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Differences between BTEC HNC and HND course explained

BTEC HNC and HND course are popular study options and are highly regarded by employers. But, what are they exactly, and what are the key differences between them?

Both BTEC HNC and HND courses are provided by further or higher education institutions and focus on work-based learning. They equip students with the practical skills required to start a career in a wide range of areas, such as accountancy, engineering, computing or photography.

How do BTEC HNC and HND course differ?

A Higher National Diploma (HND) can be differentiated from a Higher National Certificate (HNC) by the amount of time it takes to complete the course. An HND normally takes two years to complete full time, or three to four years when studied part time. An HNC typically takes just a year to finish if taken full time, or two years if studied part time.

If you’ve already completed an HNC, you may then be able to complete a relevant HND in one year.

BTEC HND and HNC courses are not equal in qualification value. An HNC is one level below an HND course so that HNC courses are equivalent to studying one year at university, while HND course is the same as studying two years at university. On the Qualifications and Credit Framework (QCF), HNCs are rated at level 4, and HNDs at level 5.

HNCs and HNDs are flexible degree pathway programmes and can be converted into a full degree with additional study. Students taking an HNC can transfer to the second year of a degree course, while an HND normally lets you start the third year of a degree course.

Both HNC and HND courses enable students to study a subject to see if they like it, before deciding whether to take it to degree level. They also provide a practical, group-based approach to learning, and are a more affordable alternative to studying a traditional degree at university. Despite this, they have valued qualifications by employers and respected entry routes to many careers, and also count towards membership of professional organisations.

HNC and HND courses are available in a wide range of subjects, and most students begin studying them after taking A levels. You normally need one higher level qualification, such as an A level, to enter an HNC course, and two higher level qualification, such as an A level, to enter an HNC course, and two higher level qualifications, or two A levels, to start an HND course – although this varies by course and course provider.

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