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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




Secondary education II


12 to 15 years old

Orientation cycle

3 years (9CO, 10CO, 11CO)

15 to 19 years old


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


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


As of 2013, English language will be introduced starting 7P (primary)


Nota bene: As of the start of the new school year 2014, children aged between 8 to 11 years old (middle school 5P to 8P) will also go to school on Wednesday morning.



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.

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 6th school year (11-12 years) to the Final Year (17-18 years) and can prepare them for the French Baccalaureate option international.


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 information...source: www.vaud.ch

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