Study technology in Switzerland

Switzerland is one of the leading countries in computer applications. Many of these applications are embedded in top products or services of Switzerland's key industries (e.g. banks, insurances, telecommunication, power systems, chemistry, watches, transportation, tourism etc.). In all such enterprises interdisciplinary research and development ranks high and is heavily based on information technology (IT). Proper IT research (= Computer Science), however, exists in Switzerland only in universities (including ETH Zurich and EPFL Lausanne) and in a few industry labs; around 100 professors and their assistants work today in well equipped Computer Science departments.

Study technology in Switzerland

Although there is a coordination between institutions, there is no central management. The scientific network between these IT-research communities is supported by SARIT, the Swiss Association for Research in Information Technology.

Even though Switzerland is a small country, it offers IT curricula at 9 universities: 2 Federal Institutes of Technology (ETH Zürich and EPF Lausanne) and 8 cantonal (local) universities (Basel, Bern, Geneva, Fribourg/Freiburg, Lausanne, Neuchâtel, Zürich, and Italian Switzerland ). Teaching is mainly in French in Geneva, Lausanne (BSc) and Neuchâtel, German in Bern, Basel and Zürich, and bilingual in Fribourg/Freiburg, i.e. depending on the teacher. Advanced courses, especially at the Master level, are generally taught in English, as many of the teachers are not natives of the local language, and it is also considered most important to train the students to use the international language of Computer Science.

The curricula have just been (or are just about to be) reorganised according to the Bologna agreement: a Bachelor in three years and a Master in one and a half to two years. They are thus likely to be modified in the next few years.

The Bachelor is meant to provide a solid general basis onto which the students can specialize. Most universities offer a choice of advanced courses in the third year of the Bachelor: either a choice between a few programs (i.e. majors or minors) or a free choice among innumerable single courses. The courses are validated with the European credits (ECTS).

EPFL School of Computer Science and Communication systems is the largest in Switzerland. In both tracks Computer Science and Communication Systems, there is a program of BSc, Master, and PhD. In the BSc program are teaching the basics of Information Technology and their mathematical foundations. The following specialisations are currently offered in the MSc: biocomputing, foundations of software, signals and images, industrial informatics, internet computing, computer engineering and service science. EPFL IC school offers a very attractive internship program that has seen the students travel to all four corners of the world to spend six months in industry or in a foreign university.

ETH Zurich Computer Science Department offers its own curriculum. After a minimum of 6 semesters plus the corresponding examinations students can obtain a Bachelor degree. To obtain a Master's degree, another 3 semesters are required. A wide array of interconnected specialties are covered.

The University of Basel offers a Bachelor of Science with Major in Computer Science, Bioinformatics, Geoinformatics and Business Information Systems. The students can also obtain a Master of Science in Computer Science.

The University of Bern has two different programs: Computer Science and Applied Mathematics and Information Systems.

The University of Fribourg offers programs of Bachelor and Master both in Computer Science and in Information Systems and Information Management.

The University of Geneva offers Bachelor and Master in three different departments in Schools of Science (Computer Science), Economic and Social Sciences (Information Systems), and Literature (Informatics for Humanities). The “Centre Universitaire d’Informatique” is a unique Center which integrates in an interdisciplinary way the various trends of informatics.

The University of Lausanne offers a Bachelor in Business Computer Science and a Master in Business Information Systems

The University of Neuchatel offers a Bachelor, a Master, and a minor in Computer Science. A formation in information systems is also available at the Information Management Institute.

The University of Zurich offers a Bachelor of Science in Informatics with Specialization in Information Systems and a Master of Science in Informatics with Specializations in Information Systems, Software Systems, Multimodal and Cognitive Systems.

We should also mention the program of The Institut für Wirtschaftsinformatik at The University of Sankt Gallen and the new University of Lugano which offers a Bachelor in Computer Science.

All universities offer the possibility to continue the training as a PhD student, supported with additional courses in doctoral schools. The universities of Western Switzerland also offer a joint 3d cycle courses and lectures. Finally, most Universities offer a continuing education program, e.g. the Master of Advanced Studies in Visualization and Graphic Communication at EPFL..

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