Student Visas for PhD in Switzerland

Student Visas for PhD in Switzerland

Written by Taru Medha

EU and EEA students

Students from the EU and EEA do not require a visa to study in Switzerland. You can freely enter Switzerland for up to 90 days.

However, as this isn’t nearly long enough to complete a PhD, you will need to register with your local cantonal authority and receive a longer-term residence permit. You must do this within 14 days of arriving in Switzerland.

To gain a residence permit you will need to provide proof that you have been accepted to study your PhD at a Swiss university along with evidence of health insurance and sufficient financial resources for your degree. This guide gives you a little more detail on this in the sections below.

If you wish to work in Switzerland during your PhD, you will also need to apply for a separate work permit.

International students (non-EU / EEA)

Students who are not from one of the 28 EU countries or the three EEA countries (Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway) will need a student visa to enter Switzerland for a PhD. This will be a type D visa for employment or study longer than 90 days.

You should apply for your visa at Swiss embassy or consulate within your own country (not from within Switzerland). You will need to provide the following:

  • Proof that you have been accepted to study a PhD in Switzerland
  • Information on your planned studies
  • Your academic CV and personal statement (this can be similar to the one you provided for your PhD application)
  • Details of your accommodation in Switzerland
  • Evidence of health insurance (see below)
  • Evidence of sufficient funds for living costs during your PhD (see below)
  • A declaration that you will leave Switzerland at the end of your PhD (unless applying for a separate post-study work visa)

You should begin your application for PhD study as soon as possible. The visa application process can take eight weeks or more and you will need to provide a large amount of information.

The cost of a Swiss student visa is €60.

Health insurance

Switzerland has a compulsory health insurance system that guarantees access to a range of quality medical care services and appropriate medical treatment. Students from countries that provide international health coverage such as the EU’s European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) may be exempted from the compulsory health insurance. Other students may be exempted if they have equivalent health insurance coverage in their home country.

If you do need to purchase health insurance during your PhD, you can expect to pay around €950 per year (in monthly instalments). Further information is available from the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health.

Evidence of sufficient funds

All foreign students in Switzerland (from the EU, EEA and elsewhere) must be able to support themselves during a PhD. The amount of money you must have access to will depend on the requirements set by your canton but is likely to be at least €18,000 per year.

You can provide proof of funds in various forms:

  • Evidence of a scholarship you have been awarded
  • An employment contract with your university, such as a paid position or assistantship
  • Proof of funds in a personal bank account

Alternatively, you may be able to provide a declaration of sponsorship by a Swiss national or other appropriate third party who is willing to cover your costs whilst you study abroad.

Once you have your visa you are ready to take on what you can expect to be a culturally enriching doctoral study journey. Our guide to living in Switzerland as a PhD student has everything you need to know before you fly to Switzerland.

Study a PhD in Switzerland

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Last Updated: 01 December 2023