Switzerland Higher Education

Switzerland Higher Education

Switzerland is not a member of the EU and the EEA (European Economic Cooperation) and by 2000 has said no to closer ties with the EU. Many of the world’s major international organizations are headquartered in Switzerland, including World Trade Organization, World Economic Forum and International Labor Organization, and there are opportunities for internships in many of these organizations. The high number of international organizations and companies contributes to a large international environment, especially in the larger cities.

According to COUNTRYAAH, Switzerland is located in western part of Europe. The biggest city in Switzerland is Zurich with population of 341,841 and the capital city is Bern with population of 133,115.

Higher Education in Switzerland

The responsibility for education in Switzerland lies with the 26 individual cantons. In connection with higher education, the responsibility is shared with the federal administration. This means that there is great variation in the length, content and quality of the educations. However, medical education is the same at all institutions and is centrally administered.

With a few exceptions, all programs are generally recognized throughout the country, and there is gradually some coordination so that it is possible to transfer exams to other institutions.

The academic year consists of an autumn / winter semester, which begins in October, and a spring / summer semester, which begins in April.


Higher education in Switzerland can be taken at:

  • Universities: There are 12 universities in Switzerland: 4 in the French-speaking part, 6 in the German-speaking part, one in the Italian-speaking part and one university where teaching is offered in both German and French (University of Friborg). Of these 12 universities, there are 2 state polytechnic institutions (Zurich and Lausanne).
  • Fachhochschulen (Vocational colleges), which offer higher technical educations, e.g. engineering programs. There are 7 universities of applied sciences in Switzerland.

Degrees at higher level

The following degrees can be obtained at university level in Switzerland:

  • Bachelor: Lasts 3 years (180 ECTS).
  • Fachhochschuldiplom / Diplôme de haute école spécialisée Bachelor Degree from Universities of Applied Sciences: Varer 3-4 år.
  • Primarlehrer-Diplom / Certificat d’Aptitude à l’Enseignement Primaire (teacher in the small classes): Lasts 3 years. Teaching takes place at the Pädagogische Hochschule / School for Teacher Education (University of Applied Sciences). The education provides access to teach in grades 1-6.
  • Diplom / Lizentiat-Diplôme / Licence: A Swiss professional bachelor who lasts 4-6 years in a specific professional education.
  • Lehrdiplom für die Sekundarstufe II / Diplôme d’aptitude à l’enseignement secondaryaire II: Varer 1 år på grund af Diplom / Lizentiat. Teaching takes place at Pädagogische Hochschule / Pædagog Seminarier. The education gives access to teaching at high school level (Maturitätsschulen).
  • Master: Lasts between 1½-2 years (90-120 ECTS) on the basis of a Swiss bachelor. The education is research-oriented.
  • Doctorate / Doctorate / Doctorate: Lasts 3-5 years.

Application for higher education

You must apply directly to the individual educational institutions. Further information is available from the Central Office of Swiss Universities in Bern.

Admission requirements

There are no general rules for recording. The individual institutions determine their own entry requirements. A Danish upper secondary education will usually give the right to apply for admission, but in addition, in most cases a number of specific requirements must be met.

Language proficiency

Contact the individual educational institutions for information on language requirements.

Application deadlines

You must contact the individual educational institutions directly for information on application deadlines.

In Switzerland, there are a number of educations in tourism, hotel and restaurant. You can get information about hotel education by contacting the Hotel and Restaurant School in Copenhagen.

Recognition of foreign educations

If you have completed a publicly recognized education abroad, you can have it assessed by the Danish Agency for Research and Education. See the application procedure here.

Other things

If you need more information, the following websites may be helpful:

  • Association swissuni – Center for Higher Education in Switzerland.
  • CRUS (Conférence des Recteurs des Universités Suisses) – The central office of Swiss universities.
  • The Swiss Education and Research Network – University network on IT and education.

Facts about Switzerland

Population: Approx. 7.9 million

Languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh.

Employment: In 2012, unemployment was 4.2% (OECD). However, the unemployment rate among foreigners is 8.6%.

Residence permit: For work stays, a residence permit is applied for at the Swiss embassy before departure. For study stays of more than 3 months, you must apply for a residence permit with the local Swiss authorities.

Switzerland Higher Education