ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich

name = ETH Zurich
rector = Heidi Wunderli-Allenspach

image_size = 220px
established = 1855
type = Public
city = Zurich
state = Canton of Zurich
coor = coord|47|22|35.10|N|8|32|53.17|E|type:edu_region:CH-ZH|display=inline,title
country = Switzerland
campus = Urban
staff = 6,009
students = 12,705
Ann. Budget = 1,2 billion CHF []
affiliations= IDEA League, TIME, IARU
website = []
Location map | Switzerland
caption = Location: Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zürich, Switzerland
background = #DDDD44 | position=top
lat_deg=47 | lat_min=22
lon_deg= 8 | lon_min=32
mark=Green_pog.svg| marksize=8
The ETH Zürich ( _de. Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich), often called Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zürich, is a science and technology university in the City of Zürich, Switzerland. Locals sometimes refer to it by the name "Poly", derived from the original name "Eidgenössisches Polytechnikum" or "Federal Polytechnic Institute".

Like its sister institution École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, it is an integral part of the ETH Domain that is directly subordinate to the Federal Department of Home Affairs.

The ETH is an internationally oriented university. It is a founding member of the IDEA League and the International Alliance of Research Universities IARU. It is a member of Top Industrial Managers for Europe network.


The ETH was founded in 1854 by the Swiss Confederation and opened its doors in 1855 as a polytechnic institute ("Eidgenössische Polytechnische Schule"). It comprised in the beginning six departments: architecture, civil engineering, mechanical engineering, chemistry, forestry, and a catch-all department for mathematics, natural sciences, literature, and social and political sciences.

The ETH 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, because the liberals pressed for a "federal university", while the conservative forces wanted all universities to remain under cantonal control, with the goal of giving liberal thoughts no refuge. In the beginning, both universities were co–located in the buildings of the University of Zurich.

In 1909, the course program of the ETH was restructured to that of a real university, from its early, very schoolish agenda,and the ETH was granted the right to award doctorates. 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.

Since 1993 the ETH Zürich, the EPFL, and four associated research institutes were joined and administered together as the "ETH Bereich".


In a comparison of Swiss universities by [ swissUP Ranking] , the ETH traditionally achieves best marks in natural sciences, computer science and engineering sciences. However, it scores low in categories involving student opinions.

The ranking published by [ CHE] compares the ETH with universities of German-speaking countries. The ETH ranked first by peer review and reputation in all natural sciences, computer science and engineering sciences. It also scores high in categories such as number of publications and citations. However, ETH failed to achieve high marks in catagories involving students' opinion.

The same source also compiled the survey [ CHE ExcellenceRanking] on the quality of Western European graduate school programmes in the fields biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics. ETH was assessed as one of the three institutions to have excellent graduate programmes in all considered fields, the other two being the Imperial College and the University of Cambridge.

The ETH is regularly ranked among the top universities in the world. Over the period 2005 to 2008, Popular rankings placed this institute somewhere between 3rd and 6th in Europe and 10th to 24th in the world.

Historically, the ETH achieved its reputation particularly in the fields of chemistry, mathematics and physics. There are 21 Nobel Laureates who are associated with the ETH, counting only graduates of the ETH and Professors who have been honored for their work at ETH. The most recent Nobel Laureate is Kurt Wüthrich who was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2002.

Admission and education

The ETH is not selective in its undergraduate admission procedures. Like every public university in Switzerland, the ETH is obliged to grant admission to every Swiss citizen who took "Matura". However, most applicants from foreign countries are required to take either the "reduced entrance exam" or the "comprehensive entrance exam"; an applicant can be admitted to the ETH even without any verifiable educational records by passing the "comprehensive entrance exam".

There are no obligatory examinations during the first academic year which is divided into two semesters.However, the actual selection process takes place in the summer shortly after the second semester. Students have to pass the block examinations of courses of the first year, called the "Basisprüfung". If the weighted average score is not sufficient, you are required to retake the entire "Basisprüfung" which usually means that you have to resit through the first year. More than 50% of the students fail the "Basisprüfung" on first try and many of them choose to drop out after the failure.The structure of examinations in higher academic years is similar to the "Basisprüfung", but with a higher success rate.The regular time to reach graduation is six semesters for the Bachelor of Science degree and three further semesters for the Master of Science degree. The last semester is dedicated to writing a thesis.

Education at the ETH tends to be theoretically oriented with a high amount of mathematics involved throughout the courses. The main language of teaching in undergraduate studies is German while English is lingua franca in Master's studies and graduate studies.


The ETH Zürich has no single campus. The main building was constructed in the 1860s in the heart of the city, and whenthe university grew, it spread out into the surrounding quarters. Its "Zentrum" location consists thus of various buildings and institutions throughout Zurich, firmly integrating the ETH in the city. The main building is right across the street from the University of Zurich.

Because this geographic situation substantially hindered the expansion of the ETH, a new campus was built from 1964 to1976 on the "Hönggerberg" in the outskirts of the city. The last major expansion project of this new campus was completed in 2003; since then, the "Hönggerberg" location houses the departments of materials science, architecture, civil engineering, physics, biology, and chemistry.

Main building

The main building of the ETH was built 1861 to 1864 under Gustav Zeuner; the architect, however, was Gottfried Semper, who was a professor of architecture at the ETH at the time and one of the most important writers and theorists of the age. Semper worked in a Neo-classical style that was unique to him. 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 building was enlarged and also got its impressive cupola.

cience City

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

tudent life

ETH students were found to be the busiest students of all institutions of higher education in Switzerland [] . The undergraduates' tight curriculum consists of as much as twice the number of lectures as comparable courses of other Swiss universities.

The ETH has well over 100 student associations. Most notable is the VSETH ("Verband der Studierenden an der ETH") which comprises all department associations. The associations regularly organize events with varying size and popularity. Events of the neighboring University of Zurich are well-attended by ETH students and vice versa. The VSETH organizes events of greater public attention, such as the "Polyball", the "Polyparty" and the "Erstsemestrigenfest", the first two housed in the main building of the ETH. Sometimes, the annual "Erstsemestrigenfest" takes place at extraordinary locations, for example the Zurich Airport. All freshmen enjoy special treatment at that event.


The annual Polyball (German Wikipedia) is the most prestigious public event at the ETH, with a long tradition since the 1880s. The end of November, the "Polyball" welcomes around 10000 dancers, music-lovers and party animals in the extensively decorated main building of the ETH. The "Polyball" is the biggest decorated ball in Europe.

The amicable rivalry between the ETH and the neighbouring 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 the ETH, most notably the annual "Wolfgang Pauli Lectures", in honor of former ETH 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.


As of 2008, the ETH Zurich comprises the following departments:

Architecture and civil engineering
* Architecture
* Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering ( [ D-BAUG] )Engineering sciences
* Biosystems Science and Engineering
* Computer Science
* Information Technology and Electrical Engineering ( [ D-ITET] )
* Mechanical and Process Engineering ( [ D-MAVT] )
* Materials Science ( [ D-MATL] )Natural sciences and mathematics
* Biology
* Chemistry and Applied Biosciences
* Mathematics ( [ D-MATH] )
* PhysicsSystem-oriented natural sciences
* Agriculture and Food Sciences
* Earth Sciences
* Environmental SciencesOther sciences
* Humanities, Social and Political Sciences
* Management, Technology and Economics

Notable alumni and faculty

ETH Zurich has produced and attracted many famous scientists in its short history. More than twenty Nobel laureates have either studied at ETH or were awarded the Nobel prize for their work achieved at ETH. Other alumni include scientists who were distinguished with the highest honours in their respective fields, amongst them Pritzker Prize and Turing Award winners. Academic achievements aside, the ETH has been Alma Mater to many Olympic Medalists and world champions.

ee also

* Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne- EPFL).
* University of Zurich
* List of universities in Switzerland
* 2000 Watt society
* serec (Swiss Electromagnetics Research & Engineering Centre)

External links

* [ ETH Zürich]
* [ ETH juniors] - Official Junior Enterprise of the ETH Zurich
* [ PSI] (Paul Scherrer Institute)
* [ EMPA] (EMPA, research body of the ETH domain)
* [ UniPoly rowing match]
* [ Polyparty]
* [ Polyball]
* [ United Visions] (campus TV)
* [ VSETH] (student association)
* [ SOSeth] (student association)

Master programs

* [ Master of Arts in Comparative and International Studies (MACIS)]
* [ Master of Advanced Studies in Finance]
* [ Master of Science in Computer Science]

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