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The basics
Switzerland: Applying to University

How to apply to a Swiss university

Applications to study abroad can be daunting, so have a look at our guide to make sure you tick all the right boxes when you apply to a Swiss university.

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It would be an understatement to say that there are some reputable universities in Switzerland. ETH Zurich and École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne are consistently ranked in the top 25 universities in the world, and a lot of other universities rank highly for their specialist subjects. The first-class university teaching isn’t the only reason for people studying in Switzerland though. It has a very high quality of life, a rich culture and some of the most stunning countryside in Europe. We can’t see why you wouldn’t want to study there, there’s so much to do! To give you the best chance of getting into your chosen institution, here is a guide to everything you need to know about applying to a Swiss university.


Don’t forget to check the university’s website to find out specific information on deadlines and procedures for your chosen course.


Questions you should ask the university before you apply

  • Do I need to learn a language? It is particularly important to ask this to a Swiss university because the Swiss have four national languages, but most courses that are available on our site are conducted in English.
  • What documents do I need to include in my application?
  • What is the deadline date for my application?
  • What are the grade requirements for my course?

When should you apply to a Swiss university?

There are usually two semesters, summer and winter. You’ll have to apply some months before the semester starts, and it is a good idea to apply as early as possible to give yourself the best chance of getting noticed. 


What are the winter semester dates for Switzerland?

The winter semester in Switzerland usually has lectures running from September to December and an exam period from late January to mid-February. The deadline for international students to apply for this semester is usually in May, but if you need a visa to study in Switzerland it can be as early as February. You will have to check your university’s individual application schedule to be sure of the deadline. Check out our list of Swiss institutions for more information.


What are the summer semester dates for Switzerland?

The summer semester usually has lectures running from February to June and an exam period in July. The deadline for applications for this semester is usually in November, but if you require a visa to study in Switzerland, then it may be as early as July or August. Again, you will have to check your university’s application schedule to be sure.



What documents will you need to apply?

  • A signed printout of your application form
  • Passport
  • Two passport photos
  • Official copies of all your previous educational certificates, including those at A Level (or equivalent) and any academic degrees you may have completed.
  • A CV with a complete list of all schools/universities you may have attended since secondary school. This CV must not have any gaps, so if you have taken some time out of education make sure to outline what you did in that time. Need more advice? Check out our guide to writing a CV.
  • Language certificates. If required for your course, you will have to provide proof of proficiency in a certain language.
  • For more information on the documents you need for your application, have a read of our guide on essential documents to have close to you.


Tips for applying:

  • Make sure you apply as early as possible! Do not leave it until the last minute to give yourself the best chance of submitting a good, well-rounded application.
  • Apply to as many universities in as many cities as possible to give yourself the best chance of being accepted.
  • If you are a non-EU student, make sure you apply early for your student visa. Have a look at our top tips for applying for a student visa for more information.
  • Don’t give up! If you get a rejection, don’t let that stop you. Apply again for the next semester’s program.


Now that you’re aware of how to apply, why don’t you have a look at the institutions available to you in Switzerland on our university search? You can also visit the Study In Switzwerland website for dedicated resources and information.