Health Professions - Nursing

About Nursing School

Nursing as a professional discipline is concerned with human responses to actual and potential health problems. Current research in nursing is focused on human responses to acute and chronic health problems, health promotion, health maintenance, and nursing interventions.

There are several levels of educational choices for nurses, including the Licensed Vocational Nurse (L.V.N.), the Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.), and the Registered Nurse (R.N., often obtained through a bachelor’s degree). In addition, nurses can earn advanced degrees in their field, such as the Master’s of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) and/or a doctoral degree in nursing.

If you hope to obtain a B.S.N, you may follow one of two routes: complete the pre-nursing requirements in preparation for transferring to a bachelor’s program in nursing at another school or complete a bachelor’s degree at UCSB and apply to an accelerated B.S.N. program. Accelerated B.S.N. programs allow students to earn the degree in 12-18 months, and are designed for students who have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing discipline.

Graduate preparation is widely becoming accepted as a basic requirement for advanced certification in nursing. If you want to obtain a master’s degree in nursing, you should apply to Direct-Entry M.S.N. programs. These programs admit students who have a bachelor’s degree in a field other than Nursing.

In the nursing field, it is possible to specialize in a particular clinical area—especially at the graduate level. An M.S.N., for example, might choose to specialize in nurse anesthesia, community health nursing, gerontological nursing, medical-surgical nursing, psychiatric mental health nursing, or nurse midwifery. Alternatively, a nurse could specialize according to age group (e.g. child health nursing or nursing of the adult) or according to functional area (e.g. teaching or administration). Programs that prepare generalists are also available.

Helpful Information

Transferring to a B.S.N. Program

If you are planning on transferring to a school that offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.), you must contact that school as soon as possible to ensure that you will complete all of the prerequisites needed for transfer.

Some nursing programs require courses that are not offered at UCSB. In order to fulfill these requirements, many students enroll at community colleges.

GPA Requirements

Although many nursing programs require a minimum GPA of 3.0, it is important to note that most competitive applicants have GPAs that are well above that standard.

More Information

If you have more questions about a career in nursing,, American Association of Colleges of Nursing and Nursing CAS are excellent resources.  

Some students interested in becoming nurses have questions about the difference between nurse practioners and physician assistants. Click here for a comparision of the two fields.

Required Courses

The courses listed below are those that undergraduates generally are required to complete prior to entering nursing school.

As you plan your course of study, please note these important considerations:

  • All of your required courses must be taken for a letter grade, not on a Pass/No Pass (P/NP) basis.
  • Please note that some nursing schools will not accept AP credit.

Required Courses

One year of general chemistry with lab
-Chem 1A/1AL, Chem 1B/1BL, Chem 1C/1CL (or Chem 2 equivalent)

Organic Chemistry
-(not required by all schools - check with specific school)
-Chem 109A, 109B, 109C and 6AL, 6BL

One year of introductory biology with lab
-MCDB 1A/1AL, 1B, MCDB 1BL or EEMB 2L, EEMB 2, 3, 3L

-Beginning in the 2019-20 Academic Year:  MCDB 1A, 1B, 1LL; EEMB 2, 3, 2LL

*New Biology Labs:  Beginning in Fall 2019, the Biology Program will restructure its introductory labs, changing from three, 1 unit labs--MCDB 1AL, MCDB 1BL/EEMB 2L, and EEMB 3L--to two, 1.5 unit labs--MCDB 1LL and EEMB 2LL.  Most students will do MCDB 1LL in winter quarter and EEMB 2LL in spring quarter.  Although taken over two quarters rather than three, these will count as a full year of introductory biology labs.

-Beginning in the 2019-20 Academic Year:  MCDB 1A, 1B, 1LL; EEMB 2, 3, 2LL

One year of physics with lab
-Physics 6A/6AL, 6B/6BL, 6C/6CL

Three quarters titled "Writing" or "English"
-Writing 1 or AP credit will not count for this requirement.
-Writing 109HP is a useful course for writing personal statements and should be taken closer to when you apply.
-One quarter should be a literature course taught in the English department.

-PStat 5A or 5LS or PSY 10B

Social Science
-Sociology 1 and/or Anthropology 2 and/or Psychology 1
-Humanities (12-15 quarter units)

Additional biology courses required:
-MCDB 131/131L (microbiology). Non-science majors may take BMS 157 at SBCC.
-Physiology with a laboratory, not offered at UCSB - BMS 108 at SBCC
-Anatomy with a laboratory, not offered at UCSB - BMS 107 at SBCC. If enrolling at SBCC while also enrolled at UCSB during fall, winter, or spring quarters, meet with a Letters and Science advisor to discuss petitioning for concurrent enrollment prior to the start of the SBCC courses.
-Check each school’s admission requirements

Possible additional coursework
-Some schools require additional coursework. The following are some courses that may be required:
-Medical terminology
-Public speaking
-Please check with individual schools for specific requirements.

Required Tests

While there is no standard examination required for entrance into a nursing program, some B.S.N. programs require that applicants take the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS). In addition, some graduate programs require that applicants take the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).

Extracurricular Activities

If you intend to apply to a nursing program, you should pursue clinical work or volunteer experience. This will help you demonstrate your commitment to nursing—and allow you to see firsthand if the profession fits your needs and aptitudes. In addition to clinical experience, general community service can strengthen your nursing school application.

For more information about internships and volunteer opportunities, please visit the Clinical Experience page.


The centralized application service for nursing programs is NursingCAS but not all nursing programs participate in this program. For specific admissions requirements and application procedures, check the website for each school to which you intend to apply.