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Off to School (Part 3): University

When writing (and talking) about the Swiss education system, there is one part of it that is fairly easy to explain to a foreigner: university and other higher education. This is mainly due to the fact that in the last 10-15 years, Swiss university education has been adapted to international standards and norms.

However, one of the biggest differences between Swiss universities and American universities (and universities in other places around the globe) is that there is normally no entrance exam or the need to formally apply. If you successfully passed your Matura exams you are free to inscribe to any university in Switzerland. The big exception is the field of human medicine which requires an entrance exam called Numerus Clausus. Technical Universities usually require at least one year of work experience in a relevant field before they receive applicants with a Matura certificate.

But let's go back to the similarities. A lot of university related vocabulary has been adopted from the English terms which make more sense in an international setting. It is much easier to talk about the different bachelor and master degrees available in Switzerland than about the different Lizenziate (licenciates). I mean, nowadays even in Switzerland few people know what a Lizenziat is and there is quite some confusion about it. Is it equal to a bachelor degree? Or a master degree? As much as you might have liked the old system in Switzerland, there is no need for it anymore and if you've got a certificate from the olden days you can continue using your original title. Some (Swiss) German terms obviously are still in use and I'll gladly share them with you.

Swiss German University Vocabulary

Büecherlischte (book list, reading list)
Ewige Schtudent (eternal student, someone who keeps changing majors)
Fakultät (faculty)
FH (pronounced "eff-haa", technical university)
Numerus Clausus (entrance exam for medical students)
Prof (short for professor)
Schtudent (student)
Schtuende (students)
Schtudis (short for students)
schtudiere (to study, can be a bit confusing since it also means "to think" or "to reflect")
Uni (short for university)
Vorläsig (lecture)

university studies - I-vista  /

Related Posts:
Off to School (Part 1): Kindergarten & Primary School
Off to School (Part 2): Secondary & Middle School
Off to School (Part 4): Apprenticeship



  1. Hello,
    Thank you for sharing this informative post..I got all essential points regarding international schools switzerland...Very nice post...Thank you too much........


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