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Upper secondary education (ISCED 3) corresponds to the final stage of secondary education in most OECD countries.

Instruction is often more organised along subject-matter lines than at ISCED level 2 and teachers typically need to have a higher level, or more subject-specific, qualifications than at ISCED 2. The entrance age to this level is typically 15 or 16 years.

There are substantial differences in the typical duration of ISCED 3 programmes both across and between countries, typically ranging from two to five years of schooling. ISCED 3 may either be “terminal” (i.e., preparing the students for entry directly into working life) and/or “preparatory” (i.e., preparing students for tertiary education).

Programmes at level 3 can also be subdivided into three categories based on the degree to which the programme is specifically oriented towards a specific class of occupations or trades and leads to a labour-market relevant qualification: General, Pre-vocational or pre-technical, and Vocational or technical programmes.

Source Publication:
Education at a Glance, OECD, Paris, 2002, Glossary

Statistical Theme: Education and training statistics

Created on Thursday, January 30, 2003

Last updated on Monday, March 17, 2003