How do prerequisites work?


How do you get the prerequisites before you apply for nursing school? Do you have to take a year of college first, or take them as a summer program during high school or something? Or do they have you take them at the beginning of the nursing program? Confused face.


173 Posts

Pre-requisite courses are almost always taken before you start nursing school (though there are cases where people take a few of the last ones during their first semester of nursing school proper, which, to me, seems a bit much, but there may be no alternative for them, which is fine). You can take them at a community college, which will usually be a cheaper route to go, and will more than likely transfer to the nursing school of choice (though, do extensive research on the school(s) of your choice to ensure that the courses are accepted). You can also take them at a university, but you may be paying more for essentially the same material that a community college will teach, and then the need to check if the nursing school will accept the credits also comes into play here, as was with the community college.

The pre-requisites are, for most, 2-ish years long. Maybe with Summer courses included, maybe not, depending on what you want your work load to be during the regular Fall and Spring semesters. Personally, I took 10 hours last Fall, 13 this past Spring, 3 during a month long semester in May called the "Maymester", 6 during the first half of Summer, and another 6 during the second half of Summer, and now I'm about to finish my last 7 this Fall (I had other courses from a few years back that are still valid).

You could start your pre-requisite courses during High School if you want. I took my Composition courses during the Summer between my Sophomore/Junior and Junior/Senior years, so I had 6 hours done by the time I actually began college. Some people can do more of their pre-requisite courses during High School, though it may be a bit more taxing on your time and effort that is being spent on High School.

My recommendation? I'm not sure if you're in High School or not, but if you are, perhaps look around at the community colleges in your area and see if you, as a High School student, can enroll in 1 or 2 classes over the Summer to help jump-start your pre-requisite progress. And if you feel like you're doing really good in High School during the regular year, maybe think about taking a college course to further help speed things along. Honestly, some of the pre-requisite courses are not really all that difficult (at least, I didn't think so), and maybe you could do online courses if you aren't able to physically go out to campus.

Sorry my response seems a bit scatter-brained, but I'm sort of tired while writing this, but I hope it helps!

Specializes in Emergency Department. Has 8 years experience.

Think of prerequisites as a specific sequence of courses. You must take class A in order to be allowed to take class B, after which you can take class C. You can not take class C then A then B because the classes build upon the previous classes, and that's why they have that sequence requirement.

As it pertains to Nursing (or any other specific program), prerequisites are those specific courses that the program want you to have completed prior to beginning the program. If you're missing any of those required courses, you will not be allowed to begin the program.

How do you determine what courses to take to get you in? It's actually pretty simple. Each program publishes a list of courses (prerequisites) that they require you to complete before you apply to the program. What you do is you look at each and every course to determine what course(s) are required in order to allow you to take that particular course. You follow the requirements for each and every course all the way "back" to the beginning so that you can determine what course of study you must undertake to reach those program entry requirements.

I'll give you an example of what I mean... One of the prerequisite courses for my program is Microbiology. In order for me to take Micro, I had to have already taken Chemistry 400 (General Chemistry), and to get there, Chemistry 300 (Intro to Chemistry). To get to Chem 300, I had to take Math 100. When you enter college, you take placement tests (typically) for reading/writing, math, and chemistry/biology. If you test "above" Math 100 and/or Chem 300, you are considered qualified to take Chem 400 as you've demonstrated sufficient knowledge that you do not need to take those "lower" courses. Upon completion (and passing) Chem 400, you may now take Microbiology, which is one of the only listed prerequisite courses for entry to Nursing School there.

You do the same thing with the other listed prerequisites for the desired program. They typically won't list the entire prerequisite sequence for all those classes. They'll just list, say Anatomy, Physiology, Microbiology, General Nutrition, General Psychology, Speech Communications, Sociology or Anthropology, and English Writing. They expect that you'll have taken all the necessary coursework leading up to those courses that they require for entry to their program. Some of those above listed courses have the same prerequisite of Gen Chem. When you add up all the courses to enter the nursing program, it's very easy to see how it's possible to spend 2 years or more just preparing to apply to the program. Along the way, you often find out that you've completed most of your graduation requirements so that when you're done with nursing school, and you've been smart about your coursework, you graduate from the college or university at the same time that you complete the nursing program.

Sometimes your college academic counselors are well-informed about setting up your courses to efficiently allow you to complete your prerequisite courses in a timely manner and some aren't. Occasionally your school may have a specific academic counselor for you to see because that person specializes in the nursing stuff and can best advise you as to what you need to take to reach your goal of getting into the nursing program.

This is probably quite the book, but I hope it not only explains what a prerequisite is, but also explains the process involved from almost enrolling in college to begin with.


23 Posts

Ok, so basically what you guys are saying here is that you have to go to regular college to take the prerequisites for a year or two before you can enter a 4 year BSN program? You can't enter the nursing program straight out of high school?

TheCommuter, BSN, RN

226 Articles; 27,608 Posts

Specializes in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psych. Has 17 years experience.
You can't enter the nursing program straight out of high school?
Most people are not qualified to enter a nursing program immediately after high school because they do not have enough college credits under their belts.

Prerequisite = pre-requirement (required prior to applying to nursing school)

Anatomy and physiology coursework is required prior to applying to nursing school because we need to understand the structure and function of the human body before we can study nursing. Also, other prerequisite courses are required because nursing departments feel that students need to learn specific material prior to enrolling in nursing coursework.

In addition, just because someone has graduated from high school, this does not necessarily mean he or she can read, write and do math at the level of a high school graduate. This is why nursing programs are selective and simply do not allow anyone to enroll. You need to have completed the prerequisite coursework and earned acceptable pre-admission test scores to reassure the faculty that you can handle nursing courses.

Some nursing programs allow high school graduates to enroll without any prerequisite coursework. These are usually practical nursing programs that lead to licensing as a licensed practical nurse (LPN). In addition, a small number of private for-profit schools will admit students into the nursing program without having any prerequisites completed, but tuition is usually very expensive.

Specializes in ED, Medicine, Case Management. Has 7 years experience.

You can enter a 4-year nursing program directly out of high school. You have to apply directly to the university and the school of nursing just like you would any other college. You will spend your first two years taking general courses in which your prerequisites will be included. Most universities require that you maintain a specific GPA in order to continue in the nursing program your junior year. If you do not, you will have to choose another major.

I do not know what the universities look for or what their criteria is for acceptance into the 4 year program directly out of high school, but it is competitive. I know 2 universities here accept between 40-80 freshman each year, and roughly the same number of junior transfers. I really suggest you talk to your high school guidance counselor and admissions at the universities you are most interested in. Obviously you are going to get a variety of answers here. Good luck to you.


671 Posts

I hear little about hs grads getting directly into a nursing program. You need to talk to your school counselor about this.

Usually people go to cc or a university to take prereqs, required courses in order to apply to programs. These prereqs are also and could be GEs that fulfill certain areas that 4 year schools require to be transferred over. It's a combination of prereqs and GEs that you'll need to take.

make note that though sometimes nursing programs will require you to take a test in order to apply.

you will need to figure out how competitive the BSN programs are because they usually will admit those with very good GPA and possible test score.

allnurses Guide

llg, PhD, RN

13,469 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Professional Development. Has 46 years experience.
Ok, so basically what you guys are saying here is that you have to go to regular college to take the prerequisites for a year or two before you can enter a 4 year BSN program? You can't enter the nursing program straight out of high school?

It depends on the school. Some schools take students right out of high school as college freshmen. The students take their basic pre-req's at that college and automatically move into the nursing courses in the sophomore or junior year (assuming they have passed those courses, of course.)

At other schools, you take the pre-req's during your first few semesters and then apply to be accepted into the nursing portion of the program that starts in the sophomore or junior year of college. Sometimes, such schools will give a preference in their nursing program acceptances to students who took their pre-req's at the same school. If that is the case, taking your pre-req's at a Community College could hurt your chances of being accepted. Other programs do not show a preference for students who took pre-req's at their own college and accept just as many students transferring from a Community College.

Many students try to save money by taking their pre-req's at a Community College, where they are cheaper. That can work out well if the BSN program accepts the Community College credits (most do) and does not show a preference for accepting their own students who took their pre-req's at the same school. But as I said, it can hurt you if you are applying to a school that prefers you do your pre-req's at their school or another 4-year college.

Bottom line ... You need to talk directly to the BSN program that interests you and find out what is true for that particular school. Each school has its own preferences and policies. You need to make your decision based on the realities of that particular school -- and not on what is true at some other school.


150 Posts

These would be the basic steps for a new high school grad applying to nursing at a NON direct entry school (in other words, a school that does not directly admit hs grads into the nursing program).

1. Apply to the university during your senior year of high school. This procedure will be the same as all other majors applying to the school. Now, this will take some research on your part because every school wants something different selected for your intended major. I applied to three schools that all wanted something different - one wanted "Nursing (BSN) - Prelicensure" another wanted "Pre-nursing" and the third wanted "Undeclared with an interest in nursing." It was hard to find that information on the website, so you can call the school and ask them what to select for you major to apply to be a pre-nursing student.

2. Wait the dreadful wait. Acceptance letters can take anywhere from 1-5 months to be sent out, and they're sent in batches, so a friend could get theirs months before you get yours. My first option school sent me my acceptance the last week that they were sending letters. I thought i was rejected for sure. Just know this isn't the competitive part. It's not any harder to be admitted as a prenursing student than it is to be accepted as any other major. As long as you HS grades are around the average for the school, you should get in.

3. After you get acceptance/rejection letters, decide which school you want to attend. When you do that you'll submit a form they send you called "intent to register" along with a fee (usually about $100). This basically says, "Hey. I've chosen your school, hold a spot for me!" Most schools will apply the fee toward tuition, but if you end up not attending the school, they will not refund it.

4. When you send in intent to register, they will send you info about orientation sessions. You sign up for one, again, usually for another fee, about another $100 (you'll,soon find out that almost anything you do in college has a fee attached to it). At orientation, you will listen to them talk about the university, expectations of their students, how to register for classes, etc. Then you will all break off into your majors and meet with your advisors. They will tell you which classes (in the case of nursing majors, they will be prereq courses with a few gen ed) you should sign up for and help you get enrolled in them.

5. Begin your Fall term of college. Make sure you do very well in your courses, esp the prereqs!

6. At the beginning/middle of fall term, you will have to make an advising appointment to meet with your advisor again. This meeting will be more personal than the first, as this meeting will be one-on-one. The advisor will make sure you're handling your current coursework well, they'll go over what you need to do in order to apply to the nursing program, etc. Then, they will make a plan with you, laying out a sample schedule of classes you could take in order to complete the prereqs in a given amount of time. For some this will be one year, for others it will be two. Just depends on how much you did in HS.

7. Begin the nursing application, when it is released. Your nursing advisor should tell you when to start this.

8. Take the TEAS V or HESI depending on which your school requires.

9. Submit you application.

10. Wait. And wait. Now wait some more. This is the competitive part. This is the part that everyone dreads because you just want to know if you're accepted or not, but you end up waiting 5-6 months or better.

11. You'll get your decision - accepted or rejected. There is no waitlist for nursing. If you don't get in, you'll have to retake classes to raise GPA or volunteer at a hospital to get more points - something - and then apply again next year. If you're accepted, then comgrats! You'll then be an official nursing student.

These are usually the basic prenursing steps.

***NOTE: this isn't really specific to prenursing, but beginning the year you apply to colleges (so senior year of hs), you should complete a FAFSA every January to see if you qualify for federal financial aid. It's free to fill it out. Your hs should talk to you more about this though.

Has 12 years experience.

Nursing programs are not usually 4 years. Actually nursing classes are 2 -3 depending on the program with a year of pre-reqs. While you are in nursing school you still have non nursing classes like capstones.

nurseprnRN, BSN, RN

2 Articles; 5,114 Posts

2 years of prereqs at a CC + 2 years of nursing at a BSN program = 4 years

4 years of an integrated BSN program (2 years prenursing + 2 years nursing) = 4 years

Pretty much no matter how you slice it, a BSN will take you four years. And yes, lots of people go direct from high school to college with a nursing major or a prenursing program, and graduate in .... four years!

Specializes in Emergency Department. Has 8 years experience.
2 years of prereqs at a CC + 2 years of nursing at a BSN program = 4 years

4 years of an integrated BSN program (2 years prenursing + 2 years nursing) = 4 years

Pretty much no matter how you slice it, a BSN will take you four years. And yes, lots of people go direct from high school to college with a nursing major or a prenursing program, and graduate in .... four years!

The way things are now, getting either an ADN or a BSN will take you about 4 years because it usually takes 2 years for prerequisite completion and 2 years for RN program completion. The BSN may or may not take an additional semester due to UDGE requirements...