ETH Zurich

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ETH Zurich
founding 1855
Sponsorship Federation
place Zurich
management Joël Mesot (President)
Sarah M. Springman (Rector)
Students 22,193
32.9% female
40.0% foreign
Employee 9,845 FTE
including professors 541 (headcount), 502 FTE
Annual budget 1,897 million CHF , of which 599 million CHF third-party funding
Foundation assets 552 million CHF
Networks CESAER , EUA , IAU , IDEA League , IARU , Swissuniversities , TIME , UNITECH International
Federal universities and research institutes
ETH Domain

Ordinary budget 2019 (CHF million)

ETH domain




Research institutes


Gustav Gull's dome has become a symbol for ETH today
Main building of the ETH Zurich, seen from the Polyterrasse
The polytechnic (then only in the left wing) and the university (then in the right wing) on ​​a view from 1865
View of the former ETH and university building around 1880, erected 1858–1864 by Gottfried Semper, before the start of the renovations by Gustav Gull 1915–1924

The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich , or ETH Zurich for short , is a technical and scientific university in Zurich . It was founded in 1855 as the Eidgenössisches Polytechnikum (which is why it is popularly known as the Poly ). Your buildings are spread across two locations, one in the center of Zurich and the Hönggerberg location outside the city center. It is one of the most renowned universities in the world and regularly takes top positions in university rankings.

There are 16 departments. Further studies for a doctorate in technical, mathematical and scientific fields are numerous. Around 20,000 students and doctoral students are currently enrolled. ETH Zurich employs over 11,000 people. Of the 531 professorships, including 94 assistant professorships, 76 (14%) are held by women. Associated with the ETH are 21 Nobel Prize winners . ETH President has been Joël Mesot since 2019 and Sarah M. Springman is the Rector .

ETH Zurich is part of the ETH Domain , which includes the Technical University in Zurich and the one in Lausanne as well as four other research institutes - Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI), Federal Research Institute for Forests, Snow and Landscape (WSL), Federal Materials Testing and Research Institute (Empa) and Federal Institute for Water Supply, Wastewater Treatment and Water Protection (Eawag). ETH Zurich has had a location in Singapore since 2010. The Center for Global Environmental Sustainability SEC was founded on the joint initiative of ETH Zurich and Singapore's National Research Foundation NRF. This interdisciplinary research institute deals with the sustainable development of cities and their infrastructures in its two programs Future Cities Laboratory FCL and Future Resilient Systems FRS.


Initial phase

Physics building of the ETH, built from 1887 to 1890 at Gloriastrasse 35 in the middle of vineyards. Canceled in 1974.
ETH chemistry building, built in 1886 on Universitätsstrasse, photo taken around 1905
ETH Hönggerberg

After a long debate in the still young federal state of Switzerland as to whether a national, federal university should also be founded in addition to the cantonal universities , the law on the federal polytechnic school in connection with a school for higher studies was passed on February 7, 1854 , political and humanistic sciences , and the ETH started operations as a federal polytechnic school on October 16, 1855 in Zurich. However, the offer was limited to purely technical subjects, as the Catholic, rural cantons, which had their own universities, wanted to prevent an intellectual monopoly of the Protestant, urban cantons.

The new educational facility was to have its own building, and so the city and canton of Zurich announced an architecture competition in which, among others, the two professors Ferdinand Stadler and Gottfried Semper from Zurich and the Baden architect Joseph Caspar Jeuch took part. The German architect Semper, who u. a. also designed the Dresden Opera named after him , finally won the competition and was allowed to erect the building between 1858 and 1864 according to his plans. The already existing Zurich University was initially housed in the south wing of the building .

The polytechnic grew rapidly and a new building was added every decade: the chemistry building on Universitätsstrasse in 1886, and the physics building on Gloriastrasse 35 in the middle of vineyards from 1887 to 1890 (demolished in 1974). More buildings were in 1874 for forestry been created, just north of the main building followed in 1900, the machinery - Laboratory and in 1915 the natural science.

As a result of the so-called segregation agreements in 1905 and 1908, the buildings of Zurich University and the ETH were separated from one another in 1914. After the university moved out, the leading architect of historicism in Zurich, Gustav Gull , rebuilt Semper's main building between 1915 and 1925 and radically changed the interior and exterior of the building. Only the south facade facing the city remained unchanged. Towards Rämistrasse , the shape of the building was supplemented by a new façade and today's characteristic dome.

In 1908 the Polytechnic acquired the right to award doctorates. In 1911, after a lengthy reform debate, it was renamed the Federal Institute of Technology ; Informally, the name "Poly" remained in use until the 1970s. At the same time, the curriculum was relaxed somewhat and the students were given more freedom.

Location Hönggerberg and Science City

As early as the 1950s it became clear that the ETH center had too little space available. Even then, numerous buildings in the neighborhood had to be bought and apartments converted for institutes (some of these are still used today by the ETH). However, this strategy could not satisfy the needs of the university, so that the ETH decided in 1957 to look for a second location in Zurich. Areas on the Allmend Fluntern, on the Irchel, on the Adlisberg and on the Hönggerberg were up for discussion . Only the latter turned out to be suitable, and planning for the Hönggerberg began in 1959. The renowned architect Albert Heinrich Steiner was won over for the project. Additional buildings have been built there since the 1960s, and the Science City expansion project has been underway since the beginning of the 21st century, with the aim of building student apartments on the Hönggerberg campus, among other things.

The implementation took place quickly, and at the end of the 1970s the first phase was completed with the buildings for physics (HPH and HPP), molecular biology (HPM, HPK ...) and the infrastructure. No longer under the direction of Steiner and sometimes even against his will, the construction of the Building for Architecture and Building Sciences (HIL) under the architects Max Ziegler and Erik Lanter took place in a second expansion phase (1972–1976) . The third expansion phase was initiated in 1988 with the invitation to tender for the ideas competition for the structure plan; The competition was won by the architect Ben Huser in 1989. After the architects Mario Campi and Franco Pesina won the tender for the third stage (1996-2004) in 1990, Steiner even fought the project in federal court rejected. This cleared the way for the chemistry and materials department as well as the pharmacy and microbiology (HCI) building.

The Hönggerberg location is now home to the following departments: Architecture ( D-ARCH ), Civil Engineering , Environment and Geomatics ( D-BAUG ), Chemistry and Applied Biosciences ( D-CHAB ), Physics ( D-PHYS ), Biology ( D-BIOL ) and Materials Science ( D-MATL ). It can be reached with the VBZ bus lines 37, 80 and 69. In addition, ETH's own shuttle buses run on two lines between the Hönggerberg campus and the main building or Zurich main station . The travel time with the shuttle buses reserved for ETH members is around 15 minutes on both lines. With the regular connections, the travel time from the main train station to ETH Hönggerberg is around 25 minutes. These bus connections have long been a capacity bottleneck, which has already led to complaints from students. Another variant for direct access to Science City via an S-Bahn line and a tunnel station below Science City was proposed in autumn 2014. The supplementary railway line, 4.25 km long, begins branching at the Letziviadukt and leads as a 3.5 km long tunnel under the Käferberg to the Aspholz area, where it joins the line to Regensdorf. This would reduce the travel time from Zurich main station to the ETH Hönggerberg from today's 25 minutes to 6 minutes.

The Hönggerberg location is currently being expanded as part of the Science City project . The idea is to create a university campus where research and living take place on the same area, but which is also open to the public. In 2008 the Information Science Lab and the Sport Center were completed, which opened in May 2009. Student apartments were built from 2013 to 2016. These comprise a total of 63 shared apartments with 485 rooms and twelve studios. At the same time, the Lucerne Pension Fund in cooperation with Losinger Marazzi AG implemented the livingscience project. This provides 404 student rooms in one, two or more shared apartments. A drawing room, common rooms that can be used by students, a day nursery and additional rooms for student accommodation were also planned. There are also plans to build a life science platform as well as an academic guest house as an addition to the previously 14-story physical tower. The Information Science Lab was supported with 23 million francs by the entrepreneur Branco Weiss , and the Zürcher Kantonalbank contributed 12 million francs to the sports center . In December 2006, the Zurich City Council almost unanimously approved the master plan for the further structural development steps of Science City. The special building regulations came into force in autumn 2007. According to the master plan for Campus Hönggerberg 2040 published in May 2018, two new high-rise buildings are to be built.

In terms of energy policy, Science City has set itself the goal of reducing its CO 2 emissions in accordance with the guidelines of the Kyoto Protocol , in order to implement the idea of ​​the 2000 watt society in Science City .

ETH Hönggerberg, seen from the south. In the picture the five fingers of the HCI, behind them the high building of the HPP with a weather station on the roof


More than 800 dissertations are created annually and over 2000 (master) diplomas are awarded.

The ETH started with 68 students in 1855, since then the number has increased steadily. The number of female students has risen sharply since 1968 and amounted to 31.8% in the fall semester of 2017. There are currently 23 Bachelor programs with 9200 students, 43 Master’s programs with 6100 students, and 4100 doctoral students are enrolled.

In July 2015, Rector Springman announced that the ETH's capacity to accommodate 20,000 students would have to limit the increase in the current number of 18,600 students. According to Springman, there are enough good Swiss students that the university does not have to rely on foreign students.


The school management organizes the management, structure and organizational matters of ETH Zurich.


There are 16 departments; the most recent, Health Sciences and Technology ( D-HEST ), was established in 2012 by merging the movement sciences , biomechanics, food sciences and neurosciences. Since autumn 2017, the department has also offered a bachelor's degree in human medicine.

For the years 2019-2025, all departments and centers have committed to organs caused by air travel caused by employees CO 2 - emissions to reduce by an average of 11 percent.

Area Course of study Abbreviation, name and website of the department
Architecture, landscape architecture, civil engineering and geomatics Architecture, landscape architecture D-ARCH architecture , landscape architecture

ETH-Studio Basel Contemporary City Institute

Civil engineering D-BAUG construction , environment and geomatics
Spatial engineering
Environmental engineering
Engineering Electrical engineering and information technology D-ITET information technology and electrical engineering
biotechnology D-BSSE biosystems
Computer science D-INFK computer science
Materials science D-MATL materials science
Mechanical engineering D-MAVT mechanical engineering and process engineering
Science and math biology D-BIOL biology
chemistry D-CHAB Chemistry and Applied Biosciences
Chemical engineering
Interdisciplinary natural sciences
Pharmaceutical Sciences
mathematics D-MATH mathematics
Computational Sciences
physics D-PHYS physics
System-oriented sciences
Health Sciences and Technology D-HEST Health Sciences and Technology
Human medicine
Food science
Agronomy D-USYS Environmental Systems Science
Environmental science
Earth sciences D-ERDW Earth Sciences
Management and Social Sciences Political Science (career officer) D-GESS Humanities , Social and Political Sciences

In addition, there is the Department of Management , Technology and Economics ( D-MTEC ), responsible for a master’s degree, some advanced studies ( Master of Advanced Studies ) and doctorates.


Various departments support the school management and the departments. As part of the ETH library , the university archive of ETH Zurich contains documents on the history of ETH Zurich. This is used for research into the history of science and technology. It contains the bequests and autographs of many well-known scientists and Nobel Prize winners .

University groups and commissions

The following four university groups form an equal body of elected representatives in the university assembly:

  • Conference of the teaching staff (KdL)
  • Academic association for mid-level faculty at ETH Zurich (AVETH)
  • Association of Students at ETH ( VSETH )
  • Personnel Committee (PeKo)

Study conditions

Historical development of the number of students

Admission is granted with a Swiss Matura without any further conditions. Foreign students have to take an entrance exam depending on their school leaving certificate or they are accepted directly.

The semester fees are 580  francs and an additional 64 francs semester fees per semester. This does not include various additional expenses such as books, internships, excursions, etc. Scholarships are available for financially disadvantaged students.

Course offer

Mainly scientific and technical subjects are taught at ETH. ETH does not have any minor subjects, but courses in the humanities, social and political sciences (GESS) are compulsory in all courses.

The Academic Sports Association Zurich (ASVZ) offers a wide range of university sports with over 120 sports, from aerobics to climbing courses to yoga. The most important sporting events are the SOLA relay , which is carried out over a distance of 120 kilometers in the greater Zurich area, and the annual UNI-POLY rowing regatta between the ETH and the University of Zurich, which was held for the 67th time in 2019. ETH leads the men with 39 to 26. The race had to be stopped twice.

The ETH Zurich is also home to the academic part of the Swiss Armed Forces Military Academy . As part of their training, prospective career officers attend the specially designed political science course.

Special facilities

  • The ETH also includes the ETH Library in Zurich , which, with almost 7 million objects, is also the largest library in Switzerland. The Collegium Helveticum is a joint institution of the University and ETH Zurich and the Zurich University of the Arts. Among other things, it houses the Ludwik Fleck Center , which houses the scientific legacy of the Polish scientist. In addition, there is a graphic collection at the ETH, which holds exhibitions on various topics several times a year.
  • The CSCS ( Swiss National Supercomputing Center ) is also located at the ETH , which supports a wide range of application areas and also receives orders from CERN .
  • The ETH Zurich Foundation is intended to build bridges between ETH Zurich and companies, foundations, organizations and private individuals and to advance ETH Zurich in its strategic efforts and thus secure its leading position worldwide. As a leading technology foundation in Switzerland, the ETH Zurich Foundation specifically supports ETH Zurich in achieving its goals in teaching and research. The partners have access to collaborations and programs with the university.
  • ETH juniors is a student company at ETH Zurich that was founded in 1997. On the one hand, ETH juniors provides project consulting with students, and on the other hand, the organization arranges contacts between companies and students (as part of the campus interview ). The company sees itself as a bridge between the university and everyday work. ETH juniors is legally and financially independent of ETH Zurich and is operated exclusively by students.

Student organizations

The students are organized in the Association of Students at ETH (VSETH). This association under Swiss law represents students inside and outside the university by means of a framework agreement and also unites subject-specific professional associations that offer a wide range of events and services for students.

The doctoral students are organized in the Association of Assistants, Research Assistants and Doctoral Students at ETH Zurich (AVETH).

University networks

ETH works in various associations with other universities. She is a founding member of the IDEA League , a strategic alliance of five leading technical universities in Europe. She is also a member of the Top Industrial Managers for Europe network , an association of 51 technically oriented universities that promotes exchange programs and enables students to obtain double degrees. In 2006 she also founded the International Alliance of Research Universities with nine leading research universities worldwide .

Funding from the EU

The ETH has acquired 84 ERC grants for basic research at the highest level, 586 million francs from the 7th research framework program of the EU flowed to the research location Zurich. After the Swiss government did not sign the already negotiated agreement on the free movement of persons with Croatia in the implementation of the popular initiative “Against mass immigration” , the EU suspended negotiations on the 8th Research Framework Program . Former ETH President Ralph Eichler said that if Switzerland could no longer take part in the EU research framework programs, it would be “like if FC Basel could no longer play in the Champions League”.


In the Times Higher Education World University Rankings in 2015, ETH was ranked 9th worldwide and 4th among European universities (first place in continental Europe). In the Engineering & Technology area , it was ranked 8th in the Times Ranking and 11th in the Physical Science area . In the 2015 Shanghai ranking , the ETH was ranked 20th worldwide (fourth within Europe and first on mainland Europe). The ETH took 8th place worldwide in the Natural Sciences and Mathematics category . In the QS World University Ranking 2020, the ETH took 6th place overall. In the QS Graduate Employability Ranking 2019, which assesses the employability of graduates, ETH was ranked 15th worldwide.



Albert Einstein, 1921, photograph by Ferdinand Schmutzer
Kurt Wüthrich in September 2005

Numerous famous engineers and scientists have taught or studied at ETH Zurich. According to official information from ETH, 21 Nobel Prize winners are connected to the university:

  • Werner Arber , Nobel Prize for Medicine 1978, studied at the ETH from 1949–1953
  • Georg Bednorz , Nobel Prize in Physics 1987, received his doctorate from the ETH
  • Felix Bloch , Nobel Prize in Physics 1952, studied at ETH from 1924–1927
  • Peter Debye , Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1936, was Professor of Physics from 1920–1927
  • Albert Einstein , Nobel Prize in Physics 1921, studied at the ETH from 1896–1900, was Professor of Theoretical Physics from 1912–1914
  • Richard R. Ernst , Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1991, was full professor of physical chemistry from 1976–1998
  • Charles Édouard Guillaume , Nobel Prize in Physics 1920, studied and received his doctorate at the ETH
  • Fritz Haber , Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1918, was assistant to ETH Professor Georg Lunge
  • Richard Kuhn , Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1938, was Professor of General and Analytical Chemistry from 1926–1929
  • Karl Alexander Müller , Nobel Prize in Physics 1987, studied and received his doctorate from 1946–1958 at the ETH
  • Wolfgang Pauli , Nobel Prize in Physics in 1945, was Professor of Theoretical Physics from 1928 to 1958
  • Vladimir Prelog , Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1975, was Professor of Organic Chemistry from 1950–1976
  • Tadeus Reichstein , Nobel Prize for Medicine 1950, was an associate professor for special organic and physiological chemistry from 1937–1938
  • Heinrich Rohrer , Nobel Prize in Physics 1986, studied at the ETH from 1951 to 1955
  • Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen , Nobel Prize in Physics 1901, studied at the ETH from 1865–1868
  • Lavoslav Ružička , Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1939, was Professor of General Chemistry from 1929–1957
  • Hermann Staudinger , Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1953, was Professor of General Chemistry from 1912 to 1926
  • Otto Stern , Nobel Prize in Physics in 1943, was a private lecturer in physical chemistry from 1913 to 1915
  • Alfred Werner , Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1913, was a private lecturer in chemistry from 1892–1893
  • Richard Willstätter , Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1915, was Professor of General Chemistry from 1905–1912
  • Kurt Wüthrich , Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2002, was Professor of Biophysics from 1981–2003

In addition, Niklaus Wirth , developer of several programming languages, received the Turing Award , the highest honor in computer science , in 1984 , and the two ETH graduates Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron received the Pritzker Prize , the most prestigious architecture prize , in 2001 . The mathematicians Wendelin Werner and Alessio Figalli are holders of the Fields Medal , which is considered the highest honor in mathematics. Other famous personalities in connection with ETH Zurich are included in the list of well-known personalities of ETH Zurich .

See also


  • Monika Burri , Andrea Westermann, David Gugerli: ETHistory 1855–2005. Sightseeing through 150 years of ETH Zurich. here + now , Baden 2005, ISBN 3-03919-016-4 .
  • Helmut Dietrich, Much Untertrifaller, Christof Stäheli: ETH Sport Center Science City. On the threshold to the landscape, Institute for the History and Theory of Architecture gta, Zurich 2009, ISBN 978-3-85676-268-1 (German and English).
  • Meinrad K. Eberle, Nicole Schwyzer, Eva M. Keller: Today for tomorrow, celebrate yesterday. The book on the 150th anniversary of ETH Zurich, NZZ-Libro , Zurich 2006, ISBN 3-03823-310-2 .
  • David Gugerli , Patrick Kupper, Daniel Speich Chassé : The machine of the future. Business trends at ETH Zurich 1855–2005 [Welcome Tomorrow - 150 years of ETH Zurich]. Chronos , Zurich 2005, ISBN 3-0340-0732-9 .
  • Gottfried Guggenbühl , Paul Kläui : History of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. NZZ , Zurich 1955, OCLC 601837160 .
  • Thomas Moore: School for Genius: The Story of ETH - The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, from 1855 to the Present. Front Street Press 2005, ISBN 0-9725572-2-9 (English).
  • Wilhelm Oechsli : History of the establishment of the Eidgenössisches Polytechnic with an overview of its development from 1855–1905, written on behalf of the Swiss School Council to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the institution. Huber, Frauenfeld 1905, OCLC 916192072 .
  • Werner Oechslin (Ed.): University City of Zurich. Buildings of the ETH 1855–2005 . gta, Zurich 2005, ISBN 3-85676-154-3 .
  • Johann Rudolf Wolf : The Swiss Polytechnic 1880 Orell Füssli , Zurich 1880, OCLC 898208866 .

Web links

Commons : ETH Zurich  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. ^ ETH Zurich: President. 2019, accessed December 1, 2019 .
  2. ^ ETH Zurich: Rector. 2019, accessed December 1, 2019 .
  3. a b c d ETH Zurich in figures. Retrieved May 12, 2020 .
  4. ETH Zurich Foundation, Annual Report 2019. Retrieved on May 12, 2020 .
  5. ^ List of IAU Members. In: International Association of Universities, accessed August 18, 2019 .
  6. ^ Members. In: swissuniversities, 2019, accessed on August 31, 2019 .
  7. Financial report of the EHT Council on the ETH Domain 2019 , on
  8. 1848–1855: Polytechnical foundation of an old dream
  9. ETH History
  10. ^ The expansion of the main ETH building , Schweizerische Bauzeitung Volume 85, 1967.
  11. Pragmatic Modernism. On the death of Max Ziegler. ( Memento from January 16, 2013 in the web archive ) In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung . June 29, 2012.
  12. ^ Campus Hönggerberg. In: Retrieved April 2, 2019 .
  14. June 11, 2015.
  16. ^ Science City
  17. ETH Sport Center Science City opens
  18. TWIST at
  19. ETH Hönggerberg Campus 2040. In: Retrieved April 2, 2019 .
  20. a b ETH Zurich, Annual Report 2017. Accessed June 20, 2018 .
  21. «Our students need more time to think»
  22. ^ ETH Zurich - Departments
  23. Michael Keller: Conscious handling of flies. In: ETH Zurich, January 22, 2019, accessed on February 2, 2019 .
  24. Database of the ETH Archives
  25. CSCS website
  26. ^ ETH Zurich Foundation
  27. ETH juniors
  28. Campus interview
  29. ^ Franziska Meister: Research in Switzerland: Why don't the scientists fight back? , The weekly newspaper No. 04/2014 of January 23, 2014, accessed on February 24, 2014.
  30. ^ "Horizon 2020" put on hold , Neue Zürcher Zeitung of February 16, 2014, accessed on February 24, 2014.
  31. SVP initiative harms research facility: “Like FC Basel without the Champions League” , Neue Zürcher Zeitung of February 19, 2014, accessed on February 24, 2014.
  32. Times Ranking 2015–2016 .
  33. Academic Ranking of World Universities - 2015 .
  34. ^ Academic Ranking of World Universities in Natural Sciences and Mathematics - 2014 .
  35. a b ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) | Top Universities
  36. QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2019. September 6, 2018, accessed on July 18, 2019 .
  37. ^ ETH Zurich: Nobel Prize Winner of the ETH

Coordinates: 47 ° 22 '35 "  N , 8 ° 32' 53"  E ; CH1903:  six hundred eighty-three thousand seven hundred eighty-five  /  247876