I often have parents asking me about university options for Swiss Gymnasium students in Switzerland and abroad.
Swiss university entrance diploma
In the Swiss education system, the Swiss university entrance degree, or Matura/Maturité or Maturità is the most common high school degree in Switzerland. As the name indicates, the Matura is about demonstrating a students’ maturity for university studies rather than showcasing top grades. Students attending a selective Swiss Gymnasium will obtain their degree after a 6 or a 4 year programme.
Consequently, a mere pass grants access to all Swiss universities and programmes and no entrance exams nor interviews are required, even to get into top universities, such as ETH or EFPL (expect for medicine!).
Studying abroad with a Swiss Matura
However, securing a place at a university abroad with a Swiss high school diploma can be tricky. The Swiss Matura exam is considered one of the most challenging diplomas, which makes it difficult to secure top grades, let alone pursue extracurricular activities: Students at a Swiss Gymnasium or high school (gymnase/liceo) are required to take 13 plus subjects up to year 12, sit exams in six subjects and write a Matura thesis.
Top universities abroad are not always familiar with Swiss degrees and will frequently ask for high grades as well as extracurriculars.
Alternatives to the Swiss Matura
For students wishing to keep their options open, there are alternatives to the Swiss Matura that grant access to universities in Switzerland and abroad. Recent years have seen a rise of high school institutions in Switzerland, offering alternative diplomas based on the British, American or the IB high school curriculum.
Both British A-levels and the IB diploma are recognised in Switzerland and students can be accepted with either qualification, provided that some requirements are met.
These are, among others, proficiency in one of the national languages for undergraduate studies, high scores for IB students and the right subject combination for IGCS and A-levels for students following the British curriculum.
Parents and students should explore the different options carefully and seek advice from experienced school consultants who are familiar with entry requirements both in Switzerland and abroad.
Swiss Education Consulting has teamed up with different university admission specialists to offer comprehensive guidance on all available options.
Find more information about our educational consulting services for international families here: https://swisseducationconsulting.ch/settled-families/