Baccalaureate schools

Key terms: EVAMAR: evaluation of the Baccalaureate reform / Mobility and exchange / Occupational, educational and career guidance

Baccalaureate schools prepare students for further education at tertiary level, namely at a university. There are Baccalaureate schools in all cantons. The Confederation and the cantons jointly regulate the recognition of Baccalaureate schools.

The recognition of Baccalaureate schools is governed by the Federal Council's Ordinance on the Recognition of Baccalaureates (MAV) which entered into force in 1995 and the identical Regulation on the Recognition of Baccalaureates (MAR) issued by the Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Education (EDK). The Baccalaureate has since been evaluated in two stages (EVAMAR, the evaluation of the baccalaureate reform). In the wake of the second evaluation (EVAMAR II), the Confederation and the cantons laid down basic mathematics and first language skills demonstrating general scholastic aptitude, in order to secure admission to university without any need for additional examinations in the long term.

Organisation of Baccalaureate education

Enrolment in a Baccalaureate school usually takes place in the last year of lower secondary level or following the lower secondary level. The Baccalaureate programme generally lasts four years. In the case of a three-year Baccalaureate programme (enrolment after lower secondary level), preparatory Baccalaureate education must take place in the last year of lower secondary education. Alongside Baccalaureate schools that last four years (short-cycle Baccalaureate schools), some German-speaking cantons also have Baccalaureate schools in which enrolment takes place after primary level (long-cycle Baccalaureate schools, which last six years). The French-speaking and Italian-speaking parts of Switzerland do not have any long-cycle Baccalaureate schools.

Each Canton stipulates the conditions for admission to a Baccalaureate school. The decision is based on an assessment of the student’s achievements. This may take the shape of an overall assessment, the student’s grades, an entrance examination, or a combination of these instruments.

Catching up on a Baccalaureate

Adults who wish to catch up on a Baccalaureate can attend a recognised Baccalaureate school for adults (duration: at least three years). It is also possible to obtain a Baccalaureate without attending a recognised Baccalaureate school or a Baccalaureate school for adults: the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) provides the option of taking the Swiss Baccalaureate examination. It's up to candidates to decide how they wish to prepare for the Swiss Baccalaureate examinations. They may either study autodidactically or attend a private Baccalaureate preparatory school.

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Last update of this page: 28.10.2021