General information on professional education institutions (PEIs)

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Professional education institutions (PEIs) offer holders of a Federal VET Diploma, or equivalent upper-secondary level qualification, the opportunity to obtain a federally recognised tertiary-level qualification. Each year, around 8,500 people successfully complete a study programme at a Swiss PEI. Graduates are awarded a federally recognised professional qualification with a corresponding protected title, e.g. Advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education in Mechanical Engineering or Registered Nurse, Advanced Federal Diploma of Higher Education.

Profile and structure of PEI study programmes

PEI study programmes provide students with the knowledge and skills needed to handle challenging technical and managerial tasks in their field. Training content is hands-on and specifically designed to develop the ability to think in a methodical and integrated fashion. PEI study programmes can be attended either part-time or full-time. Full-time programmes last at least two years, while part-time courses last a minimum of three years.

PEI study programmes are more generalist and broader in scope than federal examinations. Graduates are generally younger than those preparing for federal examinations. Training is often completed directly or within three to four years of completing upper-secondary level education and serves as a springboard for a professional career. Unlike UAS (university of applied sciences) study programmes, PEI study programmes tend to be more narrowly focussed and are less scientific.

Core syllabuses and recognised PEI study programmes can be found in SERI’s List of Vocational and Professional Qualifications (not available in English). These are listed according to education and training provider.

Core syllabuses

Cores syllabuses form the basis of the individual PEI study programmes and their recognition by SERI. The syllabuses determine the professional profile, the competences to be achieved, the format for providing the course, the number of training hours, the coordination of school-based and practical components and the qualification procedure. Training institutions that wish to offer PEI study programmes must adhere to the requirements of the core syllabuses, which are developed and issued by professional organisations in collaboration with the providers of education and training, and are approved by SERI.

Recognition of PEI study programmes

Only professional education institutions whose study programmes have been recognised by SERI may award professional qualifications for legally protected titles. The EAER Ordinance on the Minimum Requirements for the Recognition of Study Programmes and Continuing Education and Training at Professional Education Institutions (MiR-PEI) sets out the recognition procedure, regulates the study programmes and defines the requirements for core syllabuses and the providers of education and training.

Continuing education and training at PEIs (CET PEI)

In addition to study programmes, professional education institutions also offer continuing education and training (CET) courses, which allow students to further specialise and consolidate their knowledge. Admission to a CET course at a professional education institution is open to holders of a tertiary-level qualification. CET courses are also recognised by SERI, but are not based on core syllabuses with the exception of healthcare sector courses. Graduates receive a diploma and may use the corresponding federal protected title, e.g. dipl. Hotel Manager NDS HF or dipl. Project Manager NDS HF.


  • regulates the federal recognition of study programmes and continuing education and training courses at professional education institutions
  • approves the core syllabuses.

Aditional informations

EAER Ordinance on the Minimum Requirements for the Recognition of Study Programmes and Continuing Education and Training at Professional Education Institutions (MiR-PEI)


Educational paths at professional education institutions