Grade point average requirements for nursing school vary by institution and according to degree plans and admission standards. Some schools have different requirements for admission to their program than they do for their degrees. The same is true of the difference between undergraduate and graduate GPA requirements. Some institutions will emphasize all undergraduate coursework in order to be admitted to a graduate program, while others will simply emphasize prerequisite or science courses.
GPA for Undergraduate Admissions
There is no standard minimum GPA to get into nursing school. A simple perusal of a few well-respected nursing programs reveals some similarities and some differences among admission requirements for each school. Typically, students pursuing the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) attend the first two years of college, completing their general education requirements. Admission to the nursing program is generally contingent upon successful completion of undergraduate courses, some of which include prerequisite courses in fields such as statistics, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, introduction to microbiology and even lifespan development. Students at Western Illinois University, for example, must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 out of 4.0 on all undergraduate coursework while maintaining a 2.33 or better on these courses. At the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC), students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 2.5 out of 4.0. Students with an associate's degree who are registered nurses planning to complete their degree at UNC must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0. In general, for most nursing schools a GPA of 2.5 to 3.0 is standard, but some programs will allow for a lower GPA. Students should always check the admission requirements for each individual school to which they plan to apply.
GPA for Graduate Admissions
Graduate admissions for nursing school differ somewhat from undergraduate admissions. Students with a bachelor's degree in the field of nursing already, or students entering from another field through a direct-entry program like the one offered at the University of California-San Francisco (UCSF), usually have to graduate from their undergraduate degree program with a minimum GPA of 3.0.
This is also true at the University of Washington School of Nursing, often considered to be the top school of nursing in the United States by publications like "U.S. News & World Report."
Maintaining the GPA During Nursing School
In addition to having minimum grade point average requirements for admission to nursing school, many institutions also have minimum expectations that students must meet while attending school.
Western Illinois University requires that students continue to maintain a 3.0 GPA once admitted to the program. In some cases, nursing schools maintain even higher standards for the nursing degree program. The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, for instance, requires that students maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.4 out of 4.0 on all undergraduate nursing coursework. In most cases, the prominence of the program will be an indicator of the admission and degree GPA requirements. Schools that are more prominent than others have the luxury of being more selective, and can usually maintain higher standards than other programs.
Jared Lewis is a professor of history, philosophy and the humanities. He has taught various courses in these fields since 2001. A former licensed financial adviser, he now works as a writer and has published numerous articles on education and business. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in theology and has completed doctoral work in American history.