Abstract The aim of the present study was to develop educational guidelines to be used as a tool for the integration of theory, research and practice to ensure that nursing knowledge and practical skills form the basis of academic nursing education. An additional aim was to describe the nursing competence expected of the students at four academic levels: introductory, intermediate and advanced levels I and II. Clinical nursing education plays a crucial role in assisting nursing students to integrate the theory and practice of nursing at the baccalaureate level, as well as in further specialization and in-depth nursing studies at the advanced level. A research group consisting of lecturers from the Institute of Nursing, Göteborg University, Sweden, was given the objective to formulate educational guidelines for clinical practice within nursing education. The study took the form of a literature search. In addition, the Delphi method, aimed at reaching a consensus of opinion among colleagues, was used. Based on the literature review and the collegial discussions, four core concepts emerged: professional stance, reflective processes, problem-solving processes, and practical skills, from which the educational guidelines were developed. Guidelines were formulated both in general and abstract form. They were not connected to a specific care context, specific patient group or specific nursing problems. The most important objective of academic education is that the student develops abilities and techniques necessary for life-long learning. Students will, in their professional life as nurses, continuously meet situations where they are challenged to take appropriate decisions and actions. This demands training in problem-solving, reflection, decision-making and the ability to use both deductive and inductive learning strategies. The guidelines describe what is expected of the students in terms of nursing competence and personal qualifications to ensure that they will be ready to meet the demands of their future profession.