Swiss students may be concerned about the interpretation of their educational credentials since Switzerland’s secondary school system and grading scale are very different from the educational system in the U.S. Universities and colleges in the U.S. use reference books and professional contacts to help them understand the specific educational credentials from other countries. Generally, the credentials are interpreted by each institution, there is not a single interpretation that will apply to every educational institution. This lack of uniformity is often good news to international students, as it means that students from a variety of educational backgrounds can find a U.S. university appropriate to their needs and abilities. It also makes it impossible to give more than a general guideline when discussing an individual student’s educational profile. Every educational institution has its own rules and requirements and judges each student accordingly.
Completion of a secondary school with at least twelve years of formal education usually qualifies students to apply for undergraduate (bachelor) degree program in the U.S. There is neither a legal basis for a comparison between degrees and diplomas earned in the USA and in Switzerland nor is there a bilateral agreement between the two countries concerning the mutual recognition of degrees or diplomas. Consequently there is no comparative list enumerating the degrees or diplomas and their “equivalents”.
In general, Swiss students who have completed the Matura (Handelsmaturität/maturite commerciate/maturita commerciale; Kantonales Maturitätszeugnis/certificat de maturite cantonal/attestato di maturita cantonale and the Eidgenössisch anerkanntes kantonales Maturitätszeugnis/certificat de maturite federale, certificat de maturite cantonal reconnu par la Confederation, baccalaureat/attestato di maturita cantonale riconosciuto dalla confederazione) will not only be considered for undergraduate admission but will also be considered for advanced standing and some transfer credit. Typically the transfer credit equals that of one to two semesters of university credit.
Holders of the Eidgenössisches Fähigkeitszeugnis/certificat de capacite/attestato di capacita will be considered for admission to first degree programs except at select universities and where the educational training received is considered appropriate preparation.
Holders of the Diplom der Diplommittelschule/diplome d’ecole du degre diplime/diploma della scuola di diploma will be considered for admission to first degree programs except at selective institutions.
Holders of a Swiss secondary school leaving certificate obtained after less than 12 years of study will be considered for enrollment on a case by case basis. While holders of Swiss credentials that represent completion of 12 to 13 years of primary through secondary education will be considered for direct admission to a first degree program.
Students who do not have twelve (12) years of formal education can still obtain a university degree in the US. Many two-year institutions/community colleges offer bridge programs that allow students with less than 12 years of formal education to attend their college and upon completion of the two year associate degree to transfer to a bachelor degree granting institution.
Consider your educational background, the marks you received and the kind of institution where you completed your studies, it may be necessary to investigate many US institutions and programs before you will find a match.
The College Level Examination Program is a widely accepted credit by exam program. 3 to 12 credits are granted for successful scores, depending on the exam and the policy of the university. A student can receive up to two years of credit for CLEP exams. Over 2,900 colleges and universities in the US grant credit for the CLEP. For a list of colleges that grant credit for the CLEP log onto https://clep.collegeboard.org/
The CLEP offers a number of benefits to the student. Taking the exam can be a cost savings as it allows a student to “earn” college credit without attending classes on the college campus. This can shorten the length of time a student must spend at an institution saving tuition and associated fees. It will take less time to earn a degree and will also validate a student’s abilities. This is especially valuable when the educational system of the students country has a divisional educational system such as is the case in Switzerland. For students who have not earned the Matura diploma, the CLEP is a valuable tool to inform colleges and universities of a students ability and knowledge in specific subjects.
There are 34 exams in the following subjects: Composition and Literature, Science and Mathematics, Foreign Language, History and Social Studies and Business. If you are interested in taking the CLEP, contact the College Board at https://clep.collegeboard.org/?excmpid=VT-00005