Terms For Your Study

Academic degree

The faculties confer a Bachelor’s degree, a Master’s degree or a doctoral degree for successful completion of a study program at the relevant academic level. The faculty may further specify the academic discipline by adding “in” to the designation of the degree.

Academic Record

The Academic Record is the final transcript of records that lists all recognized coursework performed by a student.

  • Coursework that is recognized but not transferred (in other words, does not form part of the degree) is listed on the Academic Record under academic achievement that is not counted toward the degree.
  • Coursework completed at an institution other than UZH is designated accordingly on the transcript of records and the Academic Record. 

Admission, restriction on admission

To be admitted to studies at UZH, you must fulfill the admission requirements. When you apply to study, these requirements are checked by the Student Administration Office or the Admissions Office, depending on your educational background and the level of studies you are applying for.
Restrictions on admission numbers (numerus clausus) apply solely to studies in human medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine and chiropractic medicine. This means that the number of places in these study programs is limited and not all prospective students can be admitted. At the Master’s level, prospective students must fulfill both the formal admission requirements and the subject-specific admission requirements.

Advanced level

The advanced level represents the second phase of studies. It follows the assessment phase and culminates in a Bachelor’s degree. 

Assessment, assessment level

The assessment level represents the first phase of studies in which the focus is on mastering basic, subject-specific knowledge and methodology. Assessment examinations are sometimes required to complete this level. The assessment level serves to ensure that the chosen degree program matches the skills and interests of the student. 

Bachelor's degree program

To earn an academic title, you must successfully complete a degree program. A Bachelor’s degree program is the first academic level in the Swiss higher education system. At UZH, a Bachelor’s degree program comprises 180 ECTS credits. When you choose your degree program, you determine which academic title you intend to attain (for example, Bachelor of Arts UZH). The particulars of the degree programs are set out in the framework ordinance of the relevant faculty. 
Within your degree program (and depending on the offering of your faculty) you can choose to complete one, two or three study programs (subjects) that earn you a total of 180 ECTS credits.

Kombinationsmöglichkeiten für Bachelorstudiengang
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Possible combinations at the faculties

  180 120/60 150/30 120/30/30
Faculty of Theology x x    
Faculty of Law x      
Faculty of Business, Economics and Informatics     x  
Faculty of Medicine x      
Vetsuisse Faculty x      
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences   x    
Faculty of Sciences x x x x

CAS, DAS, MAS

CAS, DAS, and MAS are continuing education programs offered at the postgraduate level; they are completed on a part-time basis after earning a university degree. UZH offers CAS, DAS and MAS programs:

  • CAS programs (formerly "NDK" postgraduate diploma courses) are the smallest continuing education programs offered in Switzerland. They provide specific knowledge of a topic, thus enabling an additional qualification to be acquired in a specific field. They entail coursework comprising at least 10 ECTS credits, which corresponds to a workload of 300 hours (including independent study). The official title is University of Zurich Certificate of Advanced Studies.
  • DAS programs offer in-depth training in a specific subject area, giving participants an additional qualification in their original field or in a new one. DAS programs entail coursework comprising at least 30 ECTS credits, which corresponds to a workload of 900 hours (including independent study).
  • MAS programs (formerly "NDS" postgraduate diploma programs) are the highest continuing education programs available; they culminate in an academic title. Most MAS programs are offered on a part-time basis and entail coursework comprising at least 60 ECTS credits, which corresponds to a workload of 1,800 hours (including independent study). The official title is University of Zurich Master of Advanced Studies.

Complementary minor study program

Complementary minor study programs are offered at the Master’s level only and can be studied only as a minor. They do not follow on from a certain Bachelor’s study program, but are designed as a cross-disciplinary complement to a major study program. A Bachelor’s degree is the only formal prerequisite for admission; there are no further special admission requirements. Complementary minor study programs can form part of various combinations and thus be linked to several consecutive Master’s study programs.

Consecutive Master’s study program

Consecutive Master’s study programs are programs whose content builds upon a preceding Bachelor’s degree in the same branch of studies. There are no special admission requirements to a consecutive Master’s study program as long as a Bachelor’s degree in the relevant concentration has been obtained.

Dean’s office

The dean’s office is the administrative office of a faculty at the university. It is responsible for coordinating processes between the administration, students, members of the teaching staff and the Executive Board of the University. The dean’s office also supports the Faculty Council in the management of its affairs.
A subunit of the dean’s office is the Office of Student Affairs, which provides information to students on matters such as transfer of ECTS credits and final degrees.

Definitive exclusion from studies, subject ban

If a compulsory module has received a definitive failing grade, or if the maximum number of failed attempts has been exceeded, definitive exclusion from the relevant study program may result.
Definitive exclusion from a study program also results in a ban at all academic levels for the relevant study program at UZH as well as for study programs at UZH deemed similar by the faculty.

WWF only: A student who exceeds the maximum allowed number of failed attempts or the prescribed deadline is deemed to have failed the major study program and is definitively excluded. (See also article 12 of the program regulation document.)

Degree program

A degree program is an academic course of study that is structurally defined in terms of ECTS credits. Successful completion culminates in conferral of a university degree (Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree, PhD). 

Department, institute, clinic

The departments/institutes are subunits of UZH faculties that offer study programs and organize research and teaching in individual disciplines. Institutes are often termed “departments” in humanities disciplines and “clinics” in medical disciplines. Each study program is assigned to a particular department/institute; a department/institute, however, may offer more than one study program.
A department/institute is self-governing within the scope of its own regulations. It is also responsible for the content of the program regulations that govern the particulars of a study program. 

Diploma Supplement

The Diploma Supplement is provided as an accompaniment to the actual diploma. It gives information on the type and requirements of the degree program as well as on the status of the degree and its place within the national higher education system. It serves to increase transparency in an international context and to aid recognition and appraisal of scholarly achievements in academic and professional contexts.

Double degree programs

A double degree program is a joint study program offered at two universities that culminates in a degree at both universities. The curricula, however, are not the same. The program is made up of two differing partial curricula.

ECTS credits

The required workload for student study programs is measured in so-called ECTS credits. The credits are a means of quantifying and recognizing the amount of coursework and assessment completed. One ECTS credit is equivalent to an average of 25 to 30 hours of student work. 
The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System is a system of reference that facilitates comparison within the European Higher Education Area.
As a rule, a Bachelor’s program comprises 180 credits and a Master’s program comprises 90 or 120 ECTS credits. 
Please note: Some degree or study programs specify a maximum validity period for ECTS credits. Depending on the faculty, such limits are set out in the framework ordinance or in the relevant set of program regulations. This information is important when planning part-time study. 

Exchange, student mobility

There are two main forms of study mobility: 

  • You are matriculated at UZH and complete a part of your studies at another university in Switzerland or abroad (outgoing)
  • You are matriculated at another university and complete a part of your studies at UZH (incoming)

Within these two forms, there are various types of mobility arrangements that are governed by various agreements. 

 

Faculty

UZH is made up of seven teaching and administration units, or faculties.
Your assignment to a faculty is determined by your major (or single major) study program. With seven faculties, the University of Zurich is the largest comprehensive university in Switzerland. It offers a broad range of perspectives and approaches to scholarship and represents a variety of academic cultures. The seven faculties at the University of Zurich are responsible for research, teaching and services.
The official abbreviations used at UZH to denote the faculties are as follows:
ThF = Faculty of Theology
RWF = Faculty of Law
WWF = Faculty of Business, Economics and Informatics
MeF = Faculty of Medicine
VSF = Vetsuisse Faculty
PhF = Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
MNF = Faculty of Science

Failed attempt

Failure to pass an assessment is described as a failed attempt. If the maximum allowed number of failed attempts is exceeded, definitive exclusion from the relevant study program may result. Definitive exclusion from a study program also results in a ban at all academic levels for the relevant study program at UZH as well as for study programs at UZH deemed similar by the faculty.

Fast-track study program

Students who achieve an exceptional result in their Bachelor’s degree and who wish to pursue an academic career may, at certain faculties, complete a fast-track study program at the Master’s level. These students complete a Master’s degree, but may already work on their doctoral thesis during their Master’s studies and attend the corresponding courses. The particulars are set out in the relevant set of program regulations.

Framework ordinance

Each faculty approves a framework ordinance that governs its relevant provisions on matters such as admission requirements, program outcomes, basic matters regarding the modules, repeat examinations and the requirements to obtain a degree. 
As a rule, joint degree programs, double degree programs, and specialized Master’s degree programs are governed by separate enactments. Provisions governing the individual study programs are set out in the relevant program regulation document. 

Full-time study

In a standard curriculum, full-time study entails completion of 30 ECTS credits per semester. As such, students have a total workload of 900 hours per semester. 
Full-time study represents the norm at Swiss higher education institutions and forms the basis for calculating the standard period of study. In part-time study, less than 30 ECTS credits are completed per semester; the study time is thus longer.  

Guidelines

Guidelines are issued in relation to specific study programs and give more detailed information on the provisions of the program regulation document. 

Joint degree program

Joint degree programs are a form of cooperation on teaching and content of a program. The program curriculum is developed by and carried out at two or more universities. Admission requirements, modules, awarding of ECTS credits and conferral of the degree are governed by common standards. 
As a rule, the students complete a similar amount of work at each of the partner institutions. Graduates are awarded one joint degree; the certificate is generally signed and sealed by both universities.

Liberal arts option (LAO)

A liberal arts option may be studied in combination with a major study program. It is open in terms of curriculum, does not fulfill all requirements for a complete study program, and does not count toward the weighted overall grade, but is included on the Academic Record.  

Major study program

A degree program may comprise one, two or three study programs: 

  • A single major study program
  • A combination of a major study program and one minor study program
  • A combination of a major study program and two minor study programs

As a rule, the major study program comprises at least two-thirds of the coursework of a degree, namely 120 or 150 of the total 180 ECTS credits in a Bachelor’s degree program, and 90 of the total 120 ECTS credits in a Master’s degree program. 

Kombinationsmöglichkeiten auf Bachelorstufe
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Master’s degree program

To earn a university degree, you must successfully complete a degree program. A Master’s degree program represents the second academic level in the Swiss higher education system. A Master’s degree program at UZH consists of 90, 120 or 180 ECTS credits. Your choice of degree program defines the designation (academic title) you attain, for example, Master of Arts UZH. The particulars of the degree program are set out in the framework ordinance of the relevant faculty. 

Master’s level Combinations Offered at the Faculties

  180 120 90 90/30
Faculty of Theology   x   x
Faculty of Law     x  
Faculty of Business, Economics and Informatics     x x
Faculty of Medicine x x    
Vetsuisse Faculty   x    
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences   x   x
Faculty of Science     x x

 

Matriculation, withdrawal from the university

Matriculation is the term for a student’s initial registration at a higher education institution. Withdrawal from the university refers to “de-registration” after completion of studies, a change of institution, or discontinuation of studies. 

Minor study program

A degree program at the Bachelor’s level may comprise one, two or three study programs: 

  • A single major study program
  • A combination of a major study program and one minor study program
  • A combination of a major study program and two minor study programs

The minor study program comprises 30 or 60 ECTS credits in a Bachelor’s degree program and 30 ECTS credits in a Master’s degree program. The minor study is designated and recorded as such on the diploma, the Diploma Supplement, and the Academic Record. The number of transferred ECTS credits for a minor study program is defined in the framework ordinance of the faculty where the student completes the major study program. 

Kombinationsmöglichkeiten auf Bachelorstufe
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Module

A module is a complete learning unit in terms of content and duration. Modules may consist of one or more courses that generally last one or two semesters. When you pass a module, you receive a predefined number of ECTS credits. A module is deemed passed when the required assessment has been completed successfully. Assessments may include written examinations, presentations, a paper, etc. There are various types of modules:

  • Compulsory modules: Modules that are required for all students in a study program in accordance with the program regulation
  • Core elective modules: Modules that are selected from a predefined area in a predefined scope in accordance with the program regulation
  • Elective modules: Modules that may be selected from a defined area in accordance with the program regulation.

Obligation to obtain information

Obligation to obtain information means that students must undertake to independently inform themselves about all issues related to their studies, especially information concerning prevailing enactments and applicable deadlines. All information relevant to studies is communicated in a suitable form; such information is binding.

Part-time studies

Studying part time means that you book fewer modules per semester than set out in the standard curriculum, generally to allow time for other duties such as work or family care. Part-time study lengthens your overall study time. It is thus important to be aware of any restrictions applicable to your study program such as study duration limits and the maximum validity period of ECTS credits. 

Grafik Verlängerung der Studiendauer bei Teilzeitstudium
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PhD

PhD (philosophiae doctor) is the designation of a doctoral degree – the highest academic degree. It is earned by successfully completing a scholarly thesis and passing an oral examination. A PhD may be completed individually or as part of a special doctoral program. As a rule, it follows on from a Master’s program.

Program regulations

Program regulations, or “Studienordnung”, refer to a document containing the detailed provisions governing a study program. As such, program regulations define how the provisions of the relevant framework ordinance apply to a specific study program. At the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences and the Faculty of Science, the program regulation document is divided into a general section that governs overall aspects of a program and an appendix (PhF) or module catalog (MNF) that contains the specific provisions of a module. 

Recognition/transfer of credit

Recognition and transfer of credit are two steps of the same procedure.

  • Recognition is the first step, in which the completed coursework is entered in the transcript of records.
  • Transfer of credit is the second step, in which the recognized coursework becomes a component of the degree.

The faculties decide which previously completed coursework may be credited toward a study program. As a general rule, you may only submit a request for transfer of credit from courses completed at another institution after you have been admitted to study at UZH.

Information about decisions on admission and transfer of credit by each faculty is available here:
Faculty of Theology Theology (in German)
Faculty of Theology Study of Religions
Faculty of Law
Faculty of Business, Economics and Informatics
Facutly of Medicine (in German)
Vetsuisse Faculty
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Science

Regulations/legal bases

UZH issues various sets of regulations governing studies at the university. You should familiarize yourself with the regulations applicable to your degree before you commence your studies: 

  • Framework ordinance: Each faculty approves a framework ordinance that governs its relevant provisions on matters such as admission requirements, program outcomes, basic matters regarding the modules, repeat examinations, and the requirements to obtain a degree. As a rule, joint degree programs, double degree programs, and specialized Master’s degree programs are governed by separate enactments. 
  • Program regulations: Program regulations refer to a detailed set of rules based on the provisions of the framework ordinance. As such, they govern matters such as the booking of modules, the rules for repeating coursework and the documentation to be submitted to attain a degree. Several faculties issue fact sheets or study guidelines that address specific matters of the program regulation in more detail. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences additionally issues program-specific appendices to its set of program regulations. These provide information on the content structure of the study program. 
  • Guidelines: These offer guidance for study completion and are related to a specific study program.

Some faculties also provide module catalogs or sample curricula to help students book the right modules in the right order.

Semester

The university year is divided into two semesters: The Fall Semester and the Spring Semester.

Seminar, proseminar, practical course (Übung), lecture, field trip

Courses are given at UZH in a variety of forms. The form of a course and its frequency depends on the type and stage of a study program: 

  • Proseminar: An introductory course for new students that primarily covers basic methodology and is taught in small groups. Students are required to participate actively in the course by giving presentations and by submitting research reports and written papers, etc.
  • Seminar: Seminars are in-depth courses on a specific topic. They are offered in small groups to facilitate interactive work. Seminars are for advanced students who have completed the requisite proseminars. 
  • Lecture: Standard university course in which teaching staff present material to a large audience of students.
  • Practical course (Übung): These allow for in-depth repetition and practice of course content in small groups.
  • Field trip: Excursions that enable firsthand observation and experience of an academic topic.

Specialized Master’s degree program

Specialized master’s degree programs are programs whose content does not build upon a specific Bachelor’s degree program. Special conditions apply for admission. The specialized Master’s degree programs at UZH are frequently interdisciplinary in approach, have a specific research focus, or are based on cooperation projects with Swiss or foreign partner universities. The additional requirements for admission are primarily content-related prerequisites that must be fulfilled in addition to a Bachelor’s degree program (for example, specific language skills or expertise in a certain area).
The Faculty of Science in particular offers specialized Master’s degree programs that require a specific Bachelor’s degree for admission and that treat specialization as the definition of a specific (research) focus. 

Standard curriculum/model curriculum

The standard curriculum provides a sample progression of studies that reasonably allows for successful completion of a degree within the standard period of study. Other progressions of study, however, are also possible. In the case of part-time study, less coursework is completed per semester than in the standard curriculum.

Standard period of study/restriction on study duration

The standard period of study is defined as the time required to complete a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree when earning 30 ECTS credits per semester (full-time study).

  • Standard period of study for a Bachelor’s degree: Six semesters
  • Standard period of study for a Master’s degree: Three to six semesters, depending on degree program

In part-time studies, fewer than 30 ECTS credits are earned per semester. As such, the total study time is longer and does not correspond to the standard study period. Please note: Scholarships are generally awarded for the standard period of study only.
Some faculties determine a maximum period of study (restriction on study duration) for Bachelor’s and Master’s programs. These amount to double the standard period of study: 12 semesters instead of 6 semesters for a Bachelor’s degree program and 8 semesters instead of 4 semesters for a Master’s degree program. It is essential to be aware of these restrictions if you study part time. 

Student Administration Office

The UZH Student Administration Office primarily handles admissions to Bachelor’s degree programs for students with a Swiss educational background. It also administers changes of degree and study programs, leave of absence, withdrawal from the university, the billing of study fees, and the issue of confirmation letters.

Study program

A study program (formerly “subject”) is a subunit of a degree program that fulfills the requirements for a complete study program. It is defined by:

  • The curricular structure
  • The program goals
  • The academic level 
  • Number of ECTS credits

Every degree program consists of one, two or three study programs. For each study program, a number of subject concentrations may be included.
The particulars of a study program, especially the subject-specific admission requirements, program outcomes, any stages and concentrations, the modular structure, and the examination formats are set out in the relevant set of program regulations, or in the subject-specific appendix to the program regulation document.

VSUZH: University of Zurich Student Association

The University of Zurich Student Association (VSUZH) is the official organization for the student body at UZH. The VSUZH represents the interests and concerns of the students vis-a-vis the Executive Board of the University and the public. 
Every two years the students elect the VSUZH council, a student parliament made up of at least 70 persons. The council, for its part, elects student representatives to the university-wide commissions and working groups as well as the VSUZH board. This guarantees that the student body may exercise its rights of co-determination at the university.