How to Apply

Applying to Nursing Schools


Nursing is the nation’s largest health care profession and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment for registered nurses will grow 15 percent from 2016 to 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.


Nursing Degrees

Southwestern University does not offer a nursing degree. However, students that are interested in pursuing a career in nursing complete a B.S. or B.A. degree and continue on to nursing schools. The liberal arts education provides them with essential competencies (critical thinking, teamwork, communication skills and others) that makes them particularly competitive. 


The Registered Nurse is trained to select and apply theory and research findings to nursing practice in a variety of patient situations and settings, to identify and respond to acute and chronic health problems, to promote health and prevent illness, to evaluate completed nursing research, to participate in professional and community organizations relevant to nursing, and to provide leadership as an essential member of the healthcare team. Nurses are needed in acute care hospitals, community health agencies, homes, outreach programs, public schools, HMOs, and clinics serving poor and rural populations. Career opportunities are particularly good for bilingual persons or minority members. Upon completion of additional academic and practical training, RNs may serve as surgical nurses, psychiatric nurses, public health nurses, nursing administrators, nurse educators, or researchers. The median annual wage for registered nurses was $70,000 in May 2017. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $48,690 and the top 10 percent earned more than $104,100.

Advanced Practice Nurses are RNs with graduate (post-baccalaureate) academic preparation and advanced clinical skills qualifying them as experts in a defined area of knowledge and practice. Graduate academic preparation in nursing is at the master’s and doctoral level. Advanced practice roles include nurse practitioner (NP), clinical nurse specialist (CNS), certified nurse midwife (CNW), and certified registered nurse 

anesthetists, nurse midwives, and NPs was $110,930 in May 2017. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $76,830 and the top 10 percent earned more than $180,460.

Individuals with both BS degrees in science (e.g. biology) and BSN degrees are well-positioned to pursue advanced practice nursing, as those roles require a greater level of scientific knowledge than provided by BSN degrees alone.

The Nurse Practitioner is an advanced practice nurse who specializes in the primary health care needs of individuals and families. Nurse practitioners are skilled health care providers who perform many of the tasks traditionally done by physicians. They can conduct complete medical examinations, diagnose and treat common acute illnesses and injuries, administer immunizations, manage chronic problems like high blood pressure and diabetes, order lab services and X-rays, prescribe drugs, and counsel patients on health problems. The NP works in collaboration with physicians and as an independent member of the health care team, working in hospitals, clinics, HMOs, private offices, nursing homes, etc.

Clinical Nurse Specialists are advanced practice nurses who have advanced clinical expertise in a particular specialty (e.g. oncology, cardiovascular nursing, etc.) in which they provide expert patient care or facilitate clinical research to improve patient outcomes. In addition to clinical practice or research, their responsibilities may include education and consultation. They provide leadership to other nurses in hospital, ambulatory, or home-care settings.


Admission Requirements 


These programs focus on preparing students to complete the BSN and requirements for RN licensure. Some programs accomplish this in as little as 12 months while others require a few months more. Pre-admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing discipline, a strong academic record, and pre-requisite coursework in human anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry, nutrition, developmental psychology, psychology, statistics, sociology, and ethics. Admission prerequisites vary and should be carefully checked. Applications can be submitted one year before enrolling while nursing prerequisites are being taken.



These programs also prepare students to earn the RN license after the first 12 months of education and training. Master’s programs then require another one, two, or sometimes three years depending on specialty area. Doctoral programs require another three years beyond the first year needed to prepare for RN licensure. These programs are typically designed for students who have decided on an advanced practice specialty area in nursing before applying to nursing school. Individuals who are not already RNs have a lot to explore and learn before making such a decision. Some programs require only a BS or BA, a minimum GPA of 2.75 or 3.0, GRE scores, and just a few courses (e.g. a lecture course and lab in biology and in chemistry, a course in statistics, and course in psychology). Others require coursework in anatomy, physiology, and biochemistry. Admission prerequisites may include additional courses and recommendation letters. It is critical to review each program’s specific admission information. Application deadlines vary but can be as early as October 1 for a program starting in June.


For More Information, Visit:

Occupational Outlook Handbook: Registered Nurses

Occupational Outlook Handbook: Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners

American Association of Colleges of Nursing:

University HQ

*(Adapted from Career Services Center, UC, San Diego)

Nurse Anesthetist Career Guide