What Are the Prerequisites for Nursing School?
Are you interested in a nursing career and want to know the requirements to enter a nursing degree program? Do you want to know what a nursing school expects of applicants? If so, keep reading to learn about the prerequisites to attend nursing school.
Requirements to Become a Nurse
To work as a registered nurse (RN), you must first complete an approved nursing school program. Program options for aspiring nurses vary, and you can choose from Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree programs, or you can enroll in an approved diploma program. If you want to work as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or vocational nurse, you may need only to complete an approved certificate program.
Regardless of the educational program you have chosen to complete, you must gain licensure in all U.S. states in order to work as a registered, vocational or practical nurse. To earn licensure, you must pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN), or the exam for vocational and practical nurses (NCLEX-PN). Some states may have additional requirements established by their boards of nursing.
Important Facts About Nursing School Prerequisites
|Concentrations||Nurse anesthesia, adult gerontology-primary care, family health nursing|
|Possible Careers||Neonatology nurse, critical care nurse, addiction nurse|
|Continuing Education||Requirements vary from state to state|
|Online availability||Partial (requires clinical experience also)|
Overview of Nursing School Prerequisites
Prerequisite requirements for nursing schools differ for undergraduate and graduate degree programs. While undergraduate programs can prepare you to gain licensure, graduate programs can prepare you to work in advanced practice nurse specialties.
At the undergraduate level, you usually need to have earned a minimum GPA for specific courses to be admitted to the nursing major. Generally, you must have completed classes in anatomy and physiology, sociology, psychology, statistics, microbiology, human development and nutrition. You might also need to complete coursework in other related areas, such as pathophysiology and chemistry.
At the master's degree level, you must usually have a bachelor's degree in nursing with a minimum GPA, current nursing license in the state where the school is located, three letters of recommendation and a resume. At some schools, if you are entering the program directly after completing your bachelor's degree, you may not need to be licensed. If you are a licensed nurse but do not have a bachelor's degree in nursing, a bachelor's degree in any field may be sufficient for some programs. Additionally, you usually must have completed undergraduate classes in statistics, microbiology, nutrition, anatomy, growth and development, biochemistry and physiology.
You might also need to take exams for admission to bachelor's and master's degree programs. At the bachelor's degree level, you might be required to obtain a minimum score on the HESI A2 Entrance Exam. Non-native English speakers may also need to pass an English proficiency test, such as the SPEAK test. For entry into a master's degree program, you usually also must obtain a minimum score on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) stated that, in May 2021, there were about 3.1 million registered nurses working in the nation, and that these nurses earned a median annual salary of $77,600. In the same year, the BLS also reported that there were about 641,000 licensed vocational and practical nurses working in the nation who earned a median salary of approximately $48,070. The BLS predicted 6% national growth in job opportunities for registered nurses and 6% growth for licensed vocational and practical nurses during the 2021-2031 decade.