BSN Admission Requirements

bachelor of nursing programs

Admission to the BSN program is competitive. Applicants are considered for admission based upon the following criteria:

  • A minimum of 66 semester/99 quarter units of transferable coursework, including the completion of all pre-requisites with a grade of “C” or better by the time of entry into the program.

  • A recommended minimum 3.0 GPA in all pre-requisite coursework.

  • A recommended minimum 3.0 GPA in the four science pre-requisite courses.

  • At least one term with a minimum of 9 semester or 14 quarter units of academic courses completed in the past two years

  • Scores on the HESI A2. See “Test Scores” below for more information.

  • Two letters of reference: one from a faculty member, preferably a math or science instructor, and the other from a health care professional.References from family and friends will not be considered.

  • Writing Sample.

For a list of commonly asked questions regarding admission to the BSN program, click here


The table below outlines the prerequisite requirements for entry to the BSN program. The courses are a combination of the general education necessary to award a bachelor's degree, as well as those that are common to nursing programs as required by the California Board of Registered Nursing. Transfer students will find many similarities our requirements and those of other nursing programs in the Bay Area. We believe these are the courses that lead to successful careers in nursing. 

All prerequisite courses must be completed with a grade of “C” or better by the start of the program. Although it is acceptable to have courses planned or in progress, it is in the students best interest to have as many courses completed as possible at the time of application. It is not possible to complete any prerequisites concurrently with the BSN program. Courses may only be repeated once.

New Course Articulation Tool

Wondering if you took the right courses as a local CSU, UC or community college? Use our new Course Articulation Tool to see which courses meet the prerequisite requirements for ABSN, BSN and ELMSN programs. 


English Composition
Equivalent to English 1A.
English Literature/Critical Thinking
Equivalent to English 1B or 1C; courses in Philosophy are not acceptable.
Interpersonal Communication
Courses in public speaking are not acceptable.
Introduction to Sociology OR Cultural Anthropology 
Biological anthropology is not acceptable
General Psychology
Lifespan Developmental Psychology
Content must cover birth to death
Fine Arts Theory
Art history, music appreciation, history of jazz, etc. are examples of acceptable theory-based courses. In contrast, courses focused on "how to do" or "how to play" something (e.g. intro to painting, intro to piano) are not acceptable.
Introduction to Philosophy, Ethics or Bioethics
One course from the above only. Critical Thinking courses are not acceptable. 
U.S. History 
Any time period.
Modern World History
Must be global in perspective and include the period up to the present. 
Diversity/Ethnic Studies
One course in culture, race or ethnicity. Generally taught in a social science department.
Humanities elective
One course in humanities, such as religious studies, foreign language, theory courses in art, music or theatre, or an additional philosophy course.
Research methods courses are unacceptable. 
Completed within the last 4 years at a college/university. See exceptions below.  
Human Anatomy with Lab
Human Physiology with Lab
Chemistry with Lab
Minimum of 4 semester/6 quarter units. 
Microbiology with Lab


Applicants to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing program must have taken a course, and received a grade of “B” or higher, in Algebra at a college or university. Non-UC/CSU transferable courses in elementary or intermediate algebra are acceptable. Course content should reflect that of a high school algebra course. Applicants may be exempt from the requirement if, during the previous four years, the applicant completed one of the following:

  1. Took a higher level math course at a college/university and received a grade of “C” or better
  2. Achieved an acceptable score on one of the following exams while still in high school:
    1. Scored 3, 4 or 5 on an AP Calculus exam or 5, 6 or 7 on an IB Higher Level Math exam
    2. Scored 600 or higher on the SAT math section or SAT Math Level 2 Subject Test
    3. Scored 26 or higher on the ACT math section
    4. Scored 50 or higher on a CLEP exam in College Algebra

AP and IB Credit

AP exam scores of 3 or higher and IB exam scores of 5 or higher may be used to meet prerequisite requirements, but are only acceptable if the exam scores are clearly noted on NursingCAS and/or university transcript. Official score reports must be sent to Samuel Merritt University.  

Test Scores


HESI A2 scores must be available at the time you submit your application for admission. You will be asked to self-report your HESI A2 scores and upload a copy of the score report in the application.

Applicants must submit scores from the following exams: Reading Comprehension, Vocabulary and General Knowledge, Grammar, Math, and Anatomy & Physiology. Additionally, applicants must take the Learning Style and Personality Profile assessments.

More information about taking the HESI A2


The need for the TOEFL will be assessed based on information provided by the applicant on the application for admission. If the TOEFL is required, applicants must achieve a minimum score of 100 (Internet Based Test). Scores must be submitted during the application process.

Military Education and Experience Review for Nursing Program Admission

Students who apply to the nursing programs at SMU and have military based health care training and/or experience will be evaluated on an individual basis. All classes and experience previously obtained will be evaluated for equivalency to the desired program requirements. A program completion plan will be implemented based on this evaluation. Students will be required to complete the HESI A-2 exam.

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