Studying/Doing research


Since 2007, courses at all Swiss universities and specialist colleges in mid-September and end in late June. The fall semester lasts from September to December and the spring semester from February to May. Exams are held in January/February, May/June and August/September.


The baccalauréat universitaire or Bachelor, the initial basic degree, as a rule requires 180 ECTS credits1 over three years of full-time study. Bachelor’s programmes provide basic skills in a discipline, as well as academic methodology.

The maîtrise universitaire or Master, the second basic degree, requires 90 to 120 credits over three or four semesters of study. Master’s programmes provide advanced general study of a discipline or field, as well as an initial encounter with research. They may be limited to one discipline or interdisciplinary, focused on research or professional practice, and offer a range of specializations.

Instruction offered by the University of Geneva is structured according to the principles of the Bologna reform, with three main study cycles: the Bachelor, the Master and the Doctorate. Most programmes include compulsory and optional courses. The latter may be taken in other faculties, or at other universities, depending on the circumstances. Instruction is mainly offered in the form of courses given ex cathedra, seminars and practical work.

The doctorate (Ph.D.) is a research-based course lasting between six and ten semesters, at the end of which candidates must submit and defend a dissertation. It follows on from a Master’s degree.

The Master of Advanced Studies (MAS ) is a postgraduate course lasting between two semesters minimum that allows candidates to gain 60-120 credits minimum. It follows on from a Master’s degree.




Research areas are many and each year, the University of Geneva hosts many PhD students and foreign researchers in its faculties and laboratories.

Due to its high level standards in research and its many disciplines, the UNIGE is ranked among the best three generalist French-speaker universities and among the 150 best universities in 20’000 worldwide universities. Its research projects cover one hundred subjects, from exact sciences, natural and medical sciences to social sciences and humanities. Every year this leads to fruitful results such as 3'300 publications.

At a national level, the UNIGE is one of the Swiss leaders for hosting National Centres of Competence in Research (NCCR). Main instrument of the Swiss National Science Foundation, these NCCRs foster scientific networks at an international level of excellence from fundamental research to application. Each NCCR is under the directorship of a research institution (Leading house) which allows research groups based at the home institution to network with other teams working throughout Switzerland. Since 2001, 8 NCCRs have been hosted by the UNIGE as leading or co-leading house: "Frontiers in Genetics", "MaNEP", "Affective Sciences", "Chemical Biology", "LIVES – Overcoming vulnerability", "The synaptic bases of mental disease", "SwissMAP - The Mathematics of Physics" and "PlanetS".