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ETH Zurich: A hidden treasure of education

This week we are happy to have a guest post by Ajita Gupta, an alumna of ETH Zurich, sharing her perspective on ETH Zurich and Switzerland in general as a study destination for international students. 
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There is a general trend of going to the US or UK for higher studies and education.  Whereas MIT is part of everyone’s vocabulary, not every good university is very well known outside the field of science and engineering. This post aims at shedding more light on a hidden treasure of education located in the heart of Switzerland: ETH Zurich.


ETH Zurich in a nutshell
ETH Zurich is one of the premier international universities in the field of engineering and the natural sciences. Founded in 1855, it accommodates more than 18,000 students from over 110 countries, including 3,900 doctoral students taught by 500 professors in 16 different departments.


ETH Zurich appears amongst one of the 12 best universities in the world in its field of expertise. 21 Nobel Laureates have studied, taught or conducted research at ETH Zurich, the famous alumnus being Albert Einstein, professor of theoretical physics from 1912 until 1914.


Why pick ETH Zurich over US / UK universities?
 ETH offers various incentives and benefits over other universities in the top league. Its strength lies in the following criteria:

1) Student fees / salary: What makes ETH Zurich stand out from US / UK universities are the low tuition fees (2-3k Fr. As opposed to 60-80k $). This is mainly since ETH is NOT a private university but funded by the government. You can use all the extra money to go travelling and sight-seeing! ETH also offers the highest salary worldwide (7-7.5k Fr. as opposed to 2-2.5k $/month for PhD students).

2) Work-life balance: There is a stronger emphasis on work-life balance in Europe than in the US, which is known for its "workaholic" environment. ETH has a world-class gym with a huge variety of courses and training sessions. Once you start your PhD you are officially employed by the university and therefore entitled to a proper holiday (40 days / year).

3) Stability: Switzerland is the most stable country in the world. People are helpful, polite and professional. You are provided with all the resources / facilities / infrastructure needed to work and study without having to fight for them. Switzerland also has the world’s best public transportation system. The US and the UK are messy and chaotic. Things do not always work the way they are supposed to.

4) Travelling / sight-seeing / winter sports: Europe is rich in history and culture. Every country has its own charm. You won't be travelling every weekend, but once in 6 months is doable and encouraged. Further, there is close proximity to the Alps which offer ski resorts and sports facilities.


If you get into the top 5 US universities - there is surely prestige of being affiliated with a big name. BUT - in the end - it's a personal decision. You have to be at peace with the trade-offs that come with it. Set your priorities straight. And then make a decision accordingly.


About the author:
Ajita Gupta
M.Sc. ETH Zurich
Technical Consultant, Hewlett-Packard

Ajita is a new Coach at GradTrain
She has written a blog for aspiring candidates. It provides a list of tips and advice on applications and student culture at ETH Zurich as well as life in Switzerland.


Link:
http://faqsonethzurich.quora.com/

34 comments:

  1. The problem is that Switzerland is not giving you visas to stay - so it's better to go to the USA.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Can you give us a concrete example of visa rejection and the reasons behind it?

    There are much more students going to the US and I therefore expect the visa regulations to be more strict and the number of open slots to be less and much more competitive.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the guy is talking about visa extension after you have completed your programme and you want to stay and work in switzerland

      Delete
  3. Thanks for a nice firsthand introduction to ETH-Z !
    Financial reassurance and the possibility of "real" weekends are very good motivating factors for grad students.

    But frankly, I can't see how "a proper holiday" principle can be enforced in a self-driven grad student' life !

    Btw, a few queries (strictly if you find time!) :
    1) How does the quality of PhD programs in US/Switzerland compare in terms of ease of admittance/duration/job-opportunities etc?
    2) Where does ETH-Z stand amongst other Universities in Europe?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The article has been edited and should provide answers to question 1).
      Regarding question 2):

      According to QS World University Rankings, in 2014 ETH was ranked 3 in Europe after Cambridge and Oxford in Computer Science. In Electronics / Electrical Engineering it was ranked second right after Cambridge.

      References:
      http://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings/university-subject-rankings/2014/computer-science-information-systems#sorting=rank+region=+country=+faculty=+stars=false+search=

      http://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings/university-subject-rankings/2014/engineering-electrical-electronic#sorting=rank+region=+country=+faculty=+stars=false+search=

      Delete
  4. It worth mentioning the "sister" institute from the French speak part of Switzerland - EPFL.
    much of the comments apply to there as well... and Lausanne is really great city!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for mentioning EPFL!

      ETH is overall better ranked as a university, but research is group- and advisor-specific. If you are planning to do a PhD you must focus on the publications rather than the university.

      As a city Zurich is more multi-national, whereas Lausanne is more peaceful and less hectic. Both universities have close proximity to the lake, where students spend enjoy spending leisure time, especially during summers. Further, Zurich falls into the German-speaking and Lausanne into the French-speaking region of the country.

      Delete
  5. Thanks for the great info. I have been offered a place in M.Sc Statistics. What do you think about the job opportunities for statisticians in Zurich? Also, is german fluency a necessity?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. With a Masters in Stats you can look out for jobs in the field of Data Science. This includes tech companies as well as banks (UBS, Credit Suisse). German is not a necessity but it will surely help you to go by and converse with the local people. Language courses are offered for free to all MSc / PhD students.

      Delete
  6. Hi Ajita, you are doing a great job and I hope to get feedback from you on my application when I sign up on gradtrain. What do you think about the Masters in Management, Technology and Economics program at ETH? What are the job opportunities like? I am looking at Investment Banking, PE or maybe going for PhD in Economics at a top US graduate school after the program. Is it also possible to go on exchange programs to top schools in the US like Princeton and Yale?
    Thank you for the answers.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have written a relevant post here: https://www.quora.com/How-do-you-appraise-the-Management-Technology-and-Economics-Msc-Program-at-ETH-Z%C3%BCrich

      Exchange programs vary from department to department. I would recommend getting in touch with the student's administrator and professors directly.

      Delete
  7. Hi Ajita,

    Nice blog. I am a postgraduate student in CSE from IITK. I would like to know how prof. there evaluate a Phd admit...what credentials should I have to get into ETH for a Phd? Please provide all the details.

    Thanks in advance

    ReplyDelete
  8. very innovative ideas which encourage me mu much.sharing ideas is a good thing.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi,
    I was looking at the website for the course of information security to get an idea about the admission criteria. Although I did read your post:https://www.quora.com/How-do-I-assess-my-chances-of-getting-an-admit-to-ETH-Zurich
    Where its mentioned that there is no strict GRE cut off as such, but still I am asking because I have a low verbal score of 148 although my Quant is 162.
    So I am wondering if there is a way to find out the generic selection requirement from last years.

    ReplyDelete
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  16. Hello, please can visa be extended after completing your MSc programme, either for job or further studies? Thank you

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  17. And the chance of working while studying at MSc level?

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