Practicalities for the USI community

Ticino School System

The Swiss school system is organized according to the Federal political structure: each Canton is responsible for organizing its education and teaching institutions. In general, children attend public schools.

In Ticino, compulsory schooling begins at the age of 4 and continues for 11 schooling years. More precisely, the Cantonal school system includes 2 years of compulsory kindergarten (with one optional year starting at age 3), 5 years of elementary school and 4 years of middle school. The language of instruction is Italian.




General information



Day care (“asilo nido”; optional)

Children up to 4 years of age can be enrolled in day care centres, against payment.


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Pre-school/Kindergarten (“scuola dell’infanzia”, compulsory)

Pre-school education is compulsory starting from the age of 4. Most children attend 1 year of pre-school, usually from the age of 3.



Primary school (“scuola elementare”, compulsory)

5 years of elementary school



Lower-secondary school (“scuola media”, compulsory)

4 years of middle school



Upper-secondary level education

On completion of compulsory education, students can carry on studying by choosing either an upper-secondary school (high school, “liceo”), vocational schools (technical college, “scuole professionali”) or do an apprenticeship (“apprendistato”).




Public schools

The School Division of the Department of Education of Canton Ticino (Divisione della scuola) provides all relevant information on public schools and details on how to enroll.

Divisione della scuola
Viale Portone 12
6500 Bellinzona
tel +41 91 814 1811
fax +41 91 814 1819
email [email protected]


Private / Independent schools

In addition to public schools, in Ticino there are several private schools. Some of them use English as the language of tuition. A list of the main ones in the district of Lugano is available here (in Italian).




Updated on: 01 March 2018