Study Abroad in Switzerland

Back to Programs

A Guide to Studying Abroad in Switzerland

Located in the heart of the Alps, Switzerland is a mountainous nation famous for its small ski towns, high quality of life, and of course, chocolate and fondue. Home to a worldwide center for diplomacy, Geneva, study abroad in Switzerland is a fantastic opportunity for international relations majors. Foreign language lovers will also love study abroad in Switzerland, as there are four national languages spoken, namely French, Italian, German, and Romansh. Centrally located and close to Italy, France, Germany, and Austria, there are plenty of opportunities to travel and explore a wealth of European countries while participating in study abroad programs in Switzerland.


One of the most popular places to study abroad in Switzerland is Geneva. Also known as the Capital of Peace and Freedom, Geneva has the largest number of international organizations in the world, which makes it a great city for students seeking international exposure. Many organizations offer study abroad programs in Geneva that revolve around international relations and diplomacy. Located in French-speaking Switzerland, Geneva is also a great place to study the French language. There are a number of museums and parks situated alongside the pristine Lake Geneva, one of the largest lakes in Western Europe, for students to take advantage during their free time. Additionally, Geneva is famous for its expertise in the art of watchmaking and boasts lovely countryside vineyards.

Another popular location for study abroad in Switzerland is Zurich, a German-speaking city located in north-central Switzerland. An important financial center, Zurich is a great place to study business or finance. Zurich is also a great place to study German in Switzerland, and there are a variety of study abroad programs focused on language immersion. One of the world’s major art trade centers, Zurich is home to numerous museums, art galleries, and the important Schauspielhaus Theater.

Lugano, a city located in Italian-speaking southern Switzerland, offers study abroad programs for students interested in a variety of fields. from business and history to foreign language courses. The city is situated on Lake Lugano, where students can embark on a cruise with picturesque views of the Alps. Students can enjoy shopping on via Nassa, taste exquisite chocolate at the Alprose Chocolate Factory, or walk down charming streets filled with Renaissance style churches. A central location for travel, Lugano is a wonderful place for students to study abroad in Switzerland, especially if they want to have the chance to explore the rest of Europe too.

Subjects & Courses

Four of the best subjects of study in Switzerland are international relations, business, finance, and foreign languages.

Geneva is the headquarters of the United Nations and home to the largest number of international organizations in the world. Students studying in Switzerland will be constantly surrounded by international professionals, which makes Switzerland a perfect place to study international relations.

Business and Finance students should definitely consider study abroad in Switzerland! Zurich, Switzerland’s international financial center, is one of the six most competitive financial centers in the world. A top ten on business environment, financial market access, and financial markets, Zurich’s competitive and business-minded environment makes it an attractive location for business and finance courses. Studying abroad in Switzerland will allow finance students to be completely immersed in the world of finance while exploring an internationally influenced culture.

A multilingual nation, Switzerland is terrific location for foreign language lovers; with French, German, Italian, and Romansh spoken within such close proximity of each other, it’s very possible to practice multiple languages throughout a semester of study abroad in Switzerland. Though local language proficiency isn’t required for many study abroad programs in Switzerland (aside from programs with a foreign language focus), it is definitely helpful to have a basic knowledge of the region’s native tongue to communicate with locals.

Study abroad programs in Switzerland are offered in the summer, semester, and for full academic years. Semesters typically last from September to December and January to April or May. Summer terms last around six weeks, with winter terms lasting three weeks. There isn’t a bad season to study abroad in Switzerland, it just depends on each student's interest, because there is plenty to do throughout the year. Skiers will enjoy studying in Switzerland in the winter or spring during ski season, while hikers and lovers of warm weather may prefer a summer or fall term.

Scholarships & Costs

Unfortunately, Switzerland is an extremely expensive country. Food, clothing, and souvenirs are all quite pricey; consumer prices are about 46 percent higher in Switzerland than in the United States. Thankfully, some providers offer scholarships directly to participants of their programs, but funding can also be found through outside sources. To start your search for scholarships for study abroad in Switzerland, check out GoAbroad's Scholarship Directory.

Accommodation & Visas

International students in Switzerland normally stay in a homestay, dormitory, flat, or apartment, depending on the program. Homestays are a great option for students who want to meet and live with locals, immerse themselves fully in the culture and language, and have the treat of home cooked traditional meals. Students looking for more independence may prefer to live on their own in dorms, an apartment, or a flat. Students can choose to stay by themselves or with a group of local or international students. Those living independently will have to cook, clean, and do laundry by themselves.

Some study abroad programs in Switzerland may give students the option of choosing their accommodation, but other programs will have accommodation pre-arranged and will not give students any option. Regardless, most study abroad programs in Switzerland will include accommodation in program costs.

To study abroad in Switzerland, all students must obtain a student visa before arriving in country. To apply for a visa, students must have a passport valid for six months after the end of the program. All applications must be turned in to the Swiss embassy or one of the consulates in the United States (find a Swiss embassy or consulate near you through GoAbroad’s Swiss Embassy Directory). It’s recommended to renew or apply for a passport and visa as early as possible, as processing takes at least eight to ten weeks. Some programs offer assistance with visa applications, but contact specific program providers directly to inquire about these services and inclusions.

Benefits & Challenges

One challenge of studying abroad in Switzerland is the multiple foreign languages spoken. Even if you know French, you may not know Italian or German, which can make it hard to communicate and get around the country. Furthermore, Switzerland is one of the few European countries whose currency is not the Euro, so if you’re planning on traveling around Europe during your study abroad program, currency exchanges will be a hassle.

Of course, every country has its challenges, but that is what allows study abroad students to grow, develop a new perspective, and learn how to problem solve.

Read More

written by:

A Guide To
Studying Abroad in Switzerland


 Find Study Abroad Programs in Switzerland Now


This listing has been saved 4 times

American Institute For Foreign Study

Undergraduate students from the United States can study abroad in Switzerland through participation in programs offered by the American Institute for Foreign Studies (AIFS). The city of Lucerne is one stop along a multi-country program focusing on European Art and Architecture. The program lasts four weeks in the summer term, providing students with the opportunity to earn three college credits.


This listing has been saved 4 times

Study French in Lausanne

Language learning and relaxation is possible with Eurocentres language study program. Travel to Lausanne, Switzerland and learn the French language. Students will be attending French language classes in the afternoon and immerse into the culture and discover the trendy city in the afternoon. Lausanne offers activities for leisure and entertainment.This includes sporting and cultural events,...


This listing has been saved 45 times

Summer in Switzerland with Forum-Nexus!

A few spots still available for this summer. Apply today! Gain a deeper understanding of Swiss culture with Forum-Nexus Study Abroad summer program in Switzerland. Along with time in Switzerland, students visit six other cities throughout Europe to broaden their knowledge of the region. Participants have the chance to earn six academic credits from a wide range of classes, including Art, Geogra...


High Alpine Institute FTAN International Boarding School

At the Hochalpines Institut Ftan, you’ll find we provide an innovative and inclusive learning environment, allowing our students to reach their full potential in a friendly, family-style environment. We pride ourselves on fostering international culture and independence among our students. While our focus is on high-academic standards along with a commitment to multiculturalism and lifelong...


This listing has been saved 2 times

Study Abroad in Switzerland

Get ready to embark on a journey of discovery. A Youth For Understanding USA (YFU) study abroad program is an experience that will immerse you in the lives, cultures, and communities of a real family in one of more than 40 countries around the globe. An adventure where you'll learn, in a year, semester or a summer, what life is like for teens in another part of the world. An experience that ...


This listing has been saved 3 times

Swiss Hospitality Excellence is Within Reach

Business and Hotel Management School of Switzerland (BHMS), located in the heart of Lucerne, is a top hospitality school and part of Bénédict Education Group, one of Switzerland’s oldest and largest private institutions of higher education. Offering accredited degree programs in culinary arts, hospitality management and global business management, BHMS prepares tomorrow’s leaders through a care...


This listing has been saved 70 times

Up with People

Throughout the years Up with People international academic studies program has been sending international students to Switzerland and other countries. Study Liberal Arts, Music, Dance, and other disciplines in Bern, Lucerne, or Lugano while exploring the dynamic Swiss culture and lifestyle. Participants will be able to study at one of the prestigious Swiss universities with Up with People.


This listing has been saved 4 times

College Consortium for International Studies (CCIS)

Study abroad in Switzerland and gain cross-cultural understanding with CCIS. American students can enroll in a wide range of courses at Franklin College in Lugano, including International Relations, Legal Studies, and Design. This academic studies program is available every fall, spring, and summer term.