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The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne

Lausanne, Switzerland

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (or EPFL for its French acronym) is an idyllic study abroad destination. Lausanne is the fourth largest city in Switzerland and has been known as the Olympic capital of the world since 1994. With Lac Léman (Lake Geneva) on one edge of the city and the Jura Mountains on the other, there is a breathtaking view no matter where you look. Lausanne is located in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, and both France and Geneva are only a boat-ride away!

EPFL's internationally renowned School of Basic Sciences offers UC San Diego students English-language courses in Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry and Biochemistry and access to research opportunities in one of EPFL's labs.

Links and Resources:

Important Information for 2024-25

  • Global Exchange Program applications open October 1 in TritonsAbroad
  • Check the nomination and application deadlines for 2024-25 to ensure your application is submitted on time. 
  • Please note that Global Exchange Programs have two applications: one for UC San Diego (TritonsAbroad) and the other for the partner university. 

Visit the How to Apply section for more information on the application process and the Pre-Departure Requirements section for important steps and considerations leading up to your time abroad. 


VIDEO: EPFL - UC San Diego International Opportunities Information Session

Basic Information

Exchange Details:

  • Academic Level: Undergraduate
  • Eligible Major(s): Physical Sciences (Chemistry and Biochemistry, Physics and Mathematics)

Academic Calendar:

  • Fall Semester: September - December
  • Spring Semester: February - July

It is advised for students to arrive at least one week prior to the beginning of each semester for welcome events and other activities that support students acclimating to EPFL.

More dates can be found on EPFL's Academic Calendar.

Course Information

  • Full Time Enrollment: 30 ECTS credits per semester (approximately 22-25 semester hours per week). Students should enroll in at least 20 ECTS/ semester
  • Courses:  UC San Diego students study courses in EPFL's School of Basic Sciences. EPFL offers a variety of Bachelor and Master's courses in English. Please note for any undergraduate student who wishes to take a Master course, you will most likely need approval from the EPFL faculty member to ensure you have the sufficient pre-requisites to take the course. More information can be found in the course catalog.Please note some courses are restricted to exchange students. 

Faculty in the Division of Physical Sciences are identifying course that students can take at EPFL that would count towards degree requirements at UC San Diego. For more information, consult a Study Abroad Advisor. 

  • Options for Remote Final Exams: Students can ask for remote exams according to the procedure you can find on this page (see exams). There is no guarantee that the professors accept to organize a remote exam nor organize an exam earlier before your departure. It is recommended that students take courses that offer December exams. UC San Diego does not facilitate exam proctoring. 
  • Language of Instruction: English and French. Exchange students have the option to study French language courses if they feel they have the technical fluency. The complete course catalog has all course offerings and notes the language of instruction. 
  • Courses in French, German and Italian: Students can take various language courses at different levels (upon availability), including an intensive French course before each semester. Language courses during the academic year are offered if there is sufficient demand for them.


Housing is pre-arranged/ guaranteed for exchange students. Campus housing includes student Halls and private residences. EPFL's Housing page has detailed information on resources and application deadlines.

Cost of Living

Review the Financing Your Studies page for a breakdown of cost of living for exchange students (in French and English).

Financial Aid and Scholarships

For information on financial aid, scholarships and additional funding, speak to a Study Abroad advisor.

Immigration and Visas

U.S. citizens must obtain a student visa or residence permit to study in Switzerland. For other citizenships, visit the website of the Swiss Embassy or Consulate in your country of citizenship for visa requirements and processes. 

  • Certificate of Enrolment- You will receive an acceptance letter from EPFL that you can submit with your visa application. A student visa takes approximately 3 months so students should apply as soon as they receive the letter.


Health and Wellness

Students must obtain Swiss health insurance during their exchange period. Students have access to English-speaking doctors at EPFL. EPFL students are also automatically enrolled in AGEPoly, the General Student's Association. AGEPoly provides various resources for students on health and and well-being.

Student Experience and Opportunities

  • Recreational- The EPFL Sports Center offers students access to sports, group lessons, workshops, and a gym.
  • Social Activities- With almost ninety student associations on campus, the EPFL community enjoys a
    dynamic study environment with many weekly events fostering diversity. During the third week of studies, discover the stands of all associations on the Esplanade. Student Associations organize activities and events for both all students, including exchange and international students. EPFL students are also automatically enrolled in AGEPoly, the General Student's Association. AGEPoly organizes athletic and social events for all students. Additionally, the Erasmus Student Network at EPFL organizes many events and excursions off campus during the semester. The also organize a buddy system with a local student. 

Research Opportunities

For information on the EPFL Research Internship Program, visit the Global Exchange Program Plus page for details. 

Participants in the EPFL Research Internship Program will receive a scholarship for participation. Students should also visit the ThinkSwiss Program page for funding for this or other research and internship opportunities. 

Students may also have the possibility to undertake credited projected with a professor during an exchange semester alongside courses.