USI - FAU Double Degree - FAQ

  • What are the details of the kick-off event?

    Welcome Event Wed, May 10, 2023 @ 16:00 to 17:00 (CET)  –  FAU, Martensstraße 3, 91058 Erlangen (Blue Computer Science Tower, 2nd floor, 02.152-113). 

    The welcome event will be held in hybrid mode with both online and in-person components.

    When: Wednesday, May 10, 2023 @ 16:00 to 17:00 (CET)

    In-Person Location: FAU, Martensstraße 3, 91058 Erlangen (Blue Computer Science Tower, 2nd floor, 02.152-113)

    Zoom Link:

    We are planning to have an Introduction Blitz of our FAU-USI double-degree. Our goal is to have an interactive session for all members of the CE/MCS community to associate faces with names and learn some fun facts about fellow attendees (both scientific and not!). The preliminary agenda for the event is as follows:

    • Welcome (Eftekhari/Fey/Köstler)
    • Introduction Blitz (Schmutterer)
      • All attendees (both students and professors) are asked to prepare a 30 second presentation of themselves with a single presentation slide.
      •  Please send your slide in PDF format to Michael Zikeli by noon (CET) Monday May 8th
      • naming convention for slide: blitz _familyname_firstInitail.pdf
    • USI’s MCS presentation on the MCS program at USI
    • FAU’s CE presentation on the program at FAU
    • Q&A
  • Why take the double degree program?

    The double degree program gives students the opportunity to study at, and receive a degree from two leading universities in Computational Science and Engineering. This offers a number of distinct advantages:

    FAU student perspective

    Educational Experience:

    The Università della Svizzera italiana (USI) is a young university, celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2021. Despite this short history, USI has quickly established itself as a leading research university in a number of key fields in informatics. Students will have the opportunity to take courses from globally renowned researchers in Artificial Intelligence, Computational Science, and Data Science. Lugano is home not only to USI, but also to the Swiss National Supercomputing Center (CSCS), which houses the 12th largest computer in the world (4th in Europe), making Lugano a globally renowned hub for Computational Science. Students registered in the double degree program will be granted automatic acceptance to the Effective High-Performance Computing & Data Analytics with GPUs summer school with CSCS, giving them a unique opportunity to program one of the most powerful supercomputers in the world

    Career Advancement:

    From the perspective of an FAU student, the double degree program will provide you with a degree from a Swiss university, which will grant significant additional access to the Swiss job market. Switzerland is known for its extremely attractive opportunities for new-grads, including positions with strong on-the-job training programs, opportunities for career advancement, international mobility, and excellent starting salaries. In addition, as a student at USI, you will have full access to the university’s career service which frequently has job postings that are not available elsewhere, and provides multiple services to help students secure both jobs and internships in Switzerland and abroad.

    La Dolce Vita:

    The double degree program is also very attractive from a lifestyle perspective. Students will have the opportunity to live in Lugano, which is renowned as one of Europe’s top vacation destinations. Nestled in the southern region of the Swiss Alps, the Italian speaking Canton of Ticino offers endless opportunities for excursions to fascinating destinations both natural and cultural. More information is on the Ticino tourism, or the Swiss tourism websites.

    USI student perspective

    Educational Experience:

    Founded in 1943, Friedrich–Alexander University (FAU) Erlangen–Nürnberg is established as one of the largest public research universities in Germany. Situated in the cities of Erlangen and Nuremberg, FAU is the second largest state university in Bavaria, Germany. By working together with some of the biggest names in research and industry, FAU sets knowledge in motion to be the catalyst for pioneering innovation that will shape the future. Being at the top of the league, FAU is consistently valued high in national and international rankings. (The double degree program at FAU offers several specialization areas called Technical Application Fields and provides education not only in mathematics and computer science but also in the field of engineering.)

    Career Advancement:

    FAU provides the unique Student Advice and Career Service, offering help to the students for free in a wide range of advice and consultation. The Central Career Service of the university provides information on the topics of applications, professional orientation, internships and career entry. As Erlangen is a business location, Company contact fairs are held on the campus, especially at the Technical Faculty, allowing students to get in direct contact with diverse corporations and establishments.

    Live at the heart of Europe:

    Student life at Erlangen gives you a wide range of opportunities to enjoy the urban flair. Attracting over a million visitors every year, Bergkirchweih in Erlangen is an event not to be missed. Venture your next feat with exciting destinations like the vibrant Berlin, historical Prague, cultural Munich and blissful Baden-Wurttemberg in all four directions. 

  • How does the double degree program work?

    During the entire study period of the Masters program, students are registered as students at both universities. The normal period of study the master’s degree programs is four semesters and comprises 120 ECTS credits. The students are enrolled at the same time at both universities (FAU and USI).  Students can spend, e.g., the first semester at their home university, while attending some on-line courses (including the mandatory “Efficient Computational Algorithms”) at the partner university. In the second semester these students will, e.g., move to the partner university where they will complete their second semester of courses (30 ECTS), and return to their home  university for the third and fourth semester. An alternative option is to spend the third semester (30 ECTS) at the partner university and all other semesters at the home university.

    The Master’s Thesis (30 ECTS) may be also written under the supervision of a professor from either university, and can be done remotely without the need to be present in a specific location.

    IMPORTANT: A strongly preferred enrollment option is that each double degree student must be registered AT BOTH UNIVERSITIES for the entire duration of the masters program. However, you can still join the double-degree program after the first and second semester. Please contact the study coordinators at Olaf Schenk (USI) and Felix Schmutterer (FAU).

  • How do I complete the registration process?

    One of the application requirements for the Double Degree program in Computational Engineering is a bachelorʼs degree in Computational Engineering, Computer Science, Applied Mathematics, or any engineering discipline. Since the program contains components from computer science, engineering and applied mathematics, it is important that applicants have a sufficient background in these areas.

    Additional information on the registration process for FAU can be found here.

    Application documents

    • your Curriculum Vitae ( CV)
    • your letter of motivation (VERY IMPORTANT, please tell us WHY you chose the Double Degree program in CE at FAU as well as WHY you chose your specific Technical Application Fields)
    • your secondary school leaving certificate (and English translation) (High school certificate)
    • university entrance exam (if available, e.g. Iran)
    • your university certificates (and English translation). In case you do not have your Bachelor certificate at the time of applying to FAU we need a confirmation of your university that you will get the Bachelor’s certificate soon
    • the international transcript (grades sheet) of the courses you have attended
    • Due to the international orientation, the modules of the program are offered in English requiring the students to submit their proof of English language skills. TOEFL score report (OR other proof of English, in case your Bachelor´s has been in English a confirmation of the university is sufficient)
      •  IELTS: 7.0 or similar
    • APS certificate (China)
    • any certificates of English or German language courses you have taken part in
    • GRE is not mandatory, but if you have a certificate it is very helpful

    In order to formalize your registration at USI we invite you to fill in our application form by 30 September and send the following to

    • FAU admission notification
    • scans of your bachelor transcript & degree (we accept documents or translation in English, German, French or Italian)
    • CV
    • a passport-style picture in .jpg (neutral background)
    • English language certificate

    We remind you that B2-level English competency is required start at USI, and at the latest before you graduate you must have obtained C1-level competency.
    This can be achieved by passing the C1-level course offered at USI, or by submitting one of these certificates:

        •  IELTS: 7.0
        • TOEFL: Internet-based: 100
        • Cambridge English: CAE (Advanced certificate), grade C or above / BEC (Business English), grade C or above
        • TOEIC: Listening & Reading: 945, Speaking: 180, Writing: 180 

    If you have any questions or doubts about the application form or anything else USI-related, don’t hesitate to get in touch – we’d be happy to help.

    We also accept late registrations, but this depends on available capacity within the FAU/USI double-degree programme. Please contact the study coordinators at Olaf Schenk (USI) and Felix Schmutterer (FAU).

  • What are the registration DEADLINES?

    USI Based Students

    • 30 April (for Non-European students)
    • 31 July (for European students)

    The application must be submitted online here.

    If you miss either of these deadlines it may still be possible to register. We might also accept late registrations, but this depends on available capacity within the FAU/USI double-degree programme. Please contact Olaf Schenk if you are in this situation.

    FAU Based Students

    The application for the master program is only possible during the winter term. The deadlines are:

    • April 15 for applicants who are non-EU citizens
    • July 15 for applicants who are EU citizens (last day for submitting the online application)

    The application must be submitted online, via the campo portal. 

    We process all applications in batches and will not start with the first batch until April; please refrain from any inquiries before May.

  • What are the mandatory courses?

    All Students

    • Efficient Computation Algorithms (6 ECTS) – This course is entirely online and must be taken in your first semester.
    • Mandatory courses from FAU curriculum
    • Mandatory courses from USI curriculum

    All students must obtain 30 ECTS credits from each university in order to be eligible to graduate from the double degree program.

    FAU Based Students

    Establishing an individual study plan (Studienkonzept) is required for the Double Degree Program. This study plan serves as a guideline for the students and needs to be confirmed by the program advisors, in order to guarantee that the mandatory requirements are met. The study plan specifies the Technical Application Fields (TAF) selected by the student during the application. It also specifies the modules that the student has to pass in order to obtain the degree. Only the modules listed in the Module Catalog can be registered for the examination. The program provides standard study plans for each of the TAFs with a workload of at least 20 ECTS for each module along with which at least 30 ECTS from USI must be attained. To ensure a well-rounded education, the study advisors will recommend modules with the specialization of the given TAF.

    USI Based Students

    Establishing an individual study plan is required for the Double Degree Program. This study plan serves as a guideline for the students and needs to be confirmed by the program advisors, in order to guarantee that the mandatory requirements are met.

  • How many ECTS credits are required?

    For a total of 120 credits students must obtain:

    • 30 ECTS credits in courses from each university
    • 90 ECTS credits in total of eligible courses
    • 30 ECTS credits from a completed master’s thesis either at FAU or at USI
  • Does it make a difference which home university I choose?

    From the perspective of which degree you will obtain, the difference is insignificant. However, your study experience and student life will vary significantly depending on which home university you choose. Some important points to consider:

    • You will spend two of three course-based semesters at your home university
    • Tuition fees are 4000 CHF per semester if you choose USI as your home university
    • There maybe certain advantages for finding internships / jobs in the location in which you spend your last semester or thesis
    • At FAU, in the Computational engineering program, you have to choose your Technical Application Fields (TAF) giving you a different perspective in Computer Science and a deeper insight into engineering.
    • At FAU there are no tuition fees (for FAU based students)! Every student pays approximately EUR 127 per semester for student services and a basic semester ticket for public transportation, making it easier for the students financially.
    • To make the most of your studies the FAU provides academic, legal, psychological and career-based services to support the students and maintain their well-being.
  • How do I find housing?

    In Lugano

    In general, housing is more available in Lugano than in other parts of Switzerland, although there are a number of administrative and financial hurdles that need to be passed in order to secure a private tenancy contract for an apartment. For this reason, it may be more convenient to start your search with the resources available to students through the university via the USI Housing Service.

    In case of a short-term stay (minimum 3 weeks), perhaps while looking for other accommodations, CityPop may also be an attractive option as it is administratively very easy, although rent is higher, and the location is not ideal for students (Via Lucerna 1, 6900 Lugano). You will need to download the app for information.

    For other practicalities on studying in Lugano (housing, permits, etc.), please refer to the dedicated pages on the main website (

    In Erlangen

    The cities of Erlangen, Fürth and Nuremberg offer a very good standard of living, however accommodation can be difficult to find, especially at the beginning of the semester. We, therefore, recommend that all students start looking for accommodation as soon as possible. Being a little flexible and also looking in the surrounding area will provide a better chance of finding somewhere affordable to live in so students can travel to their place of study with the semester ticket. FAU itself cannot assign accommodation but works very closely with Student Services Erlangen-Nürnberg assisting students in their everyday lives.

  • How does public transport work?

    in Lugano and Switzerland

    Switzerland has a very effective public transport system that connects the entire country, making it very easy to get around. To use this system, the SBB smartphone app will be your best friend.

    If you will be traveling frequently between Swiss regions or cities we recommend getting the SBB half-fare card which will reduce the price of all public transport in Switzerland by half for one year from time of purchase. Half-fare cards cost 185 CHF per year for adults (25+) or 120 CHF per year for youths (<25). This card pays off extremely quickly (for youths it may pay off in as little as 2 round trips from Lugano to Zurich). 

    Lugano is not a large city, so getting around on foot is very easy, and occasional bus rides can be taken for a low price. If you plan on using local public transport frequently, there are monthly passes available for all regions of the Canton of Ticino.

    in Erlangen and Germany

    Student Services Erlangen-Nürnberg offers FAU students a semester ticket in collaboration with the local public transport company, VGN providing an excellent public transport system, so the students should not have any problems getting to their place of study. 

    Erlangen is also the cycling capital of Bavaria where a third of all journeys are made by bike. The cycling infrastructure in Erlangen is devised to cycle safely without accidents. 

  • What are the important webpages / links?

    For FAU:

        Exam registration [meinCampus]:
        Learning platform [StudOn]:
        Database of lectures, persons, etc. [UnivIS]:
        Identity Management [IdM]:

    Helpful, not obligatory:
        Study plan creation [Slot]:
        Cloud storage [FauBox]:
        Remote access to computers [CIP]:
        Student organization [FSI CE]:
        Video portal:

    For USI:

        Learning platform:
        Course registration:
       Exam registration:

        Helpful, not obligatory:
        Practicalities for the USI community:
    Video portal:

  • Do I need to learn Italian or German?

    At USI in Lugano, Svizzera

    Courses are entirely held in English, so this is the only language that is mandatory. Living in Lugano should be possible with only English, although learning the local language will make your experience more interesting. 

    USI offers courses in English, French, German and Italian free of charge for the entire USI community. Extensive information, including dates for intensive courses offered before the start of the academic year, is available here. Language courses do not count for credit towards your degree.

    At FAU in Erlangen, Germany

    Most of the courses are held in English, so this is the only necessary language. Since Erlangen is a student town, life is easy with just English knowledge. 

    FAU Language Centre (Sprachenzentrum) provides free German courses alongside regular studies for the students to learn German quickly and efficiently. The language courses are offered every semester and compacted into intensive courses during the break to help students catch up on the language.

  • How does health insurance work?

    In Switzerland

    Every person residing in Switzerland is required to have a health and accident insurance or to obtain the relevant exemption (see below) within three months of entry into Switzerland. Compulsory health insurance covers the costs of the medical care in case of illness or accident. Students with a European Health Insurance Card (e.g. from Germany) are exempt from buying health insurance in CH.

    If the terms are not met, or exemption is not obtained, an insurance will be assigned as a matter of course at the discretion of the respective authorities. The authorities may select a very expensive plan and will send you the invoice.

    Double degree students may be able to access a special plan for international students.

    For more information visit the USI health insurance website.

    In Germany

    According to the Bavarian Higher Education Act, all prospective students must present their university with an official insurance certificate from a German statutory health insurance provider (e.g. AOK, TK, Barmer, DAK, etc.) – irrespective of which country they are from.

    The purpose of the insurance certificate from the statutory health insurance provider is to confirm to the university whether

    • you have statutory health insurance or
    • you do not have statutory health insurance (i.e. you are not obliged to have statutory health insurance)
  • Which USI courses will be available online in the 22/23 academic year?
  • Who are the contacts at each university?

    For general information:

    Study coordinators:

    Official information on registration process or specific requirements:

  • What are the costs of living?

    In Lugano

    The basic student budget is about CHF 1200 to 1700 per month

    • CHF 450-800 for a shared single room or one-bedroom apartment
    • CHF 450 for food and other household expenses
    • CHF 50-100 for public transportation
    • CHF 50 for books and study materials
    • CHF 200 for expenses of various kinds
    • CHF 160-280 for Health Insurance, when required

    In Erlangen

    The basic student budget is about EUR 930 – 1300 per month. The general costs are the following on average expenditure:

    Rent including bills (in the Erlangen-Nuremberg area) EUR 325/332
    Food EUR 168
    Clothing  EUR 42
    Transport (public transport and/or car) EUR 94
    Learning material (depending on the subject) EUR 20
    Health insurance, doctor, medicines EUR 80
    Telecommunications EUR 31
    Leisure activities, culture, sports EUR 61
  • Do I need my own computer to study?

    At USI

    USI provides all USI-based students with an Apple Macbook for the duration of their studies, including their time at FAU; student workstations are available on the West Campus also for for FAU-based students, however it is recommended to have your own computer.

    At FAU

    The Main Library, the branch libraries and many of the departmental libraries have workstations with Internet access. The Main Library and the Science and Technology Branch Library and each Department also each have a CIP pool with computers for members of the University to use 24/7. However, it is recommended to have your own computer.

  • What are the closest airports?

    To Lugano

    There are two options. Either Milano Malpensa airport in Italy, or Zurich Airport. Malpensa is closer geographically but with the train connections it will be about the same travel time from either airport to Lugano (about 2 hours). It may be easier to fly into Zürich since there are quasi-direct trains from flughafen Zürich to Lugano every 30 minutes to an hour and the train takes only slightly longer than 2 hours. Flights into Malpensa may be more economical since the airport is well served by budget carriers.

    To Erlangen

    There are quite some options for traveling to the nearest airport. The nearest airport to Erlangen is Nuremberg (NUE) Airport which is 11.9 km away. Other nearby airports include Munich (MUC) (148.8 km), Stuttgart (STR) (165.7 km), Frankfurt (FRA) (182.1 km) and Memmingen (FMM) (186.9 km) which are easily connected with public transports.

  • Is it possible to remain in one city (either Lugano or Erlangen) for the entire duration of the double degree program?

    While the future of the pandemic creates some uncertainty, the courses and examinations at each university are generally not conducted online, making it implausible to remain in just one city.

  • Do I need a residence permit?

    To Live in Lugano

    The need for a residence permit depends on the citizenhip of the student. Please read the information available on the USI website carefully.

    This link also contains plenty of other helpful information.

    To Live in Erlangen

    The need for a residence permit depends on the citizenship of the student. More detailed information can be found on the FAU website. 

    Please read the information carefully.

  • Erasmus/SEMP grants for incoming students in Switzerland 2022-2027

    The Swiss Programme for Erasmus+ for higher education is called Swiss-European Mobility Programme SEMP. SEMP gives Swiss higher education institutions the possibility to support students as well as teaching and administrative staff doing a study-, training- or teaching-mobility with funding.

    Mobility Grants for USI Students moving to FAU:
    USI is providing MSC double-degree program students with 10 mobility grants for a period of 6 months. For more information please visit the USI students mobility: programmes and types of mobility

    Mobility Grants for FAU Students moving to USI:
    FAU is providing CE double-degree program students with in total of 10 mobility grants to visit USI in Lugano for a period of 6 months. The deadline for application at FAU is January 10.

    For more information please contact the study coordinators at Olaf Schenk (USI) and Felix Schmutterer (FAU).

  • What are the courses I can choose from at each university?

    All courses that are part of the Master of Computation Science curriculum at USI or part of the Master of Computational Science and Engineering curriculum at FAU are eligible. Please ensure that you chosen courses comply with your personal study program.

    At USI

    At FAU

  • Course and Exam registration at USI - Faculty of Informatics

    All double degree students taking USI courses – whether they are in Lugano or in Erlangen – must register

    • on the USI-INF Teaching platform when they receive the official notification from the Dean’s Office (July/August for the autumn semester, November/December for the spring semester).
      Students can edit their course registration until 6 weeks after the start of the semester at USI (see Academic Calendar).
      IMPORTANT: after that date, if you are registered for the course, you must register for the exam, and the course/exam will be listed on your USI transcript (see Grading policy)
    • register on the USI Exam platform when prompted by the Dean’s Office (see exam calendar)

    All official announcements, notifications, and deadlines will be sent to your USI email address.

  • Grading policy at USI - Faculty of Informatics

    USI Policies

    The statements below on exams results are to be regarded as for information only. In the event of discrepancies and for all legal purposes, the Study Regulations of the Faculty of Informatics shall apply.

    An examination in the regular exam session (winter/summer) may be graded either

    • on a binary scale (pass/fail): not factored into the calculation of the GPA , or
    • on a numerical scale: the numerical scale goes from 1 to 10, including half-points, and the pass mark is 6.

    Students who obtain a grade betwen 4 and 5.5 in the regular session (winter, summer) can retake the exam in the recovery session, which is evaluated on a binary scale. A pass will count as a “6” in the GPA calculation.
    Students who obtained a grade under 4 must retake the course again (in case of elective, substitutions may be possible).

    Any mid-course tests (projects, presentations, examination credits) are graded at the discretion of the lecturer. The lecturer independently determines whether and how such tests contribute to the final course mark. The lecturer must communicate the examination arrangements to students at the beginning of the course. For further information, please see the Study Regulations.

    Grade Equivalencies

    FAU  USI
    1,0 10
    1,7 9
    2,3 8
    3,0 7
    4,0 6
  • Transcripts of records at USI - Faculty of Informatics

    The transcripts of records reflect all the steps taken during the master studies.

    If a student has to retake a course, the transcript will show the (failure) grade of the course they haven’t passed, even afterwards, when they will have successfully passed it (or substituted it with another course), which means the failure grade will not disappear from the transcript. This applies also to the final transcript – the one students receive at the graduation ceremony.

    Student can access their USI record through the exam platform, where they can also download an official electronic version of their transcript.

  • Administrative Steps for USI students going to FAU

    USI students going to FAU will need to get Insurance from the AOK student service in Erlangen-Nuernberg. To do so, students should send an email to with in cc using the following template:

    Dear AOK Student Service,

    My name is FirstName LastName, born in DD.MM.YYYY

    I am a double-degree masters student in Computational Science and Engineering from USI Lugano and will be coming for studies in FAU Erlangen from:

    Start Date: DD.MM.YYYY

    End Date: DD.MM.YYYY

    I need a Bescheinigung von der Krankenkasse braucht, dass er von der Versicherungspflicht befreit ist”

    I am regular master student in Switzerland and I have asked my insurance in Switzerland to fill-in the E104 form (blank form attached). I have also completed the AOK Declaration of Residence form which is attached to this email.

    Could you please send me any additional document which you need from me to process my application? Once I have the signed E104 I will send all documents back to you.

    Thank you,

    FristName LastName

    To this email you should attach the blank E104 form (available here). You must send this E104 form to your health insurance in Switzerland to be completed. Once the document is completed you can send it back to the AOK service. In addition you should attach to the email the completed AOK Declaration of Residence form (available here).