How to Apply to an International University in Switzerland in 2020

Many Swiss universities received awards of international student satisfaction, confirming that studying in Switzerland could be one of the best choices you have ever made.

Switzerland has three widely spoken official languages (French, German and Italian), meaning you will have the opportunity to experience a complete European atmosphere and culture in one relatively small country and enrich your language skills as well.

Applying for studies at a university in Switzerland is really easy, you just have to remember some essential tips.

Find Masters in Switzerland

1. Popular degree subjects in Switzerland

There are plenty of disciplines you can pick from to study in English in Switzerland. Here are just of few of the most popular options to consider:

2. Swiss universities to consider for your studies

Here are some top Swiss universities you should consider for your study abroad adventure:

Check out more universities with English-taught Masters in Switzerland.

3. Prepare to apply

  • Switzerland provides a variety of study options, many of them highly focused on research. Choose your degree after you collect all the relevant information.
  • Check the exact entry requirements for each academic programme, as there are often specific admission criteria for Medicine, Dentistry, and Veterinary Medicine degrees.
  • Look for scholarship opportunities in Switzerland. You can also check out the Studyportals Scholarship to get some help on financing your studies abroad.

4. Qualifications not recognised by most Swiss universities

You should be aware that some qualifications are not recognised by most Swiss universities, such as:

  • Distance education certificates, night school certificates and certificates not attained in a school class
  • Certificates from vocational or part-time high schools and schools offering vocational training as well as general education

If a credential or qualification is not recognised, you will have to pass the full Swiss (or cantonal) maturity examination. This is mainly the Swiss equivalent for the international baccalaureate, based on a specific curriculum (seven key subject areas studied by all students), depending on each Swiss canton.

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5. How to apply

  • Complete the online application form on the university website
  • Pay the application fee
  • Upload all the supporting documents before the deadline

6. Language requirements for a Swiss university application

Switzerland has three official languages — German, French and Italian — and the language of instruction depends on the university. In addition, most universities also offer a wide range of programmes taught in English. The vast majority of international students apply for either English, French or German-taught degrees.

Accepted evidence of proficiency for each language are:

If you don’t have a language certificate, you can take a language test at the university and they can decide if your level is sufficient to be accepted. This option is not available at all universities, so first check with the institution.

7. Required university application documents

  • A signed printout of your application form
  • Two passport photos
  • Copy of identity document
  • Official academic transcript(s) from each university you attended before (if applicable)
  • High school diploma or Bachelor's diploma
  • Language proficiency certificates (German/French/English)
  • CV
  • Evidence of paying the application fee (100 – 150 CHF or 400 CHF for late applications)
  • Personal essay/Motivation letter

8. Additional documents for students who apply to a doctoral programme

  • A letter from an instructor of the faculty who is certified to direct doctoral dissertations, and who agrees to overlook your research.
  • If you are in your final year at secondary school and have not yet received your diploma, you may apply based on your grades over the year, but you have to send copies of your final exam results as soon as you have them.
  • All certificates and transcripts that are not in English, French, German or Italian must be translated into English or French by a certified translator. Along with the translation, some universities will demand an official document from the school or university that you attended, with an explanation of the grading and assessment system.

9. University application deadlines for Switzerland

Deadlines for application at Swiss universities are variable, depending on each university and sometimes it also depends on your qualifications or if you need to apply for a student visa. Students are usually advised to submit their application in the spring semester for studies beginning the following academic year.

Regular application

  • Fall semester: start of December – end of April.
  • Spring semester: start of May – end of November.
  • If a visa for Switzerland is required, the following deadlines are recommended: start of December - end of February for the fall semester and start of May - end of  September for the spring semester.

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In some cases, applications for PhD candidates have different deadlines:

  • For the fall semester: until mid-October
  • For the spring semester: until end of March

Universities that will receive your application too late, will sign you up for the next semester.

Compare Masters in Switzerland

10. Final steps after receiving your acceptance letter

  • If you need a student visa, apply for one as soon as possible as it usually takes around a month to get a response from the embassy/consulate.
  • All foreigners intending to study in Zurich require a residence permit, which you can obtain from the local migration office, within 14 days after your arrival.
  • Make arrangements for the health insurance policy. EU/EEA students automatically qualify for basic medical care in Switzerland with a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). EU and non-EU students can either pay for a health insurance policy from their home country before they come to Switzerland or can purchase one as soon as possible after their arrival.

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