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Programs and Deadlines
About Penn Abroad
University of Geneva (BGE)
Geneva, Switzerland (Exchange Program) (Fall Spring Academic Year Outgoing Program)
Program Terms: Spring,
Homepage: Click to visit
Budget Sheets Spring,
Fact Sheet:
Language of Instruction:
Language Prerequisite:
See Program Description
Minimum Cumulative GPA: 3.0
Credit Available For:
College, Huntsman
Other Eligibility Requirements: Minimum of B+ average in French
Type of Program:
Direct Enrollment
Application Deadline:
Fall/Year: March 1, Spring: October 1
Program Description:
Photo Credit: Emily Hyman

Program Snapshot

(click on the links highlighted in blue below to learn more)
The Academic Program
  • Direct Enrollment through Universite de Geneve
  • Spring Semester: mid-February to late June
  • Academic Year: mid-September to late June (fall-only is not an option for this program)
  • Minimum 3.0 overall cumulative GPA
  • At least three French courses at the 200 or 300 level (including French 212 or equivalent)
  • Minimum of B+ average in French
  • Huntsman program credit is only available for the Spring semester
  • University-owned apartments
The City of Geneva
  • Official languages: French, German, Italian
  • The city is ideally situated at the tip of the lake that bears its name, not far away from world-known ski resorts in the Alps, and is culturally linked with the Mediterranean area as well as central Europe.
  • Its population is multicultural, and its public life is distinguished by open-mindedness and tolerance.
  • Population: Approximately 185,000
  Special Features
The Application Process
Financial Matters
Penn Resources

This program requires an advising session with a Program Manager prior to opening an application. To view the schedule for upcoming group advising sessions, or to schedule an individual appointment, select the ‘Schedule an Advising Appointment’ button on the Penn Abroad homepage.  

The Academic Program

Université de Genève (UNIGE)
Founded by John Calvin in 1559 as a theological seminary that also taught law, it remained focused on theology until the 17th century, when it became a center for Enlightenment scholarship. In 1873 it acquired the status of University and dropped its religious affiliations with the creation of the Faculty of Medicine. Since then, the University has remained officially secular.

Today, the university is the second-largest university in Switzerland and is an institution devoted to research, teaching and dialogue. The UNIGE has developed ever higher ethical standards and has steadily increased in quality and innovation. It is one of Europe's leading universities and continues to embrace new disciplines in order to remain responsive to new needs in education and research, while maintaining its tradition of humanistic values. It ranked thirty-second worldwide in Newsweek's "Top 100 Global Universities."

The UNIGE also shares the international calling of its host city with a desire to expand its collaboration with partner institutions and broaden its appeal to researchers and students from around the world. The result has made the UNIGE a "globalized university", a meeting place for academic disciplines and various cultures, and a forum for ideas.

The University of Geneva has a student body of 13,500 students. More than one-third of all students come from abroad, attracted by the University's location in the heart of an international city which is home to many international organizations. Renowned for its high level of excellence, the University offers a wide spectrum of academic courses in diverse fields of study such as the exact and natural sciences, medicine, social sciences and the arts. As most classes are taught in French a good command of the language is required.

The UNIGE's various facilities are situated in the heart of the city. Uni Bastions, inaugurated in 1872 in the park opposite the Mur des Réformateurs, is the oldest building. Today it houses the Faculty of Arts, the Autonomous Faculty of Protestant Theology, and the Institute for the History of the Reformation. Sciences, meanwhile, have their headquarters in three main buildings (Sciences I, II and III) on the banks of the Arve. Not far away, the Geneva-Lausanne School of Pharmacy has had its home since 2004 in a building near the Institute of Physics. The University Medical Centre (CMU), close to Geneva University Hospitals (HUG), houses much of the Faculty of Medicine, notably its basic medical research laboratories. Inaugurated in November 1999, the Uni Mail complex is one of Switzerland's largest university facilities. Uni Pignon, on the same grounds, has accommodated part of the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences since 2003.

Required Courses

Penn students are required to take a full course load while abroad, which is usually four to five courses.


As on all Penn Abroad programs, grades are recorded on the Penn transcript and are calculated in the cumulative grade point average. The pass/fail option can be exercised according to the Penn on-campus policy of your home school.

Learn More About Université de Genève (UNIGE)



The University's Bureau des Logements runs different categories of housing solutions, from one-bedroom apartments to shared apartments. Exchange students are a priority for the BLRU, however, given the shortage of housing in the Geneva area, students are advised to submit the housing form in a timely manner to the BLRU office. Further details regarding accommodation can be found here.

The City of Geneva

By the end of the 16th century, Geneva was already an international metropolis and since then, its influence as a city of peace and negotiations has never ceased to grow. The city is host to the European headquarters of the United Nations (UN) and the world headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN), as well as offices of such multinationals as Procter&Gamble, Merck-Serono and Firmenich. Its population is accordingly multicultural, and its public life is distinguished by open-mindedness and tolerance.

Although it is a relatively small by European, Asian or American standards with a population of approximately 185,000 people, Geneva offers cultural programs and infrastructure of which any great metropolis would be proud. The city is ideally situated at the tip of the lake that bears its name, not far away from world-known ski resorts in the Alps, and is culturally linked with the Mediterranean area as well as central Europe. Cuisine and music from all over the world meet in this international city.

Furthermore, thanks to its prime geographic location – on the shores of Lake Geneva and less than an hour from Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps – the city enjoys an abundance of parkland and offers a wide range of leisure activities. Culture lovers will be offered a large scale of events, from operas at the Grand Theatre to movie festivals, including concerts and theatre plays. The city boats over 30 museums and arts centers, providing students with nearly endless opportunities to explore the history and culture of the city and region. The University of Geneva takes actively part in the cultural life of the city, with the University film society and the University choir.

The city has an important and old finance sector, which is specialized in private banking (managing assets of about 1 trillion USD) and financing of international trade. It is also an important center of commodity trade and home to international headquarters to some of the world's largest banks.

Special Features

The University of Geneva can facilitate unpaid internships at NGO's and international organizations for the summer after a spring semester in Geneva. 

Financial Matters

Students are charged Penn tuition and student fee (called study abroad fee the semester abroad) for all Penn programs.  Additional expenses will typically include items such as housing, meals, and airfare.  Please see the program budget sheet to determine other costs. 

In most cases, financial aid applies to Penn-approved programs.  Student Financial Services reviews program budget sheets each semester to determine how to appropriately adjust your aid package.  

Penn Resources

Students who study abroad are encouraged to take advantage of Penn's many resources for students, even if you haven't used them before going abroad.  There is an extensive list of resources on the Penn Abroad website that can help you to explore issues that might pertain to you and to help you prepare for a term abroad. 

In addition to these resources, we encourage you to reach out to a past program participant or ambassador to learn more about the program from a student perspective.
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The preceding is subject to change without warning. 
Updated 7/23/15