The bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree program prepares individuals for careers in professional nursing in hospitals and other health care agencies. This Traditional BSN program provides a foundation for progressing to positions of increased responsibility, leadership, and continued education in graduate programs. Upon successful completion of the program, students receive a bachelor of science in nursing degree from the UW–Madison School of Nursing.

The curriculum includes courses in nursing as well as in liberal arts and sciences. Most students enter UW–Madison as pre-nursing students and spend their first two years completing nursing prerequisite and general education courses. Students then apply midway through their sophomore year to enter the nursing program as juniors. From there, the two-year nursing component includes lectures, laboratory, and clinical courses. Nursing courses emphasize clinical decision-making and the application of theoretical knowledge. Clinical experiences are offered in hospital settings and in community health settings. Elective courses in general education and in nursing permit students to pursue individual interests.

Admission to the nursing major is competitive and determined by a comprehensive review of each student’s academic preparation and performance, leadership, extracurricular activities and service, health care experience and background, diversity in experience and background, and the quality of application statements/essays.

Upper Division admission is the standard route into the Traditional BSN nursing program. In this model, students enter UW–Madison as pre-nursing students (PRN), they spend the first two years completing general education requirements and nursing prerequisites, and then apply for admission to the nursing program for the final two years on campus. Students may also apply to transfer directly into the Traditional BSN campus from another institution, upon completing the admission requirements.

Admission is highly competitive and based on factors including academic performance, pattern and trend of grades, courses taken, leadership roles, extracurricular activities, experiences related to health care, and experiences or background in diverse cultural, social, and geographic settings. Approximately half the students who apply for admission are admitted. The application deadline is February 1 to enter the nursing program the following fall.

To be considered for Upper Division Admission, students must, at the time of application:

  1. be in progress to complete at least 54 degree credits of college-level course work by the end of the spring semester; 
  2. have a minimum cumulative college GPA of 2.75 (based on a 4.0 scale) at the end of the fall semester and again at the end of the spring semester;
  3. have completed or have in progress four of the following seven prerequisite courses by the end of the fall semester, and be enrolled to complete all seven by the end of the spring semester; and
  4. have a minimum prerequisite GPA of 2.75 on all prerequisites completed to date and complete all seven with at least a 2.75 GPA.

The seven prerequisite courses are:

  1. Chemistry w/ Lab
  2. Microbiology
  3. Human Anatomy
  4. Human Physiology
  5. Psychology (introductory)
  6. Sociology (introductory)
  7. Human Growth and Development

Students transferring to the University of Wisconsin–Madison, as well as students who already have a bachelor’s degree and wish to earn a second degree in nursing, also apply via the Upper Division Admission option. More information on the admission process and requirements for transfer students and second-degree students is available on the School of Nursing website.

University General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.

General Education
  • Breadth—Humanities/Literature/Arts: 6 credits
  • Breadth—Natural Science: 4 to 6 credits, consisting of one 4- or 5-credit course with a laboratory component; or two courses providing a total of 6 credits
  • Breadth—Social Studies: 3 credits
  • Communication Part A & Part B *
  • Ethnic Studies *
  • Quantitative Reasoning Part A & Part B *

* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.

School of Nursing Requirements

The bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree is a 124-credit curriculum comprised of the core nursing curriculum, as well as general education requirements, nursing prerequisite coursework, and elective courses. The required courses for graduation are listed below. In addition to completing this coursework, students must:

  1. Earn a cumulative and nursing GPA of at least 2.5, and
  2. Complete at least 30 credits in residence on the UW–Madison campus, and
  3. Earn at least 75 of the required 124 degree credits at the intermediate or advanced level

Traditional BSN Major Requirements


Select one of the following:4-5
General Chemistry I
Chemistry in Our World
Advanced General Chemistry
Select one of the following:3
General Microbiology
Introduction to Biochemistry
Human Anatomy
ANATOMY/​KINES  328 Human Anatomy (or equivalent)3
Human Physiology
PHYSIOL 335 Physiology (or equivalent)5
PHM SCI 401 Survey of Pharmacology (or equivalent)3
PATH 404 Pathophysiologic Principles of Human Diseases (or equivalent)3
Total Credits21-22

Humanities and Social Science

Humanities and Social Science
PSYCH 202 Introduction to Psychology (or equivalent)3
Select any introductory Sociology course3
Human Growth and Development
Select three credits of Human Growth and Development3
Select six credits of Humanities6
Humanities or Social Science
Select seven credits of Humanities or Social Science7
Total Credits22


College Algebra
MATH 112 Algebra (or equivalent)3
Total Credits3


Select 15-27 credits of electives15-27
Total Credits15-27


NURSING/​S&A PHM/​SOC WORK  105 Health Care Systems: Interdisciplinary Approach2
NURSING 212 Human Responses to Health and Illness I4
NURSING 219 Clinical Nursing I4
NURSING 301 Health History and Patient Assessment3
NURSING 302 Introduction to Systematic Investigation3
NURSING 310 Mental Health and Mental Illness: Implications for Nursing3
NURSING 312 Human Responses to Health and Illness II4
NURSING 319 Nursing Care in the Inpatient Setting4
NURSING 322 Community Health Nursing3
NURSING 332 Essentials of Family-centered Perinatal and Pediatric Nursing3
NURSING 401 Legal and Social Forces in Nursing3
NURSING 415 Organizational Influences on Interdisciplinary Practice3
NURSING 419 Clinical III: Community Health Nursing Practicum4
NURSING 422 Advanced Concepts in Nursing Practice3
NURSING 433 Essentials of Gerontological Nursing3
NURSING 449 Nursing Care of Persons and Families with Complex Health Care Needs4
Total Credits53

University Degree Requirements 

Total Degree To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.
Residency Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.
Quality of Work Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.
  1. Promote health and manage illness by providing safe, client-centered, culturally congruent care across the lifespan in a variety of health care settings.
  2. Employ professional nursing leadership concepts to address patient care and system needs to promote quality health care outcomes and health equity for all.
  3. Make effective use of technology for patient care, education, and management of health information.
  4. Understand the roles and scope of practice of disciplines of the health care team and practice as an effective, collaborating member of the interprofessional team.
  5. Use knowledge sources effectively to provide evidence-based care.
  6. Identify health disparities and advocate for basic essential health services for all.
  7. Allocate health care resources to maximize the health care benefit to clients, families, and community.
  8. Assume fiscal and ethical responsibility for clinical practice.
  9. Function as a member of the nursing profession within the community and the world.

The School of Nursing provides dedicated, professional academic and career advising to undergraduate students in their pre-nursing and nursing years. As one of the smaller schools on campus, the school is able to offer a great deal of personal attention and individualized academic and career advising.

Academic Advising

All pre-nursing and nursing students are assigned an academic advisor based on the students last name. Generally speaking, freshmen receive advising in small-group sessions. Once students enter their sophomore year, they move to one-on-one advising appointments with their assigned advisor. Detailed information on the school's academic advising system and staff are available on the school's student intranet, called the StudentNet. Questions about advising can also be directed to the Office of Academic Affairs at 608-263-5202.

Career Advising

The school offers career advising services to provide resources and strategies for career planning and placement. This includes workshops and job/internship fairs, resume review, job search resources, and licensure information. In addition, the school offers a 1-credit seminar N590 Introduction to Career Development in Nursing.


Linda D. Scott, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN

Dean and Professor

Earlise Ward, PhD

Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Associate Professor

Karen Mittelstadt

Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs (Academic Dean)

Karen D. Solheim, PhD, RN

Undergraduate Program Director, Clinical Professor

Advising and Student Services

Katie Bleier

Director of Advising and Student Services

Molly Censky

Undergraduate Advisor

Kate Knudson

Undergraduate Advisor

Mary Russell

Career Advisor

Darby Sugar

Undergraduate Advisor and Academic Support Coordinator

Kim Tobin

Undergraduate Advisor

Admissions and Recruitment


Director of Admissions and Recruitment

Brent Fisher

Undergraduate Admissions and Recruitment Coordinator

Earning the bachelor of science in nursing degree is the first step toward becoming a Registered Nurse. Graduates must also take and and pass the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN) to receive their nursing license and begin their careers as nurses in hospitals, community health and mental health agencies, industrial health centers, nursing homes, family planning centers, crisis care centers, and beyond. A nursing license gives an individual permission to practice nursing, granted by the state where he or she met the requirements.

The School of Nursing works with students as they complete graduation requirements and the two-step process to register for the NCLEX. Specifically the school verifies graduation and assists students as they register for the exam. Most students take the NCLEX within three months of graduation. More than 90 percent of School of Nursing graduates pass the NCLEX on first attempt.

Signe Skott Cooper Hall

In fall 2014, the School of Nursing moved to the new Signe Skott Cooper Hall. This $53.3 million nursing building features world-class technology and innovative educational spaces that will allow the nursing school to address health care’s new standard of excellence—high-tech and high-touch methods and practices that result in better patient outcomes and greater satisfaction with care.

Advising and Student Services

office of Academic Affairs

The Office of Academic Affairs is the undergraduate dean's office for the School of Nursing. Staff members interpret school regulations, policies, and program requirements; make exceptions around requirements and deadlines; advise prospective and current students; monitor students having academic difficulties; coordinate compliance; facilitate the program's admissions process; and maintain the official files of students in the school.

Academic Advising

Academic advising is an essential component of undergraduate education. The primary advising mission in the School of Nursing is to help students identify and clarify their academic pathways and educational goals, and to help them develop meaningful plans to ensure academic success. Advising is an ongoing, caring, and collaborative relationship between advisor and student that provides meaning, guidance, and support throughout the educational process. Every pre-nursing (PRN) and nursing (NUR) student is assigned a professional advisor in the nursing school. Advising is offered in individual appointments, group advising, and graduation checks for seniors.

Career Advising

In addition to professional academic advisors, the School of Nursing has career advising available to help students prepare for a successful career in nursing. Services include resume and job search assistance, online job postings, information sessions, and nursing career fairs.

Academic Support Services

The Nursing Learning Center in Cooper Hall is a place where students can gather with other like-minded, focused, and enthusiastic students to improve not only their understanding of the course material but of their own learning styles. Sessions are designed to assist pre-nursing and nursing students in weekly small-group study formats. Current courses supported include anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, and pathology, as well as courses in the nursing curriculum. Workshops and other sessions help students with test preparation, study skills, time management, etc.

Student Organizations

The School of Nursing encourages and supports students to pursue their interests and form social networks. In addition to numerous associations available to students on the broader campus (including the Aspiring Nurses Association [ANA] for pre-nursing students), there are a number of student-run groups established specifically for current nursing students. These include the Student Nurses’ Association, the Multicultural Student Nurses’ Organization, the Nurse’s Christian Fellowship, the Global Health Interest Group, the Holistic Nursing Group, the Perinatal Interest Group, and the Student Geriatric Interest Group. The purpose of these groups is to give students the opportunity to enhance their experiences related to professional development, social circles, political action, community service, and academic achievement, as well as foster connections between faculty, staff, and students.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

The School of Nursing awards more than $400,000 in scholarships each year to admitted undergraduate nursing students. Awards are based on both academic merit and financial need. Students are invited to apply to nursing specific scholarships, as well as campus-wide or non-nursing scholarships, through the Scholarships@UW–Madison system.