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Nursing degree entry requirements

Considering a nursing course? We unpack the degree requirements needed for both in-year and Clearing nursing courses at UK universities.

Eleanor Foulds
by Eleanor Foulds
Last Updated:
31 May 2023

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CONTENTS

What's nursing?

Nursing degree entry requirements

What subjects do you need to become a nurse?

Best universities for nursing in the UK

How to compare nursing courses

How to compare nursing courses in Clearing

What if you can't find a nursing degree in Clearing?

What's nursing?

Nursing focuses on the care of individuals so they attain or recover to their optimal health. On a nursing degree, you’ll learn how to deliver frontline care in an effective, safe and compassionate way. Whether you choose to specialise in mental health nursing, adult nursing, child nursing, learning disability nursing or another nursing discipline, you’ll play a vital role in providing support for those in need.

Nursing degree entry requirements

The minimum UCAS points for a nursing degree range from 96 points (CCC at A Level; MMM at BTEC level) to 144 (AAA at A Level; DDD at BTEC level).

Nursing Degree Entry Requirements

Type Minimum Grades/Points Required (with Foundation Year) Minimum Grades/Points Required Maximum Grades/Points Required Average Grades/Points Required
UCAS Points 72 96 144 112
A Level DDD CCC AAA BBC
BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma MPP-MMP MMM DDD DMM
International Baccalaureate 24 25 37 30


What subjects do you need to become a nurse?


A-levels

Some universities need you to have studied a science course (biology, chemistry, physics, psychology, health and social care), though this isn’t essential for others. General studies and critical thinking aren’t usually considered part of your points total, but are welcomed as an additional qualification.

BTECs

Most universities will accept applicants with BTECs or other vocational qualifications. Entry requirements range from MMM to DDD for the Level 3 Extended Diploma. In some cases you’ll need to have studied a science-based subject or have a combination of BTECs and A-levels.

GCSEs

Most universities will require you to have at least five GCSEs, with a grade C/4 or higher, including English and Maths. This is to prove you have the numeracy and literacy skills required to be a nurse.

International Baccalaureate

Many nursing courses ask that you have at least a 5, 5, 5 at Higher Level, with top unis asking for 6, 6, 5. Some courses prefer you to have studied a science or health-related subject.

Your grades form only a part of the entry requirements for nursing. University admissions teams will pay close attention to your personal statement, looking for evidence of relevant work experience and your desire to become a nurse.

Most nursing courses will also invite you to attend an interview, via phone or in-person, to demonstrate why you would be a good fit for the course.

Top Tip: If you've only just missed the grades you needed for your chosen university and your UCAS Hub account hasn’t been updated yet, it’s worth contacting the university to see if there is still a chance they'll still accept you, based on the quality of your personal statement and interview performance.

Best universities for nursing in the UK

Our sister site, the Complete University Guide, publishes university league tables every year ranking UK unis nationally and in 70+ subject areas. Check out the latest rankings to get an idea of the best UK unis for nursing.

The most important thing to look out for is that your course is approved by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC). This means the course meets their high professional standards and you’ll be able to register with the NMC as a practicing nurse upon graduation.

How to compare nursing courses


Whatuni’s Find a Course tool will help you compare nursing courses. Enter ‘nursing’ into the search bar and browse through each course.

List of nursing degrees on Whatuni

Use the filters to personalise the results based on what you find important. When you select a course, you'll see the full course information, including course outline, module choices, entry requirements, fees and key course stats.

Nursing degree search on Whatuni

Once you’ve compiled a shortlist of courses, begin your research by ordering each university’s prospectus. This will give you an overview of learning facilities, accommodation, social activities, support and much more.

Book yourself onto open day events too. You’ll get to take a closer look at the campus and speak to current students and/or tutors.

Read student reviews to gain an honest insight into what you can expect from your student experience. You can filter reviews based on university, course and even search for keywords.

Nursing student reviews on Whatuni

How to compare nursing courses in Clearing

Clearing will be another opportunity to apply for nursing courses when the service opens in early July. Using Whatuni’s Clearing tool, you’ll be able to compare courses.

Recent data on the application cycle has shown a record number of student nursing applications. This may mean few nursing places will be available in Clearing. If there are places available, but not in the specialism you’re after, still consider applying. It's possible to change your specialism focus once you graduate.

You should still pre-register for Clearing. You’ll receive regular advice leading up to Clearing, have access to Whatuni’s Clearing guide and be able to save and compare nursing courses once Clearing begins.

What if you can’t find a nursing degree in Clearing?

If you can’t find a nursing course either in-year or in Clearing, you won’t be short of options:

  • Apply for an alternative specialism: For example, if you originally applied to study adult nursing, but can’t find a place in Clearing, then you can opt for another specialism (such as child nursing or mental health nursing). Keep in mind that mental health nursing degree entry requirements can be different to paediatric nursing degree entry requirements, for example, so it's important to check the course information when researching your options.
  • Apply for a nursing degree apprenticeship: You’ll study for your degree alongside working as a nurse (meaning you gain your qualification and earn a wage at the same time). The degree will take longer to complete (four years), but you’ll be gaining valuable work experience. You can find the latest opportunities on the NHS Jobs website. Entry requirements vary, but can be a little lower than for the direct degree.
  • Study to become a nursing associate: Nursing associates work alongside nurses, doing pretty much the same tasks. A nursing associate course is a two-year foundation degree; a Level 5 qualification equivalent to a HND or two-thirds of a Bachelor’s degree (and can be used as a stepping stone to getting a full degree). Nursing associate entry requirements are lower than a bachelor’s degree – as low as 32 UCAS Tariff points. Once you’ve completed the course, you’ll be able to register with the NMC.
  • Study a nursing degree with a foundation year: You could consider a nursing degree with an integrated foundation year. This is designed for students who don’t meet the entry requirements for direct entry. After the first year, you’ll be able to head straight on to year one of a bachelor’s degree. Be aware that although foundation year nursing entry requirements are lower than a bachelor’s degree, studying this extra year will result in an additional cost to your studies.
  • Study a postgraduate nursing degree: If you're set on going to university this year, but still want a career as a nurse in the future, then you could choose to do your undergraduate degree in another subject and then study a postgraduate degree course (either a master’s degree or a postgraduate diploma) in nursing. The undergraduate degree you do will still need to be in a health or life science subject and for most courses you’ll need a 2:1.
  • Take a gap year and resit your exams: You could take a year out, resit your exams either in autumn or next year. During the year you could get some work or volunteering experience in a hospital/healthcare setting to improve your application.

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