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Apprenticeship or university? Or even both?

09.12.2021 – RUTH VON GUNTEN

Swiss Abroad can also benefit from the excellent and diverse range of educational opportunities available in Switzerland.

In Switzerland, it is also possible to study at university after completing an apprenticeship. Unlike in many other countries, the education system in Switzerland is characterised by a high degree of flexibility. Anyone who has the necessary qualifications can, in principle, complete the training of their choice. The educational pathways can therefore be very varied.

Semester time at the ETH Zurich Hönggerberg campus Photo: ETHZ / Alessandro della Bella

Around two thirds of all young people choose the path of a vocational apprenticeship after completing compulsory schooling. Some of them complete the apprenticeship with a vocational baccalaureate, which opens direct access to a university of applied sciences at university level. With a further year of schooling, the so-called Passerelle, it is also possible to study at a “traditional” university.

One third of young people continue to attend a general education school such as a Gymnasium after completing compulsory education. The Swiss “maturity certificate” provides direct access to one of the 10 Swiss universities or to the federal institutes of technology (ETH Zurich, EPF Lausanne). Holders of a maturity can also complete a vocational apprenticeship or study at a university of applied sciences with a one-year internship.


Three- to four-year vocational apprenticeships are available in over 250 professions. During an apprenticeship, apprentices receive a modest wage. Three days a week they usually work in the training company and two days they attend vocational school. However, there are also full-time vocational schools.

Universities studies

In Switzerland, there are three types of higher education institutions offering Bachelor’s and Master’s studies:

  • Universities of applied sciences offer practice-oriented programmes, as well as art and music faculties. With a Bachelor’s degree, entry into the working world is usually smooth.
  • Universities and institutes of technology offer courses in law, economics, mathematics, natural science, humanities, and social science. The Federal Institutes of Technology (ETHZ and EPFL) focus on engineering, mathematics, and natural science.
  • Universities of teacher education provide teacher training at all school levels.

Information and contact details

The team at educationsuisse speak English, German, French, Italian and Spanish. They can help you find the correct answers to your questions and give support on specific matters. For further information or queries: email |  +41 31 356 61 04.