Get Into Your Dream Nursing Program

In this article, we are going to talk about Types of Nursing Programs, Nursing Program Rankings, Nursing Program Requirement, and Nursing Program Application Processes.

Types of Nursing Programs

There are three categories of nursing programs, which are Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Graduate Nursing Programs. A BSN (Bachelor of Nursing Science) takes more time to complete – four years as opposed to two for ADN (Associates Degree in Nursing).

Both the associate’s degree (ADN) and bachelor’s degree (BSN) can lead you to becoming an RN (Registered Nurse), but getting the BSN opens you up for more opportunities down the line – like becoming a nurse manager or being prepared to enter an advanced degree program, like to be a nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, or nurse anesthetist. If you’re applying to nursing graduate programs or for licensing to practice as a nurse, you could be required take many exams including the Graduate Record Exam (GRE), the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) and the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). However, your college GPA will be the most important factor, and especially your performance in Pre-Nursing classes.

You can apply for either an associate’s degree, a bachelor’s degree, or a graduate degree in Nursing. Here we focus on undergraduate applications for the BSN.

2015-2016 U.S. News & World Report’s Nursing School Rankings

#1 University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
#2 Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
#2 University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
#4 University of Washington, Seattle, WA
#5 University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA
#6 Duke University, Durham, NC
#6 New York University, New York, NY
#6 University of Maryland, Baltimore, Baltimore, MD
#6 University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI
#10 Emory University, Atlanta, GA
#11 Columbia University, New York, NY
#11 Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
#13 University of Alabama, Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
#13 University of Illinois, Chicago, Chicago, IL
#13 University of Texas, Austin, Austin, TX
#16 University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
#17 Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
#17 University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC
#19 Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IN
#19 Rush University, Chicago, IL
#19 University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
#22 Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
#22 Yale University, New Haven, CT
#24 Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ
#25 Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark/New Brunswick Newark, NJ
#26 University of Texas Health Science Center, Houston, Houston, TX
#26 University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
#28 Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC
#28 University of Missouri, Kansas City, Kansas City, MO
#30 University of Colorado, Aurora, Aurora, CO
#30 University of Kansas, Kansas City, KS
#30 University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
#30 University of San Diego, San Diego, CA
#34 Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA
#34 Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA
#36 George Mason University, Fairfax, VA
#36 University of Missouri Columbia, MO
#38 Pennsylvania State University, University Park, University Park, PA
#38 University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ
#38 University of South Florida, Tampa, FL
#41 Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD
#41 University of Massachusetts, Boston, Boston, MA
#43 University of California, Davis, Sacramento, CA
#43 University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
#43 University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX
#43 Washington State University, Spokane, WA
#43 Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
#48 Texas Woman’s University, Denton, TX
#48 University of Florida, Gainesville, FL
#48 University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI
#51 Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, IL
#51 Marquette University, Milwaukee, WI
#51 St. Louis University, St. Louis, MO
#54 Florida International University, Miami, FL
#54 University of Alabama, Huntsville, Huntsville, AL
#54 University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
#54 University of Massachusetts, Amherst, Amherst, MA
#58 George Washington University, Washington, DC
#58 Purdue University, West Lafayette, West Lafayette, IN
#58 South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD
#61 Hunter College City University of New York (CUNY), New York, NY
#61 Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI
#61 University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Tuscaloosa, AL
#61 University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL
#61 Villanova University, Villanova, PA
#66 Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX
#66 University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
#68 California State University, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, CA
#68 Pace University, New York, NY
#68 University of Louisville, Louisville, KY

Undergraduate Nursing Requirements (BSN)

Applying for a Bachelors of Science in Nursing is very similar to applying to any other undergraduate program. Your high school GPA and SAT/ACT score will be the most influential parts of your nursing application. Especially, your performance in math/science classes as well as on the Math section of the SAT/ACT and science section of the ACT will be very important.

In some schools, you will just get into the school like any other undergraduate and then declare the nursing major once you’re there. So you just need to focus on being able to get into the school. In other schools, you’ll apply specifically to the nursing program or school, which often has slightly higher GPA/SAT averages than the general undergraduate population.

The GPA and The SAT/ACT Scores You Need for Nursing Programs

To account for the fact, nursing programs are more competitive, you should aim for SAT/ACT scores at the top of a school’s middle-50% range.

We highlight the nursing programs in UCLA, UC Davis, and CSU LA include their GPA, and SAT/ACT score ranges.


UCLA is the most applied-to university in the nation. For the fall of 2015, more than 92,000 freshman applications were received. The average GPA for admitted incoming freshmen is 4.39, with an SAT score between 1940 and 2240. The average ACT score composite at UCLA is a 28. The 25th percentile ACT score is 25, and the 75th percentile ACT score is 33. In other words, a 25 places you below average, while a 33 will move you up to above average.

To get into the nursing program at UCLA, you have to meet the freshman admission requirements for the University of California and complete a supplemental application for nursing. The supplemental application gives “potential students the opportunity to provide additional information about their preparation for entry into the nursing profession.”

There’s a similar application process for nursing at UC Irvine as well (other UC schools like Davis, Berkeley, and San Diego don’t offer nursing programs).

You can read the full application requirements for the University of California here(the requirements are the same for all UC schools, including UCLA). UCLA’s SAT range is 1940-2240, so you should aim to have a 2240 or higher on the old SAT (or 1440 on the redesigned) to be competitive for nursing.

UC Davis

GPA and test scores of middle 25%-75% students

High School GPA: 3.95 – 4.25
ACT Composite Score: 26 – 32
SAT Critical Reading: 550 – 680
SAT Mathematics: 590 – 750
SAT Writing: 565 – 700

Cal State Los Angeles

The average GPA at Cal State Los Angeles is 3.18.

The 25th percentile New SAT score is 870, and the 75th percentile New SAT score is 1070. In other words, a 870 on the New SAT places you below average, while a 1070 will move you up to above average.

The 25th percentile ACT score is 15, and the 75th percentile ACT score is 20.

For more info, please refer to Nursing School of Cal State Los Angeles.

The BSN Application Processes

Please pay your attention there are many school-specific procedures for nursing applicants. This means it will be important for you to carefully research any nursing programs you’re applying to make sure you catch any nursing-specific requirements (e.g. the SAT Subject Tests or an extra essay).
In the majority of cases, if you’re going into a nursing BSN program right out of high school, you will follow standard college admission procedures. The only main difference is that the admissions criteria may be slightly higher if the school’s BSN program begins right away. There will be greater emphasis on your science and math grades and higher ACT/SAT score ranges for the nursing applicants. Additionally, you may be expected to have some previous experience working or volunteering in the healthcare field.

In order to help you put together the best application possible for your BSN, and get into your dream nursing program, we recommend you to follow these four steps.

  1. Check admission requirements at your desired schools – application forms, the SAT or ACT, your high school transcript, and letters of recommendation. The SAT Subject Tests or an additional application supplement for nursing may be required as well.
  2. Look up your desired schools’ GPA and ACT/SAT ranges. Your target score should be around the upper bounds of your school’s SAT/ACT ranges.
  3. Find out how the nursing program works at the school – do you just need to get into the undergrad program there and then declare your major, or are you applying specifically to a nursing division? Usually, nursing divisions are slightly more competitive to get into compared with schools where you declare your major once you’re there.
  4. Make sure any Nursing-specific requirements or suggestions, like the SAT Subject Tests and recommended elective courses for future nurses.

Getting into nursing programs as an undergraduate is basically the same as getting accepted to undergraduate programs, but slightly more competitive. Focus on maintaining strong grades, particularly in math and science, and studying for a high SAT/ACT score to give yourself the best chance at your top schools. We recommend you to apply to a range of nursing schools including safety schools, targets, and reach schools. Please also keep in mind that there are BSN programs allow you to apply once you’ve already started college. This gives you a chance to reset and prove yourself in college if you don’t have an excellent high school GPA.

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