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How to Get Into Nursing School

November 21, 2022
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Steps to Get Into Nursing SchoolNursing School Prerequisites and Application RequirementsHow to Get Accepted Into Nursing School: Increase Your ChancesChoosing the Right Nursing ProgramFAQs: Getting Into Nursing School


Reviewed by:

Jonathan Preminger

Former Admissions Committee Member, Hofstra-Northwell School of Medicine

Reviewed: 5/13/22

Is getting into nursing school on your to-do list? Read on to learn how to get accepted into nursing school.

Nursing is one of the most popular fields in the United States, with nearly 4.2 million individuals identifying as a registered nurse. The field, which is expected to grow by 6% each year, has never been more in demand and is a safe bet for those looking for a challenging role with job stability and a comfortable salary.

If you know that becoming a nurse is your calling, know that there are many steps to take on your path. Read on to learn how to get into nursing school.

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Steps to Get Into Nursing School

There are many different pathways to becoming a nurse, but the first step always starts with nursing school. Before you make your decision to go to nursing school, you should ask yourself questions like:

Asking yourself these questions will ensure that you are on the right path to whichever type of nurse you would like to become. It also saves you from making any changes to your education path down the line.

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Nursing School Prerequisites and Application Requirements

The prerequisites for nursing school differ greatly depending on the stream of nursing that you want to pursue. Regardless, you’ll have to have written your SAT or ACT before you apply.

Nursing schools also consider your high school GPA during admissions. The average GPA required for nursing school is 2.8, but this may change depending on the program and school you apply for.

In addition to your GPA and SAT scores, aspiring nurses should consider taking courses recommended for nursing school. These courses include advanced math and science courses in high school or a high school-equivalent secondary education.

How to Get Accepted Into Nursing School: Increase Your Chances

Once you’ve decided that a career in nursing is in the cards for you, you may find yourself asking: “How hard is it to get into nursing school?”.

Undoubtedly, nursing school is very competitive - and you’ll want to give yourself the best possible chance to stand out. Here are some ways to boost your chances of getting accepted:


Put your passion into practice by volunteering in the healthcare field. You can volunteer in healthcare establishments such as nursing homes, hospitals, doctor’s offices, and pop-up clinics. You can also explore any other community service initiatives that are not in the healthcare sector. 

Volunteer experience shows the admissions council at your prospective nursing school that you are serious and passionate about the field. It also shows that you care about people and the community, which is an essential quality for nurses. 

By putting in a couple of hours a week, you can also gain valuable experience that will supplement your learning while starting nursing school.

Volunteer experience isn’t always required for nursing school applicants–for some schools, volunteering is just recommended. With this said, volunteering will always boost your application regardless of the context. Ensure you research your prospective schools' admissions requirements for more information. 

Get a Letter of Recommendation

A plus side of volunteering in healthcare is that you build connections, which is excellent when the time comes to ask for letters of recommendation. They are not always required for specific programs, but it's highly recommended and is a great way to make you stand out from other applicants.

Your letter of recommendation should be written by a teacher, employer, mentor, or coach. Having someone in the medical field vouch for your passion and skills can be a significant factor in a successful nursing school application.

While asking for a letter of recommendation can be intimidating, its impact on your application is profound. Its purpose is to attest to your character and share why you would be an ideal candidate for nursing school–so having stellar letters of recommendation can have a meaningful impact on the strength of your application.

Choosing the Right Nursing Program

There are many different pathways to becoming a Nurse, depending on the type of education you may have or wish to receive and the amount of time you have to complete your studies. You’ll find the different options for nursing programs listed below.

Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN)

An associate's degree in nursing (ADN) is one of the quickest ways to become a registered nurse. Schooling for an ADN only lasts about 18 months to 2 years and is usually done at a community college. 

Receiving your ADN is a fantastic introduction to the nursing field, and given the relatively short training period, it's a cost and time-effective solution.

Throughout their workday, ADNs can expect to complete tasks like: 

The downside? Many hospitals prefer applicants to have a BSN, so hiring for ADNs is becoming less common. However, there are many "bridge" programs that allow you to fast-track your studies to receive a BSN or other nursing degrees if you already have an ADN.

If you're looking for a quick and cost-effective pathway to becoming a Registered Nurse, going for an ADN could be a great option!

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is the most common schooling route for prospective nurses - after all, 60% of all nurses in the United States have a BSN degree. Alongside the ADN, it's an alternative option for those who want to become Registered Nurses.

Compared to the ADN, the BSN is more comprehensive. It consists of four years of education instead of two and focuses on theory-based learning and critical thinking skills. Receiving a BSN allows for more opportunities within the nursing field, which can result in a higher-paying starting wage compared to those with an ADN. 

It can also lead to more leadership opportunities and is the most common first step of schooling for those who want to pursue a master's or a Ph.D. in nursing. 

Those with a BSN are responsible for tasks such as:

Those who enroll in and complete a BSN program can look forward to a more comprehensive education and a high starting wage.

Licensed Practical Nurse

Becoming an LPN, otherwise known as a Licensed Practical Nurse, is a fantastic introduction to the nursing field and an easy way to test the waters to see if nursing is a good fit for you. 

LPNs are responsible for essential healthcare tasks, ensuring patients are comfortable. They are usually supervised by RNs, and often work to assist them and other medical professionals with everyday tasks.

Schooling for LPN programs usually takes around a year to complete, so it's an ideal way to break into the field without breaking the bank when it comes to tuition. It's easy to receive more schooling once you've become an LPN, as there are many LPN - RN accelerated programs to consider.

Certified Nurses’ Assistant (CNA)

A great way to gain practical experience in the nursing field is by completing a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) program. A CNA provides medical care while working under the supervision of a Registered Nurse.

You are required to have a high school education to attend CNA training at a community college to become a CNA. Most state-regulated programs take 4 to 12 weeks and combine learning in the classroom with hands-on learning. 

Should you want to continue your nursing education, many ADN or BSN programs fast-track you through the program if you already have certain credits or experience in the field. 

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

If you’re looking for a more advanced nursing degree, consider pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing program (MSN). 

A Master of Science in Nursing awards students with an even more comprehensive nursing education and higher pay. Pursuing an MSN can lead to more advanced careers within the field, such as:

While many different bridge programs allow you to complete an MSN in less time, the most common applicants are those with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). 

Obtaining an MSN will take around two years with a full course load and often comes with hefty tuition fees. However, there are many flexible options for schooling, such as part-time course offerings, which can allow you to juggle work and school if needed.

There are also various nursing scholarships available if a financial investment is holding you back from pursuing an advanced nursing degree. 

Not 100% sold yet? According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, only 14.9% of nurses nationwide held master’s degrees in 2020, and the demand for those with an MSN far outweighs the supply. Receiving an MSN will ensure job security and a very comfortable salary.

Doctoral Degree (Ph.D. or Doctor of Nurse Practitioner)

Ready to take your nursing career to the next level? A Doctoral degree in Nursing awards you the highest advanced nursing education possible. 

There are two pathways to receiving a doctoral degree in Nursing:

Both programs require applicants to have, at minimum, a BSN, with many requiring an MSN. Each program can take around 4 to 6 years to complete, but those passionate and dedicated to the field of nursing will find the experience worth the investment.

FAQs: Getting Into Nursing School

Getting into nursing school is the first step you’ll have to take in becoming a nurse. With the commitment required to be an RN, it’s only natural to have questions about what to expect. Below, we’ve listed some frequently asked questions about getting into nursing school that will provide some insight.

1. How Hard Is It To Get into Nursing School?

While getting into nursing school can be challenging, it's not impossible. You'll want to give yourself the best possible chance of acceptance by aiming for a high GPA, SAT score, and high grades within the required prerequisite math and science courses. 

Volunteering in the healthcare sector may also make you a more competitive applicant while simultaneously allowing you to build relationships in the field. These connections can help give you glowing letters of recommendation and may even benefit you after you graduate.

2. Is a 3.5 GPA Good for Nursing School?

Different types of programs require different GPAs and SAT scores. The national average GPA is 2.8, so anything higher may increase your chances of acceptance.

3. What Are the Requirements to Study Nursing?

While each school has different application requirements, the general requirements to study nursing are as follows:

For Master’s and Ph.D. programs, a BSN or MSN may be required.

4. How Do You Get Through to Nursing School?

For most, getting accepted to nursing school is the easy part - completing it is the challenge!

Here are the best tips to get through to nursing school:

Get Organized

From your notes to your binders to the place that you study, it’s important to make sure that you have every aspect of your studying nice and organized. When you’re in nursing school, you’ll be busy with a hectic schedule, so time is precious. The less time you have to spend getting your ducks in a row, the more time you can dedicate to studying!

Make Study a Habit

In order to thrive in nursing school, you’ll have to incorporate important study habits. Remember, it’s better to study for shorter periods more often rather than cramming all your studying in one day. So, if you make studying a habit, like brushing your teeth or washing your face, you’ll be able to absorb information a lot easier!

Practice Self-Care

When completing your nursing degree, it’s important to pay attention to self-care. Whatever self-care means to you - whether it be taking a bath to alleviate stress, exercising, or eating a healthy diet- taking care of yourself means that you can put your best self forward and thrive while completing your studies.

Get Into Nursing School With Inspira Advantage

Getting into nursing school can be challenging - but Inspira Advantage is here to help. 

With personalized and specific Nursing School Admissions consulting, alongside NCLEX test prep, you’ll be able to smoothly navigate your application for nursing school and get one step closer to making your dreams of becoming an RN a reality.

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