International Schools & Education

New country, new school. High quality education is of significant importance for every parent but for anyone considering moving to another country it can be an extra difficult choice to make. From private schooling to studying abroad, good education can be a lot more difficult for internationals.

There are several international schools in the Netherlands who offer an international curriculum (American, British, IB, etc.). And if you plan staying for a longer period of time in the Netherlands you might consider to choose for Dutch educational system.

International School & Education Services

View all >

FAQ Education

Dutch law strictly enforces compulsory education for all children aged 5 to 18 residing in the Netherlands, regardless of their nationality. Secondary education, which begins at the age of 12 and, as of 2008, is compulsory until the age of 18, is offered at several levels. When your child has finished Dutch VMBO (lower secondary education) it can follow vocational education on secondary level / MBO. The HAVO diploma (five years) is the minimum requirement for admission to HBO (universities of applied sciences). The VWO curriculum (6 years) prepares pupils for university / WO (research universities). source:

Primary education starts at the age of 4 and continues until the age of 11 or 12. Dutch international primary schools and the private international schools use either the International Primary Curriculum (IPC) or the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (IBPYP). (source: website Municipality of The Hague)

For secondary education you can choose from American, British, French and German national curricula, the International Baccalaureate Programme (IB) and the European Baccalaureate programme (EB).

Higher education in Holland is known for its high quality and its international study environment. With more than 2,100 international study programs and courses, it has the largest offer of English-taught programs in continental Europe. Dutch higher education has a three types of education:

  • research-oriented education, offered by research universities / called WO in Dutch;
  • higher professional education, offered by universities of applied sciences / called HBO in Dutch.
  • Vocational education on secondary level (MBO) when your child has finished Dutch VMBO (lower secondary education)

At a research university you will focus more on research-oriented work, which could be either in an academic or in a professional setting. At a university of applied sciences you can choose a professional program in the applied arts and sciences, to prepare you for a specific career. A third, smaller branch of higher education is provided by institutes for international education, which offer programs designed especially for international students. Source:

In 2002 Holland introduced the bachelor’s-master’s degree structure, but the distinction between the two types of education still exists. Both research universities and universities of applied sciences can award a bachelor’s or a master’s degree. You first obtain a bachelor’s degree (first cycle), you can then continue to study for a master’s degree (second cycle). After completion of a master’s programme you can start a PhD degree or PDeng degree programme (third cycle). Source:

When you come to Holland to study you will probably expect that many things are different than in your home country: climate, lifestyle, traffic, food, clothes and religion for example. The grading system may also not be the same at what you are used to. There are many different grading systems in the world, such as (from lowest to highest grade) 1 to 5, 1 to 10, 1 to 20, 1 to 100, 5 to 1, F to A. In Holland a ten point system is used in both secondary and higher education. A grade of 10 is the highest and 6 is the minimum pass grade.

Grade Meaning
10 Outstanding *
 9 Very good *
 8 Good
 7 More than satisfactory
 6 Satisfactory
 5 Almost satisfactory
 4 Unsatisfactory
 3 Very unsatisfactory *
 2 Poor *
 1* Very poor *

* The grades 1-3  are hardly ever awarded and 9 and 10 are very rare. Several countries use grading systems that look similar to the one used in Holland. One example is the 1-100 system. However, it would be inaccurate to compare a 90-100 grade in such a system with a 10 in the Dutch system, or a 80-90 with a 9, and so on. An 80 in China, for example, is not considered a good grade since most grades in higher education in China are between 80 and 100. In Holland, however, an 8 is a very good grade, since most grades are between 6 and 8; only excellent students achieve a grade higher than 8. Source:


  • “As a foreigner living in The Netherlands I found this website very helpful. It contains a lot of relevant information and helped me a lot when getting around in Delft.”

    Kateřina Staňková Assistant Professor
  • “A very user-friendly, easy to navigate and informative website. Definitely a great resource for expats who have just landed in Holland, but also for anyone to easily find a specific service in their native language.”

    Ceci Wong WBII
  • “I really appreciate the section on healthcare. Those are exactly the sort of basic, pragmatic questions we all had when we arrived. Now the answers are available on an impartial platform in plain English, even with helpful tips from other expats.”

    Kirry Mukherji European Business Specialist
  • “It is vital as an expat to understand how another country operates, in terms of healthcare, housing and other services. I struggled when I first moved to Holland. Check-NL has it all in one place.”

    Miranda Boers Freelance Writer
  • “Finding the right Doctor has been the biggest challenge. Though, Check-NL makes life easier.  As it is the best place to find  a very comprehensive list all compiled into one place.”

    Susan Jimenez Delft INA

Initiating Partners