May 20, 2024  
2021-2022 Catalog 
2021-2022 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]



WWU does NOT offer a traditional nursing major, but as a Western student you can pursue any bachelor’s degree while taking the necessary prerequisite courses for entry into a pre-licensure nursing program. Choose a major that best fits your goals and interests, while considering financial constraints.

The two most common paths to nursing school WWU students take are 1) pursuing a major at Western and graduating with a bachelor’s degree before transferring to a pre-licensure nursing program, or 2) completing only prerequisite courses here before transferring to a pre-licensure nursing program. Students may choose to seek their Registered Nurse (RN) credentials through completing an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), or a direct-entry Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).

Requirements for programs vary, so it is important to review the admissions information closely for schools you are interested in. The WA State Nursing Commission website has a list of approved programs available at (As you are doing your research, note that “direct-entry” is a program designed for those without a nursing background or degree).

 Contact Information

Pre-Nursing Advisor
Anna Tognazzini
Assistant Director
Career Services Center
Old Main 280

Pre-Nursing Advisor
Erika Wiescher
Health Professions Advisor
Career Services Center
Old Main 280

 Pre-Health Resources

How to Indicate you are Pre-Nursing:

Although Pre-Nursing is not a major, the university maintains a record of students who have indicated their intention to pursue healthcare careers. In order to receive access to our Health Professions Advising Canvas site and advising that is relevant to your intended area, send an email to with your name, W number, Western email address with “Pre-Nursing” as the subject line.

Course Requirements

Prerequisites vary depending on whether you are applying to nursing school after completing a bachelor’s degree. Regardless of your major, prerequisite courses expected by most schools include:


  • 5 credits English composition (University of Washington requires an additional writing intensive course)
  • 5 credits Communication course

Quantitative/Symbolic Reasoning

Humanities and Fine Arts*

*Requirement likely waived if you complete a bachelor’s degree.

  • 10 credits of Humanities (Anthropology, Sociology, etc.)
  • 15 credits of visual, literacy and performing arts (History, Music, etc.)

Exposure and Experience

Advanced Placement

Check with individual schools whether they recognize Advanced Placement (AP) as college-earned credit. Not all do. It is better to view any earned credits as qualifying to enroll in upper division courses rather than as “testing out” of prerequisites.

Access to Classes

High demand exists for upper-division courses, especially in the sciences. Many departments grant enrollment priority to students declared in specific majors over those seeking enrollment for professional school purposes. Registration access procedures for impacted courses can change, and departments generally provide updates via their websites and email notifications, or by checking with the department’s program coordinator.

Repeating/Dropping Courses

When you repeat a course, only your most recent grade is used when Western calculates your GPA. However, the class still shows up on your transcript. Although some students think that repeating a course will help them get into professional schools, this is almost always untrue. Professional schools will take into account all college-level coursework when performing their own calculation of your GPA, and this will include any courses you have repeated at Western. Still, in some circumstances it may be appropriate to repeat a course so talk to an advisor to be sure. Also, dropping a course can have an impact on eligibility for financial aid, scholarships, and athletic participation so consider your options carefully and speak with an advisor before making a decision.


Students should gain shadowing experience with a nurse, and will likely need an RN to write a letter of recommendation. Discuss your shadowing options with Health Professions Advisors.

Volunteering/Hands-on Experience

The more experience you have working with people in a healthcare setting the stronger your application will be (some programs require it). Becoming certified as a Nursing Assistant (CNA) is one way to show your commitment to nursing and allows you to work with patients before applying to nursing school. Both Whatcom Community College and Bellingham Technical College offer CNA programs, and some skilled nursing or long term care facilities offer “on the job” CNA training that is free as long as you guarantee to work there for a specified length of time. 

Community Involvement

What students pursue outside the classroom will be considered by professional programs along with what is accomplished in the classroom. Your volunteer experience does not necessarily need to be healthcare related, but should be in something you are passionate about and interested in. Find experiences that allow you to serve your community and learn more about how to relate to others different from yourself.

More information

A list of nursing programs can be found at

Note: The above information is for preliminary advising purposes only. We encourage students to meet with a Health Professions Advisor on a regular basis to develop an individualized plan.