Applying to IHEID, getting accepted

When applying to IHEID, this page will be your best friend.

Since for the 2018-2019 academic year, the application date is already closed, this page will mostly include information about the process from this point forward.

This student guide is written in a manner that it matches the general calendar, prerequisites and other information regarding admissions throughout the last years. Some dates and criterias may change, so we advise to always follow the information given in the Institute website. However, you may find useful tips in this guide.

Note: This section is drafted mainly for Master and PhD programmes. LLMs and Executive Programmes have different deadlines and criteria.


The application is done online and it is pretty straightforward – have a look at the application checklist.

Depending on the programme you chose, you have different deadlines. The process starts in Mid-September and ends on 15 January for regular applications. However, you can definitely try to attempt an early admission process, of which the deadline is 15 November for Masters and 10 October for PhDs. This is recommended especially if you want to apply for a scholarships at the Institute and/or the Swiss government.

Which documents are important? All of them! However, speaking from personal experience, I do think writing an appealing motivation letter is one of the main reasons you can get accepted (grades are the most important, according to the Institute). You want to save the world? Many of us want that. But do you have concrete plans? Do you have experience? Do you have a particular idea you want to apply? Are you thinking about writing a paper or creating a project? Think big, but not too artificial. Be yourself.

If you wish to apply for scholarships, check the section below.

The notification

The Graduate Institute usually designates March 31 as the notification date for students who applied by the January 15 deadline. Of course, this doesn’t mean you will get your notification exactly on March 31. In the recent past, students have gotten their acceptance letters in early or mid-March. Students will have access to the admission decision letter via the online application follow-up.

Students applying by the November deadline can expect to hear back before Christmas.

The waiting period, and the road ahead

Yes, it’s a torturous wait for that notification letter. Stick with it. You can follow up on your application form through the online link you were provided when you submitted it. If this link does not work for you, please refer to the application page of the Institute, on the right hand side of the page there is box labeled Follow-Up, where you can check your status.

In the meantime, and particularly if the Graduate Institute is your first choice, you should learn as much as possible about what you’ll need to do if you’re accepted. Speaking from personal experience, we at GISA suggest you prepare the month of April to take care of several very important things for the Graduate Institute. Even though April may already be busy for you if you are wrapping up your undergraduate studies, it is essential to get a start on these things:

March: get accepted

When you get the acceptance letter: accept your admission online, via the follow-up system. In your acceptance materials, you will find a bill to mail back with a pre-registration fee of CHF 1 000. This amount will be deducted from the first semester tuition fees. If you are benefiting from a scholarship, you will still have to pay this as it stands as a solidarity fee. Remember that the deadline to pay this pre-registration fee is generally 15 April.

1st week of April: send off your application for a Swiss visa (if necessary)

2nd week of April: start searching for housing

By the end of April, you should at the very least have applied for your visa and applied for student housing if you are interested in doing so. It would also be a smart idea to continue looking for other housing options.

You must take care of applying for your Swiss visa right away, as it can often take the three-month maximum to receive it. Please refer to materials from IHEID on who needs to apply and how.

Now is also the time to look for scholarships. Once you have been accepted, it is recommended to start looking as soon as possible, as there are some with application deadlines soon after mid-March.

With those things out of the way…

If you’ve been accepted, and you’ve taken care of the above items, you’ll be presented with about three or four months to sit at home and think about moving to Geneva. What should you do with this time?

We highly recommend visiting the rest of the Student Guide immediately and often to start getting a good idea of what life will be like in the city. The Student Guide contains student-written information and resources regarding student life, life in Geneva, your first few days after you move to the city, and some tips and tricks from those of us who have struggled through it all before. Visit the Student Guide.

Any questions?

Don’t hesitate to contact the school’s admissions staff — a very friendly and helpful office — if you have any questions. If your French isn’t too great, don’t worry — just call them and ask to speak English. It is better to fully understand the important information than missing something vital. The school’s admission staff can be contacted at +41 22 908 58 98 or by e-mail at

GISA TIP: To save money on these phone calls, put some pre-pay money on a Skype account or download the Viber app. You can toss a few (insert your currency here) on your Skype account/viber app via a debit/credit card, and call foreign numbers that way, provided you have a good internet connection. These calls only cost a few cents per minute, and are often MUCH less expensive than international calls from a cell phone or landline that doesn’t include those calls as part of your plan.

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