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Country Handbook

Universität Zürich


Program Snapshot

Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland, sitting directly on Lake Zurich, and with busy and efficient public transportation systems to get you wherever you need to go. Along with Bern, Zurich is a leading global city and among the worlds largest financial centres, with a very high quality of life. Stroll down the famous Bahnhofstrasse, visit the Zurich Museum of Art, the Chinese Garden, or any number of Zurichs festivals and parades year-round. Study in one of the worlds most prestigious institutions in fields such as economics, humanities, law and the sciences. Picture yourself in Zurich!

The city of Zurich lies in the German speaking part of Switzerland. With its almost 367,000 inhabitants Zurich combines the advantage of a comfortably sized town with the diversity of a cosmopolitan city. Thanks to its attractive location on the banks of the Lake of Zurich and the Limmat River and its proximity to recreation areas like the Uetliberg and the Swiss Alps, Zurich offers a very high quality of life. Zurich is not only the economic, but also cultural center of Switzerland. The diversity of the city comes from the tolerant, cosmopolitan, and multicultural population and from its renowned cultural facilities and various alternative and smaller-scale cultural events. Zurich also stands out with its excellent public transportation system both locally and within the national system, and it is easily reached internationally by train or plane.

ISEP Exchange: undergraduate and graduate programs available for an academic year or semester

ISEP-Exchange for International students.
ISEP-Exchange for US students.

Chance of Placement
ISEP Exchange chance of placement for US students is limited.
ISEP Exchange chance of placement for I-to-I students is limited.
For the most current chances of placement, see the Sites Open for Applications for US Students or Sites Open for I-to-I Applications.

Program Dates
Academic year: mid-September to end of May
Semester 1: mid-September to end of December
Semester 2: mid-February to end of May
Exact dates: http://www.uzh.ch/studies/dates_en.html

Fast Facts
Zurich, Switzerland (pop. 367,000)
Student Enrollment: 24,000
Language of instruction: German, English (some)
University Home Page
Course Information
Course Lists in English

Full year or semester enrollment in regular university courses:
Art: Chinese, Eastern European, Islamic, and Japanese studies, indology, linguistics and literature (English, Greek, Latin, French, German, Italian, Scandinavian, Slavic, Spanish), comparative linguistics (Indo-Germanic, Romance, German), general linguistics, computational linguistics and language technology, educational sciences, prehist. archeology, prehistoric archeology, classical archeology, cultural studies of the classical antiquity, Eastern European history, general history, history of arts, history of East Asian arts, musicology, philosophy, Psychology; Social sciences: political science, media and communication, sociology, ethnology, popular culture studies]); Economics, Business Administration and Information Technology: Economics and business administration, economics, business administration, management and economics, banking and finance, computer sciences);Law: law Science: biology, biochemistry, chemistry, earth sciences, geography, mathematics, physics); Theology: religious science, theology.

Courses taught in English
Fields of study which can be studied without/or little knowledge in German: Law, Political Science, English Language and Literature, Business Administration, Economics, Banking and Finance, Biology, Biochemistry, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Geography, Mathematics and Physics.

Courses for Graduate (Masters) Level
All the course programs cited above offer courses at the master's level and are open to graduate students who meet the language prerequisites.

Academic Notes
Graduate students may take bachelor or master-level courses. Undergraduate students may take bachelor courses. Advanced undergraduate students enrolled at the following fields may take up to two master courses: Law, Business Administration and all the fields offered by the Faculty of Science.
According to the Humboldtian ideal of a university, which states that independent research represents both the precondition for teaching and its basis, good teaching is linked to research. As a research institution, the University of Zurich places fundamental research at the centre of its activities. It sets itself the highest international standards in this respect. The scientific focal points are defined by the faculties as listed HERE
Important to know is that the University of Zurich is the home institution of five National Centres of Competence in Research.


Transcripts are generally released in March for Semester 1, in September for Semester 2 and in September for the Full Year. Transcripts are sent to ISEP and then immediately released to the student’s home institution if there are no outstanding financial obligations.

Language Notes
Students taking courses in English who are not native speakers must have proficiency in English at level C1 (CEFR). Students do not need any previous knowledge of German provided they can find enough courses to meet their credit requirements.

A minimum of 4-5+ semesters of university-level German or the equivalent, must be completed if the student wants to attend courses taught in German. Students should especially have a good command of reading, listening, note-taking, and writing. Students who take courses taught in German are expected to have proficiency in German at level C1 according to the Common European Framework of Reference for languages (CEFR).

1 German language course is offered in addition to regular classes during the semester.

A 2-week intensive pre-session German language course is offered before the beginning of each semester for an additional fee at all levels.

For more information on courses and language options, see the:
German Options-at-a-Glance
German Language Advising Chart

Special Academic Conditions
For students with high German proficiency, there is generally no constriction in the choice of the academic field as long as the academic prerequisites are met. Students without sufficient German skills have to check the offer of courses in English. About 2/3 of courses and ECTS credits must be taken in the faculty where the ISEP participant would like to be enrolled. Programs in human medicine and veterinary medicine are closed to ISEP participants.

Special ISEP Application Instructions
Students applying to this site should be mature and independent. Without knowledge of German, course options can be limited and students are encouraged to be flexible. It is possible to study at the Faculty of Science, at the Faculty of Law, at the Faculty of Economics, Business Administration and IT and at the Department of Political Science and a the English Department (for students who are enrolled as Students of English Language and Literature at their home university only). Some knowledge of German is encouraged for basic day-to-day life.
A 3.0 GPA or higher is recommended for students to be successful at Zurich.

Housing and Meals
Students are housed in student hostels and receive a stipend to cover room and board. In case students wish to search for their accommodation on their own they find useful information on www.uzh.ch/studies/studentlife/accomodation_en.html. Students should note that finding housing near the university in Zurich can be quite limited and expensive, so its recommended by ISEP to opt for arranged housing by the university; in this case, students would still receive a stipend to pay for their room and board expenses.


You are responsible for all of your personal expenses including: optional fees (e.g. computer, language, science lab fees), books, local transportation, entertainment, etc. The amount below is provided as a guide; the actual amount needed will vary depending on courses and personal habits. Your personal expenses per month, including books, are estimated at: 1,700 Swiss Francs. This will vary by personal spending and consumption habits.

Students are advised to arrive in Zurich during regular business hours on September 1st or February 1st respectively. .

Orientation is held shortly before the lecture period begins.

Student Activities
The Academic Athletics Association of Zurich (ASVZ) offers classes in over 70 different types of sports, recreation and wellness, as well as various drop-in facilities such as solariums, saunas, and weight rooms. Most of the offers are included in ISEP benefits.
The Erasmus Student Network ESN organises various excursions (for example city tours within Switzerland, ski and trekking weekends, etc.) and runs a buddy system.
For a complete list of student organizations, see: www.uzh.ch/studies/studentlife/organizations/various_en.html

The University of Zurich was founded in 1833, though its origins stretch back as far as 1525 and the days of protestant reformer Ulrich Zwingli. Today the University of Zurich is the largest university in Switzerland and plays a leading role in Swiss higher education. To its 25,000 students it offers a great diversity of studies, with more than 100 different degree programs and over 3,000 combinations of disciplines in seven faculties. Two thousand lecturers in 140 institutes provide the broadest range of subjects and courses available at any Swiss institution of higher education.

Nine museums and collections, covering subjects from anthropology to zoology, constitute yet another valuable academic resource.

What Past Students have to Say
"I love Zurich, because it is a small city with all the amenities of a big city, totally cosmopolitan. You can hear any language of the world in the street and on the trains and trams. The quality of life that you can breathe is one of the best in the world, the transport system is first rate, efficient, punctual and clean, and you can travel easily to any point. I just want to say, I love Switzerland!" -Francesco Garcia, ISEP Exchange student to Zurich