Fine Arts

The 2021 SESSiON related to the Foundation Year IS NOW




Discovering the various fields and movements of contemporary art by developing one’s own artistic expression. Such is the opportunity offered by this Bachelor programme to young, passionate artists wishing to perfect their technique, experiment with discourse and consolidate a critical stance. Students benefit from practical and theoretical supervision provided by major actors of the contemporary art scene.

Rewatch the live information session dedicated to the Bachelor Fine Arts

Learning objectives


First Year

We give you the keys to:

  • Acquire the basics of transmission by medium (photography, painting, sculpture, drawing, engraving and publishing, video, sound, performance, music, film, multimedia, etc.) and encourage the questioning of these different media.
  • Experiment with the different tools and artistic approaches available to define your own methodology of artistic work (lecture and workshop practice).
  • Acquire background knowledge via courses in theory, history and methodology, and learn the basics of criticism by calling on a variety of tools (Contemporary History, History of Ideas and Art, Sound Studies, Cultural Studies, Anthropology, Philosophy). Reflect on your work with regard to various historical forms and alternative learning methods.
  • Consider drawing as a work or as a medium for work, test different methods of printing and of multiplying and disseminating images or forms.
  • Test concepts and forms by crossing historical and conceptual knowledge, and test staging and hanging formats for your work.
  • Develop your personal practice in the studio, taking advantage of the many regular or occasional invitations from visiting artists (studio visits) to obtain a variety of points of view on your own work.
  • Take part in weeks of workshops supervised by artists from various fields (performers, painters, musicians, poets, writers, etc.) with the aim of carrying out collective projects (a mix of 1st, 2nd and 3rd year classes) and/or personal projects.
Semester project– Philomène Le Baron
Free project – Terat Thanaworrawatniti
Free project – Chloé Geinoz
Free project – Diogo Esteves & Soren Gunzinger
Workshop with Marie-Caroline Hominal
Workshop Project with Philippe Decrauzat
Free project – Romane de Watteville et Cyane FIndji
Lecture by Martin Creed
Workshop with Charlotte Herzig
Semester projects
Silk-screen and Printing Workshop
Performance by John M Amleder and Christian Marclay at ECAL
Research project – «Vision Creation New Sound»
Workshop project - Serge Ghazale

Second Year

We give you the keys to:

  • Continue your personal research and practice and experiment with exhibition models, under the eye of regular and visiting teachers.
  • Enhance your relationship with artistic forms and concepts by varying formats (seminars, workshops, collective work, etc.) and multiplying perspectives.
  • Benefit from studio visits and interviews with speakers to hear a variety of points of view on your personal work.
  • Understand exhibitions as a complex object that includes the production of works, group discussions and the definition of spaces, communication, hanging and public display, individually and in groups of various formats.
  • Enhance your knowledge through courses and seminars in Critical Theory, History of Art and Ideas, and Philosophy that call upon a variety of knowledge and critical fields.
  • Learn to make connections in a constellation of past and future artists and forms starting from specific objects, namely music and sound on recorded media (Sound).
  • Start writing and thinking about literary publication in various formats (book, performance, sound poetry, posters, etc.) and start research for the BA dissertation.
  • Take part in weeks of workshops supervised by practitioners from all over the world with the aim of carrying out collective (a mix of 1st, 2nd and 3rd year classes) and/or personal projects.
Workshop with Philippe Decrauzat
Workshop with Hannah Weinberger
Project with Mario de Vega – Livre «Interferences»
Semester project – Stefan Tanase
Semester project – Kelly Tissot
Workshop with Wade Guyton and Virginia Overton
Semester project – Ernest Gachet and Assadour Matthey
Concert by ensemBle baBel at ECAL
Silk-Screen workshop with Sylvie Fleury
Project at the IKEA Festival during the Milan Design Week
Project at the IKEA Festival during the Milan Design Week

Third Year

We give you the keys to:

  • Refine your choices and positions based on the different methodologies and techniques tested during the course.
  • Multiply different perspectives and levels of criticism by writing about your own work and that of others.
  • Benefit from studio visits and interviews with the artists and curators involved to vary the points of view on your own work and to learn to network and talk about your work.
  • Continue to develop your personal practice and reflect on your work independently.
  • Broaden your knowledge with theory and methodology courses and write a dissertation as a tool to critically support your work or as an autonomous publication.
  • Test a variety of exhibition models and perfect your artistic language.
  • Take part in weeksof workshops supervised by practitioners from all over the world with the aim of carrying out collective projects (mix of 1st, 2nd and 3rd year classes) and/or personal projects.
  • Complete your studies with a graduation work and a portfolio, which will help you meet actors in art worlds and integrate these varied worlds according to chosen rather than imposed conditions, or continue your studies on an MA course.
«A minuit au bar du Grand Hôtel des Palmes» exhibition at Gallery l'elac
«Construire un feu» course with Denis Savary
«Construire un feu» course with Denis Savary
Diploma project – Eva Jovicic
Diploma project – Sunna Margrét Þórisdóttir
Diploma project – Margaux Dewarrat
Diploma project – Gina Proenza
Diploma jury
Diploma project – Kelly Tissot
Concert by Arto Lindsay at ECAL

Career opportunities

Visual artist, Art critic, Curator, Art director, Teacher, Cultural mediator, Performer, Stage manager, Exhibition designer, Video artist…

Testimonials from our alumni

Alfredo Aceto
Gina Proenza

Others alumni

BA Fine Arts and MA Fine Arts: 
Valentin Carron, Claudia Comte, Sylvain Croci-Torti, Stéphane Dafflon, Philippe Decrauzat, Natacha Donzé, Cyprien Gaillard, Frédéric Gabioud, David Hominal, Gilles Furtwängler, Mélodie Mousset, Simon Paccaud, Jeanne-Salomé Rochat, Denis Savary, Baker Wardlaw, Shirin Yousefi…


Stéphane Kropf

Charly Mirambeau
Romane De Watewille

Engraving Workshop
François Kohler

Lithography Workshop
Simon Paccaud

Silk-screen Workshop
Sylvain Croci-Torti
Francis Baudevin
Geoffrey Cottenceau
Stéphane Dafflon
Philippe Decrauzat
Karim Noureldin
Marco Poloni
Tatiana Rihs
Denis Savary
Pierre Vadi
Thibault Walter
Philippe Azoury
Emanuele Coccia
François Cusset
Dimitri De Preux
Gallien Déjean
Patricia Falguières
Tristan Garcia
Miriam Laura Leonardi
Federico Nicolao
Stéphanie Serra
Zoe Stillpass
Visiting Lecturers
Tina Braegger
Antonio Caro
Anne-James Chaton
Delphine Coindet
Rochelle Feinstein
Ryan Foerster
Wade Guyton
Charlotte Herzig
Marie-Caroline Hominal
Bernhard Leitner
Lydia Lunch
Helen Marten
Shana Moulton
Hans-Walter Müller
Kaspar Müller
Precious Okoyomon
Virginia Overton
Lionel Ruffel
Thomas Tilly
Achraf Touloub
John Tremblay
Hannah Weinberger


Yearly fees (including material)
CHF 1 925.–

Language: French

Length: 6 semesters

Credits: 180 ECTS

Qualification issued
Bachelor of Arts HES-SO in Fine Arts 

Frequently asked questions


What are the qualifications required to register for the admission exam in Bachelor?


  • Maturity certificate or Professional Maturity certificate (vocational diploma) or certificate from a recognised three-year school of general education (ECG), each to be accompanied by a General Federal Certificate of Vocational Education (CFC) in the field of desired studies (list available on the ECAL website)
  • Maturity certificate plus at least one year attested vocational activity in the field of studies (except for BA Fine Art) or a Foundation Year successfully completed at the ECAL (or another recognised higher-education establishment of art and design)
  • Professional Maturity certificate with a General Federal Certificate of Vocational Education (CFC) in a profession unrelated to the field of studies plus at least one year attested vocational activity in the field of studies except for BA Fine Art) or a Foundation Year successfully completed at the ECAL (or another recognised higher-education establishment of art and design)
  • Specialized Maturity certificate in art and design (MSAD)
  • Equivalent foreign certificate*

* ECAL evaluates title's equivalences. This procedure being relatively long, a request of examination must be submitted by email to ECAL Secretariat until 17 February 2021 the latest. Request of evaluation submitted after the above mentionned date will not be processed.

Am I required to do an internship after obtaining my baccalaureate / high school diploma, in order to enrol in a Bachelor programme? What conditions apply?

In addition to the requisite diploma, registration for the Bachelor in Visual Communication (Graphic Design / Photography / Media & Interaction Design / Film Studies) or the Bachelor in Industrial and Product Design requires either:
- at least 36 weeks (or nine months) of full-time certified experience in the world of work related to the chosen field;
- or successful completion of the ECAL Foundation Year or of a recognized bridge year for the colleges of higher education in art*.

Professional experience or the Foundation Year diploma are recommended but not compulsory to register for the Bachelor in Fine Arts entrance exam.

* For example, in Switzerland, the Art & Design Foundation Year of CFP Arts Genève, the Art & Design Foundation Year of the édhéa (Sierre) or the Art and Design Foundation Year of Bienne/Bern. Don’t hesitate to contact the ECAL Secretariat for additional information.

Can ECAL help me find an internship allowing me to enrol in a Bachelor programme?

No. ECAL offers a foundation year, but does not help applicants find an internship to register for a Bachelor programme.

Is it possible to join the Bachelor programme directly in 2nd or 3rd year?

In some cases, recognition of prior studies may be granted in the form of ECTS credits, depending on the applicant’s previous education. ECAL management makes a decision to this effect only after the admissions procedure has been completed and on receipt of an artistic application providing information on all previous studies (type, field, skills, courses, credits, grades, etc.).

Can I register for the entrance exam for a Bachelor programme even if I don’t have the requisite diplomas or certificates?

Yes. ECAL may exceptionally accept applicants demonstrating extraordinary artistic talent in a Bachelor programme even if they do not meet the admission requirements. However, applicants must first send the ECAL Director a written waiver request.

NB: This concerns in particular applicants who have not completed any training and who have no diploma.  Applicants who are under 25 at the time of the application and who have a CFC or a diploma from an upper secondary specialised school (école de culture générale, ECG) must first obtain a professional or specialised baccalaureate before registering for a Bachelor entrance exam.

What does a waiver request comprise?

Applicants requesting a waiver submit an application comprising a letter of motivation, a CV and a portfolio. If the request is accepted, they can register for the entrance exam in the field they have chosen.

Can I register to do the entrance exam for the Foundation Year and for an ECAL Bachelor programme at the same time?

No. If in doubt, please contact the ECAL Secretariat.

Can I register for two ECAL Bachelor entrance exams at the same time?

No. You are allowed to register for only one Bachelor entrance exam at a time, as it is not possible to do the practical and/or theoretical tests for two at the same time. Don’t hesitate to contact the ECAL Secretariat if you have any questions.

Is it possible to follow a foundation year in a HE other than the ECAL (at the HEAD or the edhea for example), and then apply for a Bachelor's degree at the ECAL?

Yes, the successful completion of an equivalent preparatory year allows you to apply for a Bachelor's degree at the ECAL.

What are the maximum 15 documents included in the portfolio?

These are projects that can each contain several pages.


What are the languages of instruction?

Courses and workshops are in French in the Foundation Year and at Bachelor level (some Bachelor workshops are in English). Master / MAS programmes are for the most part bilingual (English/French). Fluency in French is therefore essential for the Foundation Year and Bachelor programmes. The same applies to English at least for Master programmes.

Do I need a language certificate to enrol in an ECAL course?

Yes. For the Foundation Year and Bachelor programmes, non-French-speaking applicants who have not attended school in Switzerland must be able to attest that they are proficient in French at the B2 level of the European Language Portfolio. The B2 level is required on registration.

Generally speaking, language proficiency is also checked by the juries during the entrance exam.


Does ECAL have a residence?

ECAL has neither a residence nor a campus, but it can, to a limited extent, help students looking for accommodation. As the housing market in the Lake Geneva area is relatively tight, students are advised to make arrangements well in advance.

Can ECAL act as a guarantor on a lease signed by a foreign student?

No, not at the moment.

Practical informations

Due to a serious lack of availability on the local market, it is very difficult to find an accomodation in Lausanne therefore you should look well in advance to find a suitable accommodation. Please keep in mind that you may be required to provide a
3 month safety deposit.

The following solutions are available:

Furnished studios or flat-sharing for students in Lausanne

Rooms to rent

Scholarships / tuition

I am a foreign student. Can I obtain a scholarship in Switzerland?

Educational assistance (grants or student loans) is awarded by the cantons and is intended for Swiss students (nationals, foreign permanent residents and persons with refugee status). It is not available to foreign citizens residing in Switzerland for the purposes of study only. However, the Swiss Confederation offers excellence scholarships to foreign students, researchers and artists for a period of study or research in Switzerland.

I am resident abroad. Will my tuition at ECAL be higher than for a student resident in Switzerland?

Except for the Foundation Year, where the course fees are determined by the student’s domicile, tuition is the same for all students in the same Bachelor, Master or MAS programme.


Does ECAL offer evening or summer courses? Can I sign up just for certain specific courses or workshops?

No, not at the moment.

Can I have a tour of ECAL?

En dehors des manifestations organisées par l’ECAL (expositions diverses, Open Day, etc.), aucune visite n’est autorisée à titre individuel. Des visites de groupes peuvent être organisées, mais planifiées suffisamment à l’avance. Le cas échéant, merci de contacter directement le Secrétariat de l’ECAL, à l’adresse

My company wishes to hire an ECAL student as an intern or employee. What do I have to do?

Please send the ECAL Secretariat, at, an advert in A4 PDF format containing all the information on the internship or job. The advert will be published on the ECAL intranet. Interested students will contact the advertiser directly.