Two nursing students practicing skills on a dummy

The traditional 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 can be up to 90 miles from Madison and may include ambulatory sites, clinics, hospitals, rehabilitation centers, home health agencies, geriatric facilities, school districts, nursing homes, policy centers, etc. This range of sites and opportunities gives students comprehensive exposure to a broad range of patients, illness, and care in both clinical patient and community health settings. Elective courses in general education and in nursing permit students to pursue individual interests.

How to Get in

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 the Traditional BSN program, 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 combined prerequisite GPA of 2.75 and earn at least a C (2.0) in each of the individual seven prerequisite courses.

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 to the Traditional BSN program 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.

Traditional BSN Major Requirements

Note: This program requires a minimum of 124 credits to earn the degree.


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
ANAT&PHY 337 Human Anatomy (or equivalent)3
ANAT&PHY 335 Physiology (or equivalent)5
Total Credits15-16

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 313 Foundations of Nursing Practice2
NURSING 314 Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Across the Lifespan3
NURSING 315 Professionalism in Nursing Practice2
NURSING 316 Foundations of Nursing Practice: Experiential Learning4
NURSING 317 Pharmacology Essentials for Nursing Practice2-3
NURSING 318 Pathophysiology Essentials for Nursing Practice3
NURSING 323 Health and Illness Concepts with Individuals and Families4
NURSING 324 Meeting the Psychosocial Health Needs of Individuals, Families, and Communities3
NURSING 325 Professionalism in Health Care Settings2
NURSING 326 Health and Illness Concepts with Individuals and Families: Experiential Learning4
NURSING 434 Health and Illness Concepts with Individuals, Families, and Communities5
NURSING 436 Health and Illness Concepts with Individuals, Families, and Communities: Experiential Learning4
NURSING 437 Social Justice in Local and Global Settings3
NURSING 443 Advanced Concepts in Complex Nursing Practice5
NURSING 444 Health Systems, Policy, Economics, and Research3
NURSING 445 Transformative Nursing Capstone1
NURSING 446 Advanced Concepts in Complex Nursing Practice: Experiential Learning4
NURSING 447 Scholarship for Evidence-Based Practice2
Total Credits58-59

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.

Learning Outcomes

  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.

Four-Year Plan

This is a sample four-year plan. There are many potential variations of this plan, especially in the freshman/sophomore pre-nursing years. All students are strongly encouraged to consult with their academic advisor to develop an individualized plan that meets their specific needs. The degree requires a total of 124 credits minimum.

SOC/​C&E SOC  2103-4PSYCH 2023-4
MATH 1123Communications A3
NURSING/​S&A PHM/​SOC WORK  1052Humanities or Social Science3-4
Humanities or Social Science3-4 
 14-16 13-15
Quantitative Reasoning B3-4Communications B3-4
Elective3Ethnic Studies3
Humanities or Social Science3-4Humanities or Social Science or Elective3-4
 15-17 17-19
 13-15 15
Nursing Elective3NURSING 4462-5
NURSING 3243Nursing Elective3
 14-18 14-17
Total Credits 115-132

Advising and Careers

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 is available on the school's student intranet, called the Student Site. 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 which provide resources and strategies for career and licensure planning. This includes workshops, career fairs, resume review, prospective employment resources, and licensure information.

Student Support

Information about student support, resources, policies, forms, scholarships, clinicals, compliance, and career & student success in the School of Nursing can be found on the School of Nursing’s Student Website.


Office of Academic Affairs


Linda D. Scott, PhD, RN, NEA-BC, FAAN
Dean and Professor

Lisa C. Bratzke, PhD, RN, ANP-BC, FAHA
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Professor

Katie Bleier
Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs (Academic Dean)

Dana O'Brien, PhD, MSN, MHA, RN, CNE
Undergraduate Program Director, Associate Professor

Advising and Student Services

Darby Sugar
Director of Advising and Student Services

Molly Censky
Assistant Director of Advising and Student Success, Pre-Nursing Advisor

Maisee Her
Pre-Nursing Academic Advisor

Leigh Arora
Pre-Nursing Academic Advisor & BSN@Home Program Coordinator

Tracey Maloney
Advisor for Admitted Nursing Students (ABSN & TBSN)

Kelli Richards
Career Development & Learning Support Manager

Admissions and Recruitment

Patrick Stevens
Director of Admissions & Recruitment

Clinical Placement

Ann Johnson
Undergraduate Clinical Placement Coordinator

Rikki Klassy
Undergraduate Clinical Placement Coordinator

Student Information and Technology

John Coutley
Data Reporting Specialist

Amy Corridon
Curricular & Technology Specialist


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.

NCLEX-RN Pass Rates

National Council of State Boards of Nursing NCLEX-RN

Year of Exam UW-Madison Graduates: First Attempt National: First Attempt  
April-September 2023 96% 81%
April-September 2022 85% 80%
April-September 2021 81% 72%

Note: UW-Madison BSN Graduates pass rate reflects all UW-Madison Bachelor of Science-Nursing graduates who tested during the April-to-September test period for the first time, including recent and previous graduates.

Professional Certification/Licensure Disclosure (NC-SARA)

The United States Department of Education (via 34 CFR Part 668) requires institutions that provide distance education to disclose information for programs leading to professional certification or licensure. The expectation is that institutions will determine whether each applicable academic program meets state professional licensure requirements and provide a general disclosure of such on an official university website.

Professional licensure requirements vary from state-to-state and can change year-to-year; they are established in a variety of state statutes, regulations, rules, and policies; and they center on a range of educational requirements, including degree type, specialized accreditation, total credits, specific courses, and examinations.  

UW-Madison has taken reasonable efforts to determine whether this program satisfies the educational requirements for certification/licensure in states where prospective and enrolled students are located and is disclosing that information as follows.

Disclaimer: This information is based on the most recent annual review of state agency certification/licensure data and is subject to change. All students are strongly encouraged to consult with the individual/office listed in the Contact Information box on this page and with the applicable state agency for specific information.

The requirements of this program meet certification/licensure requirements in the following states:

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, District of Columbia, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, U.S. Virgin Islands

The requirements of this program do not meet certification/licensure requirements in the following states:

California, New York

Updated: 1 June 2024


Signe Skott Cooper Hall

The School of Nursing is located in 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.

Student Support & Resources

Information about student support, academic and non-academic resources, policies, forms, scholarships and financial aid, clinicals, compliance, and career & student success in the School of Nursing can be found on the School of Nursing’s Student Website.

Academic Support Services

Career & Student Success Academic Support has a mission to develop the next generation of nurse leaders by providing holistic, culturally congruent student support across four dimensions: academic support, leadership and connection, career development, and wellness throughout the student experience. 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 $600,000 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 Wisconsin Scholarship Hub or WiSH. For more information, see the School of Nursing website.


Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Accreditation status: Next accreditation review: 2029–2030.