When it comes to education in continental Europe, prospective students have a wealth of different countries to choose from, as per their preferences and goals. Switzerland is one such country that has so much to offer to its students. Highly regarded as one of the most beautiful countries in the world, this country has so much more than its striking and scenic beauty.

Switzerland seems like quite a small country. However, do not let that fool you! This country of nearly eight million residents has around 10 major universities (not counting the numerous small institutions of higher education), all of which have a world-class reputation for their academia. Most of these universities are often ranked in the top 100 universities in the world so prospective students are guaranteed to get high standards of education during their study period.

In this article, we explore a few of the best universities in Switzerland for international students. Feel free to browse through and we hope this article gives you valuable insight and information that will help you to choose your ideal study destination.

Top Universities in Switzerland for International Students

Switzerland with its high standard of living also contains many elite universities with degrees for international students. Some of its top universities are elaborated below.

1. ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences

The first university we want to discuss is the highly acclaimed Zurich University of Applied Sciences. Its reputation rests on its commitment to real-world learning, applied research, and partnerships with businesses.

Countless firms are in collaboration with the institution. Through these programs, students can get job experience, participate in real-world initiatives, and connect with experts in their fields. Because of its dedication to globalization, ZHAW accepts students from all over the globe.

When it comes to Swiss institutions of applied sciences, few can compare to the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW). For foreign students, the institute offers bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D. degrees in various subjects.

Included in these are Mechanical Engineering, Computer Science, Sustainable Design, Business Administration, Nursing, Social Work, etc. Apart from this, several scholarship opportunities are offered by the institute to qualifying students.

2. University of St. Gallen

As a global hub for intellectual leadership, cross-cultural awareness, and global ties, the University of St. Gallen accepts students from all over the globe. Since its inception in 1898, it has proven its mark in research and education quality. It ranks among the top 500 universities in the world according to several world university ranking sites.

University of St. Gallen (HSG) is accredited by EQUIS, AACSB, and AMBA. Among Switzerland’s best universities, HSG is famous for its business, economics, law, and social science programs offered to international students. By integrating theory with practice via real-world case studies, HSG equips students to make an instant impact in their respective industries.

Various degree levels are offered at the university in subjects such as Business Administration, Economics, Law, Law and Economics, International Affairs, Computer Science, and many others. HSG attracts students from over 90 countries, creating a vibrant and diverse campus community.

3. University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland

The next institute worth mentioning is the University of Applied Sciences and Arts Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW). Set in the northwest part of Switzerland, this esteemed university provides an extensive selection of academic options.

From applied psychology and architecture to design and art, music, social work, technology, business, and teacher training, FHNW offers 29 bachelor’s and 17 master’s degree programs in a wide range of disciplines.

If we talk about its continued education approach, then students can gain an advantage from its Master of Advanced Studies (MAS), Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA), and Diploma of Advanced Studies (DAS) degrees.

Foreign students are warmly welcomed at FHNW, which provides English-language programs in certain fields. One advantage of FHNW over bigger universities is the smaller class sizes and more personal interaction students have with professors.

4. University of Fribourg

Another, university that has gained international acclaim due to its interdisciplinary studies is the University of Fribourg. It provides students a chance to combine and explore connections across multiple fields. International students may enroll in the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs provided by this institution.

Fribourg stands out from the competition because it provides a comprehensive French and German curriculum. This attracts students from a wide range of language backgrounds. The fields of economics, history, philosophy, linguistics, and linguistics are where Fribourg truly thrives in the social sciences and humanities.

The faculties at this university are dedicated to advancing and implementing modern study practices and course material to enrich the student’s experience during their course of study. The admission process to this university varies depending on the program. But it generally requires high school diplomas, standardized test scores (if applicable), and strong letters of recommendation.

5. University of Neuchâtel

For international students, we also want to mention one of the modern universities in Switzerland, the University of Neuchâtel, founded in 1838. Apart from being a compact university, the University of Neuchatel (UniNE) has gained worldwide renown. The guidance and support that it offers are of a very high standard.

Its bachelor’s and master’s degree programs are recognized by the majority of European institutions. Many academic disciplines, including law, history, geography, literature, and the scientific sciences, are strengths of UniNE. It is officially recognized by the Staatssekretariat für Bildung, Forschung und Innovation, Schweiz, or State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation of Switzerland.

An ideal starting point for anyone interested in learning French, its Institute of Language and Civilization offers classes to students whose first language is not French. By taking part in exchange programs with institutions all around the globe, UniNE can facilitate cultural awareness and education.

6. ETH Zurich

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zurich, more commonly known as ETH Zurich, is a public institution of higher education located in the city of Zurich, Switzerland. It is among the most prestigious universities in the whole of Europe. This university in Switzerland for international students has a focus on technology, engineering, science, and mathematics.

Established in 1855, ETH Zurich has expanded to educate over 20,000 students in total and is now considered to be one of the most elite institutions in the world. The university is divided into two main campuses including the Science City and is home to cutting-edge research facilities.

Students studying at ETH tend to have a comparatively busier academic schedule, with almost twice as many lectures as at an ordinary university. Most bachelor’s programs are initially taught in German with the final 2/3 years taught in English, while the majority of master’s programs are taught entirely in English. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that the university has a high academic prowess; ETH Zurich is associated with over 30 Nobel Laureates as well as eminent scientists including the likes of Albert Einstein.

7. Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne

Located in the Swiss city of Lausanne in the west, the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), or Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne is a public university and research institute. With a primary focus on engineering and natural sciences education, the university is a sister institution to ETH Zurich and one of the two Swiss institutes of technology.

The EPFL has been widely recognized as one of the most prestigious universities in Europe as well as the world. Academically, it operates through eight major schools, each running its own institutes and departments.

Collectively, over 200 programs of study are offered. The EPFL welcomes and educates a student community of over 10,000 students, of which 48% are foreign students who hail from over 120 different countries. Because of that, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne makes our list of best universities in Switzerland for international students. The institution’s campus faculties are abundant and innovative, seeking to provide the best in education and research.

Some of the cutting-edge facilities include the university’s nuclear reactor, a large supercomputer, and other research creations. While the majority of programs are offered in French or German, the Language Center aims to help international students as well as staff with the opportunity to learn these languages during their period of study.

8. University of Zurich

The University of Zurich is a public university located in Zurich, Switzerland. Founded in 1833, it is the largest and one of the oldest universities in the country, with a student population of 25,000+. It offers a wide range of courses and programs of study as opposed to other universities and institutions in Switzerland. With its location in Zurich, the university maintains close relations and collaborations with ETH Zurich as well in terms of facilities and academic departments.

While most bachelor’s programs are taught in Swiss Standard German, the university has increased the number of programs that are in English for international students. Similar to most other universities, a majority of the master’s courses such as those offered by the Faculty of Science, are taught in English. The university has also been consistently ranked among the top universities in the world with both the Times rankings and QS rankings placing it within the top 100 universities globally.

Additionally, as many as 100 different student organizations are offered by the university to ensure students have a well-rounded educational experience during their period of study. Consider studying at this great institution in Switzerland for international students!

9. University of Basel

Established in the year 1460, the University of Basel is the oldest in Switzerland and one of the most ancient institutions in the world. Located in Basel in the Northwest of Switzerland, it is a highly elite institution of higher education in the country. Academically, the university is composed of 7 major faculties which include law, medicine, science, theology, humanities, psychology, and business/economics.

Numerous interdisciplinary research institutes are operated by the university as well. Basel currently has a student population of over 12,800 students who study in a multitude of 200 different programs of study. Approximately 25% of the student population consists of international students. The university pays strong attention to accommodating international students through the implementation of extra-curricular activities and student organizations such as AIESEC, Model United Nations, and Toastmasters.

The university has further been consistently ranked among the leading universities in the world; Times, Leiden, and the ARWU have consistently placed the University of Basel among the top 100 universities in the world. With its international prestige, it comes as no surprise that the university has an elite alumni network that includes world-class names such as Friedrich Nietzche, Carl Jung, and Leonhard Euler.

10. University of Bern

The University of Bern is a public research university located in the Swiss capital of Bern. Established in 1834, the university in Switzerland for international students offers a range of degrees and programs of study through 8 faculties and departments.

Currently, the university provides education for a student community nearing 20,000. A large proportion of the students are of foreign nationality as well. 39 Bachelor’s programs, 71 master’s programs, and over 60 advanced study courses are provided for the students and the majority of the master’s programs are taught in English. In addition to its faculties of study, the university manages research and interdisciplinary institutes as well such as the Albert Einstein Institute of Fundamental Physics and the Bern Center for Precision Medicine. Sustainability, Healthcare, Intercultural Knowledge, and Political Theorisation are the key fields of research at the university.

With the university’s location in the heart of Switzerland, students are guaranteed to have a wealth of opportunities to create a well-rounded network between their studies and their future.

11. University of Geneva

Located in the iconic city of Geneva, Switzerland, the University of Geneva (also referred to as UNIGE) is a public research university that was founded in 1559. With a student community of 17,000, the university is one of the largest as well as the oldest universities in the country. Approximately 40% of the students in the university hail from over 150 foreign countries.

Nine faculties constitute the university and have a comprehensive scope ranging from sciences and medicine to theology and humanities. It further hosts several international partnerships with other global universities across the world so the university receives a high influx of exchange students annually. Partner institutes include Kings College London, Harvard Law School (US), École Normale Supérieure (France), Uppsala University (Sweden), the University of Sydney (Australia), and the University of Tokyo (Japan).

Furthermore, the QS, Times, and ARWU rankings have consistently placed the university among the top 100-150 universities in the world. The university has also been ranked as the 20th in the world for its diverse international community.

FAQs About Studying in Switzerland

Can International Students Work in Switzerland While Studying?

Yes. During the academic year, students may work up to a 15-hour per week during the semester. During semester breaks, they can work full-time. There is no student visa needed for EU/EFTA students to work in Switzerland. Even for part-time occupations, non-EU/EFTA students usually need a work visa for employment in Switzerland.

The university or employer can help with the application process. Job opportunities on campus and off campus are available for foreign students. They can also work online and make some money without any hassle.

What Scholarship Opportunities Are Available for International Students?

With a strong economy and research-led modern universities, Switzerland provides its students with several scholarships. These are regarding assisting internationals to fulfill their living expenses as the cost of living within the country is high.

Among the many scholarships offered here, the Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships and Excellence Scholarship & Opportunity Program (ESOP) are highly regarded. These offer full-tuition waivers, with monthly stipends of CHF 1,920 and per-semester stipends of CHF 12,000 respectively.

Advanced degree students can generally avail of these opportunities with a master’s level or higher. These scholarships also cover transportation and health insurance for the applicant.


We hope that this article on the top universities in Switzerland for international students was helpful. To find out more information on studying abroad, please check out the Switzerland Page and go through some of the Available Programs in Europe for International Students.

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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