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Guide to Higher National Certificate and Diploma qualifications

If you have a specific career path in mind and want to receive practical training for it, then a HNC or HND could be the qualification for you.

What are Higher National Diplomas and Certificates?

HNCs (Higher National Certificates) and HNDs (Higher National Diplomas) are vocational higher education qualifications.

While a degree helps you gain knowledge, HNCs and HNDs are designed to give you the skills to put that knowledge to effective use in a particular job.

They are reputable qualifications that are highly valued by employers both in the UK and overseas, and can also count towards membership of professional bodies and other employer organisations.

HNCs and HNDs are provided by over 400 universities and further education colleges.

How long do HNCs and HNDs take to complete?

HNCs can take one year to complete full time and two years part time (or through distance learning).

HNDs take two years full time and can also be taken part time, which means it will take longer to complete.

What are the different levels for HNCs and HNDs?

HNCs and HNDs are at level 5 on the National Qualifications Framework.

On the Qualifications and Credit Framework, HNCs are at level 4 and HNDs are at level 5.

These frameworks show how different types of qualifications compare, in terms of the demands they place on learners.

What HNC and HND subjects are available?

HNCs and HNDs are available in a wide range of subject areas, including:

  • Agriculture
  • Computing and IT
  • Construction and Civil Engineering
  • Engineering
  • Health and Social Care
  • Business and Management
  • Sport and Exercise Sciences
  • Performing Arts
  • Retail and Distribution
  • Hospitality Management

You can search for all the HNCs and HNDs available at the UCAS website.

What are the entry requirements for HND and HNC qualifications?

To study for an HNC or HND, you will need some previous qualifications.

Most HND courses require one A level (or equivalent). Check the UCAS website for full details on the entry requirements for a particular course.

How will I be assessed during my HND or HNC?

HNCs and HNDs are mainly assessed through projects and practical assignments that you complete throughout the course.

If you are not happy with how you did in a particular task, don't worry - you will have the chance to improve your performance. We recommend you speak to your teacher or tutor if this is the case.

If you are still not happy with the mark or grade you have been awarded, there are appeals procedures you can follow.

Again, you should speak to your tutor for more advice.

What can I do after my HND or HNC?

Since HNCs and HNDs are designed to give you the skills for a particular field of work, they can lead straight to your chosen career.

You can also use the qualifications to progress within your current career, for example as a stepping stone to gaining professional status.

You can also convert your HNC or HND to a bachelors degree with extra study.

Once you complete your course, HNCs can allow entry into the second year of a degree, while HNDs can allow entry into the second or third year.