University of Zurich, Switzerland

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The University
Academic Highlights
Specific Research Opportunities

Language and Culture


The University

The University of Zurich is the largest university in Switzerland and plays a leading role in Swiss higher education. To its over 26,000 students it offers a great diversity of studies, with more than 130 different degree programs in seven faculties.

The University’s strong commitment to the highest standards in scientific knowledge and responsible research are the fundaments of excellence in research and teaching.

Of great concern to the University of Zurich is the promotion of young academics who are encouraged and supported in their research activities and in preparing for international careers. Through a close cooperation with the ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich) as well as with other institutions of higher education in Switzerland and worldwide, the University of Zurich initiates and sustains stimulating academic exchange at the highest level.

With its modern infrastructure and excellent local and international networks, the University of Zurich is well integrated into the cultural and economic metropolis and offers an attractive and stimulating working environment to more than 4,000 members of research and teaching staff from all over the world.

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Switzerland lies at the very heart of Europe. In terms of area and population, Switzerland is one of the smallest countries in Europe – some 8 million people live in an area nine times smaller than that of Germany. But with its four official languages (German, French, Italian and Romansh) it surprises with its ethnic and cultural diversity.

The City of Zurich lies in the German speaking part of Switzerland. With its almost 390,000 inhabitants Zurich combines the advantage of a comfortably sized town with the diversity of a cosmopolitan city. Zurich’s location directly at the lake of Zurich and near the Swiss Alps offers unique opportunities for recreation. Renowned establishments such as the Opernhaus Zurich (Opera), the Schauspielhaus Zurich (Theater), the Concert Hall and the Museum of Fine Arts contribute to the city’s fine reputation as a major cultural center. It is no wonder that Zurich regularly wins international awards as the city offering the world’s best quality of life.

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Academic Highlights

The University of Zurich attaches great importance to research. It endeavors to attract the best scientists and other academics worldwide, either to engage them as faculty members, or in order to establish cooperation between the University of Zurich and other leading international centers.

With seven different academic faculties, the University of Zurich caters for all relevant scientific areas. Over 500 professors are responsible for research, teaching and services at around 140 institutes, seminars and clinics. They are supported by a number of roughly 5,000 scientific and administrative staff. Research and teaching are intertwined inextricably at the University of Zurich.

According to the Humboldtian ideal of a university, which states that independent research represents both the precondition for teaching and its basis, good teaching is linked to research. As a research institution, the University of Zurich places fundamental research at the center of its activities. It sets itself the highest international standards in this respect.

Prize Winners at Zurich

In 1996 Rolf M. Zinkernagel won a Nobel prize for Physiology or Medicine together with Dr. Peter Doherty (Australia) for their discoveries concerning the specificity of the cell mediated immune defence.

In total five Nobel Prize Winners were awarded their prize when working at the University of Zurich:

  • Rolf M. Zinkernagel (Medicine/Physiology, 1996)
  • Karl Alex Müller (Physics, 1987)
  • Walter Rudolf Hess (Medicine, 1949)
  • Paul Karrer (Chemistry, 1937)
  • Alfred Werner (Chemistry, 1913)

The University of Zurich is home institution to two Balzan Prize Winners:

  • Walter Burkert (1990)
  • Paul Hindemith (1962)


Specific Research Opportunities

The federal council of Switzerland has established National Centers of Competence (NCCR) as an instrument to permanently strengthen cutting-edge research in Switzerland. The University of Zurich is home institution to six NCCRs:

  • NCCR Democracy
  • NCCR Kidney.CH
  • NCCR Mediality
  • NCCR Neuro
  • NCCR Structural Biology

The University has established 13 University Research Priority Programs (URPP) in order to strengthen existing high level research in areas of strategic importance.

Programs starting in 2013:

  • Social Networks
  • Regulation of Financial Markets
  • Language and Space
  • Dynamics of Healthy Aging
  • Translational Cancer Research
  • Solar Light to Chemical Energy Conversion
  • Evolution in Action: From Genomes to Ecosystems
  • Global Change and Biodiversity

Programs in progress:

  • Asia and Europe
  • Ethics
  • Foundations of Human Social Behavior: Altruism and Egoism
  • Integrative Human Physiology
  • Systems Biology/Functional Genomics

Language and Culture

As the general language of teaching at the UZH is German, an intensive German course is offered to international students before the spring or fall semester. For three weeks, students get the possibility to learn the language at different levels and to gain information about Zurich and the Swiss way of life. More information here.

In addition to the courses held in German, the university offers an increasing number of courses in English. For more information please contact the International Relations Office.

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