A gymnasium is a type of school with a strong emphasis on academic learning, and providing advanced secondary education in some parts of Europe comparable to British grammar schools, sixth form colleges and US preparatory high schools. In its current meaning, it usually refers to secondary schools focused on preparing students to enter a university for advanced academic study. Before the 20th century, the system of gymnasiums was a widespread feature of educational system throughout many countries of central, north, eastern and southern Europe.
The word "γυμνάσιον" (gymnasion) was first used in Ancient Greece, meaning a locality for both physical and intellectual education of young men. The latter meaning of a place of intellectual education persisted in many European languages (including Greek, German, Russian, the Nordic languages, Dutch and Polish), whereas in English and Spanish the former meaning of a place for physical education was retained instead, more familiarly in the shortened form gym.
The gymnasium is a secondary school which prepares the student for higher education at a university. They are thus meant for the more academically minded students, who are sifted out at about the age of 10–13. In addition to the usual curriculum, students of a gymnasium often study Latin and Ancient Greek.
Some gymnasiums provide general education, while others have a specific focus. (This also differs from country to country.) The four traditional branches are:
- humanities (specialising in classical languages, such as Latin and Greek)
- modern languages (students are required to study at least three languages)
- mathematics and physical sciences
- economics and other social sciences (students are required to study economics, world history, social studies and business informatics)
Curricula differ from school to school but generally include literature, mathematics, informatics, physics, chemistry, biology, geography, art (as well as crafts and design), music, history, philosophy, civics/citizenship, social sciences, and several foreign languages.
Schools concentrate not only on academic subjects, but also on producing well-rounded individuals, so physical education and religion or ethics are compulsory, even in non-denominational schools which are prevalent. For example, the German constitution guarantees the separation of church and state, so although religion or ethics classes are compulsory, students may choose to study a specific religion or none at all.
Today, a number of other areas of specialization exist, such as gymnasiums specializing in economics, technology or domestic sciences. In some countries, there is a notion of progymnasium, which is equivalent to beginning classes of the full gymnasium, with the rights to continue education in a gymnasium. Here, the prefix pro- is equivalent to pre-, indicating that this curriculum precedes normal gymnasium studies.
In the German-speaking, Central, Nordic, Benelux (Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg) and Baltic European countries, this meaning for "gymnasium" (that is a secondary school preparing the student for higher education at a university) has been the same at least since the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century. The term was derived from the classical Greek word "γυμνάσιον" (gymnasion), which was originally applied to an exercising ground in ancient Athens. Here teachers gathered and gave instruction between the hours devoted to physical exercises and sports, and thus the term became associated with and came to mean an institution of learning.
This use of the term did not prevail among the Romans, but was revived during the Renaissance in Italy, and from there passed into the Netherlands and Germany during the 15th century. In 1538, Johannes Sturm founded at Strasbourg the school which became the model of the modern German gymnasium. In 1812, a Prussian regulation ordered all schools with the right to send their students to the university to bear the name of gymnasium. By the 20th century, this practice was followed in almost the entire Austrian-Hungarian, German, and Russian Empires. In the modern era, many countries which have gymnasiums were once part of these three empires.
In Albania a gymnasium (Albanian: Gjimnaz) education takes three years following a compulsory nine-year elementary education and ending with a final aptitude test called Albanian: Matura Shtetërore. The final test is standardized at the state level and serves as an entrance qualification for universities.
These can be either public (state-run, tuition-free) or private (fee-paying). The subjects taught are mathematics, Albanian language, one to three foreign languages, history, geography, computer science, the natural sciences (biology, chemistry, physics), history of art, music, philosophy, logic, physical education and the social sciences (sociology, ethics, psychology, politics and economy).
The gymnasium is generally viewed as a destination for the best performing students and as the type of school that serves primarily to prepare students for university, while other students go to technical/vocational schools. Therefore, gymnasiums often base their admittance criteria on an entrance exam, elementary school grades or some combination of the two.
In Austria the Gymnasium has two stages, from the age of 11 to 14, and from 15 to 18, concluding with Matura. Historically, three types existed. The Humanistisches Gymnasium focuses on Ancient Greek and Latin. The Neusprachliches Gymnasium puts its focus on actively spoken languages. The usual combination is English, French and Latin; sometimes French can be swapped with another foreign language (like Italian, Spanish or Russian). The Realgymnasium puts its focus on science. In the last couple of decades more autonomy was granted to schools and various types were developed, focusing on sports, music or economics, for example.
In the Czech Republic and Slovakia, gymnázium (also spelled gymnasium) is a type of school that provides secondary education. Gymnázium leads to the maturita exam. There are different types of gymnázium distinguished by the length of study. In the Czech Republic there is eight-year, six-year and four-year types, and in Slovakia there are eight-year and four-year types, of which the latter is most common. In both countries, there are also bilingual (Czech or Slovak with English, French, Spanish, Italian or German) and private gymnáziums.
Danish gymnasia provide secondary education of a duration of three years, and qualify, on graduation, for entry into a university. Compared to the somewhat equivalent A-levels in the UK, Danish gymnasia have more mandatory subjects. The subjects are divided into levels, where A-levels run through all three years, B-levels two years and C-levels one year (apart from PE which exists as a C-level lasting tree years). There are three types of Gymnasiums:
- STX: A general education without a specific direction.
- HTX: Higher Technical Exam, with a STEM emphasis
- HHX: Higher Business Exam, with an emphasis on business, finance, management and entrepreneurship
German gymnasiums are selective schools. They offer the most academically promising youngsters a quality education that is free in all state-run schools (and generally not above €50/month cost in Church-run schools, though there are some expensive private schools). Gymnasiums may expel students who academically underperform their classmates or behave in a way that is seen as unacceptable.
Historically, the German Gymnasium also included in its overall accelerated curriculum postsecondary education at college level and the degree awarded substituted for the bachelor's degree (Baccalaureat) previously awarded by a college or university so that universities in Germany became exclusively graduate schools. In the United States, the German Gymnasium curriculum was used at a number of prestigious universities, such as the University of Michigan, as a model for their undergraduate college programs.
Pupils study subjects like German, mathematics, physics, chemistry, geography, biology, arts, music, physical education, religion, history and civics/citizenship/social sciences and computer science. They are also required to study at least two foreign languages. The usual combinations are English and French or English and Latin, although many schools make it possible to combine English with another language, most often Spanish, Ancient Greek, or Russian. Religious education classes are a part of the curricula of all German schools, yet not compulsory; a student or their parents or guardians can conscientiously object to taking them, in which case the student (along with those whose religion is not being taught in the school) is taught ethics. In state schools, a student who is not baptised into either the Catholic or Protestant faiths is allowed to choose which of these classes to take. The only exception to this is in the state of Berlin, where the subject ethics is mandatory for all students and (Christian) religious studies can only be chosen additionally. A similar situation is found in Brandenburg where the subject life skills, ethics, and religious education (Lebensgestaltung, Ethik, Religionskunde, LER) is the primary subject but parents/guardians or students older than 13 can choose to replace it with (Christian) religious studies or take both. The intention behind LER is that students should get an objective insight on questions of personal development and ethics as well as on the major world religions.
For younger students nearly the entire curriculum of a Gymnasium is compulsory; in higher grades elective subjects are available and some of the formerly compulsory subjects can be dropped, but the choice is not as wide as in other school systems, like US high schools.
Although some specialist Gymnasiums have English or French as the language of instruction, at most Gymnasiums lessons (apart from foreign language courses) are conducted in Standard German.
The number of years of instruction at a Gymnasium differs between the states. It varies between six and seven years in Berlin and Brandenburg (primary school is six years in both as opposed to four years in the rest of Germany) and eight in Bavaria, Hesse and Baden-Württemberg among others. While in Saxony and Thuringia students have never been taught more than eight years in Gymnasium (by default), nearly all states now conduct the Abitur examinations, which complete the Gymnasium education, after 12 years of primary school and Gymnasium combined. In addition, some states still or again offer a 13-year curriculum leading to the Abitur. These final examinations are centrally drafted and controlled (Zentralabitur) in all German states except for Rhineland-Palatinate and provide a qualification to attend any German university.
In Italy originally the Ginnasio indicated a typology of five-year junior high school (age 11 to 16) and preparing to the three year Classical Lyceum (age 16 to 19), a high school focusing on classical studies and humanities. After the school reform that unified the junior high school system, the term Ginnasio stayed to indicate the first two year of Liceo Classico, now five years long. An Italian high school student who enrolls in Liceo Classico follows this study path: Quarta Ginnasio (gymnasium fourth year, age 14), Quinta Ginnasio (gymnasium fifth year, age 15), Prima Liceo (lyceum first year, age 16), Seconda Liceo (lyceum second year, age 17) and Terza Liceo (lyceum third year, age 18). Some
believe this still has some sense, since the two-year Ginnasio has a very different set of mind from the Liceo. Ginnasio students spend most of their time studying Greek and Latin grammar, laying the bases for the "higher" and more complicated set of studies of the Liceo, such as Greek and Latin literature and Philosophy.
In the Netherlands, gymnasium is the highest variant of secondary education, offering the academically most promising youngsters (top 5%) a quality education that is in most cases free (and in other cases at low cost). It consists of six years, after 8 years (including kindergarten) of primary school, in which pupils study the same subjects as their German counterparts, with the addition of compulsory Ancient Greek, Latin and Klassieke Culturele Vorming (Classical Cultural Education), history of the Ancient Greek and Roman culture and literature. Schools have some freedom in choosing their specific curriculum, with for example Spanish, Philosophy and Technasium, a very technical and highly demanding course, being available as final exams. Usually schools will have all classes mandatory in switching combinations for the first three or so years (with the exception of Technasium which is a free choice from the second year onwards), after which students will choose their subjects in the directions of Economics and Society, Culture and Society, Nature and Health, Nature and Technology or Technology. The equivalent without classical languages is called Atheneum, and gives access to the same university studies (although some extra classes are needed when starting a degree in classical languages or theology). All are government-funded. See Voorbereidend wetenschappelijk onderwijs for the full article on Dutch "preparatory scientific education".
In Denmark, Estonia, the Faroe Islands, Finland, Greenland, Latvia, Norway and Sweden, gymnasium consists of three years, usually starting at the year the students turn 16 years old after nine or ten years of primary school. In Iceland and Lithuania the gymnasium usually consists of four years of schooling starting at the age of 15–16, the last year roughly corresponding to the first year of college.
In the Nordic countries, education is meant to be free. This includes not only primary school, but most gymnasiums and universities as well. Furthermore, to help decrease the heritage of historic social injustice, all countries except Iceland have universal grants for students. However, entrance is competitive and based on merit.
In Denmark, there are four kinds of gymnasiums: STX (Regular Examination Programme), HHX (Higher Business Examination Programme), HTX (Higher Technical Examination Programme) and HF (Higher Preparatory Examination Programme). HF is only two years, instead of the three required for STX, HHX, and HTX. All four type of gymnasiums theoretically gives the same eligibility for university. However, because of different subjects offered, students may be better qualified in an area of further study. E.g. HHX students have subjects that make them more eligible for studies such as business studies or economics at university. There is also EUX, which takes four years and ends with both the STX exam and status as a journeyman of a craft. 
In Sweden, there are two different kinds of branches of studies: the first branch focuses on giving a vocational education while the second branch focuses on giving preparation for higher education. While students from both branches can go on to study at a university, students of the vocational branch graduate with a degree within their attended program. There are 18 national programs, 12 vocational and 6 preparatory.
In the Faroe Islands, there are also four kinds of gymnasiums, which are equivalents to the Danish programmes: Studentaskúli (equivalent to STX), Handilsskúli (HHX), Tekniski skúli (HTX) and HF (HF). Studentaskúli and HF are usually located at the same institutions as can be seen in the name of the institute in Eysturoy: Studentaskúlin og HF-skeiðið í Eysturoy.
In Greenland, there is a single kind of gymnasium, Den Gymnasiale Uddannelse(Ilinniarnertuunngorniarneq), that replaced the earlier Greenlandic Secondary Education Programme (GU), the Greenland Higher Commercial Examination Programme (HHX) and the Greenland education to Higher Technical Examination Programme (HTX), which were based on the Danish system. This programme allows a more flexible Greenland gymnasium, where students based on a common foundation course can choose between different fields of study that meets the individual student's abilities and interests. The course is offered in Aasiaat, Nuuk, Sisimiut and Qaqortoq, with one in Ilulissat to be opened in 2015, latest in 2016 if approved by Inatsisartut.
In Finland, the admissions to gymnasiums are competitive, the accepted people comprising 51% of the age group. The gymnasiums concludes with the matriculation examination, an exam whose grades are the main criteria for university admissions.
In Switzerland, gymnasia (Gymnasien, gymnases) are selective schools that provide a three- or four-year course of advanced secondary education intended to prepare students to attend university. They conclude with a nationally standardized exam, the maturité or Maturität, often shortened to "Matura", which if passed allows students to attend a Swiss university. The gymnasia are operated by the cantons of Switzerland, and accordingly in many cantons they are called Kantonsschule (cantonal school).
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia, a gymnasium education takes four years following a compulsory eight or nine-year elementary education and ending with a final aptitude test called Matura. In these countries the final test is standardized at the state level and can serve as an entrance qualification for universities.
There are both public (state-run and tuition-free) and private (fee-paying) gymnasium schools in these countries.
The subjects taught are mathematics, the native language, one to three foreign languages, history, geography, informatics (computers), the natural sciences (biology, chemistry, physics), history of art, music, philosophy, logic, physical education and the social sciences (sociology, ethics or religious education, psychology, politics and economy). Religious studies are optional. In Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia, Latin is also a mandatory subject in all gymnasiums, just as Ancient Greek is, with Latin, in a certain type of gymnasiums called Classical Gymnasiums (klasična gimnazija).
In all of the countries, the gymnasium (Gimnazija/Gjimnazi) is generally viewed as a destination for best-performing students and as the type of school that serves primarily to prepare students for university studies, while other students go to technical/vocational schools. Therefore, gymnasiums often base their admittance criteria on an entrance exam, elementary school grades or a combination of the two.
Countries with gymnasium
- Albania: Gjimnazi 3 Years, after 9 years (4 years primary school and 5 years lower high school) of education, ends with Matura Shtetërore at the age of 18.
- Argentina: Colegio Nacional de Buenos Aires, 6 years; Rafael Hernández National College of La Plata, 5 years (formerly 6 years), after 7 years of primary school; and Gymnasium UNT 8 years, ends at the age of 18.
- Austria: 8 years, after 4 years of primary school, or 4 years, after primary school and 4 years of Hauptschule, ends with Matura at the age of 18.
- Belarus: 7 years, after 4 years of primary school.
- Belgium: 6 years, starting at age 11/13, after 6 years of primary school, ends at the age of 18 where students progress to a university.
- Brazil: Humboldt Schule of São Paulo is a German school in São Paulo. There are more Gymnasiums in the country and some of them receive resources from the German government.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina: 4 years, starting at age 14/15 after 9 years in elementary school, ends with Matura
- Bulgaria: 5 years, after 7 years of primary school. Currently graduation after passing at least two Maturas.
- Colombia: Gimnasio Campestre (all-male, traditional and conservative Pre-K to 11th grade private school located in Bogotá, Colombia).
- Croatia: 4 years, starting at age 14/15 after 8 years in elementary school, five different educational tracks: opća gimnazija (general education), klasična gimnazija (focused on Latin and Ancient Greek), jezična gimnazija (focused on modern languages), prirodoslovna gimnazija (biology, chemistry, physics) and prirodoslovno-matematička gimnazija (mathematics, physics and computer science), ends with Matura. Students of all tracks have compulsory classes in Latin and English as well as in at least one additional foreign language (most commonly German, Italian, Spanish and French).
- Cyprus: 3 years, starting at age 12 and following 6 years of elementary school. Compulsory for all students. Followed by the non-mandatory Lyceum (ages 15–18) for students with academic aspirations or Secondary Technical and Vocational Lyceum TVE for students who prefer vocational training. After successfully completing the program, students of TVE are awarded a School Leaving Certificate, which is recognized as equivalent to a Lyceum School Leaving Certificate (three-grade Senior Secondary School).
- Czech Republic: 4 years starting at age 15/16; 6 years starting at age 13/14 (not usual); 8 years starting at age 11/12; all of them end with a Maturita.
- Denmark: 3 years (4 years for athletes who are part of the Team Danmark elite sports program, or musicians who have chosen MGK ("Musical Elementary Course")), usually starting after 10 or 11 years of primary school. This is more like a prep school or the first years of college than high school. Everyone is eligible to go to a US high school, but you have to be deemed competent to get into a gymnasium. (For more information, see Gymnasium (Denmark).) Gymnasium is also available in an intensive 2-year program leading to the Højere Forberedelseseksamen ("Higher Preparatory Exam").
- Estonia: 3 years, after 9 years of primary school.
- Faroe Islands: 3 years, usually starting after 9 or 10 years of primary school. The system is similar to the Danish system. A gymnasium level education is also available in an intensive 2-year programme leading to Hægri fyrireikingarpróvtøka ("Higher Preparatory Exam").
- Finland: lukio (educational language is Finnish) or gymnasium (educational language is Swedish) takes 2–5 years (most students spend 3 years), after 9 years of primary school (Finnish: peruskoulu, Swedish: grundskola); lukio starts usually in the autumn of the year when the student turns 16 and ends with abitur after passing the matriculation examination; lukio is not compulsory and its entrance is competitive.
- France: the French equivalent of a gymnasium is called a lycée (3 years, after 5 years of primary school and 4 years of secondary school, age 15/18). The last year (called terminale) ends with passing the baccalauréat, an examination to enter university.
- Germany: formerly 8–9 years depending on the state – now being changed to 8 years nationwide, starting at 5th (at age 11), Abitur in 12th or 13th grade; for more information, see Gymnasium (Germany).
- Greece: 3 years, starting at age 12 after 6 years of primary school. Compulsory for all children, it is followed by the non-mandatory Geniko Lykeio (Γενικό Λύκειο), (Lyceum, ages 15–18), or the Vocational Lyceum (EPAL). The EPAL School Leaving Certificate is recognized equally as a Senior Secondary School Leaving Certificate (high school).
- Hungary: 4/6/8 years, starting after 8/6 /4 years of primary school, ends with Matura; see Education in Hungary
- Iceland usually 3-4 years, starting at age 15 or 16 after 10 years of elementary school.
- Israel: five schools termed "gymnasium" located in Tel Aviv, Rishon LeZion, Jerusalem and Haifa.
- Italy: ginnasio is the name of the two first years of Liceo Classico
- Kyrgyzstan: 7 years, after 5 years of primary school
- Latvia: 3 years, after 9 years of primary school
- Liechtenstein: ends with Matura
- Lithuania: gimnazija – usually 4 years: 2 years of basic school after 4 years of basic school and 2 years of secondary school, sometimes 8 years: 6 of basic school and 2 of secondary school, 12 years in rural areas or in art/music gymnasiums.
- Luxembourg: usually 7 years, starting at age 12–13 after 6 years of primary school.
- Montenegro: 4 years, starting at age 14/15 after 8 years in elementary school, 3 years for those who went in the elementary for 9 years; ends with Matura.
- Netherlands: 6 years, starting at age 11–13, after 8 years of primary school. Prepares for admission to university. Gymnasia in the Netherlands have compulsory classes in Ancient Greek and Latin; the same high level secondary school without the classical languages is called "VWO" (Atheneum).
- Norway: the traditional but now discontinued gymnasium led to the completion of examen artium. This has now been succeeded by a 2, 3, or 4-year program (videregående skole), depending on course path taken, starting at the age of 15/16, culminating with an exam that qualifies for university matriculation (studiekompetanse).
- Poland: gimnazjum was the name of Polish compulsory middle school lasting 3 years, starting at the age of 12/13, and following 6 years of primary school. Gimnazjum ended with a standardized test. Further education was encouraged, but optional and consists of either 3 years liceum, 4 years technikum, or 2 to 3 years vocational school (which may be followed by a supplementary liceum or technikum). Starting from 2017, Poland has reverted to a system with a compulsory primary school lasting 8 years and optional education in 4 years liceum, 5 years technikum or 2 to 3 years vocational school.
- Romania: 4 years, starting at age 10 ends with Diploma de Capacitate at the age of 14. Primary education lasts for four years. Secondary education consists in: 1) lower secondary school education organized in Gymnasium for grades 5 to 8 and lower cycle of high school or arts and trades schools (vocational) for grades 9 and 10; 2) upper secondary school education organized in Ciclul superior al liceului for grades 11, 12 and 13 followed, if necessary, by an additional high school year for those who want to move from vocational training (grade 10) to upper secondary school education. High school education (lower cycle of high school and upper secondary school education) offers three different orientations (academic, technological, specialization).
- Russia Imperial Russia: since 1726, 8 years since 1871. Women's gymnasiums since 1862; 7 years plus an optional 8th for specialisation in pedagogy. Progymnasiums: equivalent to 4 first years of gymnasium. Russian Federation: full 11 or 6–7 years after primary school. Nowadays there are very few schools in Russia which in their teaching principles and curriculum resemble the prerevolutionalry tradition of Classical Gymnasium. The notable exception is the St Petersburg Classical Gymnasium where Latin, Ancient Greek and Mathematics are three core subjects. In majority of other cases Russian Gymnasiums are schools specialised in a certain subject (or several subjects) in the humanities (e.g. Chelyabinsk School No. 1  ).
- Serbia: 4 years, starting at age 14/15 after 8 years in elementary/primary school. There are three most common types of gymnasiums: 1) general gymnasium (општа гимназија) which offers broad education in all sciences; 2) natural sciences (природно-математички смер); and 3) social studies (друштвено-језички смер), available all over Serbia, and a few specialised ones, e.g. mathematics (математичка гимназија) – only one in all of Serbia, in Belgrade; sports (спортска гиманзија) – just two in Serbia; language (филолошка гимназија) – a total of four in Serbia; and military gymnasium (војна гимназија) – only one in all of Serbia. In the end, everyone has a final exam – a Matura. Completion of the Gymnasium is a prerequisite for enrollment into a university. English and another foreign language (from the selection of German, French, Russian (most common languages), Italian or Spanish (far less common) or Chinese and Japanese (only phylological gymnasiums have these two) in addition to the mother tongue, and in case of minorities also Serbian) are compulsory throughout.
- Slovakia: 4 years starting at age 15 after completing 9 years of elementary school (more common); 8 years starting at age 11 after completing 5 years of elementary school; both end with Maturita.
- Slovenia: 4 years, starting at age 14/15; ends with Matura.
- South Africa: Paul Roos Gymnasium is a well-known gymnasium for boys in the town of Stellenbosch. The school is a boarding school, based on the classic British boarding schools, however it was more influenced by the Protestant faith, hence the German Gymnasium. Foreign languages such as French, German, Mandarin and Latin are studied, Afrikaans and English are compulsory. School in South Africa: 5 years, starting at age 13/14, at a secondary institution, after 7 years of primary school, ends with Matric.
- Sweden: Upper secondary school in Sweden lasts for three years (formerly four years on some programmes). "Gymnasium" is the word used to describe this stage of the education system in Sweden. The National Agency of Education has decided that gymnasium is equivalent to the international upper secondary school. The gymnasium is optional and follows after nine years in elementary school. However, the Swedish term högskola ("high school") may cause some confusion. In Swedish it is used almost synonymously with "university", with the only difference being that universities have the right to issue doctoral examinations. In the case of technical universities, these could also be called högskola even when they have right to issue doctoral examinations (e.g. Chalmers tekniska högskola (officially named a "Technical University" in English), Lunds tekniska högskola (Faculty of Engineering, Lund University), Kungliga tekniska högskolan ("Royal Institute of Technology")). A högskola is often located in cities with lower population, except for the technical ones that can be found also in the largest cities.
- Switzerland: usually 4 years after 9 years of compulsory schooling (primary and secondary I); it is also possible to attend a so-called Langzeitgymnasium which lasts 6 years, following a six-year primary schooling; the Gymnasium ends with Matura at the age of 18/19.
- Ukraine: 8 years, starting after 4 years of primary school.
- United Kingdom: historically, grammar schools have been the English equivalent of the gymnasium, selecting pupils on the basis of academic ability (usually through the 11+ exam in year 6, at the age of 10 or 11) and educating them with the assumption that they would go on to study at a university; such schools were largely phased out under the Wilson and Heath governments, with less than 5% of pupils now attending grammar schools, and the UK now has no widespread equivalent of the gymnasium. The exception is Northern Ireland and parts of England including the counties of Buckinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Kent which retained the system. Many private, fee-paying independent schools, including all those commonly referred to as "public" schools, seek to fulfill a similar role to the state grammar school if the scholar has the ability (and thus to the gymnasium in other countries).
- United States Public school: As school districts continue to experiment with educational styles, the magnet school has become a popular type of high school. Boston Latin School and Central High School in Philadelphia are both the oldest public schools in the country, and the oldest magnet schools. As the concept has not become entrenched in the various American educational systems, due partly to the federal—rather than unitary—style of education in the United States, the term may vary among states. Private school: The equivalent among private schools is the preparatory school.
Depending on country, the final degree (if any) is called Abitur, Artium, Diploma, Matura, Maturita or Student and it usually opens the way to professional schools directly. However, these degrees are occasionally not fully accredited internationally, so students wanting to attend a foreign university often have to submit to further exams to be permitted access to them.
Relationship with other education facilities
In countries like Austria, most university faculties only accept students from secondary schools that last four years (rather than three). This includes all Gymnasium students but only a part of vocational high schools, in effect making Gymnasium the preferred choice for all pupils aiming for university diplomas.
In Germany, other types of secondary school are called Realschule, Hauptschule and Gesamtschule. These are attended by about two thirds of the students and the first two are practically unknown in other parts of the world. A Gesamtschule largely corresponds to a British or American comprehensive school. However, it offers the same school-leaving certificates as the other three types—the Hauptschulabschluss (school-leaving certificate of a Hauptschule after 9th grade or in Berlin and North Rhine-Westphalia after 10th grade), the Realschulabschluss (also called Mittlere Reife, school-leaving certificate of a Realschule after 10th Grade) and Abitur (also called Hochschulreife, school-leaving certificate after 12th Grade). Students who graduate from Hauptschule or Realschule may continue their schooling at a vocational school until they have full job qualifications. It is also possible to get an erweiterter Realschulabschluss after 10th grade that allows the students to continue their education at the Oberstufe of a gymnasium and get an Abitur. There are two types of vocational school in Germany: the Berufsschule, a part-time vocational school and a part of Germany's dual education system, and the Berufsfachschule, a full-time vocational school outside the dual education system. Students who graduate from a vocational school and students who graduate with a good grade point average from a Realschule can continue their schooling at another type of German secondary school, the Fachhochschulreife, a vocational high school. The school leaving exam of this type of school, the Fachhochschulreife, enables the graduate to start studying at a Fachhochschule (polytechnic) and in Hesse also at a university within the state. Students who have graduated from vocational school and have been working in a job for at least three years can go to Berufsoberschule to get either a Fachabitur (meaning they may go to university, but they can only study the subjects belonging to the "branch" (economical, technical, social) they studied in at Berufschule) after one year, or the normal Abitur (after two years), which gives them complete access to universities.