Upper-secondary specialised school

Key terms: Mobility and exchange / Occupational, educational and career guidance

Upper-secondary specialised schools are schools which provide general education at upper-secondary level. They offer preparation for professional education and training (PET) in specific occupational fields at PET colleges (upper-secondary specialised school programme) and universities of applied sciences (specialised Baccalaureate programme). They provide entirely school-based preparation for professional education and training at tertiary level, oriented towards a particular occupational field. Thus, they represent an alternative programme to Federal Vocational Baccalaureate and to Baccalaureate programmes. The upper-secondary specialised schools developed from the Diplommittelschule (DMS), which they have replaced since 2003/2004. Around 5% of the students complete the 3-year upper-secondary specialised school programme and the specialised Baccalaureate programme. Most of those who choose upper-secondary specialised school programmes are female.

Upper-secondary specialised schools must be recognised by the Swiss Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK). The recognition is based on the Regulations on the Recognition of Certificates from Upper-Secondary Specialised Schools and on various guidelines issued by the EDK. There are upper-secondary specialised schools in 22 cantons. They are mostly operated by the cantons; in addition, there are also private providers of upper-secondary specialised schools.

Specialised school programme with certificate

Enrolment at an upper-secondary specialised school occurs after compulsory education (at the age of 14). The admission requirements are regulated by each canton. Entrance examination and/or admission interviews can be conducted. Admission can also be granted without examination. The programme leads to a Swiss recognised upper-secondary specialised school certificate. This qualification enables admission to PET colleges in the studied occupational field.

Specialised Baccalaureate programme

The specialised Baccalaureate programme is a one-year additional course, which leads to a Swiss recognised Specialised Baccalaureate. It is followed by a 3-year upper-secondary specialised school programme. Not all cantons offer a specialised Baccalaureate programme. The Specialised Baccalaureate enables direct admission to specific studies at universities of applied sciences in the studied occupational field. According to the choice of studies, the enrolment to a university of applied sciences may require an aptitude assessment. The Specialised Baccalaureate in the occupational field «educational science» entitles to direct admission to studies for pre-school and primary-school-level teachers at a university of teacher education. Together with the university aptitude test, according to the regulation of the «Passerelle», the Specialised Baccalaureate grants admission to university studies.

Catch up on qualification as an adult

Adults can complete a 3-year upper-secondary specialised school programme or a specialised Baccalaureate programme at a recognised full-time or part-time school for adults.

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Last update of this page: 09.08.2017