The 2021 SESSiON related to the Foundation Year IS NOW




Creativity, motivation, energy and curiosity are the main ingredients to join the ECAL Foundation Year. This preparatory course is for the holders of a Baccalaureate wishing to train in the fields of art or design at a University of Applied Sciences, but who first need to acquire the necessary skills to embark on a Bachelor programme.

Rewatch the live information session dedicated to the Foundation Year

Learning objectives


General Courses

We give you the keys to:

  • Familiarise yourself with contemporary artistic practice through issues, quotations or statements drawn from plastic, literary, film or musical works (Image Workshop).
  • Test your theoretical and practical knowledge of physical, chemical and physiological colour, whose main elements are the values, contrasts, harmonies, hues and language codes (Colour Course).
  • Draw by observing and understanding lines and surfaces in order to transform 3D elements into two dimensions (Drawing Course).
  • Draw by highlighting research and experimentation from a purely artistic perspective (Creative Drawing Course).
  • Become aware of your graphic environment and learn about the vocabulary of shapes and colours, in addition to understanding the relationship between typography and image (Graphic Design Course).
  • Create a visual universe “in motion” through video and interaction design (Moving Image).
  • Become familiar with the computers and the main creative software used at ECAL (InDesign, Illustrator, Photoshop) and create a portfolio of the best works produced during the Foundation Year, using a combination of the different tools taught (Computer Science Course).
  • Practice photography using basic techniques: natural and artificial light, space and perspective in the field of architecture, still life and portraiture (Photography Course).
  • Acquire background knowledge via theory courses (history of art, film, graphic design, industrial design, photography, interaction design, video art in relation to each of the six major options, etc.).
Photography course – Ilù Seydoux
Photography course –Nolan Lucidi
Photography course –Tessa Roy
Applied Drawing course – Clara Aboulker
Introductory Graphic Design course – Mixed Projects
Creative Drawing course – Laura Schwarz
Creative Drawing course – Ilaria Citti
Creative Drawing course – Julie Wuhrmann
Colour course – Lylou Müller
Moving Image – Showreel 2020
Image workshop – Louise Dupont
Workshop course – Elina Crespi

Option courses

Options: In addition to theory and practical courses, every Friday student stake a course on their BA major.

  • Fine Arts option
    Develop artistic expression and singularity by tackling sculpture, painting, installation or performance in targeted exercises.
  • Cinema option
    Experiment and learn the basics of the main practical aspects: filming, editing, viewing and teamwork.
  • Industrial Design option
    Research ideas, create relevant and technically simple objects and prototypes and learn how to work in the studio.
  • Graphic Design option
    Deepen the basic formal and colour vocabulary by addressing the relationship between image and text and acquire a working methodology and thinking skills in line with the development of graphic projects.
  • Media & Interaction Design option
    Encourage introduction to digital practices, enabling students to tackle screen and network interaction design, as well as to design and develop personal projects (applications, websites, video clips, video games, connected objects, etc.).
  • Photography option
    Reinforce basic knowledge in technical and practical areas such as digital colour photography, lighting, working with models, sequencing and photo editing.
Fine Arts option - Clément Pic
Fine Arts option – Flavio Visali
Graphic Design option – Ilaria Citti
Graphic Design option – Mixed Projects
Industrial Design option – Sophie van der Bij
Industrial Design option – Lucie Herter
Industrial Design option – Fanny Bichet
Media & Interaction Design option – Projets mixtes
Photography option – Léa Bevilacqua
Photography option – Lea Sblandano
Photography option – Tony Altermatt
Cinema option – Arsène Fragnière
Cinema option – Marcello Balzaretti & Begoña Herrera


David Monnet

Technical assistant
Nadège Gallay

Pauline Perret

Antonio Albanese
Tonatiuh Ambrosetti  
Luc Aubort  
Francis Baudevin  
Clelia Bettua
Thibault de Chateauvieux
Martino D’Esposito
Daniela Droz
Christophe Guignard
Grégoire Jeanmonod
David Monnet  
Patrick Monnier
Christian Pahud  
Violène Pont
Tatiana Rihs
Alfredo Aceto
Jonas Berthod
Julia Bünter
Romain Collaud
Philippe Fragnière
Louisa Gagliardi
Nicolas Haeni
Nathalie Herschdorfer
Robert Huber
Adeena Mey
Sylvain Meltz
Matthieu Minguet
Anna Percival
Jeanne Quéheillard
Lisa Rebeca
Denis Roueche
Manon Wertenbroek


Yearly fees(materials included)
from CHF 1 725.–to CHF 21 125.– (according to the residence), CHF 8 885.– (if a reduction is granted)

Language: French

Length: 2 semesters

Credits: 0 ECTS

Qualification Issued
Foundation Year Diploma

Frequently asked questions

Foundation Year

What is a reference image?

The choice is vast. It can be for example a work, a piece, a photograph, a screenshot, a film poster, etc., linked in principle to the field under consideration. However, the dossier may contain images that are not related to the field of study, and which highlight other areas of interest of the candidate.

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


  • Maturity certificate
  • Professional Maturity certificate
  • Specialized Maturity certificate of another field than arts and design (MSCI-MSMU-MSOP-MSSA-MSTS)
  • Equivalent foreign certificate*

* Access to Foundation Year application procedure is open to foreign secondary diploma education holders as long as the title is equivalent to one of the Swiss required title. ECAL evaluates title's equivalences. This procedure being relatively long, a request of examination must be submitted by email to ECAL Secretariat until 12 January 2021 the latest. Request of evaluation submitted after the above mentionned date will not be processed.

What is the Specialised Baccalaureate in Arts and Design (maturité spécialisée arts et design – MSAD)?

This one-year course is designed for the holders of a general education certificate from a Vaud secondary school (gymnase), ideally with a fine arts major, wishing to access the admission procedure for an HES Bachelor programme in Design and Fine Arts. To earn the specialised baccalaureate, students must obtain a passing grade in courses and workshops dispensed by ECAL and their specialised baccalaureate paper must be validated.

How do I register for the specialised baccalaureate?

The procedure for students wishing to register for the MSAD is as follows:

  • Inquire at the school you are attending and register on;
  • Complete the online registration form on the ECAL website;
  • Prepare a personal application for one of the options – Fine Arts, Film Studies, Graphic Design, Industrial Design, Media & Interaction Design, Photography – and deposit it at ECAL;
  • Students whose applications have been selected will be called for an interview with the ECAL jury.

The decision to accept or turn down the application is made after the interview with the jury.For information on deadlines and various other instructions, refer to the websites of the Etat de Vaud and ECAL.

Does successful completion of the Foundation Year guarantee automatic admission to a Bachelor programme?

No. Admission to Bachelor programmes is subject to an aptitude test (entrance exam). However, the success rate of applicants who have successfully completed the Foundation Year is high thanks to the solid basic training in art and design they receive during that year.

Can I apply for admission to the Foundation Year even if I don’t have the requisite diploma?

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

What does the waiver request include?

The applicant submits an application comprising a letter of motivation, a CV and a portfolio. If the request is accepted, he/she can then register for the Foundation Year entrance exam, in the option he/she has chosen.

I have a French Baccalaureate. What conditions do I have to meet to take part in the Foundation Year entrance exam?

Bac S are recognized without special distinction. Bac L are accepted without special distinction, but with mathematics (including the exam) in the final two years (première and terminale). Bac ES are accepted with an average of 14/20.

Once admitted, can I change my major during the academic year if I realise that I am not happy with my initial choice?

Yes. You can apply to the Head of the Foundation Year for a change in major by the end of the autumn term at the latest. The results obtained by that point are often decisive. Any change in major is subject to approval by the Head and an interview with management.

Can I register for two majors when I apply for admission to the Foundation Year?

No. You may register for only one major. Don’t hesitate to contact the ECAL Secretariat if you have any questions.


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.