What Are the Prerequisites for Nursing School?

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What are the prerequisites for nursing? The prerequisites for nursing school will vary from one program to the next. In general, future nurses can expect to need foundational knowledge in mathematics, anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry, psychology, and communications. These courses will prepare you for the nursing curriculum.

nurse studying

Nursing school will be an intensive experience, so it’s a good idea for future nursing students to take a few steps to prepare them to excel. This is particularly true if you plan to enroll in an accelerated program, such as the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program at the College of Mount Saint Vincent.

At the Mount, each prospective ABSN student is assigned their own dedicated admission counselor to guide them through the process of meeting all requirements and preparing for nursing school.

Our ABSN program has a few requirements for prospective students, including prerequisite courses, but what are the prerequisites for nursing school?

More generally, what are prerequisites, and why do we need them? A prerequisite can refer to anything that must be completed or accomplished prior to beginning something else. For example, acquiring a driver’s license is a prerequisite for driving a car.

In academics, prerequisites refer to courses that must be completed before taking another course. For example, passing English 101 might be a prerequisite for taking English 305. Similarly, prerequisites for nursing school must be completed before you can begin your nursing program.

Prerequisite courses, sometimes referred to as “prereqs,” are important for nursing students because they provide foundational knowledge necessary for nursing school academics. For example, you need basic communication and mathematics skills, and you need a framework for scientific knowledge. With this important foundation, you’ll find it easier to keep up with your nursing school coursework.

nurses talking together while standing at hospital desk

Are you beginning a nursing program? Read more to learn 10 tips for preparing for nursing school.

General Chemistry

Many science disciplines, including chemistry, are important for a nurse’s education. Why exactly is chemistry important for aspiring nurses? It’s because knowledge of chemistry enables nurses to understand what sort of changes can occur in the body at the cellular level.

For example, sometimes nurses need to determine the pH of a patient’s blood before determining the appropriate treatment response. Nurses also need to know how medications act within the body, how patients metabolize glucose, and how chemical compounds can react with each other.

Anatomy and Physiology I and II

Of all the prerequisites for nursing school, anatomy and physiology likely makes the most sense for nurses. In these courses, you’ll be taught the fundamentals about the structures and functions of the human body systems, including the musculoskeletal, nervous, immune, and digestive systems.

Nursing student in lab setting with purple gloves


There are vast worlds hidden from the human eye. In fact, according to the Michigan Microbiome Project, bacterial cells within and on the surface of the body outnumber the cells of the average human 10 to one.

In microbiology, you’ll study this unseen world of bacteria, viruses, fungi, archaea, and other living organisms that are too small to see with the unaided eye. These microbes play an important role in medicine.

Psychology Across the Lifespan

Not all nurses decide to specialize in mental health nursing, but a fundamental understanding of psychology and psychological development is critical for all nurses. This is because, no matter your specialty, you’ll work with patients of diverse backgrounds with diverse needs.

You’ll likely treat patients who are having trouble controlling their emotions (perhaps because they’re in pain) and those who might seem depressed during their hospitalization. A basic understanding of how psychological issues affect patients can be helpful.

English Language at the College Level

Communication skills are important for every healthcare provider, including nurses across specialties. Not only do you need to be able to communicate well with patients, you’ll also need to communicate clearly and effectively with other nurses and healthcare providers.

Mathematics at the College Level

Our ABSN program requires college-level mathematics in either statistics or calculus. Math skills are critically important for future nurses. In your clinical practice, you’ll find yourself relying on your math skills frequently. For example, you’ll need to be able to:

  • Calculate the correct dosages of medications
  • Convert dosages from one unit of measurement to another
  • Convert a child’s weight from ounces or pounds to kilograms to identify correct dosages
  • Determine flow rates for IV drips
  • Read and interpret numbers on medical equipment
  • Apply statistical analysis to evaluate the progress of patients
students studying with computers

FAQs About Prerequisites for Nursing School

At the Mount, we ensure that our prospective students are fully informed about the ABSN program, including all its enrollment requirements. Below are answers to some questions that our admission counselors frequently hear. You can explore questions such as, “How hard are nursing prerequisites?” and “What are the time requirements pertaining to prerequisites?” If you have any lingering questions after reviewing the FAQs, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your dedicated admission counselor.

two ABSN students working in sim lab

Do you want to earn your BSN on an accelerated timeline? Read more to learn how an accelerated nursing program works.

How Hard Are Nursing Prerequisites?

Your course experience isn’t likely to be exactly the same as that of another student. For example, if your first college degree was in the liberal arts, you may find that the English language course is fairly easy for you.

Similarly, if you majored in psychology, you may find that Psychology Across the Lifespan is easy. It all depends on your academic strengths and weaknesses. Regardless, you’re likely to find that some parts of each course are easier than others.

If you’re worried about your academic performance in the prerequisites for nursing, you might want to brush up on some basics before enrolling in nursing school. Check out free educational resources online, such as Khan Academy, and work on improving your problem areas.

Can I Audit the Prerequisites?

No, auditing the prerequisites will not qualify you to apply to the program. You must enroll in the prerequisite courses as a grade-earning student. Additionally, you will need a grade of B or better in the required science courses and a grade of C or better in the required non-science courses to qualify for the Mount’s ABSN.

Are There Any Time Requirements for Taking Prerequisites?

Since students applying to the Mount’s ABSN program are required to hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field, they are already familiar with college-level work. However, if it’s been a long time since you were in school, you may find that your understanding of certain concepts is a bit rusty. That’s why the Mount requires prerequisites for nursing to have been taken no less than five years before beginning the program.

Nursing students having a conversation in a clinical setting

If it’s been longer than five years since you took any required courses, you’ll need to retake them. This will ensure that the material is fresh in your mind and that you are fully prepared for the academics required for your second degree.

Can I Apply to Nursing School Before Completing the Prerequisites?

If you’re eager to receive an admission decision, you can apply for the ABSN program before finishing the prerequisites. However, you must currently be registered for all the required courses, and you’ll need to finish them with the minimum required grades before beginning your ABSN classes. Expect to be asked to provide an unofficial transcript to document your registration for prerequisite courses.

Where Can I Take the Prerequisites?

The Mount welcomes prospective ABSN students who would like to complete their prerequisite courses at our school. You would enroll in the courses as a non-matriculated student.

Alternatively, you may choose to complete the courses at another accredited college or university. If you decide to complete the courses elsewhere, as a precaution, please first reach out to your admission counselor to double-check that the credits will transfer from your chosen school to the Mount.

Earn Your BSN at the Mount

The prerequisites for nursing at the Mount can help you prepare to pursue clinical excellence in our ABSN program and beyond. They are part of our requirements for entry into the nursing program.

At the Mount, you can earn your BSN in as few as 16 months and be prepared for a nursing career through coursework, simulation labs, and clinical rotations. To learn more about applying to earn your nursing degree at the Mount, contact us today! Our friendly admission counselors are here to guide you step by step through the entire process.