This student guide is written in a manner that matches the general calendar, prerequisites and other information regarding admissions throughout the past years. Some dates and criteria may change, so we advise to always follow the information given on 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

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

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

Depending on the programme you choose, you will have different deadlines. Applications are open from September 15th and close on January 15th for the regular deadline. The early bird admission deadline is November 15th only for the Disciplinary Masters and PhD programmes. This is recommended especially if you want to apply for scholarships from the Institute and/or the Swiss government. Whereas for the Interdisciplinary Programmes (MINT) the deadline is 15th January. 

Which documents are important? All of them!  A strong, thoughtful motivation letter is one of the most important aspects of your application. (Though 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 information provided by IHEID on the options they provide.

The waiting period

Yes, it’s a torturous wait for that notification letter. Stick with it. You can check any follow up actions on your application form through the online link you were provided when you submitted it. 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, so read on. 

The notification

The Graduate Institute usually releases admissions results mid-January for students that have applied by the early-bird November deadline, and around mid-March for those who apply by  the January 15 deadline. Students will have access to the admission decision letter via the follow-up system of the online application form . Be aware that in the past not always there has been an immediate notification via email of the release of admission results, so it might be good to check online. 

First steps after acceptance

Accept your admission and pay the pre-registration fee

When you get the acceptance letter, accept your admission online via the follow-up system

Also, you will find a bill to mail back with a pre-registration fee of CHF 1000. This amount will be deducted from the first semester tuition fees. If you are awarded 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 if you applied by the January 15 deadline and January 31 if you applied by the early-bird November deadline.

Get involved

With your admission, you will be given a password to access the Admitted Student Portal, which contains vital information and resources to guide you through the next steps. 

You will also automatically acquire a Graduate Institute Gmail address. This is the official email address through which you will be contacted by the Institute administration, Student and Career Services, Professors, TAs and the Student Association. Make sure you check it regularly!

We recommend you explore the IHEID website and sign up for the newsletters of research centers or departments that interest you. That way, when you are in Geneva you will receive the most up to date news about events and research!

You will also be invited to join the Facebook group of IHEID admitted students, a place to share trivial and non-trivial concerns and that will also probably be an important source of information and a way to start knowing your future colleagues.

Get started right away

Speaking from personal experience, we at GISA suggest you prepare for 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.


If you are interested in applying for scholarships from outside IHEID, we recommend you start looking as soon as possible after admission, as there are some with application deadlines soon after mid-March.

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

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 (available on the Admitted Students portal) on who needs to apply and how. The login password is written on your admission letter.

2nd week of April: Start searching for housing

If you want to apply for student housing, it is crucial that you start preparing to do so as soon as you get your letter of acceptance, given the application deadlines.It would also be a smart idea to continue looking for other housing options but don’t panic if you can’t solve it right away. For more information about this, continue reading our housing section in the guide.


Take a look at IHEID’s budget estimate to live in Geneva, and plan accordingly. Throughout this guide we also provide information on costs and savings options that you can take into consideration.

By the end of April or early May, you should at the very least have applied for your visa and applied for student housing if you are interested in doing so. 

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.