Universities of applied sciences (SUP) are vocation-oriented universities. Courses are closely linked to the workplace and to the related operational sector. SUP institutions cover many areas of study (technology, finance, design, art, social work and healthcare), training students to enter the professional world.

Universities and universities of applied sciences apply the same educational method, based on the systems specified by the Bologna reform, and both types of institution grant recognised qualifications. The fundamental difference lies in the teaching style. SUP institutions conduct courses with small classes and always combine theory with practical work.

SUPSI Bachelor and Master’s degrees are recognised in Switzerland and in Europe. Since 2004, SUPSI courses have adhered to the study model established by the Bologna Declaration, making SUPSI degrees compatible with the university system in force in Europe, while also constituting valid qualifications for practicing a profession in Switzerland and abroad.

Attendance of the didactic activities specified by the study programme of each course (theoretical lessons, practical work, laboratories, workshops, seminars, etc.) is obligatory. Students are also required to pass the tests, examinations and aptitude tests specified by the various courses.

The teaching language is Italian, apart for any courses, seminars or workshops held by visiting professors, which might be conducted in English or in another of the languages of Switzerland.

The fees amount to 1,600.- CHF per semester (excluding didactic costs); this sum is reduced to 800.- CHF for students benefitting from the application of the Intercantonal Agreement on Universities of Applied Sciences (Accordo intercantonale sulle scuole universitarie professionali - ASUP) from 2005 (Swiss citizens or those with civil and fiscal domicile in Switzerland or Liechtenstein).

The fees for the Bachelor courses conducted by the University of Music of Conservatorio della Svizzera italiana amount to 1’500.- CHF per semester; this sum is reduced to 750.- CHF for students benefitting from the application of the Intercantonal Agreement on Universities of Applied Sciences (Accordo intercantonale sulle scuole universitarie professionali - ASUP) from 2005 (Swiss citizens or those with civil and fiscal domicile in Switzerland or Liechtenstein). The fees for the Bachelor courses conducted by the Accademia Teatro Dimitri amount to an annual sum of approximately 5’300.- CHF for each student.

Yes. The thesis writing period usually begins after the end of the sixth semester examination session. The Bachelor thesis must be an original piece of work that contributes to the development of knowledge and provides in-depth reflection on a topic that might have some practical application.


The “Bologna Reform” describes the European academic system harmonisation process which was named after the summit of higher education ministers held in Bologna on 19 June, 1999. The most significant new element of the Reform was the division of university degrees into two phases: three-year degree (Bachelor) and Master’s Degree, also known as the 3+2 programme.
The three-year degree provides graduates with a generalist diploma, qualification for a profession or for admittance to further studies at the Master level, where it is possible to specialise in one specific subject area.

The aim of academic system harmonisation is to standardise the various types of courses, making programmes and qualifications more transparent and comprehensible, and providing students and graduates with the concrete possibility of continuing their studies easily or of finding employment in Switzerland or in another European country.

Following the Bologna Reform, courses have been structured into modules, each of which is worth a certain number of study credits in accordance with the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). One ECTS credit represents a work load of between 25 and 30 hours a week. 60 credits measure approximately the workload of a full time student in one academic year. A Bachelor’s Degree requires 180 study credits; a Master’s Degree requires 90-120 credits.

“ECTS” is the European name for study credits, while “CFU” (Credito Formativo Universitario) is the Italian name. There is no difference.

No. Bachelor graduates can find employment. Those who are particularly able, or who wish to investigate specific research areas more fully, are qualified to continue their studies at a higher level.

SUPSI Bachelor degrees are recognised as three-year university degrees. After a SUP three-year degree it is therefore possible to attend university specialisation or Master’s courses.


The application deadline for most degree courses is 15 April, and applications must be made online, following the admission procedure found on the website. Once an application has been accepted, final enrolment can be made before the stipulated closing date. Applications made following this date  will be accepted only if places are still available.

School leaving examination from a professional secondary school in a field related to the course of study, or another equivalent qualification, entitles candidates either to sit the admission examination or to be admitted directly to the course. In some cases secondary school leaving examination qualifications are accepted. Candidates aged more than 25 who lack these qualifications and who can demonstrate significant experience may also be admitted. In any case, it is advisable to consult the "Requirements" section for each Bachelor course. Further information can be obtained by contacting the appropriate secretary.

Many SUPSI courses contemplate the possibility of participating in organised programmes run by external schools or in companies. SUPSI may also help students to look for work experience placements. Students may also reach individual agreements with companies who are willing to certify the work experience period.

In accordance with the Bologna Reform, credits obtained in other institutions are usually recognised. However, a preliminary interview must be conducted in order to establish special admission procedures (exemption from modules or additional modules, the requirement to complete a work experience period, etc.).

In accordance with Art. 5 of the Federal Law on Universities of Applied Science, admission examinations or aptitude tests must be passed for all courses in the fields of healthcare, social work, music, theatre and visual and applied art.


SUPSI has a number of laboratories equipped with modern IT equipment and a range of specialist software. However, students are strongly encouraged to buy personal computers. IT service collaborators can be consulted for advice regarding the purchase of personal computers appropriate for the relative degree programme. Throughout the course of their studies, students have free access to the Internet and they receive individual email addresses.

Some general indications regarding the main prices applied in Southern Switzerland are given here below:
monthly cost of a room in a shared flat : approximately 450 CHF (280 €);
monthly rent of a bedsitter in the centre: approximately 850-900 CHF (525-555 €);
monthly travel pass for public transport in the Lugano region: approximately 75 CHF (46 €);
theatre: approximately 25 CHF (15 €);
cinema: 15 CHF (9 €);
simple restaurant meal: approximately 25 CHF (15 €);
coffee in a bar: 2-2.50 CHF (1.25-1.55 €).

All SUPSI centres have canteens with a wide range of attractively priced dishes.

If you are struggling to find suitable accommodation, the various SUPSI notice boards often have adverts from people looking for flatmates or sub-lessees. If necessary, you can also contact orientamento@supsi.ch for further details.

The regional scholarship office is responsible for allocating scholarships and loans. Students from other Cantons and foreign students should consult the following website: www.careers.supsi.ch.

If you are Swiss, you simply need to report your arrival to the Inhabitants Control Office. Citizens of European or other countries must follow the instructions given in the section entitled General Information / Visas and residence permits.

Student life in Canton Ticino focuses mainly on the city of Lugano. Students attending SUPSI and the University of Southern Switzerland amount to almost 5,000 students matriculated in the region. A variety of meetings and gatherings are organised. Tour organizations in the various cities also offer interesting recreational opportunities. In collaboration with USI, SUPSI also has a sports service which conducts a range of activities throughout the academic year.


Erasmus is a European mobility programme. Participation in the Erasmus programme means being able to spend one or two semesters at another European university, recognised by the home university. Students do not have to matriculate at the foreign university since they remain matriculated at SUPSI and, although they attend another academic institution, they continue to pay the specified semester fees.

The Mobility programme provides the opportunity to spend one or two semesters in another Swiss SUP institution. Students do not have to matriculate at this institution since they remain matriculated at SUPSI and, although they attend another academic institution, they continue to pay the specified semester fees.


The SUPSI Careers Service can not only help students to look for work experience placements in Switzerland and abroad, they can also provide assistance in writing a curriculum vitae or in preparing for a job interview. They also put businesses and students into contact.

SUPSI courses are usually full time. However, many students work part time. Foreign students can work for up to 15 hours per week in private and public Swiss companies.

There are various PAP programmes in the following Bachelor courses: Architecture, Civil Engineering, Business Administration, Computer Science, Engineering and Management and Social Work, and for the Master’s programmes in Conservation and Restoration and in Business Administration. However, students must work (at least 50%) in a profession related to their field of study. The Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science is the only course that allows students to work in other areas.


The recruitment school lasts for 18 or 21 weeks and those who decide to begin their university studies before completing their military service are entitled to fulfil their military commitments by dividing up this time period, and therefore without affecting their study programme.
However, note that:
The first part of the RS lasts for 13 weeks and can be completed from week 27 to week 39 (inclusive).
In order to avoid missing the first two weeks of classes (weeks 38 and 39), the commanding officer must be requested to grant two weeks leave.
The second part of the RS must be completed during the summer break of the following year, from week 24.

Applications for postponement of military service must be made in a timely manner by students to the Cantonal Command by means of the appropriate form. This form must be approved by the Department Direction at least 14 weeks prior to the beginning of the military service period.
Further information on this issue can be found on the general information page.