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  1. Introduction

  2. Schools

    1. Kindergarten

    2. Volksschule ("Elementary school")

    3. Berufslehre ("Apprenticeship")

    4. Gymnasium ("Secondary school")

    5. Universität ("University")

    6. Fachhochschule ("Technical College")

  3. Education curriculum

  4. Education on the Internet

1. Introduction:

Since Switzerland has no natural resources, education and knowledge have become very important resources. Therefore Switzerland claims to have one of the world's best education systems. Because the cantons are responsible for educational services (kindergarten, schools, universities), education may vary significantly between cantons. For example, some cantons start to teach the first foreign language at fourth grade, while others start at seventh grade. This can turn moving with children between cantons into a nightmare.

In Switzerland, most children go to public schools. Private schools usually are expensive and people tend to think that students of private schools probably didn't make it at the public school. Public schools include Kindergarten, Volksschule ("elementary school"), Gymnasium ("secondary school") and Universitäten ("universities"). Most municipalities provide kindergarten, primary and secondary schools. Most cantons provide at least one secondary school. There are eight universities in Switzerland, six are run by cantons, two are run by the confederation.

After elementary school, kids may either choose to go to secondary school or to start an apprenticeship. In the later case, after finishing the apprenticeship, it is still possible to start an academic career at either a secondary school or a so called Fachhochschule (FH) ("technical college").

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2. Schools:

In Switzerland, every child must attend at least the elementary school. Our country provides various schools at different levels. Because the cantons are responsible for the educational system, the names, the subjects, the starting age of the students and the duration vary significantly between the cantons. The rest of this document therefore focuses on how it works in the canton Zürich.

2.1 Kindergarten:

Unlike school, children are not required to attend Kindergarten, but most children do go to Kindergarten. They do not learn to read and write but shall develop their social capabilities and get used to sit quiet for a while and pay attention to the teacher. Children may attend Kindergarten for one year or two years. Because they are supposed to start school at the age of seven, they go to Kindergarten when they are five and six years old.

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2.2 Volksschule ("Elementary school"):

The Volksschule ("elementary school") is mandatory for all Swiss children. They must either attend the public school or must go to a private school. Elementary school starts at the age of seven and lasts at least eight, but usually nine years. Some schools offer an additional year for kids who haven't either yet decided what to do after school, haven't found a job to start an apprenticeship or haven't yet reached the age to start what they would like to do. The Volksschule is divided into Primarschule and Oberstufenschule:

In Zürich, Primarschule lasts six years. Usually, the children have only one teacher who teaches all subjects.

Oberstufenschule lasts three years. Usually, there are at least two teachers for each class, one teaches some, the second the other subjects. There may be other teachers for some special subjects like gym, needlework, cooking and so on.

Oberstufenschule itself is divided into three different levels: Sekundarschule, Realschule and Oberschule.

Sekundarschule is the highest level. Some apprenticeships require this level of education. It is particularly required if a student wants to attend a Gymnasium ("secondary school") afterwards. Sekundarschule includes math, geometry, native language (German in case of Zürich), first foreign language (french in Zürich), geography, history and more. In addition, students may attend other subjects like a second foreign language, usually English or Italian.

Realschule basically teaches the same subjects but not to the same extend.

Oberschule takes care of students who have difficulties in learning.

After Primarschule, students can also choose to go directly to Gymnasium ("secondary school") without going to the Oberstufenschule, but this would be a different kind of secondary school than after Oberstufenschule (see also curriculum)

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2.3 Berufslehre ("Apprenticeship"):

In Switzerland, most kids start a Berufslehre ("apprenticeship") after elementary school. Depending on the profession, an apprenticeship takes two to four years. Apprenticeships include all kinds of professions, from handicraft (mechanician, carpenter, baker, hairdresser etc.) to office worker (secretary, bookkeeper etc.). Apprentice will get trained at a company or organization, but also attend school for one or two days a week. Some companies also provide additional classes on their own.

After apprenticeship and depending on their education, young people can either start a job or join other schools for further education, including so called Fachhochschulen (previously known as Höhere Technische Lehranstalt, "technical colleges").

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2.4 Gymnasium ("Secondary school"):

There are various types of Gymnasia ("secondary schools") with different major subjects.

If a student goes to Gymnasium right after Primarschule, she or he would attend the Altsprachliches Gymnasium ("secondary school of ancient languages"). This school teaches Latin plus at least two other languages, but includes math and science subjects as well. It lasts six and a half years and is mandatory for students who want to become physician, priest and a few other professions.

For all other secondary schools, a student must attend at least two, but usually all three years of Oberstufenschule. The Mathematisches und Naturwissenschaftliches Gymnasium ("secondary school of math and science") focuses on math and science, but teaches German and two foreign languages as well (French and English or Italian). The Neusprachliches Gymnasium ("secondary school of modern languages") focuses on modern languages such as German, French, Italian and English, but includes some math and science as well. Finally, there is the Wirtschaftsgymnasium ("secondary school of economics") that focuses on economy.
All these secondary schools lasts four and a half years and lead to the so called Eidgenössische Matura ("federal graduation diploma") which is recognized at all universities in Switzerland and at most universities in foreign countries.

The Lehramtsschule in contrast leads to a Kantonale Matura ("cantonal graduation diploma"), which may be recognized only within the same canton (but this is currently changing). Typically, a student of the Lehramtsschule would become a teacher afterwards.

Even after an apprenticeship, it is still possible to get a graduation diploma at a so called Maturitätsschule ("graduation diploma school"). After finishing such a Maturitätsschule, a student can attend an university like a student who attended a Gymnasium. This path in the educational curriculum is known as Zweiter Bildungsweg ("secondary educational path").

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2.5 Universität ("University"):

There are eleven Universitäten ("universities") in Switzerland, nine of them are run by a canton, two are run by the confederation. In general, the universities run by the cantons provide non-technical subjects, whereas the universities run by the confederation provide technical subjects. The later are therefore called "Swiss federal institutes of technology".
To be able to attend an university, a student must have finished a Gymnasium and own a graduation diploma. The study at an university usually lasts four and a half years.

The following universities are run by a canton:

  1. Universität Basel (BS)

  2. Universität Bern (BE)

  3. Universität Fribourg (FR)

  4. Universität Genf (GE)

  5. Université de Lausanne (VD)

  6. Université de Neuchâtel (NE)

  7. Universität St. Gallen (SG)

  8. L'Università della Svizzera italiana (TI)

  9. Universität Zürich (ZH)

One of the universities run by the confederation is located in the German speaking part of Switzerland, the other in the French speaking part:

  1. Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zürich (ETHZ)

  2. École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)

After finishing her or his study, the person owns the title Doktor ("doctor") but is also called an Ingenieur ETH ("engineer ETH"). The abbreviation ETH allows to distinguish from an Ingenieur HTL ("engineer HTL").

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2.6 Fachhochschulen ("Technical college"):

After an apprenticeship, a young person can still start an academic career. Depending on the profession, she or he may attend a Fachhochschule ("technical college"). A technical college provides a similar education as the Swiss federal institutes of technology but not to the same extend. While an engineer ETH has a stronger theoretical background, an engineer HTL usually has more practical experiences because she or he has finished an apprenticeship which lasted four years. The study lasts three and a half years.

As an alternative to a full-time study, an employee may also attend a so called Abendtechnikum ("evening college"). She or he continues to work, but attends school at night and on saturdays. Some employers allow students either to do some homework at the office or provide some other easements. The evening college lasts six years.

Fachhochschulen (previously known as Höhere Technische Lehranstalten) are often also referred to as Ingenieurschule ("school for engineers") and are spread all over Switzerland:


Fachhochschule Aargau, Windisch (FHA)


Fachhochschule beider Basel, Muttenz (FHBB)

Schule für Gestaltung, Basel

Bern / Berne

Berner Fachhochschule

Freiburg / Fribourg:

École d'ingénieurs de Fribourg / Ingenieurschule Freiburg (EIF / ISF)


Centre de Lullier, Jussy

École d'ingénieurs de Genève (EIG)

La Haute école d'arts appliqués


Hochschule für Technik und Architektur Chur (HTA)


Fachhochschule Zentralschweiz


Haute école de gestion de Neuchâtel (HEG-NE)

L'École d'Ingénieurs du Canton de Neuchâtel (EICN)


Fachhochschule Solothurn - Hochschule für Technik

Hochschule für Wirtschaft Olten

St. Gallen:

Fachhochschule für Technik St. Gallen (ISG)

Fachhochschule für Wirtschaft St. Gallen (FHW)

Hochschule Rapperswil (HSR)

Interstaatliche Fachhochschule für Technik Buchs (NTB)


Scuola universitaria professionale della Svizzera italiana (SUPSI)


École d'ingénieurs du Canton de Vaud (eivd)

École d'ingénieurs de Changins, Nyon

École hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL)

Haute École de Gestion du Canton de Vaud (HEG-Vd)

Valais / Valais:

École d'ingénieurs du Valais / Hochschule für Technik Valais (EIV)

Etablissement d'Enseignement Professionnel Supérieur / Institut für Höhere Berufsbildung (EEPS / IHB)

Fernfachhochschule Schweiz, Brig (FFH)


Akademikergesellschaft für Erwachsenenfortbildung (AKAD)

Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst Zürich

Hochschule für Technik, Wirtschaft und Verwaltung, Zürich

Hochschule Wädenswil (ISW)

Technikum Winterthur Ingenieurschule des Kantons Zürich (ZHWIN; formerly known as "Technikum Winterthur", TWI)

Zürcher Höhere Wirtschafts- und Verwaltungsschule Winterthur (HWV)

La Haute Ecole Spécialisée de Suisse Occidentale (HES-SO)

Netz der Fachhochschulen (FH)

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3. Education curriculum:

There are many different opportunities for a child to get an education. The curriculum below shows some of the most common pathways through the educational system. Of course, there are many other ways to get an education and there are other schools and possibilities especially in the area of continuing education.







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Erwerbsleben ("Businesslife")

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4. Education on the Internet:

In Switzerland, there are a number of activities on the Internet that are related to education:

  1. The Center for continuing education at the ETH Zürich provides up-to-date information about all the opportunities in continuing education at the ETH Zürich (Post-Graduate Studies, Post-Graduate Courses, Short Courses). Moreover, additional useful information and addresses are given.

  2. EducETH, the education Server of the ETH Zürich, provides a platform to exchange subject-matters and information for Sekundarschulen

  3. Schools goes Internet, the book for brave teachers (Dr. Louis Perrochon)


Information for the Swiss abroad. Click for CURRENT Sample:



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Basel School of Design

Biel School of Engineering@

European Graduate School (EGS)@

Franklin College - accredited American four year liberal arts college.

Graduate Institute of International Studies@

Haute école valaisanne - university of applied sciences trains engineers, business economists, business data processing specialists, and tourism managers.

Institut de Finance et Management - business school offering degrees in communication, management, marketing, finance, and computer sciences.

International University in Geneva - offers undergraduate and graduate courses in Business Administration and Communication and Media.

Landegg International University - offers graduate and undergraduate degrees in various social science fields, all of which are taught based on the philosophy of applied spirituality.

Lemania College - specializes in undergraduate and business diploma programs. Intensive courses in French and English are also offered throughout the academic year and in summer.

NTB: Interstaatliche Ingenieurschule Neu-Technikum Buchs - School of engineering (mechanics and electronics)

Robert Kennedy University - an American university in Switzerland offering Bachelor, Masters, and Doctorate degrees online through distance learning.

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology - Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL)@

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology - Eidgenossiche Technische Hochschule Zurich (ETH)@

Swiss Institute for Art Research - documentation center for art history and art technology that specializes in Swiss art and artistic events in Switzerland.

Universite de Geneve@

University of Basel@

University of Berne@

University of Fribourg@

University of Lausanne@

University of Neuchatel@

University of St. Gallen@

University of Zurich@


Beautiful Geneva...Swiss Broadcasting Corporation's Net addition(bless you)
Plaza WebCam....two cams(click on them).....showing an overview over Kloten, near Zurich, Switzerland, where the Airport is located. When you are lucky you can see planes. During pretty good weather conditions you can see the alps.
Airport view of the Geneva airport thanks to the Swiss Real Estate Company.
SunSITE Live Cam......check out the many views of this interactive camera which is located in the center of Zurich overlooking a rather busy crossing and bridge with a nice view onto the main railway station.
Eye in Sky...Picturesque site from Lausanne. Camera points either towards Geneva with Lake Geneva in the foreground or towards The Alps (height of 2222 metres (7200ft)
Baden WebCam.....Watch the current weather condition over Baden. Update every 60 seconds. Info at site.


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