Nursing Prerequisites for Associates Degree RN

Although the required prerequisites might vary slightly from school to school for an Associates Degree RN (ASN) program, generally they’re pretty similar.  If you already know what school you want to attend, make sure to compare this list to your school’s requirements to make sure you’re on track.  But if you’re not sure what school you’ll be attending and want to get started anyway, taking the following classes will ensure that you get a head start on your requirements without wasting your time on classes you don’t need.

Standard ASN Pre-Requisites

High school diploma or GED:  Pretty self-explanatory!  Make sure you finish your high school level education.  Be prepared to submit official documentation with your nursing application, even if you’ve already taken some college classes.

English 101:  Usually called “English Composition” or something similar, this class is necessary to make sure that you know how to express yourself through writing.  Depending on your school, you may be able to take a placement exam or count your high school English class in order to meet this requirement.  Check your school for their guidelines.

General Math:  Basic math skills are a must for nurses, so you are usually required to successfully complete at Algebra level.  Some schools may require placement testing to help you decide what level math class you should start with.

Basic Biology, with lab:  High school biology can possibly satisfy this requirement.  However, your school might have a time limit of 5-10 years before your biology class “expires” and needs to be retaken.  If you will be applying after that time limit, then you may need to retake a biology class with lab.  However, an upper level science course, such as Anatomy & Physiology with lab, will usually also satisfy this requirement.  If you’re not confident in your biology knowledge, however, it is usually better to just go ahead and retake basic biology before moving on to the higher level science classes.

Also beware of online Biology classes that do not have an in-person lab component!  These types of classes are rarely accepted by nursing schools.  Hybrid classes are typically fine, where the lecture portion of the class is presented online, but you still have to go to campus in person during the lab time.  Most colleges will not allow you to enroll in a lab with also signing up for lecture…so it is usually worthless to pay for an online biology class without a lab, since you’ll just have to retake it with the lab later.

Basic Chemistry:  Frequently, a high school chemistry class can count towards this requirement.  However, many schools have a time limit of 5-10 years before your chemistry class “expires.”  If you will be applying after that time limit, you may need to retake a chemistry class.  However, an upper level science course, such as Microbiology, will usually also satisfy this requirement.  If you’re not confident of your science skills and knowledge, however, it is usually better to retake Basic Chemistry before moving on to the higher level science classes.

Less Common ASN Pre-Requisites

I say that the following pre-requisites are “less common” simply because they are not always pre-requisites…some programs will allow you to take these classes after you have already been accepted into the program.  Know that you will have to take all of the following classes at some point in time throughout your program.  But if you have time to complete them before starting nursing school it can definitely help you to have them out of the way so that you have more time to focus on your nursing classes.  Most of these classes are going to be general requirements that are needed to earn your Associates Degree, but are not necessarily specific to nursing

Social Sciences:  Usually Psychology 101 and/or Sociology 101.  You might also be required to take 1-2 other psychology classes, or a public speaking class.  Obviously, you’ll need to check with your school for exact requirements.

College Orientation Class:  More and more colleges seem to require students take a 1-credit class that introduces them to their college, chosen major, or general study skills required to succeed.  If you already have a degree or have been in college for a while, you might be able to get an exception for this class.  But always double check to be sure.

Anatomy and Physiology (A&P) I and II, with labs:  These are the two  most important classes you will need for nursing school!  Make sure you study hard, and focus on learning to understand the information.  Please do not “brain dump” at the end of each semester!!  Some ASN programs require you to take at least A&P I before applying for nursing, but other programs allow you to take these classes after you’ve been accepted.  However, these classes can be fairly difficult even for good students, so I would recommend taking them before you start your nursing classes if possible!

Microbiology, with lab:  Similar to A&P, some ASN programs will require you to take it before applying, while others allow you to take it simultaneously with your nursing classes.  Some schools will accept you as a nursing student while you are currently taking this class, with the provision that you must pass in order to actually start nursing classes the following semester.  Although not Microbiology is not quite as important as A&P (although it’s close), the information you gain has the power to make nursing school much easier if you make the effort to master it.


What are your school’s pre-requisites?  Share your knowledge by leaving a comment below!  Your information might be exactly what another students needs to hear.

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