Post-baccalaureate degree: BSN, MSN, DNP, or PhD
Nurses promote health, prevent disease, and help patients cope with illness. They have a unique scope of practice and can practice independently, although they also collaborate with all members of the healthcare team to provide the care needed by each patient. Nurses also serve as advocates for patients, families, and communities. They develop and manage nursing care plans; instruct patients and their families in proper care; and help individuals and groups take steps to improve or maintain their health.
In order to practice as a nurse in you must complete and pass National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)-RN. Every state and the District of Columbia has a board of nursing with a mission of protecting the public from harm.
There is more than one educational pathway leading to eligibility to take the standardized National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)-RN.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BS/BSN) is a four-year degree offered at colleges and universities.
Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (A-BSN) programs, which are geared for those without previous nursing preparation, but who hold a baccalaureate/bachelor's degree in a major field other than nursing. An Accelerated second degree BSN program is a full time commitment, which generally takes 12-18 months to complete (depending on the program).
Entry-level Nursing Master's programs, also accelerated in nature, are geared to non-nursing graduates, generally take three years to finish.
Master's Degree (MSN) programs offer a number of tracks designed to prepare Advanced Practice Nurses, nurse administrators, and nurse educators.
Nurses who graduate with an MSN are called advanced practice nurses (APNs). These nurses deliver health care services that were previously delivered by physicians, and they typically focus on an advanced practice area.
The following prerequisites must be completed prior to matriculation in a nursing program:
- baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution
- each program has its own prerequisites: check specific school for prerequisites details. Some schools will not accept AP credit for prerequisites.
- general course prerequisites:
- general biology with lab, one year
- general chemistry with lab, one year
- organic chemistry with lab, one year
- general physics with lab, one year
- English (composition and literature preferred), one year
- calculus, one semester or one year
- statistics, one course
- behavioral science, one year
- human anatomy and physiology with lab
In order to study for a nursing school entrance exam, you need to know which test you will be taking. Please see individual programs for requirements.
- National League for Nursing Pre-Admission Exam (NLN PAX)
- Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS)
- Azusa Pacific University
- Brandman University
- California State University Fresno
- California State University Fullerton
- California State University Los Angeles
- Loma Linda University
- National University
- Samuel Merritt University
- University of San Diego
- University of San Francisco
- Western University of Health Sciences
We recommend that all pre-health students enroll in courses that meet the particular general education requirements to help develop a broad understanding of the health professions in relation to other disciplines of study. Review our General Education Recommendations [PDF] for additional information.