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SWITZERLAND - ISEP Universite de Fribourg, Suisse: English

Wilkommen and Bonjour in Switzerland!

Snow-covered Alpine peaks, geopolitical neutrality, high-tech watches, gourmet chocolate, yodeling mountaineers, and sophisticated banking is the Switzerland you know. However, ISEP’s Swiss institutions offer exciting academic and extracurricular opportunities to immerse yourself in the dynamic, youthful, and high-tech Switzerland that you have yet to discover. 

Study in the beautiful and exciting city of Fribourg! Having official languages of both French and German, this central city offers every comfort one would expect of the Swiss. Like its sister city Bern, Fribourg has preserved its medieval center and invites students and visitors alike to visit any one of its unique and diverse museums, theaters or its international film festival. Students interested in skiing, ice hockey or basketball will especially be attracted to the sports that the city has to offer!

This program is best for a student that is independent.  A student must be comfortable with advocating for themselves on campus and comfortable with the local language to thrive in this location. Please be aware that there may not be the same access to internet or amenities to which you may be accustomed.  Student services and especially class registration may not be at all similar to what is done at the College and may be difficult for some students to adjust.

Learn more about Fribourg here! Read the ISEP Country Handbook to learn more about visa requirements, educational system, and culture.


To be eligible to participate in this program, students must meet the following requirements:

  • Good academic and judicial standing during time of application AND time of participation in program
  • Undergraduates must have completed at least two semesters of study at Lake Forest College AND have second-semester sophomore status or higher before participation. 
  • At least 18 years of age by the program’s departure date. 
  • Be able to stay at the host program for the duration of the semester, including through the exam and travel periods
  • Minimum GPA of 2.75.  

Students applying to ISEP must apply for an Exchange option (in any country) as a first choice but may apply to a Direct option as a back-up. Direct options may have an additional cost (see a financial section for more information).


The city of Fribourg, nestled at the foot of the pre-Alps, is on the linguistic border between the French and German-speaking parts of the country. With its winding streets, shops and 13th-century cathedral, the city still retains a medieval atmosphere. Lausanne and Geneva are within an hour by train. All summer and winter sports are available nearby and are easily accessible by public transportation.

To learn more about the visa process for this country, please visit the ISEP Country Handbook for Switzerland. 


The Universite de Fribourg was officially founded in 1889, but its origins date back to the 16th century. A state institution with a Catholic tradition, Fribourg is the only university in Western Europe that has instruction in both French and German. The university has two principal centers within the city. 

Fribourg is the only bilingual (French-German) university in Switzerland; classes are taught in French or German. Some courses are taught in English–mainly at the master’s level.

Program Website

Researching courses in English on a Swiss university homepage can sometimes be difficult and confusing. You can use the ISEP Guide to Course Selection to find information about navigating a university website, finding courses in both English and German and some translations of common words and major fields of study. 

Website for Course Availability



NOTE: Undergrad students have taken courses at the grade level in English. Typically, if the courses are requested, the department will review the application/transcript and make sure the level isn’t too beyond the ability of the student.  This program would be most suited to a junior or senior.


French and German language and culture courses are offered during the academic year in addition to regular classes for advanced beginner, intermediate, or advanced levels. Contact hours per course/week: 4-8 hours/week. 

Academic Environment and Teaching Style

Please understand that the academic system is quite different. Classes are usually lecture-based, instead of discussion or group work. Classes are often much larger than those found at Lake Forest College. Grades are based heavily, at times almost entirely, on one end-of-term exam, though some courses will also offer a midterm.  Professors are often more formal than those in the United States.

All courses/modules may have prerequisites.  Some departments may have limitations on numbers of courses that can be taken within or outside it.  Be aware of these limitations.


Courses are usually in the form of lectures and seminars. Swiss students usually take a majority of courses in their field of study with some flexibility within the field. They do not have the same general education requirements found in other higher education systems such as in the United States.

Students will also find that universities have modules. A module is a unit that is confined in respect of content and time and can consist of multiple courses, e.g. lecture and tutorial. Modules are structural components of study programs and generate a defined workload. For the calculation of a student’s workload, the ECTS-credit points are to be multiplied by the factor 30 (1 ECTS-credit point = 30 hours). The workload that is to be brought up in order to pass the module comprises all learning activities of the student, i.e. contact hours (actual taught course hours) and self-study hours. During the self-study hours the reading of relevant literature (reading assignments), the writing of term papers, and the preparation of oral presentations and/or exams are to be accomplished.

Swiss institutions use the ECTS system. Exchange students attending classes in a Swiss institution will be expected to spend an average of 20-25 hours in class per week, and take between 6-8 courses per semester. 

Transcript evaluators are advised to use the contact hour for credit transfer instead of ECTS credits. 

To Earn 4 Lake Forest credits, students must take 168 total contact hours, or 672 hours of in-and-out-of class time.

To Earn 3 Lake Forest credits, students must take 126 total contact hours, or 504 hours of in- and out-of-class time.

The number of credits listed here is estimated, and GEO will work with you, your advisor, and the registrar to ensure you are earning enough credits to keep you on track for graduation.

Registration and Course Selection

Registration will generally take place during the first few weeks of courses. Students are allowed to register in multiple facultés or departments in order to meet with their home institutions requirements. Each department will have different registration requirements and processes, so students will need to speak with individual departments to ensure they are registered for courses properly. Students may be able to register online for certain courses while other courses will require the student to speak with a department faculty member.

Students at the junior level or higher may be able to take graduate-level coursework, with approval from ISEP and the host institution.  Most courses available at the bachelor level will be in English literature, with limited coursework available in other faculties.

Transfer of Credit

Students need to take 30 ECTS credits to earn the equivalent of 4 Lake Forest credits.

Credits will only be given for a course if the student has passed the evaluation. A written or oral exam will usually be administered at the end of the semester.

Please review the ISEP country handbook for more information on the education system, grades, class hours, and classroom etiquette.

Student Life

The Universite de Fribourg was officially founded in 1889, but its origins date back to the 16th century. The university has two principal centers within the city. The university also has fine sports facilities. Some 80 percent of the student body is Swiss, with about 1,500 international students. Total enrollment: 10,000. 


Students are highly advised to arrive in Fribourg during normal business hours and go straight to the international office. Public transportation in Switzerland is generally very safe and efficient. 
There is an orientation day with the ISEP Coordinator, meetings with other exchange students, and meetings with Swiss students. There are also possible individual meetings with members of the teaching staff to discuss academic matters.


The Sports department at the University of Fribourg offers a variety of sports. A complete program is sent in the mail at the residence of every student at the beginning of the semester.

Housing and Meals

Students are housed in student houses or in rooms rented from private individuals. Students receive a stipend to cover room and board. 

Financial Information

For all approved programs for guaranteed financial aid transferability, students pay their Lake Forest College tuition plus a program fee. The program fee for a semester with the ISEP Exchange program includes orientation, on-site director, college fees, housing and a stipend to cover the equivalent of 19/meals per week.

Here is an estimated budget for the Fall 2019/Spring 2020 programs:

Budget Item


Lake Forest College Tuition


Program fee (estimated)

Note: Spring may have added cost for Southern Hemisphere programs, as that starts a new academic year.


Total Expected Billed by Lake Forest College


ISEP Confirmation and Application Fees


ISEP-required health and repatriation insurance (estimated, $90/mo)

Note: Some countries require national insurance, which may be instead of, or in addition to, ISEP insurance. Check ISEP


Additional Meals


Estimated Airfare

*Students placed on ISEP Exchange may be eligible for up to $750 airfare award


Estimated Personal Expenses (passport, visas, immunizations, textbooks, supplies, personal expenses, additional national insurance if required, travel insurance, additional travel etc.)


Total Expected Out-of-Pocket Expenses




Tuition rates and program fees are subject to change each year, but this information was up-to-date as of March 2019. We will notify applicants, and update this page if the program fee or other estimates change.

You can discuss with Financial Aid your specific aid package and your expected family contribution.

Deposits to other programs, if required, are paid by the student to the host program, and will appear as a credit on your study abroad term bill from the College.

Keep in mind that you may spend more or less in certain areas like personal expenses, travel, meals, or airfare, depending on exchange rates and your own spending habits. Classroom or lab fees are not included in this estimate and will depend on your course registration choices.  

Don’t forget to apply for scholarships! A great listing can be found here.  

  • Contact:

    For Questions About the Initial Application Process:

    Alexandra Olson
    Coordinator of the Global Engagement Office