Zession in Zurich

Finance or Management Semester Abroad



Finance or Management semester abroad  

17 credit hours toward VT graduation

Information Sessions:

Date       Time    Location          Purpose/Guest 

Tuesday, Sept. 5          

   5:00-5:30 pm  


General discussion of program, completing application by deadline

Monday, Sept. 11 

   5:00-5:30 pm 

  ROB 116

General discussion, Q&A session

Tuesday, Sept. 12   

   5:00-5:30 pm 

 PAM 2002

Final questions on forms and application process

Wednesday, Sept. 13



Table at the Global Education Office Study Abroad Fair

Tuesday, Sept. 19


Pamplin Atrium

  Information booth


Application Deadlines:

To Dr. Morgan - September 15th

To ZHAW - September 20th

Study Finance or Management in beautiful Switzerland!

  • Taking the same finance core courses you'd take in Blacksburg
  • Live in Europe - spring of junior year

  • Travel from one of the most central and most livable locations in Europe

  • Achieve a big resume boost in global finance and business
  • Immerse yourself in Europe's culture and economy.

    Understand it as few Americans can.


Why Switzerland?

Why Zurich?


Imagine the cultural excitement of living in centrally-located and beautifully inviting Switzerland. Imagine business visits to a chocolate candy exporter, Credit Suisse, Novartis, or a spicy cheese exporting company! Imagine studying finance at the feet of the gnomes of Zurich. Don't just imagine. Do the VT Finance program in Zurich.

The 17 credit Zurich program is designed to keep finance majors on track or ahead of schedule for graduation. You will not get behind by doing this study abroad. You take the courses required of finance majors* in the spring of the junior year as if you were in Blacksburg plus you get a finance elective and six credits toward the Pamplin International Business minor. You do all that in the financial hub of Europe from which you can travel all over Europe easily.

For the cost of VT tuition!

The Benefits are Extensive

We worked with the faculty and International affairs staff at ZHAW to construct a program that benefits VT finance students in a number of ways (non-finance majors use the finance courses as free electives).

  • You do not get behind in meeting graduation course requirements*
  • You receive the best academic training in finance
  • Financial recruiters will be impressed by this program on your resume
  • You have a life-changing experience in Europe
  • Courses have already been approved for transfer back to Tech so that you don't have to spend time dealing with the bureaucracy to determine what courses are transferable or not knowing if courses will "transfer" -- all 16 credits go on your transcript (but do not go into your GPA) .
  • You will engage with some fascinating global businesses while in the program including banking and financial firms of international prominence


The host institution is the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) in their top quality School of Management and Law in Winterthur, 2nd largest city in the canton of Zurich. Their finance faculty in the Institute of Banking are the most knowledgeable in the world about global banking trends and the operation of the Swiss banking model.

School of Management and Law has a international exchange program set up with Virginia Tech. The ZHAW incoming exchange student site has more information .

ZHAW Links

  1. International
  2. Courses
  3. Center for Banking Business

The program is tailored to the needs of finance majors and streamlines the process of course selection for you. You actually get ahead in meeting graduation requirements in Finance while builiding the foundation for an International Business minor at VT.

You take the following courses at ZHAW that substitute back at Tech toward graduation requirements and the International Business minor.

Please remember to fill out the Course Equivalency form, see Dr. Morgan for details.

Credits VT Course ZHAW Course
3 FIN 3144 Investments "Financial Instruments and Portfolio Theory"
3 FIN 3154 Corporate Finance "Corporate Finance and Risk Management"
3 Upper Division Finance Elective "Banking and Finance"

Choose MKTG or MGT:                

MKTG 4704 International Marketing      

MGT 3314  International Business


 "Global Marketing Management"                          

  "International Business" (Fall only) See Dr. Morgan to discuss this option

2 FLLXXXX German language class
3 FIN 3954 Study Abroad Excursions and business visits - Term paper required

Prerequisites by CoursePrerequisites  So you can see that you will not lose any time in working toward your degree as you might in an exchange program with other universities. All the substitutions have already been approved. You do not have to do anything to make the substitutions work -- just take the classes.

Fall Prerequisite Courses at VT For Spring Courses at ZHAW
FIN 3134 - Concepts and Skills
FIN 3104 - Intro to Finance
Portfolio Theory
Corporate Finance
MKTG 3104 - Intro to Marketing Global Marketing Mgmt.

The prerequisite courses can be taken in the Fall of the junior year just prior to embarking on the study abroad. Or you could have taken one or both Finance courses in an earlier semester. The Concepts and Skills prerequisite will not be waived for this program, so you must take it no later than the fall of your junior year (for most students that means taking it concurrently with Intro to Finance -- which is the way that they should be taken even if you are not studying abroad). You must achieve a grade of C or better in FIN 3134 to be eligible for the Zurich semester program.
The Marketing course at ZHAW requires MKTG 3104. Plan to include it on your fall schedule.

Participating in study abroad does not allow a student any exceptions to meeting Policy 91 requirements. It is the students’ responsibility to understand Pamplin’s specific Policy 91 requirements, which may be viewed at http://www.undergrad.pamplin.vt.edu/advising/policy91.html

International Business Minor

Seven of the credits count towards the International Business Minor in Pamplin College:

  • International Marketing, 3 credits
  • Study Abroad credits, 2 credits
  • German class, 2 credits

plus, of course, the required overseas experience for the minor is satisfied by participation in this program. So you will have the foundation for completing the minor when you return to Blacksburg.


Part of the program is the opportunity to receive business briefings and conversations with business people as well as opportunities to visit cultural sites to help you understand European and Swiss culture.

Some examples of excursions are given below (you will be able to do many more on your own).

Possible Excursions

Site Type Location
Credit Suisse Banking Zurich
Zurich Kunsthaus Art Museum Zurich
Tour of Zurich old city History & Architecture Zurich
Landesmuseum Swiss History Zurich
Fasnact Carnival Basel
Lavaux Wine Production Lake Geneva
Alpine hiking (Zermatt, Lauterbrunnen) Natural wonders Central Swiss Alps
Maestrani Chocolate Production Flawil
Appenzeller Cheese Production Stein
St. Gallen Church & University St. Gallen
Zimmer/Reiter Precision Manfucture Winterthur
Am Romerholz Mansion & Museum Winterthur
GE Global Industrial & Power Augsburg, Germany

Estimated costs for admissions, train/cable car transportation: $500. This will be a cost you must budget to come out of your spending money in Switzerland. The excursions are a required part of the program.

Students will document their visits and write about their experiences on these excursions as part of their grade for the Study Abroad course. Video conferences with VT faculty will also be scheduled to discuss reactions and reflections on the site visits.

As a semester exchange program, you only pay regular tuition at VT and do not pay any tuition to Zurich. 

Switzerland is not part of the Euro zone nor part of the EU


The advantage of this program is that you don't pay any more for tuition than you would pay for taking courses in Blacksburg.

  • You are going to pay tuition for spring anyway.
  • You are going to pay rent anyway.
  • You are going to eat meals anyway.
  • Why not do all that and live in Europe instead?

Pamplin College's Estimated Cost Table

Type of Expense In-State students Out-of-State students
VT OIRED Fee $300 $300
ZHAW tuition none none
VT Tuition (based on 2015 rates) $6243 $14565
Lodging in Apt. $3,750-4,300 $3,750-4,300
Meals $4,000 $4,000
Books & Materials $250 $250
Airfare $700-900 $700-900
Required Excursion Travel $500 $500
Passport & Consular Visa (est.) $306 $306
Required Cell Phone Purchase $65 $65
Local Transportation $400 $400
Health Insurance * $620 $620
Personal & Other Expenses $2,300 - $4,300 $2,300 - $4,300
Total Estimated Cost $19,433-$22,183 $27,755-30,505

* Does not include costs of any additional travel outside of Zurich.

From "Airfare" to "Personal" expenses are costs that you would not incur normally during a semester in Blacksburg. Those plus the VT fee sum to the incremental cost of the Zurich Semester = $7,000-$9,500.

(Click on the category to go to the detailed description below.)

Category Descriptionª
Program Costs
  • No additional tuition for taking classes in Zurich
  • Airfare to Zurich ~ $800
  • Lodging in apartment
    • Does not include the damage deposit of 1000 Swiss francs for the apartment, refundable
  • Travel & admission fees on required excursions and tours
Tuition & Fees at VT*

Standard on-campus rates:

  • $6,008 (for in-state undergraduates; grad students: $6,792)
  • $14,024 (for out-of-state undergrads; grad students: $12,942.00)
  • VT imposed exchange fee to OIRED ($300)
Personal Expenses

For meals and additional travel, laundry, mementos, entertainment, health insurance, passport, cell phone rental, cell phone air time, etc.

ª these figures are based on the published rates for 2013-14 as 2014 rates are not yet available.


The summary here is not legally binding and is provided for information purposes only. Consult the Financial Agreement/Contract and other forms for details.

Virginia Tech reserves the right to make cancellations, date, cost, and deposit adjustments, and other necessary changes in the program. Prices may change due to global economic or other conditions.


  1. Current exchange rate between the Swiss Franc and the dollar is approximately
    • 1 SF = $1.05
  2. The Swiss central bank has placed an upper limit on how high the value of the Swiss Franc can go.
  1. Switzerland does not use the euro even though every country around it does.
    1. They have so far been successful in maintaining that level.
    2. They don't want such a high Franc because it makes all the stuff they export more expensive.

Costs of Living

  • Zurich is a relatively high cost of living city even more expensive than NYC or London
  • However, "student living costs in Switzerland are comparable to major European cities and are, in fact, lower than those in Paris and London." (from ZHAW web site)
  • The university Mensa is a cost efficient way to get 2 meals a day

Start the application process early.

Who can apply

Applications are accepted one semester in advance of the program or more. Thus sophomore finance majors should apply if they will complete the prerequisites (especially Financial Analytics) in the following fall.

There is a GPA minimum of 3.25. Candidates must be able to manage their time very effectively between the fabulous personal experience in Europe and the coursework from ZHAW professors.

Apply by Sept. 15th

How to Apply to VT’s Finance in Zurich Program


View this powerpoint on the application process.

(For Early Bird Applicants)
Follow the process described below but your application must be submitted to Dr. Morgan by May 1 of the year prior to the program and to ZHAW by May 15. You should receive a response from ZHAW in mid-summer and thus be able to make arrangements for Spring much earlier).

(For September Deadline)
Step 1: Complete this application form, records release form , the Student Life Disclosure form, and the FERPA waiver form. Submit to Dr. Morgan prior the Sept. 15 deadline.
Step 2: Then, go to the VT Education Abroad website to apply. Fill out the required questionnaires and submit your application by the deadline above.
Step 3: If you are accepted by VT, then fill out the application forms for ZHAW including getting endorsement on the referral form. Their deadline is September 30, 2016 for the Spring 2017 semester.
Step 4: File the Authorization to Study Abroad form with Ms. Leanne Byrd in the Pamplin advising office.
Step 5: Once you get an acceptance from ZHAW, you need to apply for a visa from the Swiss embassy because you will be in Switzerland for over 4 months. There are several pieces to the application process that will require preparation. These should not be an obstacle, but they do consume time and require your attention to get completed. This may require three months or more. So you need to start the whole process mid-late November. You must physically deliver your visa application (with your passport) to the Swiss Embassy in Washington, DC.
Step 6: Apply for housing in the International Dorm (Camp AXA is recommended by past students) in November.
How to Apply


  1. VT Application
  2. ZHAW Application
    1. ZHAW guidelines
  3. Passport
  4. Purchase Swiss approved health insurance
  5. Student Visa from Swiss embassy

Be sure to consult the University Education Abroad staff to ensure that you have everything needed.


Zurich-- a superbly located home base for travel

Europe is beckoning with its wide assortment of languages and cultures, its famous resorts, museums, churches, and places in history.

Zurich is a widely-used jumping off point for people traveling around Europe because of its central location as well as the trendy and vibrant city life. It has been said that it is like San Francisco, Boulder Colorado, and New Orleans rolled into one city.

Trains in Europe are phenomenally efficient (especially Swiss trains) and effective at transporting you across the continent. For longer distances, you can use air travel from Zurich's international airport. The airport is only 15 minutes by train from Winterthur. The train station in Winterthur is virtually across the street from the ZHAW classroom builiding so you can step out of class and start your journey.

You will have 3-4 long weekends for travel including a four day weekend around Easter. The variety of Swiss locations are easily accessible by train for a day trip or during a two day weekend as are other sites in Austria, Germany and France. So there is lots of opportunity to travel from Zurich.

There is required travel to banks and businesses in Zurich, Winterthur, Basel, Flawil and other locations. Plus cultural visits are required to the Mythens, museums, and the old town of Zurich.

Where can you go?

There are so many locations available it will be hard to choose!

Here is a table with the travel times by train to a wide variety of destinations. Some as close as an hour (most everyplace in Switzerland) to several hours away.

From the Basel or Zurich airports, you could even travel easily to London, Amsterdam, Prague, Madrid, Berlin, Krakow, Budapest.

Zurich itself is a wonder. This site has some great suggestions for things to do and see: Art Museum, Am Romerholz, Design Museum just in Winterthur.

Also see the NYTimes travel guide to Zurich

Zurich Tourism Site

Places in Switzerland

  • Berne
  • Luzerne
  • Geneva
  • Ski resorts

Housing in Zurich/Winterthur

Apartments are available specifically for international students who share apartments. A new dorm (video) has opened with single rooms that are reasonable to spacious.

The cost of living in Winterthur is reasonable. Remember that you would be paying for housing, food and transportation in Blacksburg, so consider that when looking at these prices.

Student living costs in Switzerland are comparable to major European cities and are, in fact, lower than those in Paris and London. Living costs depend heavily on personal lifestyles and on one's choice of recreational activities. Based on the experience of former students, you should budget 1,300 Swiss Francs or $1,500 per month. A typical student budget for one month includes:

Monthly Living expenses (in Swiss Francs)

Type of expense From To
Rent and Utilities 500 750
Food 200 400
Transportation 50 100
Other 250 400
Total 990 1,640

Does not include entertainment and leisure costs nor cost of school materials/books.

An average total cost estimate is $1,500 per month. (But remember that is not the incremental cost because you would pay rent and eat meals in Blacksburg anyway.)

Behavior Expectations on Study Abroad You are expected to behave on your study abroad in a manner that is safe, that brings honor to VT and the US, that respects the local culture, and that otherwise maximizes your engagement with the local culture. See policy here.

Living in Switzerland for more details on living in Winterthur.

Tourism in Winterthur.

Each student must have a valid passport from their home country. You can apply for a passport at the Blacksburg Post Office (540-552-2751) at the University Mall with appointment or at the Montgomery County Clerk's Office at the Christiansburg Courthouse (540-382-5760), no appointment required. You can get passport photos at most local pharmacies.

You should insure that you have the proper vaccinations for this program. This can be done through the University's recommended travel clinic (Intravene), a county health department, or your family physician. Your familiy physician usually does not have the more specialized vaccines and should refer you to the county health department. You can see a list of recommended vaccinations and other health information at the CDC travel website.

These sites have additional information:

Packing list will be available shortly

Brochure available below.

  • Winterthur is satellite town to the city of Zurich, ie, in the greater metro area of Zurich
    • 2nd largest city in canton of Zurich (See video on Wintherthur)
    • Like Stamford, Conn. is to NYC
  • Zurich Rated No. 2 best place to live in the world for expatriates by Mercer Consulting
    • Based on 39 criteria
    • Trendy, vibrant, youthful
  • Birthplace of private banking
    • "Gnomes of Zurich" are famous for customer service, discretion, investing skill
  • Competitive Advantage: Hub for traditional financial services
    • Accounting, Law, Finance, Insurance
  • European HQ for firms like Google
  • Host to largest open air festival in Europe
  • Carnival is a huge celebration
  • New Orleans, San Francisco, and Boulder Colorado all in one place
  • Close to lots of Alpine ski resorts
    • Especially in central Alps: Rigi, Mythen only an hour away
    • Matterhorn is not far, nor is Davos, St. Moritz
  • Geneva, another center for banking, is only 90 minutes away
    • United Nations and other international organizations
  • Easy access to other places in Europe as Zurich is a rail hub
    • Many international travelers use Zurich as a jumping off point
    • Access to cities like Prague, Hamburg, even Florence
  • Access to Swiss multinationals and Swiss engines of growth
    • Pharmaceuticals
    • Precision manufacturing (not just watches!)
    • Investment and commercial banking
    • Insurance
    • Confectionary industry (think Nestle, Lindt, Sprungli, etc.)