Switzerland is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe and 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 degree studies.
If you thought about studying abroad in Switzerland or already got accepted to a Swiss university, read below and find out more about tuition fees and the costs of living in Switzerland for international students.
1. University tuition fees in Switzerland
Tuition fees in public universities
Public Swiss universities receive significant funding which makes tuition fees seem affordable compared to tuition costs charged by universities from the UK or the U.S. Students who come to Switzerland on an exchange programme don’t pay any tuition fee.
In both public and private universities, fees are the same for EU and non-EU students.
Average tuition fees:
- Bachelor's and Master's programmes: 1,600/per year
- PhD degrees: 100 – 200 EUR/year
- Certain disciplines may have higher fees, such as Medicine, where students can be charged up to around 16,000 EUR/year
Universities from Fribourg, Lucerne, Neuchatel, St. Gallen, Zurich and Lugano charge extra tuition fees for foreign students.
Tuition fees in private universities
Private universities usually have higher tuition fees that range between 1,500 and 16,000 EUR per year.
PhDs are very popular in Switzerland not only due to the world’s famous and acknowledged research work made by the most prestigious institutions, but also because candidates that pursue a PhD in Switzerland are also considered employees, thus, they are paid for their work. Here are some examples of private universities and their tuition fees:
- Sustainability Management School - tuition starts at 8,600 EUR/year
- Swiss Business School - tuition starts at 10,000 EUR/year
Most affordable Swiss universities
Check the list of Swiss higher education institutions with the most affordable tuition fees:
- University of Geneva – average tuition fees 900 EUR/year
- University of Bern – average tuition fees 1,500 EUR/year
- University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland FHNW – average tuition fees 1,300 EUR/year
- University of Lausanne – average tuition fees 1,500 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 1,600 EUR/year
- École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne – average tuition fees 1,100 EUR/year
- University of Basel – average tuition fees 1,600 EUR/year
- University of Zurich – average tuition fees 1,400 EUR/year
2. Living costs in Switzerland for international students
Living costs all over Switzerland are expensive, and managing your monthly expenses without making any compromise could be a tough challenge in Switzerland.
You should plan an average budget of around 1,300 and 1,800 EUR/month to pay for: housing, food, transportation, tuition, supplies and a few leisure activities. However, Geneve and Zurich are the most expensive cities that require a budget exceeding 1,700 EUR/month.
Here is how much you will spend, on average, in these Swiss cities:
- Geneve – around 1,650-2,500 EUR/month
- Zurich – between 1,650 and 2,200 EUR/month
- Bern – around 1,600 EUR/month
- Basel – between 1,400 and 2,000 EUR/month
Student accommodation costs and options
Out of the total monthly expenses of EU students, they usually pay around 33 % on accommodation, 7 % on transportation and around 8 % on tuition fees. Rates for accommodation in Switzerland are above the international range of 300 EUR/month, as the average for any housing option is around 600 EUR/month.
8% of the international students in Switzerland live in student halls of residence, the rest choose other housing options. Around 68 % of students are very satisfied with their accommodation in Switzerland; as the average rate of student satisfaction in Europe is 60 %, this could mean that accommodation options and facilities in Switzerland are very good.
The most common housing choices among international students in Switzerland:
- Student halls of residence – between 450 and 800 EUR/month
- Rent/share an apartment – average price ranges between 700 and 1,000 EUR/month for a one-bedroom apartment
Food costs in Switzerland
Most students choose to buy their food from the supermarkets and eat out only once in a while. Food bills from the supermarket would be around 300 EUR/month, but they could get higher. Try making most of your shopping after 5 p.m., as many stores add 25–50% discounts on perishable items.
Inexpensive restaurants in Switzerland serve meals at prices that range from 11 to 21 EUR per person. Restaurants that serve international cuisine can have lower prices.
Try having a meal in the university dining hall where you would only pay 8-10 EUR or at the snack bars or restaurants located in department stores (like: Migros, Coop or Manor).
Many students choose to get around Switzerland by foot, (around 11%), 10 % use the bicycle, and another 10 % use the public transport. A monthly pass on the public transportation is around 60 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.
Extra costs for students
- Monthly health insurance: between 250 and 330 EUR
- Books and supplies: 100 EUR/month
- With a student ID card, museum tickets should only cost around 6–7 EUR
3. Scholarship options for students in Switzerland
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.
- 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 IMD Business School and other scholarships offered by University of Geneva.
- Research and art scholarships offered by the Swiss government – awards are dedicated to young researchers from abroad who have completed a Master’s or PhD degree and to foreign artists with a completed Bachelor’s degree.
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 – available for Bachelor's students who have completed their first semester. The amount of the fund can get up to 520 EUR/month, for up to ten semesters.