Biology Degree to Nursing: 7 Steps Toward Pursuing Your Dream Career

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It’s entirely feasible to transition from a biology degree to nursing. If you finished your biology degree and then decide you’d rather become a nurse, you can enroll in an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program, also called an ABSN program. You’ll need to complete the prerequisites before enrolling. In nursing school, you’ll take a blend of coursework and hands-on experiential learning activities.

nursing student walking in hall putting on mask

Can you go to nursing school with a biology degree? Absolutely. If you graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and later in life decided that nursing is your true calling, it’s quite feasible to switch gears and enter the health-care field with a bachelor’s degree in biology.

The Xavier University College of Nursing welcomes applicants who are interested in transitioning from a biology degree to nursing. Our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program can enable aspiring nurses to use their non-nursing degree as a springboard to enter the health-care field in less time than if they were to earn a traditional four-year BSN degree. Contact an admission counselor to learn more about how to become a nurse with a biology degree.

Explore the ABSN prerequisites and eligibility requirements here!

Can You Go to Nursing School with a Biology Degree?

It’s possible to apply to the College of Nursing’s ABSN program with any type of non-nursing degree, whether that’s a biology degree or any other type of degree. However, students transitioning from a biology degree to nursing may hold an advantage because they will already have a strong foundation in scientific principles and processes. You’ll already be familiar with taking lab classes and likely would have developed critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills as well.

In addition, you may already meet some of the ABSN prerequisites, such as microbiology and statistics. If you don’t yet meet all of the prerequisites for the College of Nursing, or if it’s been longer than eight years since you took those courses, your Xavier admission counselor can help you make an academic plan to complete those courses.

Xavier student working on manikin

Biology Degree to Nursing: Essential Steps to Follow

Nursing can be a highly meaningful and rewarding line of work, yet it can also be quite demanding. Once you’re sure that it’s the right career path for you, it’s time to take the first step. Learn how to become a nurse with a biology degree below.

1. Choose the Right Nursing Education Program Based on Your Needs

Once you’ve decided that nursing is the right career move for you, you’ll need to select the right nursing education program. Since you already have a biology degree, you can enroll in an accelerated nursing program that uses your prior education as a foundation for your nursing education.

If you live in Ohio or you’re thinking of relocating here for nursing school, consider exploring the ABSN program at Xavier. With three start dates throughout the year and a rolling admissions review, you may be able to get started much sooner than you might think. Consider the following benefits of our ABSN program:

  • An assigned admission counselor who will guide you through the process step by step
  • The ability to graduate in as few as 16 months
  • Extensive academic support, including NCLEX test prep support
  • Only four prerequisite courses (some nursing schools require 10 or more)
  • Online coursework
  • Experiential learning through hands-on nursing labs and clinical rotations

In addition, you could attend one of three ABSN Learning Centers throughout the state.

2. Connect with the Admission Team and Discuss the Requirements

The next step is to reach out to the admission team to discuss how to become a nurse with a biology degree. It’s helpful to have your unofficial transcripts in hand so that you can review your credits with your assigned admission counselor who will explain how the ABSN program works, discuss the admission requirements, and explain which documents you’ll need to gather together for your application package. You’ll also discuss the prerequisite courses for ABSN applicants.

You can learn more about the admission process here.

3. Make a Plan to Meet the Prerequisites

The ABSN program at Xavier is unique in that there are far fewer prerequisites than for most nursing schools. Since you have a biology degree, it’s likely that you already meet at least one or two of them. They are as follows:

  • Microbiology
  • Human anatomy or anatomy & physiology I (with lab)
  • Human physiology or anatomy & physiology II
  • Statistics

All courses must have been completed within eight years of starting the ABSN program. In addition, you must have received a B grade or higher in the first three courses, and a minimum of a C grade in statistics. The minimum cumulative GPA for all courses completed for your biology degree is 2.7.

If you don’t yet meet all of the prerequisites, your admission counselor will help you develop an academic plan. You can take the courses online through Xavier. If you choose to do so, you may qualify for provisional admission into the ABSN program. In addition, you’ll become familiar with our online learning platform, which will be helpful as you begin your online nursing coursework.

4. Apply, Enroll, and Prepare for Nursing School

Your admission counselor will help you determine which documents you’ll need to gather for your application package. For example, you’ll need to request your official transcripts from the regionally accredited school from which you earned your biology degree. You’ll also need to develop an admission essay or personal statement. This is your opportunity to set yourself apart from other applicants, so it’s important to write a thoughtful statement that expresses your motivation for becoming a nurse. Take your time with the essay, ask for feedback from friends and family, and don’t be afraid to revise as needed.

Xavier ABSN student reading course material

If you’re accepted into the program and decide to enroll, you’ll need to prepare for a rigorous 16-month program. Talk to your loved ones about how your schedule will change and ask for their help. They may be able to support you with certain responsibilities (e.g., childcare) while you’re working on transitioning from your biology degree to nursing.

You should also make sure you’re up to date on your vaccinations, and you may want to look for online nursing education resources. Although the program will teach you everything you need to know to get started as a nurse, some students find it helpful to begin reviewing common nursing terminology ahead of entering the program.

5. Work Through a Rigorous Curriculum and Complete Clinicals

The ABSN program at Xavier is a blend of online coursework, hands-on labs, and clinical rotations. During the program you’ll be quite busy, so it’s important to practice good time management and stay on top of your coursework. If you begin struggling with any nursing concepts you encounter in your courses, reach out for help right away. You’ll find the instructors to be accessible and helpful.

During the labs and nursing simulation experiences, you’ll practice applying the nursing concepts you learn in your courses. When you’re ready, you’ll be placed into various clinicals, where you’ll deliver direct patient care under the supervision of your preceptor (a licensed registered nurse).

Xavier ABSN student working with sim manikin

Get some helpful tips for thriving in nursing school here!

6. Graduate and Pass the NCLEX-RN

Throughout your time in the program, you should be preparing for the NCLEX-RN, which is the national licensure exam that all aspiring nurses must pass in order to work as an RN. If you don’t pass the exam the first time, you may retake it, although it’s preferable to shoot for a first-time pass. The NCLEX is quite rigorous, so set aside time each week to study for it, and taking practice NCLEX exams is helpful.

7. Land Your First Nursing Job and Plan for Career Advancement

Xavier ABSN student listening in stethoscope

Once you pass the NCLEX and obtain your nursing license from the state, you’ll be ready to interview for your first nursing job. You don’t have to land your dream nursing job right away; instead, work on gaining a few years of experience first, and then consider specializing in a particular area. For instance, you might work with orthopedic inpatients at a large hospital before deciding that you’d prefer to specialize in pediatrics.

Once you’ve decided upon a specialty, you may need to enhance your nursing credentials in order to pursue it. Aspiring advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), for example, need to earn a graduate degree and pass a certification exam. Not all specialties require further education, however, such as in-home hospice care.

When you’re ready to transition from a biology degree to nursing, the admission counselors at Xavier are here to support you. We offer extensive applicant and student success resources within the ABSN program, and we’ll ensure your transition is seamless. Contact an admission counselor today to take the first step toward a rewarding nursing career.