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Two young people sitting next to each other taking notes in a book.
Source: Studeren


Last updated: 1/31/2024, 10:25 AM
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After secondary school, you can continue your studies. You can study at different levels. The level of your studies depends on your secondary school diploma. In this article, you will find information about the different levels if you are going to study.

Different types of studies

In the Netherlands, there are three different levels you can study:

  • Intermediate vocational education (MBO)

  • Higher vocational education (HBO)

  • University, this is also called scientific education (WO)

Below you can read about the features of each type of education.


Middle-level vocational education (MBO) is a school where you learn a profession. You can follow an MBO program after getting your VMBO diploma.

During your studies, you will learn a lot from practice

While studying at MBO, you do not just learn from books. You also learn many things in practice. During your training, you will go to a company to learn how things work there. This way you can really experience what it is like to work. The MBO offers courses at different levels, from level 1 to level 4. At level 1, you learn most from practice. At level 4, you learn more from theory.

After your MBO training.

When you finish a training course at MBO, you can work or continue studying. If you want to learn more, you can take an MBO training course at the same or other level. You can also go to HBO with a training course of MBO level 3 or 4.

Different types of education in MBO
Examples of different MBO training courses


Higher general secondary education (HBO) is a school where you learn a profession or trade after you have a HAVO diploma. Or where you learn more about your profession after middle-level vocational education (MBO).

During your studies, you will learn a lot from practice and theory

The HBO is less hands-on than the MBO. You learn more from theory. In addition to lessons, you often do projects and assignments that prepare you for real situations in your work. You also do 1 or more internships during your training.

After your HBO studies

As with MBO, after HBO you can choose to work in the topic in which you studied. Or you can choose to study even further, for example at a university.

Different types of education in HBO
Examples of different HBO training courses

University (WO)

At university in the Netherlands you become a researcher. You often do not learn for 1 profession but you learn very extensively about a field or subject. You can go to university if you have a VWO diploma or HBO diploma. Also, sometimes you can go to university if you have passed the first year of your HBO program.

During your studies, you will learn a lot from theory

While studying at university, you will study and research themes or topics extensively. This means you do a lot of reading and research. You gain little practical experience. In some studies, you do do some kind of internship. But most of your study is theory.

After you graduate from university

When you finish your studies at university, you can go to work or get a doctorate. Doing a PhD means you spend 4 years doing research on one specific subject. After your PhD, you are an expert in science.

Different types of university education
Examples of university courses
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