A group of nurses sitting at a desk in a classroom.

Do You Need to Take Prerequisites for Nursing School?

Yes, taking prerequisites for nursing school is necessary in order to gain admission and succeed in your nursing career. Prerequisites play a crucial role in preparing you for the rigorous curriculum and clinical experiences that nursing school entails. They provide a foundation of knowledge and skills that are essential for understanding and mastering advanced nursing concepts.

By completing prerequisites, you can ensure that you have the necessary academic background to excel in nursing school and become a competent and compassionate nurse.

Common Prerequisites for Nursing School

Science-based prerequisites

Science-based prerequisites are crucial for nursing school as they provide you with a solid understanding of the human body, disease processes, and pharmacology. These courses typically include:

  • Anatomy and Physiology: This course explores the structure and function of the human body, covering topics such as the musculoskeletal, cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous systems.
  • Microbiology: Microbiology introduces you to the world of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi, and their impact on human health.
  • Chemistry: A basic understanding of chemistry is essential for understanding drug interactions, dosages, and the science behind medical procedures.
  • Pharmacology: Pharmacology focuses on the study of drugs, their actions, and their effects on the human body.

Humanities and social science prerequisites

In addition to science-based prerequisites, nursing schools often require courses in humanities and social sciences. These courses help develop your critical thinking, communication, and cultural competence skills, which are essential for providing holistic and patient-centered care. Common humanities and social science prerequisites may include:

  • Psychology: Psychology courses delve into human behavior, mental health, and the psychological factors that influence patient care.
  • Sociology: Sociology courses provide insights into social structures, inequalities, and cultural factors that impact health and healthcare delivery.
  • Ethics: Ethics courses explore ethical principles and dilemmas in healthcare, helping you develop a strong moral compass for nursing practice.
  • Communication: Communication courses enhance your verbal and written communication skills, which are vital for effective patient interactions and interdisciplinary collaboration.

How to Fulfill Your Prerequisite Requirements

Taking prerequisites during high school

Taking prerequisites during high school can be a smart way to get a head start on your nursing education. Look for advanced placement (AP) or dual enrollment programs that offer courses in anatomy, physiology, chemistry, and psychology. By completing these courses in high school, you can demonstrate your academic aptitude and dedication to the nursing profession, making you a competitive applicant for nursing schools.

Enrolling in community college or online courses

If you haven’t taken prerequisites in high school or want to fulfill them later in life, community colleges and online courses are excellent options. Many community colleges offer affordable and flexible courses in anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and other prerequisites.

Online courses also provide convenience and flexibility, allowing you to complete prerequisites at your own pace and schedule. Just make sure that the courses you choose are accredited and meet the requirements of the nursing schools you plan to apply to. Some nursing schools may have specific prerequisites or prefer certain courses over others, so it’s important to do your research and ensure that the courses you take will fulfill the requirements.

The Consequences of Not Completing Prerequisites

Not completing prerequisites can have significant consequences for your nursing education and future career. Without a solid foundation in the prerequisite courses, you may struggle to understand the advanced nursing concepts and skills taught in nursing school. Nursing school is rigorous and fast-paced, and having a strong background in the prerequisite courses can make the transition smoother and increase your chances of success.

In addition, not completing prerequisites can also affect your admission into nursing programs. Many nursing schools have strict prerequisite requirements that must be met before applying. If you haven’t completed the necessary prerequisites, your application may be incomplete or disqualified. Completing the prerequisites shows that you are dedicated and capable of handling the demands of the nursing program, increasing your chances of being accepted.

Tips for Managing Your Prerequisite Courses

Managing prerequisite courses can be challenging, especially if you have other responsibilities such as work or family obligations. Here are some tips to help you succeed:

Developing a study plan

Create a study plan that outlines your goals, deadlines, and study schedule. Break down the material into manageable chunks and allocate specific times for studying. This will help you stay organized and ensure that you cover all the necessary material.

Seeking assistance when needed

Don’t hesitate to seek assistance if you’re having trouble understanding the material. Reach out to your instructors, classmates, or tutoring services for help. Nursing prerequisites can be difficult, but with the right support, you can overcome any challenges.

Balancing prerequisites with other responsibilities

Finding a balance between prerequisite courses and other responsibilities is crucial. Prioritize your time and make sure to allocate dedicated study periods. Communicate with your employer or family members about your commitments and ask for support when needed. Remember to take care of yourself by getting enough rest, eating well, and managing stress.

Lastly, keep in mind that nursing school is just the beginning. It’s a stepping stone towards a fulfilling and rewarding career in nursing. Stay motivated, work hard, and always strive for continuous learning and growth. With dedication, perseverance, and the right mindset, you can overcome any obstacles and achieve your dreams of becoming a nurse.


Q: How long do prerequisite courses typically take to complete?
The duration of prerequisite courses can vary depending on the specific program and the number of courses required. Generally, it can take anywhere from a few months to a year or more to complete all the necessary prerequisites for nursing school. It’s important to check with the nursing schools you are interested in to determine their specific requirements and timeline for completing prerequisites.

Q: Can I take prerequisite courses at any accredited institution?
In most cases, prerequisite courses can be taken at any accredited institution. However, it’s important to check with the nursing schools you plan to apply to and ensure that the courses you take will fulfill their specific requirements. Some nursing schools may have preferred institutions or specific courses that they prefer you to complete as prerequisites, so it’s crucial to do your research and confirm that the courses you choose will meet the requirements.

Q: Are there any alternatives to traditional prerequisite courses?
Yes, there are alternative options to fulfilling prerequisite requirements. Some nursing schools may accept competency exams or prior work experience in lieu of certain prerequisite courses. Additionally, some schools offer accelerated or bridge programs that combine prerequisite coursework with nursing coursework, allowing you to complete both simultaneously. Check with individual nursing schools to determine if they offer alternative options and what their specific requirements are.

Q: Can I transfer credits from previous college courses to fulfill prerequisite requirements?
In many cases, you can transfer credits from previous college courses to fulfill prerequisite requirements. Check with the nursing schools you plan to apply to and ensure that the credits will be accepted. Each school may have its own transfer credit policies and may require official transcripts for evaluation. It’s recommended to contact the nursing school’s admissions office and provide them with detailed information about the courses you have taken to determine if the credits can be transferred.

Q: What happens if I don’t meet the prerequisite requirements for nursing school?
If you don’t meet the prerequisite requirements for nursing school, you may need to take additional courses or fulfill the requirements in another way. Some nursing schools offer remedial courses or prerequisite completion programs for students who are missing certain requirements. Communicate with the nursing schools you are interested in and discuss your options. They may be able to provide guidance on how to meet the requirements and assist you in developing a plan to become eligible for admission.

Q: Do prerequisite courses expire after a certain amount of time?
Prerequisite courses generally do not expire, but some nursing schools may have a time limit on the completion of prerequisites. This means that if you completed a prerequisite course several years ago, the nursing school may require you to retake it if too much time has passed. It’s crucial to check with the nursing schools you plan to apply to and inquire about their policies regarding the expiration of prerequisite courses.

Q: Can I start nursing school while still completing my prerequisites?
In most cases, you will need to complete all prerequisite courses before starting nursing school. Nursing programs typically require you to have all prerequisites completed and meet their specific requirements for admission. However, some nursing schools may offer conditional acceptance, allowing you to start nursing school while completing a few outstanding prerequisites. Check with the nursing schools you are interested in for their specific policies regarding completing prerequisites while enrolled in the nursing program.

Q: Can I take prerequisite courses online?
Yes, many prerequisite courses are available online. Online courses provide flexibility and convenience, allowing you to complete the coursework at your own pace and schedule. Ensure that the online courses you choose are accredited and meet the requirements of the nursing schools you plan to apply to. Some nursing schools may have specific prerequisites or prefer certain courses over others, so it’s crucial to do your research and confirm