General upper secondary education

YlioppilaslakkiGeneral upper secondary education provides students with extensive general knowledge and the readiness to begin studies at a university, university of applied sciences and vocational training based on the general upper secondary education syllabus.

At the completion of general upper secondary school studies, students take the Finnish national matriculation examination.


The general upper secondary school is based on courses with no specified year-classes.

Anyone with a certificate from lower secondary school or with a corresponding completed syllabus can apply for general upper secondary education. An individual may also be admitted as a student, if they otherwise have a sufficient readiness to take up the studies.

General upper secondary education can be completed at a daytime general upper secondary school, at an upper secondary school for adults, at selected folk high schools and in the form of distance-learning. Young people applying for general upper secondary education submit their applications online via the joint application system, and upper secondary schools admit students on the basis of their performance in prior studies. Adults applying for general upper secondary education submit their applications directly to the schools.

General upper secondary education:

  • The key criterion for admission is that the student has completed the comprehensive school syllabus;
  • The principle objective of the education is to enable further studies at a higher education institution;
  • Studies progress according to a student's individual course selection;
  • The syllabus covers three years of studies;
  • The studies include compulsory, in-depth and applied courses;
  • The syllabus for general upper secondary school comprises at least 75 courses (duration on average 38 hours) or, in the case of adult general upper secondary studies, at least 44 courses (duration on average 28 hours).

General upper secondary education is free of charge. However, a fee may be charged for some subject studies and for the Finnish matriculation examination. Textbooks and teaching materials are not free of charge. The students are responsible for covering the cost of these. Students can be granted financial aid for full-time studies in general upper secondary school.

Providing general upper secondary school education

Provision of general upper secondary education is subject to licence. General upper secondary education can be provided by an education provider that has received a license from the Ministry of Education and Culture. The license can be granted to local authorities, a joint municipal authority, a registered association or a foundation. General upper secondary education can also be organised in educational institutions run by the State.

The local authorities or another education provider decides on the educational institution at which general upper secondary education is organised. Education providers have a statutory duty to cooperate with the area's other education providers.

The State and local authorities participate in covering operating costs as referred to in the Act on the Financing of Educational and Cultural Provision (1705/2009). Financing is allocated on an imputed basis according to the number of students and a unit price determined per student.

The qualifications of the school head and teaching staff are prescribed in the Teaching Qualifications Decree (986/1998).

Contact information

Heikki Blom, opetusneuvos 
Ministry of Education and Culture, Lukiokoulutuksen ja ammatillisen koulutuksen osasto (LAMOS), Koulutuksen vastuualue 0295330074