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Studying in Switzerland

Switzerland supports students from other European countries studying at the ZHAW.

Switzerland has been a partner country of Erasmus+, the EU Exchange Programme for Education, Training, Youth and Sport, since 2014. Students from EU countries who wish to spend an exchange semester in Switzerland can apply for an exchange within the framework of the “Swiss-European Mobility Programme” (SEMP).

Students from abroad who wish to take advantage of the SEMP must be enrolled at ZHAW for a minimum of two months and a maximum of 12 months.

COVID-19: Communication about student exchanges

Dear partners,
and students

The Swiss Federal Council has declared that the end of March 2022 will mark the end of the “special situation”. The ZHAW will officially return to regular university operations on 1 April 2022.

Student exchanges take place as usual, under the condition that all of the regulations issued by the ZHAW, the Swiss authorities and the local authorities in the countries of our partner universities are observed.

Important information and contacts for incoming and outgoing students

  • The International Relations Offices (IROs) in the ZHAW Schools support their incoming and outgoing students as much as possible to ensure that they can successfully complete their studies at the ZHAW or at our partner universities. Please contact the IRO of your ZHAW School as soon as possible if you have any questions or concerns.
  • Please remain in contact with the IRO of your ZHAW School before and during your semester abroad, especially if conditions change. Please keep up to date about the situation and applicable measures in your home country and host country. We recommend that you organise your travel or flight plans and accommodation as close to your departure date as possible, that you do not confirm your plans any earlier than necessary and that you take out travel cancellation insurance.
  • Important for students who do an exchange within the Swiss-European Mobility Programme (SEMP) partly or completely online from their home country: Register with the IRO of your ZHAW School and inform them about the plans for your mobility semester. There could be ramifications for your SEMP grant if you do your mobility semester virtually from your home country or discontinue it part-way through.

The circumstances can change quickly, so the guidelines and requirements from the authorities and the ZHAW might be modified at short notice. We therefore ask you to regularly consult the information on this website.

Thank you for your cooperation!

ZHAW International Affairs Office

Coming to the ZHAW as a visiting student

If you are interested in coming to the ZHAW as a visiting student (SEMP, free mover or completing an internship), please contact the International Relations Offices in the ZHAW School which corresponds to your subject area.

Buddy service

The ZHAW works with the Erasmus Student Network and offers a buddy service to help international students feel at home on campus quickly. Under the motto “Students helping students”, the buddy service helps to make the transition to life at the ZHAW smoother.

As a student from abroad, you are assigned a “buddy”, a person who - where possible - is studying the same subject area as you. The service is optional so you can decide whether you wish to use it. A few weeks before the beginning of the semester, your buddy will make contact with you. Your buddy might help, for example, by collecting you from the airport or the railway station.

In your first few days here, your buddy will help you to familiarise yourself with life at the ZHAW and in Switzerland. Your buddy can help you to open a bank account, explain the ticketing system on public transport, and introduce you to life at the ZHAW. You can also contact your buddy at a later stage if you have any questions or problems. Buddies do not, however, carry out administrative duties, such as arranging accommodation or issuing a residence permit.

Classes in English

Classes at the ZHAW are taught predominantly in German. However, the ZHAW also offers several degree programmes, modules and courses, as well as some continuing education options in English. The International Relations Offices will help you to plan and organize your stay in Switzerland and will assist you as you organize your study programme. Depending on availability and after agreement by the relevant International Relations Office, you may also be able to select modules and courses beyond your usual field of study.

Subject Area Study programme
Banking, Finance, Insurance Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a Specialization in Banking and Finance (Program in English part-time)
Banking, Finance, Insurance Master of Science in Banking and Finance
Engineering Bachelor of Science in Aviation (selection of modules in English)
Engineering Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering (selection of modules in English)
Engineering Bachelor of Science in Engineering and Management (selection of modules in English)
Engineering Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering (selection of modules in English)
Engineering Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering (selection of modules in English)
Engineering Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (selection of modules in English)
Engineering Bachelor of Science in Data Science
Engineering Master of Science in Engineering
International Business Bachelor of Science in International Management
International Business Master of Science in International Business
International Business Double Degree Programs
Life Sciences Bachelor of Science in Applied Digital Life Sciences (English from fourth semester onwards)
Life Sciences Bachelor of Science in Natural Resource Sciences
Life Sciences Master of Science in Environment and Natural Resources (Double Degree Program)
Life Sciences Master of Science in Life Sciences – Applied Computational Life Sciences
Life Sciences Master of Science in Life Sciences – Chemistry for the Life Sciences
Life Sciences Master of Science in Life Sciences – Food and Beverage Innovation
Life Sciences Master of Science in Life Sciences – Pharmaceutical Biotechnology
Life Sciences Master of Science in Preneurship for Regenerative Food Systems (mainly English)
Life Sciences Master of Science in Real Estate & Facility Management (30 ECTS in English)
Management and Law Bachelor of Science in Business Law
Management and Law Master of Science in Management and Law
Management and Law Double Degree Programs
Occupational Therapy European Master of Science in Occupational Therapy
Real Estate and Facility Management Master of Science in Real Estate and Facility Management

Short courses

Subject Area Date Short courses
International Business ongoing Study Trips
Life Sciences several Summer/Winter Schools
Social Work Fall / Spring Bachelor’s Degree International Course Offerings
Social Work Fall / Spring Master’s Degree International Course Offerings

Insurance, visa and residence permit

Insurance and liability information for incoming exchange students

The Insurance and liability fact sheet for incoming exchange students contains information and recommendations on insurance and liability issues for visiting students from abroad who are interested in spending an exchange semester or doing an internship at the ZHAW. Students take personal responsibility for all matters related to insurance, including health, accident and liability insurance. The ZHAW accepts no liability.

Social security contributions

Swiss and foreign students whose residence under civil law is in Switzerland must pay contributions amounting to at least CHF 514 annually to Old Age and Survivors' Insurance (AHV), Invalidity Insurance (IV) and Loss of Earnings Insurance (EO) from 1 January following the student’s 20th birthday.

From 1 January following the student’s 25th birthday, students who are not in paid employment must pay contributions that are based on their social circumstances (i.e. they no longer pay the minimum contribution).

Students do not have to make contributions to AHV, IV and EO if:

The ZHAW is legally required to register all students who are 20 years of age or older on 31.12. of the year with the Social Insurance Authority (SVA). For this reason, it is essential that students inform their degree programme administrative office of their 13-digit social insurance number. Students who are obliged to pay AHV contributions will receive a questionnaire within the course of the first six months of the year. This questionnaire must be filled in, signed and returned to the SVA Zürich in all cases. Students who have not received this questionnaire by the end of July must contact the SVA directly. All questions related to AHV contributions for those who are not in paid employment should be addressed to:

SVA Zürich
Röntgenstr. 17, Postfach
8087 Zürich
Tel. +41 (0)44 448 50 00

Other AHV-related questions can be addressed to any of the AHV offices. See also:

Visa and residence permit for foreign students

Depending on their nationality, people who wish to study at the ZHAW must fulfill different conditions. If they intend to work, they need a work permit. All foreign students are required to register with the Residents' Registration Office within 14 days of their arrival.

Please note that a standard Schengen visa is not sufficient for foreign students to begin studying at the ZHAW. Students from EU / EFTA countries need a valid passport or identity card in order to enter Switzerland. Students from Japan, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United Kingdom are exempted from the visa requirement. However, upon arrival in Switzerland, they must apply for a residence permit and submit the same documentation as students who are subject to the visa obligation. Students from all other countries (third countries) need an entry permit ("Einreisebewilligung") as well as a visa. You should apply for an entry permit at the Swiss Embassy in your home country. If your application is approved by the authorities in Switzerland, you can then apply for a visa at the embassy. You will need various documents for your application (including confirmation of enrolment at the ZHAW). Ask for a checklist from the person in charge at the ZHAW School you have applied to. All documents must be originals and submitted together with translations into German; translations must be authenticated by a notary. In some cases, documents in English are accepted. You can grant authorisation to a designated person at the ZHAW to act in your name, so that we can deal with the paperwork for you.

When students from non EU/EFTA countries (third countries) apply for their visa, they must submit proof of access to a sum of CHF 21,000 per year in a Swiss bank account or other approved financial institution. This money serves as a guarantee to cover their living costs, including compulsory health insurance premiums, during their stay in Switzerland.

Foreign students who hold a residence permit are permitted to work part-time in Switzerland. During the semester, you can work a maximum of 15 hours per week. During the holidays, your working hours can be extended. EU nationals receive a work permit from the Residents' Registration Office of the municipality where they are living. Students from non EU countries and from Bulgaria and Romania must apply for a work permit at the Office for Economy and Labour ("Amt für Wirtschaft und Arbeit AWA") in Zurich. This is best done by your (future) employer.