Discovery Program for Refugees

General Information

The Discovery Program for refugees is a joint initiative of the International Relations Office and the students' association VSUZH. It enables refugees to attend lectures as guest auditors and to experience student life at the University of Zurich. Please find more information about the degree programs using this link.

The aim is to give refugees the chance to gain an understanding of the course programs and requirements for studying in Switzerland. This allows them to prepare for a later application to the University of Zurich, should this be an option, or for a job in Switzerland.

The Discovery Program lasts two semesters. A start is only possible in the autumn semester (mid-September). The semester dates can be found here.

The Program

  • Core program:
    • A 2-weeks intensive German course before the beginning of the fall semester
    • Attendance at selected lectures
    • Weekly German language lessons
    • Participation in language conversation groups and other events at the Language Center's self-access center
    • Training in various skills (IT skills, CV writing, etc.)
  • Special events:
    • Support and guidance from a student mentor
    • Social events to mix with other discovery program participants and University of Zurich students
    • Information events on the University of Zurich's admission procedures, its study programs and other education options

The Discovery Program can be completed on a part-time basis. If you have any questions regarding childcare, please contact the project team (

Participants of the Discovery Program

  • do not receive a student ID card
  • cannot take examinations or earn ECTS points
  • do not receive any diploma or degree for taking part in the discovery program
  • are not given privileged admission to a Bachelor's or Master's program
  • cannot attend courses at the Faculty of Medicine or the Vetsuisse Faculty

Requirements to participate

  • Bachelor's degree or equivalent from a state-accredited foreign university
  • Very good level in the language of tuition (B2 in German and/or English)
  • High interest in studying in Switzerland and capable of independent study
  • Residence permit N, F or B (refugee)
  • Residence in Switzerland, ideally in the Zurich region


  • No fees are charged for participation in the program
  • Participants must pay for any incidental costs such as books and printing/photocopying themselves


The application window for the Discovery Program 2020/2021 has closed. Applications for the Discovery Program 2021/2022 are presumably accepted in February/ March 2021.

Project Partners

Discovery Program Committee SPK (VSUZH)

The VSUZH Discovery Program Committee works with the International Relations Office as chief coordinator of the Discovery Programs held at the University of Zurich. Its main responsibility is to recruit and supervise mentors and to organize various social events for mentors and participants throughout the semester.

Do you want to get involved as a mentor? Then go visit their website for more information.

Do you want to get all the news about the SPK? Like their facebook page or subscribe to their newsletter.