Prerequisites for Nursing School | Requirements and FAQ

Those interested in joining the nursing program must first successfully pass the nursing school prerequisite courses.

Prerequisites provide a foundation for students to understand more complex topics necessary to become registered nurses.

To start, most colleges require students to have their Diploma or GED before joining and taking prerequisite classes.

It’s a good idea for current high school students to consider taking courses related to the nursing program.

Consult a guidance counselor at your college/university to determine the nursing school’s prerequisites.

In some cases, you may take a prerequisite or two in advance.

When the time comes, it will make it easier to transition into the college’s program.

The next step is applying to an accredited college and taking the prerequisites required to get into the nursing program.

Remembers, students must take numerous courses before applying to the nursing program.

The following includes a comprehensive list of classes students may need to take.

However, most students won’t need to take all subsequent classes.

Prerequisite requirements also vary from college to college.

Therefore, it’s best to consult the college to determine their prerequisites requirements.

English Composition:

  • English 101
  • English Composition 1
  • English Composition 2

Anatomy & Physiology:

  • Anatomy & Physiology 1
  • Anatomy & Physiology 1 Lab
  • Anatomy & Physiology 2
  • Anatomy & Physiology 2 Lab


  • Introduction to Biology
  • Introduction to Biology Lab
  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology Lab


  • General Chemistry 1
  • General Chemistry Lab


  • Introduction to Nutrition


  • Pharmacology 1
  • Pharmacology 2

Medical Terminology:

  • Medical Terminology


  • Intro to Psychology or Psychology 101
  • Intro to Sociology or Sociology 101
  • General Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Fundamentals of speech

Prerequisites vary depending on the program you are taking.

For instance, nursing programs offer ASN, ADN, and BSN degrees.

Consequently, these programs require different prerequisites before applying for the program.

Furthermore, students must maintain a certain GPA average, which varies by college.

To illustrate, some colleges allow students with a GPA average of 2.6 to enter the nursing program.

Conversely, other colleges only accept students with a 3.5 GPA or higher.

Moreover, competition plays a significant role in determining students’ GPA requirements looking to enter the program.

The more competitive the school is, the higher the requirements will be.

It’s because many schools have limited availability and cannot accept every available candidate.

As a result, they often choose students with the highest GPA and the most dedication to successfully earning their nursing degrees.

The best option for students wanting to participate in the RN program is to sit with a guidance counselor.

Consult them to see what requirements are necessary to have the best chances of getting into the program.

Additionally, consider the competition and the average GPA of those getting into the program, not just the college’s GPA requirement.

For instance, even though a highly competitive college has a GPA requirement of 3.4, students may need to earn a higher GPA to compete.

Therefore, knowing your competition and the odds of getting into the program is a good idea.

Can I Take Nursing School Prerequisites Online?

Yes, students can take nursing school prerequisites online.

With that said, it’s essential to contact the college to determine which prerequisites are required and, if necessary, transferable to other universities.

Furthermore, students must decide what in-class labs are required.

To illustrate, the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing offers online labs but not all colleges/universities afford the same flexibility.

Online nursing school prerequisite allows students to take courses during the summer and while working.

Furthermore, they present additional ways to earn credits for those who prefer online over in-class teaching.

Lastly, some online nursing school prerequisites offer 10-week programs that help students fast-track their way toward the nursing program.

However, students must keep up with the class’s pace to perform well and earn good grades.

As previously mentioned, grades are crucial for getting into nursing school.

It’s imperative when applying to colleges with high competition and few student spots.

Therefore, you must consider whether learning in class or online is best for you.

Although online courses offer fantastic flexibility, they require students to be more proactive and self-directed.

How Long Do Nursing School Prerequisites Take to Complete?

It generally takes 1 – 2 years to complete the prerequisite courses before admission.

Nevertheless, the time it takes to complete prerequisites depends on your previous education.

It also depends on the nursing program you apply for and the number of courses you take per semester.

Students that earn a non-nursing bachelor’s degree can fast-track into the nursing program.

Consequently, they require fewer prerequisites either because they’ve taken them while earning their previous degree or earned credits applicable to the program.

In this case, students that have earned an associate’s or bachelor’s degree should apply for an accelerated degree program.

These second-degree programs speed up earning a nursing degree and save you money.

Some accelerated bachelorette programs take as little as 11 – 18 months to complete, including prerequisites.

Besides that, students that take college-level prerequisite courses in high school won’t need to take those courses in college.

However, make sure the university accepts those course credits before applying.

The university may not apply the course to your current prerequisite requirements if it isn’t college-level.

Lastly, some nursing schools require students to take two courses on a particular subject.

For example, many colleges require students to take anatomy and physiology 1 and 2, which they must complete sequentially.

It means that students must take these classes during separate semesters.

To gain admission faster, some students take summer courses. Ultimately, this decreases the time it takes to apply for a nursing program.

Are Nursing School Prerequisites Hard?

Yes, nursing school prerequisites are complicated for many students. However, with that said, their difficulty depends on various factors.

It includes the student’s previous knowledge, learning style, and the teacher’s ability to simplify complex topics.

Furthermore, the college’s competition level and GPA requirements impact the difficulty of getting accepted into the nursing program.

For example, competitive colleges that require a high GPA will be more challenging than lower-competition universities that accept more moderate GPAs.

Consequently, this impacts how stressful taking prerequisites will be for potential nursing students.

Nursing school prerequisites prepare students for more advanced topics required to learn in nursing school.

Therefore, it is essential to develop good study habits/routines quickly and carry them through nursing school.

Some students consider anatomy, physiology, and organic chemistry the most demanding prerequisites.

However, the difficulty of the courses varies between students.

As a result, your prerequisite courses may not be the same for other students.

Other Requirements for Nursing School

Although students commonly focus on the prerequisite courses needed to enter the nursing program, other factors affect getting accepted.

For instance, colleges require certain GPA averages, application processes, health/medical requirements, and entrance exams.

GPA Requirements

Taking prerequisites requires more than simply a passing grade. In addition, students often compete for seats within the nursing programs due to limited availability.

Therefore colleges/universities use GPA averages to determine which students get into the nursing program during a given semester.

Ultimately, the higher your GPA, the better you will be than the competition.

Students may have an average GPA of 2.6 – 3.5 or higher, depending on the college.

Even then, students that meet the GPA requirement may not get in if the competition’s GPA average is higher and there aren’t enough seats.

Ultimately, working towards the highest GPA average is essential to getting into a nursing program.

Colleges that are less competitive and have more seating available provide students with more significant opportunities for getting accepted.

Advice on Increasing Your GPA

For those with low GPA averages, there are several things you can do to increase your GPA scores.

First, speak with your advisor/guidance counselor regarding strategies you can use to boost your GPA.

One standard method students use to raise their GPA is to retake the class. In this case, students can score higher to have their low GPA scores replaced.

Some colleges will only allow students to retake classes 2 or 3 times.

Students currently taking the course and scoring low can request to drop the class for an incomplete rather than a failing or low grade.

Another recommendation is to take classes where you can quickly get an A.

In addition, students can utilize summer classes to boost their overall GPA.

However, you’ll want to consult the college to determine how they rate GPA scores for nursing school acceptance.

Consequently, taking courses that don’t count towards your nursing program acceptance can cost you money and time.

Most importantly, consult your guidance counselor to determine the best ways to improve your GPA for acceptance into the nursing program.

Application Process and Admission Requirements

To gain acceptance into the nursing program, students must file an application, provide the necessary documentation and perform a series of steps.

Depending on the nursing program/college, the actions required to complete the admission qualifications vary.

However, the following list includes everyday obligations to complete the nursing school’s admission requirements.

  • Fill out the admission application
  • Payment of application fees
  • An official transcript
  • Standardized test scores
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Health screening
  • Complete a nursing school candidacy interview
  • Successfully pass the entrance exam

When applying for the nursing program filling out applications early on is recommended.

The school can contact them if application errors exist or additional information is needed.

It also shows the college that you’re motivated to enter the program.

Consequently, students must be aware of deadlines when applying to the program.

Those sending in their applications late may have to wait until the nursing program reopens applications.

Ultimately, a late application can extend the time it takes to get accepted into the program.

Entrance Exams

Besides taking prerequisite courses, colleges may require students to take a nursing school entrance exam.

This exam tests students’ knowledge and assesses their likelihood of succeeding in the nursing program.

Depending on the institute and nursing program, there are various entrance tests nursing students can take.

Here is a list of standard entrance exams students may need to complete.

  • HESI A2
  • Kaplan Admissions test
  • NET
  • PSB Aptitude Exam
  • TEAS exam

These healthcare-specific exams apply specifically to those entering the healthcare profession.

Moreover, some colleges require students to take a general assessment exam to assess their education level.

It includes the ACT, SAT, and GREs. With that said, not all colleges require students to take the former exams.

Accordingly, you must determine the required exams of the universities you apply to join.

It will help prepare you for the exam and make applying for the program more accessible.

Health/Medical Requirements

Nursing school students must meet specific health/medical requirements to begin/continue their education.

Although requirements vary at different colleges/universities, students must obtain clinical clearance for their health and the school.

Moreover, students must pass their health/medical examinations yearly and keep their records updated.

State laws impact how colleges and hospitals handle specific medical/health requirements.

Registered nurses must take certain vaccinations yearly; Some states require vaccination by law.

It translates to those attending colleges/universities for their nursing program.

The following section lists healthcare requirements that may be necessary for nursing students.

Health/Medical Requirements Include:

  • History and physical examination
  • Urinalysis
  • Drug screening/toxicology test
  • Vaccination shots/immunization (Hepatitis B, mumps, varicella, polio, etc.)
  • X-ray
  • TB skin tests

Not all colleges/universities require all of the previous tests.

This list is solely to inform you of the tests colleges may require students to take.

Colleges/universities commonly require students to take history and physical examinations, drug screenings, and vaccination shots.

Students that do not meet the testing requirements may not attend the nursing program.

Therefore, ensuring you are in good health before, during, and after attending the nursing program is essential.

Besides, good health is essential for all aspects of life.