Schooling systems in the Lake Geneva Region

Geneva's system schooling

Primary education 

  • 4 to 8 years old - Elementary cycle 4 years (1P, 2P, 3P, 4P)
  • 8 to 12 years old - Middle cycle - 4 years ( 5P, 6P, 7P, 8P9)

Secondary education I 

  • 12 to 15 years old - Orientation cycle - 3 years (9CO, 10CO, 11CO)

Secondary education II 

  • 15 to 19 years old - College, Upper-secondary level education, Professional training courses

Maturité (equivalent to the Baccalaureate / A-levels UK/High-school diploma USA)

Higher Education (Tertiary) - after 19 years old


Universities of Applied Sciences (HES) 

Vocational Education Institutions

 Geneva schooling system summary table

Compulsory schooling starts at 4 years old, it is numbered from 1 to 11:

  • Elementary cycle: 1P - 2P - 3P - 4P
  • Middle cycle:         5P - 6P - 7P - 8P
  • Orientation cycle   9CO - 10CO - 11CO

Geneva schooling system in detail

Bilingual Federal VET

(vocational education and training) Diploma in commerce

New apprenticeship program supported by the Confederation & the Canton of Geneva and instituted by the Office for orientation, vocational and continuing training (OFPC).
Since 2013, the canton de Genève offers a new bilingual Federal VET in the field of commerce. This innovative project is supported by the Confederation and orchestrated by the Department of Education, Culture and Sport (DIP). It is intended for future apprentices looking to sign up for a bilingual Federal Vet Diploma in commerce, profile E, in the two following branches:  Services & administration and Travel agencies. Swiss federal VET is characterized specifically by school bilingual courses (1-2 days per week), the remaining days are dedicated to work in a bilingual (English & French) company. 

Leaflet CFC
Leaflet: Prepare you futur
At stake: a "Bilingual Federal VET diploma in commerce."

French education system

As in Switzerland, French public schools have a high quality of education and are free. Children from 3 to 6 years may optionally go to infant school. Thereafter, a compulsory elementary education is given to children from 6 to 11 years at the primary school of their commune of residence. A first part of secondary education, intended for pupils from 11 to 15 years, is compulsory and takes place in ‘Colleges of General Education’ or in ‘Colleges of Technical Education’.

The remainder of secondary education is taught in secondary schools and leads to obtaining the Baccalaureate certificate (A-levels UK / High-school diploma USA), allowing conditional access to French and Swiss universities.

Children may also attend the ‘Collège Lycée International Ferney-Voltaire’ – a public school – whose schooling is free but where a contribution is requested for schooling given to foreign nationals. The school caters for pupils from the 6thschool year (11-12 years) to the Final Year (17-18 years) and can prepare them for the French Baccalaureate option international. 

  De la maternelle au baccalauréat:(from infant school to the Baccalaureate certificate) 

Canton of Vaud education system

The Canton of Vaud has around a hundred schools. Public schools in the Canton of Vaud provide high quality schooling, when compared internationally, with priority given to language learning (notably English and the Swiss national languages – German, French and Italian). 
For further

Department of private education

The Department of public education exercises overall control over private education in Geneva within the areas of compulsory and post-compulsory schooling, and professional training. The Department’s role is to monitor those areas. To this end, it issues licences for opening and running private schools, and processes teaching authorisation requests. 

It also aims to inform the public, as well as the schools, and to publish the list of authorised private schools on the Internet.

International schools


calendars of school vacations

Canton of Geneva

Canton of Vaud