Step by step

Studying in Switzerland when you have previously been educated abroad can be difficult. We are providing you with a step-by-step guide of questions you could ask yourself in order to make your choice.

Initially, it makes sense to obtain the maximum amount of information and consider all options available to you. Refer to new Opportunities to find points of call which can support you in your decision-making process.

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  • Step 1: Should I do a degree course?

    The Swiss education system has many particularities. There is a range of excellent training pathways which abroad might require you to complete a course at degree level. In Switzerland, you might be able to attend a university of applied sciences or do an apprenticeship instead. If you wish to train in Switzerland, you might therefore be having to take a new career path.

    Find the information you need below:



    A degree takes a long time to complete. This means you should choose an area you are genuinely interested in. You will have to engage with the subject matter for a prolonged amount of time. 

    Once you have found out what interests you, it is time to look into job opportunities in this field.

    In each country there are professions which are particularly sought after and important for society. The professions in demand in Switzerland might not be the same as in your country of origin.

    If there are good job prospects in a particular field, it will be easier to find support for your training. This is especially the case if social services are currently contributing to your maintenance costs.
    Your local careers service can assist you. Click here to get an insight into different fields and training pathways.

    Are you interested in an apprenticeship? Great! Your local careers service and your social worker will be able to assist you. Go to Step 2 if studying at a university or university of applied sciences appears to be the best choice for you.

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  • Step 2: Choosing a course

    What subject?

    Assemble a list of 4-5 subjects you could see yourself studying.

    Universities often allow you to choose a major and a minor subject. The minor subject can complement the major subject or cover other interests of yours.

    It might well be that the subject you have studied in your country does not exist in Switzerland. Try to think which skills this subject has equipped you with. In which areas are similar skills needed here?

    You should also bear in mind:

    • Can you study alongside your job?
    • Can you study part-time?
    • How many hours a week could you spend working?

    You will not be able to study every subject at all higher education institutions in Switzerland. Not every canton has a university of applied sciences, university or federal technical university (ETH/EPFL). Travelling to a different canton can be expensive and time-consuming. If you receive financial support from social services, you cannot simply move to another canton for your studies. If possible, make sure the university is close to your place of residence. Overview of recognised higher education institutions in Switzerland.

    Degree courses at universities and federal technical universities are not designed like degree courses at universities of applied sciences. Look into different training pathways and decide what works best for you.

    NB: The Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) and the Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) do not constitute formal degrees, though these are offered at institutional level!

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  • Step 3: Find out about entry requirements for a degree course

    Your next step should be to learn more about the entry requirements for the institution and course of your choice.

    Our checklist can guide you in the process.


    Which documents do you need?

    • Which documents are still missing?
    • Who can issue these documents? (Universities? Swiss authorities? Another point of call?)
    • Will you have to request documents from your country of origin?



    What are the language requirements?

    • What language level are you expected to have for this degree course?
    • Do you have a recognised certificate?
    • Is your language level sufficient to pursue your studies?


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  • Step 4: Planning. How much time will it take? What will it cost to study?

    When making the decision to study, you need to keep in mind whether you have the time and financial means to do so.

    At this stage, you ought to discuss your plans with your social worker. Show them what you are planning to do.

    Preparing for admissions and your course: How much time does it take?

    Studying for a degree takes time and effort. Therefore, you will need to think ahead: How much time will it take to complete the course?

    • How many hours a week do I need to set aside for my course?
    • Which writing/research tasks need to be completed during the vacations?
    • Would you like to study full-time or part-time?
    • What length of time can you dedicate to your studies?

    Preparations as well as your time studying will be expensive. Make sure you get an idea of the costs involved.

    Find the information you need below:

    Ideally you have an overview of how you would like to fund the duration of your course.

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  • Step 5: Decide whether studying is the right choice for you.

    Now that you have all the information in front of you, assess whether the efforts in attaining a degree are worth it for you.

    •  Is it worth studying or is it too much effort?
    • Do you have the time and financial means to study?

    Remember: The Swiss education system has different training pathways, allowing for movement between them. You are able to decide after an apprenticeship to go on to a university or a university of applied sciences.

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  • Step 6: Enrolment

    You are well informed and have chosen a course.

    Using the information you have obtained from the previous steps, you should now be able to plan the enrolment process:

    • Decide when you would like to start studying. Make sure to observe deadlines for enrolment.
    • Requirements: how does enrolment work? Will you have to get in touch with the institution of your choice before applying?
    • Gather all your documents, get translations and photocopies.
    • Two sets of eyes see more than one: get someone else to read through your portfolio! A mentor can give you a hand. The same goes for friends or experts working for a careers service.
    • Take your documents and the checklist to the admissions office or fill in the online form.
    • In case you still require documents, now is the time to get hold of them. The same goes for translations, tests, etc.

    We wish you every success!

    Do you need help? Contact a local university project or send us an email.

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