Studying in Switzerland – Universities, Cost & Process

study in switzerland

Switzerland is known for its world-class academic institutions and decentralized education system. Studying in Switzerland offers ample opportunities and scope for international students to grow. Especially popular for its hospitality, medical sciences, and PhD programs, it is an excellent choice to study in Switzerland for internationally students. 

Moreover, it houses many highly ranked universities, an optimum student/faculty ratio, excellent research facilities, and low tuition fees. The fees of each university can vary and are decided by the responsible canton; however, they generally range between 200 and 850 CHF per semester.

The country is also one of the most preferred study abroad destinations for Indian students. An important part of studying in Switzerland for Indian students is that they need to meet the requirements set by an individual educational institute and the study visa. The country is safe and houses several reputed multinational companies, thus offering a promising job market. The scope for research and innovation is huge too. 

To plan their academic journey in Switzerland, students need to understand the estimated cost of study, admission requirements to study in Switzerland, the visa process, top universities, and PR essentials.

Key Pointers for Switzerland As a Study Destination 

Here is a quick overview of Switzerland for international students deliberating pursuing higher education in Switzerland. 

Average Cost of Study

200 – 850 CHF per semester

Average Cost of Living

2,000 CHF per month

Intakes

Autumn/Fall

Spring

Language of Instruction

German

French

English 

Exam Required

Language Proficiency exams (English, German or French), GRE, GMAT, etc.

Types of Visa 

C-VISA (stay > three months),  D-VISA (stay < three months)

Popular Courses 

Hotel and Hospitality Management, Banking and Finance,

Business Management, Applied Mathematics

Best Student City 

Zurich and Lausanne

Why study in Switzerland? 

  1. The education system in Switzerland is flexible. The decentralized education system offers a wide array of possibilities for international students to receive a quality education. International students can opt for undergraduate, postgraduate, and PhD programs at prestigious Swiss universities. 
  2. The country is home to some of the high-ranked educational institutes. Universities like ETH Zurich, University of Lausanne, University of Zurich, University of Bern, University of Geneva and others are known for their excellence in education globally. 
  3. Education in Swiss institutions is offered in different languages, German, French, and English. 
  4. The best thing about Swiss universities is that they do not ask for English language proficiency test scores from Indian students. If the students know basic English language writing and speaking, they can apply for a program. The IELTS exam is optional, as the majority of universities do not ask for one. Thus, an international student can study in Switzerland without IELTS.
  5. Two Switzerland cities have been featured in the Top 20 Best Student Cities, as per QS Rankings 2023. 
  6. It is home to 15 companies that are listed under Fortune 500. These companies offer international students a platform to build a rewarding career. 
  7. As per the Global Innovation Index 2022, Switzerland is the most creative country.  
  8. Around 25% of the country’s total population are international students who have settled there after completion of the course. It means Switzerland offers ample permanent residency and employment opportunities. 
  9. Switzerland offers partial and full funding opportunities to international students. Scholarships like Swiss Excellence Scholarships for Foreign Students and ETH Zurich Excellence Scholarships offer 100% funding to deserving students. 
  10. Switzerland welcomes international students wholeheartedly. The country has a vibrant lifestyle and multicultural environment that allows international students to integrate and mix well with the Swiss way of life.

Recommended Read: Student Visa

How to Study in Switzerland from India? 

For every student who wants to study in Switzerland from India, the National Visa (D-type) is important. The D-category visa is needed for students who plan to stay in the country for three months. Moreover, students can apply for C Visa for summer schools, seminars, and language courses that last up to three months. 

Indian students will have to schedule a visa interview through an online application. The application and biometric formalities are completed at the visa application center. Indian students may have to provide biometrics during the visa application process. A visa interview is a final step that decides whether the study visa application is accepted or not. An adult visa fee for Indians is approx. 77 CHF.

Switzerland Education System

The Bologna Education Scheme based on the European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (ECTS credits) is followed in Switzerland. In this system, the international students can get their educational qualifications transferred to their home institutions. Students can enroll in the following degrees:

Bachelor’s Degree:

It is a full-time undergraduate degree which generally has a 3 years duration. However, specializations like medical and information technology may take up to five years. In a Swiss bachelor’s degree, there are major and minor optional subjects. Students have to complete a total of 180 ECTS credits. 

Masters Degree:

It can be completed within two years. For a PhD or doctoral program, a master’s degree is compulsory. To complete it 90–120 credit hours are required. 

Master of Advanced Studies (MAS):

It is a postgraduate degree that generally lasts for 1-2 years and usually consists of independent study, course work, and a masters thesis.  Students would need to complete 60–120 ECTS.

Doctorate Degree:

A doctorate degree takes a total of 3 to 5 years to complete. Also, it  require students to complete 240 ECTS credits.

Moreover, the Swiss academic year is from September to May, having two semesters in an annual year. Students can opt for Italian, German, and English language courses. 

University Types & Top Universities in Switzerland 

Switzerland’s university system is based on: applied sciences and arts, fundamental research, and teacher education. Each university type serves a specific purpose in the Swiss education, research and innovation sector.

Type of Universities

Types of Institution 

Number of Universities 

Key Pointers 

Universities (UNIs)

12

Research institutions that offer bachelors, masters and doctorate degrees. 

Universities of Teacher Education (UTEs)

20 

Offer programs in teaching for pre-primary level, primary level, secondary level I, secondary level II and special needs education.

Universities of Applied Sciences and Arts (UASAs)

9

Offer practice-based Bachelor’s, Master’s degree programs

Top Universities

The below-mentioned Swiss Universities have ranked regularly in the QS World University Rankings:

  • EU Business School
  • University of Lausanne
  • University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland
  • University of Geneva
  • University of Neuchatel
  • ETH Zurich
  • American University of Switzerland
  • University of Basel
  • University of Zurich
  • University of Bern
  • Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich
  • University of St. Gallen
  • University of Fribourg

Before analyzing the study in Switzerland cost for Indian students, one should be cognizant of the popular courses. 

The popular courses in Switzerland for international students are:

  • Hotel & Hospitality Management 
  • Business Management
  • Banking & Finance
  • International Law
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Interdisciplinary Sciences
  • Quantitative & Systems Biology

Program 

Duration 

Average Tuition Fee 

BA Hons (International Hospitality Management)

2–3 years 

12,000 CHF/ semester

MSc Mechanical Engineering

2 years 

1,200 CHF/ semester

MBA (Global Banking & Finance)

3 terms

12,600 CHF/ term

MSc Artificial Intelligence

4 terms

4,000 CHF/ semester

Bachelor of Business Administration

3 years

13,500 CHF/ semester

Requirements to Study in Switzerland

  • 10+2 education from a recognized board is mandatory to pursue an undergraduate diploma or a bachelor’s degree. 
  • For a PG diploma or master’s degree, students need to have a relevant full-time bachelor’s degree with good scores. 
  • English language proficiency test in Switzerland is not compulsory. However, some universities require an IELTS score. 
  • Statement of Purpose (SOP) is a compulsory requirement for admission. It is a unique statement where the purpose, goals of the student are stated. 
  • A Letter of Recommendation (LOR) is important. At least two LORs are compulsory to get admission to Swiss universities. 
  • Documentation is an important eligibility criterion to take admission to Swiss universities.
  • Documents like transcripts, passport, certificates, SOP, and letter of recommendation. 
  • GRE and GMAT scores are compulsory admission requirements in Swiss universities. Students need to take the GRE test to take admission to top-ranked universities.
  • Work experience of two-three years can be an added advantage for admission. For a few courses like MS, MBA, and post-graduation courses, prior work experience is compulsory. 

Study in Switzerland Cost for Indian Students

To study abroad it is paramount to calculate the cost of attendance one needs to bear. The overall cost of studying can be bifurcated into two distinct categories – Tuition Fee and Cost of Living. 

Tuition Fee 

The tuition cost to study in Switzerland is relatively affordable in comparison to other European countries. The tuition cost will depend on whether you take admission to a public university or a private university. Public universities like the University of Lausanne, ETH Zurich, University of Basel and University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland offer affordable tuition costs. On the other hand, taking admission to private Swiss universities will be expensive. The best way to understand the tuition cost is based on the course type and level of study. Here is quick look at the average tuition fee per semester of public universities: 

  • Bachelor’s degree programs cost between 700 and 3,500 CHF. 
  • Master’s degree programs cost between 700 and 2,000 CHF.

Read More: Advantages of studying abroad

Cost of Living in Switzerland

The living cost in Switzerland for Indian students will depend on the city and location. On average, an Indian student needs around 2,250 CHF every month to cover accommodation, transport, food, and utility expenses. 

In Switzerland, cities like Bern, Geneva, or Zurich are very expensive. If students are living in these three cities, the average monthly living cost will exceed 2,055 CHF. Here is a quick estimate based on top student-friendly cities in Switzerland. 

Cost of Living 

Factors 

Average Monthly Expenditure 

University Accommodation 

400 – 750 CHF 

Private Accommodation 

1,500 – 2,500 CHF 

Shared Flats & Rentals 

650 – 11,205 CHF

Food 

500 CHF 

Healthcare

400 CHF 

Travel 

100 CHF 

Important Resources to Read About Study Abroad:

Step-by-Step Visa Process 

  • Students should have a letter of acceptance from the desriable Swiss University, they should reach out to Swiss Consulate.
  • Fill a Visa Application Form and fix an appointment at the Swiss Visa Application Center.
  • They need to carry the completed application form in tandem with the indispensable documents.
  • Meticulosly check and submit the documents and pay the Swiss student visa fees. 
  • Collect the acknowledgement receipt and wait for approval. If a student is applying for a short visa which is less than three months, it takes up to 10–15 days. However, for a National D visa, the time process for student visa can go up to 10 weeks. 

Note: Indian students must meet the eligibility requirements and have sufficient funds to manage tuition and living costs during the first year of stay in the country. 

Checklist for National D Visa 

Students should submit 3 application forms [1 original and 2 sets (copies)] of the required documents as mentioned below:

  • Valid national passport: It should have at least 3 months validity after the scheduled return, with at least two blank pages.
  • 4 x passport size pictures
  • 3 x Visa application form
  • Cover Letter (including reason for pursuing studies in Switzerland, future plans, how student would be benefited from his/her studies, confirmation that the student will leave the country after the completion of the studies). 
  • Proof of funds to stay in Switzerland.
  • Medical travel insurance copy. 
  • A detailed letter stating why you want to study in Switzerland, when are you arriving and how long will you stay.
  • No objection certificate from university.
  • Proof of university enrollment.

Scholarship programs offered in Switzerland: 

Swiss Universities offer full and partial funding opportunities to meritorious students. The scholarship programs may cover tuition fees, health insurance, housing allowance, monthly payment, and airfares. 

The scholarship is available to students with bachelor’s, master’s, or PhD degrees from a recognized study board. International fellows and research scholars are offered 100% funding to pursue research and development work. 

Below are some of the noted scholarship programs: 

  • Graduate Institute Geneva Scholarships
  • University of Geneva Excellence Masters Fellowships
  • IMD MBA Scholarships
  • University of Lausanne Masters Grants for Foreign Students
  • Prima Grants
  • University of Zurich Scholarships for PhD Candidates 
  • Nestle MBA Scholarships for Women from Developing Countries
  • International Postdoctoral Fellowships
  • EPFL Excellence Scholarships
  • Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships

Study in Switzerland without IELTS: 

Almost all institutions in Switzerland offer IELTS waivers for selected bachelor and master’s degree programs, provided they meet academic entry requirements. To make it seamless to study in Switzerland; scholarship and internship programs are also available without IELTS. 

Some of the renowned Swiss Universities that do not require IELTS are the University of Geneva, University of Bern, University of Lausanne, University of Basel and others. 

Read More: How to convert gpa into percentageDifference between Data Science and Data Analytics

Language in Switzerland: 

In Switzerland, there are four official languages, Romansh, French, German, and Italian. People there are multilingual, based on the area they grew up in. 

There are four main communities based on the official language. The German community is the largest of them. 

Despite the four languages, international students will not have problems communicating in English. Swiss people are proficient in the English language, and the mode of study is English too. In addition to that, master’s and PhD degrees in the English language hold much value from Swiss universities. 

Culture in Switzerland: 

Switzerland is known for its diverse culture because it is geographically closer to Germany, France, Italy, and Austria. The diversity of all these surrounding countries has made Swiss culture a unique one. In music and craftsmanship, Switzerland is a delight to both the ears and eyes. 

Folk music in Switzerland is much talked about. The most famous are alphorn music and landler. Violin and guitar are popular musical instruments in the country. 

Switzerland is home to 1000+ museums, so it is one of the most favorite countries among explorers and art lovers.

Swiss culture is also well-known for its crafts and especially watchmaking. The luxury watch brands are premium and reputed, like Rolex, Tissot, and Patek Philippe. 

Swiss cuisine is another attraction. Swiss luxury chocolates are famous all over the world. Some of the famous brands are Lindt, Cailler, Frey, Nestle, and Toblerone. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Is it expensive to live in Switzerland?

Switzerland is relatively expensive when it comes to living costs in comparison to other European countries. The good news is education in Switzerland is affordable. The cost of living for international students will largely depend on the city or location. The cost of accommodation can be shared to keep the living cost manageable. On average, an Indian student needs around 2,250 CHF every monthly. The transportation cost is around 100 CHF, and the accommodation cost varies upon the type of accommodation.

Q2. Do international students get jobs in Switzerland?

Around 25% of the total population in the country are international students. It speaks for the flexibility in employment opportunities for international students. International students can stay up to six months after completing their course to look for job opportunities. The job market is very promising, and international students get the opportunity to work with Fortune 500 companies.

Q3. Can you get PR in Switzerland after studying?

Yes, a permanent residency is available to international students after they have got a Swiss Work Visa. The foreign nationals need to work for 10 years in Switzerland to get a Permit C PR and settle in Switzerland. However, there are exceptions when an international student may earn a PR after five years. If you are proficient in any one of the Swiss official languages or have good relations with the local population, getting a PR becomes easier.

Q4. Is IELTS required for a Switzerland student visa?

For a Swiss student visa, there is no specific language requirement. It is not mandatory to take the IELTS test. But if your university has asked for an IELTS score, you will need to take the test. Because there are four official languages in Switzerland, a language requirement for a student doesn’t exist. However, if you want to study a language course, a language proficiency score is required.

Q5. Can I study in Switzerland in English?

Yes, there are Swiss Universities where the English language is the mode of study. For instance: University of Zurich, University of Geneva, University of Bern, University of Basel, ETH Zurich. In Switzerland, courses are taught in German, French, Italian, and English. If you want to study your course in the English language, you can do so. There are various degrees and programs in the English language.

Q6. How much can an international student earn in Switzerland?

Switzerland has a promising and growing job market with 14 companies listed under Fortune 500. The most in-demand jobs for international students are in the following sectors–engineering, pharmaceuticals, technology, banking, insurance, and analysts. On average, at an entry-level an international student earns approximately 2,200–2,800 CHF per month.

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