PreSpecialty Entry

PreSpecialty Program Outcomes

Even if you have no nursing background, you can become an advanced practice nurse through our accelerated program of PreSpecialty master’s entry (entry with a BA/BS in a field other than nursing). With three semesters of generalist-level nursing courses and completion of the program in your chosen specialty, often just three additional semesters, you can earn your Master of Science in Nursing degree.

Vanderbilt’s Accelerated Program

If you have no background in nursing but you are interested in pursuing a career in advanced practice nursing without sacrificing excellence in education, entry into the Vanderbilt Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program through the PreSpecialty master’s program offers you this opportunity. This PreSpecialty year provides the foundation equivalent to the bachelor’s degree in nursing for course work in the selected nursing specialty. The three-semester PreSpecialty year will prepare you for taking the National Council for Licensure Exam (NCLEX) to become a Registered Nurse (RN). The Prespecialty year courses are only offered full time in a face-to-face format so during the prespecialty year students are required to live within daily commuting distance of Vanderbilt campus. However, the Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Primary Care, Women’s Health/Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner and Women’s Health/Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner/ AGPCNP specialties allow prespecialty entry students to complete their specialty year outside of the middle Tennessee area (OMTA).

Upon completion of three semesters of PreSpecialty courses, you will enter an additional sequence of courses in your declared specialty in order to earn the MSN degree. PreSpecialty applicants are eligible to apply to one of these specialty areas: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner , Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse-Midwifery, Nurse-Midwifery/Family Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Nurse Practitioner-Primary Care, Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Women’s Health/Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner and Women’s Health/Gender-Related Nurse Practitioner/ AGPCNP. The NW/FNP and WHGRNP/AGPCNP programs are dual specialties that require additional semesters. MSN specialties not listed above require RN work experience and are therefore not open to applicants who do not have an associates or bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Admission Requirements

The best ways to learn about the Vanderbilt School of Nursing MSN Admissions process and requirements are to join us for Open House in October or March or attend one of the weekly MSN information sessions. 

MSN and Post-Master’s Certificate (PMC) applicants are encouraged to participate in an on-campus or an online information session conducted by an Admission Counselor. Information sessions are held online via Zoom on most Tuesdays from 11:00am - 12:20pm (central time) and on campus for an in person session on Mondays and Fridays from 10 - 11:20 am (all central time).

We look forward to welcoming visitors back to campus, and we encourage you to view the Health and Safety Protocols currently in place for visiting the campus.

Please register now if you are interested in participating in an information session.

Prerequisite Courses

Students entering with a bachelor’s or higher degree in a non-nursing field must have completed the following  courses:

  • Eight (8) semester hours of Human Anatomy and Physiology taken within 5 years of application
  • Three (3) semester hours of Microbiology taken within 5 years of application
  • Three (3) semester hours of Lifespan Development, Human Growth and Development or Developmental Psychology (course must cover lifespan from birth to death)
  • Three (3) semester hours of Statistics (course must include inferential statistics)
  • Two to Three (2-3) semester hours of Nutrition

In order to satisfy the prerequisite requirement, courses must be taken at an accredited community college, college or university and completed with a grade of C or higher. Applicants can apply before the six courses are completed but an offer of admission will be contingent upon successful completion of the courses. Prerequisites can be completed online.

Your PreSpecialty Clinical Experience

During the three semesters of your PreSpecialty year, you will complete a minimum of 700 hours in a variety of clinical settings:

  • Hospital Inpatient Units
  • Children’s Hospital
  • Community Agencies
  • Mental Health Centers
  • Psychiatric Hospitals

Registered Nurse (RN) Licensure

PreSpecialty students are eligible to apply to the National Council for Licensure Examination to become a Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) upon meeting the requirements specified by the Tennessee State Board of Nursing. Students in good academic standing following the PreSpecialty program take the exam in the first semester of the Specialty program and are required to be RNs prior to beginning specialty level clinical courses.


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