Primary and secondary level

The duration of compulsory education, which includes primary level and secondary level I, varies from 8 to 9 years, depending on the canton. State schools are free of charge. The aim of secondary level I is to impart general education and culture as well as to prepare pupils for professional life or for the transition to higher education. Most cantons offer a 10th school year, the aim of which is to enhance key qualifications. Secondary level II comprises vocational colleges, specialised middle schools and matura schools (giving access to University). As a rule, the courses of training/education last 3-4 years and lead to a Federal Diploma of Vocational Education and Training, a diploma or a “Maturität” certificate.

Integration classes

Many communes have set up integration or reception classes in order to facilitate the integration of children and young people aged below 16 who come to Switzerland but whose language skills prevent them from following lessons. The aim of these classes is to improve their language skills and to facilitate their integration into Swiss daily life. The children and young people then continue their education in normal classes.


Vocational training in Switzerland is based on a dual system that includes host companies and supplementary teaching in a vocational school, which takes place either on certain days or in blocks. There are also specialised trade schools and full-time vocational schools with practical teaching. Apprenticeships usually last between two and four years depending on the branch, and are concluded with a diploma that is recognised throughout Switzerland (“Federal Certificate of Vocational Education and Training / VET Certificate” or “Federal Diploma of Vocational Education and Training / VET Diploma”). This type of vocational training is very widespread in Switzerland: around 70 percent of young people begin an apprenticeship once they finish compulsory education. Thus they receive highly qualified training that is tailored to the needs of the economy.

Looking for a school?

If you are looking for a school for your child, at either pre-school, primary or secondary I level, we advise you to contact your local authorities. Regarding the other schools (matura school, university, etc.), please contact the institutions concerned directly. Present your residence permit and your health insurance certificate.

Hotel schools

The Swiss hotel and tourism sector enjoys an outstanding international reputation. Not only were Swiss hotel management institutions the first to provide such specialized programs in the 19th century, but the Swiss have succeeded in creating a modern and thriving combination of hotel management and international business in a multicultural environment.

Students from all over the globe study at Swiss hotel schools to ensure that they get a professional and future-oriented education. Hotels and tourist organizations worldwide are therefore keen on employing Swiss-trained ‘hoteliers’, due to their ability to succeed in a highly competitive environment.

According to a survey conducted by Laureate Institute, the three schools that received the most “Top 5” rankings for an international career were: the Ecole Hotelière de Lausanne, Glion Institute of Higher Education, and Les Roches International School of Hotel Management.

Private schools

Private schools have a long tradition in Switzerland, above all in the French-speaking part of the country. They are primarily attended by foreign children and benefit from a reputation which extends beyond national boundaries. However, quality naturally has its price. If you wish to place your offspring in an international school (for example, the French school, the German school,the English school, etc.), the best way is to contact the diplomatic representation of your country in Switzerland.

Swiss Federation of Private Schools:

Association of Private Schools: or

International schools for your children

Some of the most prestigious schools on the shores of Lake Geneva:

  • International school of Geneva ( This school groups over 3000 students, on both primary and secondary levels (high school) spread in three locations. Annual tuition fees range from 23,345 CHF to 29,930 CHF.
  • Collège du Léman ( : Enfantine – Primaire (is preparing to the French baccalaureat exams, international and Swiss Maturity). French and American-English section. Annual tuition fees from 18,500 CHF to 71,000 CHF.
  • Institut le Roset ( The most prestigious boarding school in the world. Annual tuition fees: around 100,000 CHF.

French for expats:

  • Swiss French school ( A brand new school with a great teaching method. Schools based in Lausanne and Geneva.