Study PHD in Switzerland 2023
Basic monthly living cost
Rent in a shared flat988
Share of utilities75
Sample lifestyle cost
Fast food combo15
Pint of local beer7
- C visa – for short courses (summer schools, language schools) that last for up to three months.
- D visa – for courses that last longer than three months.
What type of Visa do you need?
C visa; D visa
Price and currency
For a student visa, the application is free of charge; however, there might be some exceptions.
Who can apply for the visa?
Although Switzerland is not a member of the EU, it allows EU citizens to attend university in the country. Students that do not have EU/EEA nationality must contact the Swiss embassy or consulate in their home country to apply for a visa prior to entering the country.
For courses of up to three months – summer courses, language schools – you may need a short-term Schengen C visa; for courses longer than three months, you may need a long-term national D visa.
You cannot come to Switzerland on a three-month tourist visa and change it to a student residence permit after you have arrived in Switzerland. Thus, even if you are exempt from needing an entry visa, such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia, or Singapore nationals, you will still need to apply for a residence permit before you arrive if you plan to stay longer than 90 days.
All international students, including EU/EFTA citizens, will have to apply for a residence permit at a Residents Registration Office within 14 days after their arrival in Switzerland.
Where can you make the application?
Swiss embassy or consulate
You’ll need to apply for a visa through the Swiss embassy or consulate in your home country.
How to make the application?
When you have received confirmation of acceptance by a Swiss university or private school, you will need to contact the Swiss embassy in your country for information on entry formalities for Switzerland. You will have to show proof that you have adequate financial means to support yourself during your studies.
You will need to complete an application form and submit supporting documentation in French, German, or English, so you may need to translate your documents.
For short-term Schengen C visas, documentation includes:
- a valid passport/travel ID;
- proof of adequate financial resources to cover your costs while you’re in Switzerland;
- healthcare/accident insurance;
- confirmation of booked courses including fees paid;
if you’re under 18, a birth certificate and authorization to travel if coming to Switzerland alone, or copies of parents’ visas if they will be accompanying.
For a long-term D visa, documents will include:
- a valid passport/travel ID;
- proof of adequate financial resources to cover your costs while you’re in Switzerland, whether yourself or a sponsor, such as copies of bank statements or a letter from the bank;
- proof of healthcare insurance which includes cover for accidents;
- motivation letter outlining why you want to come to Switzerland to study and how this will be beneficial to your career;
- confirmation of enrolment at a recognized Swiss educational institution;
- confirmation of course fees paid;
- your CV;
- copies of previous educational certificates and diplomas;
- a signed letter confirming that you will leave Switzerland at the end of the course.
You may also be asked to sit a language test to make sure that you will be able to follow lessons.
If you want to undertake postgraduate studies, you’ll need to submit proof that you’ve been admitted to a post-grad course and have the appropriate qualifications, sufficient financial means, and somewhere to live.
When should you apply?
You should schedule an appointment at the Swiss embassy or consulate in your area as soon as you get the acceptance letter from the Swiss educational institution. You should schedule the appointment for a visa interview as early as 6 months prior to the start of your studies but no later than ten weeks before your departure.
The processing times for short stay visa applications are 10-15 days; and eight to ten weeks for long-stay visas.
The length of the student visa depends on the length of your course. The residence permit is given for one year and can be renewed.
You may take up part-time work for up to 15 hours a week in term time and full-time during holidays, but only after you have lived in Switzerland for six months.
If you already hold a Master’s degree from a foreign university and you’re in Switzerland working for your Swiss university or institute, you don’t have to wait six months but can start work right away. Your employer will need to get a work permit for you. You will need to maintain your full-time student status and show that you are continuing to make progress in your studies.
After graduation, foreign students can stay in Switzerland for six months to look for work.
Hours per week
Why do you need this type of visa?
Your visa application may be rejected if you are not able to show proof of the required funds, or if you provide incorrect or incomplete documents.
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