Application / Admission to a PhD Program at UZH
How do I find a supervisor?
Finding a supervisor is the responsibility of the prospective PhD candidate. We recommend browsing the UZH websites (institutes or graduate programs) to find a professor in your field and then contact them directly. Please keep in mind that professors get many inquiries for academic supervision. It is thus essential to attach a sound research plan with references to your previous research, a convincing letter of motivation and your CV (all documents in pdf).
How do I apply for a PhD program?
The application procedure for a PhD program differs depending on the program. Please inform yourself about the application procedure for your specific program on the website of the respective departments. It is important to note that the application for PhD studies at UZH generally includes two application procedures, one at the Institute regarding the doctoral program's specific admission requirements and the other at the UZH Admissions Office regarding the general admission requirements.
Are there funding opportunities for my studies or research?
Funding opportunities vary depending on your status at the UZH. Please note that non of these opportunities are guaranteed.
For more information about research funding opportunities, please get in touch with the UZH grant office (firstname.lastname@example.org)
For more information about financial aid for BA and MA students, please get in touch with the Student Financial Aid Office (email@example.com)
Visa and residence permit
Do I need a Visa?
Depending on your nationality, your profile and the duration of your stay, you will need to apply for a visa before entering Switzerland. Please refer to the information on the website "International Students - Entry and Residence".
Do I need a residence permit?
If you stay in Switzerland for more than 90 days, you will need a residence permit. The procedure will start when registering at your municipality's registration office, which is mandatory for stays over 90 days and must be done within 14 days upon arrival.
How can I prolong my residence permit?
You can renew your residence permit by filling out a renewal form which will be sent to you around one months before your residence permit expires.* You then have to bring it to the Residents' Registration Office of your local municipality (in Zurich, these are "District offices" or "Kreisbüros"). If needed, supporting documents will be requested by the Migration Office (in general: proof of matriculation, proof of sufficient financial means...).
Please note that the maximum duration of your stay for the purpose of studying is eight years. Exceptions can be made but require a purposeful reason for your education.
*This is the procedure in place if you live in the city of Zurich. If you live outside of Zurich, please check the procedure with your local municipality.
My employment is finished but I will stay in Zurich to finish my thesis. Is it still possible to prolong my residence permit?
You can prolong your stay in Switzerland for the purpose of education, however, it cannot surpass the maximum duration of eight years, as defined by Swiss law. Furthermore, the Migration Office will require proof of sufficient financial means.
Is there on-campus accommodation?
UZH does not have on-campus accommodation. However, the Housing Office of UZH and ETH offers a limited number of rooms for newly incoming exchange students. Please find more information on the Housing Office on their website.
UZH cannot guarantee that the Housing Office will be able to arrange accommodation for you. It lies within your own responsibility to arrange your accommodation on time.
Please note that the housing market in Zurich is quite competitive and it can be challenging to find accommodation (privately and through the Housing Office). Therefore, it is essential to start looking for accommodation as soon as possible. The City of Zurich has compiled some useful tips regarding this topic.
Do I need health insurance during my stay in Switzerland?
Health Insurance in Switzerland is mandatory for every resident. The compulsory basic insurance covers medical treatment in the event of illness and accident. Exemptions from the mandatory health insurance are possible but must be applied for at the cantonal Department of Health.
Detailed information can be found on the homepage of the Canton of Zurich:
How do I get health insurance in Switzerland?
From the date of your arrival, you have 3 months to take out health insurance and declare your coverage to the authorities.
You then have the follwing options:
a. Purchase regular Swiss health insurance:
Since health insurance providers in Switzerland are private companies, it is best to compare different
offers by using an online comparison tool. Proceed as follows:
- Use a health insurance comparison website (e.g. Comparis) to compare the different premiums the companies offer and choose a policy. After having given your personal data, you will be able to request a quote from the insurance(s) of your choice.
- Order an offer of the company you are going to choose (can be done online). After having received the offer, sign it and send it back to the insurance company.
- Inform the municipality on your health insurance coverage
b. Use your European Health Insurance Card or your private health insurance from your home country (exemption needed!)
Foreign students who are legally insured by an EU/EFTA state and have a European Health Insurance Card can apply for an exemption from the regular health insurance, provided they do not work in Switzerland.
Furthermore, foreign students who are covered by a private insurance from an EU or Non-EU country can apply for an exemption from the regular health insurance, provided they do not work in Switzerland. However, experience shows that exemptions with a foreign private health insurance are extremely seldom granted, this is why option (c.) is recommended.
c. Purchase a private insurance for international Student (exemption needed!)
There are a few insurance companies in Switzerland that offer packages for international students at very reasonable rates, for example Swisscare or Scorestudies. These packages can be purchased online. However, an application for exemption from the health insurance obligation will be needed as these insurances do not work under the regular insurance law.
How can I apply for an exemption from the compulsory health insurance?
Exemption from compulsory health insurance is possible under certain conditions and only on application.
In order to apply for an exemption from the compulsory health insurance, you will need to fill out an online form and send the required documents to the Cantonal Health Direction.
Canton of Zurich, Health Direction: Information on the exemption from compulsory health insurance
How can I open a Swiss bank account?
For most banks it's a prerequisite to appear in person at their counter with a valid passport or ID, a Swiss residence permit and employment contract. Please note that you therefore cannot open a bank account in Switzerland while still living abroad.
What are the language requirements for BA- and MA-studies?
Foreign-language applicants for a Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree or teaching diploma program must prove that they have a sufficient command of the main language of instruction of the study program in which they wish to enroll.
Proof of proficiency at the C1 or a higher level in accordance with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) must be submitted for the respective main language of instruction.
The main language of instruction for all Bachelor's degree programs is German. The main language of instruction for most Master's degree programs is German or English. Find here further information on the language requirements.
Does UZH offer German language Classes?
The Language Center of the University of Zurich and ETH Zurich offers a range of courses in German as a foreign language. There are classes for beginners, for advanced learners, Swiss German classes and many more. There is also a Self-Access Center for learning languages autonomously. The Language Center also organizes tandems, where two people with different mother tongues are matched in order to practice and improve their respective language skills.
A lot of information is available in German only. Is there any assistance for translation?
There is no centrally organized translation office at UZH. However, there are different possibilities to translate documents yourself. Examples of useful applications/websites are (not limited to):
Support services and emergency numbers
What are the main emergency numbers in Switzerland?
112 – International Emergency Call
117 – Police
118 – Fire Station
143 – Crisis Line; Telephone Counseling
144 – Emergency Rescue Service
145 – Toxin Information
187 – Avalanche Bulletin
1414 – Rega, Air Rescue
0800 33 66 55 – helpline for non-life-threatening medical emergencies
I need counselling, what services are available at the University of Zurich?
The University of Zurich offers a professional support on a wide range of topics.
How can I get to know other people in Zurich or at UZH?
In order to get to know new people at UZH you may consider joining a student association or participating in events hosted by organizations at UZH.
VSUZH, the association of students at UZH
VAUZ, the association of junior researchers at UZH
Graduate Campus for PostDoc MeetUps
Further options and associations:Social Life and Integration
Job Opportunities at UZH
How can I find job opportunities at UZH?
Job opportunities are advertised on the website "Open Positions of the University of Zurich". However, some institutes advertise vacant positions directly on their own websites. The best way to find out about all open options at UZH is to visit both the institute's and university's websites.
You may also find interesting opportunities at UZH or another institution in Europe and Switzerland on the following websites specialized in academic positions: