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Overview of Dutch diplomas

Dutch diplomas NLQF EQF
VMBO diploma, pathway BB 1 1
MBO diploma level 1 1 1
VMBO diploma, pathway KB, GL or T 2 2
MBO diploma level 2 2 2
MBO diploma level 3 3 3
MBO diploma level 4 4 4
HAVO diploma 4 4
VWO diploma 4+ 4
Associate degree 5 5
Bachelor (HBO) 6 6
Bachelor (WO) 6 6
Master (HBO) 7 7
Master (WO) 7 7
Doctor (PhD) 8 8
Engineering Doctorate (EngD) 8 8

Please note: the NLQF or EQF level is not so much a reflection of study load or content, but an indication of a person’s knowledge and skills after having completed a certain study programme.

Qualification frameworks

The Netherlands applies 2 qualification frameworks:

  • the Dutch Qualifications Framework (NLQF), describing educational qualifications at 8 levels;
  • the Dutch Higher Education Qualifications Framework, describing higher education in 3 stages.

Dutch Qualifications Framework (NLQF)

The NLQF is based on the overarching European Qualifications Framework (EQF). The overarching EQF specifies the specific knowledge, skills, degree of independence and responsibility associated with each of the 8 levels, rather than individual qualifications. The Dutch Qualifications Framework (NLQF) comprises 8 qualification levels and 1 entry level.

National Coordination Point

The NLQF has been officially linked to the EQF since 2012, at which point the Netherlands also introduced a National Coordination Point (NCP) charged with classifying qualifications under the NLQF system. The National Coordination Point assesses the NLQF level (according to a set procedure), especially for diplomas that have been obtained outside mainstream education. The NLQF's official English name is Dutch Qualifications Framework.

Further information on the NLQF can be found on the NCP NLQF website. This includes an overview of interfaces between the NLQF and EQF.

Dutch Higher Education Qualifications Framework

The Dutch Higher Education Qualifications Framework consists of 3 stages:

  • bachelor's
  • master's
  • PhD

These 3 stages correspond with EQF levels 6, 7 and 8. In May 2018, the Ministers of Education of the EHEA countries decided that short-cycle qualifications (such as the associate degree) would be added to the QF-EHEA framework.

The Dutch Higher Education Qualifications Framework is based on the Overarching Frameworks for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area (QF-EHEA), developed as a part of the . This overarching framework describes qualifications attained during the 3 higher education stages in the following terms:

  • learning outcomes (knowledge, skills and competences);
  • the number of ECTS (with the exception of the PDEng/PhD).