Frequently asked questions

These frequently asked questions are related to admission to our Bachelor’s and/or Master’s programs. For admission to our PhD programs, please check the relevant section. Information on this page is provided for indicative purposes and cannot in any case serve as a basis for a legal claim.

1. General

1.1. My goal is to obtain an engineer’s, architect’s or scientist’s title from EPFL. Which certificate and diploma give me the best chances of admission at EPFL?

The engineer’s, architect’s or scientist’s title is delivered upon successful completion of the Master’s program at EPFL.

The best diploma to be accepted to a Master’s program at EPFL is an EPFL Bachelor’s degree. Each EPFL Bachelor’s degree gives access without any condition nor capacity restriction to at least one EPFL Master’s program (‘consecutive Master’s program’).

The best certificate to be accepted to a Bachelor’s program at EPFL is the Swiss maturité gymnasiale. The maturité gymnasiale gives access without any condition nor capacity restriction to every EPFL Bachelor’s program, regardless of selected options and acquired results. Mathematics and physics being important foundations in the Bachelor’s curriculum at EPFL, it is however recommended to select options which place an emphasis on these subjects, regardless of the education sought at EPFL.

1.2. I am going to get my Swiss maturité gymnasiale or my EPFL Bachelor’s degree in a year or more. Is there any guarantee that the current admission criteria will be maintained in years to come?

In principle, yes. This situation results from Swiss law as well as the common policies of Swiss higher-education institutions. There is currently no desire to reconsider it. The probability is therefore very high for the situation to be maintained in the long term.

1.3. I have read these FAQs, as well as all relevant pages on the EPFL and swissuniversities websites and on studyprogrammes.ch. I am still unsure about my eventual admission to EPFL. Can I submit my details to you, so that you can let me know if I will be accepted or not should I apply for admission?

No. EPFL adjudicates only on completed, validated, and paid applications. Prior analysis is not possible.

1.4. I have not been accepted at EPFL. Can my application at EPFL be used to be accepted at another Swiss higher-education institution the same year without having applied at that institution?

No. There is no centralized admission procedure among Swiss higher-education institutions. Each school has its own requirements, procedures, and deadlines. If you plan to study at another Swiss higher-education institution in case of non-admission at EPFL (including at ETH Zürich), we strongly recommend that you obtain all relevant information from that school and that you apply there alongside your application request at EPFL.

2. Master’s

2.1. I cannot study for a Bachelor’s degree at EPFL. What are the best alternatives to be accepted to an EPFL Master’s program?

Any Bachelor’s degree obtained in another Swiss University (or HEU for haute école universitaire) in the same subject area as the Master’s degree sought at EPFL gives access to that Master’s program. All 180 ECTS credits of the Bachelor’s degree must have been acquired in this subject area, and the successful completion of supplementary ECTS credits (up to 60) can be required for admission to the Master’s program (except in the case of an ETH Zürich Bachelor’s degree). The subject area to which a given Bachelor’s or Master’s degree is attached is indicated in the catalog of study programs on the studyprogrammes.ch website.

Any Bachelor’s degree obtained in a Swiss University of applied sciences (or HES for haute école spécialisée) in the same field of study as the Master’s degree sought at EPFL gives access to that Master’s program, provided that the final average grade is 5 or above (out of a maximum of 6). The successful completion of 57–60 supplementary ECTS credits is required for admission to the Master’s program (‘HES–EPFL gateway’). EPFL has authority to determine whether the HES Bachelor’s degree is indeed in the same field of study as the sought Master’s degree, as well as to calculate the final average grade when it is not calculated by the HES who delivers the Bachelor’s degree.

2.2. I am going to get my Bachelor’s degree from another Swiss HEU or from a Swiss HES in a year or more. Is there any guarantee that the current admission criteria will be maintained in years to come?

In principle, yes. This situation results from the common policies of Swiss higher-education institutions and their application by EPFL. There is currently no desire to reconsider it. The probability is therefore very high for the situation to be maintained in the long term.

However, the cancelation of a Master’s program or a change of subject area for a given Bachelor’s or Master’s degree remains possible.

2.3. I cannot study for a Bachelor’s degree in the same subject area in a Swiss HEU or in the same field of study in a Swiss HES. What are the other alternatives to be accepted to an EPFL Master’s program?

For any other Swiss or foreign Bachelor’s degree, admission to the Master’s programs at EPFL is decided on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the study program, the selected options, and the acquired results. The successful completion of supplementary ECTS credits (up to 60) can be required for admission to the Master’s program. There is no guarantee that admission will be granted, and requirements may change from one year to the next.

2.4. I hold a Bachelor’s degree from a Swiss HEU with only some of the ECTS credits acquired in the subject area of the Master’s degree sought at EPFL. Is admission guaranteed?

No. At EPFL, a Bachelor’s degree is obtained with all 180 ECTS credits in the same subject area. If your Bachelor’s degree from another Swiss HEU is made of two or more subject areas (e.g., a 120- or 150-ECTS-credit major and a 60- or 30-ECTS-credit minor), it is not equivalent to an EPFL Bachelor’s degree. Admission to the Master’s program is therefore decided on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the study program, the selected options, and the acquired results. The successful completion of supplementary ECTS credits (up to 60) can be required for admission to the Master’s program.

2.5. I hold a Bachelor’s degree from a Swiss HEU in a subject area similar but not identical to that of the Master’s degree sought at EPFL. Is admission guaranteed?

No. The subject area indicated in the catalog of study programs on the studyprogrammes.ch website must be strictly identical. In the opposite case, admission is decided on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the study program, the selected options, and the acquired results. The successful completion of supplementary ECTS credits (up to 60) can be required for admission to the Master’s program.

2.6. I cannot study for a Bachelor’s degree. Do other foreign University degrees allow me to apply for admission to a Master’s program at EPFL?

Any University degree awarded after a program of a minimum duration of 3–4 years is considered equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree and therefore also allows one to apply for admission to a Master’s program at EPFL. The same goes for applicants who have successfully completed at least three years of study in a program of a minimum duration of more than four years, even if they do not get a degree at that stage in their curriculum.

2.7. I cannot study in any University program of a duration of three years or more. Do other University degrees allow me to apply for admission to a Master’s program at EPFL?

No. University degrees awarded after a program of a minimum duration of less than three years do not allow one to apply for admission to a Master’s program at EPFL (the minimum duration of a Bachelor’s program in Switzerland is three years). Additionally, non-University degrees do not allow one to apply for admission to a Master’s program at EPFL, regardless of their duration.

This also applies for University degrees in fields of study that are not taught at University in Switzerland (the catalog of study programs on the studyprogrammes.ch website lets one get an idea of what fields of study are taught in the HEUs in Switzerland) and/or from institutions that are not state-accredited.

2.8. Should I get accepted to a Master’s program at EPFL this year and decide not to register, will my admission remain valid for years to come?

No. Admission is valid for the current year only. A new application must be submitted to study at EPFL at a later time. Should the requirements evolve in the meantime, the new requirements apply.

2.9. I have been accepted to a Master’s program in another Swiss HEU on the basis of my Bachelor’s degree (or other equivalent degree). Does that mean that I will also be accepted in the same subject area at EPFL?

No. Each Swiss HEU has its own requirements for admission to its Master’s programs, including in a same field of study. Getting accepted at another Swiss HEU (including ETH Zürich) does not guarantee that you fulfill the requirements to be accepted at EPFL, and vice-versa.

3. Bachelor’s

3.1. How can I get a Swiss maturité gymnasiale?

The maturité gymnasiale is awarded by the Swiss cantons upon completion of pre-University upper secondary education (success based on continuous assessment and exams). It is also possible to get a maturité gymnasiale from the Commission suisse de maturité (‘maturité fédérale’), as an independent candidate or after a curriculum in an accredited private school (success based on exams only).

Schools that offer specific preparation for the Swiss maturité gymnasiale abroad are rare. It is not recommended to take the exams of the Commission suisse de maturité with no other preparation than an upper secondary education in a different school system.

3.2. I cannot study for a Swiss maturité gymnasiale. What is the best alternative to be accepted to a Bachelor’s program at EPFL?

The Swiss maturités professionnelle and spécialisée give access without any condition but within capacity restriction to the Cours de mathématiques spéciales (CMS) at EPFL. Successful completion of this one-year preparatory science course gives access without any condition nor capacity restriction to every EPFL Bachelor’s program. It it not possible to take the CMS again after a failure.

3.3. I have upgraded my Swiss maturité professionnelle or spécialisée with the gateway exam (previously ‘passerelle DUBS’) for the Swiss HEUs and hautes écoles pédagogiques (HEPs). How will my application be considered?

A maturité professionnelle or spécialisée upgraded with the gateway exam is equivalent to a maturité gymnasiale. It therefore gives access without any condition nor capacity restriction to every EPFL Bachelor’s program. Success at the CMS is not required.

The CMS offers more targeted preparation for an EPFL education than the gateway. The gateway exam is offered by the Commission suisse de maturité. The CMS is offered by EPFL.

3.4. I am going to get my Swiss maturité professionnelle or spécialisée in a year or more. Is there any guarantee that the current admission criteria will be maintained in years to come?

In principle, yes. As far as the CMS is concerned, its existence relies solely on the decision of EPFL to provide this option to holders of such maturités. Swiss law allows but does not mandate it.

3.5. I cannot study for a Swiss maturité. Do other school-leaving certificates allow me to apply for admission to a Bachelor’s program at EPFL?

A pre-University upper secondary school-leaving certificate awarded by a member country of the EU, EFTA, or UK gives access without any capacity restriction to every EPFL Bachelor’s program, provided that it fulfills several requirements, especially with regard to selected options and acquired results. These requirements are specified on the EPFL website, and their application for every country is specified on the swissuniversities website.

A pre-University upper secondary school-leaving certificate awarded by a country outside the EU, EFTA, and UK gives access within capacity restriction to the CMS, provided that it fulfills several requirements, especially with regard to selected options and acquired results. These requirements and their application for every country are specified on the EPFL website.

The International Baccalaureate (IB) of the IBO gives access without any capacity restriction to every EPFL Bachelor’s program, or within capacity restriction to the CMS, provided that it fulfills several requirements, especially with regard to selected options and acquired results. These requirements are specified on the EPFL website, as well as on the swissuniversities website.

3.6. I do not fulfill the exact requirements in terms of selected options and/or acquired results in my foreign school-leaving certificate or IB. Do I still stand a chance of getting accepted after the consideration of my application by EPFL?

No. Only applicants who fulfill all requirements can be accepted. Admission to a Bachelor’s program is not awarded on a case-by-case basis. E.g., excellents results cannot compensate a missing option.

The required options are established so as to reach an equivalence with the generalist nature of the Swiss maturité gymnasiale, as well as to ensure adequate preparation for a Bachelor’s education at EPFL, especially with regard to mathematics and physics, which are important foundations for all education at EPFL.

3.7. I fulfill the exact requirements in terms of selected options and acquired results in my foreign school-leaving certificate or IB. Do I still risk not getting accepted after the consideration of my application?

As far as admission to a Bachelor’s program is concerned, in principle, no. There is currently no capacity restriction at the Bachelor’s level at EPFL

As far as admission to the CMS is concerned, yes. Since capacity is restricted, a selection is made if the number of received applications is larger than the available capacity, which is common. In this eventuality, selection is made based on the results acquired for the school-leaving certificate.

3.8. No general average grade is present on the final transcripts of my school-leaving certificate. How will my results be evaluated by EPFL?

EPFL will calculate the average of all grades on the transcripts. This average grade will then be evaluated according to the current requirements for admission to EPFL. Should grades be given in non-numerical form, the grading system of the country awarding the certificate will be used to convert them to values, so as to be able to calculate an average.

3.9. My upper secondary education was pursued in two different school systems (one after the other or simultaneously). How will my application be considered with regard to the requirements for admission?

The requirements must be entirely fulfilled in at least one of the two school systems. Results obtained in one system can only be taken into account in the other system if they have been formally recognized in that other system (they are present on the official documents of that system in the same way as the results obtained in that system). It is not possible to fulfill the requirements by accumulating results from two different school systems.

3.10. I am going to get my foreign school-leaving certificate or my IB in a year or more. Is there any guarantee that the current admission criteria will be maintained in years to come?

No. There is no guarantee that admission will remain possible with the same requirements in years to come.

This situation results from international agreements, Swiss law, the criteria for equivalence with the Swiss maturité gymnasiale suggested by swissuniversities. and their application by EPFL. Additionally, evolution within a foreign school system or the IB can lead to a reevaluation of the requirements for the corresponding certificate, even if the general requirements for admission to EPFL remain otherwise unchanged.

An evolution of the requirements and/or their application by country is therefore possible every year. The requirements are updated on the websites at the latest in January for the academic year starting in September of the same civilian year.

Additionally, Swiss law allows the EPFs to limit the capacity of their Bachelor’s programs for holders of such certificates. There is however currently no plan to activate this limitation at EPFL.

3.11. I cannot study for a foreign school-leaving certificate or an IB, or I do not fulfill the requirements for admission to a Bachelor’s program or the CMS, or I have failed the CMS. Is there an entrance exam, so that it is still possible to be accepted to a Bachelor’s program at EPFL?

Yes. EPFL offers an admission exam for any applicant who does not fulfill the requirements for admission to a Bachelor’s program or the CMS. Its successful completion gives access without any condition nor capacity restriction to every EPFL Bachelor’s program. It consists of a science part, as well as a general-knowledge part, which can be waived if the applicant has already successfully completed an equivalent upper secondary education. It is not recommended to take the admission exam with no other preparation than an upper secondary education.

It is possible to repeat the admission exam a second time after a failure. A failure in the CMS counts as a failure in the admission exam.

3.12. I hold a private school-leaving certificate other than the IB. Can I still be accepted to a Bachelor’s program or the CMS at EPFL?

Private school-leaving certificates other than the IB, such as e.g. International Advanced Levels or Pre-Us, only allow for admission to EPFL though the admission exam.

3.13. I have successfully completed the admission exam of ETH Zürich. Can I be accepted to EPFL on that basis?

Yes, if you have taken the full exam. If you have only taken a partial exam, EPFL will need to determine if your upper secondary education is equivalent to the waived subjects, since the criteria of EPFL differ from those of ETH Zürich in this respect.

The same is true for admission to ETH Zürich on the basis of the admission exam of EPFL. The successful completion of the CMS is equivalent to the successful completion of the science part of the admission exam of EPFL.

3.14. I have successfully completed the examen complémentaire des universités suisses (ECUS) or the admission exam of a Swiss HEU other than ETH Zürich. Can I be accepted to EPFL on that basis?

No. These exams do no give access to the Swiss EPFs (EPFL and ETH Zürich).

3.15. Should I get accepted to a Bachelor’s program or the CMS at EPFL this year and decide not to register, will my admission remain valid for years to come?

No. Admission is valid for the current year only. A new application must be submitted to study at EPFL at a later time. Should the requirements evolve in the meantime, the new requirements apply.

The successful completion of the CMS, the admission exam of EPFL, or that of ETH Zürich remains however valid for later admission to a Bachelor’s program at EPFL.

3.16. I have been accepted to a Bachelor’s program in another Swiss HEU on the basis of my school-leaving certificate. Does that mean that I will also be accepted at EPFL?

No. There are common suggestions, but each Swiss HEU has its own requirements for admission to its Bachelor’s programs. Getting accepted at another Swiss HEU (including ETH Zürich) does not guarantee that you fulfill the requirements to be accepted at EPFL, and vice-versa.

3.17. I have already studied in another Swiss or foreign University. Can I still be accepted to a Bachelor’s program or the CMS at EPFL?

This depends on the field(s) of study and their successful completion, non-completion or failure. Additionally, there is an age limit for the CMS. The rules are specified on the EPFL website.