Registering at UNIGE

Admission requirements for applicants without a high-school diploma

This document has no legal weight.
The information below is subject to change.

General admission requirements

Applicants who hold a diploma that does not meet the entrance requirements may still submit an application provided that they:

  • are Swiss citizens or have held a residence permit for at least five years
  • will be at least 25 years of age on 1 September before the beginning of the academic year
  • have had a full-time professional activity, which has been properly declared, for a minimum of three years
  • have the necessary abilities according to the internal regulations of the Faculty of Humanities

Applicants whose native language is not French shall be subject to a French language assessment exam.

Faculty-specific admission requirements

Some faculties accept applicants based on their applications. Others have entrance exams.

The Faculty of Humanities requires applicants to sit for three entrance exams (see below for more details).

Admissions calendar

From 15 October to 15 December: applicants can pick up a registration form from Admission Services (each year, a public notice appears in the Geneva press). Applicants must write a detailed cover letter highlighting their motivations (two to three pages).

February: French assessment exam for non-francophone applicants. Applicants will be informed of the date by the University’s central administration.

Early February: A general information session will be organized as soon as the Faculty receives all applications that have been accepted by the central administration. In February, applicants will receive an invitation to the session by registered mail, along with a set of documents and a form that has to be filled out and returned by mail to the Faculty.

April: Applicants can officially register for the entrance exams. The exact date will be indicated on the calendar sent to them in February.

Between mid-May and end of May: Entrance exams. Applicants will be given the dates, times and room numbers as early as possible. Exam dates are fixed and cannot, under any circumstances, be changed to accommodate an applicant’s schedule.

Mid-June: Results will be posted on the Faculty’s bulletin board (Jura wing, second floor). The date and time will be confirmed during the exam session.

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Taking courses in the Faculty to prepare for the entrance exams

Applicants can attend lectures (cours magistraux) in the Faculty before sitting for the entrance exams. With the instructor’s permission, they may also be able to participate in seminars; they will not, however, be able to submit work or receive any proof of participation.

Entrance exams

Two written exams, one oral exam.

The written exams do not necessarily correspond to the majors selected by applicants. The oral exam, however, will be based on one of the majors they have chosen.

  1. First written exam: essay – textual analysis

    The essay must be written in French.

    Preliminary readings are given to applicants in the form of a list with several different categories (history, philosophy, literature). Applicants must select one category and read all the works corresponding to that category. The list will be sent along with the invitation to the general information session.

    Applicants will be required to answer questions based on the readings. All questions should be answered. The required length for each answer will be indicated.

    The exam lasts four hours. Applicants will be provided with paper and dictionaries. While the use of personal dictionaries is not allowed, applicants can have the works on their reading list with them during the exam.
  2. Second written exam: Summary of a text in a modern foreign language or translation of a text written in an ancient language

    Applicants have the choice of sitting for the ancient or modern foreign-language exam. The language must be one that is offered by the Faculty of Humanities.

    Applicants writing the modern-language exam will be given a 3-4 page text. The summary should be 1 to 1.5 pages long. There will also be a few questions to answer. No translation is involved; the summary should be written in the same language as that of the text.

    Applicants writing the ancient-language exam will be given a brief text. Texts should be translated into French.

    The exam lasts four hours.

    The Faculty will provide applicants with paper and dictionaries for the exam (ancient language-to-French dictionaries for the translation exam). The use of personal dictionaries is prohibited.
  3. Oral exam 

    The oral exam is based on three books (or the equivalent).

    Applicants are responsible for selecting a topic for their exam. After the general information session, they should contact a professor working in the chosen field and propose a set of books to be read for the exam. Applicants must then confirm the content of the exam with the Academic Advisor.

    The exam lasts 30 minutes. Applicants will have half an hour to prepare their answers.

    Applicants can have the books with them at their exam as well as their notes (as determined by the “Commission d’admission des candidats non porteurs de maturité” on 21 May 2002).

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Passing grades

At the University of Geneva, the maximum grade is 6 and the pass grade is 4. Applicants who obtain a grade of five or above have definitively passed the exam.

To pass all three exams, the applicant must obtain a total score of 12.

A (high) grade for one exam can therefore compensate for the (low) grade for another exam. There is no failing grade or multiplying factor.

If an applicant fails to show up for an exam or hands in a blank paper, all exam results will be invalidated.

Applicants who want to go over their marked exams should contact the Academic Advisor.

Publication of results and confirmation of registration

Results will be posted on the Faculty’s bulletin boards at the end of the June exam session (around 20 June).

Applicants who pass the exam will be officially informed by the Faculty and asked to confirm their registration for the fall semester of that year or the following year. Admission exam results are valid for one year.

Resitting the entrance exams

Applicants who fail the exams and wish to resit them the following year or later in the future must inform Admission Services during the registration period (between 15 October and 15 December).

Switching faculties

Students who want to switch faculties must meet the admission requirements of the new faculty (admission exams or submitting an application). Those who have already obtained a Bachelor’s degree in another faculty will not have to go through the application process unless they are applying to medicine or pharmacy (in accordance with University Regulations).

If you want to switch faculties, please contact the Academic Advisor as soon as possible.