The country with a rich heritage has some of the lowest tuition fees in Europe, thanks to its publicly funded universities.
Thinking about Switzerland conjures up a range of images (think Swiss chocolate, bank accounts, Roger Federer and Heidi), not least the magnificent mountains, the sophisticated and international cities of Zurich and Geneva or the famed high quality of life. In fact, once you start thinking about Switzerland it's difficult to stop - so don't! Consider it as your study abroad destination for graduate study.
Known for its efficiency and quality of life, Switzerland is also home to top universities and graduate degrees. In the 2008 Times Higher - QS World University Rankings, ETH Zurich and Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne both ranked in the top 50 universities in the world, 24 and 50= respectively and the University of Geneva placed 68. Overall, eight Swiss universities ranked in the world's top 400.
Switzerland's higher education system consists of two types of institution offering graduate programs. On the one hand there are ten universities and two federal institutes of technology, all of which are regarded as the elite institutions within the country's education system offering masters and research programs across the full range of academic subjects. On the other hand, there are seven Universities of Applied Sciences, all of which have been established since education reform in 1997, which brought together a range of technical and vocational colleges offering the more applied academic subjects. Many Swiss universities offer courses in English but students do need a high level of language comprehension in German, French or Italian.
Like many other European countries, Switzerland has implemented the Bologna Declaration. As a result, the traditional local system has been replaced with standardised one or two-year Masters degrees and more formalised three to five-year graduate research programs.
Swiss investment in research and innovation is particularly high and coordinated at the Federal level, encouraging the very best international PhD and graduate research students to make the most of the internationally focused research groups and leading-edge research facilities.
Graduate admissions and applications
Admission to Swiss graduate programs is the responsibility of each individual academic institution and entry standards are set by academic committee based on a combination of the quality of a candidate's undergraduate qualification, the subject for which they are applying and any standard admissions tests that are required. Unlike many European universities, it is important to remember that most Swiss institutions specify an application deadline for international students. For specific entry criteria, the websites of the individual institutions or the Rectors' Conference of the Swiss Universities (CRUS) at http://www.crus.ch/engl are the best sources of information for prospective graduate students.
Most Swiss universities are publicly funded, making international study relatively affordable
Students must include a state-recognised Swiss maturity certificate or equivalent foreign certificate as part of their application
Students are offered academic quality, high teaching standards and worldwide recognition of Swiss qualifications
Graduate scholarships and funding
One of the major factors in encouraging more and more international students to apply to Swiss institutions is the remarkably low tuition fees. Most Swiss universities are publicly funded, making international study relatively affordable. Students are also offered exceptional value for money given the academic quality, high teaching standards and worldwide recognition of Swiss qualifications.
The Swiss Government invests a significant amount of their budget into international scholarship and fellowship schemes to encourage the best graduate students, particularly at the research level, allowing students to offset some of the high living costs they may encounter in the country. Some universities offer scholarships to international students as well. However, students must ensure they have sufficient funds to support themselves during their studies. International students may work up to 15 hours per week.