Most nursing programs are highly competitive.

Nurses are in high demand throughout much of the developed world. A national U.S. nursing shortage means nurses' wages have increased, making it a professional field that captures students' interest. A major contributing factor to the nursing shortage is a lack of qualified instructors, leading to strong demand for nursing instruction. Many nursing programs have limited space and very high GPA requirements for admission. Noncompetitive entry level nursing programs are an option for students with less competitive GPAs. A few areas of advanced nursing education also have a less competitive admission process.

Fulfill Prereqs for Nursing

Noncompetitive admissions doesn't mean applicants don't need to qualify. Accredited LPN programs, for example, can require a high school diploma or GED and acceptable pre-admission scores on the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) administered by the school. Nursing schools commonly require that students take prerequisite courses in math and science before beginning a nursing course sequence. Admissions interviews may also be part of the entrance process.

Identify Least Competitive Nursing Schools

Getting into a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program is very competitive. Admission to practical nurse (PN), vocational nurse (LN), or registered nurse (RN) programs can also be competitive, particularly nursing programs at public community colleges with low tuition. By contrast, private vocational colleges with high tuition are among the least competitive nursing schools when it comes to landing an offer of admission. Graduates of an accredited professional nursing program can apply to sit for the NCLEX-PN licensing exam that all states require. It is possible to launch a nursing career in one year to 18 months depending on prerequisites needed.

Explore BSN Bridge Programs

Nurses who become RNs with two-year nursing diplomas sometimes want to earn a bachelor's degree of nursing science. Certain schools, such as the University of North Florida, make these RN to BSN bridge programs relatively noncompetitive. Licensed nurses with an associate degree have typically completed pre reqs for nursing along with basic nursing skills classes, so bridge students don’t require as much attention from scarce instructors. Completing a bridge program typically takes less time than the standard curriculum.

Consider a Doctorate in Nursing

A few nurses pursue doctoral degrees in nursing that prepare them for advanced nursing practice, as well as careers in college teaching and health care administration. Doctoral candidates must have certain prerequisites such as a master's degree of nursing science, thereby limiting the number of potential applicants competing for a spot in the incoming cohort of doctoral students. Many respected nursing schools, such as Pennsylvania State University and University of Washington, offer doctoral degrees. It is possible to find online doctoral programs, too.