It may be very confusing to see a long list of courses to take to get into a specific nursing school. In reality, most nursing schools generally require the same courses. There will be some small variations. But if you stick with typical nursing prerequisite courses, you will probably only need to take one or two extra courses at the most to be eligible to apply to almost any nursing school. In many cases, you won’t need to take any extra classes at all.
Keep in mind that there are privatenursing school with no prerequisite coursesrequired at all. They put all of the required courses into the program and charge higher tuition for the whole thing. In many cases, there are no waiting lists and less competition when it comes to admission. The hardest part may be arranging for sufficient financial aid to pay for the tuition. As waiting lists at some nursing schools have reached three years, private nursing schools may be an option to consider.
Listed below are typical nursing prerequisite courses required prior to applying to most nursing schools. It will be listed in two groups. The first group will be science courses. The second group will be other courses.
Science Prerequisite Courses
- Human Anatomy and Physiology 1 with lab
- Human Anatomy and Physiology 2 with lab
- Inorganic Chemistry with lab
- Organic Chemistry with lab
- Microbiology with lab
At many nursing schools, there is a five, seven, or ten year age limit on science courses. If the science courses were taken too long ago, you will have to repeat the course. That will be a good idea anyway since it’s unlikely you’ll remember enough of the information to pass the science section on most nursing entrance exams. The exams that you may be required to take are:
- NLN PAX-RN
All of these nursing entrance exams cover science, math, and verbal. Tests may cover other subjects as well.
At competitive nursing schools, your GPA in your science courses along with scores from any required nursing entrance exam are the most important factors as to whether you can go to nursing school.
Online Nursing Prerequisite Courses and Online Science Courses
Nearly all nursing schools will not accept online sections of these science classes, even if they had an in-person lab section or requirement. On the other hand, the vast majority of nursing schools will accept the online sections of any non-science class.
Non-Science Prerequisite Courses
- Statistics (sometimes College Algebra or other higher math such as precalculus or calculus may be substituted but Stats is the most common option)
- General Psychology
- Human Development (Lifespan)
- English Composition
If you take all of the above courses, you will have taken all nursing prerequisite courses at most nursing schools. If you are missing any classes, it will likely be just one or two courses. By sticking with the most common nursing prerequisites, you will retain the maximum amount of flexibility when it is time to finally apply to nursing school.
Importance of Taking Nursing Courses at an Accredited College or University
You should take these courses at an accredited college such as a community college. That will ensure that they are transferable and acceptable to all nursing schools you may want to attend in the future. If you take the courses from a nursing school that’s accepted by the nursing board but not regionally accredited, none of your credits are transferable towards a BSN or later degree at accredited institutions. Keep in mind that you will be able to use those unaccredited credits at the same school for a later degree, but that may be your only option.. Otherwise, you will have to start from scratch as a freshman with zero credits even though you may have gotten your RN license from your state board of nursing.
Even if you are going to a private nursing school with no prerequisite requirements, you can save a lot of money by taking some of the required courses such as those listed above at a much cheaper community college. Besides saving money, you will have a reduced class schedule which will give you a lot more free time to complete the remaining nursing courses. The only drawback to transferring courses into a private nursing school is that you may be considered a 3/4 time student in terms of financial aid from time to time.