École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)

École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)

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Location 🌎

Language of instruction 💬

Eligible faculty 🎓

Lausanne, Switzerland French and English Open to All Faculties (Architecture excluded)


The École Polytechnique Fédérale Lausanne is Europe’s most cosmopolitan technical university. It welcomes students, professors and collaborators of more than 120 nationalities. EPFL has both a Swiss and international vocation and focuses on three missions: teaching, research and innovation.

EPFL collaborates with an important network of partners, including other universities and colleges, secondary schools and gymnasiums, industry and the economy, political circles and the general public, with the aim of having a real impact on society.

Important information

Term dates

Semester 1

Semester 2

September - January February - July

*Semester and exam dates may vary from year to year. Please consult the Host institution's fact sheet, the Host institution's website, or the Host institution directly to confirm.

Contact information

International Programs Department
BP 1229 (bâtiment BP)
Station 16
CH – 1015 Lausanne

Phone: 41 21 693 43 45

Incoming Students Coordinator

Email: sac-exchange-in [at] epfl.ch



Student Report 1

Consult PDF iconExperience Reports about EPFL written by fellow McGill students today

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Student Report 2

This exchange semester was an enriching experience and will definitely remain an important step in my academic journey. Even though it may seem to be an unusual choice (exchanges are generally an opportunity to fly to sunny places and relax while taking fewer classes) going to Switzerland was in fact a way of going back a little closer to "home" (ie. my family, my boyfriend, and my mountains.)

Warning to anyone considering to go on exchange to EPFL (and this is my main point in this report): This is not a university you should go to if you plan on travelling, partying and taking it easy in terms of courseload. 

I know Switzerland is attractive for its central location in Europe, but note that life is crazy expensive there (in general, but evern more last semester due to currency rates) and their academic system is very strict and demanding! I experienced the hardest semester of my life there, mostly because their academic system is completely different from the one we are used to at McGill: each class only meets once a week, and the final exam comprises 100% of your grade. You could do nothing in a class during the entire semester and still pass it by learning everything right before the final. Attractive right? That's what I thought too, but it was a nightmare. Even though I took seven classes, which is 23 credits there (equivalent to 18 McGill credits) while all my Swiss classmates were required to take 30 credits, I never had the chance to be up to date. 

In terms of exams, they are made so that no one can finish. You can get surprisingly good results even if you leave with half your exam unanswered: they just want to challenge you and see who is able to do more than the rest of students (I didn't know this and due to the pressure, I often left finals nearly crying and still got really good grades).

What I wish I'd known: I wish I had known how demanding this university is. Even though I went there to study and not necessarily to take it easy and travel (as a lot of students do on exchange), I never could have expected such high academic standards. Having only one class of each course a week, I had a "light" schedule of seven classes but I was never up to date. EPFL is a wonderful university and provides you with an enjoyable study environment (the sun, the lake, the mountains and impressive buildings) but don't go there in the optic of relaxing and travelling all the time. The second thing I wish I had planned is a health plan meeting the Swiss legislative requirements, which are very strict. 

Highlights and Challenges: This exchange will remain unforgettable for the parties we had! Thanks to ESN (Erasmus Student Network) we had a lot of crazy events and a lot of barbecues along the Leman lake - good food, music, and friends to watch the sunset over the water and mountains. And another unforgettable moment: BALELEC. Google it! It's the biggest music festival organized by students and it took palce in the EPFL campus!

The partner school: EPFL is impressive in terms of research! Most of the professors I had are great researchers (but not always good teachers...), which makes an engineering degree from EPFL quite valuable. The entire campus is well organized and all the buildings are conducive to efficient studying. The Best: The Rolex Learning Center which is a fancy and amazing library (nothing like Schulich!) Google it and you'll actually want to go and study there! EPFL is very challenging and demanding but it was a good experience that I might relive during my Master's degree. 

Cost of living, travelling, and accommodation: Switzerland is amazingly expensive! Having all my family in France I basically did all my grocery shopping there to limit the cost of living. I had the chance to live in a student residence, the closest one to campus, which was very convenient. However, I had to pay about 900 CHF, which corresponds to $1,200, per month for it. I didn't really travel due to financial limitations but it is good to know that flights from Geneva are 20% more expensive than all the other European flights! So plan your budget ahead of time. 

Top Five Tips:

  1. Go out and enjoy!
  2. Meet new people! Go to every exchange community event created for you and smile. You'll meet incredible people and, after your exchange, you'll be able to travel all around the world while visiting them. 
  3. Plan your classes and prepare back up plans (it takes time but it saves you a lot of trouble)
  4. Save money to travel
  5. Take your camera and keep track of your unforgettable experiences while you are abroad. 

The information on this page is drawn from either the institution's fact sheet or their website as linked above.

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