Recognition and equivalence of degrees | HES⁠-⁠SO University of Applied Sciences and Arts Western Switzerland

Recognition and equivalence of degrees

Switzerland and the EFTA (European Free Trade Association) member countries have a system of recognition for academic degrees and diplomas.

This takes place along two quite distinct axes: that of the employment market (recognition enabling access to regulated professions) and that of academic recognition (recognition enabling students to pursue further education abroad).

Principles of reciprocal academic recognition

EU member states decided to agree to mutual confidence surrounding degrees affording professional qualification. Globally, the educational training is considered equivalent. Three general directives regulate the recognition of most degrees (with the exception of degrees in medicine, dentistry, veterinary sciences, pharmacy, general care nursing, midwifery and architecture, which are subject to specific directives).

As a general rule, to be recognised and considered equivalent, the degrees are evaluated not only based on the title granted, but also on the educational programme’s content and the length. The jurisdiction for this evaluation rests with the recipient country. Once a degree is not recognised as equivalent, a compensation plan may be requested.

Recognition of education between the universities/applied universities of Western Switzerland

In Western Switzerland, there is a memorandum of agreement with regard to reciprocal recognition of study programmes and degrees, and to a regulation framework for students’ and graduates’ access from one university/applied university to another.

This memorandum of agreement pertains to all the universities of Western Switzerland: the Universities of Fribourg, Geneva, Lausanne, Neuchâtel, the EPFL, and the HES⁠-⁠SO.

International recognition of HES degrees

In principle, for the purpose of access to regulated professions (recognition relating to the labour market), UAS diplomas are recognised as university degrees; that is, they correspond to at least three years of education at a university. There is an exception for architecture diplomas.

If you need certification for the purpose of recognition of this diploma in an EU/EFTA member state or a state that is not a member of the EU/EFTA, this certification may be requested from the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI.

Member States of the UE/EFTA

No-Member States of the UE/EFTA


Recognition of foreign degrees

Equivalence may be granted for foreign degrees and other qualifications with the following Swiss qualifications: Federal Certificate of Capacity (CFC); vocational baccalaureate (maturité professionnelle); federal diploma (brevet fédéral); Federal PET Diploma Examination qualifications (diplômes de l’examen professionnel supérieur); and HES degrees. The competent authority for evaluation of equivalence with Swiss HES degrees is the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI.


Recognition of foreign degrees for admission to the HES⁠-⁠SO at the Bachelor’s degree level

For foreign degrees, the basic condition underlying all admissions to HES studies is to be able to prove a minimum of one year’s professional experience in a field relevant to the chosen study stream, with an exception for the field of Visual Arts.

In principle, admissions are done on the basis of an entrance exam for students with a proven prior education abroad, along with a level II secondary school diploma of at least 3 years’ duration.

In principle, admissions are done without an entrance exam for students who have earned, through a proven prior education abroad, a diploma equivalent to a Swiss baccalaureate (maturité) or a cantonal-level diploma recognized by the Swiss Confederation. The HES⁠-⁠SO is the competent authority for determining if a general baccalaureate (maturité gymnasiale) is equivalent to a Swiss baccalaureate.

Admission to study programmes at the Universities of Applied Sciences (HES) and the recognition of foreign degrees is subject to recommendations of the Rectors’ Conference of the Swiss Universities of Applied Sciences (KFH).

Equivalency examination procedure

Recognition of degrees is only applicable for regulated professions. A profession is considered regulated if a specific professional title is required by law. If a profession is not regulated, it is not necessary to undergo a degree equivalency examination.

The procedure for equivalency examinations is available on the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI website, along with all the necessary forms and addresses and useful contacts relating to recognition of degrees.

HES⁠-⁠SO Rectorate
Route de Moutier 14
2800 - Delémont
T +41 58 900 00 00 - F +41 58 900 00 01
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