How would the dutch educational system be represented in a diagram? Or put differently, what are the different roads that lead to the academic world in the Netherlands?

PS. This question ("What are the different roads to get into academics in the Netherlands?") came up in chat awhile ago, so I drew a diagram and it was suggested I share it as a self answered post as well, because it's a neat resource. Didn't do it back then as some parts lacked, but somebody asked me the same question more generally again so looked up the diagram, finished it and wanted to share it publicly now after all.

  • This question appears to be off-topic because it is not about academia. Nov 30, 2014 at 15:29
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    @DavidRicherby: This falls directly in a category that has been defined as on topic, namely: "Requirements and expectations of academicians". Specifically in this case 'requirements of academicians in the Netherlands'. Or considered in a different way, preparations for a non-academic career are explicitly off topic, thus implicitly making preparations for an academic career on topic. Nov 30, 2014 at 15:33
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    And for that matter, how is this too localized. As I pointed out I have received multiple questions for this and searching for "Diagram of education in the United States" will result in similar diagrams which have helped me a lot in understanding the US system. Some existed for the Dutch system as well already, but the semi-good ones were dutch and all the english ones were downright incorrect or sorely lacked detail. Nov 30, 2014 at 17:20
  • For that matter, if somebody feels up to drawing more of these for their own country: I for one would love seeing them and would definitely give them an upvote. Even the US ones I have seen are extremely confusing, for example: according to the few that include community colleges it would be possible to enroll in the middle of an undergraduate program (or 1-year under graduate program) after you finish (which as far as I know isn't true). Nov 30, 2014 at 18:12
  • @DavidMulder: Actually, it's relatively common in the U.S. to receive a two-year degree from a community college and then complete a four-year undergraduate degree with two more years of study at a university. Dec 1, 2014 at 14:42

2 Answers 2


Dutch Educational System

PS. I have only been part of the Dutch system for the first 8 years, but I know it pretty well as I know a lot of Dutch people, still I might have made mistakes. If so: apologies.

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    This is very nicely done. I'm just curious about the three-year masters. I've never heard of those. Which fields are those in?
    – Ana
    Nov 30, 2014 at 19:14
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    @Ana The only two I know of are medicine and a combination master of theology and pastoral care at Groningen. I am sure there must be more, though the rule of thumb is 2 years for research masters an 1 year for more vocational/humanity like masters. Nov 30, 2014 at 21:13
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    @AnonymousMathematician: Well, depends on which definition of scientific you follow. But yeah, pre-bologna University was strictly academic/scientific whereas HBO wasn't even a lower level but strictly vocational. For example, the Netherlands only had a handful of universities, but every single one of them ranked top 200. In contrast to for example the UK where all old polytechnics are universities now as well and as an outsider you have no idea about the quality. Dec 1, 2014 at 14:49
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    VWO means voorbereidend wetenschappelijk onderwijs, not voortgezet, so it should be "Preparational Scientific Education", not "Continued". It's supposed to prepare for university. Jul 23, 2015 at 8:05
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    @RemcoGerlich You're absolutely right... I always thought that the V in HAVO was the same as in VWO. Shame on me. And right now I don't have access to a full fledged computer to edit the image. If anybody has a graphics editor and could copy the word "Preparatory" from VMBO and throw it into the VWO box on top of "Continued" that would be really great! And otherwise I will do it... in the future at some point. Jul 23, 2015 at 12:11

There are similar diagrams and descriptions of educational systems for the Netherlands and other European countries here:


  • Oh! I have seen some of those diagrams before, didn't know where they were from. Can't say I think they are all that clear or good, but the sheer quantity makes it an extremely worthwhile resource :D . Dec 1, 2014 at 14:45

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