Higher National Certificates (HNC) and Higher National Diplomas (HND) are Level 4 and 5 BTEC qualifications (see BTECs for more information) that offer a mix of academic and hands-on practical and vocational learning to help you develop the appropriate skills needed in the workplace. They might also count towards membership of professional bodies and other employer organisations. HNCs take one year to complete full-time and HNDs take two years to complete full-time, while part-time study is also possible and will take longer. 

HNCs and HNDs are available in a wide variety of subjects, including agriculture; computing and IT; construction and civil engineering; engineering; health and social care; business and management; sport and exercise science; performing arts; retail and distribution; and hospitality management. 

HNCs and HNDs are mainly assessed through assignments, projects and practical tasks that are completed throughout the course, and are graded at a pass, merit and distinction level.

Most courses require Level 3 qualifications to apply, such as A levels, or a Level 3 BTEC, however, work experience will also be taken into account. 

Undertaking an HNC or HND gives you the skills needed for a particular field, and can lead straight to a career. However, they are also equivalent to the first year (HNC) or second year (HND) of university, and if you wish to obtain a Bachelor's you can 'top-up' your current qualifications and attend the second or final year of university (depending on the modules your covered for your HNC/HND and how they relate to the degree course you are looking into). If you've undertaked an HNC you can also choose to undertake an HND afterwards.

The cost of HNDs and HNDs vary, but it will be approximately £5,000 per year. You can obtain a tuition fee and maintenance fee loan in the same way as a Bachelor's degree (please see our Fees & Finance pages for more information), and they are studied at college or university so you can apply through the UCAS system. For more information on this, please see our applications pages.