Study and find schools in Switzerland

Switzerland, officially known as the Swiss Federation, is a northwestern European country, geographically divided between the world-famous Alps, the Swiss Plateau and the Jura, with a total geographic area of just over 15,900 square miles.  A landlocked federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, Switzerland shares borders with Germany in the north, France in the west, Italy in the south, and Austria and Liechtenstein in the east.  Although the Alps comprise the greater part of the country, most of the Swiss population is settled on the Plateau, which is also where the largest cities are to be found, including the two global cities of Geneva and Zurich, the largest city in the country.  The capital city and government seat of Switzerland is Bern.
As of the 2011 census, Switzerland had an estimated population of nearly 8 million—a population that is very linguistically and culturally diverse.  Although over 70 percent of its population is comprised of people native to Switzerland, the country, because of its location at the intersection of several European cultures and languages, is very multinational.  Switzerland has four official languages that are spoken in the various regions of the country:  German, the most widespread language spoken in the north, east and central portions of the country by 72% of the population; French, spoken in the western region by just over 20 percent of Swiss inhabitants; Italian, spoken in the south by approximately 7 percent of the people; and Romansh, a romance language spoken locally in the southeastern canton of Graubünden by about 0.5 percent of the population.  Resident foreigners and temporary workers comprise roughly 22 percent of the Swiss population, mostly hailing from other European Union countries, particularly from Italy, Germany, Serbia and Montenegro and Portugal.  Sri Lankans, most of whom are former Tamil refugees, are the largest group of Asian origin.
Switzerland is a secular country with no official state religion, but most of the cantons, save for Geneva and Neuchatel, do recognize official churches, particularly the Roman Catholic Church or the Swiss Reformed Church, a Protestant denomination.  Christianity is the predominant religion of Switzerland, with some 42 percent of the population adhering to the Roman Catholic faith and 35 percent being members of the various Protestant churches.  Immigration to the country has brought other religious faiths to Switzerland, including Eastern Orthodox Christianity and Islam, practiced by 1.8% and 4.2% of the population respectively.  Hinduism, Buddhism and Judaism, while present in the country, are all practiced by less than half of one percent of the population.
Education in Switzerland
Education in Switzerland is overseen by the Ministry of Education, but because the constitution delegates responsibility for the education system to the individual cantons, the system itself is actually quite diverse, especially in terms of the language of instruction.  Education is provided by both public and private schools, including many that use an international curriculum.  The education system is divided between three distinct levels or phases:  primary education, secondary education and higher or university education.
Most Swiss children begin their primary education at age 6, and depending on the canton and the school they attend, this level will span five or six years or grade levels.  The curriculum in primary school is very diverse, featuring subjects such as mathematics, science, language and literature, history, geography, physical education and the arts.  Foreign language instruction is also begun at this level, and while traditionally the primary language taught is one of the other national languages, English is now taught as a second language in a few of the cantons.
Following primary school, students are separated according to their academic ability, often into one of three types of secondary schools.  Those that learn more quickly are instructed in advanced classes—classes that help them prepare for the matura (academic diploma) and entrance into a university—while others receive a combination of academic and professional instruction or strictly vocational instruction and training, the latter of which helps students gain a trade of some kind that will allow them to join the workforce following graduation.
Switzerland is renowned for its higher education programs, including one campus in Zurich that is consistently ranked the top university in continental Europe.  In all there are 12 universities in the country, ten of which are maintained at the cantonal level and two at the national level.  The universities regulated by the cantons typically offer a range of professional and academic degrees in non-technical subjects, while those maintained at the federal level are more researched based, with a tremendous international reputation for their work in the chemical and medical fields.  There are also several universities of applied sciences and a handful of institutions that specialize in business and management.
Because of its excellent and reputable system of higher education, Switzerland has the world’s second highest rate of foreign students in tertiary education, after Australia, and the country has been home to over 110 Nobel Prize winners in its history, including the famed Albert Einstein.

Language Courses in Switzerland

Interested in learning to speak French, German or maybe even Italian?  Have you considered studying in the beautiful country of Switzerland?  Switzerland is a wonderful country, one that offers something for everyone, including those interested in broadening their personal and professional horizons by learning a second language.  In fact, Switzerland is renowned for the sheer number and quality of the full language immersion programs they offer.  This is largely due to the wide diversity of languages spoken by residents in their own country.  Unlike most countries, which have but one or two national languages, Switzerland boasts 4 that are officially recognized:  German, French, Italian and Romansh, and beyond these, 9% of its residents speak something different altogether.

The Swiss form of German is the most widely spoken language in Switzerland, accounting for approximately 63 percent of the countries residents.  It is by far the most predominant language spoken in most of the eastern, central and northern sections of the country.  French is spoken by an estimated 20 percent of Swiss people, mainly in the western regions and along the western sections of the north; and Italian, which is spoken by nearly 7 percent of the Swiss people, is spoken throughout the southern region.  Romansh, with only a half of one percent, is still considered a national language, but it’s not recognized by the federal government.

While German, French and Italian account for most speakers in Switzerland, in the past 10-15 years there has been an influx of people whose native tongue is something different altogether (English, Spanish, etc.), which sadly puts them at a decided disadvantage in terms of economic opportunity.  This influx has prompted many cities in Switzerland to open language schools—full language immersion programs available to both residents and those wishing to study abroad—to help close some of these language gaps and broaden the horizons of the participating students.
Learn German in Switzerland

If your goal is to learn German in Switzerland the number of options in terms of language schools is virtually limitless.  In the city of Zug, for example, whose name can be literally translated as the right to “pull up” fishing nets, there are a number of programs in which you’ll be fully immersed in the German language and the culture of the Swiss-German people.  This quiet and laid back town located on a lakeshore provides breathtaking views of the Bernese Oberland Rigi and Pilatus, and at its northernmost end a monument park dedicated to Zug’s founders and most prominent citizens.

Learn French in Switzerland

If the West or northwestern parts of Switzerland are more to your liking, you’re sure to find a full language immersion course, one in which you can study with a true French-speaking instructor, participate in recreational activities possessing a French flair and meet new friends from around the world.  In the city of Monteaux, for example, located near the western border, you can study and live tranquilly close to the banks of gorgeous Lake Geneva, be surrounded on all sides by vineyards, and have the breathtaking Alps as a daily backdrop.  And if you visit at the right time of year, you may even catch a glimpse of the famed Monteaux Jazz Festival, an annual event that brings a number of international musicians, along with fans of their music from around the around.

Learn Italian in Switzerland

Italian is spoken by the people in the south of Switzerland, and there are a number of schools there that offer full immersion Italian studies.  In Ascona, for example, a municipality in the district of Locarno, you’ll be nestled by the shores of beautiful Lake Maggiore—a tourist attraction that brings people far and wide to this quaint old town.  Here, language classes are taught at places such as the famous Collegio Papio, an ancient and magnificent structure that was once home to a seminary.  Classes here are offered for high school and college students alike, as well as for older adults who live in or plan to visit this fascinating city.

Schools that offer language courses in Switzerland

Active Languages

Geneve, Switzerland
Active Languages is a language center focused on the provision of language training. English and French programs are offered at different levels – from beginner through proficiency – and they focus on the main aspects of acquiring a language – speaking, listening, reading, and writing. Specialized options for Banking, Accounting, International Business, Law, Negotiating, Hotels & Restaurants are available, too. The school is dedicated to only hiring well-qualified teachers, who know how to communicate with students and create a friendly, welcoming environment.

Alpadia Language Schools

Montreux, Switzerland
ESL is an organization of schools, offering a great variety of language learning opportunities in different countries. The organization has made available a galore of options for juniors, adults and 50 + students. The languages offered include French, German, Italian, and English. The lessons take place in Switzerland, France, or Germany, and include summer camps for juniors, too. Participants can study French and German in Montreux and Berlin as well as Lyon and Freiburg. Juniors can choose three different regions of Switzerland for their summer camp, and the 50+ courses are aimed at... See full description.

Venture Europe GmbH - America's Adventure

Neuenhof, Switzerland
Venture Europe is an organization, specializing in the creation and execution of summer trips for teenagers, combining adventure and learning. It has been running since 1995, and the trips organized last from 14 to 28 days. The Habla Costa Rica Adventure lasts for 21 days, and involves adventure activities, such as surfing and sailing during the morning; and cooking, games and dance during the afternoon. All these are used to learn Spanish in an engaging and sociable atmosphere. A volunteer project is incorporated into the experience, too, as well as a couple of days entirely dedicated... See full description.

Career Colleges and Vocational Schools in Switzerland

Online degree, online courses and distance learning schools in Switzerland

In the past decade, wider access to the Internet has brought major changes to education in Switzerland and around the world.  The ability to take online courses in the pursuit of one of many online degrees has allowed a number of different segments of the Swiss population, especially working adults, to advance their education in fields such as business and technology without having to be physically present at a “brick and mortar university.”  These online programs are now offered at most Swiss public universities, along with a slew of private schools, whose primary focus is distance education.

The education system in Switzerland is generally considered among the best in the world, and online education has only added value to this high-performing and heavily research-focused system.  In Switzerland, the majority of public universities (10 out of 12) are managed by 10 of the 26 Cantons—member states of Switzerland—and because each has its own constitution and government, education in this country is quite diverse.  This educational diversity, which includes programs that are offered in a number of different languages, enables both Swiss and foreign students alike the opportunity to excel through distance learning.    

As mentioned above, there are 12 public universities in Switzerland, 10 managed by the cantons and 2 governed by the Swiss federal state.  Through these schools, and the many private ones that exist throughout Switzerland, students are able to use distance learning to participate in degree programs ranging from computer programming and information systems, to hospitality management and communications, all without leaving the comfort of their home.

Below are just a few of the cantons where students can participate in online distance learning:


Located in west-central Switzerland, Bern is the second largest of the 26 Swiss cantons.  This city/canton is rather unique in that there are 2 official languages—German and French—and almost 13% of the total population are foreigners.  This diversity of people and language requires an educational system, including distance learning programs, that are flexible enough to meet the needs of everyone—and on every single level, the city of Bern delivers.  Offering programs in French, German, Italian and even English, the schools in Bern are structured idyllically to help further the education of anyone who desires it.


Located just to the north of the world famous Alps, the canton of Zurich, in which Zurich is the capital city, is a densely populated and extremely diverse area with scores of wonderful educational opportunities, including online degrees.  The official language in Zurich is German, but the city has a very large percentage of foreign residents who speak something other than German, which has prompted many of the private schools and universities in this large canton to offer German language courses, in addition to their usual academic offerings.


Surrounded on almost all sides by France, Geneva is the capital of Switzerland and is generally considered one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world.  As you might guess, the official language of Geneva is French, and while the city is rather small by European or American standards, the number of cultural and academic opportunities it features definitely makes up for its size.  Online programs, especially in business and international relations, can be found here at both public and private universities.

Cities to study in Switzerland

CSA Study Abroad
Accredited study abroad programs all over the world for students of all levels.

Share this page: