Educational attainment

This indicator shows the distribution of the levels of educational attainment between the various population groups living in Switzerland. Educational attainment is a decisive factor in people’s socio-economic status.

From an integration perspective, the aim is to reduce the share of people without post-compulsory education and to increase the share with a tertiary level qualification.


Compulsory education: Under the HarmoS Agreement, compulsory education lasts 11 years. It covers primary and lower secondary level. Primary education spans a period of eight years, including pre-school or first learning cycle, while lower secondary lasts three years.

Upper secondary level: This follows on from compulsory education. According to the HarmoS Agreement, it starts 11 years after the start of primary level and comprises generation education options on the one hand and vocational options on the other. Courses generally last between two and four years and lead to a federal academic or vocational baccalaureate, a specialised school diploma, a Federal VET Diploma or a Federal VET Certificate. Upper secondary level qualifications allow holders to pursue tertiary education.

Tertiary level: There are two different pathways at tertiary level: professional education and higher education. Professional education comprises a wide variety of training courses (around 460 disciplines). The qualifications awarded by PET colleges and higher technical schools involve a qualification at upper secondary level and in the latter case, several years of professional experience. Higher education institutions comprise universities (i.e. cantonal universities and federal institutes of technology), universities of applied sciences and universities of teacher education, as well as other higher education institutions that are partially or entirely publicly funded. These courses lead to a diploma, Bachelor’s degree, Master’s degree or a PhD (at universities only).


Share of the permanent resident population aged 15 and over by educational attainment.

To determine a person’s educational attainment, the different levels of education studied are ordered hierarchically. The person’s educational attainment (or highest completed educational level) is used to determine level of education. Three different levels are used:

Compulsory education
- compulsory education not completed;
- compulsory education completed;
- commercial or general education school (1 year), household or language training.

Upper secondary level
- basic vocational training;
- apprenticeship;
- full-time vocational school;
- general education school;
- academic baccalaureate, vocational baccalaureate, teacher training college.

Tertiary level
- advanced federal PET diploma or certificate;
- professional or technical school;
- PET college or higher technical school;
- university, university of applied sciences, university of teacher education or federal institute of technology.


Federal Statistical Office Section Demography and Migration
Espace de l'Europe 10
CH-2010 Neuchâtel



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