Nursing programs can be very selective, After all, we are talking about one of the most sturdy careers in the nation. Our constantly expanding healthcare system needs more and more nurses all the time, so much that the profession is expected to grow by a stellar 26 percent from 2010 to 2020, according to the *Bureau of Labor Statistics. But because the nursing profession is so coveted, nursing programs make sure that they don’t let just anybody in.

Online nursing degreeIn short, expect a hearty amount of work when it comes time to apply for the nursing program of your choice. Because it can be a bit overwhelming, we’ve done the research to lay out the process for you. Here is your quick guide to applying for a nursing degree program:

1. Determine if you need to apply to the college or university first.

This first step is simple. If you are already enrolled at the college or university where you want to do your nursing program, you do NOT need to apply to be admitted at the college or university. You’ve already done it.

But if you aren’t already a student at that college or university, you’ll need to apply to be admitted to college or university and apply to the nursing program you’re interested in.

2. Decide which program you want to apply to.

This one is also fairly simple. If you’re already a working nurse and you’re just in it to complete a bachelor’s degree, most nursing programs have tracks especially for you. These are usually called ‘RN to BSN’ or ‘LN to BSN’ programs.

But what if you don’t have any work experience as a nurse? If you haven’t worked as a nurse, most nursing programs have traditional BSN tracks, where students take a couple years of general courses and prerequisites and then spend the next two years in nursing courses, before earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN).

3. Take the required tests.

Many, if not most, nursing programs will require that students take an assessment test before they can apply or be considered for the program. These tests usually gauge how well students are prepared academically and how well they’ve retained knowledge from their prerequisite courses (see below).

One of the most highly ranked online nursing programs in the nation, Lamar University, requires that students take the HESI Admission Assessment Test, which seems to be preferred by many nursing programs. According to the *Lamar University website, this test is:

“a timed, computerized test that consists of seven academic exams: reading comprehension, vocabulary and general knowledge, grammar, basic math skills, biology, chemistry, and anatomy and physiology.”

To know which assessment test you need to take prior to applying to your nursing program of choice, you’ll need to visit their office or website to find out. Each program will have their own preference, but, for most legit nursing programs, you should probably count on having to take some kind of test.

4. Make sure you meet prerequisite courses and test scores.

To get prospective students ready for nursing programs, these programs require that students complete certain prerequisite courses before they can apply. These courses usually lay a foundation for students so they aren’t totally lost once they get into their major classes. For example, the *nursing program at University of Michigan at Flint requires that students take courses in Developmental Psychology, Anatomy, Microbiology, Biochemistry, and more before they can apply.

And prerequisites don’t stop with courses. In most cases, students also have to demonstrate they know their stuff by getting decent grades in these classes. At Lamar University, for instance, prospective nursing students need to have a minimum GPA of 2.5 in their pre-requisite and science courses in order to be considered. Similarly, UNLV requires that students have a B or better in specific prerequisite classes, at least a C in all other general courses.

Students’ HESI scores are also used to gauge students’ readiness. At Lamar University, students have to get a reading comprehension score on the HESI of at least 79% to be considered for admission into their program. At UNLV, they have to get a 75 or better on the HESI test.

Finally, many programs require that students visit the program’s advisement center. UNLV goes so far as to have students meet with an advisor. That advisor then completes an “Affirmation of Readiness” which they include as part of the student’s application materials.

If this sounds like a lot, well, it is, and students need to be aware of these prerequisites years before they can think of filling out an application. After all, it takes years to complete the prerequisite classes. So find out early what your prerequisites are.

5. Ensure that you meet requirements for the program.

On top of all those prerequisites, nursing programs will also have other requirements to make sure that students not only measure up academically, but physically and emotionally as well. After all, they are gatekeepers for the nursing profession, not just their major.

To quote the UNLV nursing program website, these requirements exist to ensure that applicants are “able to perform essential tasks-able.” To find out what exactly this means you visit this list on the *UNLV website. To summarize, however, these programs typically require that applicants have the ability to see, hear, lift a certain amount of weight, write, and work on computers. Also, it isn’t uncommon for them to require that applicants get a health examination done and be properly immunized. Many programs will require that applicants provide a signed waiver that absolves the school of any responsibility “for injury or illness resulting from exposure to disease, medicines, or treatments while in the clinical setting.” Looking at these requirements, you get the feeling that nursing students will be hanging out with a lot of sick people and you’d be right.

Rounding out this healthy list of requirements, many programs require that applicants undergo drug screenings and background check and that they furnish proof that they have current health insurance. If you were thinking that nursing programs go to great lengths to cover their backs, we were thinking the same thing.

5. Fill out the application.

We’re happy to inform you that, now that you’ve cleared the hurdles of prerequisites and requirements, completing the application is easy. Most programs now offer their applications online. You simply log in, fill out the application, and submit.

6. Submit the required application materials.

One last thing. Many programs, but not all, ask that students submit a copy of their transcripts, pay an application fee, and/or write an essay along with their application.

To learn more about nursing programs and what they might hold for you, you can visit our Nursing Degrees page.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *