What are nursing school requirements?

nursing student

What are nursing school requirements?

The nursing field has changed dramatically over the last few decades, from the types of uniforms worn to the gender of the people who hold these roles. But one constant is the continual growth of nursing jobs, which is rising along with the tremendous expansion of the health care industry.

Registered nurses are expected to be in high demand for the foreseeable future. But even so, nursing programs are among the most competitive. Most nursing programs are careful in how they screen applicants, searching for the right candidates who have what it takes to make it.

If this career path has been on your mind, then you’ve probably had one major question on you mind: What are nursing school requirements?

Nursing school requirements are the background courses and other credentials you must have before applying to nursing programs. The requirements schools set allow students to enter a program with the right background knowledge to take on college-level coursework.

There is more than one educational pathway leading to eligibility to take the standardized National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)-RN. The requirements you must complete depend on the degree path you choose as an undergraduate:

Associate’s degree in nursing (ADN)
An associate’s is a two-year degree, and it is an entry-level degree that will prepare you to become a nurse. You’ll learn basic lab skills, nursing theory and clinical practice, but you’ll also take other general college courses. With an Associate Degree in Nursing (AND), you can become either a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or registered nurse (RN), and this is the quickest and easiest way into the profession.

Bachelor of science in nursing (BSN)
A B.S. in nursing is a four-year degree, and you’ll likely have more job opportunities if you earn a BSN. In addition to the general core courses that all college students take, you’ll learn the specific skills you need to become a nurse.

Once you’ve chosen your degree path, the requirements you need to complete admission become clear.

Admission requirements for nursing school

  • Varying admission standards – Admission standards are set for both the associate degree ADN and baccalaureate BSN levels. There is typically more academic competition for BSN programs. You will also find that nursing programs at a higher level might also require you to provide a complete resume, personal goal statement, and a few references who can speak to your character and drive. More coursework is required for BSN programs, such as research, leadership skills, and public health awareness. Advanced college level reading and writing are also a focus of BSN programs.
  • Academic Requirements for Nursing Programs – No matter what degree level you choose to pursue, you can expect some prerequisites at for both ADN and BSN. More will likely be required for BSN programs. At the ADN level, common prerequisites could include anatomy and physiology, nutrition, and developmental psychology as well as a few science courses. For the baccalaureate level, a common prerequisite is statistics while science requirements might include anatomy and physiology, microbiology, and biology.
  • Grade point average requirements – The minimum GPA is set at 3.0 for most BSN programs, while the minimum for ADN programs is set at the 2.0 to 2.75 range. Of course, different programs sometimes put and emphasis on more than grades. For example, students the school might consider exceptional could be admitted to bachelor’s programs with a GPA lower than 3.0. Community colleges often give priority to students who reside within their service area.
  • Testing required – At some point, tests are required – often at the school stage, but sometimes at the program stage. At the ADN level, schools focus on making sure applicants have general academic aptitude, such as reading ability or reading comprehension at the 12th grade level.


What if I have my B.A.?

If you’ve previously earned your B.A. but now want to change career paths, there are fast-track programs to help you transition to nursing programs. An accelerated bachelor’s program can add to your previous college experience and provide a quick route to RN licensure. These fast-track programs usually last between 11 and 18 months, then you’ll be well on your way to choosing from the many nursing careers that fit your background.

As these requirements illustrate, some hard work lies ahead of you if you want to pursue one of these nursing degrees. While there’s a lot to learn, if becoming a nurse is your dream the you probably already like the material you’ll be learning. These prerequisites will require you to read, do homework, study and prepare for tests, but if you can manage to keep your eye on the goal, you will have the strongest application to nursing school you can imagine.

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