Primary education

In Iran, children start primary school from the age of 6.

  • : 6 years (grade 1-grade 6).
  • Content: primary education / دبستان.

Secondary education

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

Lower secondary education

Lower secondary education in Iran is called: دوره اول متوسطه. At the end, students take exams for a Certificate of general education. After this, compulsory education ends.

Certificate of general education

  • Duration: 3 years (grade 7-grade 9).
  • Content: all students take the same subjects. They are mostly general education subjects, such as Farsi, 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 HAVO.

Upper secondary education

After lower secondary education, students can continue to upper secondary education / دوره دوم متوسطه. They must choose 1 of the following 3 programmes of study:

Students of all programmes of study take an exam in their final year for a Certificate of completion of upper secondary school studies. The certificate states the programme of study they have chosen.

Certificate of completion of upper secondary school studies - theoretical

The theoretical 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 Farsi, 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

In the technical and vocational 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 Farsi, 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

In the work and knowledge 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 Farsi, 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 MBO diploma level 2 or 3. This depends on the content of the study programme.

Diplomas before 2019

These are the diplomas students could get before 2019:

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 Farsi, 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.