The University of Geneva is the second-largest university in Switzerland and is devoted to research, teaching, and dialogue. Founded in 1559 by John Calvin, the university is very comprehensive and has disciplines ranging from sciences and medicine to economics and theology. With more than 16,500 students, the University's is located in the heart of an international city home to many international organizations. As most classes are taught in French, a good command of the language is required.
Although it is a relatively small by European, Asian or American standards with a population of approximately 200,000 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. The city is host to the European headquarters of the United Nations, the world headquarters of the World Health Organization, the Red Cross, and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). 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.
Did you know…?
Located directly next to the city, Lake Geneva is one of the largest lakes in Europe, and contributes to pleasant and tourist-friendly weather year-round.
Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is an alumnus of the University of Geneva.
The program at the University of Geneva is for College credit only. Due to the nature of the Swiss academic calendar, students are only permitted to study abroad during the spring semester or for the entire academic year.
Minimum GPA Requirement: 3.0
Language Prerequisite: Successful completion of at least three French courses at the 200 or 300 level (including French 212 or the equivalent) by the end of the academic semester (fall or spring) prior to departure. Minimum of B+ average in French.
Language of Instruction
A full course load at the University of Geneva usually consists of four to five courses per semester. Penn students must maintain a full course load while abroad and may only enroll in courses at the undergraduate level.
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. For more information on Penn Abroad’s academic policies, click here.
All Penn students are required to attend the orientation activities organized by the University of Geneva prior to the start of each semester.
There exist several possibilities for improving your French while studying at the University of Geneva. In addition to courses for improving your French, the university also offers French support courses, and language tandems. More information can be found here.
The University of Geneva can facilitate unpaid internships at NGO's and international organizations for the summer after a spring semester in Geneva. Upon acceptance, contact the University of Geneva International Exchanges and Study Abroad Office for more information.
Participants must be willing to live under local conditions for students.
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.
Information regarding accommodation can be found here.
Cost and Finance
Penn Abroad Financial Policies
Students are charged Penn tuition and academic fees for all Penn Abroad programs. Additional expenses will typically include items such as housing, visas, and airfare. Please see the program budget sheets below for more information. For more on Penn Abroad’s financial policies, click here.
Financial Aid and Study Abroad
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. For more information on how Financial Aid will work during your semester abroad, click here.