Hi guys,
I have been accepted to the quantitative finance program at ETH and UZH in Zurich and the master of finance in financial engineering at HEC Lausanne. I know in the scheme of things these are relatively unknown programs, which makes it hard to make an educated decision so would appreciate any input. I see that the HEC Lausanne program is ranked 13th in the financial times rankings but ETH is a much better known university. I should say that I am not European and am well aware of the difficulty involved in getting a job in Switzerland.
First of all at least to me both programs are known. I myself study at the University of Zurich and visited a lecture from the quant finance program at ETH. From what i can tell you the HEC program is a more applied program than the one at ETH and UZH, which is more theoretical. However the reputation of ETH at least here in Switzerland is a very good one. Plus the advantage of studying at the ETH and UZH is that you have a wider selection of courses.
To give you an example: the following courses are the ones you can choose for this semester at the UZH
Personally i would say if you are interested in a good quantitative education with applications to finance i would choose the ETH and UZH. However i have to admit i don't have a lot of information about the HEC.

I hope that helps... and good look
Both are very well known programs in EU but they are slightly different. MSc in Finance from HEC Lausanne is just your typical MSc in Finance with emphasis on derivatives while MSc in QuantFinance from ETHZ & UZH is more like master in Mathematical Finance where hard mathematical courses are run by Dept. of Mathematics from ETHZ (one of the best Math. Deparments in EU). Hence the answer, if you are interested in finance itself from the position of practioneer then you'd better to go to the HEC Lausanne but if your dream job is a quant or structurer then go to MQF from ETHZ/UZH without a single doubt.
Thanks for the replies guys, really appreciate it, this is what I was thinking already. Only thing that might have swayed me towards HEC would be job placements, but for the moment I think I will stick with Zurich!
Hi boaconstrictor,
I am currently graduating from HEC Lausanne and will be starting next year in Zurich at the ETH-UZH MSc QF. I am an atypical student for the programme since apparently a majority of students come from more quantitative backgrounds (mathematics, physics, engineering, etc.). What is your background?

Comparing the MSc Finance from HEC Lausanne and the MSc QF from ETH-UZH is like comparing apples and oranges, as noted above. HEC Lausanne's MSc Finance is NOT a quant degree, although you can choose a certain degree of exposure to quantitative methods for finance. It remains a more general degree with a more practical orientation. Don't let the FT ranking sway you, the MSc QF isn't on it because it's not a MSc Finance, simple as that. So comparing curricula is futile, it all depends on what you want to study, and what your objectives are. Unfortunately, I couldn't find worldwide rankings for QF Master's degrees, but they would quite likely score quite high.

Once again, comparing HEC Lausanne to the ETH-UZH pair is difficult, since they are known for different things. HEC Lausanne has a limited international exposure. I'm speaking from experience as I'm currently studying in Hong Kong, where people mostly only know about St Gallen in Swiss business schools (sometimes also the IMD in Lausanne for its MBA). However, HEC Lausanne is quite strong, and the FT ranking, along with pronounced promotional efforts from the faculty's administration, will certainly help boost this exposure. ETH definitely has a very strong reputation. Quoting from memory, some rankings place it as the number one institution worldwide outside anglophone countries. It also benefits from the reputation of being Albert Einstein's alma mater. I'm not sure about the UZH, but it is quite known within Switzerland - especially its Economics department.
The city also has a role to play, and Zurich is very well known internationally as a strong financial center.

Finally, things like quality of life and general attractiveness of the two cities are entirely subjective. The previously noted opportunity to learn German is a huge plus, especially if you're considering to work in Switzerland. I myself will be "cashing in", so to speak, on this opportunity. While being Swiss, I was born and raised in Romandy - the francophone part of Switzerland, west of the Röstigraben. Since you accepted the offer to the MSc QF, we will most likely meet in Zurich in a couple of months. Uf Widerluege!
HEC Lausanne is another name of EPFL?
It seems that dialect German there is very much different with German we learn in class. As for reputation the ETH is definately better but when considering finding a job or intern, I think EPFL may be more suitable since you are possible to speak French well in one year and a half but dialect German is much harder, and the language ability is of importance when seeking a job. Switzerland is a wonderful place...Miss my friends there...
HEC Lausanne is the name of the business faculty of the University of Lausanne (UNIL). It has nothing to do with the EPFL, apart from the fact that they are neighbours. The Swiss speak a dialect of German called Swiss German. It is indeed quite hard to master, as it is quite a "special" language. The good news is that all those who speak Swiss German also speak "regular" German, which is much easier to learn. I don't know what language is used predominantly in the workplace, but knowing English and German is definitely sufficient.