Study programs structure

Applied over thirteen different disciplines, the Bachelor’s degree constitutes the first stage of polytechnic learning. During this stage, the students acquire the scientific fundamentals essential to continuing in their chosen fields. After completing the Bachelor’s degree, they also benefit from EPFL’s wide offer of academic training at Master’s and PhD level.

All EPFL programs are centered on four main axes:

  • Advanced scientific and theoretical knowledge: guaranteeing a broad-based and timeless high quality education that is necessary for an innovative and interdisciplinary approach
  • Practical approach: EPFL’s many laboratories, projects and internships let students apply theoretical knowledge and gain practical experience
  • Direct and permanent contact with the research world: ensuring an optimal transfer of the latest skills and technical knowledge
  • Flexible study programs: including a wide range of interdisciplinary minors

In addition, courses in humanities and social sciences (SHS) allow students to step back and develop critical thinking skills with regard to social, ethical and environmental implications.

Bachelor: 180 ECTS

The Bachelor’s studies introduce specific courses that are essential for each discipline. You will progressively master the working tools and methodologies and will study within a structured framework.

During the last year of your Bachelor’s studies, you may choose options in view of the Master’s studies specializations.

A Bachelor’s degree is an intermediate diploma. It constitutes the gateway to Master’s studies at EPFL or another university in the world.

The first year, often termed propaedeutic, focuses on the basic understanding common to all polytechnic-trained scientists, engineers or architects. And given that this basic knowledge is common to numerous disciplines, it is possible – under certain circumstances – for a student to change discipline at the end of this first year.

Review Course (MAN)

At the end of the 1st semester of the propaedeutic year, students with a grade average below 3.5 (on a scale of 6) over all the branches of their first block (the polytechnic block) are directed to this full-time Review Course during the 2nd semester. Passing this course allows them to ensure the scientific fundamentals needed are acquired so as to be able to restart the propaedeutic curriculum at the beginning of the following academic year in the best possible way.

More about the Review Course (French only)

The Cours de mathématiques spéciales (CMS) is a preparatory year to the EPFL Bachelor’s studies. It allows students who do not have the necessary qualifications for a direct admission into one of the Bachelor’s programs, as well as holders of a Swiss high-school maturity diploma on a voluntary basis, to widen and consolidate their competences in basic sciences.

The CMS is subject to availability for all holders of a Swiss high-school maturity diploma or a federal vocational maturity diploma. For other candidates, admission conditions apply.

As this preparatory year is optional for holders of a maturity diploma, these candidates may enter the Bachelor’s program of their choice at the end of the CMS. All other candidates who do not have the necessary qualifications to enter the first year must pass the associated exams to be eligible to enroll in any EPFL Bachelor’s program.

Further information on the CMS following a Swiss high-school maturity diploma (in French)

Further information on the CMS following a federal vocational maturity diploma (in French)

Web page dedicated to the CMS

Master: 90 – 120 ECTS


The Master’s programs constitute a thoroughly organic continuation of the Bachelor’s studies. They offer exceptional flexibility and a large choice of subject matters, making it possible for each student to construct a personalized study program. The master programs open doors to careers in both industry and academia. 

The courseload in the Master’s cycle varies between 90 and 120 ECTS credits, depending on the field of study and specialization chosen (120-credit programs are becoming the norm).

You can also opt for a Minor (30 ECTS credits), which gives a transdisciplinary dimension to your studies.

The last semester is dedicated to the Master’s project, a personal research project that culminates the program. The project takes between four and six months and is done as part of a research project in an EPFL laboratory, in another university or in a company.

Once the Bachelor’s degree is obtained, changing one’s field of study is unusual. Nonetheless, it is possible to do so by catching up with appropriate Bachelor’s studies subjects.

At the conclusion of the Master’s program, EPFL delivers the degree of Master of Science EPFL (MSc) in the chosen program.

Holders of an EPFL Master’s degree are authorized to the title of Engineer dipl. EPF or Architect dipl. EPF.

All degrees delivered by EPFL are recognized by the Swiss Agency of Accreditation and Quality Assurance (AAQ) of Swiss Higher Education. Engineering degrees are also accredited by the Commission des titres d’ingénieur (CTI) in France, where the Engineer title is protected.