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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education


6.Upper secondary and post-secondary non-tertiary education

Last update: 4 March 2024


In Czechia, upper secondary education is provided primarily by upper secondary schools (střední školy), although a small proportion of pupils attend conservatoires (konzervatoře) providing arts education.

Upper secondary schools

Upper secondary schools provide mainly upper secondary education (ISCED 3) which may be general or vocational (with a higher or lower share of general component), while vocational courses prevail. This type of education is post-compulsory. It consists of two to four-year programmes, with pupils usually starting these at the age of 15, i.e. after they have completed compulsory schooling. It offers a wide range of professional fields of study at several levels and covers educational needs of the whole 15-18-year-old age group. Some secondary schools (multi-year secondary general schools – víceletá gymnázia) also provide the lower secondary education.

Upon successful completion of a relevant educational programme in an upper secondary school, pupils achieve a level of:

The following types of study are organised at upper secondary schools for those who have achieved secondary education with a VET certificate or a Maturita examination and want to gain another qualification:

  • follow-up courses (nástavbové studium) (ISCED 354, completed with the Maturita examination);
  • shortened courses (zkrácené studium) aimed at achieving secondary education with the Maturita examination (ISCED 354);
  • shortened courses aimed at achieving secondary education with a VET certificate (ISCED 353, completed with a VET final examination).

Only secondary education with the Maturita examination entitles graduates to enter a tertiary level of education.

A pupil acquires upper secondary education with the Maturita examination by:

  • successfully completing a four-year educational programme in case of on-site form of education in general (ISCED 344) or vocational courses (ISCED 354);
  • completing a six-year or eight-year educational programme in the secondary general schools (gymnázia) (ISCED 244+344);
  • or possibly follow-up or a shortened study (ISCED 354).

Vocational fields school leavers awarded with the Maturita certificate are entitled to perform a particular job in the branch they studied. In recent years, two fifths of them enter the labour market and three-fifths of them continue their studies at the tertiary level. Education in general fields of study (study programmes in secondary general schools) should equip pupils with a broad level of knowledge and skills and for the majority of pupils a tertiary level of education. Eight or six-year programmes of secondary general schools (so-called multi-year secondary general schools) provide both general education of lower secondary level (ISCED 244, pupils complete their compulsory school attendance there) and upper secondary level (ISCED 344).

Upper secondary education with a VET certificate (výuční list) can be obtained upon successful completion:

  • of a two–year or more often three-year on-site course (ISCED 353) or
  • a shortened course (ISCED 353).

Subject areas in this type of education are specialised and the focus is put on gaining special knowledge and practical skills. Pupils are prepared to enter specific professions.

(Upper) secondary education can be attained by:

  • a successful completion of a one-year or two-year (in an on-site form of education) educational programme.

In comparison with the programmes of upper secondary education completed with VET certificate the education in the two-year programmes is less demanding. School-leavers achieve the ISCED 353 level, but no VET certificate is awarded. One-year and two-year practical schools are designated for pupils with moderate or severe mental disabilities, autism or multiple disabilities, with school-leavers achieving the ISCED 253 level. This type of education is acquired by a very small number of pupils (0.5 %).

In the 2021/22 school year, 31 % of pupils completed their studies in general fields of the secondary education with the Maturita examination (fields of secondary general schools and lyceum fields), 41 % of pupils in the vocational fields of the secondary education with the Maturita examination and 27 % of pupils in the vocational fields with a VET certificate. 1 % of pupils completed their studies in the secondary fields without the Maturita examination / VET certificate. (The data do not include follow-up and shortened study. Source: Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports.)

The basic prerequisite for being admitted to an upper secondary school (ISCED 3) as specified by law is completed compulsory school attendance and meeting the requirements set for an admission process by the school head. Admission procedure can include an admission or aptitude test. In study fields of upper secondary education with the Maturita examination, the standardised admission tests in the Czech language and literature and Mathematics are obligatory. The same rules apply to multi-year secondary general schools admitting successful leavers from the 5th or 7th year of basic school (základní škola). Requirements for admission to follow-up or shortened study differ according to the type of education (secondary education with the Maturita examination or a VET examination is required). Some fields of (upper) secondary education are especially designated for those who have not successfully completed basic education and did not attain basic education (základní vzdělání) or for leavers from special basic schools (základní školy speciální), who only mastered the basics of education (základy vzdělání) and pupils with severe or multiple disabilities respectively.


Secondary education can also be obtained in conservatoires. Conservatoires provide art education:

  • in six-year programmes for pupils who have completed compulsory schooling (upper secondary followed by tertiary level of education, ISCED 354+554) or
  • in eight-year programmes for pupils who have completed the 5th year of the basic school (from lower secondary to tertiary level of education, ISCED 244+354+554).

Only a small number of pupils, admitted on the basis of an aptitude test, participate in this type of education. Education in these schools is usually completed with the graduate examination (absolutorium). Graduates achieve the level of tertiary professional education in a conservatoire (vyšší odborné vzdělání v konzervatoři) (ISCED 554) and are awarded a DiS. degree, “diploma specialist” (diplomovaný specialista). Pupils can also take the Maturita examination and thus attain secondary education with the Maturita examination (ISCED 354).

Certification in upper secondary education can also be obtained without prior participation in an education or training programme if the applicant submits a set of certificates on acquisition of professional qualifications that in summary certify the attainment of all professional skills set by the National Qualifications System for entering specific occupation. These certificates enable the holder to take a VET final examination or the Maturita examination without prior participation in initial (school) education. See also Validation of Non-formal and Informal Learning in Chapter 8.

General objectives

Under the Education Act, upper secondary education develops the knowledge, aptitude, skills, attitudes and values pupils have gained in basic education, which are important for their personal development. Upper secondary schools (střední školy) provide pupils with broader general education or vocational training with an element of general education and strengthen their values orientation. Upper secondary education lays the foundation for pupils' future, for a full, active life in both the personal and civic sphere, for readiness to gain information independently and continue in further learning. It prepares them for entering the labour market and motivates them to engage in lifelong learning. Since September 2017, the School Act has laid down the obligation for secondary schools to make an effort to cooperate with employers in the region.

General objectives of lower secondary education provided in lower stage of multi-year secondary general schools (gymnázia) correspond to objectives of the basic (single-structure) education.

Under the Education Act, conservatoires (konzervatoře) offer a combination of general and vocational education which builds on the knowledge, aptitude and skills pupils have acquired in the basic education or the basic art education. Courses of Music, Dance, Singing, and Music and Drama prepare pupils for employment in the field of performing arts or for teaching in the area of arts. Education in a conservatoire should provide pupils with a sound basis for a full personal and civic life and should also motivate them to continue their studies at higher education level.

More detailed objectives are set in framework education programmes (FEPs) which are drawn-up by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports for individual fields of study and serve as a basis for school education programmes, where the objectives are concretised.

Legislative framework

The area of upper secondary education and education in conservatoires (konzervatoře), just as the areas of pre-primary, basic, tertiary professional and other education provided in schools and school facilities, is governed by the Education Act. Under this act conditions for delivering education and training are stipulated, rights and duties of physical and legal entities involved in education are regulated and the roles of state administration and self-government bodies in education are defined.

Education in upper secondary schools (střední školy) and conservatoires (types of upper secondary schools, organisation of theoretical and practical instruction, rules for pupils' assessment and other conditions regarding education) is further specified in the Decree on Secondary Education and Education in Conservatoires.

The Decree on Organisation of Admission Procedure in Upper Secondary Schools regulates organisation of admission process to the first and later years of upper secondary schools and conservatoires.

Two decrees regulate the conditions for taking the examinations taken at the end of the education: the Decree on Detailed Conditions on Completing Education by the Maturita Examination in Secondary Schools and the Decree on Completion of Education in Upper Secondary Schools in the Form of a VET Final Examination, and on Completion of Education in Conservatoires in the form of a Graduate Examination.