Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program

Samuel Merritt University has been preparing highly qualified nurses for more than 100 years. In fact, we’re one of the leading providers of new RNs in California.

Campus Location


  • On Campus

Program Duration

  • Two Years (Four Semesters)

Upcoming Deadlines

Our BSN Degree Offers a Community-Focused Education

Nurses are a vital part of the healthcare system, and they are in high demand. The U.S. Department of Labor projects the field of nursing will grow 15 percent through 2026, much faster than the average for all other occupations.

Our two-year nursing program is designed for students who have completed their general education and prerequisite courses at another institution. So when you begin at SMU, you’ll be ready to participate in hands-on learning experiences sooner. Your clinical courses will take you into hospital and community settings, giving you plenty of opportunities to put theory into practice.

In addition to acquiring the medical knowledge and technical skills necessary to practice as a nurse, you’ll develop the leadership, communication, and teamwork skills you’ll need to thrive as part of an integrated health care team.

Our BSN program also serves as a stepping stone for those looking to move into leadership, education, or an advanced practice nursing specialty. Many of our graduates go on to earn a master of science in nursing or a doctor of nursing practice.

What we look for:

  • An interest in working with underserved populations
  • Compassion
  • Interpersonal/interprofessional communication
  • Teamwork
  • Critical thinking
  • Responsibility

Featured Events

BSN Requirements & Info

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

  • A minimum of 60 semester/90 quarter units of transferable coursework, including the completion of all prerequisites with a grade of “C” or better by the time of entry into the program

  • A recommended minimum 3.0 GPA in all prerequisite coursework

  • A recommended minimum 3.0 GPA in the four science prerequisite courses

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

  • Acceptable scores on the HESI A2* or TEAS (not required starting with fall 2023 applicants/admits)

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

  • Short answer responses submitted with the application

2020 BSN Admitted Student Profile

2020 BSN Admitted Student Profile
Applications Submitted570
Accepted Applicants147
HESI Math Range
(middle 50% of admitted students)
HESI Reading Range
(middle 50% of admitted students)
HESI Anatomy & Physiology Range
(middle 50% of admitted students)
Prerequisite GPA Range
(middle 50% of admitted students)
Science Prerequisite GPA Range
(middle 50% of admitted students)


The information below outlines the prerequisite requirements for entry into 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 between 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 student's 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.

Prerequisite Requirement, Semester Units (except as otherwise specified)
  • English Composition (Equivalent to English 1A), 3.0
  • English Literature/Critical Thinking (Equivalent to English 1B or 1C; courses in Philosophy are not acceptable), 3.0
  • Communication or Speech Elective (Any communication or speech course is acceptable), 3.0
  • Introduction to Sociology OR Cultural Anthropology (Biological anthropology is not acceptable), 3.0
  • General Psychology, 3.0
  • Lifespan Developmental Psychology (Content must cover birth to death), 3.0
  • 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), 3.0
  • Introduction to Philosophy, Ethics or Bioethics (Only one course is needed. Critical thinking courses are not acceptable), 3.0
  • U.S. History (Any time period), 3.0
  • Diversity Elective (One course in culture, race, or ethnicity. Generally taught in a social science department), 3.0
  • Humanities Elective (One course in humanities, such as religious studies, foreign language, theory courses in art, music, or theatre, or an additional philosophy course), 3.0
  • Nutrition (General, broad-based course), 3.0
  • Statistics (Research methods courses are unacceptable), 3.0 
  • Human Anatomy with Lab (A combined course in Anatomy and Physiology (A&P) can be used to meet the requirement only if two combined A&P courses are completed, e.g. A&P I and A&P II), 4.0
  • Human Physiology with Lab (A combined course in Anatomy and Physiology (A&P) can be used to meet the requirement only if two combined A&P courses are completed, e.g. A&P I and A&P II), 4.0
  • Chemistry with Lab4.0 semester or 6.0 quarter units
  • Microbiology with Lab, 4.0
New Prerequisite Course Articulation Tool

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

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 official university transcripts.  

HESI Admission Assessment (A2)

Note: The HESI A2 and TEAS exams are not required for applicants who apply to the fall 2023 cohorts and beyond. 

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

TEAS option
Note: The HESI A2 and TEAS exams are not required for applicants who apply to the fall 2023 cohorts and beyond. 

Samuel Merritt University's prelicensure nursing programs are now accepting the TEAS as an alternative to the HESI A2 to fulfill the entrance exam requirement. Applicants should note that the University will not be administering or hosting the TEAS exam on any of its campuses.

When registering for the TEAS, applicants should select the TEAS at ATI(online remote proctored by ATI) option. Register for the TEAS at

The minimum recommended exam score for competitive applicants is 80 percent for each individual section and overall. For registration or technical assistance with the TEAS, click here.

Official Transcripts

Applicants must request that their official transcripts be sent directly to NursingCAS from their college or university's registrar's office. Applicants should follow instructions provided in NursingCAS, and may reference SMU's Application Process for additional details. 


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.

Application Fees
Application fees are payable to Nursing’s Centralized Application Service (NursingCAS). Samuel Merritt University does not charge an additional admission fee.

Non-Refundable Deposits and Fees
Students offered admission pay a non-refundable tuition deposit of $350 to secure their seat in the class.

Application fees and tuition deposits are non-refundable, whether or not the student withdraws in the first week of the term.

Tuition Calculator
There is a tuition calculator that provides a detailed summary of annual tuition, all fees for the program, and a cost estimator for the entire program.

Tuition Calculator

Your nursing education at Samuel Merritt University is an important and valuable investment in your future.  Not only will you have the opportunity to pursue a rewarding career in healthcare, but Samuel Merritt University graduates have a loan default rate of less than one percent. This means that students who borrowed to attend Samuel Merritt University have found employment in their chosen field that allows them to pay off their loans. 

Samuel Merritt University is proud to offer a variety of ways to assist in funding your education including scholarships, work-study, and student loans. The first step in applying for financial aid at SMU is to submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Scholarships and Grants

These are “gift aid” and do not need to be repaid.  These funds may come from the government, private groups, and/or directly from Samuel Merritt University.

Scholarships for BSN include:

  • Sharon Clark Diaz
  • Employee Campaign
  • Samuel Merritt College Scholarship
  • Brosuis
  • Kessler
  • Providence Alumni
  • Marshal Steele Scholarship
  • Hearst Scholarship
  • Lewis Scholarship

Samuel Merritt Scholarship Award- this is a scholarship awarded by Samuel Merritt University based on financial need and GPA.  It will be renewed every semester and does not need to be repaid.  For the 2019-2020 academic year, the award will be between $5000 and $8000. 

Federal Grants- up to $6,195 in Pell Grant and up to $1000 in Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG).  These are need-based awards, and will not be repaid. 

Student Loans - There are also a number of student loan options for BSN students. See the financial aid office page for details.

In addition to the cost of tuition, books, and fees, financial aid can also cover other indirect educational costs, so the total cost of attendance includes:

  • Books and Supplies
  • Room and Board
  • Transportation
  • Personal Expenses
  • Other fees as determined by program/college

Once you receive your financial aid package, check this budget against your actual living expenses and we can make necessary adjustments to meet your needs.

Detailed information about financial aid, budgeting, total cost, and application processes are available on the webpage.

We realize that the financial aid process can be difficult and overwhelming.  We are here to help.  Financial Aid staff can assist with budgeting, understanding your awards, and understanding the process.  The SMU staff is committed to each and every prospective student and enrolled student.  We have an open-door policy and are available via phone or email. or 510-879-9200

Official Transcripts for Courses in Progress

All admitted students are required to provide official, sealed transcripts for courses that were still in progress or planned at time of application and were not updated in the Academic Update Process through the NursingCAS system.

Acceptance is contingent on meeting all course requirements. Official transcripts are needed for all colleges attended. They must be mailed directly to NursingCAS by the issuing institution’s registrar’s office:

P.O. Box 9201
Watertown, MA 02471

Criminal Background Check and Drug Screen

A criminal background check and drug screening are required to participate in clinical rotations. To initiate your background check and drug screening, visit this website and complete the process as required within 30 days. If you have questions about the process, please call customer service at (888) 666-7788.

Health Insurance

All students are required to have medical insurance coverage in effect by their program’s first day of orientation. You can either enroll in one of Samuel Merritt University’s (SMU) plans or waive SMU insurance if you have a plan of your own.  Enroll or register a waiver at  If you have not received a confirmation email within five days of your submission, please contact our insurance consultant, Trish Ivey at (888) 978-8355.

CPR Certification

Certification must be from the American Heart Association and be the Basic Life Support BLS module (must include adults, infants, and children). You may go to any provider for these classes but the University has a partnership with HeartStart CPR including discounted pricing.

Required Health Forms

Every student must complete the Student Health Forms, which list the health requirements for incoming students. Please visit the Student Health Portal to enter your health information, as well as upload all the required supporting documents. In order to avoid a registration hold, please submit all your health requirements as soon as possible after being accepted into the program, but no later than 30 days before your program start date. All health information must be submitted online.  Documents submitted by mail, fax, or email will not be accepted and your documents will not be returned.

If you have a disability-related reason that prevents you from fulfilling any of these requirements, please contact the Disability Resource Center at to schedule a private conversation. 

Photo for ID Badge

Every student must submit a headshot photo for their ID badge. Instructions and specs for this photo will be provided after you receive your admitted student portal checklist/email.

Nursing program applicants with 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 A2 exam.

Licensure Exams, Graduation, and Employment Rates

Please refer to the university's Student Success Measures webpage for licensure exam pass rates, graduation rates, employment rates, and additional success indicators. 

Underrepresented students (low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented minority students) who are interested in Samuel Merritt University's BSN, ABSN, and ELMSN programs are encouraged to attend our three-day Nursing Success! Seminar. Students learn about the admissions process; meet current students, faculty, and staff; and tour the Health Sciences Simulation Center (HSSC) during this semi-annual event.

Applications are now open for the January 18-20, 2023 Nursing Success! Seminar. This event will be hosted virtually. Visit our Nursing Success! webpage to apply.

Visit our Admission Events page for Nursing Success! FAQs

Samuel Merritt University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501; 510.748.9001. 

The baccalaureate degree program in nursing at Samuel Merritt University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC., 20001.

Baccalaureate Accreditation
Initial Accreditation Date: April 21, 2001
Most Recent Accreditation Date: November 2, 2020
Accreditation Term Expires: June 30, 2031
Last On-Site Evaluation: November 2020
​​​​​​​Next On-Site Evaluation: Fall 2030

Bachelor of Science in Nursing Technical Standards

The mission of Samuel Merritt University is to produce highly skilled and compassionate nursing professionals. Students are expected to develop a robust healthcare knowledge base and requisite clinical skills, with the ability to appropriately apply knowledge and skills, effectively interpret information, and contribute to patient-centered decisions across a broad spectrum of clinical situations in all settings. The following technical standards, in conjunction with the academic standards, are requirements for admission, promotion, and graduation. The term “candidate” refers to candidates for admission to any of the Prelicensure Programs well as current students who are candidates for retention, progression, or graduation.

These requirements may be achieved with or without reasonable accommodations, the cost of which will be borne by the institution. These standards should not serve as a deterrent to any candidate with disabilities who desires to pursue baccalaureate level education. Candidates with disabilities bring unique perspectives which contribute to the diversity of the student population and will create a diverse health care workforce of culturally competent practitioners who can meet the needs of their patients. Candidates with disabilities are encouraged to contact the Disability Resource Center immediately to begin a confidential conversation about possible accommodations necessary to meet these standards. Fulfillment of the technical standards for graduation from any Prelicensure Nursing Program does not guarantee that a graduate will be able to fulfill the technical requirements of any specific clinical position.

Technical Standards

Observational Skills

A candidate must acquire information as presented through demonstrations and experiences in foundational sciences. In addition, a candidate must be able to evaluate a patient accurately and assess relevant health, behavioral and medical information.  Candidates must be able to obtain and interpret information through comprehensive bio-psycho-social assessment of patients, correctly interpret diagnostic representations of patient data, and accurately evaluate patient conditions and responses in all clinical settings. 

Communication Skills

Candidates must exhibit interpersonal skills to enable effective care and collaboration for patients, including the ability to communicate effectively in English with all members of a multidisciplinary health care team, patients, their families, faculty, and staff.  Candidates must be able to clearly and accurately communicate verbal and written information and accurately interpret verbal and non-verbal communication in a timely manner.

Patient Care Skills 

Candidates must be able to perform health assessment and physical examination skills.  A candidate should be able to perform or direct basic laboratory tests (e.g., urinalysis), diagnostic and therapeutic procedures (e.g., venipuncture, placement of urinary catheters, electrocardiogram), and interpret findings.  A candidate must be able to provide or direct general and emergency treatment for patients, and respond to emergency situations in a timely manner (e.g., cardiopulmonary resuscitation, administration of intravenous medications, application of pressure to arrest bleeding).  Candidates must meet applicable safety standards for the environment and follow universal precaution procedures.

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative, and Cognitive Skills

Candidates must be able to learn through a variety of modalities, including but not limited to: lecture; group or team and collaborative activities; simulation; individual study; and use of computer technology.  A candidate must effectively interpret, assimilate and understand the complex information required to function within the Prelicensure Program’s curriculum. The candidate must be able to synthesize information both in person and via technology; interpret causal connections and make accurate, fact-based conclusions based on available data and information; formulate a plan of care, investigate the potential answers and outcomes; and reach appropriate and accurate practice decisions. A candidate must be able to find sources of knowledge and possess the ability to be a life-long learner.

Behavioral Attributes, Social Skills and Professional Expectations

A candidate must be able to exercise good judgment, promptly complete all responsibilities attendant to the care of patients, and develop mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients, faculty, and fellow students in the learning community. The skills required to do so include the ability to effectively handle and manage heavy workloads, function effectively under stress, adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility, and to learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in clinical practice and academia.  Candidates are expected to exhibit professionalism, personal accountability, compassion, integrity, concern for others, and interpersonal skills including the ability to accept and apply feedback and to respect boundaries and care for all individuals in a respectful and effective manner regardless of gender identity, age, race, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or any other protected status. Candidates should understand, and function within, the legal and ethical aspects of the nursing practice, including patient advocacy, and maintain and display ethical and moral behaviors commensurate with the role of a nurse and a Samuel Merritt University student in all interactions with patients, faculty, staff, students and the public. Interest and motivation throughout the educational process are expected of all candidates.

Nursing at SMU

SMU has a reputation for developing highly skilled and compassionate nursing professionals.


First Year Retention Rates

With small class sizes accompanied by distinguished and dedicated faculty, resulting in a higher retention rate


Employment Rate Within One Year of Graduation

Our nursing graduates are heavily recruited experts in their field.


Median Annual Salary for Registered Nurses

Nursing is an in-demand field and a smart career choice.


Gigi Guan

Gigi Guan

BSN, RN Adjunct Assistant Instructor