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  • Locations: Mendrisio, Switzerland
  • Program Terms: Academic Year, Fall, Spring
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • This program is currently not accepting applications. It's likely that the application is in the process of being launched. Check back for updates.
Fact Sheet:
Language(s) in which classes are available: English, Italian Max credits offered: 18
Language Experience required for admission: 0 none Program Type: *Bilateral Exchange
Minimum Cumulative GPA: 2.5 Areas of Study: Architecture, Architecture and Design Research, Italian (ITAL) Minor
College Sponsor: CAUS
Program Description:
USI - Architecture

Map of Switzerland
USI logo
Bilateral Exchange Icon

University Information

 Fact sheet Accademia 2019-20 (PDF)


More Information


Academic Year, Fall, Spring

Semester Exchange at the Università della Svizzera Italiana

The University of Lugano (Università della Svizzera italiana-USI) was founded in 1996. As a public institution independent of state control, it joined the nine cantonal universities and two federal institutes of technology that form the Swiss university system. It distinguishes itself as the only university outside Italy where the official language of instruction is Italian.

Today, USI comprises four Faculties: Economics, Communication Sciences and Computer Science in Lugano, and Architecture in Mendrisio, for a total student population of approximately 1550 from 35 different countries, and a total teaching staff of 300 professors and assistants.

The main campus of the USI is in Lugano, whereas the Accademia dell'Architettura is in the nearby town of Mendrisio . The USI is in the Swiss Canton of Ticino that has a population of just over 300,000. Italian is the official language for the whole region. Most people are conversant in French and/or German, and to a much lesser degree, English. As stated above, all classes at the USI are taught in Italian. There is usually an intensive Italian session for students two or three weeks before the beginning of classes in October.


The Italian speaking part of Switzerland is nestled in the Alps. Lugano and Mendrisio are centrally located within Europe. Milan, Italy is only one hour away. The region provides easy access to France, Italy, Central and Eastern Europe. Ticino is known for its breathtaking natural beauty. Students will never be lacking for fun activities with the mountains, Alpine lakes, and diverse cultural amenities. The region is also known for its shopping, agriculture, gastronomy as well as its banking and financial sectors.

Approximate Semester Dates

Semester 1 (fall)*: September to December
Semester 2 (spring)*: February to May

*Academic calendar does not align with VT's academic calendar. This may affect the date of your financial aid disbursement.


This program is restricted to architecture students in the College of Architecture and Urban Sciences. Language requirement: all courses are offered in Italian.


Architects today are called on to develop innovative forms of competence to enable them to work on different fronts, from the design of individual buildings to planning regional development, from the reuse of the historical legacy to the redevelopment of the landscape, from eco-friendly buildings to aesthetic exercises applied to different architectural typologies. For this reason Mendrisio has created an interdisciplinary teaching model that goes beyond the traditional specializations so as to train architects who are both humanists and generalists as required by the times. Practical work in the design studios is combined with technical-scientific courses which explore contemporary problems and historical-humanistic courses which investigate historical, artistic, philosophical, critical and sociological issues. Its educational model ensures that the future architects acquire an architectural culture with an open, critical, relevant approach. As their studies progress they can choose ways to explore the approaches to architecture best suited to their individual sensibilities.

USI - Architecture campus

A list of courses can be found here.

Student Life

USI students


Students generally reside in apartments throughout the town. The international students coordinator will assist incoming exchange students with finding suitable housing.

Here is the main website to explore different housing options for the University of Svizzera Italiana.

Here is the website for the school's Student's House. Applications are due by June 1, or January 7.

Lugano room


University Tuition & Comprehensive Fees

Virginia Tech tuition and comprehensive university fees will be billed according to the University Bursar policy. See here for credit hour rates for the appropriate term and residency status:

Study Abroad Administrative Fee

Participants in exchange programs will be charged a $300 administrative fee through the Bursar.

CISI Travel Medical Insurance

Participants will be required to enroll in Virginia Tech's travel medical and security insurance coverage for the duration of the program. The cost is approximately $35 per month.

Swiss Medical Insurance (required)

All students who attend the university must obtain Swiss health insurance. American health insurance is not sufficient for an exchange in Switzerland. The average annual cost for Swiss insurance is 600 - 1000 Swiss Francs.

Room and Board

Room and board is not included in the exchange. Students are responsible for finding and arranging their own housing and meals. Please check the housing section for more information. Monthly rent usually starts at around 600 chf for a standard apartment. 

Visa Requirements

You cannot go to Switzerland on a three-month tourist visa and change it to a student residence permit after you have arrived in Switzerland. Thus, even if you are exempt from needing an entry visa, such as U.S. nationals, you will still need to apply for a residence permit before you arrive if you plan to stay longer than 90 days. 

You can read in-depth visa information in Expatica's complete guide to Swiss visas and permits.

You will need to apply for a visa through the Swiss embassy or consulate in your home country.

*Additional expenses are likely to include travel costs i.e. round trip international airfare, passport/visa fees, immunizations, books/supplies, telecommunications, and personal expenses. 

*Visa requirements and Medical Insurance are different for different countries. For international VT students, please check the requirements for your country.


GEO website: Information on scholarships and financial aid.

The Academy coordinates scholarships for students from many other countries. These scholarships are granted by several organisations that are hereby thanked: Associazione Amici dell'Accademia, Fondazione Leonardo, Winterhalter Foundation, Vontobel Foundation, Korfer Foundation, Rotary Club Mendrisiotto. This grants are usually awarded after successfully finishing the first year of Bachelor studies to needy and academically qualified students. Enrolled students of the Academy please apply trough this link.

SEMP (Swiss European Mobility Program) Scholarship


VT GEO Application Deadlines

Fall semester: February 15
Spring Semester: September 15

VT GEO Application

Begin your application by clicking . All documents should be completed by the corresponding deadline. Please note that a copy of your passport (valid for at least 6 months after the end of the program) or a copy of a passport application receipt will be required at the time of application.

Contact Information

VT GEO Contact

Chelsey Watts
Assistant Director for Partnerships & Affiliations
VT Global Education Office

More information available at

Dates / Deadlines:
Dates / Deadlines:
Term Year Deadline Decision Date Start Date End Date
Academic Year 2019-2020 02/15/2019
02/15/2019 TBA TBA

Indicates that deadline has passed

This program is currently not accepting applications. It's likely that the application is in the process of being launched. Check back for updates.