Epfl Acceptance Rate for International Students

Last Updated on May 16, 2024 by Team College Learners

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, locally referred to as École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), is a global top 20 universities located in Switzerland offering world-class education, significant research opportunities, and a highly diversified community.

The Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) is a prestigious university located in Lausanne, Switzerland, known for its excellence in science and technology education. With an acceptance rate of 27%, admission to EPFL is highly competitive, attracting top students from around the world. Prospective applicants should be aware that only candidates with outstanding academic records and strong references will have a good chance of being accepted into the university.

To be eligible for admission to EPFL, applicants must be in the 1st or 2nd year of a Bachelor’s program at the time of registration. They must also demonstrate academic rigor by maintaining an average grade of at least 4.5 out of 6 at the 1st Bachelor’s semester (for 1st year students) or at the 1st Bachelor’s year (for 2nd year students). These strict requirements ensure that only the most qualified candidates are admitted to EPFL.

The admission process at EPFL involves submitting academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement, as well as sitting for an entrance examination if required. The university places a strong emphasis on academic excellence and research potential, so prospective students should be prepared to showcase their achievements and qualifications in their application. With the competitive nature of admission to EPFL, it is important for applicants to carefully prepare and present a strong application to increase their chances of acceptance.

EPFL Acceptance Rate by Degree Programmes

The estimated acceptance rate at EPFL is 27%. The institute is quite selective in its process and reviews each applicants’ school records and other credentials.

The Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne acceptance rate is 27%. However, please be aware that admission is competitive. Only candidates with excellent academic records and references have good chances of being accepted. Applicants must: Be in the 1st or 2nd year of a Bachelor’s program at the time of registration. Prove academic rigor and have an average grade of at least 4.5/6 at the 1st Bachelor’s semester (1st year students) or at the 1st Bachelor’s year (2nd year students)

Areas of StudyAcceptance RateAdmission Requirements
22%Minimum GPA of 4.5/6 and SAT/ACT score above average
Computer Science
23%Minimum GPA of 4.5/6 and SAT/ACT score 20-40% above average
Business and Management
27%Minimum GPA of 4.5/6 and average SAT/ACT score
27%Minimum GPA of 4.5/6 and average SAT/ACT score
Social Sciences
27%Minimum GPA of 4.5/6 and average SAT/ACT score
22%Minimum GPA of 4/6 and SAT/ACT score below average
22%Minimum GPA of 4/6 and SAT/ACT score below average
30%Minimum GPA of 4/6 and SAT/ACT score below average
30%Minimum GPA of 4/6 and SAT/ACT score below average

International Students at Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne

EPFL prides itself in being the top multicultural university in Europe, having a student population composed of roughly 60% international enrolees from over 120 countries. The institute highly encourages internationals to study one of their programs, participate in their research, and carry on with their mission of increasing global reach and creating a larger international network of innovators.

Tuition Fee for International Students

The tuition fee for both undergraduate and graduate students per semester at EPFL totals roughly USD 844. This covers the basic fee, AGEPoly membership, contribution to sports facilities, and contribution to the social fund. The AGEPoly membership may be waived if the student does not wish to join the association, but all other fees are compulsory. Students may visit the Tuition Fee and Other Fees page for further details.

International Admissions Guide in Lausanne

The application process in EPFL is completely virtual— students must fill out the online form as well as digitize their requirements. Documents sent via other means such as fax or email will not be honored. To ensure that the application will be considered, applicants must make sure that the registration form, requirements, and payment are completed on or before the deadline. For students looking to enter their undergraduate program, applications may be sent from late January until the 30th of April while for graduate applicants, the process runs from December 15 until April 15. Here’s a more detailed guide on how to get into EPFL as an undergraduate or graduate student.

Application Fee at EPFL

The application fee for international students at EPFL is CHF 50 (roughly USD 54). This may be paid only via credit card, Swiss Postcard debit card, or PayPal.

Admissions Requirements at EPFL for International Students

The admissions requirements for domestic and international students are relatively the same, plus some additional documents if you are a foreign applicant. Some of the documents that must be submitted include identity photos, intermediary grade sheets, a Swiss residence permit, and a language competence certificate in French. For applicants holding a secondary school certificate from a country that is from outside Europe, their final average grade must be 80% and they should have completed at least three the following subjects: applied mathematics or computer science, chemistry or biology, general geography, general history or philosophy, and third modern language. For more guidance on undergraduate requirements, visit this page.

For graduate students, they must submit recommendation letters, their statement of purpose, and a copy of their Bachelor’s degree. Applicants for the Architecture program must also submit their portfolios. The complete list of requirements for graduate applicants may be checked here.

Admission requirements for the EPFL DH Master?

EPFL (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne) offers a prestigious Digital Humanities Master’s program for students who are looking to advance their education and skills in the field of digital humanities. The admission requirements for this program are selective and rigorous, ensuring that only the most qualified candidates are accepted. Below are ten admission criteria for the EPFL DH Master program that applicants must meet in order to be considered for admission:

1. Hold or be completing an EPFL Bachelor degree (B.S.): One of the primary requirements for admission to the EPFL DH Master program is that applicants must hold or be completing a Bachelor degree from EPFL. This ensures that students have a strong foundation in their academic studies.

2. Minimum GPA of 4.5: Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 4.5 in their EPFL Bachelor degree program. This shows that students have excelled in their coursework and are prepared for the rigors of the Master’s program.

3. English proficiency: Since the program is taught in English, applicants must demonstrate proficiency in the language. This can be done through standardized tests such as the TOEFL or IELTS.

4. Statement of purpose: Applicants are required to submit a statement of purpose that outlines their academic and professional goals, as well as why they are interested in the EPFL DH Master program.

5. Letters of recommendation: Applicants must submit letters of recommendation from professors or professionals who can speak to their academic abilities and potential for success in the program.

6. Resume/CV: A detailed resume or curriculum vitae is required as part of the application process. This document should highlight the applicant’s academic achievements, work experience, and any relevant skills or certifications.

7. Writing sample: Applicants may be asked to submit a writing sample that demonstrates their ability to conduct research and articulate their ideas effectively.

8. Portfolio: For applicants with a background in digital humanities or related fields, a portfolio of previous work may be required. This can include projects, research papers, or other relevant materials.

9. Interview: Some applicants may be invited to participate in an interview as part of the admissions process. This allows the admissions committee to get to know the candidate better and assess their fit for the program.

10. GRE scores: While not always required, some applicants may be asked to submit GRE scores as part of their application. This standardized test measures verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, and analytical writing skills.

Overall, the admission requirements for the EPFL DH Master program are designed to identify top candidates who have the academic background, skills, and motivation to succeed in the field of digital humanities. By meeting these criteria, applicants can demonstrate their readiness for the program and increase their chances of acceptance.


1. EPFL DH Master Program website: www.epfl.ch/dhmaster
2. EPFL Bachelor degree requirements: www.epfl.ch/bachelor
3. TOEFL testing information: www.ets.org/toefl
4. IELTS testing information: www.ielts.org
5. Sample statement of purpose guidelines: www.statementofpurpose.com
6. Guidelines for writing letters of recommendation: www.nacacnet.org

Illustrative Table:

| Admission Criteria | Details |
| Hold EPFL Bachelor’s | Must have completed or be completing B.S. degree |
| Minimum GPA | GPA of 4.5 or higher in EPFL Bachelor degree |
| English Proficiency | TOEFL or IELTS score meeting program requirements |
| Statement of Purpose | Statement outlining academic and professional goals |
| Letters of Recommendation | Professors or professionals recommending applicant |
| Resume/CV | Detailed document listing academic and work history |
| Writing Sample | Sample of applicant’s research and writing abilities |
| Portfolio | For applicants with digital humanities background |
| Interview | Some applicants may be invited for an interview |
| GRE Scores | May be required for certain applicants |


EPFL holds a number of top rankings in different categories under academics and overall school standing. In QS Global World Rankings for 2021, EPFL was ranked #14 in top universities worldwide and #6 in Europe. They are the most cosmopolitan technical university in Europe, having a diverse student and faculty population from over 120 countries. EPFL was also ranked by Times Higher Education World University Rankings as the world’s 19th best institution for Engineering and Technology and 43th as a university worldwide.

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne Scholarships for International Students

Undergraduate Scholarships

1. EPFL Social Scholarship

  • Scholarship Link
  • Scholarship Amount: Varies

The EPFL Social Scholarship aims to support students who are in the midst of financial distress. International students may start applying for this EPFL scholarship in their second year of studies at EPFL. The scholarship may be granted for one or two semesters.

Graduate Scholarships

1. Excellence Fellowship

  • Scholarship Link
  • Scholarship Amount: Approximately USD 8,650 per semester for external applications; USD 5,400 per year for internal applications (after EPFL Bachelor’s degree)

The Excellence Fellowship is granted to a limited number of EPFL master’s students with outstanding academic records. Of the many students who apply for this scholarship at EPFL, only 3% are accepted. Grantees may decide on where to allocate the fund, whether for their tuition or housing, and may be granted the scholarship for a maximum of four semesters.

Applications are divided into two: internal and external. Internal applicants are students who are applying for a master’s scholarship after completing their undergraduate studies in EPFL as well, while external applicants are those who are only taking their master’s in the institute.

2. Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships

  • Scholarship Link
  • Scholarship Amount: Varies

The Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship is awarded to students each year in order to promote international relations, research collaboration, and arts with other countries. The research scholarship at EPFL is granted to post-graduate applicants who are planning to take their doctoral or post-doctoral degree in Switzerland, while the art scholarship is for those wanting to take up a master’s art degree in the country. The selection process is based on the applicant’s profile, quality of research project or artwork, and potential for future research cooperation.

Other available scholarships and financial aids offered to EPFL graduate students may be viewed on their Scholarships page.

epfl tuition fees for international students

ETH Zurich and the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) are not just the two top universities in Switzerland – they’re also two of the top universities in Europe. 

Together these two institutions comprise the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology. The newly released QS World University Rankings® 2021 saw ETH Zurich rank sixth – above the UK’s University of Cambridge, and the only university in continental Europe to feature in the top 10. Meanwhile, EPFL climbed four places to rank 14th this year.

Within the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology Domain – which has a shared strategic management board and also includes several research institutes – both ETH Zurich and EPFL focus on research and teaching in the fields of engineering, natural sciences and related fields, offering degree courses from undergraduate through to PhD level.

So, how do these two top universities in Switzerland compare, and how can you decide which is the best choice for you? Here’s an at-a-glance comparison, followed by a more in-depth look at the similarities and differences.

QS World University Rankings® 2021Ranked sixth in the world overall in 2021Rated 19th in the world by academics and 26th by employers140th for faculty/student ratio16th for research impact (citations per faculty member)59th for percentage of international students; 19th for percentage of international faculty membersRanked 14th in the world overall in 2021Rated 67th in the world by academics and 76th by employers61st for faculty/student ratio12th for research impact (citations per faculty member)12th for percentage of international students; 15th for percentage of international faculty members
Subject strengths, based on the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020Ranked among the world’s best for 27 subjects; in the top 10 for 15 of these.First in the world for earth and marine science.Joint second for statistics and operational research.Fourth in the world for engineering and technology, and architecture and forestry.Fifth in the world for environmental sciences.Ranked among the world’s best for 16 subjects; in the top 10 for seven of these. Joint seventh in the world for materials science.Eighth in the world for computer science, civil and structural engineering, joint eighth for chemical engineering.Ninth in the world for electrical engineering and joint ninth for chemistry.
LocationTwo campuses in Switzerland’s largest city, ZurichLausanne, a city in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, on the shores of Lake Geneva 
Student communityAround 22,193 students in total, of which about 9,895 are bachelor’s students, 7037 are master’s students and 4,168 are doctoral studentsSource: ETH Zurich in FiguresAround 11,449 students in total, of which about 5,839 are bachelor’s students, 3,331 are master’s students and 2,128 are doctoral studentsSource: EPFL Facts and Figures
Tuition fees & living costs Fees for all students are CHF 730 per semester (~US$760). Two semesters per year – plus a compulsory semester fee of CHF 69, meaning the total paid each year of study is CHF 1,598 (~US$1670).Recommended budget is around CHF 1,870 (~US$1950) per month for study and living costsFees for all students are CHF 710 (~US$740) per semester; which is CHF 1420 per year (~US$1,480)Recommended budget is around CHF 2,056 (~US$2,150) per month for study and living costs 
Scholarships & loans Loans and grants available for existing studentsVarious scholarships open to international students at bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral level (see below)Hardship grants available for existing studentsExcellence Fellowships scheme is open to international master’s applicants (see below) 

QS World University Rankings® 204

In the latest edition of the QS World University Rankings, Switzerland’s top universities are two of the highest-ranked institutions outside of the US and UK, placing sixth and 14th.

ETH Zurich’s slight lead is largely due to the strength of its international reputation. In the large global surveys of academics and employers conducted by QS, the Zurich school is currently rated 19th in the world by academics and 26th by employers. Its counterpart in Lausanne continues to lag a little behind, at 67th in the world by academics and 76th with employers. However, both of these flagship members of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology boast exceptionally strong global reputations, both within academia and in the wider professional realm.

Significantly smaller in terms of its student intake, EPFL claims the stronger score for faculty/student ratio – a measure based on the number of full-time academic staff employed per student – which may suggest its students can expect more individual contact-time.

Both universities are neck and neck for research impact (based on research citations per faculty member). Both rank in the top 20, with EPFL in the lead by just four places in 12th place worldwide.

They also both claim strong scores in the indicator assessing international diversity of faculty members, reflecting their success in attracting academics from across Europe and beyond. EPFL currently ranks 16th in the world for its international faculty score, with ETH Zurich placing 19th.

EPFL is the leader for the international diversity of its student community at 12th, while ETH ranks 59th for this measure. However, both universities are extremely attractive choices for academics and students around the world, making them two of the most internationally diverse communities in which to study and pursue research.

ETH Zurich’s president, Joël Mesot said: “Openness is our key to success. Particularly at the master’s and doctoral levels, we attract and educate students from around the world.

“This divergence of cultures enables our students and professors to examine problems from diverse perspectives and to develop sustainable solutions.”

Subject strengths 

The QS World University Rankings by Subject – which ranks universities in five broad subject areas and 48 subjects – reflects the focus on technical and scientific disciplines shared by both of Switzerland’s leading universities.

In this year’s ranking, ETH Zurich features 27 different subjects, ranking within the top 20 for 18 of these. EPFL offers 17 subjects, with 11 of these in the world top 20.

See how the two universities compare across the different subject areas below.

ETH Zurich and EPFL in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020
Accounting & finance46th
Agriculture & forestry7th
Biological sciences7th26th
Computer science9th8th
Earth & marine sciences1st
Engineering (chemical)5th=8th
Engineering (civil)6th8th
Engineering (electrical)5th9th
Engineering (mechanical)12th16th
Engineering & technology4th11th
Environmental sciences5th25th
Life Sciences & medicine44th=121
Materials science14th7th
Natural Sciences=6th11th
Social policy & administration51-100
Social Sciences & management=54th
Sports-related subjects51-100
See the full QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020


ETH Zurich and EPFL are based in Zurich and Lausanne respectively, and the two locations share many similarities. Both cities are on the shores of a lake (Lakes Zurich and Geneva) and both boast magnificent views of the Alps mountain range, offering opportunities for outdoor exploration along with a broad spectrum of cultural venues.

Both cities also have significant student populations, being home to several universities. Notably, ETH Zurich is joined by the University of Zurich (ranked 69th in the QS World University Rankings 2021) and EPFL by the University of Lausanne (joint 169th). As is generally true of Switzerland, both cities come with a relatively high cost of living, though this is offset by relatively low tuition fees.

The major difference is one of size and pace. Zurich is Switzerland’s largest city, home to the Swiss Stock Exchange, and known as one of the world’s most important financial and business hubs. Lausanne, the country’s fourth-largest city, can’t compete in terms of density of industry or entertainment – though it is the headquarters for a number of international companies and organizations, including the International Olympic Committee. However, neither of these cities are likely to leave students short of things to see and do, either indoors or out.

Mesot said: “Swizerland and ETH Zurich are located in the heart of Europe’ and Zurich often ranks highly for quality of life. The city boasts a wealth of historical buildings, beautifully situated in proximity to a lake and the Swiss Alps. The campus locations benefit from both historical tradition and modern lab facilities”.

Zurich is in the German-speaking area of Switzerland (though what you’ll hear on the streets is actually the local Swiss-German dialect). Meanwhile, Lausanne is in the French-speaking region, although again Swiss-French may differ slightly. So, if either of these languages is your first language, you may prefer one location over the other, with only a few minor language differences to adjust to.

Student community 

EPFL claims to be “Europe’s most cosmopolitan technical university” – and it has some foundation for this. In the QS World University Rankings 2021, it ranks 12th in the world for the international diversity of its students and 15th for the international diversity of its academic staff. ETH Zurich is also within the world’s top 20 for international diversity of staff, but a little further behind in terms of international student representation (59th in the world).

While EPFL has a higher ratio of international students, ETH Zurich has a much larger student community overall – with around 22,193 students, it’s around twice the size of EPFL. As is to be expected of universities with a strong research focus, both have a high proportion of master’s and doctorate students. Postgraduate students account for almost half of the student community at each.

Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)

Tuition fees and living costs 

Compared to other top study destinations, such as the US or UK, tuition fees at universities in Switzerland are relatively low for domestic, EU and international students.

At ETH Zurich, current fees for all bachelor’s, master’s and diploma courses currently stand at CHF 730 per semester (~US$760).

There are two semesters per year, and students at ETH Zurich also need to pay a compulsory semester fee of CHF 69, meaning that your total fees per year will be CHF 1,598 (~US$1670).

Students also pay a fee for examinations, of up to CHF 800 (~US$840). At EPFL, the fees are very similar – CHF 710 (~US$740) per semester (including other fees) for bachelor’s and master’s students.

Doctoral students at both institutions are typically employed as research assistants, receiving a salary.  However, they are required to pay a one-off fee of CHF 1,500 (~US$1,580) when registering for the final doctoral examination.

While tuition fees are low, the cost of living in Switzerland is notoriously high. Both universities advise students to budget around CHF 1,870-2,056 (~US$1,950 – 2,150) per month to cover study and living costs – including university fees, accommodation, food, transport, health insurance, course supplies and personal items.

Scholarships and loans 

At ETH Zurich, bachelor’s students who have passed their first-year exams, and master’s and doctoral students who completed an undergraduate degree at the institution may be eligible to apply for an interest-free loan of up to CHF 12,000 (~US$12,650). Students still in their first semester can also apply for interest-free short-term loans of up to CHF 5,000 (~US$5,270).

The university offers scholarships which aim to cover some of the costs of study. Students can get an estimate of how much they may be eligible to receive using an online calculator.

In addition, the Solidarity Fund for Foreign Students in Zurich is available for international bachelor’s students who have completed their first semester. This provides up to CHF 750 (~US$790) per month, for up to 10 semesters. International master’s applicants with a very strong academic background can apply to the school’s highly competitive Excellence Scholarship and Master Scholarship programs. Recipients of these graduate scholarships do not have to pay tuition fees and receive a monthly stipend to help cover living costs.

Similarly, EPFL offers financial aid for existing students who have completed at least one year of their studies, via grants from the Fondation pour les Etudiants de l’EPFL. It also has an Excellence Fellowship scheme, for those applying to study a master’s degree, which is open to international students.

Further scholarships for graduate-level international students are offered by the Swiss government, via the Federal Commission for Scholarships for Foreign Students (FCS).

Which of these top universities in Switzerland gets your vote? Let us know in the comments below.

This article was originally published in September 2013. It was last updated in June 2020 to include the latest data from the QS World University Rankings and other sources.

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This article was originally published in June 2019 . It was last updated in April 2021

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