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Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship

The Open University’s Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship supports employers to develop their healthcare support workers (HCSWs) towards registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, as either adult or mental health nurses.

Our Nursing Degree Apprenticeship is based on our successful practice-based pre-registration nursing programme - a flexible, work-based degree that is highly rated at 91% for student satisfaction, currently has over 1,000 student nurses and has helped more than 1,400 HCSWs register as qualified nurses since 2002.

We offer Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship in adult nursing and mental health nursing. Because apprentices study flexibly alongside work, they will put their newly acquired knowledge and skills into practice immediately, for the positive benefit of patients and service users.

The Nursing Degree Apprenticeship programme:

  • Is a balance of theory and practice delivered through a combination of practice-based learning and distance learning
  • Develops effective evidence-based practice and underpinning knowledge in an inter-professional and interdisciplinary environment
  • Addresses the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) requirements for entry to the nursing professional register

The Apprenticeship will:

  • Develop your existing support workforce and act to attract new talent
  • Increase staff retention by offering clear and structured career progression to valued support staff
  • Improve the experience of patients and service users
  • Maximise use of the apprenticeship levy
  • Support widening participation initiatives

I’ve worked with a lot of universities and The Open University is the best, most responsive one I’ve ever experienced. The Open University is an excellent way for people to learn while working. It’s flexible, the course materials are really good and the support is fantastic.

Gillian Ashworth Clinical Placement Facilitator, Northampton NHS Trust 

Who is it for?

The programme is suitable for the development of existing HCSWs who have demonstrated the capabilities and commitment to develop towards registered nurse status. It offers an excellent progression route from relevant Level 3 apprenticeships and can also be used to support recruitment of new apprentices to your organisation.

The Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship also provides a suitable progression route for those wishing to progress from Assistant Practitioner roles, as we have well developed credit transfer systems for assessing credit achieved by people who have undertaken the relevant foundation degrees or QCF / RQF qualifications. Many learners are able to carry 120 credits into this apprenticeship.

The Open University has an inclusive approach to education so we have not set any formal entry requirement for nursing apprentices beyond those of the NMC and the Apprenticeships Standards. This means that applicants must have functional skills Level 2 (or equivalent) in maths and English at point of entry, and be successful in a values-based recruitment process that we undertake in partnership with their employer.

What topics does the apprenticeship cover?

The core programme includes the following topics:

  • Person and family-centred care
  • Interpersonal skills that meet service users’ needs for and rights to dignity and privacy in a compassionate and caring manner
  • Promotion of healthy lifestyles
  • Professional context of nursing and healthcare practice
  • Applied physiology across the life course
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Management, leadership and service improvement

Depending on the chosen specialism, apprentices will also develop skills, knowledge and understanding in either adult nursing or mental health nursing in accordance with NMC-approved curriculum.

    Why choose The Open University’s Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship?

    Programme structure

    From February 2018, the Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship will start every February and September.

    The Apprenticeship is built around The Open University’s tried and tested pre-registration nursing programme, which is delivered over four years. As with any other NMC-approved pre-registration nursing programme, our programme meets the NMC theoretical study and practice hour requirements.

    Apprentices will, on average, spend two days a week on practice learning, one day a week on protected study time and two days a week undertaking duties within their employment setting.

    Our technology-enabled flexible delivery approach, supported by a network of Open University nursing staff deployed across England, means apprentices are not required to undertake day release to attend campus-based learning. It also means that their study time can easily be adjusted based on service requirements, minimising disruption to service.

    At the end of the programme, apprentices will be required to undertake an end-point assessment. We will help apprentices prepare for this and support them throughout the process.

    What support will you receive?

    We are a national provider with a local presence. Our nursing programmes are supported closely by academic and practitioners colleagues, who link with employers to provide on-going management of the programme delivery. Local practice tutors support apprentices and mentors throughout practice-based learning. Apprentices are also supported by expert academic module tutors, who deliver all of the necessary underpinning theoretical knowledge.

    Our Apprenticeship Programme Delivery Managers offer information, support and guidance on areas such as funding rules and regulations, use of the levy and contract reviews. They can also help employers who may be considering the wider range of Open University degree and higher apprenticeships.

    Course Summary


    Up to 4 years

    Qualifications achieved

    Depending on the specialism:

    • BSc (Honours) Adult Nursing
    • BSc (Honours) Mental Health Nursing

    Both are Level 6 degree qualifications.

    Contact us

    Further information

    For a more detailed look at our Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship, download our brochure.

    Download brochure