For the first years of the Bachelor’s degree, the given curriculum is quite specific and there are not many options to choose. Once the basic knowledge is acquired, more and more options to choose are introduced. The last year of the three year programme is full of electives and eventually the thesis (at least for most students). The most students will do their thesis in one of the Labs at ETH itself. Theses in the industry are rather seldom.
For the Master’s degree, there is a tutoring programme. Each master student has a professor of their department who is responsible for them. Together with this tutor, the course list is determined. Quoting a friend: “For your masters, you can choose whatever lectures you want. You just need to find a Prof who signs it”.
For both, undergrad and postgrad programmes include a certain amount of lectures which are not directly connected to the studies themselves. E.g. some economics, psychology, languages. Great for following personal interests!
Generally, studies at ETH are very demanding and anyone applying there should be ready for some hard work. Holidays are scarce: depending on how lucky you are with the exam schedule you have 2 to 4 weeks between exams and the new semester in summer and 3 days to 2 weeks in winter. Plus one week for Easter.
But to be honest this is why relaxing is mostly done during the semester. The really hard work is done in the lecture free time before exams. two months in summer and one in winter. Which does not mean that the semester is long holidays. Often some kind of deliverables are demanded.
Hard work, but it’s worth it. A lot of knowledge is obtained and especially in Switzerland people with an ETH degree are looked for. Besides that, anyone will leave with a big and powerful network.
Student life at ETH is dominated by student associations. Each field of studies has it’s own student association, which are part of the association for all students at ETH. Each of these associations organizes a multitude of activities. More than anyone could possibly attend. Few examples: movie nights, beer tastings, theatre visits, skiing weekends, paintball,…the list is never-ending.
Due to high prices in Zurich’s clubs, most students prefer to hang out in student bars or in summer around the lake. But of course, there are also great clubs.
ETH has one campus right in the city centre and one about half an hour from there. There is a free shuttle bus connecting them. The campus in the centre is about 10 minutes from the main train station and extremely close to the old town with a lot of great bars to relax after studying hard.