Mission statement

Main content

ETH Zurich is an institution of the Swiss Confederation dedicated to higher learning and research. Together with the ETH Lausanne and four research institutes, it forms the federally directed, and to a major degree financed, ETH domain. The institutions of the ETH domain uphold their autonomy and identity on the basis of the ETH Federal Law and in the full awareness of their social, economic and cultural responsibility to the nation and its citizens.


In education, research, and services the ETH Zurich measures itself against the highest recognised international standards. It promotes science and scientific activity for their own sakes, as well as for their importance to the near and distant context: the city and canton of Zurich, Switzerland, Europe, the world. The ETH Zurich consciously directs its activities to the needs of human beings, nature and society. It is aware that knowledge and skills must be grounded in a fundamentally open and dynamic attitude if they are to be truly useful in practical life and capable of growth. With its focus on the conservation of the Earth's ecosystem for future generations, the ETH Zurich endeavours to apply its knowledge and skills to its utmost, aware that voluntary economies can also be creative.

Solutions to mankind's most urgent problems -- poverty, hunger, disease, the threat to our very existence due to the spread of human civilisation -- demand that we find new approaches to knowledge and skills. It believes that a network of knowledge and skills acquired in an interdisciplinary environment best respond to the natural and cultural interdependencies of life. By integrating the natural sciences, technology, the humanities and social sciences, we can devise innovative concepts of education and research which will allow us to tackle the enormous challenges facing mankind, and help lay a path for a meaningful and sustainable development of present and future civilisations.


ETH Zurich imparts to its students the highest state of knowledge and practical skills. It seeks to enable young people to find their orientation in a complex and rapidly changing world, and to stimulate an understanding of ethical and cultural values so that, upon completing their studies, they will be not only highly qualified professional people but also responsible members of society.

ETH is not content with mere participation in solving already known problems. In the context of global civilisation, it must respond to changing conditions, it must identify new problems as a kind of early warning system, and assume a leading role in seeking solutions. In doing so, it depends on the spirit of discovery, innovative force, and flexibility in its members.

As a technical university in a small country, the ETH Zurich can only compete with the world's best by establishing international links, by recruiting its academic and research staff worldwide, and by remaining attractive to students from abroad. The multicultural tradition of Switzerland, its cultural heritage acquired over many generations, provide in our view a strong base for this purpose.



The basis of education at ETH Zurich is formed by the core areas of engineering, natural sciences, architecture and mathematics. In addition, courses in humanities, social and management sciences are offered. The goal of instruction is to enable the students to acquire solid technical knowledge, practical skills, and the ability to take part in interdisciplinary activities. Relying on an atmosphere of a mutual trust among teachers and students, and a reciprocal awareness of social and ethical concerns, the ETH Zurich encourages in its students both individual creativity and the ability to reflect on and evaluate their own actions, with the aim of achieving a comprehensive outlook and a responsible mode of behaviour. Considering the need for a new approach to knowledge and technology and a better understanding of the nature of man, the ETH Zurich treats the humanities and social sciences as integral parts of its educational profile.

Further education

ETH Zurich takes into account the fact that learning is being seen more and more as a life-long process. Correspondingly, the basic curriculum is kept relatively short and is later supplemented by postgraduate and further education courses. This is to promote a more rapid transfer of knowledge and technology between the university and the world outside.


At the ETH Zurich teaching and research are closely linked. Equal standing is assigned to knowledge-oriented basic research and to problem-solving research. Both areas are dedicated to fulfilling the highest standards, and are long-term oriented. The ETH Zurich is specially committed to the continuous development of that innovative potential within society and industry.

International links

As an institute of higher learning and research, the ETH Zurich cultivates an international standing. It is aware that its scientific contribution has to be confirmed by the international research community. Thus the ETH Zurich strongly supports international co-operation in all fields of research and education. As a long-term strategy, it also devotes special attention to structurally and economically underdeveloped countries.


ETH Zurich encourages partnerships and interdisciplinary co-operation among members of its community, with other educational and research institutions, with industry, and with the public administration, and it believes in keeping the public informed regarding these activities. The sustainable development of human society depends on our efforts both to create and support a strong and innovative economy.


ETH Zurich sets itself the goal of efficient self-management in the sense of providing optimal services to education and research within the given juridical framework. It endeavours to gain additional financial support, beyond the allotted public funds, from industry and private sources. Faithful to the basic principles of research and teaching, the ETH Zurich practices an economical use of resources such as land, materials and energy, and assigns high priority to security for human beings and the environment.


In its relationship with staff, ETH Zurich conceives itself to be a responsible employer committed to observing up-to-date employment practices and working conditions. It adheres to a co-operative, fair style of management, allowing forms of participation appropriate to employees, occupation and position, and it maintains an open information policy. No discrimination among its members is permitted on the basis of sex or social, ethnic or religious origin. The ETH Zurich wants to increase the proportion of women in all fields of research, teaching and administration. The ETH Zurich demands a high level of human and professional competence from senior personnel in all categories.

Location Zurich

ETH Zurich benefits greatly from Zurich's urban setting. It feels closely tied to and responsible towards the city and canton. For its part it contributes to the cultural life of the city and region, and in all its activities pays regard to urban needs.

These concepts shall serve to orient ETH Zurich in its activities, and act as standards against which it can be measured.

Version 1997, as of February 2014 / Executive Board of ETH Zurich

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