University of Geneva

University of Geneva
Université de Genève
Latin: Schola Genevensis
Motto Post tenebras lux (Latin)
Motto in English
Light after darkness
Type Public university
Established 1559[1]
Rector Prof. Yves Flückiger (since 2015)
Administrative staff
approx. 5.600
Students 14,489
Location Geneva, Switzerland
Campus Urban
Affiliations Coimbra Group

The University of Geneva (French: Université de Genève) is a public research university located in Geneva, Switzerland. It was founded in 1559 by John Calvin as a theological seminary and law school.[1] It remained focused on theology until the 17th century, when it became a center for Enlightenment scholarship. In 1873, it dropped its religious affiliations and became officially secular.[2] Today, the university is the second-largest university in Switzerland by number of students.[3] In 2009, the University of Geneva celebrated the 450th anniversary of its founding.[4] At least 40% of the students come from foreign countries.

UNIGE has academic research and development programs in various fields that are represented through various faculties such as:

The university holds and actively pursues teaching, research, and community service as its primary objectives. In 2015, it was ranked 58th worldwide by the Shanghai ranking. In 2011, it was ranked 73rd worldwide by the Academic Ranking of World Universities, and 69th in the QS World University Rankings.[5]

UNIGE is a member of the League of European Research Universities (including academic institutions such as Amsterdam, Cambridge, Heidelberg, Helsinki and Milan) the Coimbra Group and the European University Association.[6]


The University of Geneva is located in several districts in the eastern part of the city and in the nearby city of Carouge (on the left bank of the Lake Léman and the Rhône), and the different buildings are sometimes very distant from each other (the Battelle buildings are for instance more than three kilometers away from the Bastions). The oldest building (1559) is the Collège Calvin, and is not anymore a university building. Lectures are given in six different main locations, Les Bastions, Uni Dufour, Sciences I, II and III, Uni Mail and Uni Pignon, Centre Médical Universitaire (CMU), and Battelle;[7] as well as in other less important locations (for instance the Mathematics Section is located at the second and (partly) third and sixth storeys rented by the university in an office building in Carouge).[8]

Uni Bastions

Uni Bastions

Built between 1868 and 1871, Uni Bastions is the symbol of Geneva's academic life. It is located in the middle of a park and is host to the faculty of Protestant Theology and to the Faculty of Arts.[9]

Uni Dufour

Its architecture was inspired by Le Corbusier. It hosts the Rectorat and the administration of the University.[10]

Uni Dufour

Uni Mail

It is Switzerland's biggest building dedicated to social sciences. Uni Mail symbolizes the modernity of the University of Geneva. Its architecture is defined by a great transparency and open spaces. It currently hosts the Faculty of Law, of Economics and Social Sciences, of Psychology and Education and the Faculty of Translation and Interpreting.[11]

Uni Mail


The University of Geneva is structured in various faculties which are representing teaching, research and service to society in the various disciplines.


The University is composed of nine faculties:[12] The university has a partnership with the nearby Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies and the Bossey Ecumenical Institute, and students at the university may take courses at these institutes.

Faculty of Medicine

Founded in 1876, ranked one of the top 100 medical schools in the world (#60 in 2015 according to the QS University Rankings, Shanghai, China), both in terms of teaching and medical research.[13] It is one of the larger faculties of the University of Geneva in terms of budget and number of employees. Notable research areas include neuroscience, genetics, and transplantation. It is closely associated with Switzerland's largest hospital complex, the University Hospitals of Geneva (HUG).

The University Medical Center (CMU)

Since 1981, the Faculty of Medicine is located in the buildings of CMU in Champel. The premises of CMU helped equip Fundamental Medicine of an environment conducive to the development of research, using advanced technical means and structures promoting interdepartmental interactions and synergies. To this end, the Faculty of Medicine provides its employees, but also scientists and university hospital institutions in the Lake Geneva region, twenty highly specialized technical platforms.[14]

Faculty of Humanities

The faculty of Humanities and Arts has various departments and research centers.

Faculty Geneva School of Economics and Management (GSEM)

GSEM is a new faculty and exists since January 2014. The creation of the GSEM faculty is a result of a merger between two former departments: Economics and HEC. Students of the GSEM Faculty benefit from a bachelor's degree in English and French which brings together the principal disciplines they need to master in a core curriculum. This new curriculum is in place since fall 2015. The GSEM counts more than 1.700 students (Bachelor and Master) and 200 lecturers. The Executive Education counts more than 1.500 participants and over 45 programs (including an Executive MBA (EMBA) and International Organizations MBA (IOMBA). A number of research institutes provide avenues for graduate studies at Master’s and Doctoral levels.

Faculty Geneva School of Social Sciences (G3S)

The Faculty Geneva School of Social Sciences (G3S), was founded on 1 January 2014. The Faculty of Social Sciences promotes social commitment in the sense of a more sustainable and equitable development, the reduction of social inequalities, including gender, promotion of institutions and more participatory political forms and respectful Justice and differences.

The Faculty of Social Sciences is based on several pillars - sociology, political science, geography, political economy - and recognized thematic centers of excellence - the economic and social history, gender studies, communication, socio-economics, territorial development, analysis of social and political institutions, the study of living and social vulnerability courses, the study of international relations, and citizenship. But while promoting research and advanced education in the diversity of its constituent fields, our faculty aims to become a laboratory for cross-disciplinary knowledge and articulation of the world of knowledge and the world of action.

Faculty of Psychology and School of Education

The faculty was created in 1890. It has various departments and several research centers.

Faculty of Translation and Interpreting

The Faculty of Translation and Interpreting (FTI) is one of the oldest translation and interpreting education and research institutions in the world.

Interfaculty centers

Associated institutions


The University of Geneva had for 2013 a budget of CHF 558,211,000. It mostly comes from the cantonal subventions, the other notable contributors being the federal state and the tuition fees.[19]

Libraries and press


The Sciences Library at Sciences II

UNIGE's library facilities are spread across four sites.

Uni Arve is host to seven libraries: the Bibliothèque Ernst & Lucie Schmidheiny, the Bibliothèque d'Anthropologie, the Bibliothèque du Centre universitaire d'informatique, the Bibliothèque Georges de Rham (Mathematics), the Bibliothèque de l'Institut des Sciences de l'environnement (ISE), Bibliothèque de l'Observatoire (Astronomy) and the Bibliothèque des Sciences de la Terre et de l'environnement.[20]

Uni Bastions hosts the language libraries, as well as the university's libraries focused on history and musicology.[21]

Uni CMU is home to an extensive collection of medical issues. Besides, it is also hosts the Centre de documentation en santé (CDS) and the Bibliothèque de l’Institut de la médecine et de la santé et de l’Institut d’éthique biomédicale (IHMS - IEB).[22]

Uni Mail's collection is focused on the following themes: Economics and social sciences, Law, Psychology and Learning Sciences, Translation and Interpreting, European studies, French as a foreign language and Musicology. Besides, it also hosts UNIGE's multimedia library.[23]


The journal de l'UNIGE is released biweekly. Its purpose is to ease communication inside the university, to inform the students about the research being carried at UNIGE, to convey new opinions and to inform students and teachers of upcoming university events via l'Agenda.[24]

Campus is released monthly with the objective to ease communication between the scientific community and the citizens and to be a "bridge between science and city".[25]


Admission and fees

To be enrolled in a bachelor programme, one must hold a Swiss maturity diploma or a secondary diploma considered by the University of Geneva to be equivalent.[26] If the degree was not pursued in French, applicants must pass an eliminatory French language test at the beginning of September, which consists of an oral and a written comprehension test and of a piece of argumentative writing.[27] Tuition fees are of CHF 500 per semester.

Academic year

UNIGE's academic year runs from mid-September to mid-June. It is divided in two semesters, each one being concluded by an examination session, held respectively at the beginning of January and at the beginning of June. An examination session is held at the end of August and beginning of September as a retake for students who failed their January or June examinations.[28]

During the three days before the start of the new academic year, the Journées d'accueil (Welcome Days) are organized by the University to introduce the new students to the city and the facilities, tips are also given on how to succeed at university. A second chapter including city tours, outdoor concerts and animations is also organized by the student association UniAccueil (AUA) to celebrate the new academic year.[29]

Teaching and degrees

Before 2005, the University applied various very different models, depending on Faculties, and sometimes even on Departments (or "Sections"). Some Faculties applied the French education model of granting academic degrees, with some minor differences: demi-licence (two years), trois-quarts de licence (three years), licence (four years), diplôme d'études approfondies and diplôme d'études superieures spécialisées (DEA/DESS) (1–2 years), and doctorate (3–5 years).

The University now follows the requirements of the Bologna process: bachelor's (three years), master's (1–2 years), in some departments or sections Master of Advanced Studies (1–2 years), doctorate (3–5 years).[30]

UNIGE offers more than 240 types of diplomas: about 30 bachelor's degrees,[31] 70 masters and 78 doctorates. It also provides more than 200 programmes of continuing education in various sectors.[32]

Bachelor programs

Faculty of Sciences
Faculty of Medicine
Faculty Geneva School of Social Sciences (G3S)
Faculty of Humanities
Faculty Geneva School of Economics and Management (GSEM)
Faculty of Law
Faculty of Theology
Faculty of Psychology and Education
Faculty of Translation and Interpreting

Master programs

While all bachelor programs are taught in French (except in the Faculty GSEM), many master are programs are held in English, mostly in the fields of business and of science.[34]

Faculty Geneva School of Economics and Management (GSEM)
Faculty Geneva School of Social Science (G3S)

Executive Education programs

Faculty Geneva School of Economics and Management (GSEM Executive)

The organizational Unit for Executive Education (lifelong learning) of the faculty is called GSEM Executive (formerly it was called HEC Executive).

Master of Advances Studies (MAS)
Diploma of Advances Studies (DAS)
Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS)

International partnerships

Students at UNIGE have the possibility to study abroad for a semester or a year during their degree. Partner universities include Free University of Berlin, Harvard Law School, École Normale Supérieure, Trinity College Dublin, Erasmus University of Rotterdam, Université Libre de Bruxelles, King's College London, McGill University, HEC Montreal, University of Ottawa, University of Oxford, Uppsala University, Johns Hopkins University, University of Michigan, UCLA, University of Sydney, University of Tokyo.[35]


The key sectors of research at the University of Geneva are sciences (molecular biology, bio-informatics, etc.), elementary physics, astrophysics, economics, social sociences, psychology, chemistry, biochemistry and biophysics.

UNIGE is home to six national research centers: in genetics (Frontiers in Genetics), in material sciences (MaNEP), in study of emotions (Affective Sciences), in chemical biology (with EPFL), in study of mental illness (Synaptic, with EPFL and Unil), in study of life path (with Unil). UNIGE also carries research in international studies since the creation in 2013 of the Global Studies Institute, in finance with the Geneva Finance Research Institute,[36] and in environmental studies, with the creation in 2009 of the Institut des sciences de l'environnement.[37]

Famous discoveries have been made by researcher working at UNIGE including the discoveries of extrasolar planets by Michel Mayor, of genetics by Denis Duboule, or of quantic teleportation by Nicolas Gisin.


The University of Geneva is consistently ranked one of the top universities in the world.

Global rankings

In 2015, the University of Geneva is ranked 58th overall in the world according to the Shanghai Ranking. In 2012, it was ranked 69th overall in the world according to the Shanghai Ranking, 74th overall according to the QS ranking and 133rd overall according to the THE ranking. In 2006, Newsweek ranked the university 32nd in the world.[38]

The QS World University Rankings[39] ranked the University of Geneva as follows:

Year In Switzerland In Europe In the World
2012 - - 74th
2011 - - 69th

The Times Higher Education World University Rankings[40] ranked the University of Geneva as follows:

Year In Switzerland In Europe In the World
2012-2013 5th 52nd 133rd
2011-2012 7th 46th 116th
2010-2011 5th 34th 118th

Subject rankings

In molecular biology, the impact of the research carried in Geneva was ranked 4th in Europe by Times Higher Education for the period 1999-2009, directly behind the University of Oxford.[41] In physics, UNIGE was ranked sixth.

The QS 2013 subject ranking placed the University of Geneva at the 21st place in the field of Pharmacy and at the 49th place in Philosophy. In every subject, the University was ranked in the world's top 200.[42]

Other rankings

In the 2013 QS ranking, the University was ranked 24th in world for most international faculty and 20th in the world for most international student body.[43]

Student body

In 2009-2010, 13,667 students were studying at UNIGE (14,489 students with the IHEID and IEB), of whom 61% were female, the highest female percentage in any Swiss university. 36% of the students were non-Swiss, originating from 131 countries. 3,574 teachers and collaborators, of whom 1,451 are female, are working for UNIGE.[44]

Student life


The Bureau des sports organizes all the sports related activity at UNIGE. Free sports lessons are given everyday and it suffices to show one's student card to access. Other lessons organization with the university's partners demand a small fee.[45] UNIGE is home to the Geneva university championships in basketball, indoor football, rowing, badminton, outdoor football.[46] The university also sends teams to the Swiss university championship in badminton, indoor football, skiing, basketball, fencing, football, golf, ice-hockey, table tennis and volleyball.[47] UNIGE also provides special schedules for students wishing to pursue their high level sporting career and to study at the same time.[48]


Alumni UNIGE is the alumni association of the University of Geneva, it offers a network of several thousand people to its members, as well as other advantages, such as discount prizes, special events, access to the official networking platform.[49] Atout-lettres is the alumni association of the literature students of the University, founded in 1997. Its purpose is to prepare the professional insertion of the literature students, to establish links between literature student and the working world and to promote the formation given by the Faculté de Lettres.[50]


Kofi Annan, UNIGE alumni, Nobel Peace Prize in 2001

Over the course of its history, a sizeable number of UNIGE alumni have become notable in their fields, both academic, and in the wider world. Affiliates of the University of Geneva have won 10 Nobel prizes. Graduate alumni (Martin Hairer and Vaughan Jones) have won 2 Fields Medals.

The University has hosted several Nobel laureates as students, researchers and/or professors: Norman Angell (1872–1967), Nobel Peace Prize 1933; Karl Gunnar Myrdal (1898–1987) Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences 1974; Daniel Bovet (1907–1992), Nobel Prize in Medicine 1957; Niels Kaj Jerne (1911–1994), Nobel Prize in Medicine 1984; Maurice Allais (1911–2010), Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences 1988; Edmond H. Fischer (1920–), Nobel Prize in Medicine 1992; Martin Rodbell (1925–1998), Nobel Prize in Medicine 1994; Alan Jay Heeger (1936- ), Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2000; Werner Arber (1929– ), Nobel Prize in Medicine 1978; Kofi Annan (1938– ), Nobel Peace Prize 2001.

It has also hosted or graduated three Fields medal laureates: Vaughan Jones (1952– ), Fields Medal laureate in 1990, Stanislav Smirnov (1970– ), Fields Medal laureate in 2010 and Martin Hairer (1975- ), Fields Medal laureate in 2014.

Notable scholars

Notable alumni

In fiction

See also

Notes and references

  1. 1 2 "University of geneva". Mastersportal.
  2. "University of Geneva". Talloiresnetwork Tufts.
  3. "University of Geneva (UNIGE)". Studying in switzerland.
  4. "University of Geneva honors LHC project leader at 450th anniversary ceremony". CERN. 5 June 2009.
  5. QS World University Rankings - 2011. Top Universities (2012-12-19). Retrieved on 2013-09-05.
  6. "University in the Spotlight: University of Geneva". Globalinksabroad.
  7. "L'Université de Genève a fêté ses 450 ans en 2009". Schenk photos.
  8. UNIGE - Plan d'accès aux bâtiments. Retrieved on 2013-09-05.
  9. UNIGE - Plan d'accès aux bâtiments. Retrieved on 2013-09-05.
  10. UNIGE - Plan d'accès aux bâtiments. Retrieved on 2013-09-05.
  11. UNIGE - Plan d'accès aux bâtiments. Retrieved on 2013-09-05.
  12. Facultés, école, UPER - Archives - UNIGE. (2009-09-03). Retrieved on 2013-09-05.
  14. University of Geneva Faculty of Medicine Official Website.
  15. Webpage of the Art-Law Centre,
  16. Center for Biomedical Imaging (page visited on 2 October 2011).
  17. Centre universitaire romand de médecine légale (page visited on 3 June 2012).
  18. Institut universitaire romand de santé au travail (page visited on 1 October 2011).
  20. Uni Arve - Bibliothèque - UNIGE. (2013-06-25). Retrieved on 2013-09-05.
  21. Uni Bastions - Bibliothèque - UNIGE. (2013-07-08). Retrieved on 2013-09-05.
  22. Uni CMU - Bibliothèque - UNIGE. (2013-06-25). Retrieved on 2013-09-05.
  23. Uni Mail - Bibliothèque - UNIGE. (2013-08-20). Retrieved on 2013-09-05.
  24. Journal n°77 - SERVICE DE COMMUNICATION - UNIGE. (2013-05-30). Retrieved on 2013-09-05.
  25. Perspectives - Service De Communication - Unige. (2010-09-07). Retrieved on 2013-09-05.
  27. Examen de français - Division de la formation et des étudiants - UNIGE. (2013-06-18). Retrieved on 2013-09-05.
  28. Studying/Doing research - International - UNIGE. (2013-02-08). Retrieved on 2013-09-05.
  29. Programme des Welcome Days 2013 - Accueil et intégration - UNIGE. (2013-08-12). Retrieved on 2013-09-05.
  30. Réforme de Bologne et système de crédits ECTS - Secteur Formation & Évaluation - UNIGE. (2010-10-13). Retrieved on 2013-09-05.
  31. Fiches Bachelors - Futurs étudiants - UNIGE. (2013-03-11). Retrieved on 2013-09-05.
  32. Au service des professionnels - Formation continue - UNIGE. Retrieved on 2013-09-05.
  33. Règlement du Baccalauréat universitaire en Psychologie. Retrieved on 2016-09-29.
  37. "Institut des Sciences de l'Environnement - Institut des Sciences de l'Environnement - UNIGE". Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  39. "QS World University Rankings 2010 Results".
  40. "Times Higher Education World University Rankings".
  41. "Top European Institutions in Molecular Biology". Times Higher Education. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  42. "University of Geneva Rankings". Top Universities. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  43. "University of Geneva Rankings". Top Universities. Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  44. "Bureau des statistiques - Bureau des statistiques - UNIGE" (PDF). Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  50. "Atouts Lettres - Présentation". Retrieved 20 July 2015.
  51. "Dominique Levy". Retrieved 8 May 2014.
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