How to Get into Nursing School (2023)

How to Get into Nursing School (1)

Nurses are in high demand, particularly those with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). A report from the Institute of Medicine has recommended that at least 80% of the nursing workforce should hold a baccalaureate degree or higher.

Holding registered nurses (RNs) to this standard by requiring a majority of the nursing workforce to have at least a bachelor’s degree has the potential to improve patient outcomes. Some nursing students choose to earn their BSN right away while others may return to school for an RN-to-BSN program. Individuals with a bachelor’s degree in another field can also enter an accelerated BSN program to join the nursing workforce.

Because the profession requires great skill, nursing schools are often rigorous in their admissions process. It’s important for future nurses to find the right program, understand the application process and be aware of what financial aid and scholarship opportunities are available.

Jump to:

  • Choosing the Right Nursing School for You
  • Nursing School Requirements
  • Is Nursing School Worth It?
  • How to Pay for Nursing School
  • Tips for Success in Nursing School
  • FAQs

Choosing the Right Nursing School for You

There are many factors to consider when choosing which nursing schools to apply to. When researching potential programs, think about the following:

How to Get into Nursing School (2)


Are you interested in relocating and living on campus, or do you want to go to a local commuter school? Having the ability to move locations offers a wider variety of schools to consider while choosing a program close to home may be more affordable.

How to Get into Nursing School (3)


Are you interested solely in an on-campus experience? Do you want the flexibility of taking some or all of your courses virtually? Depending on your circumstances, it may be possible to attend nursing school online, such as earning your BSN degree through an online BSN program. However, you will be required to complete a preceptorship in a clinical setting where you are located.

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How to Get into Nursing School (4)


Do you want to attend a larger university with a recognized brand? Do you want smaller classes and more face-time with professors? When researching programs, be sure to look at the population of the university, as well as the number of nursing students in the program and average class sizes.

How to Get into Nursing School (5)


Affordability is another important factor to consider. In addition to looking at tuition costs, see whatgrant and scholarship opportunitiesare available through the nursing school.

How to Get into Nursing School (6)


(Video) How to Get into Nursing School Program

According to the American Nurses Association (ANA), individuals should look at a nursing program’s reputation by ensuring it meets national standards, has accreditation from an approved national nursing organization and has a high pass rate for students taking theNational Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX)forregistered nurses.

How to Get into Nursing School (7)


According to theAmerican Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN),looking at faculty and institution connections is an important factor. Ask an admissions representative the following questions: Does the school have strong affiliation with clinics and hospitals? What kind of counseling from faculty members and administrators is available to help you succeed?


Where are you in your higher education journey? If you have a bachelor’s degree in another field, you may consider an accelerated BSN program, which takes less time to complete than a traditional BSN program.

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Nursing School Requirements

Applicant requirements will vary depending on the nursing school to which you are applying. As a general rule, if you are applying as a recent high school graduate, your SAT scores and grade point average will be considered.

According to the AACN, in some programs, nursing classes start during the freshman or sophomore year, while others have students wait until they are juniors. Many schools require a certain grade point average before students advance into professional nursing classes in their junior year.

On a 4.0 scale, admission into the last two years of the nursing program may require a minimum grade point average of 2.5 or higher in pre-professional nursing classes. The national average is about 2.8, but the cutoff level varies with each program.


Classes to Take Before Nursing School

Class requirements for nursing school applicants also will vary depending on the program. AACN recommends taking advanced courses in science and mathematics during high school, as it is preferable among many nursing programs.

To get specific admission information about a program of interest, contact the school’s nursing department directly for guidance.

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Is Nursing School Worth It?

Nursing is a challenging but rewarding career. Before you apply to nursing school, it’s important to make sure that the profession is a good fit. Understanding the skill set required of nurses, along with the outlook for nursing jobs, can help in this assessment.

Nursing School Skills

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS)Occupational Outlook Handbook for Registered Nurses,the following skills are critical to succeed in nursing school and within the profession:

Critical-thinking:RNs need to be able to assess changes in a patient’s health status and determine when to take corrective action.

Communication:RNs must effectively communicate with patients to understand their concerns and provide important information, such as instructions on taking medication. They also work with other providers, which requires strong inter-team communication.

Compassion:Nurses have a lot of direct interaction with patients and their loved ones. Handling the human side of this job requires care and empathy.

Attention to detail:RNs must be precise because they must ensure that patients get the correct treatments and medicines at the right time.

Emotional stability:Healthcare is a stressful field, which requires resilience and the ability to cope with difficult situations.

Organization:RNs often work on multiple cases at once, requiring the ability to coordinate treatment plans and maintain records for each patient.

Physical stamina:RNs are on their feet for most of their shift and need to perform physical tasks such as lifting and ambulating patients.

Nursing Career Outlook and Salary

According to nursing job projections from the BLS, employment of registered nurses is expected to grow 9% from 2020 to 2030, much faster than the average for all occupations.

The increase in nursing jobs is due in part to the aging baby boomer population, which will need additional nursing care as they continue to develop chronic conditions that need management, such as diabetes, dementia and heart disease.

According to salary data for registered nurses, the median annual wage for RNs was $77,600 in May 2021. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $59,450, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $120,250.

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How to Pay for Nursing School

When applying to nursing school, you should research financial aid options that may be available by using resources such as theFederal Student Aidwebsite. Scholarship opportunities for nursing students can also be found through the schools you are applying to as well as external sources.

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Scholarship and Grant Resources for Nursing School




  • CareerOneStopis sponsored by the US Department of Labor and has a scholarship search tool, job search function, and other helpful career resources.
  • FastWebis an online scholarship search engine that provides a variety of listings for higher education opportunities.
  • Scholarship Expertsis a free and trusted scholarship resource that allows students to search for updated and accurate scholarship information.

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Tips for Success in Nursing School

Advancing your career as a nurse is a significant though rewarding undertaking. Whether it’s a Bachelor of Science in Nursing or a graduate-level degree, pursuing nursing education often requires students to renegotiate their commitments and better understand their own unique learning styles. While the following suggestions cannot guarantee success in nursing school, they may provide a helpful starting point.

  1. Conduct a time management assessment: Track how you spend each hour of the week. Know that nursing students can spend 18–25 hours on schoolwork weekly and reprioritize your time as needed.
  2. Determine your learning style: Identify the learning methods that suit you best and plan your studies accordingly. For example, students who learn best by talking with others could form a study group. Auditory learners could re-listen to lectures.
  3. Practice productivity techniques: Mastering the material taught in nursing school will require strategy. Find a time management technique that works for you, such as the Pomodoro method (25 minutes of focus with a 5-minute break) or the 45-15 strategy (45 minutes of focus, 15-minute break).
  4. Develop active reading strategies: Simply reading is often not enough to retain new information. Engage with the text by making flow charts, writing marginal notes (instead of highlighting) or implementing other methods.
  5. Create helpful study patterns: Find a place to work that minimizes distractions, turn off your phone, and take regular breaks. Try to schedule study sessions during times of the day you have the most energy.
  6. Build a support network: Few people can achieve success in nursing school without help. If family or friends offer to lighten your load by sending a meal or taking on a chore, accept their support.
  7. Stay healthy: Remember to care for your own physical and mental well-being, especially once you start gaining clinical exposure. Focus on balanced nutrition, time outdoors and gentle exercise.


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How Hard Is Nursing School?

Nursing degree programs are known for their rigorous coursework. According to the AACN, in a university or college setting, the first two years of a traditional BSN program include classes in the humanities, social sciences, basic sciences, business, psychology, technology, sociology, ethics, and nutrition.

In the junior and senior years of university, the curriculum focuses on the nursing sciences, and emphasis moves from the classroom to health facilities. This is where students are exposed to clinical skills, nursing theory and the varied roles nurses play in the health care system.

Courses include nurse leadership, health promotion, family planning, mental health, environmental and occupational health, adult and pediatric care, medical and surgical care, psychiatric care, community health, management and home health care.

While nursing school can be a challenge, it is important to prepare students for their licensing exam, as well as a rewarding career in nursing.

How Long Is Nursing School?

The length of time spent in nursing school will depend on the type of program in which you enroll:

  • BSN programs typically take four years.
  • Earning an ADN typically takes two years.
  • RNs who would like to earn their bachelor’s degree can enroll in an RN to BSN program, which may take an additional two years.
  • Accelerated BSN programs, designed for individuals who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field, can take 12 to 18 months.

How Much Does Nursing School Cost?

Cost depends on the program, including whether you attend a state university or a private non-profit or for-profit school, as well as the type of program in which you enroll. For example, tuition for a four-year BSN program may differ from that of a two-year ADN program.

According to the U.S. Department of Education, in 2019-2020 school year, the average total tuition, fees, room and board rates for a full-time student in a public four-year institution was $21,035; the cost for private non-profit and for-profit four-year schools was $45,932; the cost for public two-year institutions was $11,391; and the cost for two-year private nonprofit and for-profit institutions was $26,749.

Nursing students may also incur additional costs, such as purchasing scrubs for their preceptorship and paying fees for their licensing exam.

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Why Should I Get a BSN?

While licensed graduates of a bachelor’s, associate, or diploma program may qualify for entry-level positions as a staff nurse, some employers—particularly magnet hospitals—may require a bachelor’s degree, according to the BLSOccupational Outlook Handbook for Registered Nurses.

Additionally, entering the workforce with a BSN offers a competitive advantage from a hiring perspective in many settings, as well as greater career advancement opportunities, according to the ANA.

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How do you stand out in a nursing school interview? ›

We asked experienced nurses to share their top interview tips.
  1. Consider the interview an opportunity. ...
  2. Sell yourself. ...
  3. Know the school. ...
  4. Be prepared. ...
  5. Don't pass the buck. ...
  6. Be professional. ...
  7. Think ahead.

How do I answer why I want to be a nurse? ›

Patient Care

Directly caring for patients is the biggest part of nursing, and an excellent potential aspect of your answer to the question of “why” you want to be a nurse. If you love working with patients, it could be an ideal entry into your answer to this question. “Human connection has always been important to me.

What are the 10 most common interview questions and answers for nurses? ›

Common nursing interview questions
  • Do you work well with other nurses, doctors and staff? ...
  • How would you handle a difficult patient? ...
  • How do you handle workplace stress? ...
  • What do you do if your replacement does not arrive? ...
  • How would you handle a disagreement with a doctor? ...
  • Describe how you manage a busy workload.

Why are you the best candidate for the nursing program? ›

Example: “I believe that I am an ideal applicant for your nursing program because I possess the intelligence required to learn important medical knowledge, the natural dexterity to manage the physical demands of a nursing position and an empathetic heart which is well-suited to a care-giving field.

What questions should I ask at the end of a nursing interview? ›

Asking the recruiter or manager how they like working at the institution is a good question to ask in a nursing interview. It will give you lots of insight into the current dynamics. The answer you receive can reveal additional information that could be a contributing factor to your decision.

Who inspires you to take up nursing? ›

“The motivation to become a nurse came from personal experience. My dad had cancer so for five years we had nurses visiting our home to treat his, as well as visits to and from the hospital. I was only young and ignorant to anything about cancer, other than it's 'a disease that kills'.

What inspired you to study nursing? ›

What inspired you to become a nurse? I've always loved helping and taking care of people. Everyone deserves someone that has patience and takes time to go that extra mile for them especially when they require medical care, I wanted to be that nurse.

Why do you want to be a nursing student? ›

All nurses have at least one thing in common—they want to help people. Not only do they play the role of caretaker for their patients, but in some circumstances, they can also be a friend, a confidante and a trusted adviser. It takes a special kind of person to fill all of those roles the way nurses do.

What is your weakness best answer? ›

Answer “what is your greatest weakness” by choosing a skill that is not essential to the job you're applying to and by stressing exactly how you're practically addressing your weakness. Some skills that you can use as weaknesses include impatience, multitasking, self-criticism, and procrastination.

What are my strengths as a nursing student? ›

For nursing applicants, specifically, our experts said they're typically looking for strengths like flexibility, a team player, extremely organized, multitasking, leadership abilities, creative problem-solving, an excellent communicator, or curiosity about learning new things.

How do you introduce yourself in a nursing interview? ›

Really good manners number two then tell the interviewer. That you already have the skills and

What questions do they ask in a nursing school interview? ›

Questions you can get in your nursing school interview
  • Why did you choose nursing? First and foremost, you should know why. ...
  • Why did you choose our college? ...
  • What are your core values? ...
  • Can you name some of your qualities that would benefit you as a nurse? ...
  • What do you consider the most challenging aspect of nursing?

How do you answer why should we accept you into our college? ›

College authorities want to know more about your academic interests and commitments. Talk about the specific educational, research, and other academic opportunities offered by the college that appeal to you. Expand on this idea by talking about how these opportunities help support your future goals.

What are the likely questions for nursing interview? ›

Other common nursing interview questions and answers
  • What do you like most about being a nurse? There are a lot of things that I like about being a nurse. ...
  • What do you find most difficult about being a nurse? ...
  • Why are you leaving your current position? ...
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses as a nurse?

Is it OK to go to an interview in scrubs? ›

You shouldn't wear scrubs to an interview. Instead, you should wear professional/business attire to an interview. It makes a good first impression and shows you're serious about the job. Interviewers (especially HR professionals) expect professional attire, not work attire, to an interview.

What is the most difficult part of being a nurse interview? ›

The hardest part of being a nurse is seeing a patient in pain or unhappy and being limited in the extent I can comfort them. The reality is that as a professional I can only do so much. However, I realize this helps me so that I do not become too emotionally invested in my patients."

What are 4 key skills that a nurse needs for effective interviewing? ›

They include:
  • Active listening. Nurses must do more than simply listen when conducting a health history assessment—they must actively listen. ...
  • Adaptive questioning. ...
  • Nonverbal communication.

How long is a nursing interview? ›

Common structure of an in-person interview

Information gathering and questions/answers generally span about 20-45 minutes. This is the interviewer's time to determine your match for the role and for you to express your qualifications.

What are your weaknesses as a nurse? ›

How to talk about weaknesses in your nursing interview
  • Spending too much time on paperwork.
  • Paying too much attention to detail.
  • Attempting to complete too many tasks at once.
  • A lack of clinical experience, which may apply to recent graduates or new nurses.
  • Not being familiar with recent software updates.

Can you take notes into a nursing interview? ›

Make sure to bring a copy of your resume, a copy of your nursing license, and any other certifications you may have (ex. ACLS, BLS, PALs). Make sure you also have a pen and paper (in a padfolio) so you can take notes as well. Below is our full list of what you need to bring to a nursing interview.

What drives you to take nursing? ›

I chose nursing as my career path because I have always enjoyed helping people. Nursing is one of the most respected professions. What I love about nursing is that it is constantly evolving; there are so many things that you can do in the profession, so you don't have to stick to one specialty.

Is being a nurse worth it? ›

Becoming a Registered Nurse is a solid career choice when it comes to job security, salary potential, and fulfillment. For nurses who plan to work in California, the rewards and opportunities are even more promising. The average registered nurse salary in California is often higher than any other state!

Why did you choose nursing essay? ›

2) I want to become a nurse because of their selfless care for every patient. 3) Whenever we get injured, a nurse is always ready to help us. 4) By being a nurse I want to help and take care of every people. 5) The work of nurses during the corona pandemic inspired me for this profession.

What are 10 roles of a nurse? ›

Nurses care for injuries, administer medications, conduct frequent medical examinations, record detailed medical histories, monitor heart rate and blood pressure, perform diagnostic tests, operate medical equipment, draw blood, and admit/discharge patients according to physician orders.

Is being a nurse hard? ›

Nursing is not an easy profession—it requires both physical and mental stamina to make it through those 14-hour shifts.” If you love the work you are doing and believe in the impact it makes on every patient's life, you might find yourself thriving even in a whirlwind of activity.

What do you see yourself in 5 years as a nurse? ›

Example Answer 1

In five years, I see myself as a nurse practitioner. I want to continue to educate myself and become a leader in the nursing field. Hopefully, this institution will be a part of my journey and I can continue to grow as a nurse here.

What kind of person makes a good nurse? ›

A characteristic of a good nurse is one that shows empathy to each patient, making a true effort to put themselves in their patients' shoes. By practicing empathy, nurses are more likely to treat their patients as “people” and focus on a person-centered care approach, rather than strictly following routine guidelines.

How do you write a personal essay for nursing school? ›

Follow these seven steps when writing your essay to help you get ahead.
  1. Plan Your Nursing School Essay. ...
  2. Make Yourself Stand Out. ...
  3. Share Your Dreams. ...
  4. Show that You Care about People. ...
  5. Explain Your Qualifications. ...
  6. Tell the Admissions Committee Why You Want to Go to Their School. ...
  7. Have a Friend Edit Your Essay.
15 Sept 2022

Which course is best for nursing? ›

Undoubtedly, if a person wants to make a magnificent career in the sphere of the healthcare industry, then Nursing course is better than General Nursing and Midwifery (GNM). In the matter of career growth, higher studies, and salary the value of Nursing is more than General Nursing and Midwifery (GNM) course.

What are your strengths and weaknesses nursing job interview? ›

You should not just name your strengths and weaknesses in clinical practice and that's it. Try to always elaborate on your answer. Explain how the strengths should help you provide an excellent care to the patients, and ensure the interviewers that you want to improve on your weaknesses.

What questions should you ask at a nursing school interview? ›

Subject specific nursing university interview questions

Why do you want to be a nurse? What experience do you have of nursing as a career? What do you think is a typical day for a nurse? What do you think will be most challenging about this course?

What should I wear to a nursing interview 2022? ›

Women should wear a conservative outfit, such as dress pants or a tailored skirt with a modest blouse and/or a jacket. Men should wear dress slacks with a shirt and tie and consider adding a jacket. A suit is always appropriate for both men and women.

Can you name some of your qualities that would benefit you as a nurse? ›

Kindness, fairness, caring, trustworthiness, emotional stability, empathy, and compassion are components that make you human on a personal level and serve you well as a nurse. You exhibit strong communication skills. You communicate well with patients and colleagues — sometimes at their worst life moments.

What are the 6 C's of nursing? ›

The 6Cs of nursing are:
  • Care.
  • Compassion.
  • Competence.
  • Communication.
  • Courage.
  • Commitment.

What is your strongest skill as a nurse? ›

The key to being a successful nurse is communication.

Communication skills are one of the most important requirements of a nurse's job—both following directions and communicating with patients and families. Patients who are sick or suffering often are not in a position of strength to speak up for themselves.

How do you introduce yourself in a nursing interview? ›

Really good manners number two then tell the interviewer. That you already have the skills and

What do you say when applying to nursing school? ›

I am writing to seek admission to the University of Healthcare's prestigious nursing school. I am very interested in your nursing program because your mission of offering students the education they need to provide the best patient care possible is important to me as a future healthcare professional.

What should I say in a nursing interview? ›

If you're leaving your current position because of salary, say it. If you want more leadership opportunities, express your aspirations and goals. Be sure to share your passion for nursing, your enthusiasm to help patients, and your eagerness to excel at the career you've worked so hard for.

How do you answer why should we accept you into our college? ›

College authorities want to know more about your academic interests and commitments. Talk about the specific educational, research, and other academic opportunities offered by the college that appeal to you. Expand on this idea by talking about how these opportunities help support your future goals.

Is it OK to go to an interview in scrubs? ›

You shouldn't wear scrubs to an interview. Instead, you should wear professional/business attire to an interview. It makes a good first impression and shows you're serious about the job. Interviewers (especially HR professionals) expect professional attire, not work attire, to an interview.

Is it OK for a nurse to wear scrubs to an interview? ›

Don't wear your nurse uniform

Even though a nurse uniform—commonly referred to as scrubs—is what you will likely wear each day if you get the job, this outfit is not typically appropriate for a nursing interview.

How long do nurse interviews last? ›

Common structure of an in-person interview

Information gathering and questions/answers generally span about 20-45 minutes. This is the interviewer's time to determine your match for the role and for you to express your qualifications.

What are the 5 core values of nursing? ›

Caring is best demonstrated by a nurse's ability to embody the five core values of professional nursing. Core nursing values essential to baccalaureate education include human dignity, integrity, autonomy, altruism, and social justice.

What are the 7 characteristics of a good nurse? ›

What Makes Someone a Good Nurse?
  • Caring. ...
  • Communication Skills. ...
  • Empathy. ...
  • Attention to Detail. ...
  • Problem Solving Skills. ...
  • Stamina. ...
  • Sense of Humor. ...
  • Commitment to Patient Advocacy.
25 Feb 2020

What makes a good nursing student? ›

Having drive and passion for the field of nursing are some of the most important aspects of a good nursing student. Because nursing school is challenging, passion for the field will help motivate you throughout your education. Passion drives success. Continuously remind yourself of your enthusiasm to help patients.


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