Skip to Content

What GPA do nurses need?

Nurses are in high demand across the healthcare industry. With an aging population and increased focus on preventative care, the need for qualified nurses is only expected to grow. Many aspiring nurses wonder what GPA they need to be a competitive applicant to nursing school and start a successful nursing career. Here’s an in-depth look at what GPA nurses need and how to stand out as an applicant.

Typical GPA Requirements for Nursing School

Most nursing schools set a minimum GPA requirement to apply to their program. This helps ensure applicants have demonstrated academic success in their prerequisite coursework. However, the exact GPA cutoff varies by school.

Here are some typical nursing program GPA requirements:

  • Minimum overall GPA of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale
  • Minimum GPA of 2.7-3.0 in prerequisite “science” courses like anatomy, physiology, microbiology, and chemistry
  • Minimum GPA of 2.5-2.7 in all nursing prerequisite courses

Some accelerated BSN programs or highly competitive schools may require an even higher GPA for admission. For example, a minimum overall GPA of 3.2 or higher is common.

Many schools also require applicants to pass a standardized nursing admission test like the TEAS or HESI exam with a satisfactory score.

How Competitive is GPA for Nursing School Admission?

While meeting the minimum GPA requirements is important, understand that nursing school admission is highly competitive at most programs. The average admitted nursing student often has an undergraduate GPA well above the minimum cutoffs.

Here are some examples of typical admitted student GPAs from sample nursing programs:

Nursing School Average Admitted GPA
Johns Hopkins University 3.79
University of Michigan 3.60
Emory University 3.56
University of Pennsylvania 3.52

At top-ranked nursing schools like these, it’s common for middle 50% of accepted students to have GPAs from 3.2 to 3.9. Having an undergraduate GPA of 3.5 or higher is ideal to be a competitive applicant.

Tips to Improve Your Nursing School Chances

Here are some tips if your GPA is on the lower end:

  • Aim to improve your GPA through your remaining prerequisite courses
  • Consider retaking any prerequisite courses you did poorly in
  • Enroll in extra classes to help offset earlier poor grades
  • Get experience through healthcare-related volunteering or working as a CNA
  • Excel on nursing admission exams like the TEAS or HESI
  • Apply to multiple nursing programs to increase your chances

What If Your GPA is Below the Minimum Requirements?

If your GPA is below a school’s posted minimum, you may still have a chance of admission by taking a few key steps:

  • Highlight upward grade trends or explain any extenuating circumstances on your application
  • Score very highly on nursing admission exams to demonstrate aptitude
  • Apply to schools with lower GPA cutoffs or minimum prerequisites vs. overall GPAs
  • Complete an LPN program first to gain experience and demonstrate ability
  • Earn a post-baccalaureate certificate or enrollment in prerequisites only

While getting into nursing school with a low GPA presents challenges, it’s still possible with the right strategy.

How Important is Prerequisite GPA vs. Overall GPA?

Both your overall undergraduate GPA and your grades specifically in nursing prerequisite courses are important for nursing school applicants.

Here’s an overview of how nursing schools evaluate GPA:

Overall GPA

Your cumulative GPA across all college-level coursework gives admissions committees a broad view of your academic ability and readiness for a rigorous nursing curriculum. Nurses need to synthesize knowledge from a range of scientific and general education disciplines, so success across your undergraduate career helps indicate potential.

Prerequisite GPA

Your cumulative GPA in required prerequisite courses like anatomy, physiology, microbiology, chemistry, and mathematics is also crucial. These classes closely overlap with nursing curriculum and requirements. Doing well in prerequisites indicates ability to handle nursing-specific course material. For this reason, the minimum GPA required in prerequisites only is often higher than the overall GPA cutoff.

Science GPA

Some nursing programs also look closely at your cumulative GPA in just the science-based prerequisites like anatomy, physiology, biology, chemistry, and microbiology. These challenging science courses cover foundational concepts for delivering patient care. A competitive science GPA helps demonstrate aptitude for mastering nursing’s technical and clinical elements.

Last 60 Credit GPA

Your GPA in the last 60 credits completed is another factor, since it reflects academic ability in your most recent and upper-level coursework. Doing well in advanced prerequisites and other classes shows maturity. Many students see their GPA improve over the last two years as they focus on their major and career path.

In summary, both overall and nursing-specific prerequisite GPAs are important indicators for admission and future success in nursing school.

How is GPA Evaluated for Transfer Students?

If you transferred from another college or university, nursing admissions committees will evaluate your GPA in a few key ways:

  • Cumulative GPA: This includes all college-level courses from any previous institutions plus your current school.
  • GPA from the last school attended: This GPA demonstrates recent academic achievement and is often weighted more heavily.
  • Nursing prerequisite GPA: This includes required courses like science and math, regardless of where completed. Doing well in prerequisites is key.

Some schools may also consider trends in your GPA, such as if it improved after transferring schools. It’s also important to follow transfer policies by submitting all transcripts.

Tips for Transfer Students

If you hope to transfer into nursing school, it’s smart to:

  • Maintain at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA from all colleges attended
  • Achieve As and Bs in nursing-specific prerequisites and advanced science courses
  • Take additional upper-level courses if earlier grades require improvement
  • Make the grades count once admitted by confirming transfer credits meet requirements

With strategic planning, you can demonstrate academic readiness as a nursing school transfer applicant.

How to Calculate Your GPA for Nursing School

When reviewing your transcripts and calculating GPA, keep the following methodology in mind:

Cumulative Undergraduate GPA

Add up all the credit hours you’ve completed and the grade points earned across all classes. Divide the total grade points by the total credits completed. This gives your cumulative college GPA.

Prerequisite GPA

Calculate your GPA solely based on all completed nursing prerequisite courses required for admission. This might include classes like:

  • Anatomy and Physiology I & II
  • General Chemistry I
  • Microbiology
  • Statistics
  • Psychology
  • English Composition

Add the credit hours and grade points just from prerequisites, then divide to get the prerequisite GPA.

Science GPA

For your science GPA, include credit hours and grade points only from key science prerequisites like:

  • Anatomy & Physiology
  • Chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Biology

Calculate the GPA solely for these core science courses.

Last 60 Credit GPA

Add your most recent credit hours completed until you reach 60 credits. Include those grades and credit hours only when dividing to calculate your last 60 GPA.

Meeting nursing school GPA requirements takes planning, but is very achievable with academic dedication and the motivation to succeed.

Typical Nursing School Curriculum

While each nursing program is slightly different, they all include a rigorous curriculum designed to prepare students for RN licensure and clinical practice. Here is an overview of what to expect:

Prerequisite Courses

Most programs require 1-2 years of prerequisite courses to establish baseline knowledge in topics like:

  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Microbiology
  • Statistics
  • Psychology
  • English Composition
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Nutrition
  • Ethics

Nursing Major Courses

Over the remaining 2-3 years, nursing major courses include:

  • Fundamentals of Nursing
  • Health Assessment
  • Pharmacology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Adult Health and Medical-Surgical Nursing
  • Mental Health Nursing
  • Maternal and Pediatric Nursing
  • Community and Public Health Nursing
  • Nursing Research
  • Nursing Leadership and Management

Clinical Training

Alongside nursing coursework, extensive clinical training occurs through:

  • Simulations and skills labs
  • Hospital rotations
  • Clinics and community health settings
  • Preceptorships and capstone experiences

This hands-on clinical training is critical for applying knowledge and developing expertise.


A competitive GPA is vital for getting into and succeeding in nursing school. While requirements vary, applicants generally need:

  • Minimum overall GPA around 2.5-3.0
  • Higher GPA of 3.0+ in core nursing prerequisites
  • Upward grade trends and improving GPAs
  • Standout grades in science prerequisites

Academic success in challenging prerequisites indicates readiness for nursing licensure exams and a demanding curriculum. With proper planning and application strategies, developing a strong GPA is an achievable goal for prospective nurses with dedication and drive.