Primary and secondary education in Iran

In Iran, children start primary school from the age of 6. Primary education / دبستان. lasts 6 years (grade 1-grade 6).

Secondary education lasts 6 years and is for students aged 12 to 18. Students are taught in Persian. Secondary education has 2 phases:

Please note: before 2019, there were other diplomas in secondary education:

Certificate of general education

This is the lower secondary education diploma. After lower secondary education, compulsory education ends.

  • Duration: 3 years (grade 7-grade 9).
  • Content: all students take the same subjects. They are mostly general education subjects, such as Persian, mathematics and history.
  • Function of the diploma: access to upper secondary education.
  • Diploma: Certificate of general education / گواهینامه دوره راهنمایی.

We compare a Certificate of general education / گواهینامه دوره راهنمایی to 2 years of .

Certificate of completion of upper secondary school studies - theoretical

This is the upper secondary education diploma with the theoretical programme. This programme pays a lot of attention to theory. Students who finish lower secondary education with good results usually choose this programme in upper secondary level.

  • Duration: 3 years (grade 10-grade 12).
  • Content: all students take a number of general education subjects, such as Persian, a modern foreign language and mathematics. They also follow subjects for one of these specialisations:
    • experimental sciences / علوم تجربی : science subjects, such as biology and chemistry;
    • literature and humanities / ادبیات و علوم انسانی : literature and, for example, philosophy and economics;
    • mathematics and physics / ریاضی فیزیک : subjects in the field of mathematics and physics.
  • Function of the diploma: access to higher education.
  • Diploma: Certificate of completion of upper secondary school studies – theoretical /گواهينامه پايان تحصيلات دوره دوم متوسطه - نظری. Please note: before 2019, students could get the Certificate of completion of secondary school studies in the same programme of study.

We compare a Certificate of completion of upper secondary school studies – theoretical / گواهينامه پايان تحصيلات دوره دوم متوسطه - نظری to a HAVO diploma.

Certificate of completion of upper secondary school studies - technical and vocational

This is the upper secondary education diploma with the technical and vocational programme. In this programme, the focus is on technical and practical subjects, such as electricity or mechanical engineering.

  • Duration: 3 years (grade 10-grade 12).
  • Content: all students take a number of general education subjects, such as Persian, a modern language and mathematics. They also choose a specialisation and follow subjects for that specialisation. There are many specialisations, such as agriculture or engineering.
  • Function of the diploma: access to profession-oriented associate degree programmes.
  • Diploma: Certificate of completion of upper secondary school studies -technical and vocational / گواهينامه پايان تحصيلات دوره دوم متوسطه - فنی و حرفه ای. Please note: before 2019, students could get the Certificate of completion of secondary school studies in the same programme of study.

We compare a Certificate of completion of upper secondary school studies – technical and vocational / گواهينامه پايان تحصيلات دوره دوم متوسطه - فنی و حرفه ای to a HAVO diploma for the general education part.

Certificate of completion of upper secondary school studies - work and knowledge

This is the upper secondary education diploma with the work and knowledge programme. In this programme, the focus is mainly on practice. Students prepare themselves for a profession, for example in agriculture.

  • Duration: 3 years (grade 10-grade 12).
  • Content: all students take a number of general education subjects, such as Persian, a modern language and mathematics. They also choose one of the following specialisations:
    • agriculture
    • industry
    • service industries
  • Diploma: Certificate of completion of upper secondary school studies – work and knowledge / گواهينامه پايان تحصيلات دوره دوم متوسطه - کاردانش. Please note: before 2019, students could get the Certificate of completion of secondary school studies in the same programme of study.

We compare a Certificate of completion of upper secondary school studies – work and knowledge / گواهينامه پايان تحصيلات دوره دوم متوسطه - کاردانش to an diploma level 2 or 3. This depends on the content of the study programme.

Certificate of completion of secondary school studies

Before 2019, all students in upper secondary school sat exams for a Certificate of completion of secondary school studies after 3 years.

  • Duration: 3 years.
  • Content: most subjects are the same as in current upper secondary education.
  • Diploma: 1 of the following diplomas:
    • Certificate of completion of secondary school studies - theoretical / گواهينامه پايان تحصيلات دوره متوسطه - نظری
    • Certificate of completion of secondary school studies – technical and vocational / گواهينامه پايان تحصيلات دوره متوسطه - فنی و حرفه ای
    • Certificate of completion of secondary school studies – work and knowledge / گواهينامه پايان تحصيلات دوره متوسطه - کاردانش

We compare a Certificate of completion of secondary school studies – theoretical / گواهينامه پايان تحصيلات دوره متوسطه - نظری to 4 years of HAVO.

We compare a Certificate of completion of secondary school studies – technical and vocational / گواهينامه پايان تحصيلات دوره متوسط - فنی و حرفه ای to an MBO diploma level 2 or 3. This depends on the content of the study programme.

We compare a Certificate of completion of secondary school studies – work and knowledge / گواهينامه پايان تحصيلات دوره متوسطه - کاردانش to an MBO diploma level 2 or 3. This depends on the content of the study programme.

Pre-university certificate

After the Certificate of completion of secondary school studies, students could study for a Pre-university certificate for 1 year. This was not compulsory for everyone, but you had to get this certificate if you wanted to continue on to higher education.

  • Duration: 1 year.
  • Content: all students took a number of general education subjects, such as Persian, a modern foreign language and mathematics. They also followed subjects for one of the following specialisations:
    • art
    • experimental sciences
    • humanities
    • mathematical sciences
  • Diploma: Pre-university certificate /گواهينامه پايان دوره پیش دانشگاهی.

We compare a Pre-university certificate /گواهينامه پايان دوره پیش دانشگاهی to a HAVO diploma.