university. The UPC lasts from September to June of the following year and costs CHF 5,200.


VKHS (Vorbereitungskurse auf das Hochschulstudium)
Rue de Rome 1
CH – 1700, Fribourg
Telephone: (41) 026 347 1616
Fax: (41) 026 347 1617
Email: [email protected]
  • University of St. Gallen

As the only Swiss university to do so, the University of St. Gallen requires foreign national students to take its own entrance examination. The reason is that the university restricts the total percentage of foreign national students to 25%. Foreign nationals who hold a recognized Swiss maturity certificate are exempt from this examination requirement.

  • Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (Eidgen?sissische Technische Hochschule Zurich ETHZ) and Lausanne (Ecole Polytechnique Fedrale de Lausanne EPFL) offer the opportunity to take entrance examinations to applicants, both foreign nationals and Swiss, who do not hold a fully recognized upper secondary school-leaving certificate qualifying for university entrance.

  • ETH Zurich

    Admissions Office
    Remistrasse 101
    HG F 21.4-5
    CH – 8092, Zurich
    Telephone: (41) 044 632 5653

  • Ecole Polytechnique Federale (EPFL)

    AA-EBM CMS, Station 4
    Telephone: (41) 021 693 2295

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