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ETH Zurich

Coordinates: 47°22′35″N 8°32′53″E / 47.37639°N 8.54806°E / 47.37639; 8.54806
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ETH Zurich – Federal Institute of Technology Zurich
Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich
ETH Zurich at twilight
Other names
(Swiss) Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, German: Polytechnikum (colloquially)
Former name
Eidgenössische polytechnische Schule[1]
Established1855; 169 years ago (1855)
BudgetCHF 1.896 billion (2021)
PresidentJoël Mesot
RectorGünther Dissertori
Academic staff
6,612 (including doctoral students, excluding 527 professors of all ranks, 34% female, 65% foreign nationals) (full-time equivalents 2021)[2]
Administrative staff
3,106 (40% female, 19% foreign nationals, full-time equivalents 2021)[2][3]
Students24,534 (headcount 2021, 33.3% female, 37% foreign nationals)[2]
Other students
Rämistrasse 101
CH-8092 Zürich

47°22′35″N 8°32′53″E / 47.37639°N 8.54806°E / 47.37639; 8.54806
LanguageGerman, English (Masters and upwards, sometimes Bachelor)
ColorsBlack and White
AffiliationsCESAER, EUA, GlobalTech, IARU, IDEA League

ETH Zurich (German: Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich; English: Federal Institute of Technology Zurich) is a public research university in Zürich, Switzerland. Founded in 1854 with the stated mission to educate engineers and scientists, the university focuses primarily on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Like its sister institution EPFL, ETH Zurich is part of the Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology Domain, a consortium of universities and research institutes under the Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research.[5] As of 2023, ETH Zurich enrolled 25,380 students from over 120 countries, of which 4,425 were pursuing doctoral degrees.[6]

Students, faculty, and researchers affiliated with ETH Zurich include 22 Nobel laureates, two Fields Medalists, three Pritzker Prize winners, and one Turing Award recipient, including Albert Einstein and John von Neumann.[7] It is a founding member of the IDEA League and the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and a member of the CESAER network.

ETH Zurich is located in Switzerland
ETH Zurich
ETH Zurich
Location: ETH Zurich, Switzerland



ETH Zurich was founded on 7 February 1854 by the Swiss Confederation and began giving its first lectures on 16 October 1855 as a polytechnic institute (eidgenössische polytechnische Schule) at various sites throughout the city of Zürich.[1] It was initially composed of six faculties: architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry, forestry, and an integrated department for the fields of mathematics, natural sciences, literature, and social and political sciences.

It is locally still known as Polytechnikum, or simply as Poly, derived from the original name eidgenössische polytechnische Schule,[8] which translates to "federal polytechnic school".

ETH Zurich is a federal institute (i.e., under direct administration by the Swiss government), whereas the University of Zurich is a cantonal institution. The decision for a new federal university was heavily disputed at the time; the liberals pressed for a "federal university", while the conservative forces wanted all universities to remain under cantonal control, worried that the liberals would gain more political power than they already had.[9] In the beginning, both universities were co-located in the buildings of the University of Zurich.

From 1905 to 1908, under the presidency of Jérôme Franel, the course program of ETH Zurich was restructured to that of a real university and ETH Zurich was granted the right to award doctorates. In 1909 the first doctorates were awarded. In 1911, it was given its current name, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule. In 1924, another reorganization structured the university in 12 departments. However, it now has 16 departments.

ETH Zurich, the EPFL, and four associated research institutes form the "ETH Domain" with the aim of collaborating on scientific projects.[10]


University rankings
Global – Overall
ARWU World[11]20 (2023)
QS World[12]7 (2025)
THE World[13]11 (2024)
Regional – Overall
THE Europe[14]4 (2023)

ETH Zurich is ranked among the top universities in the world. Typically, popular rankings place the institution as the best university in continental Europe and ETH Zurich is consistently ranked among the top 1–5 universities in Europe, and among the top 3–10 best universities of the world.

Historically, ETH Zurich has achieved its reputation particularly in the fields of chemistry, mathematics and physics. There are 32 Nobel laureates who are associated with ETH Zurich, the most recent of whom is Richard F. Heck, awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2010. Albert Einstein is perhaps its most famous alumnus.[15]

Overall rankings


ETH Zurich is ranked 7th worldwide (first in Switzerland) in the QS World University Rankings 2025,[12] 11th worldwide (first in Switzerland) in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2024,[13] and 20th worldwide in the Academic Ranking of World Universities 2023.[11] ETH Zurich ranked 2nd in Europe in the 2024 QS Europe rankings.[16] In the 2023 Nature Index of academic institutions, ETH Zurich ranked 20th worldwide and first in Switzerland.[17]

Subject/Area rankings


In the 2024 QS Word University Rankings by subject, ETH Zurich was ranked within the top 10 in the world in architecture, engineering and technology, and the natural sciences. It ranked first worldwide in the earth and marine sciences, geology, and geophysics.[18] In the 2024 THE World University Rankings by subject, it was the top Swiss university in all ranked subjects.[19] In the 2023 ARWU Subject Ranking, the university was ranked within the top 10 worldwide in civil engineering, water resources, environmental engineering, automation, mathematics, earth sciences, and ecology.[20]


The ETH Zurich main building, which is the centre of the Zentrum campus
The ETH Zurich main building, which is the centre of the Zentrum campus

ETH Zurich has two campuses, namely Zentrum and Hönggerberg. The Zentrum campus grew around the main building, which was constructed 1858–1864 outside and right above the eastern border of the town, but which is nowadays located right in the heart of the city. As the town and university grew, ETH Zurich spread into the surrounding vineyards and later quarters. Because this geographic situation substantially hindered the expansion of ETH Zurich, a new campus was built from 1964 to 1976 on the Hönggerberg, a northern hill in the outskirts of the city. The last major expansion project of this new campus was completed in 2003.

Zentrum campus


The Zentrum campus consists of various buildings and institutions throughout the city of Zurich.

The Zentrum campus houses the:[21]

  • Department of Mathematics
  • Department of Computer Science
  • Department of Humanities, Social and Political Sciences
  • Department of Information Technology and Electrical Engineering
  • Department of Mechanical and Process Engineering
  • Department of Environmental Systems Science
  • Department of Earth Sciences
  • Department of Management, Technology, and Economics
  • Department of Health Sciences and Technology

Main building

The northern wall of the main building, depicting famous scientists and academics

The main building of ETH Zurich was built from 1858 to 1864 under Gustav Zeuner; the architect, however, was Gottfried Semper, who was a professor of architecture at ETH Zurich at the time and one of the most important architectural writers and theorists of the age. Semper worked in a neoclassical style that was unique to him; and the namesake and architect of the Semperoper in Dresden. It emphasized bold and clear massings with a detailing, such as the rusticated ground level and giant order above, that derived in part from the work of Andrea Palladio and Donato Bramante. During the construction of the University of Zurich, the south wing of the building was allocated to the University until its own new main building was constructed (1912–1914). At about the same time, Semper's ETH Zurich building was enlarged and received its cupola.

The main building stands directly across the street from the University Hospital of Zurich and, right alongside the main building of the University of Zurich.

Hönggerberg campus

Aerial picture of the Hönggerberg campus. The city of Zurich and the Alps can be seen behind.
Aerial picture of the Hönggerberg campus. The rest of the city of Zurich, where the main campus is, and the Alps can be seen in the background.

The Hönggerberg campus is a more classical university campus,[22] consisting mainly of university buildings and student accommodation.

The Hönggerberg campus houses the:[23]

  • Department of Architecture
  • Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering
  • Department of Materials
  • Department of Biology
  • Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences
  • Department of Physics

There is also an ASVZ sports centre which is accessible to all students and faculty, and includes a gym, beach volleyball court, football field, and martial-art rooms.[24][25]

ETH Zurich Hönggerberg campus
ETH Zurich Hönggerberg campus

Science City


In 2005, the year of ETH Zurich's 150th anniversary, an extensive project called "Science City" for the Hönggerberg Campus was started with the goal to transform the campus into an attractive district based on the principle of sustainability.

ETH Laboratory of Ion Beam Physics


The ETH Laboratory of Ion Beam Physics (LIB) is a physics laboratory located in Science City. It specializes in accelerator mass spectrometry (AMS) and the use of ion beam based techniques with applications in archeology, earth sciences, life sciences, material sciences and fundamental physics. An example of such application is the tracing of isotopes and the detection of rare radionuclides with radiocarbon dating and the use of techniques such as Rutherford backscattering spectrometry or elastic recoil detection.[26] The LIB is developing the next generation of AMS machines. It is also a laboratory available for users interested in applying the techniques of ion beam analysis.[27]

Commuting between the campuses


The ETH link is a free bus for students, affiliates and faculty linking the two campuses. During the school week, the bus runs 3 times an hour, and takes around 15 minutes. In 2020 a new, fully electric, eLink was introduced.[28][29]

Bike share


Since 2018, an electric bike sharing system between the two campuses is also available, with yearly subscriptions subsidised by the university. There are rental stations on both campuses.[30]

Student life

Students and locals in ETH Zurich's front courtyard

Tuition and financial assistance


Being a public university, the heavily subsidized (by Swiss federal tax) tuition fees are CHF 730 per semester, regardless of the student's nationality.[31] Both merit and need based scholarships are also available. The Excellence Scholarship & Opportunity Programme (ESOP) is a merit scholarship program for master students with excellent grades in their undergraduate program.

Student associations


ETH Zurich has well over 100 student associations.[32] Most notable is the VSETH (Verband der Studierenden an der ETH) which forms the umbrella organization of all field of study specific student associations and comprises a large variety of committees such as the Student Sustainability Committee and the ETH Model United Nations. The associations regularly organize events with varying size and popularity. Events of the neighboring University of Zurich are well-attended by ETH Zurich students and vice versa.

The largest career fair on campus is the Polymesse which is organized by students in the Forum und Contact committee of VSETH. Many student associations however organize career fairs specifically for the students in their departments with companies related to their field of study. The VSETH is also the official representation of the student body towards the school and has been working with ETH on various projects with the aim of improving the students' experience at ETH. The representation towards the various departments is handled by the respective student associations.

The Polyball, which is the biggest decorated ball in Europe, takes places annually in the main building of ETH and is organized by students and former students in the KOSTA foundation. It has been taking place since the 1880s.

ETH Juniors is another student organization. It forms a bridge between industry and ETH Zurich and offers many services for students and companies alike as a student-led consulting group.[33]



The Academic Sports Association of Zurich (ASVZ) offers more than 120 sports.[34] The biggest annual sports event is the SOLA-Stafette (SOLA relay race) which consists of 14 sections over a total distance of 140 kilometers. More than 760 teams participated in the 2009 edition.[35] The 40th edition of the SOLA, held on 4 May 2013, had 900 enrolled teams, of which 893 started and 876 were classified.[36] In 2014 ASVZ celebrated their 75th anniversary.[37]


A view over Niederdörfli. ETH Zurich's main building is visible in the distance.

Student Project House


In 2017, ETH Zurich board approved the creation of a "Student Project House" to encourage student projects and foster innovation. A test consisting of a "makerspace" and co-working space was established on the Hönggerberg campus,[38][39] followed by a 6-story space near the ETH Zurich main building. Both locations function as a unified entity for the purpose of qualifications, staffing and decision making. While both makerspaces offer similar tools, the central one is significantly larger and also hosts a rentable auditorium, intended for pitching projects to faculty to gain funding, and a bar.

Both makerspaces include workspaces for wood- and metalworking, electronics fabrication, as well as an array of 3D-printers for students to use at a little over material cost. Both also feature a shop for students to buy items such as resistors in lower quantities than ordinarily, while passing down the savings of bulk purchases.[40] The makerspaces are managed and staffed entirely by students, who are paid in shop credit. A new space is expected to open on the Hönggerberg campus in 2024.[41]



ETH Zurich promotes technology and knowledge transfer through an entrepreneurial ecosystem to foster spin-offs and start-ups.[42] As of 2022, 527 ETH Zurich spin-off companies had been created.[43]

Competition teams


ETH Zurich has three prominent competition teams that perform research in different popular fields and compete on the world stage. Most of these teams are based in the Swiss Innovation Park near Dübendorf.[44]



The Swiss Academic Spaceflight Initiative (ARIS)[45] (German: Akademische Raumfahrt Initiative Schweiz) is an organisation at ETH Zurich that focuses on the development of space related technologies. The most prominent area of research is in the development of a sounding rocket that is flown yearly at the Spaceport America Cup. ARIS also dedicates its resources to the academic advancement of spaceflight and hosts projects ranging from the development of Hybrid rocket Engines to Payload research.


  • ARIS won 2nd place at the Spaceport America Cup 2019 in the 10'000 ft COTS Engine challenge.[46]



The Academic Motorsports Association[47] (German: Akademischer Motorsportverein Zürich) is the ETH Zurich's equivalent of a Formula One team, that develops electric and driverless sports vehicles that compete at Formula Student.



AMZ has proven to be one of the most successful teams in the Formula Student history, with in total 13 overall victories (as by September 2021) at Formula Student Events. Highlight was the double victory at the Formula Student Germany (FSG) in the Electric as well as the Driverless Category (autonomous driving car). Furthermore, AMZ was leader of the Formula Student world ranking in 2013 – 2015, 2017 & 2018. The team also dominated the autonomous driving category since its introduction in 2017 for three years, winning all the events the team attended with the autonomous car until FSG 2021. In 2015, and again since 2016, their car grimsel holds the official Guinness world record for fastest acceleration of an electric car, achieving 0–100 km/h in 1.513 seconds. In 2023, AMZ broke the previous world record again and has set a new record of 0-100km/h in 0.956 seconds.[1]



Swissloop is the ETH Zurich's newest competition team that is working on the development of a Hyperloop system.



The annual Polyball is the most prestigious public event at ETH Zurich, with a long tradition since the 1880s. At the end of November, the Polyball welcomes around 10,000 dancers, music-lovers and partygoers in the extensively decorated main building of ETH Zurich. This is the biggest decorated ball in Europe.

The amicable rivalry between ETH Zurich and its neighbor, the University of Zurich, has been cultivated since 1951 (Uni-Poly). There has been an annual rowing match between teams from the two institutions on the river Limmat.

There are many regular symposia and conferences at ETH Zurich, most notably the annual Wolfgang Pauli Lectures, in honor of former ETH Zurich Professor Wolfgang Pauli. Distinct lecturers, among them 24 Nobel laureates, have held lectures of the various fields of natural sciences at this conference since 1962.

Notable alumni and faculty


ETH Zurich has produced and attracted many famous scientists in its short history, including Albert Einstein and John von Neumann. More than twenty Nobel laureates have either studied at ETH Zurich or were awarded the Nobel Prize for their work achieved at ETH Zurich. Other alumni include scientists who were distinguished with the highest accolades such as the Fields Medal, Pritzker Prize and Turing Award, among other distinctions in their respective fields. Academic achievements aside, ETH Zurich has been alma mater to many Olympic medalists and world champions.


Collegium Helveticum


The Collegium Helveticum is an Institute for Advanced Study.[48] It is jointly supported and operated by the ETH Zurich, the University of Zurich and the Zurich University of the Arts. It is dedicated to transdisciplinary research and acts as a think tank as well. Fellows are elected for five years to work together on a particular subject. For the period 2016–2020, the research focus is on digital societies.[49]

ETH Zurich Foundation


The ETH Zurich Foundation is a legal entity on its own (a Swiss non-profit foundation) and as such not part of the ETH Zurich. Its purpose is to raise funds to support chosen institutes, projects, faculty and students at the ETH Zurich. It receives charitable donations from companies, foundations and private individuals. It can be compared with university endowments in the US. However, the ETH Zurich is a public university so that the funds of this foundation are much smaller than at comparable private universities.[50] Examples of funded teaching and research are:[51]

  • New institutes such as the Wyss Translational Center Zurich[52]
  • Additional professorships
  • Rössler Prize[53]
  • Pioneer fellowships
  • Excellence scholarships[54]

Military Academy


The Military Academy is an institution for the education, training and development of career officers of the Swiss Armed Forces. The scientific part of this organization is attached to the ETH Zurich, while other parts such as training and an assessment center are under the direct management of the defense sector of the Swiss Federal Government.[55]

Swiss National Supercomputing Center


The Swiss National Supercomputing Center is an autonomous organizational unit of the ETH Zurich. It is a national facility based in Lugano-Cornaredo,[56] offering high-performance computing services for Swiss-based scientists.[57]



ChainSecurity is a spin-off founded by ETH professor Martin Vechev and the former ETH doctoral students Hubert Ritzdorf and Petar Tsankov. The company's overall goal is to make blockchain technologies more secure. To that end, it develops and operates automated scanning programs for auditing smart contracts. Providers of smart contracts can ask ChainSecurity to audit them and thus receive certification for the security of their contracts.[58]


See also



  1. ^ a b "1848–1855: The polytechnical realisation of a long-held dream". ETH Zurich. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "ETH in figures". Zurich, Switzerland: ETH Zurich. March 2021. Retrieved 3 April 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Annual Report 2021" (PDF). Zurich, Switzerland: ETH Zurich. March 2021. Retrieved 9 June 2022.
  4. ^ "ETH identity". Retrieved 7 September 2021.
  5. ^ "ETH Board – Governance ETH Domain". ETH-Rat. Archived from the original on 2 November 2013. Retrieved 1 November 2013.
  6. ^ "Students". ETH Zurich.
  7. ^ How much Einstein is there in ETH Zurich? on YouTube
  8. ^ "ETHistory 1855–2005". ETHistory. ETH Zurich. 2005. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  9. ^ "1848–1855: Polytechnical realization of an old dream". ETHistory. ETH Zurich. 31 March 2005. Retrieved 5 February 2018.
  10. ^ "ETH Domain". Zurich and Berne, Switzerland: ETH Board. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
  11. ^ a b "2023 Academic Ranking of World Universities". Academic Ranking of World Universities. Retrieved 15 August 2023.
  12. ^ a b "QS World University Rankings 2025". QS World University Rankings. Retrieved 8 June 2024.
  13. ^ a b "World University Rankings 2024". Times Higher Education World University Rankings. 27 September 2023. Retrieved 27 September 2023.
  14. ^ "Best universities in Europe 2023". timeshighereducation.com. Retrieved 20 August 2023.
  15. ^ "ALBERT EINSTEIN (1879–1955)". Zuerich.com.
  16. ^ "QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024". QS World University Rankings. Retrieved 20 September 2023.
  17. ^ "2023 tables: Institutions – academic | Annual tables | Nature Index". Nature. Retrieved 5 July 2023.
  18. ^ "QS World University Rankings by Subject 2024". QS World University Rankings. Retrieved 8 June 2024.
  19. ^ "World University Rankings by subject". Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
  20. ^ "ShanghaiRanking's Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2023". Academic Ranking of World Universities.
  21. ^ "Zentrum campus". ETH Zurich. Retrieved 10 April 2024.
  22. ^ "Campus Hönggerberg". livingscience. Retrieved 10 April 2024.
  23. ^ "Hönggerberg campus". ETH Zurich. Retrieved 10 April 2024.
  24. ^ "Deutsche BauZeitschrift". www.dbz.de (in German). Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  25. ^ "Vereinigung der Schweizerischen Hochschuldozierenden, Bulletin" (PDF).
  26. ^ "The world of Ion Beam Physics". overview. ETH Zurich. September 2010. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  27. ^ "Laboratory for Ion Physics". ETH Zurich, Department of Physics. September 2010. Retrieved 5 September 2010.
  28. ^ "Mercedes to deliver three eCitaro G to Switzerland". electrive.com. 29 October 2020. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  29. ^ "Dieser Gelenkbus muss aufladen". www.lokalinfo.ch. 12 November 2020. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  30. ^ "Website zeigt alle verfügbaren Leihvelos und E-Trottis an". Tages-Anzeiger (in German). ISSN 1422-9994. Retrieved 13 November 2020.
  31. ^ Zurich, ETH. "ETH Zurich tuition fees". ethz.ch. ETH Zurich. Retrieved 9 November 2020.
  32. ^ List of all Study Associations, Committees, Associated and Recognized Associations of VSETH. Retrieved 17 May 2023.
  33. ^ "ETH Juniors". Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  34. ^ "Academic Sports Association Zurich". Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  35. ^ "SOLA-Stafette 2009". Archived from the original on 22 May 2009. Retrieved 16 July 2009.
  36. ^ "SOLA – Erfolgreiche Jubiläumsstafette". Archived from the original on 14 June 2013. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  37. ^ "ASVZ". Archived from the original on 1 August 2015. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  38. ^ "Home". ETH Student Project House.
  39. ^ "Student Project House". ETH Zurich.
  40. ^ "Our Offers". ETH Student Project House. Retrieved 8 January 2022.
  41. ^ Gasser, Bianca; Meyer, Florian (5 October 2020). "A place for students to develop their ideas". ETH Zurich.
  42. ^ Industry & Knowledge Transfer. ethz.ch/en/industry. Retrieved 14 October 2022.
  43. ^ "Spin-off companies of ETH Zurich".
  44. ^ "Competition Teams From ETH Zurich at the Switzerland Innovation Park Zurich". Switzerland Innovation. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  45. ^ "ARIS – ARIS Space and Rocket projects in Switzerland". Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  46. ^ ""Sounding Rocket SA Cup 2019"".
  47. ^ "AMZ Racing". www.amzracing.ch. Retrieved 8 January 2021.
  48. ^ Collegium Helveticum. eurias Network of French Institutes for Advanced Study. Retrieved 4 August 2019
  49. ^ Website Collegium Helveticum. Retrieved 4 August 2019
  50. ^ René Donzé: ETH sucht Sponsoren in Deutschland. Neue Zürcher Zeitung am Sonntag, 7 April 2018. Retrieved 4 August 2019
  51. ^ Website ETH Foundation. Retrieved 4 August 2019
  52. ^ ETH Zurich and University of Zurich launch Wyss Translational Center. ETH Zurich, 12 December 2014. Retrieved 4 August 2019
  53. ^ Rössler Prize. ETH Zurich Foundation. Retrieved 4 August 2019
  54. ^ Ruf Lanz: Albert Einstein wirbt für Exzellenz-Stipendien. persoenlich.com, 19 November 2018. Retrieved 4 August 2019
  55. ^ Military Academy (MILAC). Website Military Academy, Swiss Armed Forces. Retrieved 4 August 2019
  56. ^ "CSCS moves into new computer centre in Lugano". CSCS. Retrieved 28 April 2020.
  57. ^ Swiss National Supercomputing Center. Retrieved 4 August 2019
  58. ^ Security flaws uncovered in blockchain platform | ETH Zurich

Further reading