All about Universities abroad

Complete Guide to Education System in Netherlands

Yocket Editorial Team

Education System in Netherlands has an extensive range of English- taught programs, and Dutch universities are world-famous for high-quality teaching and research. The Netherlands education system ranking is high in many fields of education.

The Dutch higher education institutions offer 1,560 international study programs and courses, of which 1,543 are taught entirely in English. The Holland education system focuses on teamwork, producing an ideal environment to make friends. The teaching way in the Netherlands is interactive and student-centred, offering international students with the attention and freedom they want to develop their opinions and ingenuity in applying their newly learnt knowledge. So, if you’re planning to study in the Netherlands, here are the following details about the higher education system of Netherlands.

  Table of Contents:

How Does the Education System in Netherlands Work?

Education is mandatory in the Netherlands from the age of 5 to 16. However, most children start to join primary school at the age of 4. Children in the Netherlands get eight years of primary education, 4, 5 or 6 years of secondary education. After secondary school, they can move for vocational education or higher education.

There are two main groups of schools: public schools and private schools. Public schools have no religious or logical affiliation and are run by the government. In contrast, private schools are independently and based on a precise religion or educational viewpoint. So, let’s discuss the education levels in Netherlands in detail:

Pre- School Education in Netherlands

Before moving to primary education, they could go to day-care or preschool or mix the two. Most day-cares only bid full-day contracts for 1 to 5 fixed days per week.

Day-care is meant for children from about ten weeks to 4 years old. Preschool is more organised than day-care as they make the preschool children ready for primary school in a playful way, according to a chosen program.

The focus is on Dutch language achievement, social skills, and motor skills.

Primary Education in Netherlands

Primary education in the Netherlands is separated into public and private schools. Most primary schools combine sets 1 and 2 in the same class.

The school focuses on learning through social skills, play, gross and fine motor skills, structure, independence, and standard preparation for reading and writing. The national average number of students in a government-funded school class is 23 to 24 or a maximum of 28 to 30.

Secondary Education in Netherlands

When children start their secondary education at the age of 12, children enter one of three diverse streams for their secondary education.

There are fundamentally three high school education levels denoted as HAVO, VWO, VMBO.

  • Preparatory Vocational Secondary Education (VMBO) - 4 years in duration
  • Senior General Secondary Education (HAVO) - 5 years in duration
  • University Preparatory Education (VWO) - 6 years in duration

The fee is around 4,500 to 5,500 EUR/ per year per child, and the school follow the thematic International Primary Curriculum (IPC) or the inquiry-based IB (International Baccalaureate) program.

Higher Education in Netherlands

There are two categories of higher education in Netherlands : practically oriented & professional oriented.

Programs at universities of applied sciences prepare international students for specific professions and incline them to be more practically oriented. They lead to either a bachelor’s or master’s in Netherlands.

Programs at research universities focus on theoretical parts of the field of study and prepare international students for undertaking autonomous research.

Higher Education System in Netherlands

The Holland system of higher education enjoys a universal status for high quality. After the above-mentioned kinds of secondary school, students can continue with many diverse types of higher education.

By following the education system of Netherlands, international students will get an undergraduate bachelor’s degree after finishing the first cycle. Following the achievement of the second cycle or the graduate phase, they will get a master’s degree and, upon completion of the third cycle- the doctorate.

Let’s know the various types of degrees in higher education system in Netherlands.



Associate Degree Program

2 years

Bachelor’s Degree

Research University Bachelor’s Degree: 3 years

University of Applied Science Bachelor’s Degree: 4 years

Master Degree

Regular Master’s Program: 1 to 2 years

Advanced Programs in Medicine & Dentistry: 3 years

PhD Degree

4 years

Suggested: Best universities in Netherlands for Masters

Grading System in Netherlands Universities

In the Netherlands, the grading scale is from 1 to 10, where 1 is the lowest and 10 is the highest. In the Holland education system, a ten-point system is used in both secondary and higher education. A grade of 10 is the uppermost, and 6 is the minimum pass grade.

To make students clear with the education system of Netherlands and grading system, we have explained a short description of grades below:






Very Good




More than Satisfactory




Almost Satisfactory




Very Unsatisfactory




Very Poor

Note: The grades 1-3 are hardly given and 9 and 10 are very rare.

Suggested: PhD in Netherlands

 Types of Universities in Netherlands

The education system in the Netherlands is tremendously well organised, and it has great value for international students who want to outshine in their professional and academic life. There are two types of universities in Netherlands:

1. University of Applied Sciences

  • The importance is on obtaining skills and knowledge that can directly be used in the professional field.
  • Prepare students for a professional role.
  • More contact hours and more knowledge through doing projects.
  • Education is more profession-oriented.
  • It takes 4 years to complete and always includes an internship.

2. Research University

  • Education is more hypothetical and scientific.
  • Less contact hours and more course material to study self-sufficiently.
  • It takes 3 years to complete but usually does not include an internship.
  • Prepare students for an academic, research or professional role.
  • The importance is on gaining critical and analytical thinking skills in order to demeanour research in a precise field.

Suggested: Cheap universities to study in Netherlands

The education levels in Netherlands focuses on teamwork, which makes it informal to meet other international students. For a large part of the studies, students will be working in groups to analyse and resolve specific problems. Moreover, the Dutch teaching method is initiated with respect for each individual’s opinions and convictions. So, if that inspires you to study in the Netherlands, connect with our Yocket professionals and plan your journey for higher studies abroad.


Frequently Asked Questions about Education System in Netherlands

What are the benefits of studying in Netherlands for International Students?

Is Netherlands a good option to study?

Is it allowed for international students to stay back after study?

How much do students earn in Netherlands?

Articles you might like