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ETH Zurich
Zurich, Switzerland (Exchange Program) (Outgoing Program)
Program Terms:
Program Terms: Academic Year,
Fall Semester,
Spring Semester
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Partner Institution/Organization Homepage: Click to visit
Program Dates & Deadlines: Click here to view
Restrictions: Princeton applicants only
Budget Sheets Academic Year,
Fact Sheet: - unrelated header
Fact Sheet:
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Dept Offering Program: Study Abroad OIP Program Type: Study Abroad (semester)
Language of Instruction: English Language Prerequisite: No
Program Features: Academic Study Degree Level: 3 - Sophomore, 4 - Junior, 5 - Senior
Time Away: Academic Year, Fall Semester, Spring Semester Housing options: Dormitory
Program Group: Study Abroad OIP Program Adviser: Jordan Zilla
Program Description:
Program Description:


Princeton Program: ETH Zurich

Please be reminded that you may need to meet different deadlines when applying to this program: 
  • Nomination deadline: TBD (late September)
  • ETH application deadline: October 15, 2018
  • Princeton application deadline: October 26, 2018
Princeton’s undergraduate exchange agreement with ETH Zurich allows Princeton undergraduates to spend a semester at ETH engaging in a combination of research and course work in the Departments of Biology, Mathematics and Computer Science. Although the principal language of instruction at ETH Zurich is German, an increasing number of upper-level courses are taught in English, including in the three departments that receive Princeton students.

An intensive course in beginner and advanced German is offered in the weeks prior to the semester. Beginners and advanced learners can enroll in courses at all levels of proficiency during the semester. An intensive course prior to the semester and one language course during the semester are free of charge.

Learn more by reviewing the ETH Zurich Exchange Fact Sheet.

The University

ETH Zurich, or The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich, is one of the world’s leading institutions in science and technology and is known for its outstanding research record. Indeed, 21 Nobel Laureates are associated with ETH. Excellent research conditions, state-of-the-art laboratories, and an attractive urban environment add up to the ideal setting for study abroad.

About 500 professors in 16 departments teach mainly in the engineering sciences and architecture, system-oriented sciences, mathematics and natural sciences areas and carry out research that is highly valued worldwide. Approximately 19,200 students from over 120 countries attend ETH Zurich.

The Setting

Zurich is Switzerland’s largest city and is known as the city with the world’s highest standard of living. While Berne is the political capital, Zurich is considered the business capital. With theaters, concert halls, museums, art galleries, libraries, and bookshops, Zurich is also a center of cultural importance. Situated on the Lake of Zurich and the river Limmat, surrounded by hills, and within easy reach of the Alps, Zurich is a naturally beautiful and very pleasant city in which to live.

Zurich has excellent air, rail and road connections. Euro City and Inter City trains from all directions stop at the central station. Within the metropolitan area, a combined network of public transportation links rapid suburban rail, tramways, buses, and boats. Switzerland is a multilingual country. Approximately 65% of the population speaks Swiss German. The three other national languages are French (Western Switzerland), Italian (Southern Switzerland), and Romansh (South-Eastern Switzerland). German, French, and Italian are equally recognized. Swiss German is used for almost all oral communication, whereas Standard German is the language used for written communication.



Visit the ETH website for a listing of programs of study. Courses can be found in the course catalog. The ECTS allocated for each course, as well as the number of hours, are listed in each course description. The hours listed are normally the hours per week, and regular courses take place every week for the whole semester. In the Biology Department, there are many block courses that take meet intensively over a short period of time.


Applicants must have at least a B average in the year preceding the semester abroad.

Applicants to the Department of Biology must complete the following courses by the end of sophomore year: MOL 214/215 (or ISC 231-234), CHM 304/304B, and one of the MOL core courses (MOL 342, MOL 345, MOL 348, MOL 350).

Applicants to the Departments of Mathematics or Computer Science should be taking advanced courses while at ETH. Please note: The courses in English at ETH are only available in the more advanced level courses. Make sure you have the prerequisites for the courses you want to take. These will be listed in the course catalog, and it is the student's responsibility to browse it before applying.

Grading & Credits:

Students in the Department of Biology take a total of five laboratory-based Block Courses and/or lecture-based Concept Courses, for a total of at least 28 ECTS. Successful completion of two pre-approved Block Courses substitutes for MOL 350 (Laboratory in Molecular Biology); no other core course (MOL 342, MOL 345, MOL 348) can be completed abroad. Students also need to complete the equivalent of the fall-semester junior paper while on the exchange.

Math and Computer Science students must register for 28-30 ECTS, typically comprised of a variable number of courses (depending on the number of ECTS for each course) and a small research project (5 ECTS). The research project is optional, although students are encouraged to pursue one. Students need to find a suitable research project and a supervisor on their own. A good place to start identifying a research project is the website of the department students are interested in joining, and students are encouraged to contact the ETH professor directly in advance of the start of the semester. Students also need to complete the equivalent of the fall-semester junior paper while on the exchange, if applicable.

(Please note that Princeton students' ECTS requirements may differ from ETH students' ECTS requirements due to the differences in the two educational systems. Princeton students should follow the above guidelines in order to transfer a full credit load back to Princeton.) Credit will not be given to courses taken on a pass/fail basis.

Academic Calendar

Fall semester typically runs from mid September to early January.
Spring semester typically runs from mid February to mid June, but exams are scheduled in August (students' housing contract will extend till August).
You can view exact program dates on the university’s academic calendar


Zurich is a safe and attractive place to live. Housing for students is offered by institutions that are connected with ETH Zurich, but operate independently. ETH Zurich has a number of rooms available at these institutions for exchange students. Housing is not guaranteed, but ETH has usually been able to find accommodation for all overseas exchange students who register with the Housing Office within the set deadlines. Princeton cannot accept final responsibility for living arrangements for students who attend ETH Zurich, but the ETH Housing Office can help students with their search for suitable housing.

After acceptance to ETH, student will receive further information via email about registering for accommodation. Read this information carefully. A comment field is included as part of the housing application where students may state their housing preferences. Review the ETH Housing Overview for further details.

There is no meal plan in student houses, so students should be prepared to cook their own meals or use one of the ETH Zurich restaurants.  

Student Life

Review the ETH Zurich Handbook (.pdf) for useful and practical information about living in Zurich and Campus Life. 

Money Matters

Students who receive financial aid at Princeton continue to receive Princeton financial aid for the approved costs of study abroad programs during the academic year. For detailed information about financial aid, program fees, and billing for study abroad, please visit the Money Matters section of the Study Abroad website. 
For estimated program costs, please click on the Budget Sheet at the top of this brochure.

Passport and Visa 

Students must have a passport valid for at least six months after the end of their study abroad program.  For information on obtaining or renewing a US passport, please consult the US State Department Passport Website
Most nationals from countries outside the European Union/European Economic Area need a visa to enter Switzerland for the purposes of study. Accepted students will receive all information regarding the visa and residence permit via email from ETH after acceptance. ETH will first apply for visa authorization on behalf of each accepted student. Once the student has received the visa authorization by email, they will then need to apply for an Authorized Long-Term Stay visa (over 90 days) at one of the Swiss visa desks in the US. The Swiss visa desk websites will provide a list of documents that must be submitted. After arrival at ETH Zurich, students will receive further information about applying for their residence permit.

Application Process

In order to apply, the appropriate study abroad adviser from Princeton must review your qualifications and nominate you for the program.

OIP will review applications, and will then nominate qualified students to the program. After you have been nominated, you must then complete the ETH online application form for worldwide exchange.

Note: Princeton deadlines are not the same as the deadlines posted on the ETH Zurich website.

In addition to a program application, students must also complete the Princeton Course approval form. This form is reviewed by the Committee on Examinations and Standing, which grants final approval to participate in the program. Students who meet the university eligibility requirements to study abroad and who have the support of their department are normally approved by the Committee.


Start planning your study abroad experience!

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Dates / Deadlines:
Tabular data for Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year App Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Academic Year 2019-2020 04/26/2019 05/10/2019 TBA TBA
Fall Semester 2019 04/26/2019 05/04/2019 TBA TBA
Spring Semester 2020 10/25/2019 11/01/2019 TBA TBA
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