Pre-Licensure Nursing Program Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some of top questions students have about applying to the Department of Undergraduate Nursing, community service hours, clinicals and more.

You can also review the Pre-Licensure Program Brochure (PDF).

If you would like more information about the pre-licensure nursing program, please contact Beth Twiton, etwiton@winona.edu, or 507.457.2232.

She will be happy to meet with you in person by appointment if you visit Winona, or to arrange a phone or Zoom appointment to answer your questions. Schedule an appointment.

You will be eligible to apply to the upper division nursing program once you have completed:

  • at least 4 natural science prerequisites
  • at least 3 social science prerequisites
  • English 111
  • statistics

You must also have completed at least 45 credit hours. Students typically apply after their third semester in order to start the nursing major in their fifth semester.

You must have a cumulative college GPA of at least 3.75 for Direct Admission, or at least 3.3 Holistic Admission. Meeting minimum eligibility requirements for application does not guarantee admission through the Holistic Admission process.

You must be a declared pre-nursing major (PNDA or PNHA) who has completed at least 12 credits as a degree seeking student at WSU within 2 calendar years of starting the nursing program. This requirement can be met by enrolling for at least 12 credits during the semester of application.

Students who meet eligibility requirements may apply no earlier than their first semester at WSU to begin the major in their second semester.

Applications are available from Aug. - Oct. 1 for spring admissions and from Nov. - Feb. 1 for fall admissions.

Applicants who do not have an ACT or SAT score from a test taken within the last 5 years must complete the ATI Test of Essential Academic Skills (ATI TEAS) as part of the application process.

Contact the Department of Undergraduate Nursing for more information about the ATI TEAS.

Students must complete the following prerequisite courses to prepare for the upper division nursing major.

Students may apply to the major once they have completed at least 4 natural sciences, at least 3 social sciences, English and statistics, have completed at least 45 college credits, and meet the cumulative college GPA requirement of 3.75 for Direct Admission or 3.3 for Holistic Admission.

Students who meet eligibility requirements may apply no earlier than their first semester at WSU to begin the major in their second semester

All prerequisites must be completed before beginning upper division nursing courses.

Natural Sciences

  • BIOL 206 Normal Nutrition or HERS 205 Nutrition for Lifetime Wellness
  • BIOL 209 Microbiology
  • BIOL 211 Anatomy & Physiology I
  • BIOL 212 Anatomy & Physiology II
  • CHEM 210 General, Organic & Biochemistry or CHEM 212 & 213 Principles of Chemistry I & II
Social Sciences
  • PSY 210 Intro. to Psychological Science
  • PSY 250 Developmental Psychology
  • SOC 150 Intro. to Sociology
  • SOC 212 Sociology of Families
Additional requirements
  • ENG 111 College Reading and Writing
  • STAT 110, 210, or 305 or PSY 231
Students should also complete university General Education requirements before beginning upper division nursing courses.

AP, PSEO, CIS, and transfer credits can count toward nursing prerequisites or General Education Program requirements.

You may be able to check course equivalencies at the Transferology website.

All college credits earned must be transferred to Winona State University. Grades earned in all college level courses become part of the student’s cumulative college GPA.

AP credits are not graded and do not affect GPA.

Direct admission guarantees admission to the nursing major for students with exceptional ACT/SAT scores who earn excellent college grades.


Initial Eligibility

  • Composite ACT of 27 or above, or SAT of 1280 or above
  • New entering first semester student declaring a pre-nursing major (PNDA) when enrolling at WSU

The Direct Admission Agreement must be completed within the first two weeks of the student’s first semester as a degree-seeking student at WSU.


Maintaining Direct Admission Status

  • Cumulative college GPA of at least 3.75 at time of application to nursing major
  • Earn a grade of C or better in all nursing prerequisite classes
  • No withdrawal from (W) or repeat of nursing prerequisite classes once enrolled at WSU
    • Students who completed grade-bearing college credits while in high school and received a grade of W, D, or F in a nursing prerequisite course may repeat the course prior to their first day of class as a new entering first semester student at WSU without invalidating their eligibility for Direct Admission
  • Complete at least 10 hours of volunteer/community service work per fall and spring semester while a degree-seeking student at WSU. Required volunteer hours must be documented by the last day of each semester, or by the application due date during the semester of application.
  • See assigned WSU nursing advisor every semester
  • Satisfactorily complete an interview about interest in nursing with assigned advisor prior to application to the major
  • Meet all eligibility requirements for application to the major no later than the end of the student’s third semester at WSU

Conditions to Keep in Mind

Direct Admission status guarantees admission if requirements above are maintained.

Students who meet eligibility requirements may apply no earlier than their first semester at WSU to begin the major in their second semester.

A student who fails to maintain direct admission status may apply through holistic admission.

Direct Admission status guarantees admission.

Students must qualify for Direct Admission based on ACT/SAT scores, and must meet all conditions to maintain Direct Admission status (see What is Direct Admission?

Your PSEO, CIS, or AP credits are completed while you are in high school, so you are counted as a new entering first year student and can qualify for Direct Admission, provided that you have an ACT score of 27 or higher or SAT score of 1280 or higher.

Students who completed grade-bearing college credits while in high school and received a grade of W, D or F in a nursing prerequisite course may repeat the course prior to their first day of class as a new entering first semester student at Winona State without invalidating their eligibility for Direct Admission.

If you do not qualify for Direct Admission status when you apply to the Nursing major, you may apply through the Holistic Admission process.

The Holistic Admission (PNHA) process is designed for:

  • students without direct admission status
  • transfer students
  • WSU students who have changed their major to nursing

To apply through Holistic Admission

  • Meet requirements for completed prerequisites and college credits
    • Natural and social science prerequisites completed within the last 5 years. English and statistics completed within the last 10 years.
  • Cumulative college GPA of at least 3.3 at time of application to the nursing major
  • Complete at least 10 hours of volunteer/community service work per fall and spring semester while a degree-seeking student at WSU or RCTC. Required volunteer hours must be documented by the last day of each semester, or by the application due date during the semester of application.
  • Submit a current personal statement, including motivation to be a nurse, influences for this decision, and experiences in healthcare
  • Submit two current references, including one from a professor

Students who meet eligibility requirements may apply no earlier than their first semester at WSU to begin the major in their second semester.

Meeting minimum eligibility requirements for application does not guarantee admission through the Holistic Admission process.

Holistic admission applications must have two references.

One reference must be from a professor. Your nursing advisor cannot serve as a reference for you. The other could be from an employer or someone else that knows the candidate well and can comment on the applicant's personal qualities. Your references should know you over a period of time and be able to reflect on your growth and development.

Candidates should provide references with the WSU Nursing Candidate Reference link.

All references must be submitted directly through the online reference form. 

The professor providing your reference must be a recent college or university professor who can comment on your class performance and your personal qualities.

Now is the time to get acquainted with your professors. Some possible strategies:

  • Be sure to introduce yourself.
  • Ask thoughtful questions in class about the material.
  • Participate in class discussions.
  • Go to your instructor’s office hours.
  • Ask respectfully and politely.
  • Be prepared to explain the kinds of information that will be requested. Your reference will be asked to comment on your personal qualities.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute.

Holistic Admission Criteria

1. Academic Achievement

  • Cumulative college GPA
  • ACT/SAT score at time of first course as new entering first semester student at WSU (ATI TEAS if no ACT/SAT score within 5 years)

2. Personal Achievement

  • Volunteer/Community Service
  • Personal Statement
  • References
  • Interview

3. Interview (Applicants may qualify for the interview process based on their scores for Academic and Personal Achievement)

You should not sign up for ATI TEAS if you took the ACT or SAT within the past five years.

If you never took the ACT or SAT, or your score is more than five years old, sign up to take the ATI TEAS when you are ready to apply to the nursing major.

You may take the ATI TEAS online or in-person, proctored by ATI, another institution, or PSI. See the sign up page for more information about testing options.

Students are responsible for the cost of testing, and test fees are not refundable.

You must arrange for an official test transcript to be sent to Winona State University.

All Direct Admission (PNDA) and the Holistic Admission (PNHA) candidates must complete at least 10 hours of volunteer service per fall and spring semester while a degree-seeking student at WSU (PNDA or PNHA) or RCTC (PNHA only). Effective Fall Semester 2021, volunteer hours must be completed in the Winona and Rochester communities.

Required volunteer hours must be documented by the last day of each semester, or by the application due date during the semester of application.

Your volunteer hours do not need to be related to healthcare. You may not count hours for which you received payment or course credit.

You may not count time you spend doing things for family or friends that you would do anyway. For example, if you rake leaves for your grandparents every year, you should still do that, but your time spent raking doesn't count as volunteer service.

Lear more about volunteering/community service hours (PDF).

If you need help identifying volunteer opportunities, some helpful sources: 

 

When you complete volunteer hours, ask someone at the organization where you volunteered to submit verification using this link: Community Service Hours.

 

No. Holistic Admission applicants will qualify for the interview process based on their scores on the Academic Achievement and Personal Achievement criteria.

You may reapply the following semester. There are several possible opportunities to improve your score:

  • Your GPA could change based on the courses completed during the semester when you applied
  • You will be required to submit a new personal statement and new references
  • You will need to complete additional community service hours
  • You could be invited to the interview process

 

If you need to reapply, you can use the extra semester to work on a minor, take other classes that you believe will help prepare you for your nursing career or that you are interested in, or even take the semester off and work.

 

Some students may choose to change majors or consider transfer.

No. You will be required to submit a new personal statement and new references. You will need to complete additional community service hours.

Beginning in Fall 2021, transfer students can be considered for admission to the Pre-Licensure Nursing program.

Any student applying to the Undergraduate Pre-Licensure Nursing program – except students enrolled in the Path to Purple program at Rochester Community and Technical College (RCTC) – must have 12 credits completed as a Winona State University degree seeking student within the 2 calendar years prior to starting the nursing program. This requirement can be met by enrolling for at least 12 credits during the semester of application.

Transfer students intending to declare a pre-licensure nursing major must have a cumulative college GPA of at least 3.0 to be admitted to WSU. Students must achieve a cumulative college GPA of 3.3 to be eligible to apply to the nursing program.

Transfer students who complete an Associate Degree in Nursing and obtain their RN license may be considered for admission to the Winona State RN-BS Completion program.

You must visit the Student Services Coordinator in the Department of Undergraduate Nursing to complete a Declaration of Major/Minor form to change your major.

You must complete required prerequisite courses and meet eligibility requirements to apply through the Holistic Admission Process.

What are clinicals?

Clinicals give nursing students hands on experience in hospitals and other healthcare settings.

Students go to their assigned clinical once a week in a small group, with an assigned faculty member.

Students have the opportunity to apply the knowledge and skills they have learned in providing patient care.


When do students do clinicals?

Clinical rotations are part of the nursing curriculum in each of the four semesters of the nursing major. Students begin clinicals within the first few weeks of their first semester in the major.


Where do students do clinicals?

Students assigned to the Winona campus do their clinicals primarily in Winona and La Crosse, WI.

Students assigned to the Rochester campus do their clinicals primarily in the Rochester area.

If you are assigned to the Rochester campus, you will attend classes and complete your clinicals in Rochester.

You do not need to have your CNA when you begin as a pre-nursing student.

At the time you begin upper division nursing courses, you must be certified as a nursing assistant and be listed as active on a Nursing Assistant Registry within the United States.

For more information about the CNA requirement, please read CNA and CPR FAQs (PDF).