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Study Law in Switzerland 2024

Study in Switzerland

Law Degrees in Switzerland

In order to become a lawyer in Switzerland, students must complete a three-year Bachelor of Law (LLB). However, in order to be admitted to the bar and enter practice, a subsequent two-year Master of Laws is also required.

An alternate option which is popular with many international students is the shorter and specialized LLM, which offers the opportunity to gain targeted knowledge in one particular area of the law, such as arbitration or banking law. It is also possible to pursue a PhD in law following the completion of the LLB, Master of Law and/or Professional LLM.

Graduates must also complete a one to two year apprenticeship with a law firm or court -- preferably in the canton in which they plan to practice -- and pass a written and oral examination administered at the conclusion of their training in order to be admitted to the bar.

Law Higher Education in Switzerland

Switzerland has no private institutions for training lawyers: all nine law schools are affiliated with the country’s cantonal universities. These include University of Lausanne, University of Basel, University of Bern, University of Fribourg, University of Geneva, University of Lucerne, University of Neuchâtel, University of St. Gallen and University of Zurich.

Because Switzerland is the home of innumerable international organizations and banking institutions, and due to its status as the birthplace of significant progress in many areas of humanitarian concern as well as business and banking, Switzerland provides students from all over the world with a new and comprehensive global perspective. Furthermore, the country's commitment to cutting edge research offers international students a more profound understanding of legal global affairs.

While the cost of living in Switzerland is notoriously high, tuition fees are relatively low -- particularly when compared to the U.S. and the U.K. Additionally, there are a number of scholarship opportunities available for international students. Once again, tuition fees may vary from one institution to the other.

Because of its global prominence in business and finance, there are plenty of career opportunities for lawyers in Switzerland, particularly within primary sectors, such as banking, finance and intellectual property rights.

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Basic monthly living cost

  • Rent in a shared flat

  • Share of utilities

  • Internet subscription

  • Local transportation


Sample lifestyle cost

  • Fast food combo

  • Cinema ticket

  • Pint of local beer


About Switzerland

Officially called the Swiss Federation, Switzerland lies in western Europe and is bordered by Italy to the west, Germany to the north, Liechtenstein and Austria to the east and France to the west. Bern is the capital of Switzerland, a landlocked country that consists of 26 cantons, or territorial subdivisions that differ slightly in administration procedures. The majority of Switzerland's population (nearly eight million people) live on an area referred to as the "Plateau", where the heavily populated cities of Geneva and Zurich are located.

Switzerland is famous for being one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Residents possess the highest amount of non-financial and monetary assets per individual as compared to any other citizens in the world. Additionally, Geneva and Zurich consistently rank as two cities exhibiting the best standards of living among all other global cities. Switzerland's stable economy is attributed to its self-sufficiency through farming and effective manufacturing practices that allow it to export large amounts of goods. Other areas that Switzerland shows excellent economic expertise include tourism, international banking, transportation, biotechnology and research and development.

Centrally located in the heart of Europe, Switzerland is celebrated for its efficiency and productivity, not to mention its stunning geography and rich history of neutrality. With three native languages, German, French and Italian, along with an abundance of English speaking study opportunities, Switzerland is a premiere destination for international students.

Switzerland’s Law System

Based on the tradition of civil law, Switzerland has a statute-based legal system which is independent of all other government branches. All law-making power lies with the country’s 26 states, known as cantons, except when expressly stated by its Constitution as belonging to the federal authorities. Federalism remains a fundamental component of the Swiss legal system.

Visa Requirements

  1. C visa – for short courses (summer schools, language schools) that last for up to three months.
  2. D visa – for courses that last longer than three months.

What type of Visa do you need?

Visa name

C visa; D visa

Price and currency


For a student visa, the application is free of charge; however, there might be some exceptions.

Who can apply for the visa?

Although Switzerland is not a member of the EU, it allows EU citizens to attend university in the country. Students that do not have EU/EEA nationality must contact the Swiss embassy or consulate in their home country to apply for a visa prior to entering the country.

For courses of up to three months – summer courses, language schools – you may need a short-term Schengen C visa; for courses longer than three months, you may need a long-term national D visa.

You cannot come to Switzerland on a three-month tourist visa and change it to a student residence permit after you have arrived in Switzerland. Thus, even if you are exempt from needing an entry visa, such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia, or Singapore nationals, you will still need to apply for a residence permit before you arrive if you plan to stay longer than 90 days.

All international students, including EU/EFTA citizens, will have to apply for a residence permit at a Residents Registration Office within 14 days after their arrival in Switzerland.

Where can you make the application?

Swiss embassy or consulate

You’ll need to apply for a visa through the Swiss embassy or consulate in your home country.


How to make the application?

When you have received confirmation of acceptance by a Swiss university or private school, you will need to contact the Swiss embassy in your country for information on entry formalities for Switzerland. You will have to show proof that you have adequate financial means to support yourself during your studies.

You will need to complete an application form and submit supporting documentation in French, German, or English, so you may need to translate your documents.

For short-term Schengen C visas, documentation includes:

  • a valid passport/travel ID;
  • proof of adequate financial resources to cover your costs while you’re in Switzerland;
  • healthcare/accident insurance;
  • confirmation of booked courses including fees paid;

if you’re under 18, a birth certificate and authorization to travel if coming to Switzerland alone, or copies of parents’ visas if they will be accompanying.

For a long-term D visa, documents will include:

  • a valid passport/travel ID;
  • proof of adequate financial resources to cover your costs while you’re in Switzerland, whether yourself or a sponsor, such as copies of bank statements or a letter from the bank;
  • proof of healthcare insurance which includes cover for accidents;
  • motivation letter outlining why you want to come to Switzerland to study and how this will be beneficial to your career;
  • confirmation of enrolment at a recognized Swiss educational institution;
  • confirmation of course fees paid;
  • your CV;
  • copies of previous educational certificates and diplomas;
  • a signed letter confirming that you will leave Switzerland at the end of the course.

You may also be asked to sit a language test to make sure that you will be able to follow lessons.

If you want to undertake postgraduate studies, you’ll need to submit proof that you’ve been admitted to a post-grad course and have the appropriate qualifications, sufficient financial means, and somewhere to live.

When should you apply?

You should schedule an appointment at the Swiss embassy or consulate in your area as soon as you get the acceptance letter from the Swiss educational institution. You should schedule the appointment for a visa interview as early as 6 months prior to the start of your studies but no later than ten weeks before your departure.

The processing times for short stay visa applications are 10-15 days; and eight to ten weeks for long-stay visas.

The length of the student visa depends on the length of your course. The residence permit is given for one year and can be renewed.

Processing time

10 Weeks

Work opportunities

You may take up part-time work for up to 15 hours a week in term time and full-time during holidays, but only after you have lived in Switzerland for six months.

If you already hold a Master’s degree from a foreign university and you’re in Switzerland working for your Swiss university or institute, you don’t have to wait six months but can start work right away. Your employer will need to get a work permit for you. You will need to maintain your full-time student status and show that you are continuing to make progress in your studies.

After graduation, foreign students can stay in Switzerland for six months to look for work.

Hours per week


Why do you need this type of visa?

Your visa application may be rejected if you are not able to show proof of the required funds, or if you provide incorrect or incomplete documents.