How to Apply for Nursing School

by | Feb 26, 2023 | Nursing Student | 0 comments

Applying to nursing school can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow these simple steps, and you’ll be on your way to becoming a nurse in no time.

How to Apply for Nursing School

In terms of schooling, you can choose either an associate degree nursing program, which takes roughly two years, or you can do a bachelor’s degree, which is typically about four years of college.

There’s actually a new option now it’s called a direct entry master’s program where you don’t have your nursing license when you start. This program is for students with a non-nursing degree who would like to pursue a career as a registered nurse (RN) or advanced practice nurse (APRN).

With this option, you receive credits from the degree you already have. When you’re done, you graduate with a master’s of science in nursing (MSN).

How to Apply for Nursing School?

Nursing School Selection

After you decide which nursing degree you want, you need to figure out which nursing school you want to go to. Nursing is not a degree that you can do entirely online. It is important to consider which schools within your area you want to go to and look at the prerequisites for nursing school.

While not all nursing schools are created equal, often times your local college will have just as good of a program as a well known school, but at a fraction of the cost. I’ve never had a patient ask me where I went to school. I’ve also never had a patient ask me if I have a bachelor’s or if I have an associate degree.

Keep in mind that many organizations are now requiring your BSN for work. In 2017, New York state signed a bill that requires all newly licensed nurses with their Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN) to obtain their Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN) within 10 years of their initial licensure.

Depending on where you live, it may make more sense to get your BSN right away instead of your ADN.

The following are some things that you need to consider in nursing schools.


You must graduate from an accredited nursing school to be eligible to take the NCLEX (National Council Licensure Examination) and become a licensed nurse. The NCLEX is a standardized test that is used to determine a candidate’s readiness to enter the nursing profession, and it is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).

To be eligible to take the NCLEX, candidates must meet certain requirements, which typically include:

  1. Graduation from an accredited nursing program: Candidates must have completed a nursing program that is accredited by either the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
  2. Submission of an application: Candidates must submit an application to their state board of nursing and meet any additional eligibility requirements set forth by the board.
  3. Payment of fees: Candidates must pay the required fees to take the exam.

Once a candidate meets these requirements and is approved by their state board of nursing, they can register to take the NCLEX. Passing the exam is a critical step in obtaining a nursing license and entering the nursing profession.

NCLEX Pass Rate

Next, you want to look at what is the NCLEX pass rates of that school. You can go through nursing school and graduate from an accredited program, but if they don’t set you up to succeed in passing this examination to get your license, what’s the point?

You need to be able to pass this examination at the end of the day so what I want you to do is go to the state board of nursing, select the state that those schools are in, and look up the NCLEX pass rates. There is always personal responsibility in studying for and taking the NCLEX, but you want to attend a school that will give you the tools needed to succeed.

How to Look Up NCLEX Pass Rates

Here are the steps to access the NCLEX pass rates. Let’s use the state of Indiana as an example.

  1. Visit the Indiana State Board of Nursing website at
  2. Click on the “Education Programs” tab on the homepage.
  3. Scroll down to the section titled “List of Approved Nursing Education Programs” and click on the link to access the online database.
  4. Once you have accessed the database, you can search for nursing programs by school name, city, or program type.
  5. Once you have found the program you are interested in, click on the “Details” link to access more information about the program, including the NCLEX pass rates for the most recent year.

Nursing School Costs

Cost is another big thing; just because the school costs more does not mean it’s better. I have seen and met people who have graduated from a nursing school with more significant student loan payments than my mortgage payments.

According to the College Board, the average cost of tuition and fees for a two-year Associate’s Degree program at a public institution in the United States was approximately $3,770 per year for in-state residents and $9,970 per year for out-of-state residents for the 2020-2021 academic year.

The average cost of tuition and fees for a four-year BSN program at a public institution in the United States was approximately $10,560 per year for in-state residents and $27,020 per year for out-of-state residents for the 2020-2021 academic year. For a private institution, the average cost of tuition and fees for a four-year BSN program was approximately $37,650 per year.

It’s important to note that this average cost does not include additional expenses such as textbooks, supplies, and living expenses. Students should also consider other costs such as transportation to clinical rotations and licensing exam fees.

What Are the Nursing School Requirements?

The graduation requirements for nursing school can vary depending on the institution and the type of nursing program. However, here are some common requirements that are typically required for nursing school graduation:

  1. Completion of all required coursework: Students must successfully complete all required nursing courses, including classroom lectures, lab work, and clinical rotations.
  2. Meet minimum GPA requirements: Students must meet the minimum grade point average (GPA) requirements set forth by the nursing program to be eligible for graduation.
  3. Completion of clinical hours: Nursing students must complete a certain number of clinical hours as part of their degree program. These clinical rotations provide students with hands-on experience and allow them to apply the knowledge they have learned in the classroom.
  4. Compliance with all clinical and safety requirements: Nursing students must comply with all clinical and safety requirements, including immunization and health screenings, background checks, and drug tests.
  5. Completion of all program requirements: Students must complete all program-specific requirements, such as a capstone project or a senior thesis. My college required all graduates to complete 120 volunteer hours, write a 10-page paper, and be interviewed by professors about it.

One must complete all of those steps before being consider eligible to sit for the NCLEX.

It’s important to note that graduation requirements can vary by program and institution, so it’s essential to check with your nursing program to determine their specific requirements for graduation.

What Kinds of Courses are Required to Graduate From Nursing School?

The required courses for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program can vary depending on the institution and the specific program. However, here is a sample list of required courses for a BSN program, along with the number of credit hours typically required for each course:

  • Anatomy and Physiology I (4 credits)
  • Anatomy and Physiology II (4 credits)
  • Microbiology (3-4 credits)
  • Pharmacology (3 credits)
  • Pathophysiology (3 credits)
  • Health Assessment (3 credits)
  • Foundations of Nursing Practice (3 credits)
  • Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice (3 credits)
  • Health Promotion and Disease Prevention (3 credits)
  • Adult Health Nursing (6-8 credits)
  • Mental Health Nursing (3-4 credits)
  • Maternal and Newborn Nursing (3-4 credits)
  • Pediatric Nursing (3-4 credits)
  • Community and Public Health Nursing (3-4 credits)
  • Leadership and Management in Nursing (3 credits)
  • Nursing Ethics and Professionalism (3 credits)

In addition to these required nursing courses, BSN programs may also require students to complete general education courses such as English, mathematics, and social sciences. The specific credit hour requirements for each course may also vary depending on the institution and program.

What Kinds of Standardized Tests Do Nursing Students Have to Take?

There are several nursing standardized tests that are commonly used to evaluate the knowledge and competency of nursing students and practicing nurses. Some examples of nursing standardized tests include:

  1. National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX): This is a standardized test that all nursing graduates must pass in order to become licensed to practice as a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse in the United States.
  2. Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS): This is a standardized test that is used by many nursing programs to assess applicants’ readiness for nursing school. The TEAS evaluates knowledge and skills in areas such as math, science, English, and reading comprehension.
  3. Nursing Clinical Reasoning Exam (NCRE): This is a standardized test that assesses clinical reasoning skills in nursing students and practicing nurses. It includes case-based scenarios and questions that evaluate critical thinking, problem-solving, and decision-making skills.
  4. Health Education Systems, Inc. (HESI) Exam: This is a standardized test that is often used as a predictor of NCLEX success. The HESI exam evaluates knowledge and skills in areas such as pharmacology, medical-surgical nursing, pediatrics, and obstetrics.
  5. Assessment Technologies Institute (ATI) Exam: This is a standardized test that evaluates nursing students’ knowledge and skills in areas such as pharmacology, medical-surgical nursing, and mental health nursing.

These are just a few examples of nursing standardized tests, and there may be other tests that are specific to certain nursing specialties or subspecialties. The specific tests used may vary depending on the institution or program.

How to Apply for Nursing School (Video)

Final Words

If you’re interested in nursing school and think you have what it takes, start by doing your research, applying to schools that fit your needs, and preparing for the rigorous academic journey ahead. The nursing field is a challenging but rewarding field, and with the proper preparation, you can achieve your nursing career goals and make a difference in the lives of others. One more thing to remember is the nursing school application process can be competitive and stressful, but you have to stay positive. You can do this!

Getting ready for nursing school clinicals, but feeling unprepared?

Skills Refresh 3 1

Nursing Skills Refresh from FreshRN is a self-paced video course for both new and experienced nurses. Whether you’re preparing for your first clinical experience, or need to brush up on your nursing skills, this course is for you. Each lesson walks you through the basic tasks and concepts you will experience in the clinical setting. Once completed, you’ll feel comfortable in a hospital setting, understand the basics of what the bedside experience will feel like, and know insider tips and tricks that will make you feel confident and in control.

FAQs on How to Apply for Nursing School

What Are the Requirements to Study Nursing?

In order to study nursing, you will need to have a high school diploma or equivalent. You will also need to complete prerequisite coursework. I outline those in this blog post.

How Do I Apply for BS Nursing? (BS = Bachelors of Science)

To apply for a BS in nursing, you will need to submit an online application to the school of your choice. You will also need to furnish transcripts, letters of recommendation, and entrance test scores (if required). Many schools also require an interview before admission is granted.

How Much Do the New Nurses Earn?

The average hourly rate for a new graduate nurse varies widely. Here’s an example of average hourly rates of states in different areas of the United States.

  • California: $53.35 per hour
  • Montana: $28.62 per hour
  • New Jersey: $39.66 per hour
  • Florida: $28.48 per hour

How Many Points Do I Need for Nursing?

It’s difficult to provide an average admission points score for nursing school because the requirements and scoring systems vary widely among institutions and nursing programs. Admission points are usually based on a variety of factors, such as GPA, entrance exam scores, healthcare experience, extracurricular activities, and other criteria. Each nursing program may weigh these factors differently, so the point systems and score requirements can vary significantly from program to program.

In addition, the average admission points score for a nursing program can change from year to year depending on the applicant pool and the number of applicants. Some nursing programs may also have a minimum point score requirement for admission, while others may admit students based on a holistic review of their application materials.

What Is the Age Limit for Nursing?

There is no age limit for the nursing profession. However, most programs require that prospective nursing students be at least 18 years old before beginning the program. This is because nursing is a physically and emotionally demanding profession, and it requires that students have the maturity to handle the challenges they will face. Often times career people turn to nursing as a second career.

Many nurses work as an RN for their entire career, and if they are finding that working in a particular area of on particular shifts are to physically demanding (like 12-hour night shifts on a busy ICU) then they transition to a different area (like a cardiology clinic or school nursing).

More Resources:

Picture of Kati Kleber, founder of FRESHRN

Hi, I’m Kati.

Kati Kleber, MSN RN is a nurse educator, author, national speaker, host of the FreshRN® Podcast, and owner of FreshRN® – an online platform created to educate, encourage, and motivate newly licensed nurses in innovative ways.

Connect with her on YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, and sign-up for her free email newsletter for new nurses.


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