Academic mobility at USI for incoming students
Università della Svizzera italiana and the International Relations and Study Abroad Service are pleased to welcome you and wish you a pleasant and successful stay on our campuses.
Here are the exchange programmes available at USI:
- Swiss mobility programme, for students matriculated in other Swiss universities to study at USI one or more semesters;
- SEMP programme (Swiss-European Mobility Programme, former Erasmus), for students coming from partner institutions to study at USI for one or two semesters. At present, USI has over 80 bilateral agreements with universities all over Europe;
- International agreement programme, for students coming from partner institutions outside of Europe with whom USI has established bilateral agreements for one or two semesters. At present, USI has twelve international agreements;
- Free-mover programme, for students whose home university does not have a bilateral agreement with USI (Lugano campus only).
The main conditions for admission are the following:
- Exchange students must be enrolled in a university having signed a bilateral agreement with USI;
- Exchange students may spend one or two semesters of study at USI;
- Applicants must provide evidence from their home institution that the exchange term is fully acknowledged and accepted as part of their degree curriculum;
- Exchange students must be approved by their home university for an exchange term at USI.
For more detailed information, please refer to the Exchange Students Handbook: Exchange Students Handbook 2019/2020.
Applicants can register online at the following link: http://exchangeprogrammes.lu.usi.ch. Login and password will be sent to applicants after the nomination from the home university (not required for Architecture).
Applicants are required to upload a passport picture as part of the online registration process, it is therefore suggested to prepare a scanned image in advance (allowed file formats: .jpg, .jpeg, .gif, .png; size <0.5MB).
To complete the application, students are required to send the following documents by ordinary mail:
For Swiss Mobility programme students:
- Copy of the online confirmation message signed and stamped by the coordinator of the exchange studies of your faculty;
- Copy of most recent transcript of records
For SEMP, International programme, Freemover* programme students:
- Copy of the online confirmation message signed and stamped by the coordinator of the exchange studies of your faculty;
- A photocopy of the relevant pages of your passport or ID;
- Copy of most recent transcript of records;
- Copy of Language Certificate and signature from your home university that guarantees that you are sufficiently competent in the English language (a B2 is compulsory but C1 is strongly recommended) and/or the Italian language (at least a B2 level) to study at USI (not required for Architecture);
- A photocopy of the European Health Insurance card (if available);
Please note that we only accept complete applications approved and signed by the home representatives. The candidate will receive a letter of acceptance (together with other relevant information concerning courses etc.) as soon as the personal data has been processed.
* Freemover applications: if the student's home university is not a USI partner university, they may apply for a term at USI as freemovers (Lugano campus only). The application process is the same as for an exchange student.
- The official approval must be submitted by e-mail from the home university to email@example.com no later than by May 1st.
- The online registration must be completed by May 15th.
- The official approval must be submitted by e-mail from the home university to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than by October 15th.
- The online registration must be completed by November 1st.
The courses timetable is published on the website of each Faculty few weeks before the beginning of the semester.
Faculty of Communication Sciences
Faculty of Economics
Faculty of Informatics
Academy of Architecture
USI's academic calendar is available here.
Guest/exchange students are free to attend a varietyof classes, both at undergraduate and graduate levels.Although they are enrolled in a faculty they are entitledto attend classes and sit examinations in the otherfaculties too. But overlapping of classes and of final exams is highly possible in case the student chooses courses offered by different faculties and/or at different levels. Exams can be taken only on the official dates. No special session for exams will be organized and it is not possible to ask for reschedulingor extra-muros exams. Therefore we strongly advise not to choose courses offered by different programmes, faculties and/or at different levels. The student will need, first and foremost, to make sure that the home tutor agrees with the study plan.
Approval of the study plan
Your study plan must be approved by the relevant Faculty or Department of the home institution. All students have to make sure that any examination papers taken during the exchange term will be accepted as fulfilling the requirements of the original degree programme.
Students are kindly required to submit a learning agreement before the beginning of the semester. We accept either the official template provided by the home university of the student or the standard form that can be downloaded here.
Any change to the Learning Agreement has to be submitted to USI’s International Relations Service for a new approval. The home university will need to approve it too.
Class schedules or timetables are usually available few weeks prior to the beginning of classes.
Courses list and description
Please check which of the three options below applies to you:
- Tuition fees are waived at USI Università della Svizzera italiana where a reciprocal exchange agreement has been signed, and students are formally nominated by their home university.
- Students coming from a partner university but who have not been formally nominated, can still come to USI for an exchange period with freemover status, and benefit from a reduced tuition fee of CHF 2000 per semester.
- Freemover students are subject to the regular USI tuition fee, for an amount of CHF 4000 per semester.
Fee payment is an essential condition for matriculating or renewing one's enrolment. Please note that USI does not offer financial support to internationals students. These students are required to guarantee their own source of funding.
SEMP Studies Scholarship
Following the suspension of negotiations on Switzerland's association to Erasmus+, the Federal Council has drawn up a temporary solution by providing 22.7 million Swiss francs to finance both incoming and outgoing exchange students within the European mobility. For more information, please visit the SEMP programme section of the Swiss National Agency Movetia.
The SEMP programme entitles students to receive a scholarship if both of the following conditions are met:
- The applicant is officially approved by a partner university of USI;
- The applicant is not holding another scholarship of the European Union for an international student exchange programme.
Scholarships do not provide for total coverage of the expenses incurred during the stay abroad period, but they nonetheless contribute towards travel expenses and part of the living costs. The monthly amounts of the SEMP grant for the academic year 2020/2021 are: SEMP grants for students.
Payment of the SEMP scholarship
Scholarships are paid by the International Relations and Study Abroad Service upon arrival at USI, and are credited directly to the student's bank or postal account: two-thirds are payable at the time of arrival, while the remaining third is paid at the end of the stay upon receipt of the online exchange survey and the end of study report (see the guidelines here).
Language of instruction and opportunities
Bachelor courses at the Faculty of Communication Sciences and Economics are mainly taught in Italian. For non-native Italian speakers it is requested to have a good knowledge of the Italian language (at least a B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages).
Master courses at the Faculty of Communication Sciences and Economics are mainly taught in English, with few courses offered in Italian. Master courses at the Faculty of Informatics are entirely taught in English. For non-native English speakers it is highly recommended to have a good knowledge of the English language (B2 is requested, C1 is recommended).
A certificate confirming at least a B2 level of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages signed by the home institution is requested.
Wherever possible, course material is made available in translation too, for ease of reference. By previous agreement with the respective Professor, examinations may be sat in Italian, English or one of the other Swiss national languages (German/French).
Language opportunities: learn Italian!
Being USI the only University of Italian language and culture in the Swiss Academia, since 2006 it is particularly committed in the organization of Italian language courses, both intensive and extensive. The programmes are designed for USI students and USI professionals at all levels who want to develop and improve their practical Italian skills. Each year about 600 USI students enroll in the Italian language courses.
Italian language courses do not count towards a degree at Università della Svizzera italiana. Only SEMP (former Erasmus), Swiss Mobility and International Exchange students are entitled to receive ECTS points after having passed the final test and attended at least the 75% of the course. 2 ECTS points are assigned for the Intensive courses and 1 ECTS point for the semestral courses. The evaluation is expressed by a binary system (Pass or Fail).
For more information about the schedule and content of the courses offered, as well as application, please refer to the following link: http://www.italiancourse.usi.ch/. Registration begins in May (for Autumn semesters) and late November (for Spring semesters). For the good organization of the programme, students should register only if seriously interested.
Official Italian Language proficiency PLIDA
Università della Svizzera italiana also offers an official Italian language proficiency test twice a year in cooperation with the Società Dante Alighieri in Italy. The PLIDA Certificate attests competence in Italian as a foreign language according to a scale of six levels. The levels advance from A1 to C2 in progression of difficulty and correspond to the levels established by the Council of Europe. For more information, please visit the webpage: www.desk.usi.ch/en/convenzioni-certificati-di-lingua
ECTS Credit System
One of the most important objectives of the Bologna Reform is to enhance the creation of an open educational European space, in which students and teaching staff can move without obstacles. The accreditation of studies and their academic degrees is the fundamental condition for the success of a mobility period abroad. For this reason, the Erasmus program has adopted the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS) to improve the acknowledgement of studies abroad.
The European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System is a student-centred system based on the student workload required to achieve the objectives of a program. Students obtain credits by fulfilling the prescribed academic requirements (class attendance, course work, term papers, or final examinations).
ECTS credits are assigned by numeric value (ranging from 1 to 60). One credit corresponds to 25-30 hours of work.
In the ECTS system, 60 credits is the total amount for one academic year, 30 credits for one semester and 20 for a trimester. Instead of an absolute measure, the credits consist of a relative quantification of students' workload, representing the workload required by a student in relation to the total annual workload of a degree curriculum offered by an university or a Faculty. ECTS credits take into account the student's overall performance, and are not based only on class attendance. ECTS credits are valid for all available courses, either mandatory or elective. The level of difficulty of a course bears no relation to the ECTS system, and cannot be attested by the ECTS credits.
Students are credited with ECTS points only after they have successfully completed a course and fulfilled all its evaluation requirements. In other words, students are not awarded credits simply by class attendance or by taking part in a study abroad period.
At USI the following credits conversions outside the ECTS system apply: credits conversion sheet.
Activities for incoming students
Italian Language Courses
Being USI the only University of Italian language and culture in the Swiss Academia, since 2006 it is particularly committed in the organization of Italian language courses, both intensive and semestral. The programme is designed for USI students and USI professionals at all levels who want to develop and improve their practical Italian skills. Each year about 600 USI students enroll in the Italian language courses.
The courses taking place prior to the beginning of the autumn/spring semester are particularly designed for exchange incoming students. Participating students attended morning classes focused on grammar and writing, whereas the afternoon classes focused on improving listening and speaking skills, expanding vocabulary and developing confidence.
A guided city tour, a guided visit of a museum and an Italian film viewing in the USI Auditorio are part of the course.
For more information about the content of the courses and to apply online please read the following link: http://www.italiancourse.usi.ch/.
Exchange students are invited to an orientation meeting set before the beginning of each term. The orientation day opens with the presentations by several USI services that present to assist the students: study advisors of the different study programmes answer students’ questions regarding the courses. Moreover, the USI/SUPSI Sport Service, the SostA project regarding sustainability and mobility and the team in charge of the e-learning platform iCorsi 3 are presented. The afternoon will continue with a campus tour.
After the tour we will meet again for an International Tea Time, where you will take part in an Ice-breaker activity as well as meet, talk, and simply spend time getting to know each other in collaboration with the ESN Switzerland Lugano Section.
The welcome day for incoming students will take place on Thursday 12 September 2019, from 3.30 pm, room 355.
At the beginning of each semester we organize a free of charge welcome day trip in order to offer new incoming students a taste of our region and to get to know each other.
First trip (Autumn Semester)
Traditional Swiss Games
When: Saturday 14 September
We will give you the opportunity to discover the Traditional Swiss Games, such as the “Schwingen”, the Hornussen, the throwing of the stone accompanied by groups of Jodels, singers, horns of the Alps in a unique atmosphere.
More detailed information will follow.
Beyond Cheese, Chocolate, Watches and Banks
When: Tuesday 1 October, 5.30 pm - 7.30 pm
Where: Aula Magna
To help you make sense of some of the first impressions you might have had since your arrival in Lugano, come and explore what the Swiss Culture is really about. Join the two-hours interactive session given by Ariane Curdy, a management training consultant bringing decades of international experience covering four continents.
Be an ambassador
Once a year, we organize the International Fair, an event where most partner universities are represented to give USI students the opportunity to browse through promotional material and gather information in order to choose the mobility programme that suites them best.
We would be most grateful if you could represent your host universities and be available to USI students, hand out brochures and answer questions that may arise about the exchange programme as well as your host country/university.
This Autumn Term the Fair will take place on November 18, from 12 until 2pm in the Aula Magna Foyer.
Before you leave USI
As your stay at USI ends, you should make sure to comply with the following departure procedures:
- All exchange students must notify their departure to the Regional Migration Office and to Puntocittà (for Lugano campus) and Ufficio Controllo Abitanti (for Mendrisio and Bellinzona campuses);
- All exchange students must complete the online exchange survey;
- All exchange students must write an end of study report (following the guidelines) and send it as PDF file to email@example.com.
Visiting / exchange students are free to attend a variety of classes, both at undergraduate and graduate levels. Although formally enrolled in a Faculty, students are entitled to attend classes and take examinations in the other Faculties as well. Please note that overlapping of classes and of final exams are highly possible when choosing courses offered by different Faculties and/or at different levels. No special session for exams will in any case be organized.
Detailed information concerning pre-requisites, admission criteria, courses with limited access or not accessible to exchange students, please read carefully pages 16-18 of the Exchange Student Handbook.
For information concerning the USI Accommodation service, please refer to this page
To meet the needs of disabled students, the Lugano campus, the Canavée building and the Library in Mendrisio are equipped with appropriate facilities.
For specialist advice and assistance, disabled students may contact:
Pro Infirmis Luganese e Mendrisiotto
Via dei Sindacatori 1
Tel. +41 91 960 28 70
Fax +41 91 960 28 88