Becoming a nurse

How to become a nurse and find a course in the UK

How would you rate your experience today? Please fill out our short survey to help us improve the NMC Education webpages.

Complete the survey

All nurses working in the UK must be registered with us. Before registration, they must have successfully completed a nursing programme of education that is approved by us. They must also meet our requirements of good health and good character.

Education and training

In the UK, nursing education and training programmes are only run at our approved educational institutions (AEIs) based in health and social care settings. Courses usually take a minimum of three years, although entry routes are available which take into account your previous learning. Please read our section below about accreditation of prior learning (APL) for further information.

Nursing training takes place at an NMC approved educational institution, with half of the programme based in clinical practice with direct contact with patients and families. This could take place in the home, community, hospitals, and independent and voluntary sector organisations.


During the programme, students are taught to understand, promote and facilitate safe and effective patient care. They are taught when to call for assistance and implement emergency measures, often working with other health professionals.

Promoting health and wellbeing is an important role for nurses. Students learn and are assessed on how to provide unbiased information and communicate effectively with a range of patients, families and other healthcare professionals.

Nursing degree apprenticeships

Some people choose to take nursing degree apprenticeships as an alternative to traditional degree courses.

Nursing degree apprenticeships are, like all apprenticeships, employer-led. The employer releases the apprentice to study at an approved education institution and in a range of practice settings so apprentices can get the full range of skills and knowledge that we require for registration. Apprentices will need to achieve the same high standards that we expect from students who take the traditional degree course before they can join their register.

Universities and practice placement partners also have to apply the same standards throughout their courses if they’re running apprenticeships, including when deciding who gets a place on the course.

Find out more about becoming an apprentice.

Where to find training programmes

You can find details about the training programmes and the work nurses do from NHS Careers.

For a list of institutions approved by us to provide pre-registration nursing programmes please search our approved programmes.

Students normally apply to training programmes through the Universities and College Admissions Service (UCAS).

Accreditation of prior learning (APL)

Some students may have previous relevant learning, including formal certified learning such as an access course or another degree, or practice-based learning that was part of another course or gained through paid or voluntary work. Evidence of this learning may contribute to meeting some programme requirements, assessed through the AEI’s own APL process. Up to a maximum of 50 percent of the programme can be accredited in this way.