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Aim. This paper is a discussion of the similarities and differences in baccalaureate nursing education programme structures, content and pathways to postbaccalaureate education in the Scandinavian countries.
Background. For the last three decades nursing education internationally, as well as in the Scandinavian countries, has experienced ongoing reforms. The driving forces behind these reforms have been efforts for professional development within nursing and to harmonize higher education in several European countries.
Data sources. The data were collected by a critical review of the guiding principles, national directives and educational structures and content of Bachelor’s degree programmes from 1990 to 2008 and of further educational levels in the four Scandinavian countries.
Discussion. There are similarities as well as substantial differences in the educational structures, contents and lengths in the different nursing programmes. Nursing education is organized in the three cycles described in the Bologna Process, but there are differences regarding names and terms for degrees and allocation of European Credit Transfer System credits.
Implications for nursing. Policymakers need to consider more carefully the directives in the Bologna Declaration when planning and implementing nursing programmes at Bachelor’s and postgraduate levels. Knowledge of the content and structure of nursing education in these countries may enhance development and cooperation between institutions.
Conclusion. A challenge for the ministries of education in the Scandinavian countries is to compare and coordinate nursing educational programmes in order to enable nursing students, educators, researchers and nurses to study and work in Scandinavia, Europe or even globally.