Switzerland is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe and famous for high standard education and ground-breaking research. For this reason, Swiss MBA and PhD programmes are renowned and appreciated worldwide. As a European business hub, young adults not only dream of studying here, but they also consider pursuing a career in Switzerland after finishing their degree studies.
If you thought about studying abroad in Switzerland or already got accepted to a Swiss university, read below and find out more about tuition fees and living costs.
The article will cover:
- Average tuition fee information for different degrees in Switzerland
- Monthly living expenses for students
- Important facts about student accommodation in the country
- What students will spend on food in Switzerland
- Expenses for transportation
- Additional study costs
- Student scholarship information for Swiss universities
- Money saving tips for students
Tuition fees for degree studies in Switzerland
Public Swiss universities receive significant funding which makes tuition fees seem affordable compared to tuition fees charged by universities from the UK or U.S. Fees are variable depending on each university and the study programme you choose, but the average is 535 EUR per semester for a Bachelor and Master degree and around 200 EUR per year for a PhD programme. Students who come to Switzerland on an exchange programme don’t pay any tuition fee.
Universities from Fribourg, Lucerne, Neuchatel, St. Gallen, Zurich and Lugano charge extra tuition fees for foreign students.
Private universities usually have higher tuition fees that range from 750 and 8,000 EUR per semester.
PhDs are very popular in Switzerland not only due to the world’s famous and acknowledged research work made by the most prestigious institutions, but also because candidates that pursue a PhD in Switzerland are also considered employees, thus, they are paid for their work. In addition, tuition fees for a PhD can get lower than 100 EUR per semester in public universities.
Living costs in Switzerland
Living costs all over Switzerland are expensive, with Geneva and Zurich as the most expensive cities to live in. Although it highly depends on your life style, managing your monthly expenses without making any compromise could be a tough challenge in Switzerland.
You should plan an average budget of around 1,000 and 1,400 EUR/month to pay for: housing, food, transportation, tuition, supplies and a few leisure activities. Take into consideration that at the beginning of your studies you will have to pay bigger sums for the first term health insurance, first-semester tuition fees and first rent payment, as these often include an obligatory security deposit.
Check this website to see detailed prices of living in Switzerland.
Accommodation options and costs
Out of the total monthly expenses of EU students, they usually pay around 33 % on accommodation, 7 % on transportation and around 8 % on tuition fees. Rates for accommodation in Switzerland are above the international range of 200 – 300 EUR/month, as the average for any housing option is around 450 – 500 EUR/month.
On average, students that live alone pay about 700 EUR/month, students living in student accommodation pay around 450 EUR/month, while those who live with partner/child(ren) spend around 750 EUR/month.
A percent of 8 % of the international students in Switzerland live in student halls of residence, the rest choose other housing options. Around 68 % of students are very satisfied with their accommodation in Switzerland; as the average rate of student satisfaction in Europe is 60 %, this could mean that accommodation options and facilities in Switzerland are very good.
The most common housing choices among international students in Switzerland:
- Student halls of residence – between 360 and 800 EUR/month.
- Rent/share an apartment – average price ranges between 650 and 800 EUR/month for a one-bedroom apartment.
- Hostel – rates start at 33 EUR/night for a studio.
Food costs in Switzerland
Prices for food varies significantly depending on the exact region in Switzerland you live in. Most students choose to buy their food from the supermarkets and eat out only once in a while. Food bills from the supermarket would be around 180 – 200 EUR/month, but they could get higher, to about 280 – 300 EUR/month. However, they could be a good option as most of them sell pre-made meals for between 4 – 8 EUR.
Inexpensive restaurants in Switzerland serve meals at prices that range from 12 to 22 EUR per person. Restaurants that serve international cuisine can have lower prices.
Some of the Swiss dishes that are worth trying are: fondue (made with cheese, or chocolate), Zurich-style veal ragout (“Züri-Gschnätzlets”), Älplermagronen, a sort of macaroni, and for dessert you will love meringues and whipped cream (from the Gruyère region), or B”undnernusstorte –a caramelised nut-filled pastry.
Swiss drinks include a range of wines and beers as well as the famous Absinthe.
The most popular means of transportation for students in Switzerland are: 11 % on foot, 10 % bicycle, 10 % public transport. In any city in Switzerland, a monthly pass on the public transportation is around 40 – 50 EUR.
Major Swiss cities like Zurich, Basel, Bern, Geneva, Lausanne and Neuchâtel have extended S-Bahn networks – fast metropolitan area trains with frequent stops running at short intervals. In these cities, all providers unite in a transport association, meaning the same tickets are valid on trains, tramways, buses and even ships.
You have the option to buy a Swiss travel pass (340 EUR for 15 days) and travel as much as you like in Switzerland without tickets, simply boarding with this pass. With this pass, you can also travel for free by bus and tram in most towns and cities in Switzerland.
Extra costs for students
You will have to pay for a monthly health insurance, between 300 and 330 EUR.
The books and supplies will cost you another 90 EUR/month.
Leisure is part of any student’s budget, so you should know that it costs around 27 EUR to see a show and a cinema ticket is around 14.5 EUR.
By presenting the student ID card, a museum ticket should only cost around 6 – 7 EUR.
If you live in an apartment, you would have to pay at least another 100 EUR each month on utility bills.
Scholarship options for students in Switzerland
In Switzerland, international students can get scholarships offered by the Swiss government, based on partnerships established with several countries. Most of these scholarships are granted to postgraduate candidates and researchers.
Check out scholarship opportunities in Switzerland.
You should check if you are entitled to receive a scholarship by contacting the Swiss embassy or consulate in your home country.
Other scholarships are offered by some of the Swiss universities; you can benefit from grants ranging from 9,200 EUR to 13,700 EUR, available only for one year, with the possibility of extension, provided you will be academically successful at the end of your first semester of studies.
In some universities, you can apply for an interest-free loan of up to 11,000 EUR per year, which covers up to 40 % of fees and living costs. In Zurich, you can also opt for the solidarity fund for foreign students – available for Bachelor students who have completed their first semester. The amount of the fund can get up to 520 EUR/month, for up to ten semesters.
Student money saving tips in Switzerland
- Try having a meal in the university dining hall where you would only pay 7 – 8 EUR or at the snack bars or restaurants located in department stores (like: Migros, Coop or Manor).
- In restaurants, beer is often cheaper than water, so better have a beer and it will also help you look more like a local.
- Try making most of your shopping after 5 p.m., as many stores add 25–50 percent discounts on perishable items. You should also take advantage of the traditional sale months, January and July, or consider shopping across the border in Germany or Italy once in a while.
- If you’re only considering a drink, in hostel bars you can enjoy 2-for-1 happy hours and cheap drinks for around 4.5 EUR.
- In ethnic restaurants like Chinese, Middle Eastern, Indian, or Thai you can get good deals for large portions and pay only 9 EUR.