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. In this article, we will be looking at the best universities in Switzerland for international students.

The country is conveniently located in close proximity to countries such as France, Germany, and Italy. Aside from the travel links, this also introduces a strong international flavor to the country – students regularly see a mix of French, German and Italian cultures depending on the area. With a history that dates back to the 3rd century BC, the world-renowned chocolates and cuckoo clocks are just the tip of the iceberg that Switzerland proudly boasts of.

Switzerland seems like quite a small country. However, do not let that fool you! This country of nearly 8 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

1. 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 QS rankings alone rank ETH Zurich as the 6th best university in the world and Times HE rankings placed it as 10th 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 an ordinary university. Most Bachelors’ programs are initially taught in German with the final 2/3 years taught in English, while the majority of Masters 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.

2. École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Located in the Swiss city of Lausanne in the west, the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (or the EPFL) 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; the QS rankings placed the university as the 12th best in the world while Times placed it as the 11th best institution for engineering. Academically, it operates through 8 major schools, each of which run their own institutes and departments.

Collectively, well 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 own 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.

3. 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 studies 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 Bachelors’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 Masters’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 so as to ensure students have a well-rounded educational experience during their period of study. Definitely consider studying at this great institution in Switzerland for international students!

4. University of Basel

Established in the year 1460, the University of Basel is the oldest university 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 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.

5. 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 Bachelors’s programs, 71 master’s programs, and over 60 advanced study courses are provided for the students and the majority of the Masters’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 in the university.

With the university’s location at 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.

6. The 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.


We hope that this article on the top universities in Switzerland for international students was helpful. To find out more information on studying abroad, check out the Programs in Europe for International Students.

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hyun is the founder at Global Scholarships. He has received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College as well as $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for his undergraduate degree and has been offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. Read more about his scholarship journey here.

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