Enrolling in a college nursing program can start you on a successful career path in healthcare with a number of professional opportunities after you graduate. Whether you’re seeking an associate or bachelor’s degree in nursing, expect a well-rounded curriculum that includes courses in everything from algebra to pathology. For first-year students, required courses will vary depending on the school you’re attending, but you can generally plan on classes that will fall in the following categories: liberal arts, science, nursing and lab or clinicals.

Liberal Arts

Liberal arts classes are required for any first-year college student, and those entering a nursing program are no exception. While the specific course requirements will differ depending on the college, classes in English, history, math and other core areas, along with electives such as public speaking, are often part of the curriculum. Though they are not directly related to nursing, they do give students important background knowledge and skills that will serve them in their professional lives after graduation.


Classes in the sciences make up an important component for anyone interested in working in healthcare. The basics in biology and chemistry are a given at any nursing school, but even if you’ve already completed these foundational courses, you will still need to take other science classes. These may include microbiology, human anatomy and physiology, health and wellness, genetics and nutrition.

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First-year students will also be exposed to courses specific to nursing, often starting with introductory classes designed to acquaint them with the field. Courses in nursing roles, health assessment and other foundational nursing classes may be part of the first-year curriculum; however, the specific nursing courses for new students will depend on the school. Pathology, pharmacology and healthcare management and practices are other classes you may need to take as part of the program.


Clinicals give nursing students the practical experience they need to succeed in the field, and for first-year students these classes are often the first glimpse they have into real-world nursing. Classes dealing with clinical concepts and processes are a standard part of nursing programs, and these often take place in a variety of settings. Some of these classes may occur in a medical hospital while others take place in family practice offices or mental health facilities.

About the Author

Suzy Kerr graduated from Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communications at the University of Georgia. She completed her Master's degree in Nutrition Sciences, also at the University of Georgia. Suzy has been a successful health, fitness and nutrition writer for more than 10 years, and has been published in various print and online publications.