Université de Genève (Geneva) - Science Only

Originally founded by Jean Calvin, the University of Geneva (UNIGE) has made major accomplishments during its 450+ years of existence.

The university's domains of excellence in research include life sciences (in particular: genetics, bioinformatics, molecular and chemical biology), physics, astrophysics, and chemistry. UNIGE currently stands within the top 100 universities worldwide, as per the 2014 QS World University Rankings, and is a leading Swiss research institution that has hosted 8 NCCRs (National Centres of Competence in Research). Its faculty, as well, are internationally acclaimed, and have earned multiple European Research Council Grants as well as important distinctions including the Fields Medal in mathematics and the Vicktor Ambartsumian International Prize in astrophysics.

Key information




Fall, Winter, Academic year

Program type


Application information

Application status



20-21 applications

First come, first considered for remaining spaces until full or:

Mar. 15 (Fall, full year)

Aug. 13 (Winter)

University-specific additional requirements

One academic reference required - see the Eligibility section below.

21-22 applications

Opens Nov. 1 2020

Program details

Areas of Study: UNIGE offers courses in the following science programs: Astronomy, Biology, Chemistry/biochemistry, Computer Science, Chemistry, Earth & Environmental Science, Physics, and Mathematics. Using the search feature linked above, the title of each course is written in the language it is taught in. 

“A“ = Autumn Semester.
“P“ = Spring (Printemps) Semester.
“AN“ = courses offered in the full academic year (Autumn and Spring Semesters)

Course requirements:
In Europe, full-time course load is typically 30 ECTS (European credits), and exchange students at Geneva are typically expected to take 30 credits per semester. 6 ECTS = 3 UCalgary units (1 half-course). 
The amount of credits each course is worth corresponds to the workload/contact hours, and can vary from 1-30 ECTS per course, so please be mindful of this in your selection.

-Bachelor students cannot take Masters level courses
-Courses can be chosen from only 1-2 different faculties or institutes, and most courses primarily from within 1.
For more information on requirements for various faculties, please visit their Academic Restrictions page. 

The exchange agreement with UNIGE falls under TASSEP. TASSEP is the Trans-Atlantic Science Student Exchange Program, a consortium designed specifically with the curricular needs of science students in mind. Canadian science students have access to a variety of European Partners in the consortium.

The academic year is divided into 2 semesters.

  • Autumn semester runs from mid-September to mid-February. It's not possible to complete the Fall semester in December, so Winter or Full-year studies are recommended unless you don't plan to return to UCalgary in January. 
  • Spring semester runs from mid-February to mid-June. 
  1. Costs

    It is recommended that students budget around CHF 2000 per month to pay for accommodation and living expenses. This includes accommodation (roughly CHF 500), food and basic living costs (CHF 600), and Swiss health insurance (CHF 100). Cost of living estimates can be found online.

    Geneva cost comparison vs. Calgary: Click Here

    Important Note: The Swiss Federal Act on Insurance Contracts (KVG) strictly stipulates a complete insurance coverage for health and accident insurance for anyone studying in Switzerland. This is mandatory and all exchange students are thus required to take out an insurance policy in Switzerland, however this policy only covers you in Switzerland, so additional coverage will be necessary for visits to other countries. The Mobility Office will give you further information during your registration at the Université de Genève.

    Insurance policies and travel insurance purchased in Canada will likely not be accepted by the authorities for study in Switzerland.  

  2. Funding

    Did you know that you can take your UCalgary funding with you on exchange? 
    Since you remain a degree seeking student at the U of C while on exchange you remain eligible for any awards and scholarships you are eligible to receive from the university as well as student loans.

    Our office administers the International Study Travel Grant for students travelling on approved U of C study programs that are credit bearing. The amount changes year to year as the money is split evenly between qualified applicants. Students may only receive the study travel grant once. Please see the exchange funding page for more information.

Exchange students to UNIGE are not guaranteed housing, but if students apply promptly after being accepted for study, the university's Accommodation Office ("Bureau des Logements") and “Cité Universitaire” will try to arrange a space in student housing. The Accommodation Office reserves a limited number of rooms in university dormitories as well as rooms rented out from private homes in Geneva. Students should expect to pay in the range of CHF 600 for rent per month. Additional information can be found online

An academic reference is required for a complete application.

This exchange is open to regular, full-time students in the Faculty of Science, who have completed at least 1 full year (10 courses) at the post-secondary level, with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.7 (B-).

Unless taking courses only in English, Students must have completed at least two 300-level courses in French (4 semesters of French or equivalent language skills) for this exchange. A language level of at least B2, according to the Common European Framework of Reference for languages (CEFR), is also acceptable. Certification of language proficiency will be required if you wish to take courses in French. 

Do I have to speak French?

Academic instruction at UNIGE is almost entirely in French. During both semesters at UNIGE, there are French language support courses provided free to exchange students as well as a "language tandem" programme for language exchange with local students. There is also a three-week intensive French course in the summer that exchange students may take at a discounted price. Additional information can be found online.

What's special about Geneva?

Geneva is uniquely located at the southernmost tip of lac Léman (also called lac de Genève or Lake Geneva). Its only land access to Switzerland is a narrow strip alongside the lake, and otherwise it is entirely bordered by France. It's therefore logical that French is dominant here. Simultaneously, however, the population of Geneva is highly internationalized and its city streets are filled with different languages and cuisine from seemingly every ethnic background. The diversity is apparent as one strolls from the luxurious cosmopolitan core of shops and banks through to the industrial zone and the harbour.

What resources are available to new students?

UNIGE's International Relations Office hosts mandatory Welcome Sessions prior to the start of each semester to provide incoming students with information about life and study in Geneva. There are also information sessions delivered by each faculty.

What supports or services are available at Geneva?

UNIGE's office Etudiant+ provides a range of support services to all students, including assistance for studying with accessibility issues. Information is available online (in French only). For information on accessibility of campuses across Europe, ESN has created "MappEd!" which allows you to check the accessibility of universities and cities across Europe. For city-specific services and places in Europe, the Jaccede interactive platform (website and/or smartphone app - both Android and iOS) also provides a searchable user-built database to identify important accessibility information of public places and locations.

Have questions?

Study Abroad 101

Please watch this YouTube playlist before reaching out or booking an appointment.

Watch Study Abroad 101

Academic Advising

Before applying to study abroad, you should ask your academic advisor how an exchange might align with your degree (e.g. best time to go, what courses you need).

After you are accepted, you should ask your academic advisor more specific questions about courses/transfer credits. It’s also recommended to follow up with your advisor again once you return to Calgary.

Find your academic advisor

Study Abroad Advising

If you have questions about this exchange program, you can meet with the specific advisor for this program by booking an appointment through the link below. Appointments are currently on zoom.

1. Select “Book an Appointment”
2. Select “Study Abroad Appointments”
3. Select “Book by Appointment Type”
4. Read through the list of appointment types to select the most appropriate type and view available times.

Book an appointment

The exchange advisor for this program is: Saskia Schaelicke

How to Apply

Download the application guide

This PDF contains information on how to complete your application and what to do after you have applied.

Application guide

Identify three programs of interest

We recommend applying for your top three programs for the priority application deadline, as placement may be competitive. We will assess your applications in ranked order.

Check requirements and deadlines

These may vary by program, so check the individual program pages and make sure that you are aware of any different application deadlines or eligibility requirements.

Start your application

Once you have gathered everything you need, you can begin your application!

Please note: Applications will not be considered complete until all required documents are submitted in full.


International travel presents challenges that may not be found when attending classes on campus. There may be a lack of resources, emergency services, hospitals, accessibility issues and/or demands on the physical and the mental self, all of which can challenge individuals when away from their usual support systems and structures. Adequate preparation is essential.

For this reason, it is imperative that you evaluate all aspects of your own physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual condition against the rigors of the particular study abroad program you are selecting. If you are unsure of whether or not this program is a good fit for you and/or if you have any circumstances that could impede your enjoyment of the program, please contact us. Our Study Abroad Team will be happy to assist in finding the best options for you and arrange any supports or accommodations necessary to ensure your success.

Please note if you have or are seeking a certificate from Student Accessibility Services, you should provide this early to your Study Abroad Advisor to ensure that the option that you are seeking can support your needs.