What Are The Prerequisities & Requirements For Joining Nursing School?

Florida nurse

Are you thinking about going to nursing school? Want to pursue a fulfilling career where you get to help others? Or perhaps you’ve practiced as a PSW for a few years, and have decided to return to school to pursue education and qualifications that advance their career in a specialized field.

Whatever your story, before you can take on this noble career, you have to actually get into school.  There are multiple prerequisites and skills that you need to be accepted into nursing school.

This post unpacks everything you need to know about making the transition, what skills you need, and how to get them. 

The Prerequisites You Need For Nursing School

Prerequisites will vary between educational institutions. However, programs usually require the aspiring nurse to complete similar courses due to the importance of this coursework to the field.

Whether pursuing an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, most educational institutions mandate the completion of similar coursework, ensuring applicants and students have the necessary background to succeed in their careers.

While the admissions process is far more competitive for a BSN program, associate and bachelor programs offer the same level of preparation for undergoing the licensing exam (NCLEX). Due to nursing school prerequisites varying by institution and degree, applicants must review the prospective school’s website for admission eligibility.

Here are the most common nursing school prerequisites:

  • Biology
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Lifespan Growth and Development
  • English Composition
  • Nutrition
  • Statistics
  • Psychology

Additional Nursing School Requirements

Applicants must meet other requirements for admission to nursing school. Here’s what you need at a glance:

  • C-grades or higher
  • GPA of 2.5+
  • Motivational essay
  • SAT or ACT results

Most institutions require the applicant to achieve a C-grade or better in science and general education courses.

ADN programs usually admit applicants with a high school GPA as low as 2.5, while BSN degrees require a minimum 3.0 GPA for successful admission. Selective undergrad programs may require GPAs over 3.25.

The educational institution will also likely ask the applicant for a motivational essay on why they should be considered for acceptance to the program. You’ll need to describe your educational and career goals with total clarity.

While most schools no longer require an entrance exam as part of the admissions process, those applicants scoring well on their SATs or ACTs may submit these results to improve their chances of admission or offset other weaknesses in their academic results.

Where And When To Fulfill Nursing School Prerequisites?

Aspiring RN/RPN candidates can fulfill their nursing school requirements using several methods. For instance, you can complete your course prerequisites at the start of your ADN or BSN program. Some educational institutions may allow high school courses to fulfill specific requirements for nursing programs.

Applicants can complete their prerequisites by enrolling in a local community college offering pre-associate programs. These programs design coursework to fulfill the requirements to pursue a BSN qualification.

Students with non-nursing degrees can enroll in a post-baccalaureate program to fast-track the fulfillment of their course requirements. Regardless of how applicants complete their prerequisites, most educational institutions require the applicant to complete courses within five years.

Becoming a Nurse 

Reading through this guide helps you understand these educational and vocational requirements and the academic preparation required for applying to a nursing school.

You’ll need to undergo the following process to reach your goal.

  • Graduate from high school or earn a GED.
  • Achieve the necessary prerequisites.
  • Research the available nursing programs.
  • Plan for financing your studies at nursing school.
  • Complete your nursing school application.
  • Apply to the nursing school.
  • Pass your admissions interview.
  • Wait for your acceptance letter.

The nursing school prerequisites offer applicants foundational knowledge, allowing them to showcase their commitment to their new career path. Each program’s admittance criteria might differ, but they all place importance on completing those prerequisites.

PSWs benefit from the following when making the shift to meet these prerequisites.

Your Commitment

Undergoing the process of meeting prerequisites shows your commitment and motivation to pursue a new career path in the field of nursing and healthcare.

A Solid Academic Background

Completing the prerequisites gives applicants the background knowledge they need to build on their advanced nursing studies.

Educational Ability

Successful completion of the prerequisite courses gives admissions counselors further information regarding your academic ability.

Understanding Terms

Prerequisite courses give applicants a basic understanding of medical terms, allowing them to progress their careers in healthcare in many fields.

Researching Nursing Programs

Researching nursing programs

An important step in becoming a nurse is deciding on the right bridging program to meet your career qualification requirements.

Ask yourself the following questions when comparing your choice of accredited institutions.

  • Do you want to study at a large university with young people? Or do you want to complete your studies in a smaller college in a more intimate setting?
  • Can you live on campus, or will you have to commute?
  • Do you want to complete an ADN or BSN program?
  • How will you pay for your tuition?
  • Are you okay with moving away from your hometown?
  • Have you already secured your LVN or LPN license?

One of the biggest choices you’ll have to face is deciding on a BSN or ADN program. With the increased popularity of BSN programs and the push for graduates to have a bachelor’s degree, the associate degree nursing program is on the decline.

A 2010 Institute of Medicine (IOM) report shows that 80% of RNs will require a bachelor’s degree by 2020. Currently, in 2022, around 60% of RNs have acquired a bachelor’s degree, and the trend continues in that direction.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of An ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing)?


  • An ADN provides applicants with the entry-level requirements for a career as an RN.
  • The qualification allows you to try your hand without committing to it.
  • You can transfer credits to another course if you want to change career paths.
  • It’s a good choice for working adults that have family responsibilities.
  • It’s more affordable than going for the BSN.
  • It focuses on science-based courses to pass the NCLEX-RN exam.


  • Not considered as comprehensive as a BSN qualification.
  • Doesn’t provide the required training to pursue specialized careers in healthcare.
  • Offers you less opportunity of securing employment in hospitals.
  • Offers you less opportunity of securing advancement in nursing.
  • There is minimal time for experiences in clinical settings.

Moving Careers from PSW to Nursing

Team of Young Specialist Doctors

There are several benefits to advancing your PSW career into a nursing role. The most obvious is the increase in income and the chance to progress your growth as a healthcare professional.

There’s also the option of choosing between a wide range of nursing job opportunities after qualifying as a Registered Nurse (RN) or Registered Practical Nurse (RPN).

To undertake the transition from PSW to RPN or RN, many Canadian colleges offer continuous education or bridging programs to ensure a seamless, smooth transition between fields.

These PSW-RN/RPN programs utilize the students’ education and knowledge base to support them in acquiring a new skillset in nursing.

The duration of these programs is around four semesters (two academic years) to completion. What makes these bridging programs unique is the career-focused nature of the study, combined with an excellent mix of real-life nursing practice and foundational knowledge in scientific theory.

Most programs include senior care courses focusing on meeting the healthcare demands of an aging population.

Requirements For PSWs To Enroll In Nursing Programs

Enrolling in an RN/RPN bridging program and following a nursing program requires PSWs to meet the following criteria.

  • They must have a one-year Personal Support Worker Certificate from a College of Applied Arts and Technology.
  • Proof of recent or current employment as a Personal Support Worker.
  • 12th Grade English U or C with a minimum passing grade of 65%.
  • Minimum 3.0-grade point average in PSW studies.

These requirements vary depending on the applicant’s choice of academic institution.

Transitioning From a PSW To An RN (Registered Nurse)

After completing their bridging program, the student prepares to undertake nursing duties by joining a team of professional healthcare workers.

Before the student can start their practice, they must first complete the National Registration Examination for admission to the College of Nurses of Ontario (CNO). The CNO regulates nursing qualifications across the province, with the exam first established as part of the Nursing Act in 1991.

Additionally, nursing graduates must fulfill requirements like not being convicted of criminal offenses or offenses under the Food and Drugs Act or the Canadian Narcotic Control Act. If declared eligible, the graduate receives admission to the CNO and starts their search for employment in the healthcare sector.

Registered Nurses usually find employment at facilities like residential homes for seniors, nursing homes, chronic and acute care hospitals, and community healthcare institutions.

What Are The Advantages Of Transitioning To Nursing After a Career As a PSW?

ICU Nurse

Transitioning careers from a PSW to an RN/RPN is highly beneficial for healthcare workers. Making the shift in vocations allows the PSW to develop their skill set, setting them apart from their PSW peers.

While working as a PSW, nurses can acquire time management skills due to the fast-paced nature of the job, requiring them to organize and manage their time efficiently and effectively. Working in a role as a Personal Support Worker also provides aspiring nurses with building their confidence and empathy for patients.

For these reasons, PSWs often find job satisfaction in their new role as an RN/RPN. Additionally, by advancing their career prospects in the medical field, PSWs get more job opportunities and a chance to further contribute to their community.

Current PSWs looking at pursuing careers in nursing will enjoy plenty of employment opportunities due to the never-ending increase in the aging population in Canada. As a result, PSWs transitioning to nursing will find more options in finding employment in hospitals, community health agencies, acute care settings, and long-term facilities.

If you’re a PSW planning to make the shift to starting a career as an RN/RPN, you might need clarification on whether this is the right move for your vocation. Each nursing school in Canada has different entrance requirements, but all the programs have similar prerequisites for undergoing college-level studies and work.

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing School Prerequisites

Q: How do I register for nursing school and start my career path?

A: The first thing to do is to receive your high school certificate or GED. Next, decide whether you want to join an ADN or BSN program.

Q: When do I take my nursing school prerequisites?

A: Most applicants complete nursing school prerequisites during the initial two years of undergraduate studies before declaring their major. Educational institutions may recommend applicants with experience in chemistry, biology, and statistics courses completed in high school.

Q: Will my nursing prerequisites transfer?

A: Yes. If you decide to change your career path during your studies, you can transfer your course credits to another field of study.

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