What you should know about Swiss boarding schools

The educational system in Switzerland is different for each canton. Thus, most decisions on the running of schools are taken at the cantonal level.

The complete period of schooling in Switzerland consists of 12 years. Compulsory primary education of 6 years is followed by secondary education levels I and II. After completing level II, the 9 years of compulsory education is finished. Depending on the school, the student can then go on to attain the Abitur or Matura, comparable to the A-Levels.

If you are looking for an appropriate school in Switzerland, you can choose between the following types of institutions:

  • Gymnasium
  • High school
  • Primary school
  • Secondary school

Depending on the type of school, the following school leaving certificates are possible:

  • Swiss Matura
  • German Abitur (after 12 years at school)
  • American High School Diploma
  • International Baccalaureate (IB)
  • French Baccalaureate

Multicultural Education

With its 4 languages – German, French, Italian and Rhaeto-Romanic – Switzerland has encouraged multicultural education for a long time. In recent years this development has been promoted even further because of Switzerland’s increasing international relations, worldwide mobility, as well as the growing number of foreigners who have settled in Switzerland.
As a rule, approximately 100,000 students from various regions of Switzerland and hundreds of different nationalities attend private schools in Switzerland, which all belong to the Association of Swiss Private Schools (VSP). This association was founded in 1906 and currently has 260 member schools.
Private educational institutions as well as establishments for further education form an important complementary function to the government educational system, as they lay a lot of emphasis on a differentiated and innovative range of courses.

Multicultural Coexistence

The demanding training programmes in Switzerland prepare students for internationally accredited diplomas, which are required for further study in national and international institutions. Additionally, official Swiss, American, English, German, French and Italian school leaving certificates are offered. It is also possible to graduate with the internationally recognized 'International Baccalaureat' diploma in English or French.
Many Swiss boarding schools are recognized as bilingual schools, meaning that lessons are taught in the regional tongue as well as in a second language (German, French, English or Italian), thus encouraging language abilities and cultural understanding.
Private schools are supervised by the canton’s respective authorities and abide by the canton’s school legislation.


There are various financing plans available for boarding schools. Generally, the legal guardian is responsible for the basic education of the child. However, each school offers various support plans, which need to be requested individually. Find out about government aided financing schemes directly from the boarding school in question or through the Association of Swiss Private Schools.

Gifted Student Award
Many boarding schools award selected students with the “Gifted Student Award”, as well as discounts for siblings.
Gifted student awards are disbursed to encourage specific talents, in the sports, artistic or academic sectors for example. If your child possesses above-average capabilities, inquire at the boarding school about the requirements for the “Gifted Student Award”.
If more than one child of the same family are visiting the same school, it is possible in individual cases to receive financial discounts. This discount is not very high and is only offered by a few schools.

Further information on boarding schools in Switzerland can be obtained at the Association of Swiss Private Schools:

Verband Schweizerischer Privatschulen (VSP)
Informations- und Vermittlungsstelle des Verbandes
Schweizerischer Privatschulen (VSP)
Hotelgasse 1
3000 Bern 7
Tel.: +41 (0) 31 328 40 50
Fax.: +41 (0)31 328 40 55
E-Mail: info@swiss-schools.ch

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