Bachelor of Science in Nursing—Traditional – School of Nursing – UW …

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University of Wisconsin–Madison

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School of Nursing
University of Wisconsin–Madison

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Bachelor of Science in Nursing—Traditional

The traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program is a two-year course sequence that builds on a foundation of pre-nursing study to fulfill the requirements for a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing. This highly selective program cultivates nurse leaders who are prepared to hit the ground running.

As a BSN student,  you will participate in interactive simulations using our state-of-the-art technology and work under the supervision of clinical experts each semester to provide hands-on care to individuals, families or communities.

When you graduate, you will be prepared to think critically and lead in whatever nursing role you pursue. Our graduates manage hospitals, deliver babies, organize disaster relief efforts, conduct health education seminars, serve in the military, and conduct research.


Application Instruction and FAQs

Click here for the Fall 2018 application

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Delivery: In-person
Credits: 124, undergraduate
Time Frame: 2 years for pre-nursing prerequisites, 2 years in program
Tuition: Undergraduate tuition  rate
Audience: UW–Madison undergraduates, transfers, second-degree seekers

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.

Download and review the BSN Application Instructions and Frequently Asked Questions above before starting your application.

Admission Profile 2016

Applicants: 398
Admitted: 150
Enrolled: 134
Male: 19%
Students of Color: 20%
First Generation: 29%
Cumulative GPA: 3.55
Prerequisite GPA: 3.53

  • Eligibility/Prerequisites
  • Pre-Nursing
  • 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:
  1. Chemistry (4/5 credits, including lab) AP/IB CHEM scores of 4/5 fulfill this prerequisite
  2. Microbiology (3 credits)
  3. Anatomy (3 credits)
  4. Physiology (5 credits, including lab)
  5. Psychology (3 credits) AP/IB PSYCH scores of 4/5 fulfill this prerequisite
  6. Sociology (3 credits)
  7. 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. With the latter option, students must complete both courses at the same institution.

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 Admissions, Tuition & Financial Aid page for financial aid and other important information.


  • Application Period Opens: December 1
  • Application Deadline: February 1
  • 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.

To Apply

Applications are submitted online  here  (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 elsewhere 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:

  1. Applicant Information: Name, contact information, residency information, etc.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. We do not accept applications from students who are already enrolled in a professional Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program at another institution.

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 protected]


Degree Requirements & Program Plans

  • Document BSN Degree Requirements

  • Document Pre-Nursing Program Plan

  • Document Traditional BSN Program Plan (effective Fall 2017)

  • Document Traditional BSN Program Plan (prior to Fall 2017)

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.

Full degree requirements can be downloaded from this page.

Concept-Based Curriculum

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. Read More…

Academic Opportunities

Unique opportunities to supplement the standard curriculum include:

  • Jumping into nursing-focused coursework right away with a small cohort of other first-year students through the First-Year Interest Groups (FIGs) program
  • Pursuing additional areas of interest by completing one of the 50-plus certificate options in a disciplines such as global health, gender and women’s studies, or Afro-American studies
  • Conducting research alongside faculty through the Nursing Honors Program (more information below)
  • Studying abroad or participating in a rural immersion nursing experience
  • Beginning graduate-level coursework toward a master of public health (MPH) or doctoral (PhD) degree (more information below)
  • Completing the School Nurse Certification Program  as you earn your degree

photo of BSN student Ummulkhair Drammeh, a still from a video she is featured in

A Nursing Student Tells Her Story

BSN student Ummulkhair Drammeh talks about studying at UW–Madison alongside her adult children and how her unique perspectives inform her work.

  • Honors Program
  • Global Health Opportunities
  • Early Entry PhD Option
  • BSN to MPH Option

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.

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

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.

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.

More Information

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:

Karen Mittelstadt, Assistant Dean for Academic Programs
School of Nursing
Telephone: 608-263-5284
Email: [email protected]

Mindy Schreiner, MPH Student Services Coordinator
Master of Public Health Program
Telephone: 608-263-2298
Email: [email protected]

What Can I Do With My Degree?


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.

Connect With an Advisor

To make an appointment, call 608-263-5202. High school and prospective transfer students should attend a VisitBucky session first.

Current pre-nursing and nursing students can make an appointment via the WiscCal Scheduling Assistant . Visit Studentnet for additional advising information.

Katie Bleier

Director of Advising and Student Services, Advisor for Current Students with Last Names X-Z

Molly Censky

Undergraduate Advisor, Current Students with Last Names A-K

photo of Brent Fisher

Brent Fisher

Undergraduate Advisor, Off-Campus Prospective Students

photo of Kate Knudson

Kate Knudson

Undergraduate Advisor, Current Students with Last Names L-W

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program at University of Wisconsin-Madison
is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education .