Courses in nursing are popular around the world in the US, UK, Canada and Australia dominating as a popular study-abroad destination.
In fact, the top 15 universities for courses in nursing hail from these four countries, according to QS World Rankings 2022.
The truth is cheap nursing courses can be hard to find. For instance, Monash University’s Bachelor of Nursing will cost 116,400 Australian dollars (US$73,239) for students starting in 2023.
In the UK, expect to pay £111,720 (US$123,851) to study the same course at the University of Glasgow.
Although finding an affordable medical school is rare, it is possible.
The four popular countries — US, UK, Canada and Australia — have cheap medical schools for international students, with no compromise on quality.
Before we get into that, let’s address some common questions about courses in nursing:
What is the easiest nursing course?
According to Pacific College, the licensed practical nurse (LPN) or licensed vocational nurse (LVN) certificate programme in the US usually takes one year to complete.
What makes an LPN or LVN programme the easiest is its focus on training for basic nursing services only and its quick completion time.
Factors affecting the timeframe include full-time or part-time enrollment, the number of clinical hours required by the school and state, and whether students need to fulfil any general education requirements.
Which nursing course has highest salary?
The degrees centred around healthcare and medicine will usually generate high salaries — and nursing is no different.
According to figures from the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP), the number of licensed nurse practitioners surpassed 355,000 in April 2022, a 9% increase from the prior year.
Salaries reflect this demand. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the average salary for Registered Nurses in the US is about US$78,000 annually. That’s around US$37 per hour.
Provo College ranks the five highest-paid nursing jobs:
- Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (US$202,000)
- Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (US$131,000)
- Cardiac Nurse Practitioner (US$120,000)
- Orthopaedic Nurse Practitioner (US$119,000)
- Oncology Nurse Practitioner (US$119,000)
Is nursing easy to pass?
Let’s be real — there isn’t an “easy” course to pass. Courses in nursing require students to process large amounts of information as well as manage their time between clinical, lab work and lectures.
Compared to medical school, however, some might find nursing much easier as no previous degree is required.
If you’re considering nursing school, here are five things you should know.
What should I study first in nursing?
Here are some topics that Rasmussen University believes can give you a head start before starting your nursing course:
- Brushing up on medical terminology/anatomy and physiology
- Practising basic unit conversions to prep for pharmacology
- Memorising basic lab values (BMP, CBC, ABG)
- Practising fundamental nursing skills such as head-to-toe assessments, manual blood pressure, taking pulses, counting respirations
What skills do you need as a nurse?
Being a nurse is more than just treating patients and being fluent in medical knowledge. Other essential skills needed include communication skills, being well-versed with technology, empathy and physical endurance.
With that said, here’s a one-stop guide to cheap and best courses in nursing in the US, UK, Canada and Australia:
Best and cheap courses in nursing: US, UK, Canada, Australia
In the US, six nursing degree levels are available — ranging from diploma level to doctoral level. Note that the eligibility requirements differ for each level, so it’s best to check with your chosen university.
Herzing University breaks down the six main courses in nursing:
- Diploma in practical nursing
- Associate degree
- Bachelor’s degree
- Master’s degree
- Post-master’s certificate
- Doctorate degree
Currently, here are some of the cheapest unis in the US for courses in nursing (tuition fee costs are stated for out-of-state students):
- Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (US$12,838)
- Ball State University (US$25,918)
- Utah Tech University (US$8,418 per semester)
- Fitchburg State University (US$17,001)
These unis also offer various scholarship and financial aid opportunities for international students.
With almost 90 universities in the UK offering courses in nursing, you will be spoilt with choices in deciding where to pursue your nursing degree.
Popular nursing disciplines to study in the UK include:
- Learning Disability Nursing
- Adult Nursing
- Mental Health Nursing
- Children’s Nursing Care
According to National Health Service (NHS), the requirements to study adult nursing in the UK include having 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.
Do note that some universities may ask for three A levels or equivalent.
Are you looking for cheap courses in nursing in the UK? Consider Glasgow Caledonian University, Teesside University and Middlesex University London, where annual tuition fees start as low as £13,000 (US$14,354).
If staying and working in the UK after graduation is part of your plan, we’ve got good news for you.
The nursing programmes at universities like Glasgow Caledonian University will allow you to apply for registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Council.
You can also apply for various positions in the National Health Service — the UK’s state care health system.
Four Canadian universities, namely the University of Alberta, the University of Toronto, McMaster University and the University of British Columbia, ranked in the top 25 universities globally for their courses in nursing.
Due to the staffing shortage across the country, skilled, trained nurses are in high demand. This opens many opportunities for students to study and pursue nursing in Canada.
What’s more, the Quebec government is setting aside 65 million Canadian dollars to train 1,000 foreign nurses, reported The PIE News in 2022.
To be eligible, nurses must hail from French-speaking countries, with the first phase targeting recruits from Algeria, Cameroon, Morocco, Tunisia and Mauritius.
The average registered nurse salary in Canada is over 80,000 Canadian dollars per year, while more experienced staff can earn over CA$90,000 per annum.
There are three recognised nursing groups in Canada: Registered Nurse (RN), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), and Registered Psychiatric Nurse (RPN).
Check out these cheapest unis for courses in nursing:
- University of Manitoba — CA$20,600 (US$15,037.48)
- University of Ottawa — CA$16,053.49 (US$11,718.65)
- University of Prince Edward Island — CA$6,570 (US$4,795.94)
Still, what happens if you need financial assistance to study courses in nursing in Canada? In that case, the Canadian Nurses Foundation offers merit-based scholarships for nursing students across Canada at the baccalaureate, master and PhD levels.
The scholarship award ranges from CA$750 to CA$10,000.
Healthcare is one of Australia’s fastest-growing employment sectors, and the demand for healthcare services will continue to increase, given Australia’s ageing population.
Similar to Canada, Australia is also going through a labour shortage and desperately needs nurses.
The Health Workforce Australia (HWA) has predicted that at the rate things are going, the country will face a shortage of over 100,000 nurses by 2025 and more than 123,000 nurses by 2030.
This is the perfect time to seize the opportunity to pursue nursing, as the possibility of securing a job is at its peak.
A registered nurse works in several areas, including emergency, aged care, mental health, pediatric care and general practice.
To qualify as a registered nurse, you must complete a Bachelor of Nursing to equip yourself with the knowledge and skills needed for this role.
The University of Technology Sydney, Griffith University and The University of Adelaide are among the top universities in Australia for nursing programmes.
Below are some of the cheapest unis for courses in nursing in Australia:
- The University of Notre Dame — AU$36,699 (US$24,527.96)
- Murdoch University — AU$31,200 (US$20,852.68)
- Edith Cowan University — AU$38,500 (US$25,731.67)
Do I need a license to become a nurse?
Before you are certified to become a practising nurse, nursing students must pass an exam that measures the competencies needed to perform safely and effectively.
In the US, Australia and Canada, the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is a nationwide exam for nursing licensing.
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) says that every state in the US is responsible for the licensure of nurses within that state.
All US boards of nursing use the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). Both are meant to test if nursing students are qualified.
There is a different exam for nursing students in the UK. Instead of the NCLEX, aspiring nurses take the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) exam. Learn more about how to apply for the NMC exam here.