Ministry of Labour, Social, Family Affairs and Integration

School Hamburg’s School Structure

In Germany, all pupils start school by attending primary school for four years. Afterwards, parents may choose a secondary school type for their children.​​​​​​​

Hamburg’s School Structure – Hamburg Welcome Portal


Primary School (“Grundschule”)

Primary school covers the first four years of school. The lessons include reading and writing in the German language as well as basic contents of subjects such as Mathematics, English, Music, Arts and Sports. At the end of primary school year 4, parents can choose a secondary school type for their child. There are comprehensive schools and grammar schools.


Grammar School (“Gymnasium”)

Grammar schools provide an extended general education. After eight school years at a grammar school, your child can achieve an advanced level school leaving certificate (= “Abitur”). In groups with others of a similar ability, particularly high-performing pupils get prepared for university studies and receive special support. The school leaving examinations are held at the end of year 12. Graduates can continue their personal educational path either by attending a university, a college or courses of vocational training.  


Comprehensive School (“Stadtteilschule”)

The local comprehensive schools are a special characteristic of the school system in Hamburg. Attending a comprehensive school gives pupils the opportunity to gain either a general or intermediate level certificate of secondary education or even an advanced level school leaving certificate. That means, on the one hand, there is the opportunity of starting vocational training after year 9 or 10. Alternatively, your child may also enrol at an university after attending comprehensive school for some more years and achieving the advanced level school leaving certificate. At comprehensive schools, the advanced level school leaving examinations are held at the end of year 13. The extra time may, for example, be also used for an exchange year abroad. 


School leaving qualifications at a glance

At Hamburg’s schools, your child can achieve the following school leaving qualifications:
vergrößern Hamburg's School Structure School Structure - Scheme (Bild: HWC)

  • general certificate of secondary education („Erster Bildungsabschluss“) at the end of year 9
  • intermediate level certificate of secondary education („Mittlerer Bildungsabschluss“) at the end of year 10
  • advanced level school leaving certificate at grammar school („Abitur auf dem Gymnasium“) at the end of year 12
  • advanced level school leaving certificate at comprehensive school („Abitur auf der Stadtteilschule“) at the end of year 13

Normally, a general certificate of secondary education or an intermediate level certificate of secondary education is a prerequisite for starting a vocational training course. An advanced level school leaving certificate (= „Abitur“) entitles its holder to study at a university or college (higher education entrance qualification).


All-day service in Hamburg’s Schools

Public schools in Hamburg offer all-day service from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. (additional care in the morning, in the evening and during school holidays possible for a fee). All-day service means the homework will already be done in school. Moreover, pupils are able to try out their talents and penchant for sports, music, hand-crafting, arts, acting and other creative activities in the afternoon. At most schools, participation in the all-day service is voluntary.


More information

Would you like to inform yourself about education opportunities in your neighbourhood and throughout Hamburg? Please feel free to use the Regional Education Atlas. The Regional Education Atlas is a series of interactive maps showing locations of daycare centers, schools and public leisure facilities for children and adolescents in Hamburg. 

The point of contact for further questions concerning the school system in Hamburg is the School Information Center.

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