What Are the Different Types of Online Nursing Prerequisites?

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  • Written By: Maggie Worth
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 22 February 2020
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Most nursing programs include a number of prerequisites, or classes that must be taken prior to beginning the nursing program. Many institutions offer at least a portion of these online. Online nursing prerequisites are frequently divided into two categories: general education and health-related courses. General education courses are those that must be taken by people pursuing any type of degree. Health-related courses, variously referred to as health sciences or medical courses, are those taken by the majority of those training for health care careers, whether in nursing or another field.

Nearly all degree-granting undergraduate programs require a substantial number of general education courses regardless of the major being pursued. Online nursing prerequisites that fall into the general education category usually include at least one primary language course. In the United States, this would be English. This might be a general English, composition, or basic business-writing course.

Math is another of the common online nursing prerequisites. This might begin with a basic math class but often includes more advanced classes such as algebra, statistics, or calculus as well. Other common courses include psychology, computer basics, and public speaking and may include an elective course such as literature, history, or philosophy. Nursing programs also commonly require general education science classes such as biology and chemistry, but these may not be offered online because of the laboratory component found in many such courses.


A portion of online nursing prerequisites falls within the health sciences field. One such common course is medical terminology, in which students learn common words, word parts, and phrases used in the health care sector. Another common health care prerequisite is anatomy, sometimes called human anatomy or anatomy and physiology. Anatomy course work is often presented as a series, such as Anatomy One and Anatomy Two or Basic Anatomy and Advanced Anatomy. Other possible requirements include an introduction to a professional nursing course or a class in pharmacology.

In some nursing programs, subjects such as medical terminology and anatomy may be combined with an introductory nursing class and offered as a single multicredit course. This course work may or may not be offered online. It is important to note that the availability of online nursing prerequisites depends on the institution granting the degree. Some universities offer all or most of their prerequisite classes online, while others offer few or no online classes. Other universities might offer general education courses online but require classroom attendance for health sciences classes.


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