Dutch educational institutions and study programmes

Below, we explain what types of educational institutions and study programmes there are in the Netherlands. We also explain how you can check whether these are recognised and/or accredited. You can check the and/or to make sure that the quality is sufficient. We give the necessary information per educational sector.

Secondary education | schools

There are various types of schools offering secondary education (middelbare scholen). On the central government's website you can find an explanation of the various types of schools for secondary education.

On the website Scholenopdekaart, you can find an overview of schools for secondary education (in Dutch).

Secondary education | diplomas

Secondary education is divided into 3 types, each with its own diploma:

  • pre-vocational secondary education (voorbereidend middelbaar beroepsonderwijs, VMBO), concluded with national exams for a VMBO diploma;
  • senior general secondary education (hoger algemeen voortgezet onderwijs, HAVO), concluded with national exams for a HAVO diploma;
  • pre-university education (voorbereidend wetenschappelijk onderwijs, VWO), concluded with national exams for a VWO diploma.

Secondary vocational education | schools

There are different types of schools offering secondary vocational education (middelbaar beroepsonderwijs, MBO):

  • ROCs; and
  • beroepscolleges .

On the website KiesMBO, you can find an explanation of these types of schools (in Dutch).

On the website KiesMBO, you can find an overview of all MBO schools (in Dutch).

Secondary vocational education | study programmes

Secondary vocational education (MBO) consists of 4 different levels. On our webpage about MBO, we give an explanation of the different MBO levels.

On the KiesMBO website, you can find a search function for MBO programmes (in Dutch). Some MBO institutions offer bilingual MBO programmes. See Overzicht tweetalige mbo-opleidingen (in Dutch).

Higher education | educational institutions

There are different types of Dutch higher education institutions:

  • universities (universiteiten) for research-oriented higher education (wetenschappelijk onderwijs, WO);
  • universities of applied sciences (hogescholen) for higher professional education (hoger beroepsonderwijs, HBO).


Most research universities (universiteiten) offer academic study programmes in various areas of specialisation. There are also specialised universities: 1 research university specialises in agriculture and the environment, while 3 universities offer largely technological programmes.
Some study programmes are offered by University Colleges or Institutes for International Education (IE Institutes):

  • University Colleges are generally part of a research university and also provide WO. They offer English-language education and are mainly focused on bachelor's degree programmes. On the Study in NL website, you can find more information about University Colleges.
  • The Netherlands has various IE Institutes. Most of these IE Institutes are part of a Dutch research university. They offer a broad range of study programmes in specific fields of study, and generally lead to a master's degree or PhD. On the Study in NL website, you can find more information about IE Institutes.

Universities of applied sciences

Universities of applied sciences (hogescholen) provide higher professional education (HBO). Some universities of applied sciences specialise in a particular domain, such as arts, agriculture or teacher training.

Checking the recognition of higher education institutions

On the website of the Accreditation Organisation of the Netherlands and Flanders (NVAO), you can find a database of all recognised higher education institutions (in the Netherlands and Flanders).

Dutch higher education institutions can be financed differently. They can be either , or .

Higher education | study programmes

In higher education, study can choose between profession-oriented study programmes (HBO) or research-oriented study programmes (WO). You can find an explanation of HBO and WO and the corresponding diplomas on our webpage about Dutch higher education.

Checking the accreditation of study programmes in higher education

In Dutch higher education, study programmes are accredited by the NVAO. You can check if a study programme is accredition via 2 databases:

Please note:

  • If a study programme is not featured in RIO or the NVAO database, its quality is not ensured by NVAO. However, the study programme may be accredited by a foreign accreditation organisation.
  • Higher education institutions are not obliged to have their study programmes accredited. However, only accredited programmes can entitle students to student finance (studiefinanciering) and only accredited programmes lead to a recognised degree.

Higher education | Code of Conduct for international students

As of 2006, the Netherlands has also had another instrument at its disposal in order to ensure the quality of Dutch higher education internationalisation: the Code of Conduct for International Students (Gedragscode Internationale Student).

Any institution that signs this code must abide by the good practices for international students described therein. This applies to:

  • recruitment and admission;
  • information services;
  • the range of available programmes.

A national committee monitors compliance with the Code of Conduct and maintains an overview of all higher education institutions that have signed it.