What is a nursing degree and how to get it?

The State Nursing Diploma (DEI) is prepared over three years and allows access to the nursing profession. In France, it is required to practice certain regulated professions in the field of health or entertainment.

Since the 2009 reform and the signing of the Bologna agreements on the harmonization of European higher education, the nursing diploma makes it possible to validate a bachelor’s level and obtain the 180 credits necessary to pursue a master’s and doctorate . The diploma prepares future nurses for the daily tasks of the profession: supporting doctors in establishing diagnoses, administering care or taking care of patient hygiene.

The particularities of the diploma

One of the particularities of the state nursing diploma is that it is obtained in an IFSI and not at university. The diploma is issued jointly by the Ministry of Health and Sports and the Ministry of Higher Education and Research. If you complete your three years of training, you will be able to continue with a master’s degree and then a doctorate. Training at IFSI, whatever the institute you choose, is done on a work-study basis: 50% of the time is dedicated to theory and takes place at school, the remaining 50% is dedicated to practice through internships in a hospital environment or not.

Classic admission conditions

The first condition for admission to an IFSI is obtaining a baccalaureate or an equivalent diploma. You can be a student or already working, it doesn’t matter as long as you are passionate. If you are a student, you must register on the Parcoursup platform and be at least 17 years old by December 31 of the year you begin training. Five admission criteria were selected for the nursing diploma:

  • a certain interest in the health and social field;
  • human qualities and great interpersonal skills;
  • good written and oral skills;
  • scientific facilities and mastery of the basics of arithmetic;
  • strong organizational skills and impeccable interpersonal skills.

Admission requirements for continuing professional training

For students from continuing professional training, it will be necessary to have at least three years of professional experience in France. You will also have to pass two selection tests: a written test and an oral test. The oral test will assess the candidate’s experience, motivations and professional project. To properly prepare for this part of the interview, evaluate your professional background and learn how to present it. The writing relates on the one hand to the candidate’s knowledge of the health and social field, and on the other hand to his skills in mathematics. You will need to obtain at least an average of 20/40 to be admitted.

Nursing Training Institutes (IFSI)

The IFSI are nursing schools which depend on the Ministry of Health. There are 350 in France, and some of them are integrated into hospital groups. The Red Cross also has its own training center: the IFSI Red Cross. Most IFSIs are public, but there are also private establishments.

Program of the training

Training for the nursing diploma lasts three years and includes an equal distribution of theoretical and practical time. In school, lessons are divided into six general education units (UG) for 50 teaching units (UE) in total:

  • human and social sciences, law;
  • biological and medical sciences;
  • nursing sciences and techniques, foundations and methods;
  • nursing sciences and techniques, interventions;
  • integration of knowledge and professional postures;
  • work methods.

The nursing student will also complete 60 weeks of internship (2,100 hours) which will allow them to put into practice the knowledge acquired at school and to realize the reality of the profession. Four types of compulsory internships will take place during the three years of study:

  • short-term care;
  • long-term care, follow-up care and rehabilitation;
  • individual or collective care in living spaces;
  • mental health and psychiatric care.

Cost of training

Training in a public center costs on average as much as enrolling at university, or around €200 per year. To this must be added the purchase of the necessary supplies. Private establishments which prepare for the DE and practice the nursing profession are more expensive, but you can request funding from the region, your employer or Pôle Emploi depending on your status: student, employee or in research of employment.


To obtain the nursing diploma, you will have to validate a certain number of credits and meet several criteria. Indeed, the state nursing diploma is now part of the European credit system (ECTS), and each EU corresponds to a certain number of credits. One semester corresponds to 30 credits and one year to 60 credits. At the end of each semester, a Training Credit Allocation Commission will award you a number of European credits based on the results obtained in the evaluations of each EU and the internships.

To obtain your diploma, you must have obtained the 180 credits corresponding to the license level. These 180 credits are distributed as follows: 120 for EU and 60 for clinical practice. They also validate the acquisition of the ten skills necessary to obtain the diploma. After which, you will appear before a regional jury for awarding the state nursing diploma which will decide in your favor or against you.