Compulsory education

The Netherlands has compulsory education from age 5 to 18 (or 16 as a study is completed which has given the student adequate professional skills to start as a professional in the labour market).

Pupils attend primary or elementary school from age 4 to age 12. After that they continue their education at secondary school minimally until age 18; which indicates one of three tracks in the Dutch educational system.






The vocational track starts with VMBO, which is seen as the first level of secondary education and lasts four years. Successfully completing VMBO results in a basic level vocational degree and/or gives access to higher (secondary) levels vocational education.

Completion of second level of vocational education results in professional skills and gives access to further study a university of applied science.
The medium level HAVO lasts five years. After completion a student can attend a university of applied science.

A university of applied science awards professional bachelor degrees. A degree at a university of applied science gives access to the university system.
The highest level of high school education is VWO, which lasts six years, completion of which allows students to attend a university.

University consists of a three year bachelor's degree, followed by a one or two year master's degree. A master's degree is required to start a four year doctoral degree. Doctoral candidates in the Netherlands are temporary employees of a university.