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Bachelor of Nursing Degree in Australia

Become a nurse in just 3 years with a program that includes 800+ hours of clinical placements.

Excited student nurse in hospital

Course Overview

A Bachelor of Nursing is a degree program that prepares students to become registered nurses. It's a three-year course that combines theoretical learning with practical training. Students benefit from clinical placements in varied settings, applying what they learn in real-world situations.

The program includes simulated learning on campus, where students practise nursing skills in a realistic environment. This training, along with external placements totalling more than 800 hours, readies students for the challenges of the job.

Nursing is a respected profession with good career prospects. Registered Nurses receive annual pay increments for the first eight years, reflecting their growing experience. With further study, they also have opportunities for specialised roles and management positions.

Which Bachelor Degree Is Best for Nursing?

Woman holding up a degree

In Australia, a Bachelor of Nursing is the premier undergraduate degree for becoming a nurse. It is also referred to as a Bachelor of Science (Nursing) or Bachelor of Nursing Science at some universities. There is a standardised program for new university students aiming for a career as a nurse, and this is it.

  • A Bachelor of Nursing (Accelerated) is the same degree, but fast-tracked to just 2 years via continuous study that includes the summer months.
  • Enrolled nurses can do a modified Bachelor of Nursing (Enrolled Nurse) degree, which is shortened by a year with credit for prior Diploma of Nursing studies.

While there may be some minor variations, any degree for nursing leading to registration must adhere to strict national standards, including completing over 800 hours of clinical placements.

Best university for nursing in Australia

The top-rated bachelor degrees in nursing are offered by Deakin University, Griffith University, and Monash University. According to data from ComparED, Deakin achieved a graduate satisfaction rate of 83.9%, followed by Griffith at 82.4%, and Monash at 80.8%. These are the highest satisfaction levels among large universities for health care.

This assessment involved examining the 12 largest Australian universities in terms of undergraduate enrolments in Health courses. It focused on identifying which universities had the highest graduate satisfaction percentages. The evaluation is based on graduate ratings after entering the job market, reflecting the quality and effectiveness of the courses. The top institutions not only teach large numbers of future nurses but also achieve strong overall endorsements.

What You'll Study

Nursing courses consist of traditional academic learning, involving lectures and tutorials, as well as hands-on training through clinical simulations and placements. As a full-time student, you can expect to engage in 15-20 hours of scheduled classes each week over 4-5 days.

Based on a sample of leading programs, here is a representative program organised into three years, with each year consisting of eight subjects. For part-time study, the timeframe expands to six years.

Year 1

  • Foundations of Professional Nursing
  • Psychosocial Development across Lifespan
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology 1
  • Communicating Effectively
  • Safe Administration of Medications
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology 2
  • Effective Nursing Practice
  • Health Assessment

Year 2

  • Acute Nursing Practice
  • Human Pathophysiology & Pharmacology 1
  • Legal and Ethical Principles in Healthcare
  • Evidence-Based Nursing
  • Chronic Condition Management
  • Human Pathophysiology & Pharmacology 2
  • Mental Health Nursing Practice
  • Family Nursing

Year 3

  • Professional Nursing Practice
  • Complex Clinical Care
  • Community Nursing Practice
  • Health and Illness in Older People
  • First Peoples Health and Practice
  • Professional Experience Capstone
  • Indigenous Health Care for Nurses
  • Pharmacology and Therapeutics for Nurses

Students learn a blend of theory and practical skills, covering medical concepts, clinical nursing techniques, and holistic patient care. Key areas include human anatomy and physiology, safe administration of medications, and effective communication. The course also covers pathophysiology, pharmacology, legal and ethical aspects, and how to manage acute and chronic conditions.

Is Nursing a Hard Degree?

Dejected-looking woman in scrubs outside building

Like the job itself, you need to be an all-rounder to do well in a nursing program. However, it is not one of the hardest degrees at university. You can tell this by the required ATARs. The minimum ATAR for admission is usually around 65, and is lower at some universities.

Table 1. Largest universities for Nursing, with required ATARs

University State ATAR Health Students
Australian Catholic University Various 59 13,823
University of Tasmania Tasmania 61 10,854
La Trobe University Victoria 55 9,498
Western Sydney University New South Wales 65 8,581
Deakin University Victoria 53 8,577
Monash University Victoria 64 8,482
Curtin University Western Australia 70 7,367
University of South Australia South Australia 70 6,860
Queensland University of Technology Queensland 84 6,463
University of Newcastle New South Wales 63 6,257
CQUniversity Queensland 68 5,961
Griffith University Queensland 72 5,844

Sources: ATARs are from university websites (entering into 2024); Enrolment data generated from Higher Education Statistics for undergraduate students in the field of Health. Note: The minimum ATAR score is the lowest score at any campus of the university. Most universities have a single, standard ATAR. Others have variable scores that depend on the number of applicants each year and may vary by campus.

However, nursing may be harder than other degrees with similar academic entry requirements. It presents extra challenges. The curriculum requires students to learn numerous medical subjects and also to effectively communicate with patients and colleagues.

In addition to the academic load, students participate in work placements that test their ability to apply knowledge in real-life settings. They must also manage the emotional aspects of patient care, which calls for both sensitivity and strength. Balancing these demands with the academic workload makes nursing a uniquely challenging field of study.

Related: What Is Studying a Bachelor of Nursing Really Like?

Every Course Provider in Australia

Prospective nurses are well-served in terms of access to courses, with degrees offered by 37 Australian universities and other education providers. Many of these institutions have multiple campuses, with nine having facilities outside of their home state.

Table 2. Institutions with an approved nursing degree

State / territory Education providers based in region*
Australian Capital Territory University of Canberra
New South Wales Avondale University
Charles Sturt University
Southern Cross University
Torrens University
University of New England
University of Newcastle
University of Notre Dame Australia
University of Sydney
University of Technology Sydney
University of Wollongong
Western Sydney University
Northern Territory Charles Darwin University
Queensland CQUniversity
Griffith University
James Cook University
Queensland University of Technology
TAFE Queensland
University of Queensland
University of Southern Queensland
University of the Sunshine Coast
South Australia Flinders University
University of Adelaide
University of South Australia
Tasmania University of Tasmania
Victoria Australian Catholic University
Deakin University
Federation University Australia
Holmesglen Institute
La Trobe University
Monash University
RMIT University
Swinburne University of Technology
Victoria University
Western Australia Curtin University
Edith Cowan University
Murdoch University

* Note: Nine Australian universities have campuses in multiple states. Source: Registered Nurse Courses: Approved Programs of Study

Is There an Easier Way to Get Into Nursing?

Nurse showing client use of remote control

To become a nurse without completing a degree, you could opt for a Diploma of Nursing. This qualification, typically taking 18-24 months to complete, makes you eligible to become an Enrolled Nurse (EN). The diploma covers essential nursing skills such as medication administration, health assessment, and caring for diverse clients. Programs incorporate at least 400 hours of work placements in healthcare facilities. The course is easier than a degree and has no ATAR requirement.

Being an EN, however, places more limitations on your job and career opportunities compared to being an RN. While ENs are closely involved in patient care, their scope of practice is narrower, and they work under the supervision of RNs. This can limit career progression and earning potential; for instance, the peak salary for ENs is typically lower than the starting salary for RNs.

Despite the downsides, a nursing diploma offers a viable pathway into the field, particularly for those who may not be ready or able to commit to university study. Additionally, it can serve as a stepping stone, as ENs have the option to upgrade their qualifications later to become RNs.

Can I Study Nursing Online?

Bachelor degree student online

Studying nursing online in Australia is possible, but it combines online academic work with mandatory practical components. These programs, better described as distance education, allow you to complete theory-based coursework online. However, you must also attend on-campus training sessions and complete over 800 hours of clinical placements in healthcare settings.

This hybrid approach offers flexibility but demands strong self-discipline and time management. To start, you'll need to find universities offering online nursing programs and check their requirements, including ATAR cut-offs and travel for on-campus sessions. Typically, you'll be required to attend a campus once each semester for 3-4 consecutive days. Work placements can usually be arranged so they are reasonbly close to where you live.

Related: How to Study Bachelor of Nursing Online in Australia

How Much Do Nurses Earn?

Hospital staff attending to girl in wheelchair

Nurses in Australia are well-remunerated, with salaries that grow with experience. There are also opportunities for lucrative specialist and management roles.

On average, a Registered Nurse (RN) earns $72,118 in their first year. This grows to an estimated $86,861 by their fifth year, and can reach around $97,902 later in their career, depending on which state or territory they reside.

The highest-paid nurses in Australia can earn significantly more because of opportunities for specialist and leadership roles. For example, Nurse Practitioners, who hold advanced degrees and have substantial experience, can earn up to $151,292. Similarly, Nurse Unit Managers, Clinical Nurse Consultants, and Nurse Educators command high salaries, with some earning up to $133,952.

Related: Nurse Salary Australia: Official Pay Rates