Switzerland Universities for Americans

The next highest Non-US/UK university is from Switzerland. The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Z├╝rich (ETH Zurich) was founded in 1854 and is known for chemistry, mathematics, and physics. There are other top-ranked universities as well.

15ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology)English & German$1710
35Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL)French$1666
70University of ZurichGerman$2732
91University of BernGerman$2030
98University of GenevaFrench$1068
111University of BaselGerman$1816
140University of LausanneFrench$1132


The first hurdle for most Americans looking to attend a university in Switzerland is that most bachelor’s level classes are taught in the region’s dialect. ETH Zurich appeared to be the only top school that did a majority of its courses in English. Also, depending on the area, you may need to speak French or German, making your options smaller if you only know one or the other.


Prerequisites for applying to Switzerland universities from the United States can be found here. You need a high school diploma as well as the following in the three years leading up to your admission:

  1. First language (native language)
  2. Second language
  3. Mathematics
  4. Natural sciences (biology, chemistry, or physics)
  5. Humanities and social sciences (geography, history, or economics/law)
  6. Elective (one subject from category 2, 4, or 5 or computer science or philosophy. Computer science and philosophy can only be chosen as a sixth subject) 

If you intend to apply to a school besides ETHZ, you need German or French as your second language.

They also say the following A.P. classes do not count: Art History, Computer Science, Comp Government & Politics, Environmental Science, Music Theory, Psychology, Statistics, Studio Art, U.S. Government & Politics.

Each university has its acceptance criteria involving A.P. tests, usually with a score of three or more significant. In addition, all universities besides ETHZ require at least five A.P. tests in at least two languages.


A massive benefit of Switzerland schools, if you can speak the language, is the cost. Every top university is less than $3000 a year for tuition, and most are below $2000. So you could easily live abroad and still pay less to live in Switzerland than pay for top American universities.

Other Tips

  • Non-European citizens must hold a Swiss student visa to be allowed entrance and stay in Switzerland while studying.
  • It is recommended to apply by the start of December the year before Fall entry.
  • It may be easier to attend university for a Master’s or Ph.D. as those classes will most likely be in English, and acceptance criteria may be more straightforward.
  • Switzerland’s tuition is very low compared to the U.S., but the cost of living is much higher.
  • Public transportation is exceptional in Zurich
  • Switzerland is known for being affluent and safe

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