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Old 22.09.2009, 16:58
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Obtaining Admission to ETH Zurich

Hello everyone. I've been browsing this forum for a few weeks now and wasn't able to get too much information on this topic, so hopefully the following inquiry will not be something of a recurring theme, but anyway...

I am a citizen of the United States. However; I would like to study Physics at ETH Zurich. From the information I've gathered thus far, this task will not be easy, and I am okay with that, but I would like to get an idea of if it's possible at all.

I'm 24 years old and working full time as a technical analyst at an insurance company in Minnesota, USA. I'm currently going to school for Applied Mathematics part time in the evenings. I dropped out of school when I was younger after switching majors from Electrical Engineering to Mechanical Engineering to Computer Science. None of these things were what I wanted to do but I was pressured to go to the cheapest school possible by my parents even though, out of high school, I could have gotten into any university in the country due to high test scores and reputation. Then I spent three years in a town of 10000 people in South Dakota and hated my life and decided to wallow in self pity. But I've finally realized that if I'm ever going to get what I want I need to live by my rules and do the things that matter to me.

Unfortunately, this is what matters to me, and now I feel like it will be impossible to do so. I've stopped listening to my family and started listening to my friends and acquaintences who seem to believe I can pull this off, but I don't know if they truly understand all the hurdles required.

Once I finish my Applied Mathematics degree, I'd be willing to go for a second bachelor or a master in the states to ease this process, through. I'm also learning German, and if I have time, French, on the side.

Is it even possible for someone in my situation to find his way into being admitted into ETH Zurich?
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Old 22.09.2009, 17:16
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Re: Obtaining Admission to ETH Zurich

Have you contacted admissions at ETH

http://www.rektorat.ethz.ch/students..._qual/index_EN

Most, if not all courses up to doctorate level will be taught in German and so you would be required to prove your language ability.

You would need your first degree for matriculation. At UZH that means submitting your thesis for approval, to ensure your work is of the same standard as the University you are going to. You will also need a letter from your supervisor in the US to say they would have accepted you to continue your education with them and that you left in good standing.

There are many foreign students and admissions really are the people to help you. It may not seem easy but it is possible if you have the academic wherewithal.

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Old 22.09.2009, 19:06
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Re: Obtaining Admission to ETH Zurich

Have you considered doing a Masters at one of the better European universities, maybe ETH itself, as a stepping stone? If fees are a concern, they are much less compared to US universities. Also, most countries allow part time work which takes care of living expenses. Admissions are less competitive as well in comparison to the US.

I suggest doing some extensive research, looking at which univs let you start based on your Math degree and take physics courses as well, especially since i guess there will be significant overlap with theoretical physics. In my experience German unis can be quite flexible in this regard.

I am at the EPFL, and my thesis was a major factor in the professors decision, and I expect the quality of your masters thesis will be perhaps the biggest criteria for doing a Phd at ETH as well. All the best.
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Old 22.09.2009, 21:53
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Re: Obtaining Admission to ETH Zurich

Three links which might be of use, and which I think you should read:
http://www.crus.ch/information-progr...rland.html?L=2
http://www.phys.ethz.ch/phys/students/info/
http://www.ethz.ch/prospectives/index_EN

Also, consider contacting someone at ETHZ or/and in the physics deparment.

I *think* that the master course is in English, but don't take my word for it.

Finally, consider inquiring about the existence of scholarships (especially for advanced studies). I know that there is at least one fellowship that allows US citizens with residence in the US to do a postgraduate study in physics at ETHZ; it is likely that there are other scholarships (non-specific to physics) available too.

Good luck.
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Old 09.12.2009, 11:06
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Re: Obtaining Admission to ETH Zurich

I'm in a similar boat as you! I'm considering a second bachelor's bc I want to switch fields from social sciences to computer science/software engineering. I won't be applying for another year though, so please take all my advice with a grain of salt!

If you want to do a master's or doctorate, almost all the programs are done in English. They even ask for TOEFL scores if you're a non-native speaker. It seems that even by the 3rd year of the Bachelor's, some of the courses are conducted in English.

The problem, however, is that if you want to take a lower-division (i.e. Bachelor's) Physics classes to make up for any background gaps, most of the 1st and 2nd year courses have German as the language of instruction. I've read the course catalog for my field, and there are occasionally professors who hold part of the class in English or explicitly state they will use English technical terms. So you'll need to know German at the C2 EU level like the ZOP, TestDAF, DSH, etc, which is roughly equivalent to an A.P. German examination. You might be able to write the exams, however, in English, depending on the instructor's and/or department's permission.

A 2nd bachelor's could be a feasible option if you're not at the top of your class for the master's, as ETH-Z is really competitive. I believe most bachelor's programmes are open-admission, once you pass the entrance exam, bc they weed out students in the first year via the Basispruefung. 50% of the students are reported to fail the Basispruefung the first time they take it. The catch is that you have to take the entrance exam. With an American high school diploma and AP scores, you take the reduced exam. With a bachelor's degree in a similar field as the one you intend to pursue at ETH-Z, you could possibly gain admission with just the German proficiency proof.

Another option might be to contact a professor directly and work for them in their lab. Then you can apply with a recommendation from them, and get into a master's that way. It seems that post-graduate studies in Europe are more like a job in that sense -- your PI hires you and funds your PhD studies as additional training while you work for them. I've had friends who got into PhD programs at my school that way. They were on exchange from another university for a semester at UC Berkeley and were invited to apply for a PhD to stay working in the lab. They weren't guaranteed admission, but I think they perhaps had an advantage over candidates who were unknown to the adcoms. Grades and GRE scores aside, another important things seems to be how well they feel they can match you to a specific prof's research interest.

As for funding, they apparently have Excellence Scholarships for master's and PhD, which gives about 1750 CHF a month for the length of your program. And there is the Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship, as well as maybe options for funding from American organizations for American nationals regardless of institution.
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Old 09.12.2009, 11:23
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Re: Obtaining Admission to ETH Zurich

First of all, congrats on making the decision to do what makes you happy. It may be tough and may not even work out, but it is the right thing to do.

ETH is one of the best Physics schools in the world. And ETH is very snobby when it comes to entrance for BSc/MSc. For PhD, it is easier as the system is very different from the Anglo world (you need to find a Prof to supervise rather than gain entrance to a dept, although ETH itself will set requirements if they dont feel your background is up to par).

Which degree do you want to attend ETH to pursue?
Why ETH and not an American university that may be more sympathetic?

Since BSc at ETH would be in German, your best options are to come here for an MSc or PhD.

What kind of degree is your current Applied Maths one that you are working towards? What is the physics content of this course? From where is the degree?

With the answers to the above, I can help you out more.

(I am a physicist with some knowledge of how things are at ETH)

Good Luck!
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Old 09.12.2009, 11:52
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Re: Obtaining Admission to ETH Zurich

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Most, if not all courses up to doctorate level will be taught in German and so you would be required to prove your language ability.

Masters programmes are all in english. Some bachelors as well.
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Old 10.12.2009, 14:14
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Re: Obtaining Admission to ETH Zurich

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Masters programmes are all in english. Some bachelors as well.

Hi Chemmie,

Which bachelors are in English? Im trying to find some BSc in the computer field.

Thanks,

Christian
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Old 10.12.2009, 17:41
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Re: Obtaining Admission to ETH Zurich

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Hi Chemmie,

Which bachelors are in English? Im trying to find some BSc in the computer field.

Thanks,

Christian

Sorry, I meant some Bachelors courses. I'm pretty sure all the Bachelors programmes are based in german. The odd course is in english.
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Old 17.02.2010, 14:57
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Re: Obtaining Admission to ETH Zurich

Hi, im also planning on applying to the ETH for a masters, does anyone know if they have a definite requirement for minimum GRE or GMAT scores? or anyone whos been accepted willing to share their scores? I took the GRE and my unofficial scores appear to be exactly average for people taking the test who hold a Bachelors in engineering. so having average scores and not more; will this hinder my chances?

On a side note, someone told me that a bachelors from an american university is less than an ETH degree, because a graduate from ETH holds a masters. Is this true, can one not finish with only a bachelors from the ETH? Would Bachelors degrees be equivalent between the US and ETH? Thanks for the input.
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Old 17.02.2010, 16:01
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Re: Obtaining Admission to ETH Zurich

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Hi, im also planning on applying to the ETH for a masters, does anyone know if they have a definite requirement for minimum GRE or GMAT scores? or anyone whos been accepted willing to share their scores? I took the GRE and my unofficial scores appear to be exactly average for people taking the test who hold a Bachelors in engineering. so having average scores and not more; will this hinder my chances?

On a side note, someone told me that a bachelors from an american university is less than an ETH degree, because a graduate from ETH holds a masters. Is this true, can one not finish with only a bachelors from the ETH? Would Bachelors degrees be equivalent between the US and ETH? Thanks for the input.

There is a difference between the American bachelors and ETH bachelors, but they are equivalent. To be considered an ETH engineer, you need to complete the Masters, so most do.
With an american bachelors, you should be fine to enter a Masters programme at ETH.
From what I'm familiar with, the masters at ETH is more a course-based masters with a thesis project on the side. At my home university, the Masters was full research, with a couple courses on the side.

Hope this is useful.
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Old 17.02.2010, 16:07
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Re: Obtaining Admission to ETH Zurich

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Hi, im also planning on applying to the ETH for a masters, does anyone know if they have a definite requirement for minimum GRE or GMAT scores? or anyone whos been accepted willing to share their scores? I took the GRE and my unofficial scores appear to be exactly average for people taking the test who hold a Bachelors in engineering. so having average scores and not more; will this hinder my chances?

On a side note, someone told me that a bachelors from an american university is less than an ETH degree, because a graduate from ETH holds a masters. Is this true, can one not finish with only a bachelors from the ETH? Would Bachelors degrees be equivalent between the US and ETH? Thanks for the input.
Schools in Europe generally have no use for or requirements for GRE to study at Batcholors level. GMAT is only required in Europe for entry to an MBA program NOT any other masters.

And a Batchlors from ETH might be considered at the same level, or maybe even superior to a Batchlors from an Ivy League/tecchie school such as Cornell or Berkely in the US.

NOTE: The ETHs have recently changed from the older Francophone system to a 4 year batchors and 1-2 year Masters which is common in anglophone countries.
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Old 20.02.2010, 12:36
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Re: Obtaining Admission to ETH Zurich

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NOTE: The ETHs have recently changed from the older Francophone system to a 4 year batchors and 1-2 year Masters which is common in anglophone countries.
I think that it should read 3 year bachelors.
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Old 20.02.2010, 16:36
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Re: Obtaining Admission to ETH Zurich

The easiest way for you to come study abroad is for a higher education degree, ie-masters or PhD. The best way to do this is to look on the ETHZ website (or whatever universities you are interested in), find the professors that are doing research that interests you, and then contact them if they have positions available. They post these positions just like job openings, and they treat them like that as well (with interviews and such). You can also look at some of the national lab type places (like the Paul Scherrer Institut) because a significant number of the scientists employed have joint appointments as professors at ETH or other technical universities in Switzerland. Thus, they are always looking for PhD/Masters students to come in and do research.

As an additional bonus, if you come in for a higher education degree in a technical field, they will pay you to be here (especially at the PhD level), whereas if you come in for a second bachelors, you will have to fund that yourself.

Good luck!
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Old 27.11.2010, 14:18
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Re: Obtaining Admission to ETH Zurich

Hello.

I am a 3rd year BSc student, obtaining my Degree in a Bologna (EU) country. I wish to pursue a MSc degree in CS, at ETH Zurich or at EPF Lausanne. I have read the requirements and I am concerned if I am good enough for admission and for a scholarship.

Through high school I have won several national and international awards at Mathematics and CS Olympiads; in collage I have more than 2 years working experience in the filed (since May I am employed at a world-leading software company); I rank in the 2% top students in my department and I am committed to a wide array of extracurricular activities, organizing cultural / academic events at my University, being in the Faculty Board; I speak both English (TOEFL certificate) and French (5 years of classes, but no certificate);

The problem is that I didn't had time to take a GRE exam. Although, it is not mandatory for students that obtained their BSc Degree in a Bologna country, ETH Zurich recommends that the candidates should take the test. Moreover, EPFL doesn't say anything rather than just send the results, if any.

So my question is: does this setback affect my chances to be admitted / obtaining a scholarship?

Thank you. Best regards.
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Old 27.11.2010, 14:30
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Re: Obtaining Admission to ETH Zurich

If you've already submitted an application: contact their admissions office, see if they would advise you to take it or if they think they have enough to be going on with.

If you haven't: why not take it now? Can't hurt, right? (assuming you expect scores that are commensurate with the rest of your application)
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Old 27.11.2010, 22:02
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Re: Obtaining Admission to ETH Zurich

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Hello.

I am a 3rd year BSc student, obtaining my Degree in a Bologna (EU) country. I wish to pursue a MSc degree in CS, at ETH Zurich or at EPF Lausanne. I have read the requirements and I am concerned if I am good enough for admission and for a scholarship.

Through high school I have won several national and international awards at Mathematics and CS Olympiads; in collage I have more than 2 years working experience in the filed (since May I am employed at a world-leading software company); I rank in the 2% top students in my department and I am committed to a wide array of extracurricular activities, organizing cultural / academic events at my University, being in the Faculty Board; I speak both English (TOEFL certificate) and French (5 years of classes, but no certificate);

The problem is that I didn't had time to take a GRE exam. Although, it is not mandatory for students that obtained their BSc Degree in a Bologna country, ETH Zurich recommends that the candidates should take the test. Moreover, EPFL doesn't say anything rather than just send the results, if any.

So my question is: does this setback affect my chances to be admitted / obtaining a scholarship?

Thank you. Best regards.
hi fams,
I am a recent ETH CS msc graduate. I guess only admission office or the department can tell if this would be a disadvantage, so it would be best to contact them as advised above. You can also ask directly this to the professors in the track you are applying to by mail as they make decisions for admissions (and also for some of the scholarships).
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Old 28.11.2010, 10:44
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Re: Obtaining Admission to ETH Zurich

Thank you both for your answers.

The trouble is that I don't have enough time to take the exam and request an official report to be submitted to ETH, until 17th of December (deadline). Moreover, it is written somewhere on the website that they might consider GRE scores only if they receive the official scores in due time (17.12).
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Old 28.11.2010, 13:59
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Re: Obtaining Admission to ETH Zurich

Interesting trivia: Anyone can take the comprehensive entrance exam (Grosse Aufnahmeprüfung). You don't need any kind of degree or diploma. Among the people who did this was Albert Einstein (at the age of 16 I believe). And he did not pass (he was good at Natural Sciences but not quite as good in languages). He then got a Swiss university entrance diploma (Matura) and later enrolled at ETH.
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Old 28.11.2010, 14:17
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Re: Obtaining Admission to ETH Zurich

Before anyone thinks they are home and dry, open the link, look at the dates for next year, the PDF files with examples from previous exam papers, the German comprehension tests - I'd say that the 'you don't need any kind of degree or diploma' doesn't sound quite as promising as it did before.
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