An Overview of Higher Education System in Switzerland

Switzerland is recognized worldwide for its outstanding tertiary level education system- the Universities and the several Courses it offers. Switzerland is a home to many reputed and top-notch public research institutions and flourishing private sector that promotes research and development. Higher education is part of the tertiary level education system in Switzerland. It comprises of Tertiary A level and Tertiary B level. At the tertiary A level there are two types of higher education institutions: the traditional universities along with cantonal universities and federal institutions of technology and the University of Applied Sciences. The traditional universities education focuses on the basic research and is regulated by the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA) while the universities of applied sciences education is positioned on applied research and are regulated by the Federal Department of Finance (FDF). Tertiary B level includes the higher vocational education and training.

Management and Administration: Tertiary Education

The Supervision at the Higher Education- Tertiary level is shared by the cantons, the confederation and the professional organizations.
  • The Confederation manages and finances the federal institute of technology, higher vocation education and training and the Universities of applied sciences.
  • The Cantons run the University of Applied Sciences and certain colleges of vocational education and training. It is in charge of the Universities and major source of financial support and also oversees and directs the University of Applied Sciences.
  • The Professional Organization is in charge for certificate and diploma courses of study of higher vocation education and training.

Tertiary Education: Types of Institutions at a Glance

Switzerland has 12 recognised traditional universities -10 cantonal universities and 2 federal institutions of technology, 8 universities of applied sciences, 15 universities for teacher education, and further university-level institutions financed by the Swiss Confederation. Also, there a number of private universities and educational establishments in Switzerland.

Tertiary Level A Institutions

Tertiary level A institutions comprises of initial education and training, continuing education and training, research and development for third parties. There are three types of tertiary level A institutions in Switzerland:
  • Universities: The universities are the traditional academic tertiary level A institutions. These comprises of the cantonal universities and the Federal Institutes of Technology. 
  • Universities of Applied Sciences: Universities of applied sciences offer science-based, practical-oriented education and training. 
  • Universities of Teacher Education: The University of Teacher Education focuses on the initial education and training and continuing education and training of teachers.

Tertiary Level B

Tertiary level B professional education and training is a type of tertiary level education which offers courses of study for a particular profession, occupational fields and leadership positions. Tertiary level B professional education and training comprises: PET colleges and Federal PET Diploma Examinations and Advanced Federal PET Diploma Examinations.

Tertiary Education Qualifications: Outline

The Switzerland degree structure conforms to the three cycle degree system of the European Higher Education.
  • Bachelor's degree: The Bachelor's degree is the initial degree and is about three years of full-time study.
  • Master's degree: The Master’s degree is of one to two years of full-time study and is done to gain expertise in a particular field of study.
  • Doctorate degree: The Doctorate degree is the academic degree of the highest order.

Academic Year

The academic year of higher education institutions in Switzerland is divided into two semesters-the fall semester and the spring semester. Each semester lasts 14 weeks at universities and 14 to 16 weeks at universities of applied sciences. In the fall semester courses begin in calendar week 38 and end in calendar week 51, while in the spring semester courses start in calendar week 8 and end in week 22.

Switzerland as a Study Destination

In central Europe, Switzerland is considered as an elite study destination in central Europe. Switzerland attracts thousands of international students each year. Switzerland is an internationally-renowned centre of excellence for teaching and research and extends a wide range of high-calibre courses in several different languages and in every sphere of research.

Popular Courses

Popular Courses in Switzerland are Natural Sciences and Engineering, Computer Sciences, Material and Electrical Engineering, IT, Life Sciences, Biotechnology, Finance and Accounting, Hotel Management, Language courses and MBA. 
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