Study at HKB

This page outlines the most important general information on studies at Bern Academy of the Arts HKB. Specific information on the various degree programs can be found on the respective pages.

Application information

Would you like to take a course at Bern University of Applied Sciences? Then apply now. By applying online, you’ll be kept up-to-date at every stage of the process.

If you have missed the registration deadline, the head of the relevant study programme will be happy to inform you whether subsequent registration is possible.

Required documents

Please submit the following documents in electronic format and as appropriate for your educational background (passport documentation: PDF/images: JPG):

  • ID or passport*
  • Passport photo according to international passport requirements* (Photo guidelines)
  • Diplomas and leaving certificates (e.g. vocational baccalaureate/specialised baccalaureate with grades, university entrance qualification, Abitur or upper secondary level qualification)
  • Swiss Federal Certificate of Proficiency with grades
  • Employer reference and/or internship certificate
  • Curriculum vitae

* compulsory

Additional documents must be provided separately depending on your chosen programme and educational background, for example:

  • a portfolio of work samples
  • residence permit (if you’re applying from abroad)
  • etc.

For exact details on how to submit these documents, please refer to the study programme page. If you’re applying for a master’s degree programme, you must submit the certificate for your first degree (bachelor’s or equivalent qualification), as well as a transcript of records.

Trans persons

Are you trans? Would you like to be addressed differently from what is stated on your official documents?

When you register, you can enter your everyday first name and the (binary) gender you identify with and upload the application form for students and aspiring students. This will allow us to address you correctly during the application process.

Further information and application form

Online Registration Form

Switching from another university

Students who are already matriculated at another university and would like to switch to HKB have to discuss this possibility with the Head of Studies of the degree programme they are interested in. The Head of Studies will decide on their admission. In this case, please state in the “Comments” section at the end of the online application that you are switching universities and may enter a higher semester.


Should you decide to withdraw your registration, you can notify us of your decision by e-mail. A verbal withdrawal of the registration will not be accepted.

Withdrawals deadlines

For the autumn semester: 15 June
For the spring semester: 15 December

The form for taking a leave of absence or exmatriculation as well as an information sheet on deadlines and procedures for withdrawals / exmatriculation / leave of absence can be found under Downloads.

Study structure

Online Course Directory

Have a look at the online course directory to see the current course offerings of our degree programmes!

Academic year

The academic year is divided into two semesters of 16 weeks each. The autumn semester begins in mid-September (calendar week 38), the spring semester in mid-February (calendar week 8). Some degree programmes start a bit earlier. Exams and presentations take place in the weeks immediately before and after the end of the semester. The intermediate semester is used for project work, preparing for exams and/or internships.

One week in November and April is reserved for the Y Toolboxes, during which no other courses take place. The toolboxes are interdisciplinary courses offered by the Y Institute that deal with topics of transdisciplinary significance.

Academic Year 2022/23

Autumn Semester: 19 September 2022–22 January 2023
Spring Semester: 20 February 2023–11 June 2023

Academic Year 2023/24

Autumn Semester: 18 September 2023–21 January 2024
Spring Semester: 19 February 20224–9 June 2024

European Credit Transfer System (ECTS)

HKB uses the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). ECTS is a system that is used to credit, transfer and accumulate course elements a student has completed. It states the amount of time that students ideally have to spend, or have already spent, on a degree programme and on its individual modules. ECTS is an information system designed to support mobility and lifelong learning. In the event of a student switching universities, the ECTS system makes it easier to assess the course work the student has completed at their university of origin and to classify this in terms of the degree programme at the guest university.

A module is a teaching, learning and assessment unit, defined in terms of content and time. It can comprise several courses. There are compulsory, elective compulsory and elective modules. Compulsory modules must be taken by all students of a given degree programme. Elective compulsory modules can be chosen from a range of available courses, and elective modules cover individual further interests the students may have. There is a description for every module, outlining the prerequisites, the content, the number of credits and the form in which it is completed. Every module has to be completed with a proof of competency. The credits are awarded to students who have successfully completed the module.

One ECTS credit corresponds to 30 student work hours within a semester, including both classroom study and independent study. An academic year is generally estimated at 60 ECTS credits, corresponding to 1,800 hours of work. Students pursuing artistic studies, however, generally devote considerably more time to their studies, particularly to their independent work. HKB programmes are usually pursued on a full-time basis. Part-time study is possible in most programmes, in agreement with the respective Heads of Studies. Part-time studies take longer – how much longer depends on the course of the individual student’s studies. A Bachelor’s degree requires 180 ECTS credit points, and a Master’s degree 90 or 120 ECTS credit points.

The ECTS system comprises

  • The Learning Agreement: a list of the courses to be completed, which is agreed on between the student and their home and guest universities
  • The Transcript of Records: documentation on the work the student has completed, i.e. the modules, together with the ECTS credit points acquired and their grades
  • The Diploma Supplement to a university degree certificate: a standardised description of the course of study that has been successfully completed, which serves to provide transparency and facilitates the recognition of diplomas or academic degrees.


HKB uses the numerical grading system. Many modules are evaluated on a pass/fail basis only, but students receive detailed oral or written feedback.

Grade 6 – excellent
Grade 5.5 – very good
Grade 5 – good
Grade 4.5 – satisfactory
Grade 4 – sufficient

Grades 1 to 3.5 count as insufficient. Grade 3.5 can be followed with the comment “subsequent improvement possible”.


Various tuition and exam fees are charged at HKB. (Special conditions apply for the Bachelor of Arts in Theater.)

Application (per application) and aptitude assessment*  

CHF 250


CHF 100

Tuition fees (per semester) 

CHF 750

Tuition fees for international students*** (per semester)

CHF 950

Examination fee (per semester)  

CHF 80

Fee for social, cultural and sport offerings (per semester)  

CHF 24

Membership fee for the Bern University of Applied Sciences Student Association (VSBFH) (per semester)

CHF 15

Leave of absence fee (per semester) 

CHF 100

* The application fee can be paid by credit card or by deposit slip / paper invoice (+ CHF 10.– processing fee). There are no waivers or refunds for withdrawn or abandoned applications. The application is processed after payment has been received.
** If the application leads to matriculation, the matriculation fee is covered by the application fee.
*** International students are defined as persons of foreign citizenship who at the time of obtaining their university entrance qualification were domiciled under civil law neither in Switzerland nor the Principality of Liechtenstein.

There is also a fixed fee for materials whose amount depends on the degree programme as well as additional costs for teaching materials, specialist literature, supplies, etc.


Financial aid is available through grants and loans. Grants are one-off or ongoing payments that don’t usually have to be paid back provided you complete your course. Loans are one-off or ongoing payments that must be paid back after you finish your course. There are also numerous private foundations and funds that offer financial support to students. The electronic foundation directory administered by the Federal Department of Home Affairs offers a comprehensive summary of these organisations and can be searched by keywords (e.g. student, research, financial aid, etc.).

HKB scholarship fund

Many HKB students live in precarious financial circumstances. The opportunities to earn money while undertaking demanding and time-consuming studies are limited. And the cost of living in Switzerland is one of the highest in all of Europe. A doctor’s bill, a healthy diet, and paying the rent or semester and examination fees can become pressing problems. To help in such cases, the HKB scholarship fund provides targeted support by covering the tuition fees from CHF 750 up to CHF 950. To apply for support, you need to take the following steps:

  1. Fill out the online application form in full and print it out
  2. Send the application online
  3. Submit the printed form to the secretariat for your degree programme

The deadline for applications for a semester fee waiver is 15 May to 15 June (for the following autumn semester), or 15 November to 15 December (for the following spring semester).

Applications for a waiver of the semester fees will only be considered and included in the selection process once the course offer has been.

Application form (link valid as of May 15 2023)

Other grants

Cantonal grants

Grants and loans for Swiss students and overseas students are generally paid out by the canton where the students’ parents are tax residents. Students who have been tax residents in the Canton of Bern for at least two years are able to apply for cantonal grants and loans. Applications should be submitted to the Financial Aid Office at the Department of Education.

Other grants

Further information

The websites EDK – Stipendien, and European Funding Guide cover all the key information about grants in Switzerland and overseas.

Your contact persons for questions about scholarships and loans