At this point we have provided some information regarding the documents you will need in order to be admitted to a higher education institution.
There is advice as to how you should properly submit the required documents and how to proceed if you no longer have or have access to your diploma or certificates.
Which certificates and documents do I require for university study?
Higher education institutions in Switzerland are responsible for admissions. Therefore, they assess the certificates which are submitted to them in the application process.
You normally need all documents to prove your last and highest qualification (diploma, transcriptions and sometimes descriptions of the different courses you attended). Some institutions also have grade requirements for upper-secondary school leaving certificates.
Undergraduate study at universities and federal technical universities (ETH/EPFL)
A foreign upper-secondary school leaving certificate needs to meet the following conditions for recognition:
• It needs to roughly be equivalent to the Swiss baccalaureate.
• The range of subjects studied needs to be proof of a general and comprehensive education.
As well as the school leaving certificate and depending on your country of origin, there may be other documents required for the undergraduate admissions process. Use the country list on swissuniversities.ch to find out which qualifications are accepted, and which requirements need to be met.
Master's degrees at universities and federal technical universities (ETH/EPFL)
Admission for Master’s degrees requires you to have a Bachelor’s degree in an academic field.
The degree needs to be awarded to you by an officially recognised university. Providing a list of academic achievements with the necessary detail on the content of the courses you have attended will help admissions offices assess your undergraduate qualification.
- Undergraduate study at universities and federal technical universities (ETH/EPFL)
Is my university recognised?
The question of recognition concerns the status of the university in your country of origin. In most cases, you should know if the university is recognised there.
If you are unsure, the German database Anabin [available only in German] can give you an idea. If you remain unsure, you can either inquire with the institution of your choice or get in touch with Swiss ENIC.
Studying at a university of applied sciences
Universities of applied sciences are different from universities in the way they are structured and organised. Entry requirements depend on the individual departments.
In most cases, you will require an upper-secondary school leaving certificate and professional experience. Get in touch with the institution for further details.
Admissions process: How do I submit my documents?
To have your qualification assessed, you will need an officially certified copy of the original document. If the document has not been issued in either German, French, Italian or English, you also need to submit a certified copy of the document’s official translation.
Foreign documents are only accepted when all copies, including copies of the translation, have been certified! Some institutions will demand that the translation and the certified copy are submitted as a single document. Make sure you inform the translation service provider.
NB: You should never send original documents. Only ever send certified copies of your transcripts and qualifications. You may be asked to provide original documents at a later date, i.e. upon enrolment at the institution of your choice.
To have your qualifications assessed, it may be helpful to provide explanations about the grading system or a grade conversion table issued by your previous university.
What is a certified copy and who can issue it?
A copy is regarded as certified if it has been issued by an official (e.g. a public office, a notary, a diplomatic or consular representative). It confirms that the official has seen the original document.
It is essential that you present the original document in order to obtain a certified copy. It is not possible to certify a document which is the copy of another copy.
A public office in your municipality or a notary can be approached to issue a certified copy. This is where your original document (e.g. certificate, diploma, diploma supplement) is photocopied and certified by means of a stamp and a signature. This confirms that the copy corresponds to the original document. Having a copy officially certified does not constitute a judgement on the content or authenticity of the original document.
Admissions offices at some higher education institutions can issue certified copies of your qualifications.
You will have to provide the original certified copy as part of your application portfolio. Photocopying your certified copy is not admissible.
What is an official translation?
A translation is regarded official if it has been translated by a recognised translation service provider (e.g. a translation agency). The provider uses a stamp to confirm that the translation corresponds to the original. The two documents are usually attached.
Translations which have been made abroad may not necessarily be accepted. The admissions office will be able to help.
You need to submit a “certified copy” of the official translation. In some scenarios, you might instead be asked for the original translation.
Click here for further information regarding the costs involved.
Which other documents might I be asked for?
Check with the institution of your choice for the required documents. Some higher education institutions provide checklists on their websites.
As well as qualifications, transcripts and certificates, you might be asked for any of the following:
– Photo identification (ID)
– Cover letter/Personal statement
– Application letter seeking admission to a Master’s degree
– Grade conversion table
– Descriptions of courses previously attended (particularly relevant at Master’s level)
– Copy of your ID or passport
– Copy of your residence permit
For some degree courses, you may be asked to provide a summary of your undergraduate dissertation if you are applying for study at Master’s programme.
How will I submit my documents?
Some institutions provide an electronic admissions process allowing you to scan documents and submit them online. Photocopies and translations of certificates and qualifications will usually have to be sent in as hard copies at one point in the process.
Institutional websites explaining entry requirements will also contain this kind of information.
What do I need to write in a personal statement or a letter seeking admission to a Master's degree?
You will need to provide the date, your surname, first name, your full address as well as your email address. You sign the letter and ideally provide a telephone number.
Explain your intentions in the language of your application, e.g. “I am writing to you in application for the Bachelor/Master’s programme XXY”.
This is your chance to shine. Explain your motivation for the course of your choice. If applicable, provide an explanation for missing documents. The cover letter should not exceed 1-1.5 pages.
You would like to use your existing qualification to find employment rather than applying for university study.
This is not the right page for you.
Regulated professional activities will require proof of recognised training. Your previous education or chosen career path will determine which authority is responsible for recognising your training.
Foreign degree holders who are seeking employment and wish to work in a non-regulated profession can obtain a recommendation of recognition from Swiss ENIC.
The required documents are lost or in my country of origin
If you are unable to document your previous education, you may be able to request a Diploma Background Report which can be issued by Swiss ENIC. The report describes your education and indicates how Swiss ENIC would assess your qualification if all documents were available. This might help admissions offices to make sense of your qualification or it can prove useful for the purpose of further training or job search.
You need to make a good case if your documents are missing. Write down answers to the following questions:
Why do you not have the documents with you? (political situation in your country of origin, personal reasons)
Are you still able to get hold of them? (Can they be sent to you? Does the institution you previously studied with issue copies or replacements?)
If not, explain why this is not an option for you
Click below to find out about the process of applying for a Diploma Background Report.
Retain your answers in case you need to provide admissions offices with an explanation. This means you will have to get in touch directly with the higher education institution.
Statutory declarations fulfil a similar purpose to Diploma Background Reports.
Statutory declarations as replacement for missing documents
Many higher education institutions will process your application if you provide a statutory declaration which convincingly outlines why you have no access to the required documents and are thus unable to prove your previous education.
Check with the admissions office if this is an option available to you. This possibility is not necessarily advertised on institutional websites.
NB: There is no statutory right to be admitted using this process. It is only applied in exceptional cases when it becomes clear that the applicant has no other means of proving their previous education.