Student Visa - Switzerland

Study in Switzerland

Interested in Education in Switzerland?

Students pursuing their education in Switzerland will fall in love with the country's beautiful landscapes, cultural variety (a fusion of Germany, French and Italian flavors), innovative technological environment and, most importantly, high quality of education. Every year, around 64,000 students are enrolled in universities throughout Switzerland; this high number is due in part to the population being fluent in several languages, English included.

Switzerland prides itself particularly on it well-recognized institutes in science and tourism, as well as internationally-accredited business schools. The country's diverse geography, languages and religious affiliations are reflected in the variety of literature, art, architecture, music and customs.

The Education System in Switzerland

The education system in Switzerland is internationally recognized for its excellence. Alongside the state-funded establishments, Switzerland also offers a wide choice of high quality education at private schools. Both public and private establishments provide a comprehensive range of education at all levels.

Universities in Switzerland

There are the 10 Cantonal Universities and the two federal institutes of technology in Switzerland, some of whose histories, particularly in the case of the cantonal universities, date back to the 15th century.

The oldest university in Switzerland is located in Basel and was founded in 1460. All twelve universities operate more or less in the classical tradition of European universities in that they both teach and conduct research, and offer a wide range of studies within the faculties of law and economics, mathematics, natural sciences, humanities and social science.

University-level education in Switzerland follows the bachelor-master system. Like other European countries, universities in Switzerland follow the Bologna system, meaning it is easy for international students to move between universities in other countries.

Reforms aimed at standardizing the structure of studies and of degrees were completed by 2010. Under this new two-tiered system, the first grade awarded is the Bachelor's degree (180 ECTS credits or three years full-time study) and the second one the Master's degree (90 - 120 ECTS credits or one and a half years full-time study). A Bachelor's degree is the prerequisite for admittance to studies at Master's level. A Master's degree and good grades are the prerequisite for undertaking a doctorate.

Application and Entry Requirements in Switzerland

To be accepted to a university in Switzerland, candidates must possess either a state-recognized Swiss maturity certificate or another foreign certificate recognized as equivalent by the university. Depending on the course, a good knowledge of the language of instruction is a prerequisite as well. Most of the schools require a B1/B2 certification level, according to the European language passport (Europass), although some Bachelor's and Master's programs are taught in English. You may be asked to take a language test/certificate before being admitted into a program. Applicants should contact their selected university well in time for further information.

Student Visas for Education in Switzerland

When you have received confirmation of acceptance by a Swiss university or private school, please contact the Swiss embassy in your country for information on entry formalities for Switzerland. You will have to show proof that you have adequate financial means to support yourself during your studies.

EU/EEA Nationals

Although Switzerland is not a member of the EU, it allows EU citizens to attend university in the country. Incoming students must register with the local resident registration office within 14 days of arrival in Switzerland to apply for a residence permit. The following supporting documents are usually required.

  • Residence permit application completed
  • A valid passport and identity card
  • Confirmation that you have been accepted by a Swiss university
  • A guarantee of sufficient financial means to support yourself during your studies (e.g. bank statement)
  • 2 passport size photographs
  • Statement concerning your address in Switzerland
  • The residence permit will only be issued if your financial means are guaranteed.

The awarded residence permit will need to be renewed annually.

Foreign Nationals

Students that do not have EU/EEA nationality must contact the Swiss embassy or consulate in their home country to apply for a visa prior to entering the country. If the application is approved, applicants are deemed to satisfy the requirements for entry into Switzerland to take up residency for the purpose for studying.

Tuition Fees & Living Costs in Switzerland

University fees might seem nominal compared to the Anglo-Saxon system. The Universities in Switzerland actually belong to the public domain and are still financed in large part by Swiss taxpayers, with the exception of the semi-private Italian University of Switzerland.

Most general universities have a tuition fee of CHF 805 - 1,238 per year. Private universities may be a bit higher.

Scholarships For International Students in Switzerland

Tuition fees at Swiss universities are relatively low compared to other European countries, making it one of the top choices for international students to study. There are various scholarships that are offered through bilateral agreements between governments and/or universities, or within the frame of a pool.

Student Housing & Accommodation in Switzerland

Most Swiss universities own student accommodation which they manage and rent out themselves. As an international student, you'll usually receive a subsidized price for housing on campus. The advantage of living on campus is that you will live close to college facilities as well as other students. You should apply for student housing as soon as possible since places are limited.

Some international students prefer to rent a room in the house of a Swiss family, to truly experience the Swiss culture and integrate with the Swiss people.

Most higher education institutions in Switzerland will have a Housing Office or an International Office that can give you more information about your housing options.

Cost of Living in Switzerland

  • A student's monthly budget amounts to approximately CHF 1,500. Cost of living depends on the city you live, the most expensive being Zurich and Geneva. Yearly university accommodation estimates to be around CHF 3,500, (CHF 7,800 for a studio and CHF 11,000 for a private studio).
  • ?Food and upkeep estimates CHF 800 - 850, and transportation approximately CHF 2.20 per ticket. Students should be aware that several payments are due simultaneously at the onset of their studies, for example first term health insurance payment, first semester tuition fees, first rent payment (which often includes an obligatory security deposit) and foreign student medical exam bill. As such, you can anticipate a minimum cost of CHF 16,000 -24,000 per year, depending on where you study and your standard of living.

Student Jobs in Switzerland

Student Jobs in Switzerland When you have obtained your residence permit and proven you have the financial resources necessary to study in Switzerland, you may be able to take a job alongside your studies. In fact, the student residence permit allows for a profit-earning activity, as long your university provides a statement confirming that your employment will not prolong the length of your studies.

For foreign students, the number of weekly work hours is limited to 15, but this is fairly flexible depending on the canton (in Geneva, for example, you can work up to 30 hours per week). Nevertheless, most people will advise you not to take on extra work, since a university workload is generally quite heavy. It is easier to find employment in the large urban centers like Geneva and Zurich. Each university has a job placement office that provides information on student employment. Wages vary between CHF 20 - 35 according to the type of job and your skills.

Universities & Colleges in Switzerland


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