Entry requirements (adult nursing)

This page has information on the entry requirements for adult nursing.

University courses

Typically you'll need a minimum of five GCSEs at grade 4/C or above (possibly in English language or literature and a science subject), plus two A levels or equivalent level 3 qualifications for an undergraduate degree. Some universities may ask for three A levels or equivalent. If you already have a degree, you might be able to study for a postgraduate qualification through an accelerated programme

It is vital to check entry requirements of the universities you plan to apply to as they can vary. You can use our Course finder to find universities running adult nursing courses.

Alternatives to A Levels

Alternative qualifications to A levels include:

  • Access courses, eg Access to Nursing
  • Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma qualifications
  • Scottish Highers/Advanced Highers
  • OCR Cambridge Technicals
  • International Baccalaureate (IB)

You may need to achieve a certain level, for example a merit or distinction in the case of BTEC. It might be possible to combine academic qualifications with vocational qualifications. For example, an A level and a BTEC qualification.

Before starting any qualifications, always check with universities to ensure that you would be accepted onto an adult nursing course. 

Financial support while studying at university

You'll be entitled to receive at least £5,000 a year towards your studies while at university. Your personal circumstances may mean you could receive more. And the good news? You'll never have to pay it back

Other routes into adult nursing

Nursing degree apprenticeships are available with some employers. Increasing opportunities for current healthcare support staff to apply for nursing associate apprenticeships are also expected. This can lead to nursing degrees or nurse degree apprenticeships. 

Want to learn more?

  • Applicants to adult nursing degrees must demonstrate evidence of literacy and numeracy. This includes evidence of being able to:

    • read and comprehend English or Welsh
    • communicate clearly and effectively in writing, including using a computer
    • accurately manipulate numbers as applied to volume, weight, and length, (including, addition, subtraction, division, multiplication, use of decimals, fractions, and percentages)

    If you have a disability, the above can be met through the use of reasonable adjustments.

  • Any relevant previous learning you have could count towards your pre-registration nursing course. It’s up to each university, but you may be able to do a shortened course (up to one year shorter) if your previous learning is considered relevant.  Examples of previous learning might include a relevant degree or other studies, or relevant practice experience in a nursing or related discipline. What is relevant will depend upon the university offering the programme, but could for example, be a health-related or biology-based degree.

  • You must have a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check to take up a place on a pre-registration nursing programme. You must confirm on your university application that you agree to a DBS check. If you have a criminal conviction or a police caution, this will not automatically bar you from working in the NHS. Any relevant circumstances will be considered for any conviction.You’ll also be required to have a Protection of Children Act List check before you begin your clinical placement if your programme involves regularly caring for or being in sole charge of children.

  • Universities must be satisfied that applicants to programmes are of good health and character to be considered a safe and effective nurse. If you have a particular health problem that may affect your ability to work or study, or if you have any questions about health requirements, contact the university to which you plan to apply. More information is available from the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

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