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Recognition of foreign upper secondary school-leaving certificates

Recognition of foreign upper secondary school-leaving certificates for university admission in Switzerland, valid for the academic year 2022/23

1. Preliminary note

Recognition of foreign school-leaving certificates is based on the «Recommendations for the assessment of foreign upper secondary school-leaving certificates». It must be explicitly pointed out that in each case the admission requirements of the cantonal universities or federal institutes of technology precede the country assessments.

The country assessments provide information as to which school leaving certificates from which countries and under which conditions entitle the holder to be admitted to the different Swiss universities. These assessments are for first-year students only. Further information is provided by the university concerned.

Admission applications must be sent to the university in question.

2. Restricted Admissions

There are specific admission criteria for medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine. Information on further admission restrictions is provided by the university in question. 

3. General Regulations For All Countries

It is up to the university applicants themselves to provide evidence that they fullfill the demanded admission criteria.

A foreign upper secondary school-leaving certificate must correspond substantially to the Swiss Maturity Certificate in regards to school subjects, number of hours, and length of schooling. Specifically:

  • It must be the highest possible upper secondary school-leaving certificate in the issuing country,
  • It must entitle the holder to general access to university studies,
  • It must - as a rule - be attained in an unabridged course of schooling in a school class,
  • It must be in one of the following streams: classical languages, modern languages, humanities and social sciences, or mathematics and natural sciences,
  • It must qualify as general education.

Foreign school-leaving certificates are considered to be general education if the last three years of schooling include at least six general education subjects, independent of one another, in accordance with the following list:

  1. First language (native language)
  2. Second language
  3. Mathematics
  4. Natural sciences (biology, chemistry or physics)
  5. Humanities and social sciences (geography, history or economics/law)
  6. Elective (one subject from category 2, 4 or 5 or computer science or philosophy. Computer science and philosophy can only be chosen as a sixth subject)

If requested by the Swiss university, the applicant must provide evidence

  • that the desired study programme in Switzerland could also be studied, subject to no stricter requirements, in the country that issued the certificate,
  • that a place at a university was granted to the applicant,
  • and that the applicant was not disqualified or expelled from another university because the applicant failed examinations or for other reasons.

4. Not Recognised Qualifications

The following credentials are not recognised, even if they give access to higher education in the issuing country:

  • Subject-restricted certificates and certificates specifically giving access to universities of applied sciences (vocational upper secondary school-leaving certificates), 
  • Certificates and diplomas from specialised upper secondary schools and universities of applied sciences, such as technical schools, engineering schools, business schools, teachers' colleges, chemistry and metal construction schools, art schools, agricultural schools, home economics schools, nutrition science schools, universities of teacher training, music colleges, foreign languages schools, schools for interpreters, and similar institutions, 
  • Distance education certificates, night school certificates and certificates not attained in a school class, 
  • Certificates from vocational or part-time high schools and schools offering vocational training as well as general education, 
  • Certificates obtained after having attended schools (at secondary level II) belonging to different education systems. These certificates are only recognised, if the last 3 years were attendet at secondary level II and all 3 years were completed successfully,
  • Entrance examination certificates from foreign colleges or universities. 

If a credential is not recognised, the applicant must pass the full Swiss (or cantonal) maturity examination.

5. Language Exams in the Language of Instruction

The universities reserve the right to require language skills exams. Further information is supplied by the university itself.

6. Older Upper Secondary School-Leaving Certificates

As a rule, older upper secondary school-leaving certificates are assessed according to the current admission requirements. Further information is supplied by the university itself. 

7. Certificate of university admission

The current certificate of university admission must be provided by a recognised university of the country where the upper secondary school-leaving certificate was issued. Certificates for distance studies are not accepted.