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Masters degree in Switzerland
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Masters in Switzerland

by Dr. Lutz-Peter Berg, Swiss Science & Technology Office

Why Study A Masters degree in Switzerland?

Switzerland is an internationally-renowned centre of excellence for teaching and research, it offers a broad range of high-quality programmes in several languages and in every field of research.

Swiss universities offer you high quality teaching and facilities, with access to a richness of multi-lingual and multi-cultural resources, an extremely efficient system, and a vast network of international connections that may open exciting opportunities for your future career.

Its natural beauties, high quality of life, fascinating history and a centuries-old tradition for cultural diversity make Switzerland a wonderful place to live in. At the same time, Swiss universities offer a variety of exchange programs that will allow you to study and travel all over Europe, and beyond.

For further information, please visit:

Swiss universities

Higher education in Switzerland comprises academic studies at the 12 research-led universities (this includes the 2 Federal Institutes of Technology), at the more professionally-oriented universities of applied sciences and at the universities of teacher education. A few more university-level institutions are considered public institutions of higher education. Many Swiss Universities are consistently ranked amongst the best in the world.

An international environment

Switzerland is an internationally recognised centre of excellence for education, and its attraction for studying and research is well-established. The high proportion of foreign university students (21%), Ph.D. students (53.6%) and teaching staff (45%) attests to this. In the postgraduate environment, English is often the language of instruction (over 200 Masters courses are taught in English) and the working language in a research environment.

Excellence in education and research

Domestic policy places a high value on higher education, and Swiss universities are, as a consequence, generously funded public institutions. Switzerland's investment in education and research is among the highest of all OECD countries. As a result, Switzerland boasts both the highest number of registered patents in all European countries and one of the highest numbers of Nobel Prizes per capita in the world. Switzerland enjoys worldwide recognition for its research. Swiss scientists are not only the most productive in the world, with the highest number of scientific publications per researcher: their publications have also a strong impact. The fields of life sciences, agriculture, biology, environmental sciences, and clinical medicine measure the highest number of citations per publication worldwide, while Swiss performance in engineering, computer science, physics, chemistry, and earth sciences is also excellent.

Switzerland – at the heart of Europe

Since 2006, all Swiss universities offer their courses in accordance with the Bologna system: undergraduate studies culminate in a Bachelor's degree, which can be further advanced with a Master's degree, in compliance with international agreements. A total of 117,000 students attend Switzerland's world-class Bachelor's, Master's and Ph.D. programmes, which are based on cutting-edge research and cover a variety of areas. Switzerland is a full member of EU research and education programmes and researchers in Switzerland are very successful in attracting EU funding.

Enrollment and Admission

The prerequisite for access to a Master's programme is a successfully completed Bachelor's programme. Each university makes its own decisions as to whether a Bachelor's degree obtained in a foreign country gives its holder access to Master's programmes - with or without entrance examinations, under certain conditions, with further requirements, or no access at all. The university may set additional requirements, equally applicable to all candidates, for admission to specialized Master's programmes.

In this second cycle of studies, the student will further advance his or her knowledge and specialize in a particular field, or acquire an interdisciplinary formation. This programme is completed with the writing of a master's thesis.

In the Bologna system, a Master's programme lasts three to four semesters (depending on the field of study) and awards 90 to 120 ECTS credits.

The Swiss universities deliver the following Master's degrees:

Master of Theology M Th
Master of Law M Law
Master of Medicine M Med
Master of Dental Medicine M Dent Med
Master of Veterinary Medicine M Vet Med
Master of Arts MA
Master of Science M Sc
Master of Engineering M Eng

Detailed information on general- and country-specific admission requirements can be found here.

Language Requirements:

An increasing number of study programmes at Master's level are offered in English, thus a solid knowledge of English language is advisable for all prospective students.


Due to the national commitment to education and the generous funding from federal and cantonal governments, tuition fees at Swiss universities are relatively low. They differ between universities but are typically around £1000 per year.

Scholarships - Governmental scholarships

The Swiss Government offers scholarships to foreign students and artists on the basis of reciprocity or within the framework of a scholarship pool to several countries. Scholarships are granted to postgraduate candidates or researchers from both industrial and development countries.

Candidates should, in the first instance, find out from their own country's authorities whether they are entitled to a government scholarship or should approach the Swiss Embassy or consulate ( in their home country. A list of the relevant countries and further information on the governmental scholarships, such as application requirements, duration of scholarship, scholarship amount, application procedure etc. are available at Before applying, candidates (who must be under 35 of age and proficient in English, German, French or Italian) should get in touch with a professor ( or with the responsible service of the programme at the chosen Swiss higher Education institution in order to get a written confirmation of acceptance. To find out whether a Swiss University offers scholarships to international students, candidates are advised to check the website of the University in question.

University-Specific Practical Information

This article kindly written for by Dr. Lutz-Peter Berg, Swiss Science & Technology Office. It may not be reproduced without permission.

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Living in Switzerland – A Guide for Students

by Dr. Lutz-Peter Berg, Swiss Science & Technology Office

Switzerland is a small country, but it is also a land of great diversity. Not only have the three main linguistic areas developed their own culture, traditions, economy and cuisine, but the great number of foreigners settled in Switzerland have also brought with them their various cultures and languages. With four national languages (German, French, Italian and Romansh) and over 21% of the population consisting of foreign citizens, Switzerland is a unique melting-pot in the heart of Europe. Although the majority of people (60%) speak German - or, more precisely, Swiss-German - Swiss residents often speak at least two languages. Cross-cultural encounters are part of daily life in Switzerland; plurilinguism is essential.

Lifestyle can vary greatly depending on the area of the country and the background of the inhabitants. Nowadays, the Swiss population is mainly modern and urban, with one-third of the population living in the five biggest cities (Zurich, Basel, Geneva, Bern and Lausanne), another third in smaller urban areas and the final one-third in rural areas*. Traditions are kept alive especially in these mountain and rural areas. However, even the biggest Swiss city, Zurich, numbers only 370,000 inhabitants.

Despite the fact that Switzerland lacks natural resources and that the Swiss economy is highly dependent on exports, its economic situation has been very stable over the years; its GDP per inhabitant is higher than in most industrialised countries. The Swiss population on the whole enjoys a high level of living and Switzerland deserves its reputation of high-quality standards and services in all sectors (health, industry, public transport, education, etc.).

Switzerland has long been one of the world's great tourist destinations. It boasts an extraordinary abundance of natural beauties and interesting attractions. The 4000 mt-high peaks of the Alps began attracting the first modern tourists during the 19th Century. Since then, Switzerland has developed into a treasured destination for travellers of every nationality, age and condition, who find here modern tourist facilities, sightseeing for every taste, and a welcoming hospitality.

Switzerland's tourist attractions are as diverse as its cultural identity. The country is known as a summer and winter sports paradise (Zermatt, St Moritz, Interlaken, Gstaad, the Jungfrau, Verbier are but a few of the many suggestive names). It hosts cosmopolitan cities like Geneva, Zurich, Basel, as well as several enchanting towns (Lucerne, Neuchâtel, Lugano, etc.).

"Whether visiting the remotest Ticino villages or sampling the finest of Valais wines, you'll find Switzerland a chocolate box bursting with unexpected flavors." (from the Lonelyplanet guide)

Practical Information

Swiss Universities and Federal Institutes of Technology typically issue guides with detailed practical information about life on campus and in the surrounding city. This school-specific type of information is available on each institution's website (see below). We summarize here the main general aspects of practical information.


The currency used in Switzerland is the Swiss Franc (CHF), which is unique to Switzerland and Liechtenstein. Usually, in bigger cities or large international stores, Euros are accepted too. However, the change will be returned in CHF. Credit cards are accepted in most shops and restaurants.

Cost of Living

The cost of life in Switzerland is similar to that of big European cities. In most areas of Switzerland, cost of life is cheaper than Paris or London, although some items, such as food, are on average more expensive than elsewhere in Europe. For an estimate, depending on the exact location of the stay and on the entity of personal demands, living in Switzerland entails a monthly expense comprised between CHF 1,500.- and 2,500.- (this budget calculation for students considers housing, health insurance, food, daily transportation, small daily expenses, and educational material).


In some cases and depending on the terms of their agreements with the University, international students and researchers will be offered accommodation opportunities. Usually though, each person must find his/her own accommodation. The most common solution for international students or researchers is to rent an apartment or a house, or a room in students' residences. Please refer to each university's website or practical information guide to find out city-specific recommendations concerning housing.

Health Insurance

Switzerland has a compulsory health insurance system that guarantees access to a range of quality medical care services and appropriate medical treatment to all people living in Switzerland. Every person living in Switzerland for more than three months, including international students, must have basic health insurance coverage. Students from countries that provide international international health coverage may be exempted from the compulsory health insurance. Other students may be exempted if they have equivalent health insurance coverage in their home country.

Third-party Liability Insurance

Although it is not compulsory, third-party liability insurance may prove useful during your stay in Switzerland. This is a kind of insurance that covers insured persons against any claims for damages made by third parties on the basis of legal provisions governing third-party liability (material damage and/or personal injury).

This article kindly written for by Dr. Lutz-Peter Berg, Swiss Science & Technology Office. It may not be reproduced without permission.

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