Gymnasium (selective secondary school), term introduced by the Humanists, used originally for institutions of higher education, but by the 16th century already used to describe the preparatory philosophy courses ("faculty of liberal arts") and Latin schools (Krems, 1579). Since the mid-17th century, common term to describe schools which specifically cater for the needs of universities (mainly teaching of Latin and Greek, since the 18th century history, geography and mathematics) and were affiliated to the universities in the university towns (Akademisches Gymnasium). Up to the mid-19th century the Gymnasium schools were all established and run by religious orders, mainly by Jesuits (until 1773), Piarists and Benedictines, and comprised 5 to 6 forms; all secularisation efforts by the state were futile until the Studienhofkommission was set up in 1760. In 1848/49 the two philosophy classes of the ( Philosophische Lehranstalt) were integrated into the Gymnasium as the 7th and 8th forms, which laid the foundation for the present-day Gymnasium (8 forms, 4 in the lower and 4 in the upper grades; imparting general knowledge in the fields of language and history as well as mathematics and natural sciences. Teachers at Gymnasium schools must be university graduates; Reifeprüfung). While the organisational structure remained unaltered after 1849, the curriculum since been adapted to the progress in knowledge and changes in society. When, by 1963, the number of secondary school students who chose a Gymnasium had dropped to 17 %, a reform was undertaken, dividing the school type into a traditional branch (with Greek), a modern-language and a science-oriented branch, which were similar in curriculum content to the Realgymnasium. These subdivisions were abolished under the 1988 re-organisation of the Gymnasium, when students were required to choose from a number of compulsory subjects in the upper forms of the Gymnasium.
Literature: Die Schulreform Maria Theresias 1747-75, 1987.