For such a small country it has a rich history that has shaped its wonderful heritage and matchless mixture of castles, churches, and old towns and villages. Switzerland is also renowned for its cheeses, chocolate, watch making and Swiss army knives. The excellent public transport and idyllic landscapes make for wonderfully scenic journeys through manicured fields and valleys. Its profusion of idyllic fields of flowers and pine forests draw you into its beautifully still landscape. While the natural beauty of its rolling hills, valleys, mountains, glaciers and lakes manage to entice visitors back again and again. Added to this is the opportunity for hiking, cycling and an abundance of winter and summer sports that make it a perfect destination for a holiday at any time of the year.
There are 12 universities awarding doctorate degrees in Switzerland. This guide provides the most important information on these universities. In addition to the 12 universities, there are also further types of universities that are not covered here: 9 universities of applied sciences, 14 universities of teacher education and several university institutes receiving financial support from the Swiss Confederation. The institutes include mainly the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) in Geneva, the Swiss Graduate School of Public Administration (IDHEAP) in Lausanne, Institut Universitaire Kurt Bösch (IUKB) in Sion and Stiftung Universitäre Fernstudien Schweiz (distance higher education) in Brig.
Switzerland's 12 universities comprise 10 cantonal universities and 2 Federal Institutes of Technology. The language of instruction is German at the Universities of Basel, Bern, Lucerne, St. Gallen and Zurich and at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ). The language of instruction is French at the Universities of Geneva, Lausanne, and Neuchatel and at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL). The languages of instruction are German and/or French at the University of Fribourg; Fribourg is the capital of the bilingual Canton of Fribourg. At the University of Lugano (USI), Switzerland's university in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland founded in 1996, courses are mainly taught in Italian.
The number of university graduates continues to rise each year in Switzerland. Nevertheless, all study programmes have remained open to students having a valid maturity certificate or other certificate qualifying for university entrance Exceptions are study programmes in medicine (human medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine) and chiropractic as well as in human movement and sports sciences. There may be entrance examinations to the study programmes in medicine and partly in human movement and sports sciences 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 the study programmes in medicine.
University Degrees and Degree Programme Duration
The study system at universities in Switzerland is in accordance with the Bologna Declaration organised in a three-cycle structure: The first study cycle requires 180 ECTS credits (three-year full-time study programme); the Bachelor's degree is awarded at completion. This is followed by the second cycle comprising 90 to 120 ECTS credits (1 ½ to 2-year full-time programme); the Master's degree is awarded at completion. The duration of and requirements for the third cycle, doctoral studies leading to the doctorate (PhD), are established by each university independently, but admission to doctoral studies is always based on a written application and the individual applicant's qualifications (selection process; there is no general right to entry).
In addition, the universities also offer a postgraduate degree called Master of Advanced Studies - MAS (minimum 60 ECTS credits, or 1-year full-time study programme). The MAS does not give access to doctoral level programmes. Admittance to an MAS programme usually requires a university level Master's degree (from a university, university of applied sciences, or university of teacher education).
A. Admission to a Bachelor's Programme
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 of the universities makes its own decisions as to what certificates and qualifications it recognizes. Detailed information on general and country-specific access and admission requirements can be found at the CRUS/Swiss ENIC Web site. There are special regulations for study programmes in medicine and human movement and sports science.
B. Admission to a Master's Programme
The prerequisite for access to a Master's programme is a successfully completed Bachelor's level programme. Graduates of Bachelor's programmes have access to certain Master's programmes, as listed in the data base available at uni-programme.ch. Each of the universities makes its own decisions as to whether a foreign Bachelor's degree gives the holder access to Master's programmes without entrance examinations, or access under certain conditions, or access with further requirements, or does not give access to Master's programmes.
C. Language Requirements
The universities require good knowledge of the language of instruction .At the Master's level especially; the universities are offering an increasing number of study programmes in English. For students that do not hold fully recognized certificates qualifying for university entrance, the admission requirements also include a university entrance.
Required Steps If You Want to Study in Switzerland
If you fulfill the requirements listed in section 5 above, proceed as follows:
A. Apply for Admission
Contact the University of your Choice prior to the admission deadline. Most of the universities also accept online applications. The main documents that you will have to send to the university are your upper secondary school-leaving certificate (the original or a notarized copy) and an up-to-date passport photograph.
B. Entry/Visa and Residence Permit
Within 14 days of entering Switzerland, EU/EFTA citizens must register with the local authority (Residents' Registration Office) at the place of residence and apply for a residence permit.
You will need to present the following documents:
• Personal application for residence permit
• Valid passport or identity card
• Proof of registration at the university
• Evidence of sufficient funds (bank certificate or certified document)
• Proof of address at place of residence
• 2 passport photographs
Other foreign national students must contact the Swiss embassy or consulate in their own country and apply for a visa. If the responsible immigration or police authorities approve the application, the requirements for entry into Switzerland and for residence for the purpose of study are met. Foreign nationals who are not EU/EFTA citizens and who do not require a visa should consult the Swiss embassy or consulate in their country for the current entry and residence requirements and formalities.