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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Main Programmes and Provision in Adult Education and Training


8.Adult Education and Training

8.2Main Programmes and Provision in Adult Education and Training

Last update: 14 November 2022

There is an extremely broad range of CET programmes and courses in Switzerland, with different objectives, content and durations according to target group.
There is a distinction between:

  • courses of study which build on a completed course of training or education, or on advanced school education, and systematically prepare students to take on challenging tasks. A training course normally concludes with a diploma; and
  • classes which promote professional and personal development. Attendance of a class normally concludes with a certificate of participation.

The admission requirements depend on the type of CET. There are no special admission requirements for most CET courses. However, admission to certain CET programmes offered by tertiary-level institutions (universities and colleges of professional education and training) requires specific qualifications.
Since the mid-1990s, modular education has taken hold in many areas of the CET sector in Switzerland. Modules are self-contained units which can be completed individually, or combined with other modules to form a specific course of studies. The modular system is an open and permeable system.

Continuing education programmes at tertiary institutions are discussed below, as are classes and courses of study at other institutions.



CET programmes at tertiary sector institutions


Continuing education at universities and universities of applied sciences

At universities and universities of applied sciences, alongside certificates of participation in classes the following qualifications may also be requested:

  • Master of Advanced Studies (MAS): at least 60 ECTS credits;
  • Diploma of Advanced Studies (DAS): at least 30 ECTS credits;
  • Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS): at least 10 ECTS credits.

In general, Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) courses are mainly directed at those with a university degree at Master’s level, who are already in employment. MAS courses generally last two years or more and are usually completed on a part-time basis while working. If completed as a full-time study course they generally last at least one year. They require the student to write a Master’s dissertation and represent the highest level of continuing education qualification that can be achieved at a university. On successful completion of a Master’s programme the academic title “Master of Advanced Studies” is awarded.
The Master of Advanced Studies in business administration leads to an Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA).

Diploma of Advanced Studies (DAS) or University Professional (UP) courses are part-time diploma courses which offer in-depth training in a specific specialist area. DAS courses generally last between one and two years and, in addition to lectures and self-study, often require the student to write a final paper at the end of the course. Successful students are awarded the “Diploma of Advanced Studies” or a “University Professional” degree.

Certificates of Advanced Studies (CAS) are part-time certificate courses. CAS courses can often be combined and even in some cases lead to a MAS. CAS courses generally last between a few months and one year and sometimes require students to write up a short project in addition to self-study and attending lectures. Successful students are awarded the “Certificate of Advanced Studies”.


MAS programmeMaster of Advanced Studies MASAt least 60 ECTS points
Diploma courseDiploma of Advanced Studies DASAt least 30 ECTS points
CertificateCertificate of Advanced Studies CASAt least 10 ECTS points
Continuing education classConfiramtion of participationNo special requirements


Continuing education and training at professional colleges

Postgraduate courses at colleges of professional education and training (PET colleges) are geared primarily to graduates of tertiary B level professional education and training who wish to specialise further in their field. Postgraduate courses at PET colleges conclude with a diploma which is recognised throughout Switzerland. The diploma is followed by the letters “NDS HF” (e.g. “dipl. Controller/in NDS HF”). The qualifications are recognised by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).


Continuing education programmes outside the tertiary sector

A variety of providers offer continuing education and training courses outside the tertiary sector. These range from language courses at all levels to information technology, arts and crafts, and vocational classes or courses of study leading to professional specialisation or leadership skills. The admission requirements depend on the type of CET. The structure of the classes and courses of study, time required, type of assessment etc. differ widely and depend on the CET chosen. The type of qualification varies depending on the CET course. Course providers award their own, non-state recognised examination certificates or certificates of participation in classes. For quality assurance purposes and to ensure positioning in the continuing education and training market many CET institutions acquire the eduQua certificate.


Catch-up education

At upper secondary level, recognised formal education qualifications (baccalaureate, upper-secondary specialised school certificate, Specialised Baccalaureate, Federal VET Diploma, Federal Vocational Baccalaureate) may be acquired through catch-up education