When one hears “Switzerland”, the first associations that come to mind are about utmost punctuality, very high standard of living, almost flawless legislation and, of course, centuries-long traditions in watchmaking, chocolate-making, and precise engineering. However, one of the best things that Switzerland has to offer to young people from all over the world is its very affordable higher education, which also is of incredibly high quality. In this article, we will be discussing how to study in Switzerland for free.
University fees in Switzerland may seem insignificant compared to those in England or the USA. This is so because almost all universities in Switzerland are financed with taxpayers’ money. Believe it or not, but the undergraduate tuition fees at some of the country’s most popular universities range between 800 and 1,200 CHF a year!
How to study in Switzerland for free?
Switzerland is not among the countries in the world that offer free higher education, either to domestic or to foreign students. Nonetheless, some schools offer scholarships that cover the students’ tuition fee and most of their annual costs of attendance. Some of these scholarships and grants are also offered by the Swiss Government.
Scholarships to Help You Study in Switzerland for Free
1. ETH Zurich Excellence Masters Scholarships
The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich offers two very popular and widely-available scholarships to gifted international students.
The first grant is called Excellence Scholarship & Opportunity Program, or simply ESOP. The most important thing you should know about ESOP is that the grant covers living and study expenses and amounts to CHF 22,000 a year. Additionally, there is a tuition fee waiver. In a nutshell, ESOP is one of the options for how to study in Switzerland for free. I say postgraduate because this sponsorship program is only available to students who wish to do a Master’s Degree at ETH Zurich.
The second popular scholarship that this school provides is the so-called Master Scholarship Program or (MSP). It consists of a grant in the amount of CHF 12,000 a year that partially covers the applicant’s living and study expenses. Again, MSP just like ESOP offers as a tuition fee waiver. In contrast to ESOP, MSP requires a partial contribution from the scholarship applicant. To qualify for ESOP or MSP, the applicants must be among the top 10% in their Bachelor’s Program.
2. UNIL Master’s Grants in Switzerland for Foreign Students
This scholarship is offered by the University of Lausanne to excellent postgraduate students from abroad, who wish to do a Master’s Degree there. If approved, the applicant receives CHF 1,600 per month for ten months of the academic year. The Students offered the grant are exempt from the fixed registration fees for the courses. However, they still have to pay the CHF 80.00 that is due each semester. As you can see, this scholarship is one of the best ways to receive free education in Switzerland. When applying for UNIL Master’s Grants, you should pay the CHF 200 administration fee.
3. Scholarships of the Graduate Institute Geneva
The Institute’s grants are available to gifted Master’s and Ph.D. candidates from around the world. To begin with, the tuition fee that the Graduate Institute of Geneva charges to foreign students is CHF 8,000 a year.
At the same time, the amount of the full scholarship is CHF 20,000 a year. It logically follows, then, that the full scholarship covers the tuition fee for foreign students, and the student is left with CHF 12,000 for living and other costs.
There is also a partial stipend in the amount of $10,000 per academic year, which also covers the tuition fee, and the leftover of CHF 2,000 overs a small part of the beneficiary’s living costs. However, regardless of the granted stipend, full or partial, the student is still required to pay a fixed tuition fee of CHF 1,000 a year.
3. University of Geneva Excellence Masters Fellowships
The grants are available to domestic and international postgraduate students, who wish to pursue a Master’s Degree in the field of science. Depending on the specific Master’s Program, the amount of the grant is CHF 10,000 or CHF 15,000 a year. This money can be used to cover the student’s tuition fee, or living and other costs.
4. Scholarships of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights
These scholarships are meant for international students, who wish to pursue a Master’s Degree in the fields of International Law, Human Rights, and Humanitarian Law at the Geneva Academy. Even so, postgraduate students from the United States, Western Europe, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand can only be granted partial scholarships.
Most importantly, full scholarships cover tuition fees (up to CHF 18,000), plus living costs for 10 months per academic year. These full scholarships can help you to study in Switzerland for free. Also, partial scholarships cover only the student’s tuition fee (up to CHF 18,000).
5. University of Bern Scholarships
The University of Bern offers six scholarships a year to gifted international students who wish to pursue a Master’s Degree there. The grants are available for any program in any field that the university offers. The amount of the grant is CHF 1,600 per month, or just over CHF 19,000 a year. There are no specific conditions as to how the students shall use the funds, meaning that they can decide to use the money for payment of their tuition fee.
Living costs in Switzerland
Tuition fees in Switzerland may be very affordable and the offered grants and scholarships may be quite generous but, on the whole, this is a very expensive country to live in. Some brief research reveals that a student can live on about EUR 2,500 per month in most Swiss cities (1 EUR = 1.09 CHF). This sum does not include recreational expenses such as club and pub-going.
I hope that this article on how to study in Switzerland for free was helpful. If you are interested, visit the Europe Category!