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Upper Secondary Education in Denmark

Four upper secondary education programmes

There are four different upper secondary education programmes in Denmark: stx, hhx, htx and hf. The common objective of the education programmes is to prepare young people for higher education. Stx, hhx and htx take three years to complete and admit young people who have completed nine years of
basic school. Hf takes two years and admits persons who have completed 10 years of basic school.

The stx and hf programmes consist of a broad range of subjects in the fields of the humanities, natural sciences and social science.
The hhx programme focuses on business and socio-economic disciplines in combination with foreignlanguages and other general subjects.
The htx programme has its focus on technological and scientific subjects in combination with general subjects.

Admission to higher education

General access requirements to higher education in Denmark are 12 years of education including upper secondary school or comparable qualifications.


Each of the education programmes has its specific range of compulsory subjects that are common for all students taking the programme. In stx, hhx and htx, in addition, each school offers a number of different specialized studies packages (packages normally containing three subjects) and elective subjects
for the students to choose between. In hf the students make their choices from among the electives offered by the school.
All the education programmes also contain multi-subject courses, among other things with the object of strengthening the students’ preparedness for further study. This includes the ability to apply knowledge and methods from several subjects to illustrate interdisciplinary themes and problems and the ability to compare the subjects’ content and methods.


The Ministry of Education draws up curricula for subjects and multi-subject courses.
All subjects are placed in a system of levels, C, B and A, in relation to the subject’s scope and depth. As a general rule, the levels system is structured in such a way that C-level subjects are allotted 75 periods of 60 minutes, B-level subjects have 200 periods and subjects at A-level 325 hours. There are a number of exceptions, however, in the individual programmes, in particular as regards B and A levels.

Marking, tests and examinations

Marks are awarded on a 7-point scale from minus 3 to 12. In stx, hhx and htx each student regularly receives term marks in all subjects, and the teacher also gives final marks when a subject is completed.
In addition the students all receive marks when they sit for an examination.

Certain examinations are compulsory for all pupils in the education programme. In addition, each year the Ministry of Education decides which subjects are to form part of the examination for the individual student. Towards the end of the education programme, all students must submit a major written assignment or project, which forms part of the examination.

The examinations may be written, oral, case and project tests or take mixed forms. At most of the examinations, the students may utilise all types of aids, including IT, but they may normally not communicate with one another or with anyone in their surroundings.
The Ministry formulates all written examination questions and appoints external examiners for all examinations, both oral and written.

An examination certificate is issued when the student has achieved a minimum of 02 in weighted average of the concluding term marks and examination marks. When the examination average is being calculated, the marks are weighted differently depending on the level in question. The examination average is important for the student’s future opportunities in the education system, as it plays a central role for admission to higher education. The examination average is raised for students who have taken more
subjects at A-level than the education programme requires.


To be admitted to one of the three-year upper secondary education programmes (stx, hhx, htx), a student must have completed nine years of Danish basic education or have received corresponding teaching, and have taken the compulsory final examination of the primary and lower secondary school.

To be admitted to hf, a student must have completed ten years of Danish basic education and have taken examinations in Danish, English, Mathematics, a second foreign language (French or German) and Physics/Chemistry.
A student must take an admission test if he/she has not taken the examinations required for admission to stx/hhx/htx or hf. A student may be required to take an admission test if the basic school has recommended this.

Students who have not attended a Danish school may be admitted following a concrete assessment of whether they have qualifications corresponding to the requirements that must be fulfilled by students who have attended a Danish school. They may be required to take an admission test.

Legislation, school system and management

The Ministry of Education issues the regulations according to which the schools work. The schools, which are spread throughout Denmark, are self-governing institutions with different histories and academic profiles. They finance the implementation of one or more of the upper secondary education programmes by means of grants from the Ministry of Education provided on the basis of student numbers.

The head of the school answers to a board, the composition of which reflects the school’s specific profile. The teachers and students of the school appoint representatives to the board. The school board appoints and dismisses the head teacher and has overall responsibility for the running of
the school and its activities.

Quality and supervision

All institutions offering one or more upper secondary education programmes must have and utilise a system for quality development and results assessment of each individual programme and of the teaching. Within the general requirements, the school itself decides the methodology for the self-assessment and quality assessment it wishes to employ. The school must be in a position to document its quality system vis-à-vis the Ministry of Education, which supervises the school’s implementation of the education programmes and its results.

Teacher qualifications

Teachers must have completed a Master’s programme at a university or – in certain cases – be able to document a corresponding level. Teachers must also have completed a course in educational theory and practice before or subsequent to their appointment at the school.

Students’ influence on the education programme

Students have a right to form a student council at their school and they are represented on the school board. The school must ensure that the students are involved in the planning of teaching in their class.
The national student organisations have the right to appoint two members to the council that advises the Minister of Education on the upper secondary education programmes.

Student guidance

The schools are obliged to provide academic guidance for the students and to ensure that they are offered individual and collective guidance concerning completion of the education programme. The students can also receive guidance concerning higher education and careers.

The students’ financial situation

Teaching is covered by the state and is free of charge. However, to a limited extent (max. DKK 2,500) the school can require the students to acquire some of the teaching materials themselves, typically dictionaries and pocket calculator. Students are eligible for Danish Education Support (SU) if they are active students, have reached the age of 18 and are Danish citizens. It is also possible in some cases to obtain SU if one is not a Danish citizen.

The school year

The individual school decides when the school year is to start after the summer holiday, the number of school days and the placing of holidays and school days. The calendar and holiday schedule of a school can usually be found on the school’s website.