Higher Education

At the tertiary level the Swiss education system offers an extensive and diverse range of programmes which can be taken at a cantonal university, one of the two federal institutes of technology, a university of applied sciences or a university for teacher education.

Students in a library
Rolex Learning Center, Library of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne © FDFA, Presence Switzerland

Programmes follow the international three-tier further education model: bachelor, master and doctorate (the latter may only be awarded by a university). All providers of further education in Switzerland also carry out research, offer continuing education programmes and provide third-party services.

Of the roughly 44,000 degrees and doctorates awarded annually, around two-thirds of recipients are from universities, and one-third from a university of applied sciences.


The universities are the traditional academic third-level education institutions. They include the cantonal universities and the federal institutes of technology. To qualify for university, students generally must have a Swiss baccalaureate. Only universities can offer doctoral programmes.

Universities of applied sciences

Universities of applied sciences (UAS) were introduced in the mid-1990s and provide practical training and education at tertiary level. To enrol at a UAS, applicants generally must have a federal vocational baccalaureate.

Universities for teacher education

The 14 universities for teacher education are responsible for the basic and advanced education and training of teachers. Typologically, they belong to the UAS, but they are governed differently. As a general rule, students must have a Swiss baccalaureate.

Additional information