A large crowd of people, including students and representatives of many universities' medical schools, at the HPAO-hosted Health Professions Career Fair


Nurses are advocates and health educators for patients, families, and communities. When providing direct patient care, they observe, assess, and record symptoms, reactions, and progress; assist physicians during treatments and examinations; administer medications; and assist in convalescence and rehabilitation. For a more detailed description of nursing opportunities and median income please see the Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Outlook Handbook.

There are multiple avenues to becoming a nurse and multiple levels of nursing credentials. The University of Maryland, College Park has a Guaranteed Pathway Program in partnership with the University of Maryland School of Nursing in Baltimore. See below for more information about the Guaranteed Admission Pathway, as well as other avenues to nursing. 

NursingCAS Comparison Chart is a great way to see the different avenues students can take to pursue a career in nursing.

Students may enter the nursing profession in many different ways. Nursing is not a "one size fits all" profession and there is not a "one size fits all" entry point. There are many things to consider when deciding about your nursing education, we hope to illuminate several of the options here, but it is important that you come and speak to a Nursing Advisor to see what path is best suited for you.  

Traditional 2+2: Students may complete two years of prerequisite courses at the University of Maryland College Park, and then apply for admission into a professional school to complete two years of professional course work, which includes classroom, laboratory, and clinical education. After these four years the student will earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the school where they completed their final two years. This may be a good option for students who are ineligible for the Guaranteed Admission Pathway, but wish to earn a BSN in four years. Please note that University of Maryland College Park does not guarantee admission to nursing school for those outside of the specified Guaranteed Admission Pathway. 

"Second Degree" or "Accelerated Second Degree Baccalaureate Program": Students who have earned a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and completed the nursing school pre-requisites can apply to a second degree or accelerated second degree nursing program (earning a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing). This would be the student's second bachelor's degree. This is an option for students who know they want to pursue nursing, but want to stay at University of Maryland College Park for all four years in their selected major. Please note that UMCP does not have a nursing or pre-nursing major for students to choose from. 

Master's or Clinical Nurse Leader Programs: Many nursing programs offer Master's degrees or Clinical Nurse Leader degrees to students who have earned a Bachelors degree in something other than nursing and have completed the nursing school prerequisites. These are often specialized degrees that can be earned in two years of full time study.   

RN to BS or BSN Programs: Students who already have their RN (Registered Nurse) can obtain a BSN by completing 30-35 credits in a RN to BSN program offered by nursing schools.

Professional School Programs for a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN)

For a complete list of nursing programs in the United States please visit The American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Use their Nursing Programs Search database where you can search for nursing programs by type or by state or by both variables.  

Nurse Practitioner Programs/Advanced Nursing Specialist: 

It is important to realize that the field of Nursing is rapidly evolving and changing to meet the demands of the healthcare system. To become a Nurse Practitioner with any specialization requires a Doctor or Nursing Practice (DPN). Often, the minimum requirements for entry into these programs is a Bachelor's degree in Nursing. 

Navy Medicine Nurse Candidate Program (NCP): A financial assistance program for students enrolled in a baccalaureate nursing program. Upon completion of degree requirements, the student must accept a commission as a Nurse Corps (NC) officer. Check out this sheet for more information!

Note: Pre-Nursing is not a degree-granting program at the University of Maryland, College Park. Admission to professional schools is competitive and is not guaranteed by the University of Maryland, College Park. Admission requirements vary depending upon the institution and prerequisites are subject to change - contact programs for most current requirements.

The most common prerequisites are:

  • Anatomy and Physiology 1 and 2
  • Microbiology
  • General Chemistry
  • Nutrition 
  • Statistics
  • Human Growth and Development


In addition, there are many Minors that cover topics critical to expanding understanding of the various determinants of health. Coursework related to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion can be helpful in developing cultural awareness, cultural humility, and an understanding of systemic discrimination in the health care system. Even if your academic plan does not permit adding a minor, it is worth reviewing the curated course lists for courses that will stretch you, increase your language for difference and disparity, show your intellectual curiosity, and improve your critical reasoning skills. 

Example 4 Semester Plan for 2+2 Students

Most nursing programs do not require clinical experiences for applicants, however, we highly recommend students make the time to shadow nurses in different fields. This gives you good insight into what your career could look like and what patient population interests you most.

The University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP) and the University of Maryland School of Nursing offer a guaranteed admission pathway for high-performing students that will streamline progression from UMCP to the University of Maryland School of Nursing allowing students to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) in as few as four years. This elite program guarantees admission to the University of Maryland School of Nursing for eligible applicants on a space-available basis. Adherence to the specified four-semester plan and consistently meeting the GPA and science grade and GPA minimums are a condition of remaining on the Pathway. If you meet all the requirements at the time of the Nursing Pathway application deadline, you are guaranteed admission to the School of Nursing. However, you will still need to fill out a formal application. Students normally matriculate to the School of Nursing within 4 semesters. However, in order to be part of this guaranteed program, students must matriculate within three years.

The student will choose which School of Nursing campus to attend-either in Baltimore or at the Universities at Shady Grove.


  • Science GPA (only the courses BSCI201, BSCI202, BSCI223, and CHEM131/132): 3.0 (each course requires a C- or better to be considered a passing grade)
  • Overall GPA: 3.25

These requirements need to be met by the time you apply.

Additionally, you will need to have at least two of those sciences completed by the time you apply. You will also need one of STAT100, NFSC100, and EDHD320 completed by the time you apply.

Make a copy of the blank 4-semester plan.

Pathway students may only use 2 courses from a community college towards the 59 credits needed for the pathway. UMSON will accept AP scores of 4s and 5s and IP Higher Level scores of 6s and 7s.

To become a part of this program:

For students not admitted directly into the pathway when they enter UMD College Park, progression into the pathway will be evaluated after the completion of 30 credits. Students who meet all of the following after the evaluation will have their major changed to the Nursing Pathway:

  • Completion of CHEM 131 and 132
  • BSCI170 and 171  with a minimum grade of C-
  • Earned minimum overall GPA of 3.25
  • For all other science courses completed prior to the audit, a Minimum Science GPA 3.0 (General Chemistry I, Microbiology, Anatomy and Physiology I, and Anatomy and Physiology II).

Students who do not meet the requirements at the 30 credit audit may continue to work with the HPAO nursing advisor.

If you are ineligibile for the Guaranteed Nursing Pathway, you may apply as a Traditional applicant and still matriculate in the School of Nursing prior to completing their Bachelor’s degree at UMCP if admitted. There are also accelerated second degree and Clinical Nurse Leader Master’s programs that may work best for you. Your HPAO advisor can help you find the best path.

UMCP and the School of Nursing reserve the right to make changes to these requirements or cancel the MOU without notice and in keeping with each institution’s admission trends.

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