apply universities Switzerland

How to Apply to Universities in Switzerland (9 Steps)


Switzerland is one of the best countries to live in – and study too. Not only is this nation clean and safe, but it also has efficient infrastructures in place. With its world-class health facilities and on-time public transport system, Switzerland offers a great degree of living for international students.

If you’re thinking of setting your academic sights towards this beautiful European country, then you have come to the right place. Here, you’ll learn more about the Swiss educational system – and how you can apply to any of the universities in Switzerland.

1. Pick what you want to study in Swiss Universities

Of the many degree options in Switzerland, the following courses prove to be the most popular amongst international students:

  • Social Science

Whether it’s language, literature, history, anthropology, art, or political science, Switzerland has it for you. These degrees – which are taught in many cantonal universities – can help pave the way for a fulfilling career.

  • Natural Sciences

Thinking of studying Biology, Chemistry, and Physics, among many other scientific disciplines? Then Switzerland is one of the greatest places to go. Its famous universities are some of the best schools specializing in natural science, be it the field of physical science or life science.

  • Law

Switzerland’s world-famous law schools can help you achieve your dreams of becoming a renowned attorney.

  • Medicine

Many prestigious medical associations are based in Geneva, Switzerland. As such, obtaining your medical degree in the country can help pave the way for internships or work positions at such illustrious organizations.

2. Meet the German Requirements (if applicable)

Switzerland is a multi-lingual country with universities that teach in either German, French, Italian, or English. Because of this, language requirements will vary according to universities in Switzerland which you want to apply.

At German-speaking institutions such as the University of Basel, the requirement usually depends on the course. Since undergraduate programs are primarily taught in German, applicants need to demonstrate a C1-level knowledge of the language.

3. Meet French Requirements (if applicable)

As for French-speaking schools such as the University of Lausanne, Bachelor’s applicants need to pass a French exam upon application. Students may be exempted from this test if they have any of the following documentation:

  • Diplôme d’études en langue française (DELF Tout public) niveau B1 or B2
  • Diplôme approfondi de langue française (DALF Tout public) niveau C1 or C2
  • Test de connaissance du français (TCF) pour les étudiants et futurs étudiants de niveau B1 ou plus haut
  • Test d’évaluation du français (TEF) de la Chambre de commerce et d’industrie de Paris niveau 3 minimum, accompagné des 2 épreuves facultatives niveau 3 minimum.
  • Diplôme Supérieur Langue et Culture Françaises de l’Alliance française
  • Diplôme de Hautes Etudes Françaises de l’Alliance française
  • Diplôme de langue de l’Alliance française Certificat de qualification en français (degrés B1, B2 ou C1)

4. Meet Italian Language Requirements (if appplicable)

At the Università Della Svizzera Italiana, which is Switzerland’s only Italian-speaking institution, proof of proficiency is not required. However, applicants are encouraged to take beginners or advanced-level Italian courses.

5. Meet English Requirements (if applicable)

While most universities offer undergraduate degrees in either German, French, or Italian, some institutions teach bachelor’s degrees in English. Such is the case at the International University of Geneva, where applicants need to meet the following scores:

  • TOEFL iBT – 80
  • TOEFL CBT – 213
  • IELTS or Cambridge CAE equivalent

As for Swiss Master’s programs, the majority of them are taught in English, so you need English profiency to apply to these universities in Switzerland. The University of Basel, for one, requires its applicants to have a B2 to C1 level. This is earmarked by the following scores:

  • IELTS – band 6.0 to 7.0
  • TOEFL PBT – 550-600
  • TOEFL CBT – 215-240
  • TOEFL iBT – 80-96

6. Prepare to meet the application requirements to apply to Universities in Switzerland

Swiss universities typically require a secondary school certificate and transcript of records from their undergraduate applicants. However, schools such as the International University of Geneva may require additional documents such as:

  • A completed application form that details your biggest achievement and any issue of national/international importance
  • Language proficiency results
  • Passport-sized photos
  • Curriculum vitae/resume
  • Copy of student passport
  • Recommendation letter

Master’s applicants also need to prepare a long list of documents in order to apply to universities in Switzerland. For example, the University of Zurich require these basic documents:

  • Bachelor’s degree (of at least 3 years) from an accredited university
  • Language proficiency (in either English or German)

Depending on your desired course, you may need to submit additional requirements, such as:

  • Academic records
  • Curriculum vitae
  • 1-page motivation letter
  • Project outline
  • Confirmation letter from your supervisor

7. Know What Swiss Universities that you want to submit your application

Should you decide to study in Switzerland, make sure that you apply to some of these top universities in Switzerland. They are:

  1. ETH Zurich
  2. École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
  3. University of Zurich
  4. University of Basel
  5. University of Bern
  6. University of Geneva
  7. University of Lausanne
  8. Università Della Svizzera Italiana
  9. University of Fribourg
  10. University of Neuchatel
  11. University of St. Gallen

Naturally so, ETH Zurich is the best school for the studies of business & economics, computer science, engineering, life science, clinical/health science, arts & humanities, physical science, and social science.

However, when it comes to law, the top school proves to be the University of Geneva. It also ranks well for arts & humanities and education.

As for education and psychology, the University of Zurich is the best institution to choose. It is also renowned in law, life science, social science, business & economics, computer science, arts & humanities, and clinical/health science.

Here are the other Swiss schools that rank well in several programs:

  • École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne – engineering, life science, physical science, computer science
  • University of Bern – physical science, social science, clinical/health science, psychology
  • University of Basel – psychology
  • University of Lausanne – law
  • University of St. Gallen – business & economics

8. Consider applying to some of the affordable universities in Switzerland

Getting a bachelor’s degree in Switzerland costs an average of $20,500. Master’s programs are cheaper at about $14,450, though some programs may cost as much as $94,500.

Given that the cost of living in the country can be quite expensive – about $2,225 monthly – it will help to apply to an affordable university in Switzerland. Generally speaking, public universities are the cheapest options:

  • University of Applied Sciences, Northwestern Switzerland – as low as $790
  • ETH Zurich – as low as $825
  • University of Zurich – as low as $825
  • École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne – as low as $880
  • University of Bern – as low as $1,075
  • University of Lausanne – as low as $1,130
  • University of Geneva – as low as $1,130

9. Also consider applying to scholarships in Switzerland

Since the total amount of studying in Switzerland can get quite high, you can minimize the costs further by applying to universities in Switzerland with good scholarship program.

A good example is the Swiss government scholarship, which is usually reserved for graduate students. This covers tuition, a monthly stipend, travel costs, health insurance, and housing allowances.

Certain universities also provide scholarships for deserving foreign graduate students. These include:

  • ETH Zurich
  • École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
  • University of Bern (female applicants only)
  • Graduate Institute of Geneva
  • University of Geneva
  • Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights
  • University of St. Gallen
  • IMD

Though most scholarships are for Master’s students, Bachelor’s students can apply for scholarships at the University of St. Gallen and the University of Basel. Candidacy is based on the results of the internal admission test for the former, while financial situation is the deciding factor for the latter.

I hope that this article on how to apply to universities in Switzerland was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Europe Scholarships Page!