Pre-Nursing Studies at Vanderbilt

The master of science in nursing (MSN), the first-professional degree in nursing at Vanderbilt, is specialty-related and offered at the graduate level. The increase in knowledge required of nurses and the scope of their responsibilities, as well as changes in role, functions, and practice settings, require post-baccalaureate nursing education built on a rich undergraduate liberal education or baccalaureate nursing degree or its equivalent. The school of nursing does not offer a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

Prospective students interested in nursing at Vanderbilt may apply for admission to any Vanderbilt undergraduate school awarding a BA or BS . In addition to their undergraduate faculty advisers, pre-nursing students are encouraged to work with a pre-nursing adviser to assist in planning their program of studies.

Qualified students may apply to the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program after earning a baccalaureate degree at Vanderbilt and completing all admission requirements. Details about pre-nursing studies at Vanderbilt are found in the Pre-Nursing Handbook. After reviewing the handbook, students are encouraged to visit the School of Nursing Office of Admissions, Room 170, 416 21st Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37340 or call (615) 322-3800 or 888-333-9192 or email for additional program information

Current Vanderbilt undergraduate students interested in pre-nursing studies should consult the pre-nursing academic advisor, Dr. Brandee Madden at , or Ernie Rushing, Assistant Dean for Enrollment Management at (615) 322-3802, for advice on planning undergraduate studies to meet the MSN degree admission requirements.

Become Both A Registered Nurse (RN) and an Advanced Practice Nurse

The first three semesters in the MSN degree program are generalist-nursing courses and prepares students for the NCLEX exam to become a Registered Nurse (RN). Students take the NCLEX after completing the generalist nursing courses and become RNs during the MSN program of studies. The generalist nursing courses provide the foundation equivalent to the bachelor’s degree in nursing for course work in the selected nursing specialty. Upon completion of three semesters of generalist nursing courses, students enter a minimum of an additional three-semester sequence of courses in their declared specialty in order to earn the MSN degree. After completing the MSN degree, students are eligible to take the advanced practice certification exam in their selected specialty. The MSN program requires a minimum of 6 semesters in a fall-spring-summer, fall-spring-summer calendar. Some specialties take one or two additional semesters.

In an increasingly complex health care industry, advanced practice nurses are playing a vital role. Education and clinical training are preparing these professionals to assume such positions as Nurse-Midwife and Nurse Practitioner. Advanced practice nurses are offering and designing new ways of delivering cost-effective care and increasing access to qualified practitioners – often providing health care to underserved populations.

Advanced practice nurses work in collegial capacities with physicians and other health care providers, and many are prepared to diagnose and treat patients with acute and chronic illnesses. These responsibilities require nursing professionals who are as smart and savvy as they are caring and compassionate. Vanderbilt School of Nursing prepares advanced practice nurses with an excellent education, real-world clinical experience and a solid grounding in theory, research and leadership.

Pre-Nursing Requirements

Students are eligible to apply to the MSN program after graduation from any of Vanderbilt’s undergraduate programs (A&S, Blair, Engineering or Peabody). Prior to beginning the MSN program, these courses must be completed:

  • 3 hours of Statistics 
  • Microbiology: BSCI 1110  (3 credits). If you have taken any higher-level Microbiology courses, you have met the Microbiology prerequisite requirement.
  • Human Anatomy & Physiology (BSCI 2101 & BSCI 3101) (4 credits each) Fall/ Spring; must take BSCI 2101 before BSCI 3101; also, you must have a semester of biology as a prerequisite. Meet with the nursing advisor to discuss your options. 
  • Nutrition: MHS 1600 Introduction to Nutrition and Health for a Changing World (3 credits). Please consult the Vanderbilt Course Catalog for course availability. 
  • Developmental Psychology: HOD 1250 or PSY-PC 1250 

The prerequisite courses listed above do not need to be completed at the time of application. However, all pre-requisite courses must be completed prior to the beginning of MSN classes in August.

MSN Admission Requirements

Students must apply by October 15 of their senior year. If admitted, students begin the MSN degree program the following August.

The MSN application includes the following:

  • Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher
  • Three letters of reference
  •  Statement of Purpose
  • Responses to application questions
  •  Official VU transcript and any other colleges/universities transcripts you attended

MSN Advanced Practice Specialties Available

  • Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse- Midwifery*
  • Nurse - Midwifery/Family Nurse Practitioner* (dual certification)
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner (primary care focus)
  •  Psychiatric-Mental-Health Nurse Practitioner (lifespan)
  • Women’s Health/Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner
  • Women’s Health/Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner/Adult Nurse Practitioner* (dual certification)

* Requires additional semester(s)

Pre-Nursing Society

The Pre-nursing society is a Vanderbilt endorsed student organization that serves to support pre-nursing students on campus. The group acts as a resource for information regarding career opportunities in advanced practice nursing and the various specialty areas. A formal meeting is held each month (September – April) at the School of Nursing with volunteer/community service activities scheduled throughout the academic year. Shadowing experience with an advanced practice nurse can also be arranged for active members of the pre-nursing society. Current Vanderbilt undergraduate students can join the pre-nursing society through Anchor Link.

Opportunities for Doctoral Studies

After successful completion of the MSN degree, you can continue your studies to earn a doctoral degree in nursing. The School of Nursing offers both a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and a PhD in Nursing Science. If pre-nursing students are interested in doctoral studies, they are encouraged to discuss their career goals with one of the pre-nursing advisors.

For Additional Information