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Undergraduate Nursing General Education Requirements

by Kate Prudchenko

Nursing is a field that requires students to think critically and analytically and develop clinical expertise in dealing with patients. Students who are interested in pursuing nursing in college have a variety of degree options. Requirements vary greatly across programs and universities, but most require students to take a number of general education courses. The courses fulfill approximately 30 to 40 out of 120 to 140 total credits required for a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Purpose of General Education Requirements

A degree in nursing aims to give students a thorough foundation in both the theory and practice of nursing and prepares students for a variety of careers in a number of organizations including hospitals, long-term care units, health insurance companies and clinics. Students are able to pursue these careers because the nursing degree’s general education requirements develop their skills in writing, critical thinking and reasoning. Different degrees have different requirements, and many require students to take some liberal arts credits and fulfill a number of nursing prerequisites including biology, chemistry and mathematics.

Liberal Arts

Requirements vary across programs, but many require students to take courses in liberal arts. These courses make up approximately half of all general education requirements in nursing and expose students to a variety of ideas and cultures. Depending on the program, students might take courses such as composition, Chicano history and culture studies, discovering Romans, world literature from antiquity to the middle ages, great world literature, Japanese civilization, gender studies and blues in American music.

Biology Prerequisites

Almost all nursing degrees require students to complete a number of biology prerequisites as part of their general education requirements. These courses introduce students to biology, anatomy and laboratory work and serve as prerequisites for a number of upper-division nursing courses. Typical biology prerequisites are human anatomy, human physiology and microbiology. All of these courses consist of a lecture and a laboratory, meaning that students both attend lecture courses and get introductory experience in doing research by performing experiments in the laboratory component.

Chemistry and Mathematics Prerequisites

In addition to the biology prerequisites, students in nursing programs also have to complete chemistry and mathematics prerequisites to fulfill their general education requirements. Requirements vary greatly, the most programs require students to take at least one general chemistry course with a laboratory component and at least one course in introduction to statistics or introduction to probability. Programs with stricter requirements often require students to take additional courses in chemistry, such as organic chemistry and biochemistry.

About the Author

Kate Prudchenko has been a writer and editor for five years, publishing peer-reviewed articles, essays, and book chapters in a variety of publications including Immersive Environments: Future Trends in Education and Contemporary Literary Review India. She has a BA and MS in Mathematics, MA in English/Writing, and is completing a PhD in Education.

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