How high should my Mathematics level be?

Remember that everyone who has earned a high school maturité recognized by the Swiss Confederation is admitted to EPFL, in any section he or she chooses.

See Admission requirements

However, the first evaluations of classes who graduated with the new high school maturité have shown that students arriving with a “standard math” education have to make additional efforts to reach the required level to succeed in the first year at first try, compared to students who arrive with a more advanced science and math background.

That does not mean that you can’t undertake a scientific career if you’re one of those students. EPFL offers a whole range of tools to make up for these deficits.

In addition, an e-book entitled “Savoir-faire en mathématiques pour bien réussir à l’EPFL”  (in French, sent to all new students before the start of classes) and an evaluation of your math level allows you to identify any deficits before you start. These also include proposals for how to fill in the gaps yourself.

To study at EPFL, you need to enjoy math, be determined and work diligently. It doesn’t mean that you need to be a genius!

How heavy is the workload?

Study programs assume about 30 hours of class time every week (this includes labs and problem sessions). You should plan 20-25 hours a week of individual work on top of this. This is of course an average. It’s clear that studying at EPFL is a full-time commitment.

What's an ECTS credit?

The ECTS system (European Credit Transfer System) allows to measure the level of education a student has obtained, by matching credits to courses.

One ECTS credit is proportional to the volume of work a student does, whether it’s done in class, in exercises, labs, projects, or homework. ECTS is based on the principal that the full-time work done by a student during a university year corresponds to 60 credits. The work of a student registered in a full-time study program in Europe is about 1500-1800 hours per year, so the value of a credit is equal to about 25 to 30 hours of work.

Credits are attributed when students satisfy evaluating conditions in terms of knowledge or skills associated with a class, projects, or labs. These evaluations are in the form of exams — oral or written, presentations, reports, etc. The system was designed by the European Commission, to facilitate student exchanges between universities (recognition of passed courses), in the framework of the Socrates/Erasmus Programme. At EPFL, the number of credits corresponding to courses are defined in the study plans.

In the context of the  Bachelor/Master reforms ( Bologna Accords 1999), this system was extended to all university studies. It’s no longer a system for transferring credits from one university to another, but a system for accumulating credits which is shared by all the universities in Europe.

For more information: EU, Socrates

Can I switch from a program to another?

It is possible to freely switch from a program to another after enrollment at EPFL and until the second week of courses. From the third week of courses, conditions start to apply for such changes. Further info here.

Did you receive my application?

You receive an acknowledgement of receipt at your online application.

How are classes run?

Classes / exercises
Theoretical classes are often accompanied by problem sessions in which students apply the ideas they have learned in class. In the first year, basic courses include students from several different sections and are given in large auditoriums. As studies progress, subjects get more and more specific and only interest a particular group of students. Teaching – even theory – becomes more participative. Materials for classes are often available online – this includes homework assignments and solutions.

Labs / projects
In the beginning, practical work is often in the form of labs, where students can get comfortable with basic work techniques (e.g. electronics, physical measurements, programming or chem labs). As these progress, they give way to projects, either in groups or individual, in which students analyze a problem and, using their knowledge of the subject, propose possible solutions. Projects often have a way of distilling your newly acquired knowledge: you’ll have to draw upon what you’ve learned in many different classes in order to solve the problem.

How should I combine my studies and my military service?

EPFL recommends to accomplish your military training either between the Bachelor and the Master (which would also give you time to do an industrial internship that might be required in your curriculum) or before starting your Bachelors program. Find further info about it here (in French)

Am I only going to sit in lectures?

No! Students are part of EPFL’s research and innovation forces. They are integrated in labs projects where they sometimes receive very serious responsibilities. However, during the first 2 years of the Bachelor’s program, a majority of the time is spent on lectures, a preparation for the future hands-on research tasks.

Do girls also study at EPFL?

Yes, thankfully! Their proportion varies from a program to another; it currently reaches in average 27% of EPFL’s students, which is a percentage that we still would like to increase. There is for example an important demand from the work market for women in engineering: ladies, don’t miss your chance!

Can I accomplish part of my studies abroad?

Yes! EPFL is a strong supporter of this approach. Opportunities are offered across continents. You will have the possibility to study abroad during the Bachelor’s third year and/or go abroad for your Master’s thesis.

What about career prospects?

An EPFL Diploma, Master’s or PhD degree, represents a guarantee of recognition on the work market in Switzerland and abroad. In all fields, prospects are numerous, in Academia and in industry. You will find more specific details about prospects on each program description.

Studying at EPFL, what does it cost?

EPFL being a public institution, tuition fees remain relatively low. Students are currently charged CHF 633.- per semester, meaning CHF 1266.- per year. This fee is the same for all admitted students, independently from their country of origin. Read more about financing studies and about living costs in Lausanne.