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General information

Gymnasiums are for highly academic students who want to study at university. Only 20-25% of children attend Gymnasium. In Switzerland, university means mainly academic subjects such a ethnology, economics, maths, languages but also medicine and law. If you are planning on studying architecture, engineering, or other applied subjects, you will need a Matura to go to ETH or university, but if you wish to go to a University of Applied Sciences (Fachhochschule), then you may want to check out the other Post-secondary options.

In the new school system (HarmoS) children are selected for entry to the Gymnasium at the end of the 3rd Year of the Secondary School, at the age of about 15.

The assessment is based on academic grades, although learning attitudes and social behaviour are considered important, too. Grades range between 1 and 6 (6 being the best).

All subjects are weighted the same.

To be promoted to the Gymnasium pupils in the P (Progymnasium) and E (Erweitertes Niveau) streams must attain the following marks:

  • P – 34 points and a grade point average of 4.

  • E – 40 points and a grade point average of 5.

Gymnasium lasts 4 years. However, repeating a year is common and a number of students leave to take up an apprenticeship or attend other types of schools.

The school operates 5 days a week.

There are a maximum of 25 students in a class.

Students choose a specialisation (Schwerpunkt) before entering Gymnasium. Your choice of Gymnasium will depend on your specialisation (see list below). All students have the same basic education, but will go in more depth in their specialisation subjects. The choice will not limit your university choice. You can take Spanish as your specialisation and still study Law or medicine later at university.

Except for Bäumlihof, all Gymnasiums offer a bilingual Matura which means students study certain subjects in English. The subjects depend on the school, but students must have at least 800 classes in English (on top of the English language classes).

Münster Gymnasium and Gymnasium Bäumlihof also offer an IB (International Baccalaureate) program in German and English. See for the Münster programme

A brief list of what each of the five Basel Stadt Gymnasiums has to offer:

GYMNASIUM BÄUMLIHOF –Zu den drei Linden 80, 4058 Basel.

  • Tel. 061 606 33 11

  • Latin (including beginners), Italian (including beginners), Spanish, Physics and Applied Maths, Biology and Chemistry, Art, Music.

  • Preparation for International Language Certificates.

  • Bilingual IB (International Baccalaureate)

  • Sports classes offer a more flexible environment for high level athletes.

  • They also offer GBplus, a pilot program, where students study independently a limited number of subjects over a few weeks, with a final exam at the end of the period. The subjects then change for the following period. The structure is close to that at university.

GYMNASIUM KIRSCHGARTEN –Hermann Kinkelin Strasse 10, 4051 Basel.

  • Tel. 061 205 75 00

  • Physics and Applied Maths, Biology and Chemistry, Art

  • Preparation for International Language Certificates.

  • Regional Life Sciences Centre.

  • English Immersion.

  • Bilingual Matura.

GYMNASIUM LEONHARD – Kohlenberg 17, 4051 Basel.

  • Tel. 061 267 55 33

  • Beginners Latin, Italian (including beginners), Spanish, Art, Music.

  • Preparation for International Language Certificates.

  • English Immersion-due to limited numbers priority is given to non-native speakers.

  • Bilingual Matura.

GYMNASIUM AM MÜNSTERPLATZ – Münsterplatz 15, Postfach, 4001 Basel.

  • Tel. 061 267 88 70.

  • Latin (including beginners), Ancient Greek, Spanish, English, PPP (Philosophy, Psychology, Pedagogy.).

  • Preparation for International Language Certificates.

  • English Immersion.

  • Bilingual Matura and Bilingual IB (International Baccalaureate)

WIRTSCHAFTSGYMNASIUM –Andreas Heusler Strasse 41, 4052 Basel,

  • Tel. 061 375 92 00.

  • Business and Law, PPP (Philosophy, Psychology, Pedagogy) from August 2014.

  • Preparation for International Language Certificates.

  • YES program (Young Enterprise Switzerland): create your own mini-enterprise.

  • Exchange program with Natick High School in Boston.

  • English Immersion.

  • Bilingual Matura

Everyday life

Example of a second year schedule for a student from Kirscharten Gymnasium, specialising in PAM (physics and applied maths). All classes are the same for all second grade students, except for the two specialisation classes.


What about german?

Studying at Gymnasium is highly academic and thus requires strong language skills. You cannot enter Gymnasium with no prior German. However, the school will support students with non-native levels of German if they have the intellectual ability to follow the highly academic path.

It is very important to discuss your child’s needs as early as possible (even one year before starting is a good idea, but before the beginning of the school year is a must) to get proper support and flexibility in how the student will be evaluated. The German grades can be counted separately for up to two years, if you and the school rector have agreed to this at the beginning of the school year. This flexible approach can also be applied to French, if necessary.

Lunch and after school

All Gymnasiums have a cafeteria, or students often go into town to buy lunch. Time outside class time is not supervised and students are free to come and go.

The gymnasium offer various club activities (choir, theatre, cooking, Latin, French conversation, Chinese, Japanese, model building, etc.). And there is a wealth of activities on offer in the region: all sports are you can imagine, music, theatre, creative activities, etc. The best is to ask your neighbours or at the local community centre.

Special support

As often as possible, special needs are taken care of in the school. School psychologists, special needs teachers, support in maths or languages, etc. are all available. Learning disabilities must be catered for (dyslexia or dyscalculia, for example). You will need a report from a professional evaluation. It is important to discuss requirements with the main teacher. You may also want to talk to other teachers whose subjects require particular adaptations as information isn’t always properly communicated amongst teachers. However, all students must be able to meet the high academic requirements of the Gymnasium.

Do not hesitate to ask the school about your child’s needs, it is always best to do this as early as possible.

learning methods and objectives

With the introduction of the new school system, all learning objectives and content are being reviewed. The process is not yet finished so only a general outline is given here.

Mission Statement taken from the Münster Gymnasium Website

Educational Goals

1) The acquisition of knowledge and skills in academic subjects, a strong general education and the ability to think independently are the focus of our teaching.

2) Students achieve a high level of achievement and a pronounced sense of responsibility. Students are given individual support wherever possible.

3) Our school assists students as they make the transition to institutes of higher learning.

Social Interaction

1) The social interaction at our school is individual, fair and respectful.

2) There are clear rules to ensure that lessons can be conducted in a constructive, harmonious and peaceful atmosphere (regulations concerning order in the classroom, attendance and school holidays).

3) Teachers and students work together to create a stimulating teaching and learning atmosphere and varying attitudes and conflicts are discussed openly.

Quality Assurance

1) Employees must adhere to written agreements.

2) The school administration must provide clear and swift information to employees, students, parents and the general public.

3) The cooperation of the teaching staff and the school administration is characterized by mutual support, openness and respect.

4) The school infrastructure is up-to-date, workable and user-friendly and proper maintenance is ensured.

Terms and Conditions

1) The administration, building maintenance and technical service teams work together to coordinate and optimize their work processes.

2) The school has a specific agenda in the hiring of teaching personnel. The personal, pedagogical, didactic and professional requirements for teachers must be directly linked to their ability to foster the school’s educational goals.

3) The curriculum is monitored and refined by the department heads on a regular basis.

Teaching and Learning

1) A wide variety of teaching methods is used for the effective acquisition of skills and knowledge.

2) The curriculum is compulsory, yet it allows for independent learning and additional learning content.

3) Students accept their share of responsibility and participate actively in the learning process.

4) The subject topics and content unite to create a meaningful whole.

Testing and Evaluation

1) The examination tasks are conceived in order to test memorization, comprehension, and the ability to transfer acquired knowledge creatively. Process and product-oriented judgement is also evaluated.

2) Test content, evaluation criteria and grading are transparent and easily understood by students.

3) In each department, obligatory criteria for test evaluation are to be determined and agreed upon.

There are 11 basic subjects, a specialisation (see General Information), an additional supplementary subject (different from the specialisation) and an extended essay (Maturaarbeit).

At Gymnasium you will study: German, French, English, Geography, History, Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Music or Art, introduction to Economics and Law, sports. The number of hours depends on the year and you will not always have all subjects. For instance, at present, physics only starts in the second year of gymnasium and you don’t have biology in the last year.

You will have special project weeks during which you work in a team on a specific topic and present your work at the end. This is a preparation to the final Maturaarbeit (extended essay).

What next?

Students with a grade point average of 4*, leave with a Matura/bilingual Matura. You pass the whole Matura or nothing, unlike A-levels where you can get an A-level in Maths, but fail in French.

The Matura guarantees entry to any Swiss University without any further selection, except for medicine and related subjects which require an entrance examination. With your Matura certificate you can just go and enrol at the university of your choice, including ETH.

Foreign universities increasingly recognize this qualification. If the university you wish to attend does not have experience with the Swiss Matura, ask for help from your Gymnasium to have the curriculum explained and give examples of what other foreign universities have required in the way of grades to be admitted. In England, As for A-level are more and more common, in Switzerland, 6s are very rare.

* As always in the Basel system, grades below 4 need to be ‘double’ compensated. For example, if you have an average of 3.5 in German, it means you are missing 0.5 points to a 4. You will need to double compensate this, meaning you need an extra 1 point in another subject to make up, a 5 in biology, for example or 4,5 in English and history.