ELMSN Admission Requirements

Entry Level MSN Programs

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

  • Baccalaureate from a regionally accredited institution AND all prerequisites completed before beginning the program. See table below for a list of prerequisites, which must be completed with a grade of “C” or better.
  • A recommended minimum 3.0 GPA on the last 60 semester/90 quarter units of coursework.
  • A recommended minimum 3.0 GPA in the four science pre-requisite courses.
  • Acceptable scores on HESI A2. See “Test Scores” below for more information.
  • Two letters of reference. One letter should be from an academic source addressing your academic preparedness for graduate study. The second should be from a healthcare professional addressing your clinical expertise.
  • For those applying to the FNP track, conversational skill in a second language is highly desirable.
  • Students who have attended a nursing program at another college/university will need to submit a statement supported by a letter from the dean of your current nursing program explaining the reasons for transfer. Students must be in good standing and eligible for continued enrollment in the current program.
  • Writing sample as described in the application.
  • Results of in-person or telephone interview as described below. 


All pre-requisite 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 ELMSN program.

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. 


Semester Units

English Composition
3 units
English Literature/Critical Thinking
Courses in Philosophy are not acceptable
3 units
Interpersonal Communication
Courses in public speaking are not acceptable
3 units
Introduction to Sociology OR Cultural Anthropology
Biological anthropology is not acceptable
3 units
Social Science Elective
A course in anthropology, sociology, psychology, economics, ethnic studies, political science, history, etc.
3 units
Lifespan Developmental Psychology
Content must cover birth to death
3 units
3 units
Research methods courses are unacceptable
3 units
Human Anatomy with Lab
4 units
Human Physiology with Lab
4 units
Chemistry with Lab
4 semester or
6 quarter units
Microbiology with Lab
4 units

Anatomy & Physiology Courses Offered at SMU

Samuel Merritt University offers prerequisite coursework in Human Anatomy & Human Physiology. The courses are taught in the fall, spring and summer terms and are designed for prospective students. More information can be found on the Undergraduate Prerequisite Courses website.

AP and IB Credit

AP exam scores of 3, 4 or 5 and IB exam scores of 5, 6 or 7 may be used to meet prerequisite requirements, but are only acceptable if the exams scores are clearly noted on NursingCAS and/or university transcript. Please send an AP or IB test score report 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.

Priority consideration is given to applicants with scores above 80 percent on each of 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


Students are selected for an interview based upon the content of the application they submit to NursingCAS. Not all candidates who meet minimum qualifications will be granted an interview. An in-person or phone interview is required to be selected for admission, depending on the program.

Students who need disability accommodations may request them by emailing email Elisa Laird-Metke at drc@samuelmerritt.edu. Please give as much notice as you can to allow time to set them up. Further information about the Disability Resource Center can be found here

Students Educated Outside of the United States


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.

International Transcript Evaluation Agencies

Students who have completed their degrees outside of the United States will have to have their degrees evaluated for United States baccalaureate equivalency, also known as a course-by-course/comprehensive evaluation. Please click here for a list of international transcript evaluation agencies.

Internationally Educated Nurses

On a limited basis, Samuel Merritt University will allow internationally educated nurses who need a few courses to meet the requirements for the Board of Registered Nursing to take nursing courses. Because SMU typically admits full cohorts of nursing students, space is very limited. For more information about this program and a list of FAQ’s, please click here

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