Getting Into Nursing School: MSN Admissions 101

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Before starting a Direct Entry MSN program, every prospective student has to complete an admissions process. Distinguishing your application from the rest is more important now that competition in the nursing industry is rapidly growing. The admissions process is not the most exciting part of getting into nursing school, but giving it your all gets you one step closer to your end goal. If earning an accelerated MSN is a goal of yours, keep reading to find out what most programs require for admissions, and what that actually means for you.

What You’ll Need First

A Rundown of the Prerequisites

Prior to applying to a Direct Entry MSN program, find out if you need to take any prerequisite courses first. Many programs will require students to successfully complete courses such as chemistry, biology or behavioral sciences in order to submit an application. Be sure to find out which prerequisites you’ve taken and how many you still need. Your program start date will likely depend on when you have passed every prerequisite.

An Undergraduate Degree

It’s important for prospective students to know what they are expected to bring to the table – especially since the kind of bachelor’s degree a student has, often does not matter. An Accelerated Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree is a graduate degree designed specifically for people with non-nursing bachelor’s degrees who wish to pursue a nursing career.

Wisconsin map showing where Pleasant Prairie is

Local Access to the Campus/Site

Pointing out that students pursuing a Direct Entry MSN should be within commuting distance to the campus or site is a must, because students need to be physically present for labs and clinicals to truly learn the profession. When you’re researching different nursing schools or programs, consider if you want to remain in your surrounding area or if you would be willing to relocate.

The Minimum Undergraduate GPA

Some schools are strict, only admitting students who meet or exceed the GPA requirement. Other schools might weigh all the components of your application before making an admissions decision. Every school is different, so be sure to find out the exact details of your prospective school’s admissions process. If your GPA falls slightly below the mark, don’t hesitate to apply. The admission decision might still land in your favor.

Additional Items to Gather

Online applications are great, but most applications also require a little hands-on work on your part. After completing any online portions of the application, which usually consists of contact or general information about yourself, you will likely need to have several additional items submitted to admissions. Here’s what many Direct Entry MSN programs ask of students and where they can be found:

Admission Requirement

How You Can Obtain It

Official transcripts of all college work

A copy of your academic record that provides your course grades, date of attendance, major, degree awarded, and grade point average

Visit the website for each college you’ve attended (or for any college level courses you’ve taken at an academic institution), and find out how to request an official transcript. Each school has a slightly different process, some receiving requests by phone, email, mail and/or online. Be mindful that you may have to pay a small cost for each transcript… it just depends on the school.

GRE Test Scores

The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is a standardized test designed to assess your aptitude for graduate programs. The GRE test is often required for admission but can sometimes be waived for students with a certain GPA (a decision the school makes).

On your test day, you can send your GRE scores to four schools for free. If your test day has passed, you can visit the GRE website and pay a fee to have your scores sent to any school.


Form or letter from someone you’ve worked with professionally or academically. These are often used

to help the admissions team learn more about you and your work ethic through the lenses of your colleagues.

Once you have one to three people in mind who would be good candidates for writing your recommendation, provide them with a brief description of your educational goals, professional endeavors, and the guidelines (if any) for the letter. Helping them understand why this is important to you and what information they are expected to give will guide their recommendation talking point.

Updated Resume

Documented compilation of your education, work experience, credentials and accomplishments. Some MSN programs may accept a Curricula Vitae (CV) in lieu of a resume.

If you have a current resume, double check that it has all of the most recent and accurate information regarding your experience. If you do not have a resume, create one using a template – you can find various resume templates online to get you started.

Personal Statement

Written essay outlining your professional goals or your reasons for pursuing graduate studies. While that’s the overall purpose of a personal statement, some programs might require you to answer different questions or prompts in your statement.


This requirement is completely in your court. Visit your school’s website or online application to find out what topics your personal statement should cover. Use references from your personal, professional, and/or educational background in your essay. Also consider having someone with strong writing skills take a look and give you any feedback to enhance it.

Take the Final Steps and Consider Marquette University

Once you’ve taken all the steps listed above, you will be ready to submit an application. If you’re interested in earning an Accelerated MSN to take your career in another direction, the Direct Entry MSN program at Marquette University has a guided admissions process. An admissions adviser will answer any questions you have, let you know what prerequisites you’ll need, and guide you step-by-step through the admissions process.

You must successfully pass the prerequisites below with a grade of “C” or higher to apply for Marquette’s Direct Entry MSN program:

  • Human Anatomy and Physiology* (5-6 credits)
  • Chemistry OR Biochemistry OR Biology OR Microbiology* (5-6 credits)
  • Nutrition for Health Sciences* (3 credits)
  • Behavioral Sciences: Psychology or Sociology (3 credits)
  • Statistics, including inferential analysis** (3 credits)

*Prerequisites preferred within past five years
** Within five years of program start date 

To be considered for admissions, you should have access to the Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin area, and be ready to submit the following:

  • Baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university
  • Official transcripts of all college work
  • An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or greater
  • Completed GRE; GRE requirement is waived with a GPA of 3.2 or higher
  • Completion of three recommendation forms; letters of reference are strongly encouraged
  • Updated resume
  • Written statement of professional goals that includes reasons for pursuing graduate study; limit to two double-spaced pages

Now that you know what steps to take for admissions into an accelerated MSN program, consider earning a high-quality education from Marquette University. Contact an admissions adviser today!