Secondary school in Iceland

Framhaldsskólar á Íslandi
There are over 30 secondary schools and colleges spread throughout Iceland, offering a variety of study programmes. Here you can find information on secondary education in Iceland.

Secondary education (Framhaldsskóli)

The secondary education level usually includes pupils 16-20 years of age.

Education in secondary schools is not mandatory, although according to law, youths are entitled to education until 18 years of age.

In Iceland there are over 30 secondary schools and colleges, spread throughout the country. They are named variously comprehensive schools, secondary schools, industrial trade schools, colleges or vocational schools.

The school year in Icelandic secondary schools is nine months. A registration fee is paid in secondary schools, which varies depending on the school. Students must pay for school books and other study materials themselves.

University entrance diploma

Study at secondary level intended to prepare pupils for university study concludes with a university entrance diploma. Students are expected to complete the university entrance diploma programme in three years.

At a few secondary schools in the capital area pupils can study for a university entrance diploma in English.

Industrial and vocational studies

In vocational schools, education in industrial trades generally ends with a journeyman’s exam, which entitles the person to study to become a master craftsman. In most cases, pupils can complete additional study credits for a university entrance diploma. Many secondary schools also offer shorter courses with direct connections to business and industry.

Native language instruction

Pupils whose mother tongue is not Icelandic are entitled to instruction in Icelandic as a second language. The same applies to pupils who have lived at length abroad and have little proficiency in Icelandic. The intention is to have pupils whose mother tongue is not Icelandic have an opportunity to maintain their native language as an optional subject, through distance study or by other means.

Secondary education for young people with special needs

Handicapped students in secondary schools are legally entitled to special assistance. In many secondary schools there are special classes, practical programmes and other educational options specifically intended for disabled students.

Folk high schools

There are two folk high schools in Iceland, Lýðháskólinn á Flateyri and LungA School in Seyðisfjörður.

Persons from another Nordic country wishing to study at an Icelandic secondary school

The Nordic countries have concluded a agreement to provide young people in the Nordic countries with access to secondary education in all the Nordic countries. As a general rule, anyone who has completed compulsory education in a Nordic country can begin secondary study in Iceland.


Registration for secondary education is made online at Menntamálastofnun. In some secondary schools it is possible to enrol twice each year, in the spring and late autumn, while in others only spring registration is possible.

A list of all secondary schools in Iceland is available on the website of the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture.

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