Switzerland offers affordable research-oriented education like no other country in the world. It is a popular study destination among international students seeking higher degrees in the fields of mathematics, economics, science, humanities, among others. It is a country with a high education rate and high standard of living.
Besides top-quality education, Switzerland offers some of the highest-paying jobs in the world. It is also one of the safest countries to live in, the country with the lowest unemployment rate, and the cleanest country in the world! Switzerland is truly a marvel for anyone who goes there to travel, study, or work.
The country is rich in culture. Parts of Switzerland are inhabited by people from diverse cultural backgrounds. Even the official languages are four in Switzerland – French, German, Italian, and Romansh. There is also a presence of people from around the world in the student population in Switzerland. You can expect to mingle with the locals, get to know the Swiss traditions better, and just be a part of it.
Although it is difficult to get a permanent residence permit or work opportunities in Switzerland for foreigners, the educational opportunities here will open doors for you to do better in your home country. If you do end up getting an extended work permit, you can expect to get paid really well here in Switzerland. Most people in this country enjoy a decent lifestyle and have stable jobs. Note that the living cost here is quite high, but if you get paid well, you will easily meet your expenses and maintain your living standard.
While studying in Switzerland, you will also be delving into the land of supreme cuisine, culture, and a lot of yummy cheese and chocolates! As a student, there are plenty of other things that you would have to figure out besides all this, like –
If you have similar questions, we’re here to help you get the relevant information.
Application fee can cost up to 100 CHF in Swiss universities.
Tuition cost is a little higher for non-EU/EFTA students.
As an international student, you will be spending up to 100 CHF a month on books.
The average cost of living (including tuition) can be up to 27,600 CHF per year. This also depends on the lifestyle and spending habits of the student.
Food & Drinks
You will be spending anywhere between 400-500 CHF per month on food and drinks. If you want to cut down on food budget, some universities offer dining hall options where you can get a meal for 8-10 CHF.
The monthly pass for public transport costs 58 CHF. In major Swiss cities like Zurich, Basel, Bern, Geneva, public transportation ticket is valid on trains, buses, and even ships.
In Switzerland, home ownership is as low as under 40%. Accommodation in cities like Zurich is hard to find and is quite expensive while property rent outside Zurich and other student-centric cities are lower.
Types Of Accommodation
Student halls are the most preferred choice of accommodation for international students in Switzerland and cost between 475-900 CHF per month.
A shared flat can cost up to 740-1270 CHF a month, depending on the location and facilities. For a room with a shared kitchen and bathroom, the rent can go anywhere from 400-1000 CHF. A one or two-room flat can be between 800-1600 CHF, again depending on the location and facilities.
The following universities are known for an excellent standard of education and a diverse student population:
1. ETH Zurich
ETH Zurich or Swiss Federal Institute of Technology is a government educational institution. This is the most sought-after university for technology and science in the world and holds the sixth rank for the best university in the world, according to QS World University Ranking 2021. Among the long line of Nobel laureates this university has produced, Albert Einstein was also one. In total, the university has around 19,000 students from 110 different countries.
International students studying here have to pay a one-time non-refundable application fee of 150 CHF. The compulsory study cost for this institution is 1598 CHF in total per year, including tuition fees and other costs. There can also be individual study costs for study materials and excursions etc. which can amount to 125 CHF (85 for books, 40 for excursions).
The Housing Office of the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich help international students find suitable accommodation – the institution provides a limited number of rooms to international and exchange students. The students seeking accommodation options can go to the website of the Housing Office and apply for a room. The cost range of shared apartments can be between 400-1000 CHF, depending on the facilities. An independent one or two-room flat can be between 800-1600 CHF, depending on the location and facilities.
2. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne
The mission of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne is education, research, and innovation. This is a public university with a lot of cultural diversity – almost half the students in this university are international. This institution is best known in the world for providing education in the domain of computer science, natural science, and engineering.
The average fee for international students at this institution is 1420 CHF per year. This university also offers Excellence Fellowships to international students pursuing master’s courses.
For students looking for accommodation, the Housing Team of EPFL directs international students to suitable housing options close to the campus. EPFL does not have any official student halls and the existing ones near the university are managed by independent organizations. The average cost of residence in these halls is between 550 CHF to 750 CHF per month.
3. University of Zurich
According to QS World Ranking, the University of Zurich holds a world ranking of 53. This makes it one of the most sought-after universities in Switzerland for international students. The undergraduate courses in this university are taught in Swiss German but all the master’s courses are taught in English.
An international student will be required to pay an application fee of 100 CHF, a tuition fee per semester of 720 CHF for bachelor’s and master’s students, and 150 for P.hD. students and 54 CHF for other mandatory semester contributions.
International students finding accommodation can struggle to get an affordable deal. Student accommodation is quite expensive in Zurich. The average cost for a student flat is 890-1200 CHF per month, depending upon the location and facilities. The University of Zurich does not provide on-campus accommodation.
4. University of Bern
Located in the Swiss capital of Bern, the University of Bern is the oldest institution of higher education in Switzerland, whose origins date back to 1460. The university has eight faculties for law, theology, medicine, veterinary medicine, humanities, science, human sciences, and business & economics. It is one of the top 150 universities in the world, according to QS World Ranking, and has produced notable alumni over the years.
The tuition fees for international students at the University of Bern vary between 1400 CHF and upwards per year, depending on the course. This university does not provide housing to any of its students. Many other student lodging companies in Bern rent out rooms and shared rental options to students that can cost up to 900 CHF of rent per month.
5. Sustainability Management School (SUMAS)
This university offers responsible management education with a key focus on sustainability. It offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in sustainable management. The master’s and doctoral programs are offered offline and online. SUMAS is the first business school and private academic institution in Switzerland to have achieved a QS Stars Rating.
The average MBA program here costs up to 31,000 CHF. SUMAS offers on-site accommodation to students. A single room on campus can cost up to 2000 CHF, and a shared room for 1200 CHF. An additional accommodation charge of 50 CHF a month is also to be paid by the resident.
6. University of Geneva
University of Geneva is another prestigious research institution in Switzerland offering a range of bachelor-level and master-level programs for international students. The university was established 462 years ago in the year 1559. This university s part of the consortium of higher research institutions in Europe, the League of European Research Universities.
There are nine faculties in this university, fourteen inter-faculty centres, and it is also associated with several other Swiss educational institutions. The academic year at the University of Geneva starts in mid-September and goes on till mid-June. For international students, the average cost for a study program at the University of Geneva is 1000 CHF.
The study visa requirement for students from the EU/EFTA region is different from students not from the EU/ETFA region:
Requirements For Students From The EU/EFTA Region
Requirements For Students NOT From The EU/EFTA Region
Types of Visas
The type of visa needed depends on the duration of your studies in the country. There are two kinds of visas for Switzerland:
How to Apply
Course Eligibility Criteria
The course eligibility criteria for Swiss universities differ according to the course, and the university.
1. Eligibility for Bachelor’s Program
2. Eligibility for Master’s Program
Documents Required for Visa
Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies
The aspiring student must have a confirmation letter from their university declaring the acceptance of studies. This is an essential document that you must have with you when you’re moving to Switzerland for higher studies as an international student.
Some Swiss institutions allow students to take a language proficiency test at the university itself, provided they don’t have the language proficiency certificate already. But most of the institutions require a certificate of proficiency. Proficiency in any of the three official languages of Switzerland is important. The accepted proficiency tests in the languages are as follows:
EU/EFTA students with an EHIC can apply for exemption from health insurance. For Others, non-EU/EFTA people, monthly healthcare premiums vary from 65 CHF to 91 CHF on average.
You can pay premiums in advance to reduce the total healthcare costs. Most companies offer a discount of up to 2% if you pay full year and not every month.
Visa Processing Timelines
It can take up to one month for the Swiss embassy or consulate to reply to your visa application. Once you send your application, the embassy will forward your application to a cantonal migration officer in Switzerland to authorize your application. If accepted, the Consulate General of Switzerland will hand you the visa.
The whole process can take a few months. So, make sure you send your application on time.
Travel with Family
What are the requirements you should prepare for as an international student who will be going to study in Switzerland? Here are the A-Zs of all the requirements:
What to Bring
Remember to not pack too much otherwise it will be a lot to handle. Here are some essentials that you should bring to Switzerland as a student:
The carry-on items that you can have with you depend on the airlines you’re taking. However, you must have certain essential items packed for convenient access that you can easily carry during and after your flight.
Also, make sure to check what is and what’s not allowed on your flight. A general rule when it comes to packing carry-on bags is to not pack liquids, sharp items like scissors, razors, etc.
Proof of financial capacity, whether through scholarships, grants, loans or personal funds. Copies of bank statements or letters from the bank should work as proof.
Local Cultural Requirements
It is advised to take an overview of the Swiss culture through books, articles, or videos to reduce cultural shock. Here are some local cultural requirements you will have to follow:
Coverage of health insurance for people residing in Switzerland for more than three months is mandatory. The health insurance policy must cover medical treatment at the time of illness and accident. If you do not fulfill this requirement, you cannot reside in Switzerland as an international student.
People can choose insurance companies on their own, depending on the amount of premium they would like to pay. They can also choose from options like Student Care, Score Studies, and Swiss Care. Another option is to get health insurance from a private insurance company in their home country.
Some insurance companies offer specialized insurance packages for international students, mainly for non-EU/EFTA students. If you are a student from this region, make sure to do your research before buying an expensive medical plan!
Note that not all students have to have health insurance in Switzerland. EU citizens who hold EHIC or European Health Insurance Card may be exempted to take mandatory Swiss insurance post arriving in the country. For non-EU students, health insurance is mandatory.
Switzerland is one of the safest, cleanest, and culturally rich countries in the world. It is known for its research-centric education system focused on using unconventional teaching methods. The country has produced some of the best academics and engineers in the world and is one of the top study abroad destinations in the world
Another factor that attracts international students in Switzerland is the low tuition fee. And every year, thousands of aspiring students from across the globe compete to get admission to Swiss universities. The two prominent Swiss Federal Institutes for Technology admit 40-50% international students every year. It is a fact that educational standards are quite high in the country. That is also because the government cares about the rate of education in the country.
Switzerland also has landscapes are picturesque, famous chocolates, and a lot of diverse cultures. Any international student in Switzerland will find it worth it to move across the world to study in this beautiful country.
Working While Studying
According to the Swiss government’s rules, international students can work part-time while studying on a student visa. However, the maximum time limit for students is only 15 hours per week. This is to ensure that students get enough time to devote to their studies. During semester holidays, the students can work full time.
If their job requires more working hours, they will need a work permit and also a permit from their university.
Note that international students who are not citizens of the EU/EFTA can take up a job only after 6 months of living in Switzerland and starting their degree.
Financial Cost & Assistance
Although tuition fee in Switzerland is affordable when compared to other countries, the cost of living here is very high. Students may require financial assistance for the same. There are many ways a student can get financial aid for their study abroad journey in Switzerland:
Students can get financial help in the form of scholarships and grants.
You can get merit-based, sports-based, and other scholarships to aid your studies in Switzerland. Merit-based scholarships are provided generally on the basis of an exceptional academic score. Sports scholarships are given to students who excel at a specific sport and their academics as well. You can get either government or non-government scholarships in Switzerland:
Federal Commission for Scholarships for Foreign Studies (FCS) – Students from certain countries can avail scholarships through bilateral arrangements between their country and the Swiss government. This type of scholarship is mostly for postgraduate students and researchers. To check if your origin country is a partner, you can check with the Swiss Embassy in your country.
Swiss Excellence Scholarships – This scholarship is for international students pursuing research in their post-graduate program and covers tuition fees and other expenses.
University-Specific Scholarships – Scholarships are also offered by Swiss universities independently. The eligibility criteria for such scholarships is generally an excellent academic record. Some universities offering scholarships are ETF Zurich Excellence Master’s Scholarship, University of Bern scholarships, University of Geneva Excellence Master Fellowships, University of Zurich Scholarships for P.hD. candidates.
Alfred Werner Master’s Scholarship – This is a foundation that offers only 10 scholarships of 30,000 CHF to students enrolling in M.Sc program in Swiss universities. The eligibility of this scholarship is for international students who peaked in the tops 10% in their undergraduate program.
ERASMUS – The European Mobility for Higher Education: Swiss-European Mobility Programme (SEMP)/ERASMUS grants educational institutions the right to support students or teaching staff financially. A SEMP program can last from 3 months to 12 months and will give students 380-440 CHF per month.
Friedrich Naumann Foundation – This foundation offers up to 897 CHF per month along with a contribution in health insurance. The eligibility for the same is candidates pursuing a bachelor’s or master’s in Switzerland or other EU countries.
Academic grants are given with an institution’s or individual’s free will. The student receiving the grant does not have to pay back the amount granted. Grants are offered to people who have little source of income but have excellent academic potential. Grants are supposed to cover tuition fees, travel and rent expenses, and the living cost of the student.
For international students working part-time alongside pursuing their degree, student jobs are a convenient option to cover their basic monthly living costs. They can earn anywhere between 20-26 CHF an hour by working only 2 hours a day per week.
Student jobs are easy to find in cities like Zurich and Geneva. The industries for work which are popular with students are fast-food and tourism. Students can also find employment in the academic or administrative departments of their university.
Swiss universities offer a one-year International Foundation Year program for international students. The focus of the program is academics, the development of study skills, and English language training for international students.
This pre-degree foundation program will also help international students get familiar with a different education system and reduce cultural shock at the same time. The fee for such programs is also lower than the tuition fee for a regular full-time degree program.
Foundation programs are also useful for those who are not entirely qualified to get admission in the course of their choice and give them a chance to improve their chance of getting admission.
For foundation programs, the general entry requirement is:
There also may be some university-specific requirements for the foundation program entry for international students.
The Education System
The Swiss education system is known for its high academic standards and for promoting research in diverse fields of study. The public and private universities in the country offer degree programs in areas including mathematics, economics, science, humanities. A typical academic year lasts from September to May in Swiss universities.
In Switzerland, higher education is managed by 10 cantonal (regional) universities as well as two federal institutes of technology.
Most bachelor’s programs in Switzerland take three years to complete but medicine or pharmacy programs may take up to 5-6 years to complete. During bachelor’s, you will have your core (major) subjects, additional subject(s) of your choice (minor), and elective subject(s). In the last year of your bachelor’s, you will be working on your dissertation.
Master’s programs are completed within one or two years of full-time study. At the postgraduate level, many Swiss universities offer multiple master’s programs taught in English. Therefore, Switzerland Is a great choice for international students who want to pursue a postgraduate degree. Students may have to complete practical tasks in addition to theory and have to write a dissertation towards the end of their program.
A PhD program takes between three to five years to complete. Students will be required to submit their PhD thesis under the guidance of a supervisor.