FAQ Bachelor

Find the answer to the most frequently asked questions.
Thematic day | © EPFL Alain Herzog

Yes MAN applies to all EPFL students. As of the beginning of September 2016, first-year students who do not obtain an average of 3.5 at all courses of the first block at the end of the fall semester are redirected to the “cours de mise à niveau” (MAN). This course is given in the spring semester, and it imperatively must be completed to be able to start again the propaedeutic year. Requirements for passing the first year and the “mise à niveau” (MAN).

Everyone who has obtained a high school maturité recognized by the Swiss Confederation is admitted to EPFL, in any section they choose, according to the admission requirements.

However, the first evaluations of classes who graduated with the new high school maturité organisation have shown that students arriving with a “standard math” education have to make additional efforts to reach the required level to succeed in the first year at first try, compared to students who arrive with a more advanced physics and math background. That does not mean that you cannot undertake a scientific career if you are one of those students. EPFL offers a whole range of tools to make up for these deficits. In addition, an e-book entitled “Savoir-faire en mathématiques pour bien réussir à l’EPFL” (in French, sent to all new students before the start of classes) and an evaluation of your math level allows you to identify any deficits before you start. These also include proposals for how to fill in the gaps yourself.

To study at EPFL, you need to enjoy math and be determined and work diligently. It does not mean that you need to be a genius!

Yes. EPFL supports this approach and you will have the possibility to study abroad during the third year of your Bachelor. Opportunities are offered across continents (SV students can apply for destinations “labeled SV”).

Admission conditions for studying abroad

Also see the Bachelor study section above and below. Please take into consideration the high EPFL international ranking compared to certain exchange Universities.

The ECTS system (European Credit Transfer System) indicates the level of education a student has obtained, by matching credits to courses.

ECTS credits are proportional to the workload a student does, whether it is done in class, in exercises, labs, projects, or homework. ECTS is based on the principle that the full-time work done by a student during a university year corresponds to 60 credits. The work of a student registered in a full-time study program in Europe is about 1500-1800 hours per year, so the value of a credit is equal to about 25 to 30 hours of work (EPFL workload is ≈30). Credits are attributed when students satisfy evaluating conditions in terms of knowledge or skills associated with a class, projects, or labs. These evaluations are in the form of exams — oral or written, presentations, reports, etc.

The system was designed by the European Commission, to facilitate student exchanges between universities (recognition of passed courses), in the framework of the Socrates/Erasmus Program. At EPFL, the number of credits corresponding to courses are defined in the study plans. In the context of the Bachelor and Master reforms (Bologna Agreements 1999), this system was extended to all university studies. It is no longer a system for transferring credits from one university to another, but a system to accumulate credits that is shared by all the universities in Europe.

Study programs assume about 30 hours of class time every week (this includes labs and problem sessions). You should plan 20-25 hours a week of individual work on top of this. This is of course an average. It is clear that studying at EPFL is a full-time commitment.

It is possible to freely switch from a program to another after your enrollment at EPFL and until the second week of courses. Thereafter the third week of courses, you may change your study program but only under certain conditions.

Interruption of studies during the Bachelor program is not authorized except for exceptional cases.

By default, you are automatically enrolled in the Master cycle after the completion of your Bachelor. Should you opt not to register for the Master cycle after the completion of the Bachelor, you can interrupt your studies at EPFL for a duration of a year or more, with no specific motive. Since you are no longer a Bachelor student and not yet a Master student then, you will not remain matriculated at EPFL. For more information, please consult the page end of studies and re-registration.

More details about interruption of studies between Bachelor and Master

You have at maximum two attempts to succeed an exam. Passed subjects (final grade 4.00 or above) may not be re-attempted (with the exception of the repetition of the propaedeutic year in case of a first failure in the spring semester, concerns only subjects evaluated during the exam session for a failed block).

You may only repeat a failed subject during the academic year immediately after the year of the failed first attempt at that subject. Once that deadline has passed, the result of the first attempt is final.

The result of the second attempt replaces that of the first attempt and becomes final, even when it is below that of the first attempt. It is not possible to keep the first result after the second attempt.

Requirements for passing the Bachelor cycle

The rules that apply in the case of a missed exam are listed on the page page Requirements for passing the Bachelor cycle.

A block is passed (and thus all the credits associated with the block are acquired) when all the courses it contains have been attempted at least once and the weighted average of the block is 4.00 or above.

The rules for starting the Master cycle without having completed the Bachelor cycle are listed on the page Requirements for passing the Bachelor cycle. These rules also apply to students who were on exchange during the third year. In this case, the list of courses required to complete the missing credits will be established in agreement with the SV Exchange Coordinator.

A typical Bachelor project will involve “hands-on” wetlab experimentation and data analysis, although theoretical and computationally-oriented projects are also possible. The project should be done in the field of Life Sciences Engineering. The projects are available on the websites of SV laboratories or discussed directly with a potential head of lab.

The Bachelor project can be done in:

  • SV labs
  • other EPFL labs (the project needs to be approved by the section, and students will need to fill the corresponding Bachelor project form)
  • outside EPFL in academia or industry (the project needs to be approved by the section, and students will need to fill the corresponding Bachelor project form). The student will have to find an EPFL mentor (Profs, MER) to supervise and validate her/his project.

The Bachelor project will be validated in BA6 but can be done during the summer before the BA5.

Total workload (about 180 hours, 6 ECTS): 12h/week during 14 weeks (spring semester BA6) or 3-4 weeks full time (42h/week) during the summer before the BA5.

For more information refer to the course book BIOENG-390

No! To be eligible for an exchange during the third year, you must validate the 60 credits of the second year:
– for students who validated the propaedeutic year during the summer session, in two semesters
– for students who validated the propaedeutic year in the winter session, in three semesters.

SV students can do an exchange during the third year in one of the SV partner Universities labeled for SV. A high-ranked University that is not a SV partner may be accepted for an exchange in exceptional cases but with the agreement of the exchange coordinator and the exchange student service.

No! A limited number of places are available for an exchange in a given University. You can apply for more than one University (up to 6, both for UE and for non-UE countries).

No! Current EPFL students are automatically accepted in the Master programs of their field of study. SV students are accepted in the Life Sciences Engineering Master program and the Neuro-X Master program. They only need to approve their re-registration in IS-Academia (FRAC). If they would like to change their field of study, they must follow the full online application procedure.

Students interested in changing their field of study and joining another Master program need to have a minimum average grade of 4.5 over the entire Bachelor (propaedeutic year included). This criteria is however not a guarantee of admission as the quality of application, the relevance of the followed Bachelor compared to the Master of interest, and the motivation of the candidate will also be assessed by the admission committee.

Yes! In case of health problem, difficulties in your daily life and in a crisis situation like stress, the Student Affairs Department (SAE) can provide you with support and help.

Each course has a coursebook that describes major information about it, that concern:

– Number of credits, the semester and schedule time when it takes place, the language in which it is given, how it is organized (lecture, exercise, practical)

– Course content

– Learning outcomes

– Transversal skills

– Expected student activities

– Assessment methods

– Resources

– …

Study Plan Coursebooks