Secondary vocational education and training, or VET (MBO in Dutch) prepares students for the professional practice or further study. This type of education follows on from VMBO. The duration of the MBO training will depend on the chosen level.

MBO levels

Secondary vocational education (middelbaar beroepsonderwijs, MBO) consists of 4 different levels:

  • Level 1 (assistant training, entreeopleiding) lasts 1 year and leads to an MBO diploma at level 1.
  • Level 2 (basic vocational training, basisberoepsopleiding) lasts 2 years and leads to an MBO diploma at level 2.
  • Level 3 (professional training, vakopleiding) lasts 3 years and leads to an MBO diploma at level 3.
  • Level 4 (middle-management training, middenkaderopleiding) lasts 3 or 4 years and leads to an MBO diploma at level 4.
  • Level 4 (specialist training, specialistenopleiding) lasts 1 year, is open to students who have completed a vocational or middle-management training, and leads to an MBO diploma at level 4.

The MBO diploma is classified as level 1-4 of the Dutch Qualifications Framework (NLQF), depending on the duration and specialisation of the programme.

MBO learning pathways

In addition to the levels and training described, MBO students can choose between 2 learning pathways:

  • The school-based pathway (BOL) – students spend at least 20% and no more than 60% of their study programme working in the professional practice.
  • The work-based pathway (BBL) – students spend at least 60% of their study programme working in the professional practice.

The professional practice makes up a key aspect of both pathways. Both pathways are leading to the same diploma.

Types of MBO institutions

There are different types of educational institutions that offer secondary vocational education (MBO):

  • regional training centres (ROCs);
  • agricultural training centres (AOCs);
  • vocational schools.

Some of these institutions offer bilingual MBO programmes. See Overzicht tweetalige mbo-opleidingen (in Dutch).

Information about MBO

You can find further information on MBO diplomas on these websites: