Nursing Prerequisites for Bachelors Degree RN

Although the required prerequisites might vary slightly from school to school for a Bachelors Degree RN (BSN) 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 BSN Pre-Requisites

Typically, most 4-year BSN type programs are going to require you to take one or two years of general education requirements before you can even begin nursing classes.  In fact, in some schools you can’t even apply for the nursing program until your general education requirements are almost complete!  Unfortunately for some students, this can mean a last-minute change in major if you don’t get accepted into the nursing program by the time your third year starts.  Luckily, most of the standard pre-requisites for a BSN consist of general education requirements that you probably would have had to taken for any major, which makes it a little less risky to complete your pre-requisites now.

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 if you want to transfer a biology class you’ve previously taken.  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 where the lecture portion of the class is presented online are typically fine, 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.

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!!

Microbiology, with lab:  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.


As I mentioned before, these requirements will vary slightly from school to school.  But as a general rule, if you follow these guidelines for pre-requisites then you will be in pretty good shape for whatever nursing school you ultimately apply to.  Also keep in mind that you will often be allowed to apply for nursing school while some of your pre-requisites are in-progress, meaning that you are currently taking them.  This is really a courtesy on the part of the nursing program, so make sure that you understand that your acceptance into nursing school will be withdrawn if you don’t pass any required classes that you are currently taking.

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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