Federal and Advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education Examinations

Key terms: Vocational and professional education in Switzerland / Governance of vocational and professional education and training

The Federal Diploma of Higher Education examinations and Advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education examinations are geared towards professionals with several years of professional experience who wish to deepen their knowledge or to prepare themselves for a leadership role. In total, around 220 recognised Federal Diploma of Higher Education examinations and 170 Advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education examinations are offered. However, the majority apply to a limited number of professions. The Advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education examinations – traditionally called Meisterprüfungen (master examinations) in the commercial-industrial domain – are more demanding than the Federal Diploma of Higher Education examinations.

Via the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), the Confederation recognises the examination regulations which are drawn up by professional organisations. An examination regulation governs the terms of admission to the individual examinations, the occupational profiles, the skills that must be achieved, the qualification processes and the corresponding titles protected by law. Within each industry, only one Federal Diploma of Higher Education examination and one Advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education examination are approved by the Confederation for each specific field. Preparatory courses for Federal Diploma of Higher Education examinations and Advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education examinations are neither regulated, nor compulsory. Professional organisations conduct the federally regulated examinations once or twice each year. They lead to federally recognised titles.

Terms of admission

Admission to the Federal Diploma of Higher Education examinations is generally granted to those who have at least completed a three-year or four-year vocational education and training programme and can provide evidence of a number of years of working experience. The same applies to the Advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education examinations, although sometimes a Federal Diploma of Higher Education examination must be passed first. The terms of admission are set out in the various examination regulations.

Graduation and organisation of education and training

The preparations for the examinations are not regulated. Candidates usually attend preparatory courses, which are provided either by public or private educational institutions, or by professional organisations. As these courses are not state-regulated, they are not supervised by the state. The content and programme are based on the stipulations of the examination regulations. The courses are completed in combination with occupational work and last between two and four semesters. Preparation can also occur by means of self-directed study.

Those who pass Federal Diploma of Higher Education examinations receive a Federal Diploma of Higher Education. The suffix “with Federal Diploma of Higher Education” is added to the job title (e.g. Computer Scientist with Federal Diploma of Higher Education). Those who pass Advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education examinations receive a federally recognised Advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education. Either the prefix «dipl.» is added to the respective job title (e.g. dipl. Graphic Designer) or the suffix «with Advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education», e.g. Food Technologist with Advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education), or else «Meister» (Master, e.g. Gärtnermeister = Master Gardener). The Rectors' Conference of the Swiss Universities has issued recommendations on the admission of graduates of tertiary level professional education and training to Bachelor's degree programmes at universities of applied sciences.

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Last update of this page: 20.02.2018

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