Information for refugees

There are two types of higher-education institutions in Switzerland: universities offering five-year degree programs and universities of applied sciences (HES) offering three-year programs. For more information on Switzerland’s university system and degree recognition, visit the Swiss ENIC website.

EPFL courses are taught in French and English. More information on languages used for teaching is available on the Registrar’s Office website.

Refugees wishing to complete an EPFL Bachelor’s program to obtain an academic or professional degree can enroll through one of three ways:

  • Enroll in the Special Mathematics Course
    The Special Mathematics Course (CMS) is a preparatory-year program for the Bachelor’s degree. Students successfully completing this program are admitted directly into the first year at EPFL. Details about the admission criteria and application procedure are available on the Bachelor’s studies website.Refugees who have obtained a science-oriented secondary-school diploma qualifying them for university studies, but who no longer have the official documentation (such as their diploma or transcript), can apply to the CMS. Their application will be reviewed and they will need to pass a test confirming that they have the necessary skills for the preparatory course. Contact EPFL’s Student Services for more information.
  • Enroll directly in the first-year program
    Refugees with a science-oriented high-school diploma (or equivalent) awarded by a school in an EU or EFTA member state and deemed equivalent to the Swiss high-school diploma can enroll directly in the first-year program provided their overall average grade (as indicated on the certificate) is at least 80% of the highest possible grade. For more information, visit the EPFL admission criteria website.Refugees who no longer have their secondary-school documentation (such as their diploma or transcript) can enroll in the CMS. Contact Student Services for more information.
  • Enroll through an admissions test
    Applicants who do not meet the criteria for enrollment in the CMS or the first year can take a full or shortened entrance exam (see the admission examination program, in French only). Applicants must pass the exam to be admitted in the first-year program. Registration information is available on the Bachelor’s studies website. Contact Student Services for more information.Refugees can apply for a scholarship.

Refugees can also attend EPFL courses without earning credits or working towards a degree.

  • Anyone can attend EPFL courses as an auditor in order to supplement their education. The conditions and registration procedure for auditing classes are available on the EPFL student website.Refugees will need to contact Student Services and provide proof of their refugee status.
  • EPFL also offers a range of online courses, or MOOCs, that can be taken free of charge as continuing education courses.

Coaching and mentoring for refugees
Refugee students, like all new EPFL students, can sign up for coaching to help them with the transition to university life. More information is available on the EPFL coaching website (in French).
AGEPoly also offers mentoring services for refugees who audit classes. This mentoring is designed to provide them with useful information on their studies and campus life. Refugees wishing to sign up for this service should contact AGEPoly ( after registering as auditors with Student Services.