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ISEP Switzerland

Fast Facts

Sessions Offered:

Fall, Spring, Academic Year


Bern, Switzerland
Fribourg, Switzerland
Lausanne, Switzerland
Zürich, Switzerland




-Must be in good academic and disciplinary standing

- 2.75 GPA or above

- 6 semesters of French or German required for most locations

Application Due:

Fall/Academic Year: 1/30

Spring: 8/15

Program Cost:

Click the Application tab.

river and old buildings

Bern, Switzerland

ISEP offers exchange programs at four Swiss universities. Please visit ISEP's website to learn more about the programs at Universität Bern, Université de Fribourg, Université de Lausanne, and Universität Zürich.

These programs are incredibly immersive, affordable, and diverse, but they are not for everyone and placement is never guaranteed. Students should be relatively mature, independent, and open to learning in an immersive environment.
All ISEP program sites have an onsite ISEP coordinator and host a comprehensive orientation program to help facilitate your full immersion into your host culture. You will participate in regular university classes – taught by local professors – with students from the host culture. You will essentially be directly enrolled in the host institution and will have complete access to all campus facilities as if you were a local student. If you're interested in ISEP possibilities, please make an appointment with the Study Abroad advisor for this region by calling 319-335-0353.

ISEP Exchange

In an ISEP Exchange, a UI student goes to an ISEP university and a student from another ISEP university comes to UI. Students pay UI tuition, fees, and room and board, while and the costs of their attendance at the host university are paid by an outbound ISEP exchange student. The number of inbound students accepted will be tied to the number of outbound students a university sends, so placements can be limited on ISEP Exchange.


At Universität Bern, students have access to German-taught courses in a wide variety of subjects. Some courses are taught in English in the English Language and Literature department and there are graduate-level classes in English in Business Management, Anthropology, Political Science, and a few other subjects. Visit Universität Bern's ISEP program page for more information.

At Université de Fribourg, some courses are taught in German and some are taught in French. A wide range of courses are taught in those two languages. Only a limited number of graduate-level courses are offered in English. Visit Université de Fribourg's program page for more information.

At Université de Lausanne, students have access to French-taught courses in a wide variety of subjects. Courses in English are very limited, mostly in Business and Biology. Visit the two Université de Lausanne program pages for more information: Flexible Course Enrollment and Language and Culture in French.

At Universität Zürich, students have access to German-taught courses in a wide variety of subjects. There are limited courses offered in English in the Economics department. Visit Universität Zürich's program page for more information.


The fall semester at most Swiss universities will run from mid-September to mid-January, and may not be compatible with the UI calendar. Talk to a study abroad advisor about accommodations if you want to study abroad in Switzerland in the fall semester. The spring semester typically runs from mid-February to mid-June. The calendar at Zürich may be more compatible with the UI calendar than other ISEP sites.

Navigate to the "Application" tab for information about application deadlines.

For more information

Steps to Studying Abroad

  1. Before initiating an application with ISEP, students must complete a Discover Study Abroad session at the University of Iowa. 
  2. After completing the Discover Abroad session, students must call the Study Abroad office at 319-335-0353 to be assigned to the appropriate study abroad advisor.
  3. Once assigned, students must meet with their study abroad advisor to receive program application instructions.

Study Abroad
1111 University Capitol Centre
Iowa City, IA 52242

Phone: 319-335-0353


Snow-covered Alpine peaks, geopolitical neutrality, high-tech watches, gourmet chocolate, yodeling mountaineers, and sophisticated banking are the Switzerland you know. However, ISEP’s Swiss institutions offer exciting academic and extracurricular opportunities to immerse yourself in the dynamic, youthful, and high-tech Switzerland that you have yet to discover.

rolling hills and trees

near Bern, Switzerland


The city of Bern, founded in 1191, is one of the most splendid examples of medieval town architecture in Europe. UNESCO has placed Bern on its list of World Cultural Heritage sites. The city is safe and attracts young people with its many bars, restaurants, and theaters. Einstein developed his theory of relativity while living in Bern, and the largest collection of Paul Klee works is housed in town. The city is green and offers a variety of outdoor activities, including skiing in winter and swimming in the Aare River and various city swimming pools in the summer. Bern is the capital of Switzerland and is situated in the center of the country and Europe.


The city of Fribourg, nestled at the foot of the pre-Alps, is on the linguistic border between the French and German speaking parts of the country. With its winding streets, abundance of shops, and 13th-century cathedral, the city still retains a medieval atmosphere.


Lausanne, which is in western Switzerland on Lake Geneva, is a business center and capital of its canton. It offers many shops, theaters, and art galleries. Lausanne has frequent concerts and hosts the ballet troupe Béjart Ballet Lausanne. Most of the university buildings are located in Dorigny, to the southwest of Lausanne, at an attractive, modern campus by the lake.

streets of Zurich

Zurich, Switzerland


The city of Zurich lies in the German-speaking part of Switzerland. With its almost 367,000 inhabitants, Zurich combines the advantage of a comfortably-sized town with the diversity of a cosmopolitan city. Thanks to its attractive location on the banks of the Lake of Zurich and the Limmat River, and its proximity to recreation areas like the Uetliberg and the Swiss Alps, Zurich offers a very high quality of life. Zurich is not only the economic but also the cultural center of Switzerland. The diversity of the city comes from the tolerant, cosmopolitan, and multicultural population as well as its renowned cultural facilities and various alternative, smaller-scale cultural events.

US Department of State Country Information

The US Department of State provides safety and security information for every country of the world to help you assess for yourself the risks of travel. Each country information page contains a Travel Advisory, Alerts, and other important details specific to that country that could affect you.

Pay close attention to the entry and exit requirements, local laws and customs, health conditions, and other details to help decide whether traveling to any given country is right for you. Non-US citizen travelers may also wish to seek guidance from the embassy of their country of citizenship. The UI International Travel Policy for Students addresses restrictions on student travel to high-risk locations and engagement in high-risk activities abroad.

Housing and Meals

student smiling while holding a pastry

Student eating a Swiss pastry

According to the University of Iowa's contract with ISEP, all students will have both housing and meals provided for them at their host university. To view specific housing and meal arrangements, please visit ISEP's pages for Universität Bern, Université de Fribourg, Université de Lausanne (Flexible Course Enrollment and Language and Culture), and Universität Zürich.

Travel Arrangements

Students are advised NOT to purchase airline tickets until they receive acceptance confirmation from the host university. If you have questions and/or concerns about this, please contact the study abroad advisor at 319-335-0353.

Students are expected to find their own flights, though Study Abroad can assist by providing advice on airfare. More info on flights and arrival times will be provided by the host university with the acceptance packet.

Local Transportation

Please visit this TripAdvisor travel webpage for more information.


three students standing on a giant chess board

Zurich, Switzerland

This program is open to all UI students who are in both good academic and also disciplinary standing. Applicants must also meet the minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75.

Meeting the minimum requirements for eligibility does NOT guarantee acceptance into the program. The final decision on admissions rests with ISEP and the host institution. Chances of placement for students seeking to go to Switzerland are generally good on ISEP Exchange but are never guaranteed.

Eligibility Policy

It is the University of Iowa’s policy that all students who study abroad must be in both good academic standing and also good disciplinary standing. Students who, even after being accepted into a program, are put on either academic and/or disciplinary probation for any period of time overlapping with the study abroad program dates are ineligible to study abroad.

In these cases, students must forfeit their acceptance and will NOT be allowed to study abroad. Any student that must forfeit their acceptance and/or attendance on a study abroad program due to a probationary status is wholly responsible for any and all financial expenses incurred.

Language Requirements

Most ISEP Switzerland locations will require at least six semesters of college-level French or German (or equivalent).

Program Cost Sheets

The following are sample cost sheets from recent terms. Please contact Study Abroad for a current cost sheet for your desired program if it isn't listed and/or current.

  • No recent cost sheets available for this country.

Cost sheets outline the total estimated costs associated with participating in this program. The cost sheet will include fees charged on students’ U-Bill, as well as estimated out-of-pocket expenses. Actual out-of-pocket expenses will vary from individual to individual. Quoted estimates are conservatively high, yet realistic.

The cost sheet includes the Study Abroad Administrative Fee and Mandatory Iowa Regents CISI Travel Insurance. Please see the respective websites for further details. If the fee is inclusive of UI tuition, it is calculated by Current Tuition. Please contact your study abroad advisor with questions regarding this cost sheet – call 319-335-0353 to schedule an appointment.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Most financial aid (scholarships, grants, and loans) is applicable to study abroad programs. Please check the Study Abroad website for information on financial aid and how it may be applied to studying abroad. You are also encouraged to speak with someone at the Office of Student Financial Aid to explore financial aid options.

Scholarship opportunities exist for study abroad participants. Please explore Study Abroad’s websites for UI Study Abroad Scholarship Opportunities and Non-UI External Awards.

Withdrawal policy

After applying for a Study Abroad Program, notice of withdrawal must be made in writing to University of Iowa Study Abroad. The date on which the letter or e-mail message is received is the date by which your costs will be calculated. If for any reason you withdraw after the confirmation deadline and before or during the course of the program, the amount/percentage shown in the following chart represents what you will be required to pay to the University of Iowa.

Date of Withdrawal Student Financial Responsibility
After Confirmation of Participation is signed Administrative fee: $400
ISEP Placement fee: $390 ($490 for dual placement)
Portion of program fee: As determined by the program contract with ISEP
After Program Start Date Administrative fee: $400
ISEP Placement fee: $390 ($490 for dual placement)
Portion of program fee: As determined by the program contract with ISEP

Consult with your Study Abroad advisor for any clarification about fees and billing. Note that when you withdraw from a program, any money already paid directly to a program provider and/or a host university will potentially be forfeited. Check with your specific provider/host university for details. Additional penalties for cancellation of airline tickets may also apply. Check with your airline for further details.

Application Deadline

Spring Semester: 8/15. For best chances of placement on Exchange, students should have met with the ISEP advisor in May prior to the end of the semester, or during the summer.

Fall Semester and Academic Year: 1/30. For best chances of placement on Exchange, students should have met with the ISEP advisor in December prior to the end of the semester.

Any supplemental materials are due to the Study Abroad office one week later.

How to Apply

group of six students standing in front of Zurich skyline in the snow

Zurich, Switzerland

Please meet with a study abroad advisor before beginning your application.

Click here for UI's online study abroad application. On the application page, you need to choose your desired session. Then choose the program "International Student Exchange Program" from the drop down menu. Do NOT choose "International Student Exchange Direct" even if that's what you want. Once confirmed from ISEP, Study Abroad will manually put you in the appropriate section.

Note: students must fill out two applications. In addition to UI's online study abroad application, you will also be required to fill out ISEP's application. BEFORE applying to ISEP, students MUST make an appointment with the study abroad advisor for this program. Students will not be allowed to apply unless they are first nominated by the University of Iowa. Please call 319-335-0353 to schedule an appointment.

Acceptance Materials

facade of the University of Zurich

University of Zurich

After submission of your UI online application, you will be invited to fill out an ISEP application. This is a lengthy process and needs to be started well ahead of the University of Iowa's deadline (at least a month prior). The University of Iowa is required to submit your completed ISEP application (ISEP will not accept it if it is sent by you). When ISEP has reviewed your application and made a placement, they will notify you and your Study Abroad advisor.

You will then be either confirmed or denied by the host university. If confirmed, you will receive your initial acceptance materials via e-mail from ISEP and your host university. You will then meet with your Study Abroad advisor to receive the remaining portion of your acceptance packet.

Orientation Information

You will have two separate orientations: one at the University of Iowa before your departure and another upon your arrival in Switzerland at your host university. Each orientation varies depending on the host university.

ISEP Student Handbooks

There are no photos available for this program yet. Do you have any photos to share with us? If you do, please contact us at:

1111 University Capitol Centre
The University of Iowa
Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1802

Phone: (319) 335-0353
Fax: (319) 335-0343