Getting into nursing school requires more than a hope and a prayer. It requires plenty of hard work and a commitment to the overall process.

One thing you must consider when applying to a nursing school is the prerequisites put into place by nearly every program.

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Do You Need to Take Prerequisites Before Getting Into Nursing School?

Every nursing school has certain requirements you must meet before being accepted to the school as well as before officially becoming a part of the school’s nursing program. The type and amount of prerequisites vary based on the type of degree you want, but science classes usually score the biggest focus.

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What Prerequisites Do You Need for Acceptance Into Nursing School?

There are two types of prerequisites you need to be concerned about when it comes to nursing school.

First, the nursing school of your choice most likely has a list of classes you must take in high school in order to be accepted into the school.

This could include a certain number of years of English as well as specific mathematics and science courses. If you have not taken the appropriate classes during high school, you will need to complete these before being accepted into the nursing program.

Second, once you begin your college courses, you will have to pass certain classes with a specific grade-point average (GPA) before being admitted to the nursing program.

This is particularly true of Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs, which usually have far more academic hoops for students to jump through than lower-degree programs do.

Although each nursing school makes it own list of prerequisites, some of the most commonly required courses include the following:

  • Biology
  • Biology lab
  • Organic chemistry
  • Inorganic chemistry
  • Chemistry lab
  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology lab
  • Nursing mathematics
  • Statistics
  • Developmental psychology
  • Nutrition

Science is at the core of most nursing programs, which is why the highest scores are required in these classes.

In fact, your school may require you to earn specific grades in these courses and may make you retake them if you get a C or lower.

As an example, in my BSN program, my freshman year was composed of many general courses, such as history and English, along with core science courses. Before I could even take college chemistry, I had to test out of lower-level chemistry, proving my competence.

While all schools run their nursing programs differently, it’s important you know what to expect before your first day of classes. You certainly do not want to be surprised with a pop chemistry test as I was!

Related: What Prerequisites do I Need for RN School?

Why Should I Care About Prerequisites?

At first glance, these prerequisites may seem like nothing more than silly hoops that you have to jump through to make a university give you its stamp of approval. However, these core courses set the foundation for the rest of the nursing classes you will take.

You will find that anatomy and physiology courses, medical-surgical courses and nursing research classes will build off what you already learned in microbiology, chemistry and basic statistics.

These classes will teach you the basics of why the body responds the way it does, how medications work in the body and how data can be evaluated in the clinical practice.

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Are Prerequisites Different Among Nursing Career Paths?

Besides differences in school requirements, you will also want to consider how prerequisites reflect the specific degree you want.

Of course, BSN courses, which prepare you to be an RN, have the strictest and most difficult requirements. However, they give you the most solid and useful degree with the most opportunities for advancement in the future.

Therefore, if you have the time and the academic aptitude, this might be the right path for you. However, most BSN schools set 3.0 as their minimum GPA.

For an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), you will most likely not have the same amount of prerequisites, which can help you get your degree and begin work as an RN faster.

You may also not have to maintain the same high GPA that a BSN student does to stay in the nursing program because many ADN programs set required GPAs at 2.75 or lower.

However, you may not be able to advance in your degree as much as you would like in the future.

Finally, individuals wanting to become LPNs will also have only minor prerequisites to fulfill in most cases, such as basic high school English, algebra, chemistry and biology classes. However, this can vary based on the school in question.

Related: What Prerequisites do I Need for LPN School?

How Long Does It Take to Complete Prerequisites?

For lower degrees, you should be able to complete necessary courses in high school although you may still need to prove that you have earned a certain GPA or a specific minimum score on the college-entrance ACT or SAT.

Other core courses may be taken at the same time that you take beginning nursing classes. For BSN degrees, you should plan on spending the first year of a four-year degree in completing your core courses.

However, if you do not get the grade you need in a core course to get into the nursing program, you may have to take another semester to retake certain courses so that you build the best possible foundation for your future schooling.

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Final Thoughts

Instead of dreading your prerequisites, think of them as an important foundation for your career.

By choosing your desired nursing school early on, you will be in the perfect position for getting your prerequisites completed quickly.

Search our nursing school database today to find a good fit for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Can you get into nursing school without prerequisites?

    There are some programs that allow students to take general education classes along with their nursing-specific classes. End result is you can enroll without taking any prereqs for nursing school.

  2. How long does it take to complete nursing prerequisites?

    It takes approximately 2 years to complete nursing school prerequisites. Actual time can vary from school to school so double check with an admissions counselor to be sure.

  3. Are nursing pre reqs hard?

    Nursing school prerequisites can be very challenging to complete. One of the hardest nursing school prerequisites is human anatomy and physiology.


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