Switzerland is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe. It is famous for high standard education and ground-breaking research. For these reasons, Swiss MBAs and PhD programmes are renowned and appreciated worldwide. As a European business hub, young adults not only dream of studying here, but they also consider pursuing a career in Switzerland after finishing their studies.
If you’ve thought about studying abroad in Switzerland or already got accepted to a Swiss university, read below to find out more about tuition fees and the costs of living in Switzerland for international students.
1. University tuition fees in Switzerland
In most European countries, tuition fees for non-EU/EEA citizens are higher than those for EU/EEA students. Switzerland is an exception; here, tuition at most public universities is the same for all international students, regardless of their nationality. However, there are some exceptions:
- Université de Fribourg
- University of Lucerne
- University of Neuchâtel
- University of St. Gallen
- University of Lugano
- University of Zurich
At these universities, you can encounter two situations:
- Tuition fees are higher for non-EU/EEA citizens
- Tuition fees are higher for all international students when compared to fees for national (Swiss) students
Tuition fees in public universities
Public Swiss universities receive significant funding from the government. That’s why tuition fees are more affordable when compared to fees charged by universities from the UK or the US. International students who come to Switzerland on an exchange programme don’t pay any tuition fee.
Average tuition fees at Swiss public universities:
- Bachelor's and Master's programmes: 400 – 3,700 EUR/year
- PhD degrees: 100 – 900 EUR/year
Tuition fees in private universities
Swiss Private universities usually have higher tuition fees that can reach 43,000 EUR per year. Some universities offer a discount if students pay the full amount when they begin the study programme. For some degrees, tuition is calculated based on the total number of courses or credits.
Most affordable Swiss universities
These are some of the most affordable higher education institutions in Switzerland:
- University of Geneva – average tuition fees: 900 EUR/year
- University of Bern – average tuition fees: 1,700 EUR/year
- University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland FHNW – average tuition fees: 1,260 EUR/year
- University of Lausanne – average tuition fees: 1,040 EUR/year
Tuition fees at top-ranked Swiss universities
Here is a list of average tuition fees at the top-ranked Swiss universities:
- ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich – average tuition fees: 1,200 EUR/year
- Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne – average tuition fees: 1,150 EUR/year
- University of Basel – average tuition fees: 1,550 EUR/year
- University of Zurich – average tuition fees: 1,300 EUR/year
2. Living costs in Switzerland for international students
Living in Switzerland is expensive and managing your monthly budget without making any compromise could be a tough challenge.
You should have an average budget of 1,300 – 1,700 EUR/month to pay for accommodation, food, transportation, supplies and leisure activities. Geneva and Zurich are the most expensive cities, and you might need a budget exceeding 1,700 EUR/month.
Here is how much you will spend, on average, in these Swiss cities:
- Geneva – between 1,650 – 2,500 EUR/month
- Zurich – between 1,650 – 2,200 EUR/month
- Bern – around 1,600 EUR/month
- Basel – between 1,400 – 2,000 EUR/month
Student accommodation costs and options
Rates for accommodation in Switzerland are around 600 – 700 EUR/month, well above the international average of 300 EUR/month.
The most common housing choices among international students in Switzerland are:
- Student halls of residence – between 450 and 800 EUR/month. The number of places is limited.
- Rent/share an apartment – average prices range between 700 and 1,200 EUR/month. It’s one of the most popular accommodation options among students. You can reduce your costs by sharing the apartment with other students.
Food costs in Switzerland
Most students choose to buy food from supermarkets and eat out only once in a while. You can expect to pay between 400 – 550 EUR/month for food. Try making most of your shopping after 5 p.m. when many stores offer 25 - 50% discounts on perishable items.
Inexpensive restaurants in Switzerland serve meals at prices that range from 16 to 27 EUR per person. Restaurants that serve international cuisine can have lower prices.
A good option is the university dining hall, where you would only pay 8 - 10 EUR, or the snack bars or restaurants located in department stores (like Migros, Coop or Manor).
Around 11% of students choose to get around by foot, 10% use the bicycle, and another 10% use public transport. A monthly pass for public transportation is around 55 EUR.
In major Swiss cities like Zurich, Basel, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne and Neuchâtel, any public transportation ticket is valid on trains, tramways, buses and even ships.
You can also use the Numbeo website to check out other prices and costs in Switzerland.
Extra costs for students
- Monthly health insurance: between 250 and 330 EUR. You might be exempt from paying this fee if you meet certain requirements.
- Books and supplies: 100 EUR/month
- With a student ID card, museum tickets should only cost around 6 – 7 EUR.
3. Scholarships for students in Switzerland
International students can get scholarships offered by the Swiss government, based on partnerships established with several countries. Most of these scholarships are granted to postgraduate candidates and researchers. Other funding opportunities are offered by individual universities and other organisations.
- You should check if you are entitled to receive a scholarship by contacting the Swiss embassy or consulate in your home country.
- Other scholarships are offered by some of the Swiss universities; you can benefit from grants ranging from 9,200 EUR to 13,700 EUR, available only for one year, with the possibility of extension, provided you will be academically successful at the end of your first semester of studies. Here are some scholarships offered by the University of Geneva.
- Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships for Foreign Scholars and Artists – scholarships awarded by the Federal Commission to foreign artists with a Bachelor’s degree or young researchers with a Master’s or PhD degree.
- You can explore many other scholarship programmes on Studyinswitzerland.plus.
- In some universities, you can apply for an interest-free loan of up to 11,000 EUR per year, which covers up to 40 % of fees and living costs. In Zurich, you can also opt for the solidarity fund for foreign students.
You can also check out the Studyportals Scholarship to get some help on financing your studies abroad.
Check out other scholarship opportunities in Switzerland.