FAQ & Regulations


Please note: If you cannot find an answer to your question here, please sign up to the Moodle cours "CDT/CTL" and ask your question there, if you have access to Moodle.


1.The information meeting of the programme will take place on the first day of the semester at 12:15 pm. Do courses start before this?

Yes, courses start on the first Monday of the semester. Please check the classes' schedule to determine when your optional courses take place.



2. What are the differences between the Certificate in Transnational Law (CTL) and the Certificat de Droit Transnational (CDT)? When do I get the CTL instead of the CDT?

It’s the same programme. Once you have successfully completed the programme, you will receive either the CDT or the CTL depending on whether the majority of your courses were taught in English or French. It is, of course, also possible to take all five courses in English. 

3. Do I have to decide in advance in which programme I want to enroll? 

No, the application process is exactly the same. Which certificate you get depends on whether the majority of courses you have chosen were taught in English or French.

4. How do I apply for the CTL? Should I do this at the same time as enrolling at the University of Geneva?

Depending on whether you are participating in an exchange programme or not, the procedure varies. All information can be found in the Admission section above.

5. May I take more than 5 courses? May I also stay the whole year?

Yes, in this case you will get two separate transcripts (one with your five CDT/CTL courses and another with your other courses and grades). Of course, you can extend your stay for a whole year.

6. I have not yet completed 120 ECTS or 2 years of legal studies. Can I be admitted anyway?

Only exceptionally. To give an example: students of International Relations at the University of Geneva (BARI) can be admitted under certain circumstances. Please contact us personally.

7. If I was refused previously, may I reapply?

Yes, but only if the reason why you were refused has changed (e.g. you now have 120 ECTS in legal studies) and you now meet the required criteria.

8. May I apply if I have not yet completed my law degree?

Yes. The only requirement is that you prove successful completion of 120 ECTS (for students from European countries) or of two years of legal studies. If you have not yet met this requirement, you may be admitted to the programme on the condition that you attest your successful completion of two years of legal studies or 120 ECTS before the start of the semester.

9. I have just finished or I am about to finish my law degree. Does the CTL suit someone with my background?

Many students wish to deepen their knowledge in international law after having studied their country’s national law. Geneva is a very good place to do so. There are 25 professors specialized in international law (public, private or criminal) at the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute. The variety of international law courses will certainly help to strengthen your interests in international law.

Pont du Mont Blanc

In addition to the regular courses of the CTL program, there are many talks, presentations and conferences offered throughout the year at the University and other institutions, such as the UN, specialized agencies or the Graduate Institute. Many of them are public. If you have already obtained a law degree, you might consider applying for an internship at an international organization, an NGO or at a law firm in Geneva. The CTL will definitely be a stepping stone for your career and a great credential on your resume.

10. I have seen that you also accept graduates and I am still an undergraduate student. I am worried that my chance of being admitted will be slim.

Don’t be! You are the main target of the CTL program. We are more restrictive with students that have already completed their law studies.

11. I have never studied international law before (or have very limited knowledge). Will I be able to follow the programme?

Don’t worry. Although the level of education is high, the professors do not expect you to have prior knowledge in the subject (unless specified otherwise). If you already have studied international law, the program will give you the opportunity to specialize in particular issues. Otherwise, the CTL is an excellent way to get involved with international law!

12. Switzerland has a tradition of civil law (as opposed to common law, for example). I am from a country with a different legal tradition (common law, Islamic law etc.). Will I be able to follow the course?

Of course, we’d be happy to have you! The purpose of transnational law is to go beyond national borders and approach law on a global level. Your background will be an enrichment to our students’ group.

13. I am thinking of applying for an LLM or Master in International Law (MIL), but I have found out about the CTL. Who is the CTL designed for and what are the differences with an LLM or MIL program?

The CTL allows you to deepen your knowledge in international law within only one semester. You might extend it for a second semester, however. If you are interested in getting work experience first, the CTL offers much flexibility. You can follow the program during two semesters and take only one (or two) courses in one of the two semesters, while working at the same time. Many jobs in Geneva, particularly with International Organisations or NGOs require work experience. Therefore, a prior internship or student job might help you get your first work experience and get in touch with your future employer.

LLM and MIL programs take one or two full years. They are broader and allow you to specialize even more. Some LLM programs require that candidates have already gained prior work experience (whereas the CTL does not).

The CTL is offered to students starting from their third year of legal studies onwards. Consequently, you only have to pay the applicable fees for undergraduate studies at our University (i.e. CHF 500.- per semester, waived if you are completing the program via an Erasmus or another exchange agreement). This makes the program much less expensive when compared to graduate studies.

14. Can I add additional documents that I think would support my application?

Yes, feel free to add any document or information that you think might support your application.


15. Do you have any recommendations for student housing?

For a none-exhaustive list of student housing, please click here.

16. When should I start looking for a place to live?

We advise you to send your application for University residences at the same time as your application for the CTL.

Private residences make their decisions for the following September generally around April/. May. You may also find housing through the Internet (don’t make any advance payments before signing your contract; serious offers don’t require this).


17. What level of English do I need to have to be admitted for the CTL?

We do not require proof of your language skills. Nonetheless, your level of English should at least be a B2/C1 level on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) scale.

Level B2 is generally described as follows: “Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialization. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.”

18. Why should I learn French?

French is the second most important language in international law. It is not only one of the official languages at the United Nations, but also at the International Court of Justice, the European Court of Human Rights, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the Permanent Court of Arbitration. French is also known as the language of diplomats and is spoken by 220 million people worldwide. For a career in international law, it is certainly helpful to know several languages, and French plays a particularly important role.

19. I’ve heard that it’s easy to live in Geneva without speaking any French, but I would like to improve my French anyway. Is this possible?

It is true that the great majority of people speak foreign languages (and many can’t speak French at all). With a population of nearly 40% of foreigners, this is not surprising. Nonetheless, the dominant language at the University of Geneva is French and if you make some effort you will be able to learn or improve your French skills in a relatively short period of time. Of course, your progress will mainly depend on your motivation and the people you are in contact with.

20. What possibilities are available at the University of Geneva to learn French?

The Faculty of Law offers a course for international law students to improve their skills on legal terminology in French. This course is offered without further charges for all students registered for the CTL.

If you are only a beginner, there a number of courses for all levels (A1 – C1) offered at the Faculté des Lettres. These courses have additional charges, but two of them are free for students coming from our partner universities. You will receive more detailed information with our Welcome Package once you are accepted.

For the moment, we would like to draw your attention to the possibility of taking intensive courses before the semester starts. Between July and August, there are three intensive courses, each of them three weeks long. For further details on the summer course: cours d’été

Finally, think of trying out a “tandem” exchange, where you will learn French from a fellow student and teach that same student your own language. Guaranteed results… and fun!

Before arrival

21. Do I have to register for my courses?

No, you don’t have to register for your courses before starting in Geneva. The registration period will start a few weeks after the beginning of the semester via an online platform. However, if you want to participate in a Moot Court or a Seminar, you should contact the professor in charge as soon as possible.

22. Where and when do I have to ask for a VISA?

EU/EFTA citizens must register with the local authority (Residents' Registration Office - Office Cantonal de la population) within 14 days after entering Switzerland, at the place of residence and apply for a residence permit. You will need to present the following documents:

• Personal application for the residence permit

• Valid passport or identity card

• Proof of registration at the university

• Evidence of sufficient funds (e.g. certificate or certified document of a bank authorised in Switzerland)

• Proof of address at a place of residence

• 2 passport photographs.

Students from countries other than EU/EFTA must contact the Swiss embassy or consulate in their own country and apply for a visa. If the responsible immigration or police authorities approve the application, the requirements for entry into Switzerland and for residence with the purpose of studying are met. Further information can be found at the Federal Office of Migration. Please apply for the visa as soon as you get your first letter of admission. Visa procedures usually take time!

Foreign nationals who are not EU/EFTA citizens and who are not required to obtain a visa should consult the Swiss embassy or consulate in their country for the current entry and residence requirements and formalities.

23. Do I need health insurance?

Yes, every student needs health insurance. You might want to check with the health insurance in your home country if they cover your medical expenses also for the time you study abroad. Our Welcome Package will provide you with further information.

Further questions:

24. In case I want to work part-time or do an internship during the semester, is it possible to take the programme on a part-time basis?

Yes, the CTL program can be accomplished in either one or two semesters. This gives you sufficient flexibility to choose your courses according to your needs and further plans. You might wish to intern or work 50% during the whole year, or full-time during one semester only, if your employer allows you to attend at least one course.

Please be aware that not all students are allowed to work during their studies in Switzerland, or might only be allowed to work no more than a certain number of hours per week. For further information regarding students from your home country, please get in touch with the OCP (Office Cantonal de la Population) regarding your particular situation.

25. How likely is it to get a paid internship in Geneva?

There is no general answer to this question, but note that quite a few of our foreign students were able to find an internship (paid or unpaid) after having completed the certificate. The majority of UN organizations in Geneva offer only unpaid internships. Some large law firms offer paid internships. Some international organizations such as the ILO and ICRC offer compensation to their interns. As competition is high, early applications are highly recommended.

26. Why does the Certificate in Transnational Law cost only 500 CHF?

The University of Geneva is a public institution. The majority of costs are therefore paid by the Swiss confederation or the taxpayers in Geneva. Thus, the low costs do not affect the quality of the education at all and the University of Geneva is among the best in Europe!

27. Can I benefit from other subsidized activities?

Yes, as a student you can benefit from many offers at the University, ranging from cultural and social to sports activities. All of these are offered at a minimal cost, allowing you to make the most out of your time in Geneva! You will get more information upon your arrival.