Four-year VMBO programmes combine general and vocational education, which leads on to senior secondary vocational education and training (MBO) programmes, of one to four years.
HAVO (five years) and VWO (six year) programmes are needed for higher education entry. The HAVO diploma is the minimum requirement for access to Hoger Beroepsonderwijs (HBO), higher professional education. The VWO curriculum prepares pupils for university and grants access to Wetenschappelijk Onderwijs (WO) education.
The last two years of HAVO and the last three years of VWO are described as ‘upper secondary education’. During these years, pupils focus on one of four areas: science and technology, science and health, economics and society or culture and society. There are two types of higher education establishments in the Netherlands: research universities (universiteiten) and universities of applied sciences (hogescholen). The three-level system offers Bachelors, Masters and PhD degrees.
Research universities mainly offer research- focused (WO) programmes in subjects from languages to law. They also offer doctorate degrees (minimum of four years study). Universities of applied sciences specialise in seven practical areas: agriculture, engineering and technology, economics and business, administration, health care, fine and performing arts, education and social welfare.
More about the Dutch education system: www.studyinholland.nl