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Nursing Degree Apprenticeships

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, Children and Young People, Learning Disabilities or Mental Health Nurses.

Our Nursing Degree Apprenticeship is based on our experience of delivering successful practice-based nursing programmes. We’ve helped more than 2,000 HCSWs register as qualified nurses since 2002 and we are the largest Nursing Apprenticeship provider in England with over 500 apprentices currently on programme.

Because apprentices study flexibly alongside work, they will put their newly acquired knowledge and skills into practice immediately, for the positive benefit of service users.

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

The Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship:

  • Is a balance of theory and practice delivered through a combination of practice-based learning and an enquiry-based learning approach, using 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

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, and from the Nursing Associate programme. We have well-developed credit transfer systems for accessing credit achieved by people who have undertaken prior relevant qualifications such as a Foundation Degree. Many learners may transfer up to 180 credits into this apprenticeship.

The Open University has an inclusive approach to education so we have not set any formal entry requirements 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.

Entry requirements

Currently the programme entry requirements include:

  • Literacy (Functional Skills Level 2 or equivalent e.g. GCSE Grade C or above in English)
  • Numeracy (Functional Skills Level 2 or equivalent e.g. GCSE Grade C or above in Maths)
  • Satisfactory disclosure and barring service checks
  • Good health, evidenced through self-declaration of health status, occupational health screening, review of previous sickness and absence record, and two references – one of which must be from the applicant’s current employer
  • Successful completion of interview an interview assessed against personal values and beliefs

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 health through the life course
  • Professional context of nursing and healthcare practice
  • Applied physiology across the life course
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Management, leadership and service improvement

All modules will support achievement of the NMC’s proficiencies and apprentices will develop skills, knowledge and understanding in their chosen field of practice.

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

    • Where possible, tutor-supported online learning is delivered flexibly around the demands of your organisation, enabling apprentices to balance study with personal commitments and minimising time away from the workplace
    • Learning is accessible 24/7 and can provide consistently high-quality education for multiple staff, regardless of their location
    • Our experience in supporting learners, whatever their prior attainment, means you can develop applicants from all backgrounds, with us helping them to develop study skills as they engage with the programme
    • Apprentices can apply what they learn immediately into practice, for the positive benefit of the organisation
    • We have nearly 50 years’ experience of providing knowledge and skills to busy working adults and have a proven history of delivering apprenticeship programmes to organisations from the NHS to Babcock

    Programme structure

    The Registered Nurse Degree Apprenticeship will start every February and October. 

    The Apprenticeship is built around The Open University’s tried and tested nursing degree programme. As with any other NMC-approved 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 some of their study time can 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 practitioner colleagues, who link with employers to provide on-going management of the programme delivery. Local practice tutors support apprentices and practice supervisors 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


    Standard route: 3 years
    Extended route: 4 years 

    Qualifications achieved

    Depending on the specialism:

    • BSc (Honours) Adult Nursing
    • BSc (Honours) Mental Health Nursing
    • BSc (Honours) Children and Young People Nursing
    • BSc (Honours) Learning Disability Nursing

    All 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