Abstract Background: Variations exist internationally in the types and numbers of nurses registered to practice. Whilst the United Kingdom has phased out second level nurses, countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and the United States have maintained a two level system. In Australia, the two levels of nurse authorised to practice are the registered nurse whom complete an undergraduate nursing degree, and enrolled nurse (EN) whom complete either a certificate or diploma programme. Recent changes to educational preparation and resulting scope of practice for ENs have resulted in increased confusion between roles and expectations of the different levels.This paper reports on findings of a study aimed at identifying differences in educational preparation of the different levels of nurse in Australia.Course coordinators from nine organisations offering pre-registration nursing programmes completed self-reporting questionnaires designed to obtain information on types and lengths of courses, and details of curricula including course objectives, teaching and assessment methods and content areas.Comparative analysis of survey responses identified similarities and differences between registered and EN programmes. Common areas included teaching and assessment methods, core theoretical units and general nursing skills. The diploma and degree programmes appear aligned in most theory and clinical skills. The main difference identified existed between skills taught in the two EN programmes.Findings further add to confusion regarding registered and ENs in Australia. Further research is required to determine expectations of employers and other major stakeholders with regard to the differences.