Frequently asked questions

1. Courses: conditions, calendar, perquisites, languages
2. Courses: registration and exams
3. Project in a lab (semester or full time project)
4. Transcript of records
5. Accommodation
6. Health insurance
7. Finances / SEMP Scholarship
8. Administrative formalities upon arrival at EPFL
9. Extension of studies at EPFL
10. Studies at EPFL without an exchange agreement with EPFL

1. Courses: conditions, calendar, prerequisites, languages

We recommend a B2 level in French and/or English, depending on the teaching language of the courses that you will take; however, no certificate is required in the application, as we trust your home university has verified your language skills prior to nominating you. A basic knowledge of French for everyday life is also recommended.

Please visit this page for important semester dates.

At the Bachelor level, courses are mainly taught in French. Nevertheless, some programs offer many courses in English).

At the Master level, courses are mainly taught in English, although some programs have a large offer of courses taught in French (for example in Architecture or Civil Engineering).

Please visit this page for courses taught in English.

You can find the courses on this page. Click on “course description”, then on the study level Bachelor or Master and finally on the field of study of your choice. You will see on the top right hand corner (column “Exam”) whether the course is taught in the autumn or spring semester and if the exam is taking place during the semester or during the winter or summer exam session.

Our study plans are published for the whole year in June. They do not specify the schedule for each course but only the semester in which it will be taught. The schedule for each semester is published:

  • in July for the autumn semester.
  • mid-December for the spring semester.

You can find the list of courses that are not accessible to exchange students on this page, by clicking on “Restricted courses”.

You can choose courses from different sections. In your application, you need to choose the section where you will most likely take the majority of your courses or ECTS. It should normally be the section for which you have been nominated by your home university and for which we have an exchange agreement.

You are allowed to take courses at both Bachelor and Master level regardless of your current level; however, you must ensure that you meet the prerequisites mentioned in the course description in order to be able to follow a course. If you have doubts regarding the prerequisites, you are welcome to contact the lecturers.

Yes, you can take 1 or 2 courses per semester at the University of Lausanne. For example, the Faculty of Business and Economics at UNIL (HEC Lausanne) offers a variety of alternatives in this area for equivalencies if needed for your home university programme.

Information on how to register there will be provided in your leaflet “welcome to EPFL”. Please also note that you will have to register on EPFL’s side as well if you want the number of credits to appear on your transcript of records. We will let you know how to register for UNIL courses on EPFL’s side before the beginning of the semester.

A 3-weeks intensive French course is offered to exchange students before the beginning of the fall semester and a 2-weeks semi intensive French course is offered before the beginning of the spring semester.

French courses are also taught during the semester and exchange students are welcome to register if enough space is available. For more details on the registration and deadlines, please visit the Language Center website.

A French course taking place in the summer or during the semester is worth 3 ECTS and can count towards the minimum requirement of 20 ECTS. The credits obtained for the French course will not appear on your EPFL transcript of records. If needed by your home university, the Language Center can provide you with an attestation if you request it. The semi intensive French course before the beginning of the spring semester does not grant any ECTS.

You can visit this webpage to read about teaching languages, EPFL’s recommendations in terms of language level to pursue studies with us, as well as an explanation on which levels of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) correspond to which international language tests?

Sport is encouraged as a part of your study-life balance, but it does not count towards credits. We have a beautiful sport center by the lakeside which you will be able to enjoy.

2. Courses: registration and exams

Before the semester starts, you will receive an email sent to your EPFL email address with instructions on how to register for courses. You will need to use your personal student login (Gaspar) in order to access your EPFL student portal and register for courses. If you already have your EPFL Gaspar login, then you can already consult this procedure.

You will need to register online for your courses no later than 2 weeks after the semester starts.

The courses which you list in your application form are part of a draft study plan that allows us to see if the exchange is feasible; however, it does not represent a course registration. You will have to register to courses during the first 2 weeks of the semester, which represents also an opportunity for you to make changes should you realize that some courses do not fit your home university’s requirements or your expectations.

EPFL does not organize retake exams.

3. Project in a lab (semester or full time project)

It is possible to participate in a laboratory project during the exchange semester, even as an undergraduate student. You can either register in your department’s labs offered in the study plan for Bachelor students, if they suit you, or you can find a professor who would supervise you and create your own research experience.

Register for the project “EPFL 301– specific project for exchange/visiting students” in IS-Academia.

If you are here for two semesters and need to take one project each semester, during the 2nd semester, register for the project “EPFL 302– specific project for exchange/visiting students”.

Please find the conditions, application procedure and deadlines on this page.

4. Transcript of records & Grades

Exam results are published on a specific date (see academic calendar here) on your personal student portal. Moreover, you will receive the hard copy of your transcript of records per postal mail at the exam address you have mentioned in your student portal in IS-Academia when filling out the FRAC form (semester registration form).

The credits obtained for the French course will not appear on your EPFL transcript of records. If needed by your home university, the Language Center can provide you with an attestation if you request it to them directly.

On your transcript of records, there will be an explanation of the grading system at EPFL. The conversion to the grading system in your home university and the equivalencies of credits is the responsibility of your home university.

5. Accommodation

You will find information regarding housing in your Acceptance Letter. Our housing information office can provide you with counsel on different ways you can find suitable housing for your time in Lausanne.

6. Health insurance

Yes, you need to be insured in order to study in Switzerland. You can find details about insurances on our website.

7.  Finances / SEMP Scholarship

Students coming from one of our European partner universities:
Switzerland is not part of Erasmus anymore, however, our National Agency, Movetia, which encourages student exchanges, provides funding for incoming students under the Swiss-European Mobility Program (SEMP). Therefore, we can offer a SEMP scholarship to students coming on exchange with us from European partner universities when they have been nominated by their home university within the deadlines.

You do not need to make any particular application for this, if you are eligible, we will automatically register you for the scholarship and inform you of the details in your Acceptance Letter.

Students coming from non-European partner universities:
EPFL does not provide funding to incoming students who are coming from a non-European partner university.

Regarding other types of funding, some Foundations offer financial support to international students. You can find some of them listed in the second part of this page (see “Other Scholarships”) and verify if you could be eligible for any one of them.

Yes, you can wait until you have opened a bank account in Switzerland to provide your bank details in IS-Academia. If you do this after the deadline that was communicated, please inform by email your student exchange coordinator at EPFL once you have entered your bank details in IS-Academia, otherwise the disbursement will not take place.

Studies at EPFL can be quite intense. A full academic load (30 ECTS) during the semester represents around 50-60 hours of studies (both personal and in class). Therefore, it may be difficult to reconcile studying and working. However, if you wish to work anyways, you can see the details on this page.

You can find here a budget calculation sheet. You can subtract the tuition fees as you are exempt from paying them, as well as the insurance if you already have a health insurance which is accepted in Switzerland (see question about health insurance).

8. Administrative formalities upon arrival at EPFL

It is not a problem to come a few days after the semester has started, however, please make sure to arrive before the 2nd Friday after the start of the semester, as this is the last day to register for courses and begin the exchange program.

If you arrive after the beginning of the semester, upon your arrival at EPFL, please go to the Student Services Desk located in building BP and inform the staff there that you could not arrive at the start of the semester. They will give you your student ID and other exchange related document.

You can go with the form provided by your home university to the Student Services Desk to have it signed. You need to go there in person so that we can attest of your arrival/departure. EPFL does not count with a specific form to certify your arrival and departure.

You can request a Learning Agreement to be signed by EPFL only after you have received your Acceptance Letter for your exchange. You can send the form provided by your home university to the Academic Exchange Adviser of the department (section) in which you are registered at EPFL, to have it signed.

9. Extension of studies at EPFL

It is possible to extend your studies at EPFL under certain conditions and within certain deadlines.

If you are on exchange during the autumn semester and would like to extend for the spring semester, you have to be nominated by your home university within the deadlines mentioned below. In addition, please contact the EPFL student exchange office to receive instructions for your new application by:

  • For courses: 15th October
  • For a project: 2 months prior to the start date of the project

If you are on exchange during the spring semester and would like to extend for the following autumn semester, you have to be nominated by your home university and submit a new application within the deadlines:

  • For courses: 15th April
  • For a project: 2 months prior to the start date of the project

As an exchange student, EPFL will not provide you with a diploma after your exchange.

Should you be interested in enrolling in one of EPFL degree programmes, we invite you to visit EPFL’s website regarding admissions to a Bachelor or Master programme, or this page regarding admissions to a PhD. Do not hesitate to contact the Student Services Desk for further details if needed.

10. Studies at EPFL without an exchange agreement with EPFL

Unfortunately, if we do not have any exchange agreement with your university, we cannot accept you as an exchange student to do a semester/year with us for courses.

Should you wish to come as a visiting student to do a research project in a lab, this is possible. You can find more information regarding this option and the procedure on our website.