How hard is it to get into nursing school?

Nursing offers a secure and rewarding career in healthcare. However, getting accepted into nursing school and ultimately earning a degree is challenging even for the most well-prepared nurses. Nursing program admission is increasingly competitive. In addition to the large number of first-time college students seeking nursing as a career, a growing number of college-educated students are returning to school and seeking a second career in nursing in mid-life. With hundreds and sometimes thousands of applicants for 60-80 places in the nursing program, many students find themselves rejected year after year. The following are reasons why getting into nursing school is hard and how to overcome challenges to successfully gain acceptance into a nursing program.


Though it can be agreed that most nursing programs look for prerequisite courses in math and science, the actual courses may vary slightly. Second, the degree and GPA earned for nursing programs can be vary significantly. While some programs require a 2.0 GPA at minimum, others are so competitive that students must earn as many A’s as possible in order to have a chance of being considered.

Some schools admit students on probationary acceptance or allow them to file a formal petition to be considered for admission even if they don’t meet admission requirements. Before beginning any postsecondary education, students should research the nursing program and know the requirements beforehand to have a better chance at being accepted.

Information Sessions

Many schools offer admission information sessions for their nursing programs. In fact, some schools require them. Regardless of if they are required, it’s advisable that a student attends information session to learn firsthand what a school is looking for in an applicant. Admission to nursing schools is highly competitive and the opportunity to meet the admission committee and ask questions about a situation firsthand is invaluable.

Work Experience

Previous work experience, knowledge of the healthcare setting or volunteer experiences are all factors that can bolster a student’s nursing application. Experience in a healthcare setting demonstrates exposure to practices and procedures that will be learned in the program. Experience working as a nurse or with a nurse is also advisable. Some students take the step by step approach in which they become a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) first, they will then progress to becoming an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse)and then finally a Registered Nurse (RN). This career path may give a nursing student the competitive advantage that they need.

If being accepted into a nursing program is a student’s ultimate goal, it’s possible to succeed by making a plan of action before taking part in a nursing program. While some programs rely heavily on academics and related circumstances listed above, other programs may weigh heavily on letters of recommendation, standardized tests or other criteria. Students should research and complete the specific prerequisites for their program, attend information sessions and obtain as much experience in nursing or the healthcare field in general as possible to be accepted into their nursing program of choice.