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Zurich University of the Arts

Department of Design / Department of Cultural Analysis

Switzerland Full Member Institution

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Mission Statement

Basic principles:

Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) is a regionally anchored, internationally oriented provider of higher education and research. Our academic programmes, leadership, and administration are fully committed to the highest standards and to the precept of sustainability.

We endeavour to play a decisive role in shaping the practical and theoretical discourses within the arts, design, and education. We are thus actively involved in the renewal of the disciplines taught and researched at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK).

We place our work in the context of cultural, social, and economic responsibility. What we do is characterized by openness, critically minded curiosity, respect, and critical self-reflection.

We provide an outstanding experimental field for teaching and research. On a national level, we are committed to ensuring that arts universities are entitled to award doctoral degrees in their own right.

We interrelate the disciplines represented at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), and thereby create added value for teaching and research. We are committed to systematically extending cross-disciplinary cooperation with other universities and higher education institutions.

Our self-conception rests on our status as an autonomous arts university.

We receive public funding, in addition to which we raise private, third-party funding, in order to successfully fulfil our mission and performance contract.

What we offer:

We have dedicated core teaching and research areas. Networked both within and beyond Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), these core areas have a strong outreach. We are committed to the international state of the art and to its further advancement.

We offer graduate study leading to Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, as well as a wide range of continuing education and professional development programmes. Our degree programmes qualify students for professional careers in the arts and culture, in thecreative industries, and in other areas of business and society.

We present the results of our teaching and research to a wider public in manifold ways, including public events, performances, concerts, exhibitions, and publications. In doing so, we showcase the work of our staff and students, and thus embrace the challenge of public debate.

We host a wide range of performances, exhibitions, and other kinds of public presentation. Together with our affiliated Museum of Design and its collections, these different forms and formats play a significant role in the cultural life of the City and Canton of Zurich.


We maintain active alliances with our national and international strategic partners.

We maintain a continuous dialogue with our suppliers and with the exponents of the professional fields associated with the disciplines taught at Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK).

Faculty and staff:

Our teaching faculty has excellent professional and interpersonal skills, and actively brings to bear its international experience in teaching and research. Teaching faculty is committed to nurturing and promoting the individual student’s development, and conscious of its social responsibility.

Pursuant to our commitment to nurturing talent, we systematically promote our non-professorial, midtier teaching staff and support it in obtaining further qualifications.

Our staff are qualified professionals who know the culture and workings of an internationally oriented arts university. They are fully dedicated to supporting teaching and research.

We are an attractive employer with regard to our fields of activity, networking, development opportunities, and financial framework.


Our students are talented and committed to performance. We enable our students to build specialist skills in their chosen disciplines and to extend these through actively engaging with other disciplines.

Our students assume responsibility for co-determining teaching and learning.

Our student body is international.

Leadership and organization:

Our leadership and organization support us in realizing our mission.

The leadership skills necessary for realizing our mission exist on all levels of our organization.

We are an equal opportunities employer. Our organizational culture wholly observes the imperatives of individual dignity and integrity through endorsing the principles of open communication, social responsibility, and participatory leadership. Adherence to these core principles ensures that all members of Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK) are able to contribute to shaping its future development.


Our room facilities and technical infrastructure, which include purpose-built workshops, theatre stages, and exhibition spaces, support the realization of our mission.

International Role

The fields of work and the educational market in the arts and design are international. We therefore consider internationalization crucial. To expand our teaching and research resources and to enable cross-cultural experience, we will further expand and sustain our international cooperations.

Building competencies — We will further expand the administrative, financial, staff and legal competencies required for international collaborations or will ensure that such competencies are made available through implementing appropriate sourcing strategies. We will strengthen the language skills of our staff and students.

Opening up perspectives — We will strengthen the inter- and transcultural skills of our staff and students and will open up international perspectives for their benefit. We will support access to relevant cultural contexts and markets and will specifically promote mobility. We will increase our international visibility and capacity for action through introducing and delivering programmes in English.

Fostering sustainable partnerships — We will cultivate selected strategic partnerships to pool our international activities. The programmes developed in this connection will form an integral part of our new Major-Minor model.

Actively engaging in networks — We will continue to be actively involved in international networks.

National Role

Biggest Art School in Switzerland, part of the cultural live of Zurich and its surroundings. Lots of co-operation projects with the other institutions of higher education (different Universities), with the Swiss Institut of Federal Politechnics, with business partners (most in design) and industries. Project in the field of the education and the research.

Main Focus

BA and MA Programs in

Design, Art Education, Fine Arts, Theatre, Film, Music and Dance

Faculties and Departments

  • Department of Cultural Analysis
  • Department of Design
  • Department of Fine Arts
  • Department of Music
  • Department of Performing Arts and Film

Bachelor Level Programs

Master Level Programs

Research Activity and Main Areas

Department of Performing Arts and Film: Institute for the Performing Arts and Film

Department of Design: Institute of Design Research

Department of Cultural Analysis: Institute for Art Education, Institute for Cultural Studies in the Arts, Institute for Theory, Transdisciplinarity

Department of Fine Arts: Institute for Contemporary Arts Research,

Department of Music: Institute for Computer Music and Sound Technology; Music Interpretation

Subject Areas for Exchange Students

An exchange-term is possible in any department. Please check the following link for more information: https://www.zhdk.ch/en/international/student-exchange-incoming-656

Application Deadlines

Application deadline for all departments:

  • For the following autumn semester: April 1st
  • For the following spring semester: October 1st


  • ZHdK is working with Mobility Online 
    Nominations and applications for the autumn semester 2024/25, with application deadline on 1 April 2024, must be submitted exclusively via the online tool of Mobility Online.
    Link for nominations: https://www.zhdk.ch/en/international/student-exchange-incoming-656


Teaching Languages

German and English

Semester Dates

Autumn term: September til January

Spring term: February til June

Cost of Living Per Month (Studying and Living)

At least CHF 1'500-2'200 per month


Bachelor: 1150
Master: 880
Doctorate: 20

Exchange Students

Incoming: 70
Outgoing: 70

Teaching Staff

Professors: 110
Lectures: 170

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