European Campus


 Study in
ABOUt switzerland
LIVING IN switzerland

STUDY IN SwITZERLAND - Educational system in Switzerland


Institution types and credentials    |    Structure of Education System

Admission to Higher Education    |    Grading System


Institution Types and Credentials

  • Types of higher education institutions:
  • University - Universität/Université/Università
  • Federal Institute of Technology (FIT) - Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) / Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale (EPF)
  • University of Applied Sciences - Fachhochschule / Haute Ecole spécialisée
  • Advanced Vocational College - Höhere Fachschulen/Ecole Professionnelle supérieure

School leaving and higher education credentials:

  • Berufsmaturität/Maturité professionnelle
  • Fähigkeitzeugnis/Certificat de capacité
  • Maturitätszeugnis/Certificat de Maturité
  • Primarlehrer-Diplom/Certificat d'Aptitude à l'Enseignement Primaire
  • Certificat
  • Demi-Licence
  • Vordiplom
  • Sekundarlehrer-Patent/Diplôme d'Aptitude à l'Enseignement Secondaire
  • Diplom
  • Diplôme
  • Licence
  • Lizentiat
  • State Diploma
  • Master
  • Diplôme d'Etudes approfondies
  • Diplôme d'Etudes supérieures
  • Postgraduate Diploma
  • Doctorat
  • Diplôme de Spécialité
  • Habilitation



Structure of Education System


Pre-higher Education:
Duration of compulsory education:

Age of entry: 6
Age of exit: 15

Structure of school system:

Type of school providing this education: Primary School

Length of program in years: 6
Age level from: 6 to: 12

Type of school providing this education: Primary School

Length of program in years: 5
Age level from: 6 to: 11

Type of school providing this education: Primary School

Length of program in years: 4
Age level from: 6 to: 10

Lower Secondary
Type of school providing this education: Lower Secondary School

Length of program in years: 3
Age level from: 12 to: 15

Lower Secondary
Type of school providing this education: Lower Secondary School

Length of program in years: 4
Age level from: 11 to: 15

Lower Secondary
Type of school providing this education: Lower Secondary School

Length of program in years: 5
Age level from: 10 to: 15

Academic Secondary
Type of school providing this education: Academic Upper Secondary School

Length of program in years: 4
Age level from: 15 to: 19

Certificate/diploma awarded: Maturitatszeugnis/Certificat de Maturité/Baccalauréat/Attestato Di Maturità

Academic Secondary
Type of school providing this education: Academic Upper Secondary School

Length of program in years: 3
Age level from: 15 to: 18

Certificate/diploma awarded: Maturitatszeugnis/Certificat de Maturité/Baccalauréat/Attestato Di Maturità


Type of school providing this education: Vocational Secondary School

Length of program in years: 4
Age level from: 15 to: 19

Certificate/diploma awarded:

Fähigkeitzeugnis/Certificat de Capacité/Attestato Di Capacitá Handelsmaturitat/Maturité Commerciale

Type of school providing this education: Vocational Secondary School

Length of program in years: 3
Age level from: 15 to: 18

School education: Primary education lasts from four to six years depending on the canton. Secondary school lasts from seven to nine years, depending on the canton and the length of primary education. It consists of lower secondary education, which is the second part of compulsory education and lasts from three to five years, and upper secondary education which is post-compulsory and varies in length between three and four years. There are various types of upper secondary schools, such as: academic upper secondary schools, which prepare students for University entrance; vocational secondary schools, which prepare students for a wide range of occupations, and general education continuation upper secondary schools, offering further schooling in general education subjects.

Higher education: In Switzerland, the higher education system at University-level is provided by ten cantonal Universities and two federal Institutes of Technology. However, higher education is also provided by the seven newly created Fachhochschulen and advanced Vocational Colleges. This sector is currently being reformed on a global scale. Private Universities are basically only to be found in the field of post-graduate studies. There is no numerus clausus for subjects studied at University, except for Medicine at the German-speaking Universities. Studies in Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Medicine, Pharmacy, Chemistry and Surveying must follow national requirements and are regulated by the Federal Government.

Main laws/decrees governing higher education:

  • Decree: Bundesgesetz über die Eidgenössischen Technischen Hochschulen (ETH-Gesetz) Year: 1991
    Concerns: The two Federal Institutes of Technology in Zürich and Lausanne
  • Decree: Bundesgesetz über die Fachhochschulen (FHSG) Year: 1995
    Concerns: Fachhochschulen
  • Decree: Bundesgesetz über die Förderung der Universitäten und über die Zusammenarbeit im Hochschulbereich (Universitätsförderungsgesetz, UFG) Year: 1999
    Concerns: Cantonal Universities and Hochschulen, providing for their co-ordination.

Academic year:
Classes from: Oct to: Jul

Languages of instruction: French, German, Italian

Stages of studies:
Non-university level post-secondary studies (technical/vocational type):

Non-university level:

Professional people extend their general education, upgrade their professional skills and/or qualify in organization and leadership which are necessary for a career at Advanced Vocational Colleges. Studies last for two to three years and lead to a final diploma. Some of the Advanced Vocational Colleges are being transferred to Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS) but studies leading to professional diplomas will be carried out at Advanced Vocational Colleges. The transfer of some of the Advanced Vocational Colleges to Universities of Applied Sciences began in 1997/98. With this transfer a process of quality improvement was launched. Since the transfer of Advanced Vocational Colleges, HTL, HWV, etc. to Universities of Applied Sciences, Switzerland has a dual university system with two types of universities: Universities and Universities of Applied Sciences that include UAS Schools of Pedagogy, UAS Schools of Art and Design, UAS Schools of Music and UAS Schools of Theatre. Studies at the Universities of Applied Sciences last for three to four years and are related to the profession and its environment. The performance of the Universities of Applied Sciences include the following three sectors: lecture (diploma studies); further education; and applied research and development, transfer of science and technology and services.

University level studies:

University level first stage:

The first period of long-cycle study is essentially devoted to broadly-based studies. It takes 2 to 6 semesters and generally ends with intermediate examinations called Vordiplomprüfungen, Akzessprüfungen, Demi-licence or Propädeutika (Medicine), depending on the subject and the university.

University level second stage:

The second stage (Hauptstudium) is devoted to in-depth study often with some specializations. After a further four semesters, a Lizentiat/Licence is conferred in Arts, Law and Science. A further five semesters are required for the Diplom/Diplôme in Engineering. In Medicine, a total of twelve semesters is required, whereas in Dentistry, Pharmacy and Veterinary Medicine a total of ten to twelve semesters are needed.In the course of the implementation of the Bologna Declaration, several universities or subjects at individual universities have already adjusted their curriculum to the Bachelor/Master system.

University level third stage:

Shorter postgraduate courses leading to the award of a Zertifikat/Certificat or a Diplom/Diplôme are offered by Universities and other Institutions of higher education. They are usually part-time courses and have a vocational orientation.

The Doctorate in Switzerland is regarded as a stage of Postgraduate education. It is awarded by the 10 cantonal universities and the two Federal Institutes of Technology in areas of study such as Arts, Education, Sciences, Engineering, Theology, Law, Economics, and Medicine.

The duration of study varies. In Science, the Doctorate may take a further two to five years and in Engineering between two and four years. In Law, Economics and Social Sciences, it may take from one to three years in the German-speaking Institutions and up to four years in the French.

The defence of the Doctoral thesis (Doktorprufung/Examen de Doctorat) may be viva voce or candidates may have to sit for an oral and written examination or have to pass two written examinations and three oral examinations in the chosen major and minor subjects.

University level fourth stage: Medical specialization, Habilitation:

  1. Doctors in Medicine and Dentistry (in the field of Orthodontics) wishing to specialize may prepare a Diplôme de spécialité after practical work lasting between five and seven years as assistant Physicians. Doctors in Medicine add FMH (Foederatio Medicorum Helveticorum) after their professional title. Doctors in Dentistry are given the title Kieferorthopäde SSO/Spécialiste SSO orthodentie after four years' Postdoctoral study and an examination. These specializations are currently being revised.
  2. The Habilitation is the highest academic Degree awarded only in German-speaking Universities in main fields. After submitting a thesis (Habilitationsschrift), candidates must give a public lecture. The Habilitation qualifies for a Professorship.

Teacher education:

Training of pre-primary and primary/basic school teachers:
In most cantons, primary school teachers used to be trained in pedagogical upper secondary schools, Lehrerseminar/École normale, which took five or six years and led to Primarlehrer-Diplom/Diplôme/Certificat d'Aptitude à l'Enseignement primaire. However, teacher education for primary school level is currently being revised. By the year 2004, the whole teacher training will be organized at tertiary level. 15 Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS), University Colleges of Education (Pädagogische Hochschulen/Hautes écoles pédagogiques) are planned or have already opened their doors.

Training of secondary school teachers:
The training of lower-secondary-school teachers is being transformed. Upper secondary school teachers must in general first obtain a Lizentiat/Licence or a Diplom/Diplôme. The studies are held partly at universities and partly at University Colleges of Education. These institutions will offer the following degree courses, the diplomas of which are being named according to the regulations of the Schweizerische Konferenz der kantonalen Erziehungsdirektoren EDK (Swiss Conference of the Cantonal Ministries of Education):-Lehrerin/Lehrer für die Sekundarstufe I/Enseignant/enseignante du degré secondaire I (lower secondary school teachers): teaching legitimacy from the 5th, 6th or 7th up to the 9th class; training in two to four (Stufenlehrkraft/enseignant généraliste) or at least five (Fächergruppenlehrkraft/enseignant semi-généraliste) subjects.-Lehrerin/Lehrer für di Sekundarstufe I und für Maturitätsschulen/Enseignant/enseignante du degré secondaire I et des écoles préparant à la or 7th up to the 11th (upper secondary) class. These degree courses are more particularly offered in the French-speaking part of Switzerland.-Lehrerin/Lehrer für Maturitätsschule/Enseignant/enseignante des classes préparant à la Maturité (upper secondary school teachers): teaching entitlement for subjects at academic upper secondary schools; the academic (university) and professional (teacher training college) training take place one after the other. The name of the different teacher categories can vary from canton to canton; however, each name can be assigned to the overall list above.



Admissions to Higher Education


Admission to non university higher education studies:

  • Name of secondary school credential required: Berufsmaturität/Maturité professionnelle
    • For entry to: University of Applied Sciences
  • Name of secondary school credential required: Fähigkeitzeugnis/Certificat de capacité
    • For entry to: Advanced Vocational College

Admission to university-level studies:
Name of secondary school credential required: Maturitätszeugnis/Certificat de Maturité
For entry to: For all universities
Alternatives to credentials: Zulassung aufgrund von Vorbildung und Berufserfahrung/accès sur dossier is a way to be admitted to higher education on grounds of previous life and work experience. It is intended for persons who do not fulfil the normal entrance requirements.
Numerus clausus/restrictions: There is no numerus clausus either nationally or locally for subjects to be studied at University except for Medicine in the German-speaking Universities.

Foreign students admission: see Studying in Switzerland

Health requirements: All Universities require their registered students to join a recognized Swiss health insurance scheme.

Language requirements: Adequate knowledge of the language of instruction (German, French or Italian).

Recognition of studies & qualifications:
Studies pursued in home country (System of recognition/accreditation): The responsibility for higher education is shared between 26 cantons and the Confederation. Each Swiss University autonomously handles the question of academic recognition of both Swiss and foreign School Leaving Certificates and Academic Diplomas. Foreign School-Leaving Certificates are assessed according to the criteria adopted by the Conference of the Rectors of the Swiss Universities. Those from signatory States of the conventions on higher education of the Council of Europe entitle holders to admission to Swiss Universities. As far as admission to postgraduate or Doctorate studies is concerned, the Academic Degrees Lizentiat/Licence or Diplom/Diplôme are usually mutually and unreservedly recognized.

Institutions of higher education are accredited by the Centre of Accreditation and Quality Assurance of the Swiss Universities (OAQ)(

Studies pursued in foreign countries (bodies dealing with recognition of foreign credentials):

Recognition Information Centre, Rectors' Conference of the Swiss Universities
Sennweg 2
3012 Bern
Tel: +41(31) 306-6032/38
Fax: +41(31) 302-6811

Deals with credential recognition for entry to: University and Profession
Services provided & students dealt with: Provides information for foreigners on credential equivalences.

Special provisions for recognition:
For access to university level studies: The recognition of foreign entrance qualifications and School Leaving Certificates is the responsibility of individual Institutions and their Faculties. They alone are in a position to provide precise information on recognition of foreign Certificates and Degrees.

For access to advanced studies and research: It is the Universities, the higher education Institutions, and the Faculties which are abilitated to assess the equivalence of a foreign Certificate or Diploma submitted by persons seeking to continue their studies in Switzerland.

For the exercise of a profession: For the exercise of an unregulated profession in Switzerland, the assessment of the Diploma is incumbent on the employer.



Grading System


Usual grading system in secondary school
Full Description: In most cantons, the 6-point scale is used:

  • 6 = ausgezeichnet/très bien (outstanding);
  • 4 = genügend/suffisant (pass);
  • 3-2-1 = ungenügend/insuffisant (fail)

Highest on scale: 6=ausgezeichnet/très bien (outstanding);
Pass/fail level: 4=genügend/suffisant (pass)/4=ungenügend/insuf
Lowest on scale: 1=schlecht/mauvais (fail).

Main grading system used by higher education institutions
Full Description: There are three numerical grading systems used by Universities: a 1-6 scale, a 6-1 scale (sometimes, a 5-1 scale), and the 10-point scale.
Highest on scale: 6/1/10
Pass/fail level: 4/3(3)/6 (pass mark); 2(1)/6(5)/2 (fail mark)
Lowest on scale: 1/6(5)/1

Other main grading systems
The grading system for PhD and Doctorate is: genügend/passable/rite (pass); ziemlich gut/assez bien/cum laude; gut/bien/magna cum laude; sehr gut/très bien/insigni cum laude; ausgezeichnet/excellent; summa cum laude.



List of Universities and COLLEGES in SWITZERLAND

Disclaimer   |   About Us   |   CONTACT US   |   Advertising Info   |    List YOUR INSTITUTion