PreSpecialty Entry



Can the Prespecialty Year be completed in a distance format?

No. Engagement with peers in a community of learning is an important component of learning a practice profession. Hence, the Prespecialty level is designed as a face-to-face curriculum. Students will need to live within daily commuting distance of Vanderbilt campus.  However, some specialties (AG-PCNP, FNP, PNP-PC, WHGRNP, and WHGRNP/AG-PCNP) allow students to complete the specialty year outside of middle Tennessee.


Can I work while I am completing the Prespecialty curriculum?

Prespecialty students are scheduled 30-40 hours per week in classroom and clinical experiences, and will need ample study time outside these scheduled hours. Our recommendation is that students do not work while completing this curriculum. If you must work, you will need to determine how you will successfully balance the rigorous curriculum requirements with work.


How can Vanderbilt complete the Bachelor of Science in Nursing content in three semesters?

The Prespecialty level is the baccalaureate-equivalent component of the MSN program. All students have completed at least a baccalaureate degree in another field and prerequisite courses in human anatomy, human physiology, microbiology, lifespan development, nutrition, and statistics before beginning the Prespecialty level. The remainder of the baccalaureate-equivalent coursework is accelerated such that our three semesters of coursework and clinical experiences are equivalent to what a typical baccalaureate curriculum does in four semesters.


What can I do to ensure my success in this accelerated curriculum?

Be prepared for the rapid pace of the curriculum. Self-motivation, organization, and commitment to excellence will improve your ability to be successful.

Schedule self-care activities. Taking care of yourself in mind, body, spirit, and emotions is essential to ensure you are able to fully engage in learning and caring for patients.

Be prepared to be a novice. This may be difficult for those who are expert in another field. Although you will be a novice in nursing, your prior knowledge and experience will enrich your learning, as well as the learning of your peers.

Fully engage with every learning opportunity. Every class and clinical session is an opportunity to gain knowledge and experience that will enrich your future practice and promote positive patient outcomes.

Embrace reflective practice. Willingness and ability to critically reflect on your own thinking and actions promotes continued improvement and propels you toward expertise in a practice profession.


What types of clinical experiences are part of the Prespecialty curriculum?

Clinical experiences are designed to provide students with an understanding of the generalist nurse’s role in the hospital and the community setting. While these experiences do not focus on the specialty area to which you were admitted, they will provide you with a solid foundation to begin advanced practice education.

Hospital experiences enable students to learn the generalist nurse role through practice as a part of the health care team. All students are engaged in adult medical/surgical, pediatric, obstetric, and psychiatric specialty area experiences over the course of the year.

Community experiences enable students to utilize the determinants of health and community-engaged quality improvement to improve the health of individuals living in various Nashville communities.

Clinical experiences may consist of 4 hour, 8 hour, and/or 12-hour experiences, depending on the course, clinical site, and patient population. Clinical sessions may begin as early as 6:00am or as late as 3pm for evening sessions. Weekend sessions may also be required. Clinical experience assignments are not made until students arrive for orientation to the program.

The prespecialty level contains at least 780 hours of clinical experience.


What schedule should I expect in the Prespecialty curriculum?

The schedule will consist of 30-40 hours per week of classroom and clinical experiences.

Study time outside of classroom and clinical experiences will vary by course and students’ individual study needs.

Students should be prepared for early morning, evening, or Saturday clinical sessions.


Will I have any input into the location of my Prespecialty clinical sites?

All of our Prespecialty clinical rotations are within 30 minutes of the Vanderbilt campus. If you live on one side of the city, and we have a clinical rotation that is on that same side, we will try to accommodate that request. However, all students will have clinical rotations at a variety of facilities.


How does the Prespecialty curriculum prepare me for the NCLEX-RN exam?

The Prespecialty curriculum is a baccalaureate-equivalent curriculum and is designed to include all of the requirements of a baccalaureate nursing curriculum as indicated by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s Baccalaureate Essentials here:

It is also designed to incorporate specific preparation for the NCLEX-RN examination as indicated by the NCLEX-RN detailed test plan here:

The classroom and clinical experiences are specifically designed as a scaffold for building the knowledge, skills, and attitudes needed to pass the NCLEX-RN, become a skilled generalist nurse, and make a successful transition to advanced practice education.


What is the pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam?

Vanderbilt’s first time pass rate is well above the national average. The pass rate for the last three years is posted at


In what state will I receive my Registered Nurse license?

While the NCLEX-RN is a national exam, most Vanderbilt students apply to take the NCLEX-RN exam through the Tennessee State Board of Nursing.  When the exam is passed, a TN Registered Nurse license is issued.