Getting into nursing school is highly competitive. With limited program capacity and a surge in applicants, admission rates hover around 50-70% nationwide. If you’re wondering about your chances of getting accepted, read on for a comprehensive guide.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Getting into nursing school is moderately difficult with acceptance rates around 60% on average. Your competitiveness depends on grades, test scores, healthcare experience, essay quality, and interview performance.

In this approximately 3000 word guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about getting into nursing school. We’ll look at acceptance rates, application requirements, how to stand out, and tips to boost your chances of admission.

Nursing School Acceptance Rates

National Acceptance Rates

Getting into nursing school can be quite competitive, with many qualified applicants vying for limited spots. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), nursing schools across the United States rejected over 80,000 qualified applications in 2019 due in large part to a shortage of faculty, clinical sites, classroom space, and clinical preceptors.

The overall acceptance rate for all Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs in 2019 was around 70% on average.

Some highlights on national nursing school acceptance rates:

  • BSN programs: 70% acceptance on average
  • ADN/diploma programs: 66% acceptance on average
  • Master’s programs: 68% acceptance on average
  • Doctoral programs: 78% acceptance on average

While these averages provide a general snapshot, acceptance rates can vary widely by school and geography. The most competitive programs will often see acceptance rates under 20%.

Acceptance Rates by Program Type

Acceptance rates can differ substantially depending on the type of nursing program:

Program Type Typical Acceptance Rate
BSN 50-85%
ADN 50-100%
Diploma 60-100%
LPN/LVN 75-100%
Accelerated BSN 20-50%
MSN 50-80%
DNP 60-90%
PhD 15-30%

As shown, BSN programs tend to be the most competitive, particularly accelerated BSN programs. Associate and diploma programs usually have higher acceptance rates given their accessibility. Master’s programs are moderately competitive, while doctoral programs can be quite challenging to get into.

Acceptance Rates by State

Acceptance rates can also vary significantly depending on the state. Here are some states with particularly competitive nursing programs:

  • California: Low acceptance rates, often under 20-30% for BSN programs
  • Florida: Highly competitive, acceptance rates around 30-40% are common
  • New York: Extremely competitive, often under 25% acceptance
  • Texas: Lower than average acceptance rates, with many top programs under 40%

Meanwhile, some states with higher acceptance rates include:

  • Nebraska: Acceptance rates averaging 50-75%
  • Oklahoma: Acceptance rates of 50-90% are common
  • South Dakota: Many programs boast acceptance rates over 75%
  • Wyoming: Relatively high acceptance rates, often 60% or higher

As you can see, your location can significantly impact your chances of getting into a nursing program. Do your research to find both accessible and affordable options in your state.

Nursing School Prerequisites

Coursework Requirements

One of the key prerequisites for getting into nursing school is completing the required coursework. Nursing programs typically require courses in biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, and psychology.

These courses provide a foundation of knowledge that is essential for understanding the complexities of the human body and mind, which are fundamental to nursing practice. It is important for aspiring nursing students to carefully review the coursework requirements of the nursing schools they are interested in and ensure they have met all the prerequisites.

Minimum GPA Expectations

In addition to completing the necessary coursework, nursing schools often have minimum GPA expectations for admission. The specific GPA requirements can vary depending on the institution and program, but most nursing schools seek students with a strong academic record.

Achieving a high GPA not only demonstrates a student’s ability to handle the rigorous coursework, but it also reflects their commitment to academic excellence. It is advisable for prospective nursing students to strive for a competitive GPA to increase their chances of acceptance into nursing school.

Admissions Tests

Many nursing schools require applicants to take admissions tests, such as the Nursing Entrance Test (NET) or the Health Education Systems, Inc. Admissions Assessment (HESI A2). These tests assess a student’s aptitude in areas such as math, reading comprehension, and science.

The scores from these tests, along with other admission criteria, help nursing schools evaluate the preparedness of applicants for the demanding nursing curriculum. It is important for aspiring nursing students to prepare for these tests by reviewing study materials and practicing sample questions to maximize their chances of success.

For more information on nursing school prerequisites, you can visit which provides detailed guidance on the requirements and preparation needed to get into nursing school.

How to Stand Out in Your Nursing School Application

Getting into nursing school can be competitive, but with the right strategies, you can stand out from the crowd and increase your chances of acceptance. Here are a few tips to help you make a strong impression in your nursing school application:

Get Strong Letters of Recommendation

Having strong letters of recommendation can greatly enhance your nursing school application. Seek out individuals who can speak to your academic abilities, work ethic, and character. Consider asking professors, healthcare professionals you have worked with, or supervisors from relevant volunteer or work experiences.

Make sure to give your recommenders plenty of notice and provide them with any necessary information to write a detailed and personalized letter on your behalf.


Highlight Relevant Experience

When applying to nursing school, it’s important to showcase any relevant experience you have. This could include volunteer work in healthcare settings, shadowing nurses or doctors, or working as a certified nursing assistant (CNA).

Admissions committees want to see that you have a genuine interest in the field and have taken steps to explore it. Be sure to include specific details about your experiences and the skills you gained from them in your application.


Write a Compelling Personal Statement

Your personal statement is an opportunity to showcase your passion for nursing and explain why you are a great fit for the program. Take the time to reflect on your experiences, motivations, and goals, and articulate them clearly in your statement. Be authentic and let your personality shine through.

Use examples to illustrate your points and make a strong case for why you should be admitted to the program.


Ace the Entrance Interview

Many nursing schools require an entrance interview as part of the application process. This is your chance to demonstrate your communication skills, professionalism, and commitment to the field. Prepare for the interview by researching common interview questions and practicing your responses.

Dress professionally, maintain good eye contact, and show enthusiasm for the nursing profession. Be sure to ask thoughtful questions about the program as well.


Tips to Improve Your Chances of Getting In

Maintain a High GPA

One of the most important factors that nursing schools consider when evaluating applicants is their GPA. A high GPA demonstrates academic excellence and a strong work ethic. To improve your chances of getting into nursing school, it is crucial to maintain a high GPA throughout your undergraduate studies.

This means dedicating time and effort to your coursework, studying diligently, and seeking help when needed. By prioritizing your academic performance, you can showcase your commitment to your education and increase your chances of being accepted into nursing school.

Get Healthcare Experience

Having healthcare experience is another way to enhance your application for nursing school. This can include volunteering at a hospital, shadowing a nurse, or working as a certified nursing assistant (CNA).

Not only does healthcare experience demonstrate your passion for the field, but it also gives you a firsthand understanding of the demands and responsibilities of a nurse. Additionally, healthcare experience allows you to develop valuable skills and gain exposure to different healthcare settings, which can further strengthen your application.

Retake Prerequisite Courses if Needed

If you did not perform well in certain prerequisite courses for nursing school, consider retaking them to improve your grades. Some nursing programs may allow you to replace a low grade with a higher one, which can significantly boost your GPA.

Before retaking any courses, it is advisable to consult with an academic advisor to ensure that you are making the right decision and to develop a strategy for success. By retaking prerequisite courses and demonstrating improvement, you can show admissions committees your dedication and ability to overcome challenges.

Consider a Post-Baccalaureate Program

If you have already completed a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field, you may want to consider a post-baccalaureate program in nursing. These programs are specifically designed for individuals who already hold a bachelor’s degree but wish to pursue a career in nursing.

Post-baccalaureate programs offer a streamlined path to becoming a registered nurse (RN) and often have accelerated options. By enrolling in a post-baccalaureate program, you can build upon your existing knowledge and skills, making yourself a competitive candidate for nursing school.

Apply to Multiple Schools

Applying to multiple nursing schools can increase your chances of acceptance. Each nursing program has its own unique criteria and preferences, and what may be a rejection from one school could be an acceptance from another.

By diversifying your options and applying to a range of schools, you maximize your chances of receiving an acceptance letter. However, it is important to research each school thoroughly and ensure that you meet their specific requirements before applying.

Applying to multiple schools also allows you to compare programs and choose the one that best aligns with your goals and aspirations.

Frequently Asked Questions

How competitive is nursing school?

Nursing school is highly competitive due to the high demand for nurses and the limited number of spots available in nursing programs. The level of competition can vary depending on the specific school and program you are applying to.

Some nursing schools have acceptance rates as low as 10%, making it quite challenging to secure a spot. It is essential to have a strong academic record, relevant experience, and a compelling personal statement to stand out from other applicants.

What GPA do you need to get into nursing school?

The required GPA to get into nursing school can vary depending on the institution and program. Generally, a competitive GPA for nursing school is around 3.0 or higher. However, it is important to note that GPA is not the only factor considered in the admissions process.

Nursing schools also look at other criteria such as prerequisite course grades, letters of recommendation, personal statements, and relevant experience. It is always best to strive for the highest GPA possible to increase your chances of getting accepted.

Does retaking classes look bad for nursing school?

Retaking classes does not necessarily look bad for nursing school admissions. In fact, it can demonstrate your commitment to improving your academic performance and understanding the material. However, it is important to note that some nursing programs have specific policies regarding repeated coursework.

It is always advisable to check with the specific nursing schools you are applying to and understand their policies on retaking classes. Additionally, focusing on improving your overall academic performance and demonstrating growth in your coursework can help offset any concerns about retaking classes.


Getting into nursing school is competitive, but definitely achievable with academic excellence, relevant experience, stellar application materials, and a strategic approach. Focus on presenting your best self throughout the process.

With passion and perseverance, you can realize your dream of becoming a nurse.

In summary, acceptance rates into nursing programs average around 60%, but can vary widely by school and program type. Make sure to maintain strong grades in prerequisite courses, accrue quality healthcare experience, and submit polished, compelling application materials.

With preparation and persistence, you can successfully get into nursing school.

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