A Few Facts About the Nursing Profession

  • Registered nurses constitute the largest health care occupation, with 2.4 million jobs.
  • About 3 out of 5 jobs are in hospitals.
  • The three major educational paths to registered nursing are a bachelor’s degree, an associate degree, and a diploma from an approved nursing program.
  • Registered nurses are projected to create the second largest number of new jobs among all occupations; job opportunities in most specialties and employment settings are expected to be excellent, with some employers reporting difficulty in attracting and retaining enough RNs.

The Nature of the Work

Nursing is a challenging profession that offers a wide range of career opportunities including, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) a Nurse Practitioner or Nurse Anesthestist, the new DNP Degree and a PhD programs in nursing.

For additional information on the Nursing profession, training, employment, job outlook, and salaries go to Use the A to Z menu and click on the link for Registered Nurses.

Undergraduate Preparation  

Preparing for Nursing School

The College of Charleston does not offer a formal major in "Pre=Nursing" nor do we grant undergraduate degrees in nursing, however, students at C of C can complete 60 SH of transfer credits, or an undergraduate degree in their chosen major, and apply to professional schools of nursing. The undergraduate prerequisite courses required for nursing schools are similar for most professional programs, but additional courses may be required by individual schools.

IMPORTANT: Students are urged to plan their schedules with a specific major and general degree requirements at the College of Charleston in mind, in addition to meeting the Allied Health prerequisites. Students interested in all programs should select a major and work toward a degree at the College. If you are admitted into a program before you graduate, you have not "lost" anything, but if you stay here another year, you will be further along toward a degree. You should be aware that having a Baccalaureate degree weighs favorably in applying to many programs, even if it is not required. Plan your college curriculum as though you have two equal goals---(1st) meeting the allied health requirements and (2nd) earning a degree in a College of Charleston major.

Due to the rigor of our science curriculum, the College of Charleston has specific internal prerequisite requirements in order to complete some of the required courses for nursing schools, such as microbiology and anatomy and physiology. The rigor of our science courses, together with a well-developed advising process prepare our pre-nursing students to be competitive applicants.

The College of Charleston enjoys a long standing relationship with the College of Nursing at the Medical University of South Carolina, which is located only a few city blocks from the College of Charleston.  Students can apply to the College of Nursing at MUSC after having completed a minimum of 60 SH of coursework in specific categories or an undergraduate degree.

Undergraduate Pre-requisite Courses

College of Charleston students who are interested in applying to professional nursing programs should complete the following coursework. Additional courses may be required depending on their planned track of study and the professional nursing program to which they apply.


English Composition & Literature
English 110 & 1 Additional ENG course
6 SH
*Chemistry with labs
CHEM 101‑101L‑102‑102L or
CHEM 111/111L/112/112L
8 SH
Biology with labs
BIOL 111‑112 + Labs
8 SH
Human Anatomy and Physiology I with lab
BIOL 221/221L
4 SH
Human Anatomy and Physiology II with lab
BIOL 222/222L
4 SH
Microbiology with lab
BIOL 310 + Lab
4 SH
General Psychology
PSYC 103 (Life Span Human Development)
3 SH
Lifespan Development
PSYC 224
3 SH

MATH 104 or MATH 250



3 SH

3 SH

Humanities (Fine Arts, Literature, History, Philosophy, Religious Studies, *Foreign Languages) Social Sciences)
*Spanish recommended
15 SH
Electives (Any coursework over the 101 level) 17 SH
Minimum number of transfer credits
or College of Charleston Bachelor’s Degree
60 SH
(122 SH)

* Even though MUSC does not specifically state that you must have one year of Chemistry, one year of Biology (BIOL 111 - 112 with labs), and a semester of General Psychology, the College of Charleston requires these courses as prerequisites. Nursing schools, other than MUSC, frequently require that applicants have a basic knowledge of chemistry. These "excess" hours can be counted in the elective (for nursing) category. College of Charleston students who are interested in applying to the Nursing Program at the Medical University of South Carolina must complete the prerequisites listed above, plus additional courses depending on their planned track of study.    

Prerequisite requirements may vary for other Nursing programs throughout the US, please check the admission requirements for each school of interest.


Students are urged to do VOLUNTEER SERVICE in a healthcare setting. You may volunteer only a few (e.g. 3) hours per week, but you must be dependable and your activities should extend over a significant period of time. Diverse clinical experiences are encouraged and certifications such as EMT or C.N.A give added value to your application. The experience component of your applicant profile is increasingly important for some programs, so you should make the most of this opportunity. Also, you should ensure that someone familiar with your performance can serve as a reference.

Dual Degree Programs   

Dual Degree Programs

1. Dual Degree Program for Nursing with MUSC
The Medical University of South Carolina and the College of Charleston have a partnership that will allow selected students at the College to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from CofC and a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing from MUSC in only 4.5 years. Under the program, MUSC’s College of Nursing will hold seats for up to six College of Charleston biology-seeking students each year into MUSC’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science Nursing program. Beginning in Fall 2021, CofC biology students will be allowed to apply for the program during their freshmen year. Accepted students will be required to follow a structured semester-by-semester schedule of coursework at the College of Charleston and maintain a minimum cumulative and pre-requisite science GPA of 3.5. All degree and prerequisite requirements must be satisfied by the end of their junior year at which time accepted students will take a Leave of Absence from CofC to enter the MUSC program. After completing the first year of the Accelerated BSN program at MUSC students are eligible to participate in commencement exercises at CofC and then return to MUSC to complete the last semester of nursing classes and graduate from MUSC with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

2. Dual Degree Program for Nursing with USC Upstate
CofC recently entered into a dual degree program with the University of South Carolina Upstate Mary Black School of Nursing that will be an option for entering freshmen in Fall 2020. This new program will offer a small number of seats for interested pre-nursing students. Students must declare a BA in Biology to qualify for this program and complete a separate application during summer orientation. This partnership will allow a student to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from CofC and a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from USC Upstate in 5 years. Students who are accepted to this program and satisfy all the course requirements will be guaranteed a spot at Mary Black. Students accepted to this program will be required to relocate to Spartanburg SC for the last 2 years in order to complete the clinical portion of their nursing degree.

Tests and Application  

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

The GRE is usually only required for advanced nursing degrees beyond undergraduate BSN programs. The general portion GRE is a computer based exam that is given year-round at the Prometrics Testing Centers. Information about the GRE can be obtained at the GRE website.

The results from the GRE are available to the student on the test date, but it takes approximately 3 weeks for the test results to reach the professional schools, so make sure to plan appropriately


Design an Academic Plan

It is important to know your timetable and plan accordingly.


Fall Semester

Declare a major and get an advisor. Make sure to identify that you are a pre-health student on the major declaration form Make an appointment with your major advisor to layout an academic plan. Meet with your Pre-health advisor to discuss professional goals and determine an academic plan to ensure  all courses needed the completion of all prerequiste courses and clinical/volunteer experiences.

Spring Semester

Discuss your academic progress with your advisor. Search for summer jobs and volunteer opportunities in your field of interest.

First Summer

Work/volunteer to gain insight of your career choice.


Fall Semester

Meet with your advisor to discuss your Spring schedule. Establish a list of potential schools to which you will apply and identify all prerequisite courses to discuss with your advisor. Pre-nursing students(if you are on the 2-year plan) visit the Center for Student Learning and begin learning about the GRE Continue volunteer work in your field to whatever degree manageable during the academic year.

Spring Semester

Discuss your academic progress with your advisor and adjust your academic plan, as needed. Explore career options and alternatives, if your GPA is not adequate or your career interests have changed. Take the GRE (to be competitive you will want to score a minimum of 500 on both the quantitative and verbal portions of the exam). If you don't score a 500 on the verbal, plan on retaking it. If you are on the 2-year plan, the applications for nursing school at MUSC are accepted for both fall and spring semesters (check the website at for deadlines. You will want to apply as early as possible to enhance your chances for acceptance.

Second Summer

Work/volunteer to gain insight of your career choice. Get involved in the community

For students on the 2-year plan, if you are offered a position at a professional nursing school, you can leave the College of Charleston and complete your BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) degree at a professional school. If for some reason, you are not offered a position, you can work towards completion of your undergraduate degree at C of C and apply again later. When applying to competitive academic programs, you should always have a "Plan B".


Fall Semester

Meet with your advisor to discuss Spring schedule. Get organized, order review booklets and practice tests to prepare for standardized exams. Explore various professional schools and determine to which ones you will apply.

Spring Semester

Discuss your academic progress with your advisor.  Meet with your Pre-health advisor to determine if your GPA is competitive and whether or not this is the year you should apply to professional school.

Start worksheets for on-line centralized application services and/or request applications from schools that do not participate in the centralized application process. Collect materials needed to fill in application and start working on application essay.

Apply and study for standardized admissions tests.  Check the deadlines and do not miss them. Practice, practice, practice taking the standardized admissions test.

Take the standardized admissions test and request that scores be released to the College of Charleston, schools to which you are applying and the application service (if appropriate). Request letters of evaluation from faculty and health professionals who know you well. Make sure to provide each of them with a signed Faculty evaluation form.

Third Summer

Continue to work/volunteer in your field of interest and community outreach projects. Complete your applications and submit early.  Early decision program applications must be submitted to the schools by August 1st. Complete your file for the Health Professions Committee.  Supply the committee with a copy of your personal statement from your application. Retake standardized admissions tests, if necessary.


Fall Semester

Meet with your advisor.  Get a degree audit and apply for graduation. Make sure your Health Professions Committee File is complete and all your letters of evaluation have been submitted. Respond promptly to requests for secondary applications from each professional school. Prepare for interviews. Interview and then wait. Search for sources of financial aid.

Spring Semester

Send updated transcripts directly to the professional schools to which you have applied. Wait for decisions.  Be sure to let the chair of the Health Professions Committee know the final outcome. Discuss alternatives with your advisor.  Meet with the chair of the Health Professions Committee to develop a strategy for reapplying, if necessary.

Letters of Recommendation  

Letters of Reference are an important part of the application process to professional schools of nursing. Letters frequently come from professors, supervisors, or licensed nurses who know you well. Individual nursing schools will almost always provide specific forms that should be used by your evaluators and letters will be submitted electronically as part of the application process. Failing to use the proper form when submitting your reference letters, may delay processing of your application.

Online Resources  

Useful Websites for Nursing

MUSC College of Nursing Academic Programs:

National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission:
Provides a very complete list of accredited programs, searchable by state, type, etc.

National Student Nurses Association:

National League for Nursing:     

Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Lists only CCNE ccredited nursing programs---incomplete

Nursing Net (web links to nursing programs worldwide)

Peterson’s Guide to Nursing Programs

Students interested in Nursing may sign up for the College of Charleston AlliedHealth Listserver to receive announcements and notices. 

Frequently Asked Questions  

Have a question you think should be addressed here? Contact Us

Do I have to be a science major to go to nursing school?

No. Your major is not important as long as you complete the pre-requisite course work to satisfy the admissions requirements and maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.

Will majoring in science give me an advantage in applying to nursing school?

Not necessarily. Most nursing schools are looking for well rounded students who have an aptitude for science. They do not give preference to science majors.

Should I minor or take a double major?

Only if you are truly interested in another field of study. There is no evidence that those students who have a second major or minor have a better chance of acceptance into nursing school than those who do not.

Should I take a commercial prep course before taking the GRE (if required)?

There is no hard evidence that commercial courses produce significant gains in test scores. These courses may benefit students who need the extra motivation to buckle down and study. They do provide the opportunity to take multiple full length practice test in real time situations. However, motivated students can do the same on their own or in a study group. The Director of the Center for Student Learning here at C of C works with students to prepare for standardized tests, both individually and in groups. Go to and explore all the possibilities for practice.

Can I take required courses in the summer and/or at another institution?

In general, it is best to take your required courses at your primary academic institution and during the regular school session. Professional schools want to know that a student can handle science courses while taking a normal academic load. If you have a compelling reason, for taking a course during the summer, for example to be able to get the proper course sequence, then do so. You should try, at least, to take the course at your primary institution or one with equivalent academic rigor. You should also check with the appropriate department to see that the credits from another institution will transfer.

Can I get into nursing school in less than 4 years?

Yes, students at C of C can complete 60 SH of transfer credits, or an undergraduate degree in their chosen major, and apply to professional schools of nursing.