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Pathways to Nursing

At UIC, aspiring nurses usually begin as undeclared majors in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with a declared educational goal of pre-nursing. All pre-nursing students are expected to complete the same requirements to apply to the College of Nursing at UIC. Being a pre-nursing student involves taking many challenging math and science courses and the expectations are high. UIC's College of Nursing requires a minimum 2.75 overall GPA to be considered for admission, along with a minimum 2.5 GPA in all required science courses.

There are many pathways into the nursing profession. Students are strongly encouraged to work with their pre-nursing advisor to determine which is the best path for them. Below are the two most common ways students enter the UIC College of Nursing.

Traditional BSN at UIC

Many pre-nursing students expect to enter the UIC College of Nursing (CON) after completing two to three years as an undeclared major in LAS. Students who pursue this route transfer to the College of Nursing after their admission and complete a bachelors degree in nursing (BSN). Overall timeline is generally 4 to 5 years to completion of a nursing degree (2-3 years in LAS + 2 years in CON).

Post-Baccalaureate BSN

Students who elect to follow this option, complete their degree (B.A. or B.S.) in another major at UIC while completing their required pre-nursing courses. They then apply to the traditional BSN program in the College of Nursing, which typically takes two years to complete. Overall timeline is generally six years to completion of a nursing degree (4 years for first bachelors degree + 2 years for bachelor of nursing degree). Other schools also offer this option; it is often referred to as an “accelerated BSN” and the timeline is the same.

Alternative Pathways to Nursing Heading link

Individual students have individual needs. One of the advantages to the nursing profession is that there are currently many points of entry beyond the traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. Below are three other common pathways to nursing.

Associate's Degree in Nursing

An associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) is often the fastest pathway to becoming a Registered Nurse. This degree does not require a bachelor’s degree. Some students with a bachelor’s degree will elect to pursue an associate’s degree in nursing due to cost or not performing as well as they might have liked in their undergraduate science courses. Some hospitals or locations may require a BSN or higher degree for employment. There are many reasons to elect to pursue an associate’s degree in nursing and pre-nursing students are encouraged to meet with their advisor to discuss the options that are best for them.


An RN to BSN program is designed for individuals who have already completed their nursing coursework and hold a registered nursing license. Most RN to BSN programs are online or designed to accommodate individuals who plan to work while completing their BSN. This pathway is most frequently selected by individuals who have completed an associate’s degree in nursing and who wish to receive a bachelor of science in nursing degree. The College of Nursing at UIC does have an RN to BSN program.

Graduate Entry

For students who receive a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing, there is a Graduate Entry Nursing option. This option is typically pursued by students who had strong grades in undergraduate coursework, including pre-nursing coursework. Students who are most competitive for this option have exceptional maturity and drive. The MS in Nursing for non-RNs is considered an advanced generalist nursing degree. Applicants are not expected to hold an RN license or have completed a bachelor’s degree in nursing; they will sit for the NCLEX exam at the completion of the program.