Switzerland is not just about chocolates, cheese and watches – the country is also one of the countries in the world that has high quality educations. All Swiss universities share a drive for quality in teaching and research, resulting in their consistent ranking among the best universities in the world. Not only that they have excellent qualities in the academic world, Swiss universities are also affordable, both for Swiss and non-Swiss students. Although you won’t need to spend a lot of your money on paying tuition fees and fulfilling all your academic needs while studying at a Swiss university, you can still apply for scholarships offered by the Swiss government and universities.
Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships for Foreign Scholars and Artists
Every year the Swiss Confederation awards Government Excellence Scholarships to foreign students with the intention to promote international exchange and research cooperation between Switzerland and over 180 other countries. The scholarships are aimed at foreign artists holding a bachelor’s degree, and at young researchers from abroad who have completed postgraduate degree(s), either a master’s degree or PhD, and are planning to pursue research or further studies at a doctoral or post-doctoral level in Switzerland. Recipients of the scholarships are selected by the awarding body, the Federal Commission for Scholarships for Foreign Students (FCS).
The research scholarships are awarded to research or study at any Swiss cantonal universities, universities of applied sciences and the two federal institutes of technology. In order to be considered for the scholarships, you must be nominated by an academic mentor at one of these higher education institutions.
Meanwhile, the art scholarships are open to art students who wish to pursue an initial master’s degree in Switzerland. The scholarships are awarded at any Swiss conservatory or university of the arts, and are available to students from a limited number of countries.
The types of scholarships offered and application deadlines vary according to country. Please refer to the country-specific fact sheets for this matter. You can download the fact sheets from the official website: Countries A-L / Countries M-Z.
The scholarships cover a monthly payment, exemption of tuition fees, health insurance, air fare, housing allowance, etc., as applicable depending on the recipients’ countries.
The FCS assesses scholarships applications according to three criteria:
- Candidate profile
- Quality of the research project or artistic work
- Synergies and potential for future research cooperation
Applications are subject to preliminary selection by the relevant national authorities and/or the Swiss diplomatic representation. Short-listed applications will then be assessed by the Federal Commission for Scholarships for Foreign Students (FCS), which takes the final decision. The FCS includes professors from all Swiss public universities. Scholarship awards are decided on the basis of academic and scientific excellence.
Scholarships for the 2020/2021 academic year will be advertised online from August 2019 on www.sbfi.admin.ch/sbfi/en/home.html.
ETH Zürich Excellence Scholarship & Opportunity Programme (ESOP) / Master Scholarship Programme (MSP)
ETH Zürich supports excellent master students with two scholarship programmes; the Excellence Scholarship & Opportunity Programme (ESOP) and the Master Scholarship Programme (MSP). The ESOP supports students with a scholarship, mentorship and a network of the ETH Foundation. The scholarship covers the full study and living costs during the master’s degree course. The MSP provides partial scholarships as well as additional offers by the Department (assistantship or additional scholarship).
These scholarship programmes are offered to both national and international excellent students who wish to pursue their master’s degree at ETH Zürich. These candidates must have outstanding academic results in their bachelor’s degree programme (top 10% of the bachelor’s degree programme = grade A).
Recipients of the Excellence Scholarship will receive grants to cover living and study expenses at CHF 11,000 per semester, as well as waives in tuition fees. Meanwhile, the Master Scholarship recipients will receive partial stipends for living and study expenses at CHF 6,000 per semester, as well as waives in tuition fees. The department can additionally provide a scholarship of CHF 1,500 – 3,000 per semester or offer an assistantship starting from the second semester with a payment of CHF 600 per month.
Both scholarships (excellence and master) start when the student commences his or her master’s degree and is awarded for the regular duration of the master’s programme (three or four semesters). The scholarships are awarded independently of the recipient’s financial situation. The Master Scholarship Programme, however, requires a financial contribution from the scholarship recipient.
In the application process, candidates must provide the following documents:
- Application form (online) – the next application period starts November 1, 2019
- Letter of motivation (1-2 pages)
- Pre-proposal for your master’s thesis (guidelines on how to write a pre-proposal can be downloaded on the ETH Zürich excellence scholarship webpage.
- Two letters of recommendation from professors (refer to the application form or FAQ)
Only complete applications will be taken to consideration. The pre-proposal for the master’s thesis must be developed by the applicants themselves and use established scientific citation practice.
It is possible to apply for more than one master’s programme. If you wish to do so, you must submit a separate application form for each degree programme.
The applications are evaluated by the Admissions committees of the respective master’s programmes. Final decisions for awarding scholarships in the Excellence Scholarship & Opportunity Programme and in the Master Scholarship Programme will be made by the Rector of the ETH. The number of scholarships may vary each year, depending on the availability of funds. Decisions are usually announced mid-March every year.
Those already registered as a student in a master’s degree programme at ETH Zürich are not eligible to apply for these scholarships.
For further details, visit the ETH Zürich’s student portal on www.ethz.ch.
University of St. Gallen Scholarships
Starr International Foundation Scholarship Fund
The Starr International Foundation Scholarship Fund is offered to highly talented foreign students (from a non-German-speaking country) with a bachelor’s degree obtained at an officially recognised institution, who wishes to complete their master’s degree in one of the following English-taught programmes:
- Strategy and International Management (SIM)
- Quantitative Economics and Finance (MiQE/F)
- International Affairs and Governance (MIA)
- Banking and Finance (MBF)
- Marketing, Services and Communication (MSC)
- Economics (MEcon)
- International Law (MIL)
Candidates of this scholarship must not be enrolled as students at the HSG nor were they enrolled as students at the HSG at an earlier juncture (including guest students).
Loan and Scholarship Fund
The University of St. Gallen offers funds to support, both local and foreign, bachelor and master level students in funding their studies at the university. The scholarships are provided with the intention to prevent situations whereby students are unable to study or have to terminate their studies due to financial problems. Recipients of the scholarships are selected based on their financial circumstances as well as on their motivation and performance in their studies.
Application forms for the scholarship or loan submission can be obtained from the Advice Centre for Study Funding. Applications will be closed on:
- Autumn semester: 1 October
- Spring semester: 1 March
Refer to the University of St. Gallen’s official website for further information on the scholarships.