The CSE department piloted the ETH exchange program in Spring 2007, and it continues to thrive. At this time, we can send one or two undergraduates each year to ETH.
Preparing for an exchange to ETH
CSE majors interested in studying at ETH should read through our general info on CSE exchanges, speak with a CSE advisor, and attend our annual info session on CSE exchanges. The application for CSE exchanges takes place in January and February, and students confirm their intent to go abroad before the end of February.
Academic preparation: ETH is a challenging school, and CSE majors take advanced bachelor's and masters' courses (the only courses taught in English). These are roughly equivalent to CSE 400-level and masters courses. Visiting students should have strong grades, have completed required 300-level CSE classes, and feel comfortable going into senior-level work. (Note that this does not mean you need senior class standing -- students who begin CSE courses early at UW may complete their 300-level classes early, and be ready for an exchange early.) Newer CSE majors may be considered for an ETH exchange if they speak German well enough to take courses taught in German.
Some language skill is helpful in any travel experience, but is not required for studying at ETH. All participants have access to German language courses at ETH, which we highly recommend for anyone who is not already fluent. German language skills will benefit you in classes and in navigating Zurich.
ETH's academic calendar: ETH's Autumn semester runs mid-September through mid-December, with exams mid-January through mid-February. Spring semester runs mid-February through May, with exams in August. View the full ETH academic calendar here. Students who visit ETH for a full year will replace one UW calendar year (plus a summer). However, students who visit for only one semester almost always miss two quarters at UW.
Some exams at ETH happen early in the exam period, and exams can occasioanally be rescheduled by a few days. Exams may also be taken after leaving ETH, as "distance exams" proctored by a professor or advisor at UW. Early exams or distance exams could allow you to return to Seattle before the standard exam period has finished. However, since you must decide on your exchange dates way before picking classes, you should tentatively plan to spend the full amount of time for each term abroad (ie, don't rely on having early exams.)
Stipend: ETH offers a monthly stipend of $1500 CHF (approximately $1550 USD) for one student. If more than one student attends, the same amount may be split or we can request extra funding (not guaranteed).
Info for selected students: Confirming your exchange
Living and studing abroad requires a lot of small preparatory tasks. Allow time for all of these, and keep deadlines in mind. It's your responsibility to complete all the necessary steps for both ETH and UW.
After you are selected for an exchange, you must email Raven to confirm your exchange by February 25. If you are unable to go, please let us know as soon as you have made your decision. We will want to offer your spot to another student, and give that person enough time to consider their decision.
CSE will send your exchange info to UW International Programs & Exchanges, and IPE will send you instructions on their exchange requirements.
CSE will also nominate you to ETH, and introduce you via email to our coordinators at ETH. You must then apply formally to ETH. This application is mostly a formality, but will take time to complete. ETH applications must be submitted online by April 1. The application requires a number of components. Please review the ETH application requirements early, so you know what is required, and begin compiling your materials well before the deadline. After you are have applied to and are accepted to ETH, you will receive information from the ETH admissions office about housing and enrollment.
Your application to ETH
ETH uses an online application called "Mobility-Online." Please note the deadlines below. Detailed instructions, including the link to the online application, can be found at: https://www.ethz.ch/en/studies/non-degree-courses/exchange-and-visiting-studies/programmes/exchange-programmes/worldwide-programmes.html
ETH online application deadlines:
- 1 September for the Spring Semester 2015
- 1 April for the Autumn Semester 2015/16 (online application completed and submitted, including all documents)
Passport, Visa and Residence Permit
If you do not currently have a passport, you should apply for one as early as possible. Processing can take up to 12 weeks.
Once you have your visa authorization information from ETH, you can move forward with obtaining your visa from the Swiss Consulate in San Francisco. Students have found it easiest to complete this process by mail. You will want to check with the consulate directly about the required documents and payment you must provide. The most recent requirements were:
- Two copies of your visa application
- Copies of your passport
- Your original passport
- Passport photos
- An addressed return envelope with postage
- Money order for $87 USD
Since January 2011, all Non-European citizens are required by law to obtain a biometric residence permit (which allows them, in combination with a passport, unrestricted travel in all "Schengen" Countries/Areas). Within your first 8 days in Zurich, you will have an appointment to go to the district office (Kreisburo) for registration and to turn in your biometric data at the Immigration Office of Canton Zurich. The ETH coordinator will advise you carefully about this process. ETH estimates that the costs for obtaining both a visa and residence permit will be around CHF 360.
Basic health insurance is mandatory in Switzerland, and ETH Zurich does not provide any insurance directly. Students may be exempted from taking out a Swiss health insurance policy, if their foreign health insurance coverage is accepted by the Swiss authorities. This is generally not the case and students will have to take out a health insurance with a Swiss health insurer of their choice. Special offers for foreign students are available and will be provided upon enrolment. Basic coverage for students is around CHF 100-200 a month. Questions relating to health insurance can be directed to the ETH Zurich Health Insurance Advisory Service(KraBe).
You can search for courses according to different criteria (level of study, department, language...). If the catalog for the semester(s) you plan to be at ETH Zurich is not yet online, you should use the catalog from the previous year to establish your study plan. It's possible to change your study plan later on, but you will want to work with CSE advising if you're hoping certain courses will meet specific requirements.
Generally, all courses open to regular ETH students are also open to visiting students. You can combine courses from the bachelor's and master's level, but you must have the necessary prerequisites for each course. A few courses have enrollment limits, which will be noted in the course description.
Registering: You must indicate your planned courses on your ETH application, but will not really finalize your classes until after instruction begins. This is typical abroad, and allows you to check out different professors and courses requirements before committing.
Due to a high demand the UZH/ETH Zurich Language Center has increased the number of available Intensive German language classes for exchange students, and the registration fee is CHF 100. The Intensive German courses take place the two weeks prior to the start of the semester. Students may also take one language course per semester (meets 2 hours/week) free of charge through the Language Center. Students are responsible for the cost of required course materials or copies.
UW CSE students who have studied abroad at ETH share their experiences and advice on the following links. Check it out!
Expenses & Housing in Zurich
Students are responsible for travel costs and living expenses while in Zurich. However, ETH currently provides a monthly scholarship of CHF 1500 for one student to help with housing and living expenses. If two students go to ETH on exchange for an academic year, we can request additional funding from ETH, but that funding is not guaranteed. The scholarship is split between the students when only one is available. You will need to set up a bank account in Switzerland in order to receive your monthly stipend.
The ETH Exchange Student Accommodations page links to various housing options, and the exchange coordinator at ETH should be able to provide you with guidance related to finding a room. You should also review ETH's Housing Handbook. The ETH website provides an overview of the housing situation for students:
Neither ETH Zurich nor any of the universities in Zurich own or let any student accommodation. Housing for students is offered by various institutions connected with, but independent of, ETH Zurich.
However, ETH Zurich has a number of rooms available at these different institutions for exchange students. With your ETH acceptance letter you will also receive information on registering for accommodation. We are unfortunately not in a position to answer email inquiries regarding accommodation. Since the number of rooms available for exchange students is limited it is important to start looking for accommodation early and to explore every possible source.
The conditions for renting a room / studio or an apartment in Zurich vary widely. There are rooms/studios available with/without cooking facilities; it is also possible to share a house or flat; some prices may / may not include cleaning and laundry, bed linen and meals. Prices/rents for single rooms range from CHF 450 to about CHF 850 per month.
Helpful ETH Information
- Website for incoming exchange students: www.exchange-in.ethz.ch
- General Information on Studying at ETH Zurich and preparing a study plan: https://www.ethz.ch/en/studies/non-degree-courses/exchange-and-visiting-studies/about-the-study-programmes.html
- General Information on Living in Zurich: https://www.ethz.ch/en/studies/non-degree-courses/exchange-and-visiting-studies/living-in-zurich.html
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): https://www.ethz.ch/en/studies/non-degree-courses/exchange-and-visiting-studies/faq.html
- Handbook for International Students: https://www.ethz.ch/content/dam/ethz/main/education/internationales/pdf-en/handbook.pdf
- Course Catalogue: www.courses.ethz.ch
- Examinations / Performance Assessments at ETH Zurich: https://www.ethz.ch/en/studies/legal-principles-degrees/performance-assessments.html
- Association of Computer Science Students
- ESN Student Network - This is a student association for incoming exchange students. They organize a lot of social gatherings and trips in Switzerland.
- Academic Sports Association Zurich