“I realized that health care was what I wanted to do all my life. Working in the hospital, I noticed that nurses were on the front line, interacting with patients, and I realized nursing was where I wanted to be.”Mathew Trapp '19
Students in the BSN program must complete a minimum of 124 credits to graduate. There are at least 53 required credits in the nursing curriculum, and the remaining 71 credits are earned through general education requirements, nursing prerequisite course work, and elective courses.
Download full degree requirements below.
The baccalaureate degree program in nursing at the University of Wisconsin–Madison is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
BSN Degree Requirements & Program Plans
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Our innovative, concept-based educational model builds critical thinking skills and cultivates an understanding of issues that cut across cultures, lifespans, illnesses, and care settings. We provide you with a toolbox to use in real-life situations of all kinds, helping you to navigate, manage and apply the latest evidence and information to your practice.
At the University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Nursing, we realize the enormous impact nurses have, locally and globally. Our program is designed to do more than prepare nurses to do a job. We prepare nurses to lead—in making discoveries, enhancing systems, and improving health and healthcare, for Wisconsin and the world.
5 Core Concepts
Our curriculum is based on five core concepts.
- Professional nursing leadership: Expand your understanding of ethics, collaboration, advocacy, global health, and technology across a variety of roles and environments.
- Person, family, community, and systems-centered care: Explore how varied perspectives and dynamics inform our approaches to health care.
- Health and illness: Study health and illness on multiple levels, from how our cells work to how we think, feel and react.
- Health care context and systems: Evaluate how law, policy, financing, and system factors impact health outcomes across populations.
- Scholarship for evidence-based practice: Discern how research and evidence can be applied in your practice to improve health and health care outcomes.
Clinical experience is core to the curriculum, and you’ll spend more than 100 hours per semester in real-world care settings (e.g., clinics, long-term care facilities, rehabilitation centers, school districts, etc.) learning from experienced healthcare practitioners. Clinical placements are identified and arranged to expose you to a wide range of practice areas. All clinical placements are arranged by the School of Nursing, taking advantage of established academic partnerships with major health care systems across Wisconsin. We do our best to honor student requests to complete clinicals near their home community or another site of interest, provided the site meets the requirements for the course and a qualified preceptor is available.
Program Learning Outcomes
Each academic program at UW-Madison has student learning outcomes that describe what students are expected to know or be able to do upon completion of the program. The BSN program’s learning outcomes are listed in The Guide.
The Bachelor of Science in Nursing prepares students to become general registered nurses (RNs) as a basis for progressing to leadership roles and graduate study.
Students who successfully complete the program are able to apply for their RN license when they sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX).
The nursing program will prepare you for a career by and beyond the bedside. Our graduates manage hospitals, deliver babies, organize disaster relief efforts, conduct health education seminars, serve in the military, and conduct research.
The national nurse shortage means our graduates can find career options wherever they live. Nursing school graduates are more than twice as likely to have jobs at the time of graduation as those entering the workforce in other fields.
Nursing is consistently ranked as the profession with the highest standards for honesty and ethics. This is a challenging, satisfying, secure and rewarding profession.
BSN students provided services for people with a broad spectrum of disabilities and practiced nursing skills in a new School of Nursing summer respite camp immersion course.
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First-Year Interest Groups
Jumping into nursing-focused coursework right away with a small cohort of other first-year students through the First-Year Interest Groups (FIGs) program.
Global Health Certificate
A 15-credit undergraduate certificate in global health is offered through UW–Madison’s Institute for Global Health. The certificate’s coursework discusses medicine and particularly the need to improve access to care for all, but it also introduces students to the field of public health, a model for promoting health and well-being that seeks to identify and address the root causes of health problems for populations rather than individuals. Public health practitioners focus on preventive, population-level approaches to health promotion. Certificate students must complete credit-bearing field work but may or may not actually go abroad to do it.
International experiences related to global health are available for credit and non-credit. Opportunities are available during the semester, winter break, and summer. The International Academic Programs office is a central clearinghouse for opportunities.
Rural Immersion Experiences
Each summer, the School of Nursing offers clinical immersion opportunities in northern Wisconsin for students between years one and two in the undergraduate nursing program.
The UW-Madison School of Nursing offers a Nursing Honors Program for high-ability students seeking early research involvement with a faculty mentor.
Students who successfully complete the Nursing Honors Program graduate with distinguished academic performance and receive a Bachelor of Science-Nursing (BSN) with Honors. In addition, students in the honors program acquire an enriched view of nursing science.
Each student in the Nursing Honors Program has an active role in identifying a faculty mentor. Once a student is assigned a faculty mentor, the mentor will help the student understand the research process and provide research-related resources. The mentor will also assist with identification and implementation of a senior honors thesis.
Honors students enroll in a 2-credit Nursing Honors Research Seminar (N679) during the spring term of the first year of enrollment in the nursing program. They complete 1-2 credits of the Senior Honors Thesis (N681/N682) course during both the fall and spring of the second year. Honors students take the required N444 Health Systems, Policy, Economics, and Research course for 2 credits instead of the standard 3 credits during the spring of the second year as some N444 content is delivered during the N679 Nursing Honors Research Seminar.
All Traditional BSN students may apply to the program. The application process occurs during the first fall of enrollment in the nursing program. Admission to the Nursing Honors Program is based on academic performance and one essay.
Early Entry PhD Option
The Early Entry PhD Option in nursing is an innovative program designed for undergraduate students who are interested in pursuing a research career. Early Entry students enroll in the honors program, which provides an introduction to the research conducted by School of Nursing faculty and also a structure for introductory research experiences.
As students progress in the program, clinical experiences and coursework are tailored to fit with their identified areas of inquiry. Graduate course work may be substituted for undergraduate required courses. For example, Early Entry students have substituted graduate level quantitative and interpretive research courses for the undergraduate research course, thereby gaining considerable more depth in research while undergraduates. Students have also exchanged undergraduate courses for graduate-level population coursework such as enrolling in a women’s health theory course instead of an undergraduate family/perinatal course.
Application to the doctoral program is completed during the first year of the baccalaureate degree. If students are making satisfactory progress in the Early Entry PhD Option (including maintaining a GPA of 3.25 or higher), admission to the PhD program is guaranteed. Upon graduation from the BS program, students continue directly into the doctoral program.
BSN to MPH Option
This unique degree option gives undergraduate nursing students the opportunity to seek early admission to the MPH program and enroll in selected MPH courses while completing requirements for the BSN. Students are able to complete both degrees (the BSN and the MPH) over five years (three years from admission to the nursing program). Graduates are prepared for a wide range of nursing and public health practice positions.
Interested students apply during their first year in the upper division nursing program with applications due in February. Changes in the curriculum, to incorporate MPH courses along with the nursing courses, occur during the second year. Review the BSN to MPH Program Plan for details.
Visit the Master of Public Health Program website for details about that program.
For more information, contact:
Assistant Dean for Academic Programs
School of Nursing
MPH Student Services Coordinator
Master of Public Health Program
Graduates of the 18-credit School Nurse Certification Program are eligible to apply for licensure through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. BSN students may complete the program concurrently, and BSN@Home students may complete some of the requirements concurrently and the remainder after graduation.
The School of Nursing offers a variety of opportunities for students to gain experience in global health, working in partnership with other campus programs. Students expand their global health experience through nursing practice experiences with individuals, families, and communities, and through exposure to other health systems.
This innovative program is designed for undergraduate students interested in pursuing a research career. Students get hands-on research experience with a faculty mentor. Programs of study are individually planned by the student and the advisory committee and take into consideration the student's backgrounds, goals, and interests.
How to Get In
Students apply to enter the BSN program after completing two years of prerequisites. Typically, they are admitted to UW–Madison as pre-nursing students, apply to the School of Nursing in their sophomore year, and if accepted, officially start the two-year nursing course sequence as juniors.
Students may also transfer into the program after completing prerequisites at another institution. Admission to UW–Madison does not guarantee admission into the nursing program.
Review the BSN Application Instructions & FAQs on this page before starting your application.
Admission Profile 2020
Students of Color: 22%
First Generation: 33%
Cumulative GPA: 3.54
Prerequisite GPA: 3.45
- Eligibility & Prerequisites
- Costs & Aid
- To Apply
- Transfer & Second-Degree
- Decisions & Appeals
UW–Madison pre-nursing students and students with other majors as well as prospective transfer and second-degree students, must meet the following requirements by the end of the spring term prior to the fall term of enrollment:
- 54 college-level credits
- 2.75 minimum cumulative grade point average (GPA)
- Seven prerequisite courses with a maximum of three in progress during the spring term prior to enrollment:
- Chemistry (4/5 credits, including lab) AP/IB CHEM scores of 4/5 fulfill this prerequisite
- Microbiology (3 credits)
- Anatomy (3 credits)
- Physiology (5 credits, including lab)
- Psychology (3 credits) AP/IB PSYCH scores of 4/5 fulfill this prerequisite
- Sociology (3 credits)
- Human Growth and Development (3 credits)
- 2.75 minimum GPA in the combined seven prerequisites courses and at least a C (2.0) in each of the individual seven prerequisite courses
Current UW–Madison students with questions about prerequisites and course equivalencies should contact an advisor. Equivalency information for transfers and second-degree applicants is available on the BSN Prerequisite Course Equivalencies page.
Note: Anatomy and Physiology may be satisfied by one semester of Anatomy and one semester of Physiology or by A&P I and II.
To apply to become a pre-nursing student on-campus, submit your application to UW–Madison and list nursing as your major of interest. Visit UW–Madison’s Freshman Admissions page for more admissions information.
During the pre-nursing years, students complete all nursing admission prerequisite courses and requirements, in addition to all other degree requirements that are not built into the two-year nursing program plan. This includes the university’s General Education Requirements and course work in the natural sciences, social sciences and humanities, electives, and the nursing program’s math requirement.
Download the Pre-Nursing Program Plan on this page for details.
The BSN is a four-year undergraduate degree. Although the cost of attending UW-Madison will vary among all students, the university bases its financial aid awards on this budget: UW–Madison Undergraduate Cost of Attendance.
Visit the Costs & Financial Aid page for financial aid and other important information.
- Application Period Opens: December 1
- Application Deadline: January 18, 2021
- In-Person Interview: April 8-10 & 15-16, 2021 (tentative). Interview dates and times will be assigned by the School of Nursing. Reschedules will not be allowed unless there are extenuating circumstances.
- Notification of Decisions: Mid-May
Applications are accepted once a year for a fall term start.
Review of Applications
Successful applicants have strong academic ability as well as leadership, participation in extracurricular activities, service, and healthcare experience. We also consider professional goals and diversity in experience and background. Admission is highly competitive and based on a thorough and holistic evaluation of each application.
Applications are submitted online (only live during the annual application period). There is no fee to complete the nursing application. Students are limited to a maximum of three applications.
- Make sure to review the Application Instructions and Frequently Asked Questions document on this page.
- Transfers and second-degree applicants should see the Transfer & Second-Degree Admissions tab.
About the Application
The online application has four main sections:
- Applicant Information: Name, contact information, residency information, etc.
- Academic Information and Educational History: Provide a list all the colleges and universities you’ve attended to date, including dates of attendance, total credits received, and degree(s) earned (if applicable). Complete a table indicating how and where you completed the seven prerequisite courses.
- Work Experience and Involvement Table: List up to five of your most notable activities or accomplishments (leadership roles, community service, employment, other activities, honors, awards), with the amount of time you dedicated to each and a description of your impact, participation, or accomplishments.
- Personal Statements (Essays): Answers to four personal statement questions are required; one additional question is optional. A reapplication essay is required for students who have applied in the past. Questions are subject to change each year.
Transfer and second-degree students who meet the admission requirements may apply to enter the nursing program. Students who are actively enrolled in a Bachelor of Science-Nursing program at another institution are not eligible to apply for admission into UW–Madison’s Traditional BSN program. Given that space in the program is very limited, we prioritize enrollment in our program for students who do not already have a path to the BSN degree in our admission process. It is possible to request an exception to this policy by submitting the school’s Petition for Special Consideration. Examples of situations warranting an application eligibility exception might include military obligations, personal or family medical concerns, or other extenuating circumstances that directly affect a student’s ability to earn the BSN from the other institution. It is important to note that core nursing degree requirements do not transfer into the UW–Madison School of Nursing. Previously completed nursing coursework will not apply to the BSN degree at UW–Madison, and students will be required to complete all nursing degree requirements as part of the curriculum at UW–Madison.
Transfer students who still have requirements in process should apply to UW–Madison as pre-nursing students and then apply to the nursing program once all requirements have been fulfilled. Second-degree candidates cannot enter UW–Madison as a pre-nursing second-degree candidate.
Prerequisite Course Equivalencies
For more information about prerequisite equivalencies, see the BSN Prerequisite Course Equivalencies page.
Applying to UW–Madison
You must also apply for admission to UW–Madison as well as the nursing program. This is done through the Office of Admissions and Recruitment. Complete the UW–Madison application process first before proceeding to the online nursing application form. You must have a complete application on file with the UW-Madison Office of Admissions and Recruitment on/by the application deadline to be eligible for admission to the nursing program.
- A complete application includes the online application, the application fee, and official high school and college transcripts. You can check your university application status online and also monitor receipt of your application materials.
- Students should indicate an intended major of Nursing on the application.
- Admission to UW–Madison does not guarantee admission into the nursing program.
- You will receive an application acknowledgement from the UW–Madison Office of Admissions and Recruitment when your application is received. This confirmation will include your Campus ID number, which can then be used to activate your NetID. You will need your NetID to complete the application to the nursing program. Application acknowledgement and NetID activation can take up to 7 days. Plan accordingly to meet the application deadline.
See the To Apply tab for information about the nursing program application.
The School of Nursing sends admission decisions via email in mid-May. Admitted students must accept the offer of admission and confirm intent to enroll by the deadline stated in the admission letter. Students who are not admitted are invited to meet with an academic advisor to reflect on the application and discuss next steps.
Appealing a Decision
Every application denied has already been through an extensive faculty review. For an appeal to have merit, it must bring to light new compelling academic and/or personal information, as well as details pertaining to extenuating circumstances, that were not addressed in the initial application. Essentially, the appeal must present information that clearly shows the student to be stronger than had been earlier evidenced.
While all appeals are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, the percentage of decisions that are reversed based on an appeal is historically very low.
There is no special form. Appeals should include a letter outlining the argument for an appeal. Supporting documentation may also be included. The following rules apply:
- Applicants can only appeal once and decisions resulting from an appeal are final.
- Appeal letters must be written and submitted by the applicant, along with supporting documentation as appropriate, within 10 days of the deny decision.
- Waitlist decisions cannot be appealed.
Submitting Your Appeal
Appeals must be submitted to the Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs via email within 10 business days of the deny decision. It is our usual practice to respond to appeals within 10 days of the receipt date.
Email to: email@example.com