Communication Systems

The circulation of information continues to grow at breakneck pace: Photos, music and videos are ceaselessly exchanged in the age of Internet. While the world shaped by communication systems seems easy to grasp, a real command of this subtle universe – at the junction of mathematics, computing and electrical engineering – is both complex and fascinating. To study communication systems is to stand at the very crux of our society’s challenges.

Communication systems engineers have to ensure the reliability and efficiency of the flow of information. They do so by developing new communication methods that allow data to be compressed, or to protect it from the risks related to the environment in which it is transmitted and from malicious attacks. The latter particularly involves cryptology, a field that is continually evolving in order to effectively resist the ingenious efforts of hackers.

Wireless applications are also undergoing major developments. In parallel to the evolution of mobile telephones, the miniaturization of components now allows us to install sensors in various objects (embedded systems). Communicating over the network, these sensors enable actions to be monitored or triggered, for example in the case of applications related to climatic conditions (permafrost, avalanches) or object positioning (such as mobile telephones). This means that protocols must be developed to be able to manage the numerous data exchanges, while minimizing the quantity of energy needed for system operations.

Program presentation

The training for communication systems engineers is founded on mathematics, computer science, electricity, and telecommunications. This study program promotes the opportunity to spend a year in a foreign university which can be chosen from the large number of institutions EPFL has frequent student exchanges with.

Bachelor: simplified study plan

Classes during the 1st year are given jointly to Computer Science students and Communication systems students. They all receive the fundamental basics in mathematics, computer science, and information science. Furthermore, a project enables them to have their first real experience of their future specialization. At the end of the preliminary year, students can choose to remain in Communication Systems or to change to Computer Science.

During the 2nd and 3rd years, the students pursue their basic training in mathematics and physics as well as in specific fields with classes on network security, signal processing, circuits and systems, stochastic models for communications, etc.

Master: prospects

The Master’s degree program, taught in English, is as broad as it is varied, with optional classes and several fields of specialization:

  • computer engineering
  • computer science theory
  • cyber security
  • data analytics
  • foundations of software
  • internet information systems
  • networking and mobility
  • signals, images and interfaces
  • software systems
  • wireless communications

Detailed information

Data science extracts knowledge by analysis of large, noisy, complex, and often heterogeneous data. This new research paradigm is at the root of innovative applications in all sectors of the economy. The goal of this Master’s program is to place students at the forefront of this exciting development.

Detailed information

In collaboration with ETH Zurich, this Master’s joint-degree program offers a broad set of courses such as cryptography, formal methods, systems, network and wireless security. It aims to provide both foundational and applied knowledge in this quickly expanding domain by leveraging expertise from both universities.

Detailed information

Other programs are also open after graduating with the Bachelor’s degree, in particular some interdisciplinary Master’s programs.
Further information on Master’s study programs.

Please note that the information regarding the programs’ structure as well as the simplified study plan may be subject to change and that these are no legally binding. Only the official regulations and study plans are binding.

Career prospects

At the interface of information technology and telecommunications, this new and evolving area of study still enables students to acquire fundamental concepts that they will use throughout their careers. It is therefore not at all unusual for communication systems’ graduates to work in areas unknown when they began their educations: Smart grids, social networks and cloud computing, for example, were unheard of just a decade or so ago.

The graduates’ command of information theory and networks allows them to function as experts in the efficient treatment, safe storage and rapid transmission of immense quantities of data. From R&D to project management in promising fields such as big data, crypto-currencies or information security, communication systems engineers enjoy broad professional perspectives.

Those wishing to specialize further or to follow an academic career could also choose to join a PhD program.

Alumni testimonial

Yannick Do

I have always been interested in the web and computer networks, so I chose to study Communication Systems.

Yannick Do, Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Communication Systems (2009)

Since 2011, I have been working for one of the biggest consulting firms for technology. I am a specialist for technical architecture and installation of IT infrastructures and processes, but I also work on many different projects. This is the advantage of the consulting field: every day is different and gives you new challenges and opportunities.

After my graduation in 2009, I did a six-month internship for the Swiss embassy in Japan. I worked for the Sciences and Technology office. I organized events for innovation or events to promote Swiss start-ups and small companies in the Japanese business milieu. I not only discovered a new culture, but I also learned a lot about international collaboration and scientific intelligence. When I came back to Switzerland, I spent six months at EPFL as a software developer, in the topometry lab, for my civil service. After that, I started my current job.

In my day-to-day routine, it is not really the high-level technical skills learned at university that are important. What is important is that after the high quality and intense studies at EPFL, I am definitely very well prepared to learn quickly and take up new challenges every day. As a consultant, I particularly liked the idea of travelling and working on big projects, but also of being able to have a career. Even as a junior, I have had responsibilities from the beginning and I was given the chance to prove my capacities.


To learn more about this program, please use the following contacts:

[email protected]

+41 21 693 66 61

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