world's top universities in Switzerland
Switzerland boasts some of the best scientific research centres in the world, making it a perfect study destination for international students. Source: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The towering Alps, picturesque old cities, and world-famous ski resorts — what’s not to love about Switzerland? Home to the Large Hadron Collider, the multilingual country is known to be a hotbed for scientific research. It hosts one of the world’s top universities, and thanks to a fully-funded scholarship, you may stand a chance to join the ranks of illustrious academics working on the next big scientific breakthrough. 

ETH Zürich needs no introduction when it comes to academic excellence. It is ranked ninth among the world’s top universities by the latest QS World University Rankings and sits at the 11th spot in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2023. A university that is primarily devoted to the sciences, it has produced 22 Nobel laureates among its alumni, including the likes of Albert Einstein himself.

You can follow in the footsteps of innovative giants with the university’s Excellence Scholarship and Opportunities Programme (ESOP), which is now accepting applications for the 2023 intake. Each year, ETH Zürich grants postgraduate students from all over the world an opportunity to pursue a fully-funded Master’s degree course. The award is given to students undertaking three to four semesters of full-time study and covers everything except for travel expenses to Switzerland

Why study at ETH Zürich?

Rankings aside, joining a prestigious research-intensive university opens many doors in both academia and the industry. The employment rate for postgraduate alumni is nearly 100% after one year of study, and the university maintains the most research contacts and industry partners in Europe.

Multinational corporations such as Credit Suisse, Rolex, Siemens, and pharmaceutical titan Novartis are listed among the university’s partner companies for career placements. With English-taught master’s programmes ranging from Atmospheric and Climate Science to High Energy Physics, you can choose to specialise in niche areas within your field and learn from some of the best scientists at work today.

world's top universities in Switzerland

One of ETH Zürich’s partner labs is the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), home of the Large Hadron Collider. Source: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Apply to the ESOP scholarship to enter one of the world’s top universities  

It goes without saying that an illustrious scholarship at this level is highly competitive. Like the world-renowned Chevening or Erasmus Mundus scholarships, you’ll need to pass several criteria to be in consideration for the ESOP award at ETH Zürich.

Applications are now open for master’s programmes starting in 2023, and there’s still a good amount of time to send in all your documents before the December due date.

Here’s all you need to know about this fully-funded opportunity:

When is the last day to apply?         

The current application cycle is open from November 1 to December 15, 2022, at 12:00 Central European Time.

Where can I apply for ESOP?  

All applications are done through the university’s eApply portal. You’ll need to create an account to log in for the first time, after which you can proceed with your submission.

What does it cover?

The ESOP award is a full-ride package to ETH Zürich, allowing you to comfortably study and live at one of the world’s top universities. You’ll be given living and study expenses amounting to 12,000 Swiss francs per semester in addition to tuition fee waivers.

It covers the regular duration of a master’s programme at the university, lasting about three to four semesters. A total of 60 scholarships will be issued for the 2023-24 academic year.

world's top universities in Switzerland

Zürich has one of the most picturesque cityscapes in Europe and is one of the world’s key financial and cultural centres. Source: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Who is eligible for the scholarship?

The award is open to students from all over the world, and no nationalities are specified on the official website.

These are the only prerequisites listed for the award:

  • You must have obtained a bachelor’s degree and graduated with Grade A or equivalent. This translates to 4.0 under the Grade Point Average system.
  • You need to list a contact number that is reachable in your CV as you might get called for a phone or video call interview in February as part of the selection process.
  • You must upload a pre-proposal for your Master’s dissertation into the application portal. Plagiarism or intentional misinformation will result in a withdrawal of your scholarship following an offer. You can refer to this guideline by the university to draft your pre-proposal.
  • Two academic references from your undergraduate professors.

When will I know my results?

Once the application period closes, the Admissions Committees of each respective degree programme will begin the evaluation process. The final decisions will be announced by the end of March 2023.

Are there other Swiss scholarships that I can still apply to?

International tuition fees in many Swiss universities are low compared to other European universities, with many financial aid options. Since you’ve probably started compiling documents for scholarship applications, you can give these awards a shot too:

EPFL Master Excellence Fellowships

The École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) is a distinguished Swiss university specialising in engineering and the natural sciences. This renewable Fellowship grants a total of 10,000 Swiss francs per semester at the Master’s level for a maximum of four semesters. A room will be reserved for successful applicants at the student residence hall.

You will still be responsible for tuition fees and all other expenses. However, fees are only about 780 Swiss francs per year, and the award can be renewed based on your academic performance. The next deadline for international students is Dec. 15.

University of Geneva (UNIGE) Excellence Master Fellowships

UNIGE is will start accepting applications for this fellowship in Jan. 2023 from students enrolling in Master’s programmes under the Faculty of Science. The grant amount is anywhere between 10,000 to 15,000 Swiss francs and is awarded for one year of study, provided that you maintain academic excellence after your first semester.

Applicants must meet all enrolment requirements stipulated by the admissions office. The last day to submit your application is on Mar. 15 next year.