Pre-Specialty Entry

Even if you have no nursing background, you can become an advanced practice nurse through our accelerated program of pre-specialty master’s entry.

Even if you have no nursing background, you can become an advanced practice nurse through our accelerated program of pre-specialty master’s entry.
With three semesters of generalist-level nursing courses and completion of the program in your chosen specialty, often just three additional semesters, you can earn your Master of Science in Nursing degree.


Vanderbilt’s Accelerated Program

If you have no background in nursing but you are interested in pursuing a career in advanced practice nursing without sacrificing excellence in education, entry into the Vanderbilt Master of Science in Nursing program through the pre-specialty master’s program offers you this opportunity. This pre-specialty year provides the foundation equivalent to the bachelor’s degree in nursing for course work in the selected nursing specialty. The three-semester pre-specialty year will prepare you for taking the National Council for Licensure Exam (NCLEX) to become a Registered Nurse (RN).


Upon completion of three semesters of pre-specialty courses, you will enter an additional sequence of courses in your declared specialty in order to earn the MSN degree. Many Vanderbilt School of Nursing Advanced Practice Specialties require completion of at least an additional three semesters; several programs – including dual-focus areas – are slightly longer, requiring completion of 4 or 5 additional semesters. Just visit the Specialty program websites that interest you to review the sample curriculum plans.


Admission Requirements

The best ways to learn about the Vanderbilt School of Nursing MSN Admissions process and requirements are to join us for Open House in October or March or attend one of the weekly MSN information sessions. Information Sessions are on Tuesdays from 10-11am and on Fridays from 2-3pm. Please call the Admissions Office at 615.322.3800 or 888.333.9192 to schedule yourself for one of these sessions. You can get started by visiting Admissions Requirements on our website to learn more.

Prerequisite Courses

Students without nursing backgrounds who apply to Vanderbilt School of Nursing must have or will have completed a bachelor’s or higher degree in a non-nursing field, which must include:

  • 3 semester hours of Lifespan Development
  • Natural Science courses taken within the last 5 years.
      - Human Anatomy & Physiology I and II (8 semester hours)
      - Microbiology (3-4 semester hours)
  • 3 semester hours of Statistics
  • 2–3 semester hours of Nutrition

Your Pre-specialty Clinical Experience

During the three semesters of your pre-specialty year, you will complete a minimum of 700 hours in a variety of clinical settings:

  • Hospital Inpatient Units
  • Children’s Hospital
  • Community Agencies
  • Mental Health Centers
  • Psychiatric Hospitals

Registered Nurse (RN) Licensure

Pre-specialty students are eligible to apply to the National Council for Licensure Examination to become a Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN) upon meeting the requirements specified by the Tennessee State Board of Nursing. Students in good academic standing following the Pre-Specialty program take the exam in the first semester of the Specialty program and are required to be RNs prior beginning specially level clinical courses.