How to Apply for Nursing School in Five Steps

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Wondering how to apply for nursing school? If you’re applying to an accelerated nursing degree program, you’ll need to contact an admissions counselor to determine your eligibility. You may need to first complete some prerequisite courses and should also expect to write a personal statement and request letters of recommendation.

woman typing on laptop

The average person can expect to spend thousands of hours working over the course of their lifetime, which highlights the importance of choosing — or transitioning to — a career that you find meaningful and enjoyable. If your current career isn’t checking off those boxes for you, perhaps it’s time to think about switching to healthcare.

A nursing career allows you to make a meaningful difference in the lives of those in your community. Registered nurses (RNs) also can choose from a vast range of nursing specialties and workplace settings, and RNs generally enjoy lucrative salary potentials and strong job growth possibilities along with several advancement opportunities.

Even if you have no nursing education or experience, you could become a nurse sooner than you think. However, this all hinges on choosing the right nursing school — one that allows you to leverage your prior non-nursing education to graduate quickly.

At Northeastern University, our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program is designed for those switching careers and students transferring from non-nursing programs who are interested in graduating in as few as 16 months.

Let’s explore how to apply for nursing school in just five simple steps.

1. Contact an Admissions Counselor

Before starting the admissions process, it will be helpful to research what you can expect from a nursing career. You should also consider some alternative nursing careers you could pursue. Once you decide that a nursing career is the right choice for you, it’s time to take the first step toward earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Contact an admissions counselor at Northeastern University to learn more about our ABSN program and discover if you are eligible to apply. When calling, it will be helpful to have a list of questions (along with a pen for taking notes) and a copy of your unofficial college transcripts at hand. The admissions counselor will review these transcripts with you to verify your eligibility.

At Northeastern, you’ll need to meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • A completed non-nursing bachelor’s degree or at least 62 college credits from an accredited institution
  • A grade of “C” or higher in all prerequisite courses
  • The ability to meet all of the university technical standards (i.e., the use of fine and gross motor skills)

You’ll also need some basic computing skills as you’ll need to complete the coursework online.

Nurse giving child patient a band-aid

BSN-educated nurses have many career opportunities. Read more to learn about the 16 in-demand nursing specialties.

When Do You Apply to Nursing School?

ABSN programs follow a different timeline than traditional nursing degree programs. At Northeastern, you can choose from three start dates each year: either January, May or September. This begs the question of when do you apply to nursing school exactly?

At Northeastern, applications generally need to be completed no later than two months ahead of your intended start date. Your admissions counselor will work with you to develop a personalized plan and timeline for starting nursing school, taking any prerequisite courses you need to complete into consideration.

2. Complete Any Required Prerequisites

When pursuing a nursing degree after graduating high school, students will generally enroll in a four-year BSN program. However, individuals with previous college history can expedite the time needed to earn a BSN through an ABSN program.

nurse checking heart

ABSN programs allow for a much shorter time to graduation because they leverage your prior education. Therefore, all ABSN programs have prerequisite requirements to ensure students are ready to tackle the nursing coursework.

You may have already completed all the prerequisite courses necessary to start the program. Your admissions counselor will review your transcripts and let you know if there are any courses you’ll need to take if not.

At Northeastern, the prerequisite courses for the ABSN program include Nutrition, Developmental Psychology and Statistics. All of these must have been completed within the previous five or 10 years, with these timelines depending on whether you’re a transfer student or a second-degree student.

If you’ve satisfied at least five of the course requirements and are registered for the final three courses, you can submit your application without having to wait to finish the prerequisites.

3. Request Letters of Recommendation

Once you’re ready to start the application, your counselor will provide the information needed to log into the online portal called NursingCAS. In addition to completing the application itself, you’ll need to provide certain documents as part of your application package, including two letters of recommendation.

Prospective nursing students often have difficulty determining from whom to source letters of recommendation when applying to nursing school. First, you should not request letters from family or friends; instead, you’ll need academic and/or professional references.

It’s best to have one letter from each type of reference. Thus, ask for this letter from professors at your previous college whom you got to know outside of the lecture hall through office hours, lab projects or other means as it’s best to ask for a letter of recommendation from a professor who remembers you well.

Similarly, you can request a letter of recommendation from a supervisor with whom you worked closely and can therefore attest to your character, drive and determination.

4. Write Your Personal Statement

ABSN programs typically require nursing student applicants to submit a personal statement or essay. At Northeastern, we require you to write a goal statement that discusses your interest in nursing and your future career plans.

For example, you can explain why you first considered pursuing a nursing career: Were you or a loved one hospitalized, or do you have work experience in a different healthcare career, such as on an EMS team?

nursing student taking notes

After this, you can reflect on where you envision yourself after graduation and discuss those goals. For instance, you may want to become an emergency room nurse, perhaps you envision yourself working in a hospice agency, providing compassionate care to patients who are at the end of life, or maybe you see yourself as a school nurse where you can support the health of future generations.

When writing your goal statement, it’s important to use your authentic voice. Stay true to yourself, your past and your goals for the future, but you should also aim to set yourself apart from your fellow nursing school applicants.

When you’re done with the first draft, set it aside and revisit it after a few days with fresh eyes. Edit and proofread your goal statement as needed and consider asking a friend or family member for feedback.

What does it take to be a nurse? Explore some of the top nursing characteristics here!

closeup of nurse hands writing on clipboard at desk

5. Complete Your Online Application

You’re now ready to finish your application package. You’ll need to request official transcripts from all the academic institutions you’ve previously attended as well as submit an updated resume. Lastly, make sure each question on the application is answered before you submit it.

When you’re done applying to nursing school, take a breath and relax. You’re on your way toward a meaningful and rewarding career.

How to Apply for Nursing School as an International Student

The Northeastern ABSN program welcomes applications from international students. In addition to meeting the standard requirements for all nursing school applicants, international students must demonstrate that they hold lawful permanent residence in the U.S.

Also, if you earned your degree or college credits outside the U.S., you need to use the degree equivalency tool from World Education Services (WES) to determine whether it’s an acceptable equivalent to a degree from an accredited U.S.-based institution.

Additionally, if you earned your degree in a country in which English isn’t the primary language, you must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) exam on which you must earn a score of 100. Lastly, before calling an admissions counselor at Northeastern, you must ensure WES conducts a transcript evaluation.

Northeastern nursing students posing and smiling

Applying to Nursing School as a Student with Special Needs

The Bouvé College of Health Sciences at Northeastern has established certain technical standards for admission to the nursing program, including functional abilities (sight, hearing, etc.), communication abilities and motor movements.

If you are applying to nursing school as a student with special needs, you’re encouraged to reach out to the Disability Resource Center (DRC).

The DRC coordinates accommodations for students with special needs and will work closely with you to provide the support you need. In addition, you are required to notify your instructors at the beginning of each course if you need DRC services.

nurse holding clipboard

Is a nursing career right for you? Check out the pros and cons of nursing here.

Apply to the ABSN Program at Northeastern Today

When you’re ready to apply to nursing school, our friendly admissions counselors at Northeastern University are willing to help. Our ABSN program is ideally suited to applicants with prior non-nursing college educational experience who are motivated to graduate in as few as 16 months.

As an ABSN student at Northeastern, you'll benefit from small class sizes and extensive student support resources, including those who will work with you on everything from NCLEX prep to time management tips. With three start dates each year, you can start your nursing education sooner than you might think.

Contact our admissions team today to find out if our ABSN program is a good fit for you.

Get Your Free ABSN Program Guide

Our ABSN program guide includes everything you need to know about the accelerated path to nursing.

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