15 Most Common Prerequisites For Nursing School

Written By: Brittney Bertagna, BSN, RN

Before you even get into nursing school there are many nursing prerequisites that may be required. You should be sure to check with your individual school to find out what courses are required, as it will depend on the school and the program you are accepted into.

This article will answer the question: what are the prerequisites for nursing school? and will go into detail on the 15 most common prerequisites for nursing school. We will explain why prerequisites are an important part of the nursing school journey, an overview of the most common prerequisites, and how each course can help you once you are in nursing school and beyond.

What Exactly Are Nursing School Prerequisites?

Prerequisite classes for nursing school are specific course requirements that you need prior to applying to nursing programs. These set you up as a student to be able to handle the rigors of the didactics of nursing school. Most of the prerequisites for nursing school ensure your basic understanding of the material which you will be expected to be able to expand on in a more advanced curriculum during your nursing education.

Nursing school prerequisites are intended to help ensure a student is prepared to pass the courses that are required in nursing school. These prerequisites are meant to act as a stepping-stone between general education college-level courses and nursing-specific material. To succeed in nursing school, you need a basic understanding of how you learn best on an individual level, and if you can determine your learning style while taking nursing prerequisites, then you will be that much more prepared to handle the amount of material once you are in a nursing program.

6 Reasons Why Nursing Schools Require You To Complete Prerequisites

Below are six of the most important reasons why nursing programs require you to complete many prerequisites before starting nursing school.

1. To prove your basic understanding of the material:

Nursing prerequisites give programs a baseline for what information you have already been taught and what might be newer information to teach. When you are required to take certain prerequisite courses, you are better prepared to tackle the academic portion of the nursing programs.

2. To ensure you will be able to handle the science courses:

As stated above, nursing programs want to know you will be able to keep up with the material. Prerequisite courses for nursing school allow the program to see your academic ability in a smaller capacity. Nursing is very science-based and it is required you have a basic understanding under your belt.

3. For them to be able to jump into more advanced concepts:

Nursing programs want to be able to begin their instruction at a deeper level than if you were to not have the prerequisite courses. If they were to start from the beginning, the programs would be much longer in length and not necessarily take full advantage of the professor's specific knowledge. Having the foundation in place allows for quicker, in-depth learning.

4. To make sure you enjoy the material being taught:

In a nursing program, you will learn about a wide range of scientific concepts and be held to a high standard of performance. By requiring you to take prerequisites, nursing programs are able to rule out those who are not committed to the level of education and science-based thinking that is needed to succeed.

5. To have a competitive GPA for comparison among other applicants:

This is one way for programs to fully evaluate an individual within an application process. By comparing GPAs alone without consideration for nursing prerequisites, you might see a very different student being accepted into the nursing program. Prerequisites for nursing programs are designed so that there is an underlying equality to the workload being compared. Several science-based, lab-based prerequisites are required for nursing school, and a GPA based only on someone who took all elective courses would not be a fair comparison. This is why there are guidelines for exactly which prerequisite courses are needed.

6. To prove your determination and dedication to the healthcare field:

As stated above, the healthcare industry is very different from other science degrees. By having applicants take multiple prerequisite classes for nursing school prior to acceptance, you are able to see who is completely dedicated to this field of study and will excel not only in the program, but in the profession that far surpasses the didactics.

Do All Nursing Schools Require The Same Prerequisites?

In a perfect world, there would be a national standard for courses required for nursing students. However, because no standard template exists, so every school has a slightly different curriculum within its program. But that does not mean that the same basic information and material is not covered.

As it turns out, different schools have different prerequisite requirements based on what courses they require. That is where this article comes in. Our hope is that it will save you a tremendous amount of time when it comes to researching the prerequisite requirements of your nursing program. Not only will we provide you with a list of the most commonly required nursing prerequisite courses, but we will also break down prerequisites for some of the top nursing schools in the nation to give you a better idea of how perquisites can differ slightly from one school to another.

As you will see below, different schools have different prerequisite requirements based on what courses they require. Prerequisites for nursing school are there to form a solid foundation of general education and learning. Because there are only so many credits and courses available, many programs vary slightly in the exact courses that are required. But, no matter which courses your particular program requires, you will be set up for success in nursing school.

Are Nursing Prerequisites Really Hard To Complete?

Nursing school prerequisites can be challenging, but that does not mean that they are impossible. This question is very subjective though, as we have discussed previously, it really comes down to how well you know yourself and your learning style. Many resources are available to you through your individual schools and instructors as well as online. But ultimately your learning and comprehension is up to you and your preferred learning styles. Prerequisite courses for nursing school can be very time-consuming, depending on the number of credits and subject matter but these courses should be thought of as a learning experience that will benefit you in the long run.

Prerequisites classes for nursing school are a commitment that you will need to make prior to applying to programs and make sure it is something you will even be interested in pursuing. It is a good time for you to get your feet wet and test the waters of the human body. Your prerequisite courses are the perfect time to understand as much of the foundation of nursing as possible so that you can have a head start once in your selected program.

When And Where Should You Complete The Prerequisite Courses Required For Nursing School?

There is a wide range of opportunities where you can take nursing school prerequisites. Because most prerequisites for nursing school are introductory courses or ones within the general education, you are able to take them within a major at a university or at a community college. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in a non-science field and feel you will need to go back to take a majority of these prerequisite classes for nursing school, there are post-baccalaureate programs that streamline this process and can offer accelerated nursing programs to get you into the workforce as fast as possible.

How Long Does It Take To Complete All The Nursing School Prerequisites?

If you are a first-time college student and you know that nursing school is for you from the start, the time needed to complete undergraduate prerequisites for nursing school are typically included in the 4-year degree program if you are looking to pursue a bachelor's in nursing. A concern for time comes into play when you are considering many different schools requiring many different courses or if you are returning back to school and your first degree is not science-based. It is not uncommon to allow a semester for all additional or continued nursing prerequisites to fulfill all of the application requirements.

Some nursing schools will allow acceptance with pending credits, but not all, so also take this into consideration when planning your course of study. The timing of all of this really depends on your overall phase of the process and other additional experience you might have. Depending on how much time you are able to put into this process at a given time, this might take only a few semesters or up to multiple years.

Finally, the time it takes you to complete the prerequisites needed for nursing school is dependent on the individual. Many returning students may choose to take prerequisites one at a time as they work and save money to support themselves while they are in the program which could take them up to a few years to finish. While others may choose to finish all of the prerequisites required for nursing school in a semester or two.


Below we have compiled a list of the 15 most common nursing prerequisite courses you may need to complete before starting any nursing program. We have explained briefly what each course entails and how it can help you along your journey as a nurse.

1. American Government

About the Prerequisite Course:

American Government is a typical general education course and is a prerequisite class for nursing school that most college graduates are required to take. The purpose of the course is to touch on the inner workings of the U.S. government at all different levels of authority and branches of government. This is meant to give the student an overview of how the U.S. government works on a local, state, and federal level. Basically, it is a summary of what US citizens need to know and understand about their own government, which is meant to protect and serve its citizens.

Required Credits:

A prerequisite course in American Government is usually 3 credits in length.

How Does this Prerequisite Help you in Nursing School & Beyond:

American government as a prerequisite to nursing school can give future nurses an overall understanding of how the United States government operates. It is a starting point to allow for engagement and interaction between politics and the healthcare system. While most American government courses do not go into detail about the healthcare system, it is a good starting point for anyone who is interested in learning more.

2. American Public Policy

About the Prerequisite Course:

An American public policy course examines how laws are implemented. Public policy in America affects almost every aspect of our day-to-day lives from economic conditions, to taxes that you pay, to social dilemmas we are currently facing. It is an overview of how the system works and what it takes to create and change existing policies that are in place today. There are many public policy topics that are relevant in today’s news including abortion laws, climate change, and the great recession.

Required Credits:

Most public policy courses are 3 credits in length.

How Does this Prerequisite Help you in Nursing School & Beyond:

American public policy is required for nursing school so that healthcare professionals have an introduction to the topic as they transition to the real world. Understanding the ways in which public policy is created can help healthcare professionals enact change in the future to help shape healthcare today.

3. Biology

About the Prerequisite Course:

Biology is a very broad subject and encompasses many different fields of study. Studies of the ecosystem, the human body, medicine, marine biology, and many more are included under the subject of biology. But in summary, it is the study of living things and how they go about throughout their life processes.

Required Credits:

Typically, biology courses include both a lecture section and a lab section. Because of the increased time and learning required most biology courses are 4-5 credits in length.

How Does this Prerequisite Help you in Nursing School & Beyond:

As a future nursing student, you will be required to take many different biology courses as a prerequisite, many of which will be discussed in more detail below. They are meant to be a first step into the understanding of the human body and its functioning.

4. Chemistry Lecture & Lab

About the Prerequisite Course:

Chemistry is the study of all matter and the elements that make it up. This branch of science deals with the atomic structure of elements and takes a deeper look at their role in making up the elements of all types of matter. Chemistry looks to understand the relationship between molecular particles and can have potentially dangerous consequences if the laws of nature are not followed.

Required Credits:

Chemistry with a lab is typically a 4-5 credit course because of the time and workload required.

How Does this Prerequisite Help you in Nursing School & Beyond:

Chemistry is one of the required prerequisite courses for nursing school because it is important that nursing students understand the makeup and chemistry of the human body. Future nurses need to know and understand basic chemistry so that the medications being prescribed, and the procedures being performed make sense and are relevant to the patients' health conditions.

5. Ethics

About the Prerequisite Course:

Ethics courses are designed to highlight the understanding of personal individual moral principles that make up the life choices and daily decisions of individuals. This course is meant to guide the learner into understanding their own moral principles and learning to recognize and respect the moral principles of others.

Required Credits:

Most ethics courses are 3 credits in length as they are typically made up of a lecture section only.

How Does this Prerequisite Help you in Nursing School & Beyond:

Ethics plays an important role in medicine on a daily basis. Nursing professionals are required to take this course as part of their program requirements since ethics plays such a big role in medicine. It is important that you have a basic understanding of ethics before working with patients in a clinical setting.

6. General Psychology

About the Prerequisite Course:

General psychology is an overview of the human mind and how it affects our human behaviors and habits. This course gives an overview of the many functions of the conscious and unconscious mind and how they can influence change and human behavior.

Required Credits:

This is typically a 3-credit course as a lab section is not required.

How Does this Prerequisite Help you in Nursing School & Beyond:

Because you will be working directly with patients and interacting with a large network of medical staff, a general understanding of how and why people behave like they do can be very beneficial. Nurses spend much of their time teaching their patients how to make daily behavioral changes that can translate into longer-term goals and a basic understanding of human psychology can help you to be more successful.

7. Human Anatomy, with lab

About the Prerequisite Course:

Anatomy is another one of the important prerequisites for nursing school. It is the study and science behind the structures that make up the human body. This course goes into greater detail on the many systems of the human body including the skeletal system, the muscular system, the vascular system, each individual organ system, etc.

Required Credits:

Because most human anatomy classes require a lab these courses tend to be 4-5 credits in length.

How Does this Prerequisite Help you in Nursing School & Beyond:

This course is a required prerequisite for nursing school because it is a basic understanding of the human body is needed in order to provide safe care for patients. Nurses are responsible for the safety of their patients and a solid understanding of basic human anatomy is critical for their job. This is where future nurses will learn both the scientific and common language name for every muscle of the human body that will give them a better understanding of the human body.

8. Human Growth & Development (Lifespan)

About the Prerequisite Course:

Human Growth and Development across one’s lifespan in an all-encompassing course that breaks down milestones and life events in a gradual and understandable way. This course will walk you through life from fetal development to death and all areas in between. Specific emphasis is on physical and mental health, however, some consideration is made for more diverse populations and special needs individuals.

Required Credits:

A prerequisite course for a Human Growth & Development course is usually 3 credits in length.

How Does this Prerequisite Help you in Nursing School & Beyond:

Prerequisites for nursing school, like human growth and development, provide future nursing students with a baseline knowledge and understanding of the evolutionary process of aging as we progress through our lifespan. You are responsible for patients regardless of their age or development and this course is the building block for expanding that knowledge. In nursing school, you will be expected to understand what is considered "normal" and what is concerning, regardless of the age of the patient.

9. Human Physiology, with lab

About the Prerequisite Course:

Physiology addresses the function of the human body typically broken down and organized by body systems and is a commonly required prereq for nursing school. You will learn about individual systems and their overall role and connection to human survival. As part of the human physiology course, you will need to take a lab section where you will perform experiments to illustrate the various body functions.

Required Credits:

A prerequisite course for a Human Physiology course is usually 4-5 credits in length.

How Does this Prerequisite Help you in Nursing School & Beyond:

Gaining a basic understanding of the functions the human body performs both voluntarily and involuntarily will enable you to apply that knowledge to most areas of nursing school. The introduction to the individual systems of the body outlines what might occur when diseases arise and can give the nurse insight into how medications are able to do what they are designed to do.

10. Math

About the Prerequisite Course:

The majority of math that is required prior to starting any nursing program is basic algebra or higher. Some programs will require students to also take a statistics course but it depends on the specific requirements of your program.

Required Credits:

A prerequisite course for a math course is usually 3 credits in length.

How Does this Prerequisite Help you in Nursing School & Beyond:

Basic algebra and math skills are required to become a nurse because as the job entails, you will be responsible for calculating and administering the correct medication dosages to your patients.

11. Microbiology Lecture & Lab

About the Prerequisite Course:

Microbiology courses emphasize the interactions and pathogenic mechanisms of microorganisms. You will learn about many different functions, structures and alterations of different bacteria and viruses to provide you with knowledge of the roles they play in our health. Additionally, you will learn about sanitation and the effects it has on society in a medical setting as well as with food preparation.

Required Credits:

A prerequisite course for a microbiology course with a lab is usually 4-5 credits in length.

How Does this Prerequisite Help you in Nursing School & Beyond:

Microbiology is one of the more practical prerequisites for nursing school because of its direct influence on the health and well-being of an ill patient. Within the microbiology lab, you will see and perform the exact procedures that are performed in medical settings.

12. Nutrition

About the Prerequisite Course:

There are a number of elements that make up nutrition, including what we consume and the physical, social, and psychological factors that influence the intake of food. Basic nutrition courses go into detail about macro and micronutrients and how each affects the human body.

Required Credits:

A prerequisite course for a nutrition course is usually 3 credits in length.

How Does this Prerequisite Help you in Nursing School & Beyond:

A key component of nursing school is knowing how to advise others on how to make healthy choices and that is why nutrition as a nursing prerequisite is helpful. Diet and exercise have proven to impact the health of others and this course will greatly influence your understanding of how one’s diet can be altered in a medical capacity. This will prepare you for the expectations you will be held to in nursing school.

13. Pathophysiology

About the Prerequisite Course:

Pathophysiology is another prerequisite for nursing school and studies the elements of the human body specific to individual disease processes. A typical course in this subject will address etiology, physical signs and symptoms, prognosis, and complications that might arise if diseases are untreated. You will learn a lot of medical terminologies and begin to see the correlation between human emotion and the physical body.

Required Credits:

A prerequisite course for a pathophysiology course is usually 3-4 credits in length.

How Does this Prerequisite Help you in Nursing School & Beyond:

In this course, you'll get a basic understanding of how the human body works, as well as how physical effects can come from psychological problems. By gaining a solid foundation of knowledge of pathophysiology and why you are treating the patients you are, you can understand the deeper meaning behind their condition. It also provides a great overview of different disease processes where nursing school will dive deep into individual body systems.

14. Sociology

About the Prerequisite Course:

A standard introduction to sociology course is another one of the common prerequisites for nursing school and includes a variety of topics with regards to how people act, why individuals have different values and also touches on cultural norms and the effect that can have on one’s life. Some flexibility may be granted with regards to which sociology course you can take. Some nursing programs will accept any sociology course, however, some may only accept a select few courses. We suggest looking into the specific programs you are interested in applying to for further guidance.

Required Credits:

A prerequisite course for a Sociology course is usually 3 credits in length.

How Does this Prerequisite Help you in Nursing School & Beyond:

Understanding the concepts of sociology and the effects one group can have on another can not only help you within nursing school, but can greatly influence your impact on the nursing profession after graduation.

15. U. S. History

About the Prerequisite Course:

A course in U.S. History is exactly as it sounds. It is a history class that specifically covers significant events in the United States and covers a range of subject matter including politics, economics, social and cultural views. These courses will typically be from colonial times to the present day.

Required Credits:

A prerequisite course for a U. S. History course is usually 3 credits in length.

How Does this Prerequisite Help you in Nursing School & Beyond:

U.S. History is one of the prerequisites for nursing school because it plays a huge role in our current healthcare system. There are policies and economical situations which have led us to where we are today. A course like this will prepare you for the realities of the healthcare industry and will elaborate on the differences between state regulations.


(Learn about the Prerequisite Courses required for the nation’s Best Nursing Programs.)

1. The Ohio State University - Columbus, OH

Applicants looking to attend the Ohio State University BSN program will be required to complete the following seven courses with a “C+” or higher. This program requires a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.2 and for these courses to be completed by the end of the Spring term of the application year.

1. Biology with lab (4 credits) 5. English Composition (3 credits)
2. Chemistry with lab (5 credits) 6. Psychology (3 credits)
3. Human Anatomy (3 credits) 7. Sociology (3 credits)
4. Human Physiology (3 credits)

2. University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center - Oklahoma City, OK

The traditional BSN program at the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center requires the completion of 67 prerequisite credits from the following list. This program allows some courses to be “in progress,” which means you can be currently enrolled in prerequisites at the time that you apply for the program. But keep in mind, at the time of application, at least 30 credits must be completed before applying to the program. The overall minimum GPA is 2.5 and a minimum science GPA of 2.5 is required.

1. English Composition I (3 credits) 8. Developmental Psychology (3 credits)
2. English Composition II (3 credits) 9. Statistics (3 credits)
3. US Government (3 credits) 10. Nutrition (3 credits)
4. US History (3 credits) 11. Introduction or General Chemistry with
lab (4-5 credits)
5. Psychology (3 credits) 12. Microbiology with lab (4-5 credits)
6. Sociology (3 credits) 13. Human Anatomy with lab (4-5 credits)
7. Culture (3 credits) 14. Human Physiology with lab (4-5 credits)

*If questions arise the website link above provides applicants with an advisor to discuss their prerequisite courses with. Check out the “contact us” section to see who you will be speaking with based on your last name and the campus which you will be applying for.

3. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center - Lubbock TX

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center requires the following prerequisite courses to be completed prior to enrollment into the program. The institution does not offer general education courses. The website (linked above) states “Introduction to Nursing as a Profession and Pathophysiology are offered online” which may help in completing these nursing prerequisite courses from your home. In total there are 60 prerequisite credits.

1. Pathophysiology (3 credits) 11. History of the US to 1877 (3 credits)
2. Microbiology with lab (4 credits) 12. History of the US since 1877 (3 credits)
3. Anatomy and Physiology I with lab (4 credits) 13. American Govt Organization (3 credits)
4. Anatomy and Physiology II with lab (4 credits) 14. American Public Policy (3 credits)
5. Chemistry with lab (4 credits) 15. English I (3 credits)
6. Introduction to Nursing as a
rofession (2 credits)
16. English II (3 credits)
7. General Psychology (3 credits) 17. Creative Arts (3 credits)
8. Life Span Human Development (3 credits) 18. Language, Philosophy and Culture
(3 credits)
9. Statistics (3 credits) 19. Communication in Nursing (3 credits)
10. Nutrition (3 credits)

4. University at Buffalo - Buffalo, NY

The University at Buffalo requires that the following nursing prerequisites be completed with a letter grade of “C” or better and specifically mentions that a “C minus” will not be accepted. They provide students with three different BSN programs to allow for optimal success. They have a traditional program, an accelerated program, and an RN to BSN program each having different requirements.

For the Traditional Program, there are 12 prerequisites that must be completed by the application deadline.

1. Introduction to Psychology (3 credits) 7. Human Physiology (3 credits)
2. Introduction to Sociology/American
Pluralism (3 credits)
8. Applied Physiology (3 credits)
3. Social and Ethical Values in Medicine
(3 credits)
9. Microbiology with lab (4 credits)
4. Human Growth and Development (3 credits) 10. Pharmacology (3 credits)
5. Human Nutrition (3 credits) 11. Chemistry (4 credits)
6. Human Anatomy with lab (4 credits) 12. Statistics (3 credits)

The Accelerated Program has the following nine prerequisites, all of which are flexible in when they must be completed by. Four of the nine must be completed by the application deadline with a “C” or better, with the remaining five to be completed prior to the program start date.

1. Human Growth and Development (3 credits) 6. Microbiology with lab (4 credits)
2. Human Nutrition (3 credits) 7. Pharmacology (3 credits)
3. Human Anatomy with lab (4 credits) 8. Chemistry (4 credits)
4. Human Physiology (3 credits) 9. Statistics (3 credits)
5. Applied Physiology (3 credits)

The only prerequisite course for the RN to BSN program is Statistics with a letter grade of “C” or better.

*Also, note that Anatomy and Physiology I and Anatomy and Physiology II must be completed at the same university. Introduction to Psychology, Introduction to Sociology/American Pluralism and Social & Ethical Values in Medicine are not required for students who already have a Bachelor’s degree.

5. University of Texas Medical Branch - Galveston, TX

The University of Texas Medical Branch requires 60 credits of nursing prerequisite courses. 40 of these 60 credits must be completed prior to admission and include all five of the life and physical sciences. Anatomy, Physiology, Microbiology, Chemistry, and Nutrition. They also require that all prerequisite courses must be completed with a final letter grade of “C” or better with an overall, science, and prerequisite GPA of at least 2.7.

1. Anatomy and Physiology I with lab (4 credits) 11. U.S. History II (3 credits)
2. Anatomy and Physiology II with lab (4 credits) 12. U.S. Government (3 credits)
3. Microbiology with lab (4 credits) 13. Texas Government (3 credits)
4. Chemistry with lab (4 credits) 14. English I (3 credits)
5. Nutrition (3 credits) 15. English II (3 credits)
6. Introductory Psychology (3 credits) 16. Creative Arts (3 credits)

a. Courses with prefixes ARTS, DANC, DRAM,

7. Introductory Sociology (3 credits)
8. Lifespan Growth & Development (3 credits) 17. Language, Philosophy, & Culture (3 credits)
9. Statistics (3 credits) 18. Free Electives (5 credits)

a. Any course that is not remedial, technical,
vocational, military, or being used to satisfy another prerequisite.

10. U.S. History I (3 credits)

6. The University of Texas Health Science Center - Houston, TX

The University of Texas Health Science Center does not offer general education courses so all must be completed elsewhere prior to enrollment. They specifically note they have no time limit on prerequisite courses and at least 48 credits of the 60 total credits must be completed by the application deadline. Listed on their website are prerequisite Frequently Asked Questions that might provide you with more insight into their program. Their prerequisite courses are as follows:

1. American Government (3 credits) 10. Microbiology with Lab (4 credits)
2. Texas Government (3 credits) 11. Chemistry with Lab (4 credits)
3. U. S. History (6 credits) 12. Nutrition (3 credits)
4. Introduction to Psychology (3 credits) 13. English (6 credits)
5. Introduction to Sociology (3 credits) 14. Introduction to Philosophy (3 credits)
6. Human Growth & Development: Lifespan (3 credits) 15. Visual & Performing Arts (3 credits)

a. Course prefixes ARTS, DANC, MUAP, MUEN, MUSI, DRAM, or equivalent

7. Statistics (3 credits)
8. Anatomy with Lab (4 credits) 16. Electives (5 credits)
9. Physiology with Lab (4 credits)

*If you are a transfer student refer to the “transfer guide” provided beneath the prerequisite courses on the website link above.

7. University of Maryland School of Nursing - Baltimore, MD

The University of Maryland School of Nursing prerequisite courses are listed below and are required for all applicants. This program has specific guidelines for which courses will be accepted including all 59 prerequisite credits. There are examples provided, however the best way to verify if you have met the requirements is to check the website link above and contact the school if you have any questions. Also, having a prior bachelor's degree may reduce the amount of prerequisite courses required for the application process. These courses are noted in bold similar to how you will find them on the school’s website.

1. General Chemistry (4 credits) 9. College Algebra (3 credits)
2. Human Anatomy and Physiology I (4 credits) 10. English Composition (6 credits)
3. Human Anatomy and Physiology II (4 credits) 11. Psychology (3 credits)
4. Human Growth and Development (3 credits) 12. Social Sciences (3 credits)

a. Anthropology, economics, geography, history, political science, criminal justice, women’s studies, or additional psychology or sociology

5. Microbiology (4 credits)
6. Nutrition (3 credits) 13. Sociology (3 credits)
7. Statistics (3 credits) 14. General Electives (7 credits)
8. Arts and Humanities (9 credits)

a. Art, music, theater, dance, communications, philosophy, literature, religious studies, language, speech, or women’s studies)

8. Seattle University - Seattle, WA

Seattle University requires a cumulative prerequisite GPA of 3.0 or higher with a “C” or better in each of the following prerequisites. Below is a list of specific nursing program prerequisites required for this school. Please note that some courses listed have timelines and special requirements needed prior to applying. Please see the programs website for more details.

1. College Algebra or Higher (3 credits) 6. Physiology (4 credits)
2. Introductory Biology (4 credits) 7. Statistics (3 credits)
3. Introductory Chemistry (4 credits) 8. Microbiology (4 credits)
4. Introductory Psychology (3 credits) 9. Lifespan Growth and Development (3 credits)
5. Anatomy (4 credits) 10. Nutrition (3 credits)

*Of the ten prerequisite courses, seven must be completed prior to the deadline and must include Anatomy, Physiology, and Microbiology. Science prerequisites must be completed in the past 5 years and Math, Psychology and Nutrition must be completed within 10 years. The link above will provide you with more details regarding credit transfers as well as post-baccalaureate application requirements.

9. University of Nebraska Medical Center - Omaha, NE

The University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) has three opportunities to earn your BSN depending on previous education experience. In addition to the traditional BSN program, there is the Accelerated BSN program and the RN to BSN program. The accelerated program is designed for individuals who already hold a bachelor’s degree, but in a different field of study. The RN to BSN program is designed for students who already have an associate's degree in nursing. The following prerequisites are required for all three programs and it should be noted that they are not available to be taken at UNMC. These can be taken at any accredited community college, 4-year college, or university. In total you will be expected to complete 58 or more semester credits with slightly different minimum grades/GPAs for the specific program you will be applying to. Please refer to the website above to verify you meet the expected requirements.

1. English Composition I (3 credits) 8. Statistics (3 credits)
2. English Composition II (3 credits) 9. Anatomy & Physiology I and II (8 credits)

a. OR Human Anatomy (4 credits) & Human Physiology (4 credits)

3. Introduction to Psychology (3 credits) 10. Ethics (3 credits)
4. Introduction to Sociology (3 credits) 11. Microbiology (4 credits)
5. Human Growth & Development (3 credits) 12. Nutrition (3 credits)
6. Chemistry (4 credits) 13. One from each of the following categories (12 credits)

a. Humanities (3 credits)
b. Culture/Race/Ethnicity/Gender (3 credits)
c. Family/Human Behavior (3 credits)
d. Political Science/Social Organization (3 credits)

7. College Algebra (3 credits) 14. Free Electives (3 to 5 credits)

10. Texas A&M University - College Station, TX

Texas A&M University’s nursing program requires the following prerequisites in order to be accepted. However, some courses may be in progress at the time of applying. They must be completed prior to enrolling with a minimum letter grade of a “C”. By the application deadline for application, 40 of the 59 prerequisite credits must be completed. Please check the University website linked above to find more information on specific course requirements based on timeframe.

1. Communications (6 credits)

a. Composition, Technical Writing, or
Public Speaking

7. Developmental Lifespan Psychology
(3 credits)
2. History (6 credits)

a. US History I or TX History (3 credits)
b. US History II or TX History (3 credits)

8. Statistics (3 credits)
3. Government (6 credits)

a. Federal Government (3 credits)
b. TX Government (3 credits)

9. Math (3 credits)
4. General Psychology (3 credits) 10. Nutrition (3 credits)
5. Creative Arts (3 credits)

a. Art, Dance, Music, Drama, or Theater

11. Science

a. Anatomy and Physiology I (4 credits)
b. Anatomy and Physiology II (4 credits)
c. General/Introductory Chemistry I with
lab (4 credits)
d. Introductory Biology (4 credits)
e. Microbiology (4 credits)

6. Humanities (3 credits)

a. Intro to Ethics or Intro to Philosophy

*Note that you may repeat the prerequisite courses, but that the grade earned on both the first and second attempt will be used in calculating GPA.

11. University of Utah - Salt Lake City, UT

The University of Utah College of Nursing requires a minimumprerequisite GPA of 3.0. Students can choose when to take the prerequisite courses and are only required to complete 5 of them prior to applying. The others may be taken prior to starting the program, however, all must be completed before beginning courses within the nursing program.

Prior to Acceptance: Prior to Matriculation:
1. General Biology with lab (4 credits) 1. Nutrition (3 credits)
2. Elementary Chemistry with lab (4 credits) 2. Human Growth and Development: Lifespan (3 credits)
3. Human Anatomy with lab (4 credits) 3. Microbiology with lab (4 credits)
4. Human Physiology with lab (4 credits 4. Pathophysiology with lab (4 credits)
5. Statistics (3 credits)

*Also, note that the Human Anatomy and Human Physiology courses must be completed within 7 years or they will need to be repeated before the application deadline.

12. University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences - Little Rock, AR

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences requires the following nursing prerequisite courses with a minimum letter grade of a C in each of the general education courses. In total, you will be completing 58-semester credits to apply for this nursing program. The website linked above provides an excellent GPA calculator as well as additional information on other BSN programs in the state of Arkansas.

1. Chemistry with lab (4 credits) 8. English Composition I (3 credits)
2. Microbiology with lab (4 credits) 9. English Composition II (3 credits)
3. Anatomy with lab (4 credits) 10. Speech Communication (3 credits)

a. Oral Communications or Technical Writing

4. Physiology with lab (4 credits) * 8 credits if combined with Anatomy 11. College Algebra (3 credits)
5. History (3 credits)

a. U.S. History or American Government

12. Introductory Statistics (3 credits)
6. Social Sciences (9 credits)

a. Psychology, Anthropology, Economics,
Geography, Sociology, or History

13. Nutrition (3 credits)
7. Fine Arts/ Humanities (6 credits)

a. Logical Reasoning, Art, Foreign Language, Philosophy, or Music

14. Electives (6 credits)

a. The following cannot be used as electives

i. Remedial courses
ii. Nursing courses
iii. Technical courses
iv. Vocational courses
v. Certificate courses

13. University of Massachusetts-Boston - Boston, MA

This school offers multiple nursing programs with different prerequisites depending on what your stage in the application process is and which program you are applying to. Please check with the website link above to ensure you are completing the correct courses for your application.

Traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing:

The average minimum GPA is around 3.2 for incoming freshmen students and around 3.4 for transfer students. These are not required to apply to the program, however, you will be expected to take the following courses to meet the graduation requirements. If you are not initially accepted into the program consider taking these courses within your alternate degree.

Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing:

This program has a minimum grade requirement for each of the following courses. Please check the website (linked above) to verify your courses satisfy the minimum requirement. These are also to be completed within the past 10 years or they will not be accepted.

1. English I (3 credits) 7. Anatomy and Physiology I (4 credits)
2. English II (3 credits) 8. Anatomy and Physiology II (4 credits)
3. Chemistry (4 credits) 9. Microbiology (4 credits)
4. General Biology (4 credits) 10. Human Growth and Development (3 credits)
5. Statistics (3 credits) 11. Nutrition (3 credits)
6. Introduction to Sociology or
Psychology (3 credits)

14. Thomas Jefferson University - Philadelphia, PA

The nursing prerequisite courses for Thomas Jefferson University are listed below. These courses must be completed with a minimum 3.0 cumulative and requires a total of 55-semester credits and can be broken down as follows.

1. Anatomy & Physiology I w/Lab (4 credits) 9. General Psychology (3 credits)
2. Anatomy and Physiology II w/Lab (4 credits) 10. Developmental/Child Psychology (3 credits)
3. Chemistry I w/Lab (4 credits) 11. Abnormal Psychology (3 credits)
4. Microbiology w/ Lab (4 credits) 12. Introduction to Sociology (3 credits)
5. Math (College Algebra or higher) (3 credits) 13. Nutrition (3 credits)
6. Statistics (3 credits) 14. Ethics (3 credits)
7. English Composition (3 credits) 15. Logic, Philosophy, Critical Thinking or
Foreign Language (3 credits)
8. English Elective (3 credits) 16. Electives (6 credits)

*Please note you are required to have 8-semester credits in combined Anatomy and Physiology course or 4-semester credits of Human Anatomy with lab and 4-semester credits of Human Physiology.

15. University of Kansas - Kansas City, KS

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing program at the University of Kansas requires the following courses prior to admission to the program. These courses satisfy the 58 semester hours of credit for this program. Due to competition, a minimum GPA of 2.5 is required. A letter grade of C or S (satisfactory) and Credit are accepted. A letter grade of D, F, U (unsatisfactory), and No Credit will not be accepted.

Humanities Natural Sciences
1. English Composition I (3 credits) 1. College Algebra (3 credits)
2. English Composition II (3 credits) 2. College Biology with lab (4 credits)
3. Humanities elective (3 credits) 3. General Microbiology with lab (4 credits)
4. Public speech (3 credits) 4. General Chemistry with lab (4 credits)
5. Global awareness course (3 credits) 5. Anatomy with lab (4 credits)*
Social Sciences 6. Physiology (4 credits)*
1. General Psychology (3 credits) 7. Nutrition (3 credits)
2. General Sociology (3 credits) 8. Statistics (3 credits)
3. Child or Human Development (3 credits)

*If a combination course of Anatomy and Physiology a minimum of 8 total credits is required and less than 8 credits will not be accepted.

What Are The Hardest and Easiest Nursing Prerequisite Courses?

In general, the easiest (less time-consuming) prerequisite courses for nursing school are Sociology, Mathematics, Nutrition, Psychology, and Human Development. Though the content might not be as interesting or relative to a nursing program, they are consistently the courses with less work outside of class and more freedom for specifically what class you enroll in. There are multiple mathematics courses that might meet this prerequisite for you to choose from or a Sociology class that might also focus on an area you are interested in.

The more time-consuming and typically harder prerequisite classes for nursing school are the heavy sciences that require a lab in addition to the lecture. These are worth more credits, take up more time being in class, and often have more time outside of class studying and preparing for exams. Because the lab and lecture are typically separate it often feels as though they are two separate classes covering the same material. Because of this, they are seen to be “harder”. The hardest prerequisite nursing courses would include Anatomy, Chemistry, Microbiology, Pathophysiology, and Human Physiology.

8 Tips To Raise Your Nursing School Prerequisite GPA

1. Retake classes:

Depending on your nursing program prerequisite requirements, retaking a class that you got a low grade in could replace the lower grade with a higher one if you were to retake the course and do better. Other programs may take an average of the two grades into account. It may be worth looking into how your particular nursing program handles this situation to figure out if it makes sense for you to spend the time and money to retake a prerequisite class.

2. Take additional classes:

Taking a class or two that you really enjoy and that you know you can commit to can give your overall GPA a boost if your total GPA is taken into account for your specific program. Some nursing programs will only take into account your required prerequisite GPA, so it is worth looking up your program's requirements. If your school takes into account your entire overall GPA then it might make sense for you to take a class like medical terminology or a foreign language to not only improve your GPA but also to give you more foundation for success in the real world of nursing.

3. Get a tutor:

One great way to help maximize your time and efficiency of learning new information is to get a tutor. Many colleges offer free tutoring sessions for students from past students of the course you are taking. If your school does not offer tutoring there are plenty of sites online where you can schedule a tutoring session over video chat with an expert in the subject matter you need help in. Getting help from outside sources like a tutor can be a good way for you to make sure you are comprehending the material being presented correctly and they can help guide you towards understanding and retaining the information faster.

4. Make friends:

One really easy way to help boost your GPA throughout each semester is to build friendships with your classmates. They are going through the exact same thing that you are when it comes to learning the material and are able to relate to your struggles. Having someone that you can talk to about confusing topics can be invaluable to your success throughout the semester. There may be a day that you are unable to come to class and having someone you trust to fill you in on what you missed could translate into a big boost to your overall GPA.

5. Know your goals:

When you have a clear understanding of what your goals are and why you need to take the steps that you need to take to get there you can remind yourself of it in the daily struggles. When classes become overwhelming it could help you stay focused on good grades if you can remind yourself of your end goal of becoming a nurse.

6. Create a reward system for yourself:

In order to make sure you are functioning at your peak performance, it is essential to take the time to recognize and acknowledge your accomplishments. A reward system can be the perfect way to keep you motivated and feeling accomplished on your goal towards nursing school.

7. Ask the professor for help:

If you are unable to find the time or money needed to hire a private tutor, you can always reach out directly to your professor. In some cases, it might be best to start by talking with your professor individually first to see if they are able to offer up any resources or information that can save you some time with a tutor. Professors are there to help you complete the course with the best level of understanding possible so why not utilize their expertise.

8. Reflect on past learning opportunities:

Is there a pattern as to why your prerequisite GPA might be falling? If you start to pay attention to patterns in your life, you may be able to recognize things you can change to benefit your GPA in the long run.

Do Nursing School Prerequisites Ever Expire?

Most schools want your prerequisite courses to be within a certain timeframe, but not all schools will have an “expiration date”. It is always best practice to contact the school directly if you have any concerns regarding your specific nursing school prereqs. They may state the prerequisites need to be within a certain time frame, but might be more understanding of a psychology course being out of date compared to anatomy or physiology which would have more of an impact on your performance in their program.

My Final Thoughts

This article should have answered many of your questions about nursing school prerequisites. After reading about the 15 most common prerequisites for nursing school you should be able to answer the questions: what are the prerequisites for nursing school? In light of what you now know about nursing school prerequisites, you are better prepared to make an informed decision when it comes to getting into nursing school.


1. Do Online Nursing Schools Require The Same Prerequisites As On-Campus Schools?

Typically, the online nursing programs are not much different as far as prerequisites go. They may actually prefer that you take some of your prerequisites for nursing school online as this will be the teaching/learning environment which you will need to prove you can handle. For those who are unable to attend on-campus nursing school full-time or who would prefer to spend more time at home, online nursing programs can be an excellent option.

Something to keep in mind is that many on-campus schools will want science courses with labs to be in person as this is the environment in which you will be expected to perform while going through the nursing program. Take this into consideration when signing up and taking your prerequisite classes for nursing school as some programs will not accept online labs. But many times, the lecture portion of courses that require a lab is available in an online format.

It is possible that this may change short-term due to COVID-19. However, we urge you to check with each school to find out exactly what they may require when you apply.

2. Which Nursing Prerequisites Should I Take First?

The answer to this question is very individualized. It depends on everyone's unique situation but in some cases, it makes most sense to stagger the more challenging nursing school prerequisite courses so that you do not have one semester with all heavy lecture classes along with the increased workload of the labs. I would begin by taking a few of the general education prerequisite courses while you “sprinkle” in some of the more challenging science courses like anatomy or physiology. Typically, you would take those before microbiology or pathophysiology because of the need to understand the more basic components of the body before diving into more specific elements of the body. You also want to keep in mind your GPA and what you might be doing along with taking these courses.

3. Can I Take Prerequisites For Nursing School In High School?

The answer to this is very dependent on individual school programs and policies. Some high schools have relationships with colleges and community colleges where high school students are able to complete college-level courses for both high school and college-level credit. If you are in high school and are interested in becoming a nurse it might be worth asking your guidance counselor if a program like this is an option for you.

4. Can I Take Prerequisites For Nursing School At A Community College?

Yes! Many prerequisite courses are also offered at a community college and can be equivalent to those at a University or State School. Many students find they can save a significant amount of money by taking prerequisites at a community college. Some prerequisites for nursing school might not be offered at a community college and in those cases the answer would be no.

5. Can I Finish My Prerequisites After I Begin Nursing School?

In most cases, prerequisites are required prior to being accepted into any nursing program but that is not the case for all programs or classes. Some nursing schools will allow you to take particular prerequisites alongside nursing classes. This is very school and program-dependent so make sure to check your individual program.

6. Is There A Time Limit On Any Of The Prerequisite Courses?

The answer to this is very course and school-dependent, however, most programs will want the science courses with labs to be within 5-7 years. This is to simply prove that you are ready to build off of this baseline knowledge and do not need as much review as it may not be fresh in your memory.

7. Can I Take Nursing School Prerequisites Online?

In many cases, you can take prerequisite nursing school courses online. Most lab sections are required to be taken in person due to safety precautions and specialty equipment needed. Nowadays, because of campus shutdowns and limited capacity in some classrooms, due to COVID, it is easier and more convenient than ever to take nursing school prerequisites online.

8. Can I Retake A Prerequisite?

Yes! If you didn't perform as well as you would have liked, you certainly should do so. This shows determination, and proves you are willing to take responsibility for your past actions. Having completed the prerequisites for nursing school previously, you will have the benefit of knowing what to expect when retaking the course. One thing you should know the answer to is whether or not your program takes an average of your retaken course GPA or if they only take your highest grade. This can greatly impact your overall and prerequisite GPA.

9. Can I Get Into Nursing School With A GPA Of 2.7 In My Prerequisites?

It is possible to get into nursing school with any level of passing GPA. The answer to this question lies in how the particular nursing program that you are applying for accepts students. Because of limited capacity in many nursing programs, nursing schools have had to come up with a selection process. Depending on how that selection process is determined will determine whether or not your GPA will play a huge factor in whether or not you will be accepted.

10. Can I Get Into A Nursing School Without Prerequisites?

Typically, no. There are prerequisites for nursing school for a reason. That being said, there are almost always exceptions to the rule. Some programs will conditionally accept students prior to them taking the prerequisites or the prerequisites will be included in the program if you are a non-traditional applicant with a degree in another discipline.

Brittney Bertagna, BSN, RN
Brittney Bertagna is currently a nurse and writer in Las Vegas, NV. After receiving a bachelor’s degree in business administration she completed nursing school and became a registered nurse. While working a night shift in the neonatal ICU she went back to school to get her second bachelor’s degree in nursing from Western Governors University. Now she enjoys working with children in the surgical setting as well as with her adult patients as an infusion nurse.