Geneva - the "smallest of big cities"

The city of Geneva with its population of around 200 000 inhabitants is located between the Alps and the Jura mountains on the shore of the beautiful Lake Geneva. Renowned for its high quality of life, its marvelous surroundings and its unique international presence, Geneva is a small but lively city that attracts large numbers of visitors, students and organisations from all over the world. The canton of Geneva counts 450 000 inhabitants, of which 45% are foreigners representing 180 nationalities, making Geneva one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. The city is surrounded by a beautiful landscape with view to the Swiss and French Alps, perfect for scenic walks, bike rides, or excursions to the local vineyards. Geneva is home to the European headquarters of the UN and of a number of its specialised agencies, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), the UN Refugee Organisation (UNHCR), the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and the World Intellectual Property Organisation. Around 8,500 staff work for the United Nations family in Geneva, which is the largest concentration of United Nations personnel in the world. Geneva holds twice as many international conferences as New York, with its 10 million inhabitants. Geneva also hosts 20 intergovernmental organisations such as the Word Trade Organisation (WTO), 190 nongovernmental organisations, over 150 diplomatic missions to the United Nations, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the guardian of the Geneva Conventions.

Geneva is also the world capital of asset management (private banking) and the world's second most important centre of international trade (after London). The official language is French, but Geneva also has a large English speaking community and offers a variety of services in English, including a radio channel (World Radio Geneva), a bimonthly English magazine (Geneva Times), libraries and English speaking medical services.

Geneva is at the cross-roads of Western Europe and thus holds a privileged geographical position: major European cities such as Paris, London, Berlin, Rome, Madrid, Barcelona, Vienna or Budapest are within easy reach by plane or train. Geneva airport is only 5 km from the city centre and has direct connections to all major European airports.

University of Geneva and Student life

The University

The University of Geneva is among Europe's top 12 research universities and since 2002 is a member of the League of European Research-intensive Universities. It holds a leading position namely in the fields of molecular biology, astrophysics, social sciences and economics. The University of Geneva has 13 000 students and 3 300 academic staff. Both are very multicultural, with 35% of the students and over 45% of the staff coming from abroad.

The University buildings are located mostly in the city centre. They offer a friendly and well equipped learning environment. The courses of the Master's degree in Public Administration (see below) take place in the new building UniMail featuring a beautiful open-access library and high-quality computer facilities. The University offers a wide spectrum of BA and MA courses in all major academic disciplines, including natural sciences, medicine, social and economic sciences and arts. Most courses are taught in French, which makes Geneva an excellent place for students who wish to deepen their knowledge of French language and culture. There are however courses taught in English as well, particularly at MA level. The academic year is divided into two semesters, the autumn semester going from mid-September to December, and the spring semester going from mid-February to the end of May.


The University of Geneva offers a wide range of cultural activities in the fields of dance, music, theatre, painting, video, photo and literature. Throughout the academic year, students and staff can get involved in courses and workshops, some of them leading to public performances. The University also proposes sports courses in over 60 disciplines, many of them in the University's own facilities. The offer includes daily aerobic classes for everyone, popular team sports such as football, basketball or hockey, and a variety of other sports ranging from swimming and tennis to judo, snowboarding, rafting or sailing. In some disciplines like skiing, the University regularly organises inexpensive one-week camps. In addition to the University's own offer, the city of Geneva also offers an array of cultural activities: the "Fete de la musique" in June with a huge variety of (free) concerts all over the city, the "Fetes de Geneve" in August with its amazing fireworks over the Lake, the "Festival de la Batie" theatre festival, a large number of movie theatres and various movie festivals all over the year. Geneva also houses numerous art galleries, over 40 public and private museums for all interests (fine and applied arts, sciences and technology, history, ethnography etc.), and a beautiful botanical garden. Geneva hosts an opera house, several orchestras and a variety of theatres.

With regard to sports, Geneva has a good infrastructure including various public in- and outdoor swimming pools, publicly accessible tennis courts, volley-beach and team sports grounds (namely at the sports centre "Bout du monde"). All over the year, the public bath "bain des Paquis" is a popular meeting place: in summer for swimming in the lake and in winter for its public sauna (and restaurant).

Student life - going out

The picturesque old town of Geveva is home to a number of small, jazzy bars and cafes, while the Plainpalais area hosts more upscale, trendy clubs and bars. Another most popular night spot of the Geneva area is the little town of Carouge with its many outdoor cafes and its lively night life.

Day excursions

Geneva is conveniently located for day trips to the nearby French and Swiss Alps and the Jura mountains. Beautiful hiking and biking tours as well as extraordinary skiing areas are within easy reach.

  • Mount Saleve: Just a 15 minute bus ride and 5 minute telepherique ride (or 2 hour hike for sporty people) from Geneva lies Mount Saleve, which offers a superb view over Geneva and the Alps.

  • Chamonix: Home to Mont-Blanc (the highest point in Europe) and world renowned ski station is only a 90-minute bus trip from Geneva. Students can take a cable car to top of the "Aiguille du Midi" (3842m) or the electric rack railway to a 1913 m lookout point on Montenvers. While at the top, there are stunning views of Mer de Glace - the massive glacier of Mount Blanc.

  • Zermatt: Travel by bus or train to this beautiful mountain village at the foot of the Matterhorn. Zermatt offers the best skiing in the world for being the highest ski resort in Europe. Lausanne: A picturesque city, only 60 kms from Geneva, it is home to the Headquarters of the Olympics Committee. Visit its numerous museums and swim in the waters of Lake Geneva.

  • Berne and Gruyeres: A 2 hour train ride from Geneva lies Bern, Switzerland's capital city. Nearby in the mediaeval village of Gruyere, enjoy a cheese factory stop and then pause in Lavaux to view vineyards and the lake.

  • Zurich and Basel: Zurich, Switzerland's largest city in the German speaking part of Switzerland, and Basel, are both a 3h train ride from Geneva. Both are beautifully situated, Zurich on the Lake of Zurich and Basel on the Rhine, and host some of Switzerland's most famous museums.

Weekend trips

Geneva's centralized location makes it easy and cheap to travel anywhere in Europe for a weekend. Paris, London, Prague, Berlin, Rome, Madrid and Amsterdam can all be reached within 1 hour of Geneva by plane.

Master in Public Management

The Master in Public Management (MAP) furthers the Bachelor studies (mainly) in Political and Social Sciences as well as Economics. It is interdisciplinary in character and has both a European as well as international orientation. It aims at training its students in the principles and tools of an efficient management of public organisations and policies. The MAP extends over two years and corresponds to a Master degree according to the Bologna Convention (120 ECTS credits). It focuses on the different disciplinary approaches, theoretical concepts and methods of analysis of the State, the administration, and public policies.

The courses and seminars given during the first-year training focus on the analysis and the evaluation of public policies, public finances, public administration and management, and administrative law. In the second year, various thematic fields are covered by specialised seminars. These fields include, notably, environmental policies, social policies, European institutions and policies as well as information systems and E-government. The MAP is finalized either through a Master dissertation or by a three months internship in a private or public company. Have a look at the programme structure for more information about the exact courses provided. 


  • The MAP-programme can host a max. of 10 students per year (max. 5 per semester) from the partner institutions.

  • Incoming students can be hosted during the first or the second semester, outgoing students spend the first year in Geneva and go abroad for the third semester.

  • Students can choose from courses offered in the MAP-programme (compulsory courses and preferential electives).

  • Incoming students should be aware that a lot of courses are taught in French, therefore a good command of the French language is necessary.

  • All practical information for incoming and outgoing students can be seen here.


Contact persons
Professor Dr. Frédéric Varone
Head of Department

Dr. Evelyne Hübscher
Programme director



Faculté des Sciences de la Société
40 Boulevard du Pont d'Arve
CH-1211 Genève 4