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
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.
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 (6-8 hours)
- Microbiology (3-4 hours)
- General Chemistry (4-8 hours)
- Statistics (3 hours)
- Nutrition (3 hours
- Ethics (3 hours)
- English Composition (6 hours)
- General Psychology (3 hours)
- Math (3 hours)
- Human Growth and Development (3 hours)
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.
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.
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.
- American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)
- American Nurses Association (ANA)
- National Student Nursing Association
- Discover Nursing
- All Nursing Schools Database
- University HQ: Nursing Degree Requirements and Program Guide