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Study in Switzerland

Graduate programs in Switzerland

Can’t decide between Italy, France and Germany for your graduate program? How about trying Switzerland instead? As the crossroads between all three countries Switzerland offers the best of all three places in a compact and inviting country.Switzerland flag

From snow-capped villages and skiing in the Alps to the positively Mediterranean south, this is a great country in which to be a postgraduate student. It’s also one of the wealthiest countries in the world, offering excellent salaries to graduates who choose to work in Switzerland after finishing their studies.

Population: 8,015,000

Education overview

Switzerland is a popular destination for international students looking for high quality graduate courses.

There are two types of higher education institutions in Switzerland – the one you choose will depend on the type of graduate program you want to study.

  • Cantonal universities – There are ten cantonal universities spread across Switzerland’s 26 cantons (districts)
  • Federal institutes of technology – There are two technological institutes in Switzerland. ETH in Zurich and EPFL in Lausanne

Masters programs in Switzerland generally last between one and two years depending on the subject and mode of study.   

Switzerland is a multi-lingual country, so the language of instruction will depend on the institution you choose to study at. French, German and Italian might all be used at your institution, but English is increasingly being employed as a catch all.

Immigration and visas in Switzerland

Although not a member of the EU, Switzerland does allow EU citizens to attend university in the country. Students from the EU must register with the Residents’ Registration Office at their relevant authority within 14 days of arriving, and will also need to show:

  • A valid passport
  • Proof of a place at a registered university
  • Evidence of funds to support themselves
  • Proof of address
  • Health insurance

Non-EU students will need to check the relevant details for studying in Switzerland with their own country.

Life in Switzerland

With more than 60% of the country made up of the imposing Alps, Switzerland is a country dominated by scenery and landscape. Skiing and winter sports in the mountains is clearly a big draw for many international students, as its energetic and compact cities such as Geneva, Lausanne and Bern.

It’s important to remember that each region of Switzerland has its own feel, customs and festivals – and even costume. Travelling around Switzerland can often feel like you’re visiting several different countries all at once.  

Working in Switzerland

Switzerland has one of Europe’s most stable and prosperous economies and is well known for its wealth. Indeed, it was ranked the wealthiest country in the world in 2011 in per capita terms.

Its economy is founded on manufacturing, particularly in chemicals, health and pharmaceuticals. It also has a highly developed services sector, with banking and insurance being a particularly important industry.

Switzerland has relatively low taxes for such a well developed country, making it a haven for multinational companies. Graduates looking for a career in Switzerland should expect some of the best salary rates in the world.  


Living costs in Switzerland are high and accommodation costs are no different. The main two types of student accommodation in Switzerland are:

  • University accommodation – such as halls of residence
  • Private accommodation – House and flat rentals

University accommodation is a great way of settling into student life easily. You’ll meet fellow students, have your bills included and often be situated on campus. This is a great first option for most international students.

However, if you want a bit more privacy, you might want to find your own flat or house to live in.

Climate in Switzerland

Switzerland’s climate is generally temperate, but does change a lot depending on where in the country you are. The northern region is typically colder with harsh winters and lots of snow, while the southernmost tip can feel Mediterranean.


Switzerland is at the heart of Europe, and consequently has a dense network of roads and railways. Switzerland’s rail network is particularly efficient and is an important mode of transport for crossing the Alps.

Driving in Switzerland is funded by the road tolls and taxes. If you want to use the motorway system you’ll need to buy a road tax disc.


The currency of Switzerland is the Swiss franc.

What to do next

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