High School Requirements for Nursing

If you’re interested in becoming a nurse, it makes sense to begin your preparations for a nursing career during high school. Although it’s possible to take the required courses in a community college, smart planning during high school can save you time and money on your road to becoming a nurse.

High School Diploma

  • The only firm high school requirement for nursing is a diploma–science courses can be taken later–but you will always need a high school diploma or general equivalency diploma (GED) to be eligible for any nursing training program.


  • Most nursing programs will require you to pass a math proficiency test or, in some cases, college algebra. Consider taking an advanced placement test in mathematics in order to meet the mathematics requirement for nursing school.


  • All nursing programs will require a biology course, which again can be met with an advanced placement course. If your high school offers courses in anatomy and physiology, consider taking those as well because they may be required if you wish to apply to become a registered nurse.


  • Most registered nurse programs will require a chemistry course. Aim to get as high of a grade as possible because an understanding of chemistry provides a good foundation for understanding how medications work and how the body’s chemical balances affect health.


  • Many nursing programs require one or more courses in psychology. Even if you end up having to take a more advanced psychology course (such as developmental psychology) in community college to meet entrance requirements, an advanced placement course in general psychology during high school will probably meet the prerequisite to sign up for that course.


  • English composition is a frequent requirement for nursing school. You may have to take this course in the community college that offers your nursing program because advanced placement programs aren’t always available. But, taking honors English classes in high school can’t hurt.

Volunteer Work

  • Many nursing programs have very competitive admission processes, and they may look kindly on applicants with prior experience, so consider seeking volunteer work at a hospital, nursing home or other charity related to health care. This may be a good way to find people willing to write you letters of recommendation as well if they are required for the program you wish to attend.
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