The American Nurses Association (ANA) defines nursing as “the protection, promotion, and optimization of health and abilities, prevention of illness and injury, facilitation of healing, alleviation of suffering through the diagnosis and treatment of human response, and advocacy in the care of individuals, families, groups, communities, and populations."

Nurses' responsibilities include:

  • Caring for individuals, families and communities
  • Ensuring that patients attain, maintain or recover optimal health
  • Assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating care independently of physicians
  • Providing support from basic triage to emergency surgery
  • Advising and working as consultants in the healthcare, insurance or legal industries
A stethoscope icon

Explore the Range of Specializations in Nursing

Degree Programs

Nurses can practice with an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN), a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP). Individuals who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in another field can either apply to an accelerated BSN program or a master’s program. Accelerated bachelor’s programs generally take 11 to 18 months to complete, while accelerated master's programs take two to three years. If you are interested in specializing and/or advancing in the field, you may want to consider an MSN.

Course Prerequisites

Prerequisite courses for admission vary by school and should be available on their website. For specific college requirements, visit the American Association of Colleges of Nursing's (AACN) member school directory and search for schools by name, state or degree type. Typical prerequisite courses include:


  • Anatomy & Physiology 1 (EXNS 2210, fall)
  • Anatomy & Physiology 2 (EXNS 2211, spring)
  • Microbiology (BISC 2336/2337)
  • General Chemistry 1 & 2 (CHEM 1111, CHEM 1112)
  • Statistics (STAT 1051, 1053, 1111, or 1127. For Public Health Majors only: PUBH 2142)
  • Nutrition (BISC 1005 or EXNS 2119)


  • Ethics (examples include: PHIL 2131, PHIL 2135, PHIL 2136, PUBH 2115, or PUBH 3151)
  • English Composition (UW1020 and the WID requirements)
  • General Psychology (PSYC 1001)
  • Math (MATH 1231)
  • Human Growth and Development (PSYC 2013)


Application Requirements



Depending on the nursing program, you may be required to take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS). Some programs do not require any admissions tests, so you should always confirm with the specific school of interest.


Many competitive nursing programs require a minimum 3.0 GPA, though this will vary depending on the school. It is also important to demonstrate knowledge of and interest in the field through clinical experience.


Application Process

NursingCAS is the nation’s only centralized application service for students applying to registered nursing (RN) programs at all levels, from the diploma to the doctorate. NursingCAS offers prospective students a convenient way to apply to nursing programs at participating schools nationwide. To apply to nonparticipating schools, you will need to visit those schools’ websites for application information.


Apply Early

Check the school's website for program-specific deadlines. If you wait until the night before a program deadline to submit your application, your application may not be received by NursingCAS in time. You should apply at least four weeks before the earliest deadline of the program(s) that you are applying to. This will allow the necessary time to verify and process your application.


Quick Links