If you’re a student with a low GPA and want to get into nursing school, you probably have some doubts on whether or not it’s going to be possible.

Rest assured, students across the country have managed to get into nursing school under the same circumstances.

In this article, I’ll show you some of the methods other students have used to keep their dream of becoming a nurse alive.

*Disclosure: This article on how to get into nursing school with low gpa may contain affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive a commission. For more info, please see my disclaimer.

How to Get Into Nursing School with Bad Grades

If you need more information or you don’t want to watch the video keep reading below. Go here to find nursing school programs.

1. Research What’s an Acceptable GPA in Nursing School

The first thing you need to do when figuring out how to get your nursing degree with a lower GPA is to understand how to benchmark yourself with other nursing students and the criteria that the nursing school is looking for.

If none of that is making any sense, don’t worry it will shortly.

Acceptable GPA in Nursing School?

The first question you should ask yourself is “what GPA is required for nursing school?” Most nursing schools are going to be looking for candidates with at least a 3.0 GPA. This will include your science GPA and your cumulative GPA.

It’s possible to find programs that will accept less than a 3.0, and some programs may require much more than a 3.0 to be eligible to apply.

Science GPA: This GPA is taken by only calculating the specific science classes defined by the program you’re trying to get into.

Cumulative GPA: This is the combined (or cumulative) of all the classes you’ve taken in college.

Keep in mind that the above information is only for the minimum GPA you need to apply to the program. That doesn’t mean you’re going to be competitive.

Schools set a minimum GPA, which means an applicant won’t be considered if they don’t meet that GPA. After that, you have what I call the competitive GPA. The competitive GPA is the average GPA of ALL the students who apply to the program.

Why is this important?

It’s important because some schools are competitive not because of their minimum GPA but because they get so many applicants with good GPAs that they increase the barrier to entry.

Pro-Tip
There are other criteria that schools look for when reviewing applications. For instance, some schools may require an interview or an entrance exam like the TEAS test.

All this plays a part in your application process. For the sake of this discussion, I’m going to focus on just the GPA.

This is the reason why my next advice to you is going to be to apply to multiple schools. If you want a better breakdown of this topic with visuals, watch the article video above and start at the 2-minute mark.

Find Nursing Programs

Search our school database to find schools and get information on the programs that’s right for you. (Don’t worry, it’s fast and free!)

2. Apply to Multiple Schools

Because of what I explained above, applying to a school with a very competitive applicant pool when your grades are not, decreases your likelihood of getting accepted.

Unfortunately, it can be hard to know which school will have a competitive applicant pool for that application year. Some schools you know are desired institutions, so they almost always have a lot of applicants and are competitive at that.

To increases your chances of getting into nursing school, you should apply to multiple different schools. Since you can’t account for the applicant pool, applying to various schools is a good way to hedge your bet.

You shouldn’t just apply to the same type of school. For example, applying to only Ivy League Schools and thinking that’s hedging your bet. You should apply to different schools, and I’ll talk more about that below.

You can go here to search for nursing programs and start the application process.

3. Also Apply to ADN or LPN Programs

In general, BSN programs will be harder to get into than ADN programs, and ADN programs are harder to get into than LPN programs.

Knowing that you should apply to the respective program based on how competitive you think you’re going to be. For instance, if you know your GPA is not competitive for BSN nursing programs, then focus on ADN programs.

I understand it might not be what you want, but remember, the goal is to get into a nursing program, and with an ADN, you can eventually get your BSN. It’s a similar situation for the LPN route also.

Another way to go about it is by applying to more than one program. So maybe apply to a BSN program and an ADN program. If you only get into one, then your decision is made for you. If you get into both…then well, having options is never a bad thing.

I found some data on what average GPAs each type of nursing program is looking for. This is just a rough average because GPA requirements will vary per institution but it will give you an idea.

  • BSN Degree Programs: Average gpa is 3.0.
  • ADN Degree Program: Average gpa is between 2.0-2.8.
  • LPN Nursing Program: At times won’t even have a minimum GPA.

Pro-Tip
Something else you can take away from this is that if you’re having a hard time getting into a BSN program, you might want to consider going for ADN programs.

The same is true if you’re having a hard time getting into an ADN program. You might have to go the LPN route first before getting your RN.

4. Re-Take Classes at a Community College

It’s no secret that many students think that classes at a community college are easier than classes taken at a university. That’s been my experience, and it’s been the experience of many people I went to school with.

If your GPA is low, you should consider retaking some of those classes at a community college (if possible). Otherwise, consider taking other courses to help boost your GPA.

Pro-Tip
If you go down this route, you need to make sure you hire a tutor and remove whatever obstacle kept you from doing well in the first place.

Many institutions factor in classes that have been repeated by taking an average between your new grade and the old grade.

For Example
If you’re retaking a class you made a “C” in, and you get an “A” the next time, the institution could still choose to use both the “A” and “C” and average it together.

If you know how grade points work, it would be the equivalent of you making a “B” in the class.

5. Apply to a Private University

If your GPA is low, you should research private nursing programs in your area. From my experience and what I’ve seen of other students, this is because many private institutions have a lower bar of entry.

The primary reason for this is because they’re so expensive not many students can afford to go there.

Even for the schools that do have a high standard, they tend to get fewer applicants than their equivalent public institution. If the university receives fewer applicants, it increases the likelihood their nursing program’s competitive GPA won’t be that high.

This isn’t to bash private institutions. Or to make it seem like this is the case for all schools. It’s not. That’s why research and common sense are still needed, but you will find some private institutions where they’ll let you in if you can come up with the money to pay the tuition (and, of course, their fees).

Related: Not Sure if Nursing School is For You? – Take the Quiz

6. Consider Online Nursing Programs

There’s a nursing shortage and an increase in non-traditional students. Because of that, many programs have gone online. Online programs can usually have a higher capacity than a traditional school.

So as long as you don’t have any issues with an online nursing program, it might be your best bet. Go here to search for online nursing programs.

7. Meet with an Admissions Advisor

Trying to get into nursing school is difficult. It’s even more difficult if you don’t know what you’re doing wrong or how you can make your application more competitive.

That’s why I generally recommend meeting with an admissions counselor or an advisor for the nursing program you want to get into.

They’ll be able to guide you and give you a step-by-step plan on what you can do to make your application more competitive. Go here to find schools on our site and have someone from the school reach out to you to discuss your options.

Pro-Tip
If you’re a high schooler, talk to your high school guidance counselor for tips on how you can be successful during the application process.

This advice also holds if you’re someone trying to get into nursing school with a GED.

8. Do Really Well on Your Letter of Intent

Many nursing school programs make you write an “essay,” “personal statement,” “letter of intent,” so many schools call it something different.

Regardless of what the school calls it, take that essay seriously. It’s a way for you to talk about yourself and explain why you’re still an excellent candidate for their program even though your GPA is low.

Find Nursing Programs

Search our school database to find schools and get information on the programs that’s right for you. (Don’t worry, it’s fast and free!)

You Can Do This – Don’t Give Up

If your goal is to become a nurse, don’t give up. You can still become a registered nurse even with a low GPA. It might take you a little longer, and you might have to jump through a little bit more hoops, but it can be done.

Let me know if you have any questions. Don’t forget to go here to search for nursing programs.

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Frequently Asked Questions

You can get into a nursing school program with poor grades. You’ll need to be more thoughtful on what schools you apply to, cast a wide net, and may have to retake some classes to get your GPA up.

You can find nursing school programs with a minimum GPA of less than 3.0. Use the Nurse Money Talk school search page to find schools in your area.

A 3.7 is a good GPA and makes you very competitive for many nursing programs out there.