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Last updated: 3/23/2023, 4:02 PM

After you finish secondary school, you can start studying. You can study in the Netherlands at three different levels. On this page you can read more about those levels. You will also find information about how to pay for your studies.

Different types of education

In the Netherlands, there are three different types of education for subsequent training:

  • Intermediate vocational education (MBO)

  • Higher vocational education (HBO)

  • Academic education (WO)

Below you can read about the characteristics associated with each type of education:

Higher vocational education (HBO)
Academic education (WO)

Prerequisites for studying at college or university

  • For all study programs in Dutch, you must pass the

    State Examination NT2-II

  • For English-language studies, you must take an

    IELTS exam
    or a
    TOEFL exam

  • If you earned a diploma in your home country, you can have it assessed by the International Credential Evaluation (IDW). Based on that assessment, the HBO institute or college will decdide whether your diploma is sufficient.

  • If you do not have a diploma or if your diploma is insufficient, you must take an exam: the 21+ entrance test.

Study costs

You can get student loans to study if you: 

  • Have an asylum or regular indefinite residence permit.

  • Are between 18 and 30 years old.

  • Will begin studies, such as MBO, HBO or university.

At the

Dutch Office of Education (DUO)
you can find out if you can get study funding. They will also tell you how to apply for study funding.

Please note: Study funding means that you borrow or get money from the Dutch government to study. You have to pay back part of the study funding. 

Please note: If you are over 30 and under 55, you can also borrow money from DUO for tuition or fees – under certain conditions. This is called the undefinedLevenlanlerenkredietundefined (lifelong learning credit).

Helpful organisations

These organisations can help you, for example with information or (part of) the cost of your studies:

  • Universitair Asiel Fonds (UAF)


  • Nuffic

  • Studiekeuze 123