The CSE department piloted the ETH exchange program in Spring 2007, and it continues to thrive. At this time, the program can support sending one or two undergraduates each year.
Requirements & Application
Undergraduate students interested in going abroad should speak with a CSE advisor for more info. The department also holds an information session for CSE students interested in departmental exchanges during Winter. The session is run by the faculty representatives for each school, a CSE advisor, and students who have participated in each exchange. This session is your opportunity to ask questions, hear about others' experiences, and learn about the application process. The departmental application to select students typically consists of a brief statement of interest and a review of your academic record and background.
Beginning in 2015, the application and selection process for prospective exchange students will take place in February. Students will confirm their intent to go abroad before March 1, 2015.
Applying for an exchange and preparing to go involves many steps, and multiple applications. CSE majors first apply through the department and are selected by a faculty and staff committee. Selected students then confirm their intent to go abroad. CSE will send a list of outgoing students to UW's IP&E office, who will contact students about UW procedured for going abroad. Then students are also nominated by a CSE advisor to each exchange school, and each student must formally apply to each school. The following paragraphs outline each of these steps in more detail.
Note that the academic calendar is different at our exchange schools: for example, Saarland's Winter and Summer semesters do not align with UW's calendar, and their exams last about two months following the end of instruction.
CSE's exchange to ETH is most appropriate for juniors (who have completed most of the 300-level courses) and some seniors, if you want to be able to take courses in English. It is also beneficial for most students to return to UW after their exchange, toi ETH only offers courses in English at their third year bachelor's level and up, which is roughly equivalent to our senior year classes and above. Newer majors who can follow courses in German may be considered for the exchange as well. New DA students will be good candidates for the program after a year or two in the major. All students participating in the exchange will also have access to German courses while at ETH. Knowledge of German will not only benefit you in classes but also in navigating Zurich.
Before You Go
Once you are selected to study abroad, CSE advising will email you information on the deadline to accept our offer, the process and deadline for your ETH application (this is mostly a formality so you are officially accepted by the university. The deadline to submit it is April 1), and a checklist of the required steps to take to prepare to go. You will work closely with CSE, ETH and the International Programs & Exchanges Office (IP&E) on these steps. Please be aware that many of these processes will take time, so you should plan accordingly and start early!
The ETH exchange, like other exchanges at UW, operates under the Home Tuition Program (students continue to pay UW tuition but no tuition at the visiting school). In addition, students are required to concurrently enroll and pay a UW IP&E fee to maintain these benefits while away:
- Concurrent enrollment;
- Financial aid and scholarship eligibility;
- Graded UW credit for coursework completed abroad;
- Pre-registration privileges at the UW;
- Continued deferment of school-related loans;
- Satisfaction of residency graduation requirements;
CSE will notify IP&E of your nomination to study abroad no later than March 15 (changing to March 1 after 2014-15). After that, you will be contacted directly by IP&E via email about their requirements. Once you are accepted to ETH, you will receive information from their admissions office about housing and enrollment. It's the student's responsibility to complete all the necessary steps for both ETH and UW to study and live abroad.
Completing your application to ETH
After the CSE selection process, students will confirm their intent to attend an exchange. There are two steps to the application: first, a CSE advisor informs ETH of our nominees for an exchange in the uipcoming year. Then the actual online application must be completed by each student.
Once students are nominated, they must apply through our online application Mobility-Online within the set deadlines. Detailed application guidelines, including the link to the online application, can be found at
Application deadlines are April 1 for the Autumn Semester 2014/15 and September 1 for the Spring Semester 2015. After being selected and nominated by CSE, you must submit the online application, including all documents, by the appropriate deadline.
Passport, Visa and Residence Permit
If you do not currently have a passport, you should apply for one as early as possible. The processing time can take up to 10-12 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, for example level of study, department, study program, language of instruction, etc. 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 exchange and visiting students. It is possible to combine courses from the bachelor's and master's level, but you must have the necessary prerequisites to follow the chosen courses. A few courses are restricted, e.g. in the number of participants. The course description will indicate if that's the case.
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.
Exchange students are expected to take a full-time load of 24-30 ECTS credits per semester (excluding language courses). In order to not jeopardize student or financial aid status at the UW, a minimum of 48 ECTS credits must be taken for a year-long exchange. If you have any concerns about a course or your expected grade while at ETH, please talk with a CSE advisor about that before making any decisions about dropping the class.
Exchange credits and equivalents are determined by IP&E and CSE after you return to Seattle. You will need to have a KTH transcript sen to the IP&E office once your exchange is complete and your final grades are reported. Please see the IP&E Credits for Exchanges for an overview of the credit conversion process.
Courses are frequently offered as 5, 7.5, 10, 15, 20, 30 ECTS credit courses. A normal full time load for a semester is 24-30 ECTS and at least 48 ECTS for an academic year.
- 1 ECTS credit = approximately 0.75 quarter credits
- 16 ECTS credits = 12 quarter credits
- 20 ECTS credits = 15 quarter credits
- 24 ECTS credits = 18 quarter credits
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.
ETH Student Organizations of Interest
- 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