He was educated to become a clergyman, but his interests later switched to sciences. In 1815 he became a teacher of mathematics at the gymnasium in Bern, and during the following year, began studying geology at University of Göttingen as a pupil of Johann Friedrich Ludwig Hausmann. He subsequently furthered his education at Freiburg, Berlin and Paris.
In 1825 he published his first major work, Beyträge zu einer Monographie der Molasse. Later on, he commenced his detailed investigations of the western Alps, and published in 1834 his Geologie der westlichen Schweizer-Alpen. In the same year, largely through his influence, the University of Bern was established and he became the first professor of geology. His Geologie der Schweiz in two volumes (1851–1853), and his geological maps of Switzerland, prepared with the assistance of Arnold Escher von der Linth, are high points of his research. In 1850 he was elected a Foreign Member of the Geological Society of London.
In 1859 he organized the geological survey of Switzerland, being appointed president of the commission, and retaining this position until the end of his life. It was remarked by Jules Marcou that Studer was present at the first meeting of the Société helvétique des sciences naturelles at Geneva on October 6, 1815, and remained a member during 72 years. He was awarded the Wollaston medal by the Geological Society of London, in 1879. In 1882, he was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
- Wilhelm von Gümbel (1893), "Studer, Bernhard", Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB) (in German), 36, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, pp. 731–734
- One or more of the preceding sentences incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Studer, Bernhard". Encyclopædia Britannica. 25 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 1050. This cites: Obituary by Jules Marcou, Ann. rep. amer. acad. sci. for 1888.
- Judd, J. W. (1888). "Obituary. Bernhard Studer". Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society. 44: 49–50.
- Google Books Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Volume 23
- Chisholm 1911, p. 1050
- Google Books The Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London
- "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter S" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 13 September 2016.