Bachelor of Science in Nursing Requirements: Learn What to Expect with These Programs

When it comes to Bachelor of Science in Nursing requirements, each school has its own unique expectations of new students.

Whether you’ve volunteered throughout high school at a hospital, proven you’re an A student, thrived in science courses or are already a working nurse with years of experience, finding the right school often comes down to the best BSN programs for your needs.

Here are some of the most important factors to weigh when considering enrollment in a BSN program.

Cost of school

BSN nursing programs require a financial commitment. How much your cost will be depends on the type of program you choose — whether online, on campus, in your region or out of state.

According to a website that compares BSN costs, a four-year, on-campus program can range from $40,000 to $200,000. Add in room and board, along with other fees and the price of a college or university program on campus can jump to at least $90,000. An accelerated BSN program often ranges from $17,000 to $90,000.

Working nurses entering an RN to BSN program can expect a cost of anywhere from $8,000 to $55,000.

For many schools, there are some costs you might not be thinking about yet. These can vary greatly based on attending school in a big city or studying online from a small town.

These can include books, parking, shoes, scrubs, clinical fees, transportation, childcare and technology requirements such as smartphones, laptops or tablets.

Time commitment

Bachelor of Science in Nursing requirements include a time commitment that can range from 11 months to four years, depending on your individual circumstances.

An accelerated program for second-degree BSN students can range from as little as 11 to 18 months, while working nurses in an RN to BSN program can expect the educational journey to average 12 to 24 months.

Students with no post-secondary education can enter a college or university program with a traditional four-year timeline.

Academic requirements

Bachelor of Science in Nursing requirements can vary by school. As a general rule, most schools will require at least a 2.75 cumulative grade-point average in high school or an associate degree program. In addition, school might require a specific GPA in your science and health-related courses.

Along with references, an essay and a resume (or, in some cases, a curriculum vitae), it is important to have some relevant volunteer or work experience at a hospital or healthcare facility.

Previous studies in chemistry, biology, physiology, anatomy or various related subjects also is helpful when planning your admission applications.

Traits that may be required as well are strong communication skills — both verbal and written — along with good observational, critical thinking and social skills.

Clinical hours

Clinical placements give nursing students the practical experience they need to make a smooth transition into the profession.

However, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing requirements for clinical hours varies widely by state.

Some programs require up to 1,200 hours, while others only require 400 hours.

Pay close attention to the hours requirement for the schools to which you apply and ask about their rationale for the number of hours.

The topic has been debated over the years, including at the 2016 National Council of State Boards of Nursing annual meeting in Chicago, where Mindy Shaffner, associate director of nursing education for the Washington Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission, expressed concern about nursing losing its status as the most trusted profession in the nation without a required number of hours nationally.

“We are trusted because we practice well,” she said. “And how do we get the practice we need to become newly licensed nurses and carry that reputation forward? Through practice experiences in our pre-licensure nursing programs.”


So what kind of coursework fits into Bachelor of Science in Nursing requirements?

Some of the most common include anatomy, microbiology, nursing fundamentals, pharmacology, leadership, ethics, research, community health and gerontology.

Each school’s BSN program varies, so be sure to learn about the curriculum before you apply.

Online options

The AACN reports that more than 600 colleges and universities in the U.S. offer some type of online BSN coursework. This gives students who need the flexibility of an online learning environment plenty of opportunities.

Working nurses often prefer online courses such as RN to BSN programs so they can maintain their current work schedule while also advancing toward a BSN degree.

Students who are non-nurses may prefer online BSN or hybrid programs to continue working to help pay for school or if they have children or older family members to care for while attending classes. These programs offer an inclusive experience with students from various backgrounds and experience levels, along with top-notch instructors.

BSN in 10

In December 2017, New York became the first state to enact a law that requires “all (registered professional nurses) either have or obtain a bachelor’s degree within 10 years of initial licensure.”

Why is this important? According to news reports, nearly two dozen other states have considered similar legislation. That would make it much more important for working nurses to look into BSN nursing programs. In addition, those wanting to enter the profession should know their individual state’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing requirements.

The goal, according to the New York legislature, was to increase the educational entry point to get into the nursing profession. The law does have exemptions, as mentioned in a January 2018 blog post, but its intent is clear.


A common occurrence among some BSN nursing programs is putting students on waitlists. Because each program has a limited number of students it can admit, some end up waiting for admission.

Part of the reason is that the demand for nurses is so high that schools must force some students to wait. How long can that wait be? That often depends on geography and your choice of schools.

Some of the nation’s most well-known schools and regions with the highest populations can have the longest wait times.

Don’t take being put on a wait list personally. Two key factors that play into why schools waitlist students are a lack of instructors or a lack of clinical placement opportunities.

Two options for students who end up on waitlists are to maintain contact (via phone or email) with the school that has put your admission application on hold and, of course, to spend that time applying to other schools.

Finding the best BSN programs that fit your needs takes a little time and effort. But the time you spend researching each school’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing requirements can make you a more informed candidate.

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