Quality education for everyone

Schooling in Switzerland is compulsory up to the age of 15. It is free, secular and public (apart from nurseries and private schools). The canton of Vaud runs 90 educational establishments. State schools in the canton of Vaud are of top quality by international standards. Modern languages (notably English and the Swiss national languages of German, French and Italian) are given a high priority.

Pre-university education comprises compulsory schooling (primary and secondary) and post-compulsory schooling (generally leading to an academic certificate (maturité académique) or a federal certificate (certificat fédéral de capacité):

Primary school

Primary school consists of eight academic years for children aged between 4 and 12.

Secondary education

Secondary education, which is open to all children aged between 12 and 15, represents the last phase of compulsory education. It teaches a general curriculum and paves the way for post-compulsory courses: gymnase (grammar school, leading to the baccalaureate), école professionnelle (vocational school offering course-based or company-based training) or école de degré diplôme (high school providing general studies).

Post-compulsory education

After 11 years of compulsory education, students can choose between:

  • grammar school, leading to a federal certificate and entry to universities and colleges, or
  • an apprenticeship (company-based training lasting 3 to 4 years, backed by theoretical courses) leading to a federal certificate (CFC). This "practical" education can be completed with a professional diploma (maturité professionnelle) providing entry to technical colleges or universities of applied sciences at university level.


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