Due to the ever-increasing nursing shortage facing our society today, more and more nurses are needed to provide high quality care to a diversity of patients. Many students are interested in pursuing this major, even those who may have a degree in another field or have previously completed college courses. A common question prospective nursing students ask is are there any time limits on prerequisite courses for nursing programs. Time limits depend on specific institutions and schools.

Science Courses

Many colleges and universities have established time limits specifically on science courses. The specific time limit depends on the program and school, but many have a five to seven year limit on most science courses, such as biology, anatomy and physiology, and microbiology. Some competitive nursing programs have a time limit of only two years for the science courses. In general, the time limits for science courses are not usually more than ten years. The reason usually behind these limits is programs want students to possess current scientific knowledge to aid the success of the nursing coursework. On the other hand, a variety of schools are eliminating the time limit for science prerequisite course for nursing programs. For these programs, students are no longer required to complete the courses within a specific time frame, but they may need to complete an additional class that focuses on up to date information about human anatomy and illness and injury. These concepts act as a foundation for planning nursing care and making clinical decisions. Other programs recommend retaking courses that are older than five years old to ensure students have a solid understanding of current practices in science. Some programs that do not have a time limit require students to submit a course outline for courses older than ten years.

General Education Courses

Many schools do not have time limits for general education courses or writing courses. A few schools must have 10-year time limits on specific general education courses, such as humanities. Other schools review previously completed courses on a case-by-case basis. Some programs require certain general education or elective courses to be completed in conjunction with nursing program courses.

Nursing Core Courses

Most nursing programs have time limits for students who have previously completed nursing core courses, such as three semesters or one calendar year. This ensures students have the ability to successfully progress through the nursing courses.

Additional Requirements

Some nursing programs require students to receive a passing score on the pre-admission nursing examination, administered by the National League for Nursing, within the last one to three years. Many students must also have current CPR and first aid certification upon applying to nursing programs. Some nursing programs require students to complete requirements after acceptance, such as certified background check and drug screening, physical examination, and completion and passing of a orientation to a medical facility.

Students considering pursuing a degree in nursing should first research the prospective programs and then find out if there are any applicable time limits on previously completed coursework. This will help students narrow down their choices to meet their educational and professional goals and get on their way to entering the nursing profession.