Welcome to Switzerland


Switzerland is an excellent location for living, studying, and working. Its cultural variety, beautiful landscape, and innovative environment offer first-class surroundings for both personal well-being and career advancement.

The Swiss higher education landscape comprises post-secondary studies at the ten Cantonal Universities and the two Federal Institutes of Technology. In addition, there are various public and private Universities of Applied Sciences, as well as Pedagogical and Fine Arts Universities, which provide a more profession-oriented focus.

Great minds from around the world come to Switzerland to benefit from its world-class institutions and enjoy an outstanding quality of life. And so could you! Here is why:

World-class education at affordable costs

All Swiss universities share a drive for excellence in teaching and research, resulting in their consistent ranking among the best universities in the world. In fact, according to the 2015 Times Higher Education university rankings, the ETH Zurich is ranked number nine, and six other Swiss universities are amongst the top 150 universities worldwide.

In other words, 79% of all students in Switzerland can claim to attend one of these top institutions. Public funding contributes not only to a high standard of education, but also to affordable fees. The average tuition cost for one semester at one of the 12 doctoral/research universities is about CAD 1,600 for international students.

Excellence in innovation

Switzerland is one of the most competitive countries in the world and has been ranked as the world’s most innovative country for six years in a row by the INSEAD/Cornell University Survey. This is made possible thanks to the universities’ cutting-edge research and considerable investments. Both the public and private sectors invest heavily in research, particularly in the pharmaceutical, chemical and engineering fields.

A lively start-up scene, new innovation parks, and the re-location of international tech companies to Switzerland speak to this innovative spirit. This is supported by excellent infrastructures, such as the world-renowned CERN in Geneva.

Switzerland is part of the global community

Switzerland lies in the heart of Europe and at the crossroads of several languages and cultures, attracting people from all over the world. Thus, it is only logical that Swiss universities are also very international. More than 50% of all PhD students and post-docs and 45% of the faculty members at Swiss universities come from another country. Furthermore, many UN organizations and international NGOs are located in Geneva and over 10,000 multinational companies are headquartered in Switzerland.

English and French are widely spoken and used as languages of business, higher education, and research. Thanks to international airports in Basel, Geneva, and Zurich, and train stations in almost every town, cities such as Paris, Rome, Vienna, and Berlin are at your doorstep.

How to get there: Immigration, scholarships and internships

You have chosen your Swiss university; now what are the next steps? Canadian citizens need to apply for a student visa at the Swiss Consulate in Montréal or Vancouver. Be aware that an application takes several months to process and careful preparation of the documents is required.

Regarding scholarships: contact your host university and they will be able to provide you with a list of opportunities. Furthermore, the website of the Canadian Bureau for International Education offers a database with grants and scholarships available to Canadians. www.cbie.ca

If you would rather like to gain work experience during or after your studies, consider applying for the Swiss-Canadian Youth Mobility Program. Though applicants are required to find a job themselves, the program facilitates the work permit application process and allows Canadians to improve their language and professional skills abroad.

Visit the following websites for more information:


For work permits:


Contributed by:

Urs Obrist, PhD – Senior Science and Technology Officer,
Embassy of Switzerland, Ottawa

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