the burden of choice

Where Study Philosophy?

Choosing a Swiss university to study philosophy could be a big deal: many factors play a role, and there is a lot of competition from abroad.

We recommend that you specifically consider three factors:

1) the support that philosophy departments give to this website - in our (not disinterested) opinion, a good measure of an institution's willingness to engage in outreach and philosophy as a whole;

2) the quality of research, according to the SNSF funds raised by institute staff;

3) Institute-specific advertising initiatives, which (in the best case) show that they care about an attractive range of courses and make an effort in student support.


Support of by the Swiss philosophy institutes

Our association aims to represent academic philosophy in Switzerland to the public and to inform them about the activities of Swiss philosophers, both inside and outside the academy. It is therefore important for us to be supported ideally and materially by the Swiss philosophy institutes.

In the past, the Institute of Philosophy at the University of Zurich and the Département de philosophie at the University of Geneva have proved to be by far the most generous. The philosophical institutes of the Universities of Fribourg, Lausanne, and the ETH have supported us in the past, but no longer in recent years. The philosophical institutes of the University of Neuchâtel and the USI regularly make a small contribution. Lucerne, Basel, Bern, and St. Gallen seem to be less interested in public relations work for philosophy:

  2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022 2023
UZH 1200 1200 850   1123.5 5000  
UniGE 850 850 850 950     800
UniFR 850 850 850 1150      
UniL 850 850 850 550 550    
ETH 850 850     823.5    
UniNE 700 350   350 350 350  
UniSG 850 550 550 150      
UniLU 715 300 300 500      
UniBS 850 850          
UniBE   300 400        
USI   300 400       350

Research quality

Federal support for the cantonal universities is based on teaching and research, with the SNSF grants received in recent years serving as an indicator of the latter (in project and personal funding). This makes particular sense for the funding of individuals (SNSF professorships, Eccellenza, Prima, Ambizione, according to the SNSF's "money follows researcher" principle, grantees can choose the institution receiving the grant themselves as long as they are employed there for at least 50% of the project duration.

In June 2024, the distribution of SNSF funding among the universities is as follows:

  1. Geneva: 3 ERC, 1 Prima, 3 Eccellenza, 5 Ambizione, 3
  2. Zurich: 2 SNSF Prof, 1 Eccellenza, 2 Ambizione, 3
  3. Bern: 1 ERC, 1 Prima, 1 SNSF Prof, 1 Eccellenza, 1 Ambizione, 1
  4. Fribourg: 1 Prima, 1 SNSF postdoc, 4
  5. Basel: 1 ERC, 1 Prima, 1, Ambizione, 2
  6. USI: 1 ERC, 1 SNSF postdoc, 1 Ambizione
  7. Lausanne: 1
  8. Neuchâtel: 1
  9. Lucerne: no SNSF person funding
  10. St. Gallen: no SNSF person funding
  11. ETH: no SNSF person funding

The University of Geneva is also far ahead in terms of the total amount of funding for ongoing SNSF projects:

  1. Geneva: CHF 17 million
  2. Zurich: CHF 10.7 million
  3. Basel: CHF 7.7 million
  4. Bern: CHF 6.1 million
  5. Fribourg: CHF 5 million
  6. USI: CHF 3.6 million
  7. Neuchâtel: CHF 2.2 million
  8. Lausanne: CHF 1.8 million
  9. Lucerne: CHF 0.97 million
  10. ETH: CHF 0.83 million
  11. St. Gallen: 0 CHF

Institute-specific advertising initiatives

The University of Bern's website lists "five reasons for the Bernese Master's": research-based teaching, research projects, good supervision, flexibility in study design, BeNeFri.