Nursing requirements and FAQs
In addition to meeting the academic requirements outlined below, all applicants to Dalhousie's Bachelor of Science (Nursing) program are required to complete the CASPer Test, a 120-minute computer-based online assessment.
Semester 1 entry
If you are applying to enter the Nursing program directly from High School, or if you have completed 12 credit hours or LESS of the Semester 3 pre-requisite post-secondary courses, then you are a Semester 1 applicant.
Semester 1 requirements
The BScN program is very competitive and all Semester 1 applicants must have completed or be in the process of completing the required grade 12 courses, and have a strong admission average to be considered for the program.
Required grade 12 courses:
- Academic Math*
- One additional university preparatory course
*minimum 70% required in subject area for admission consideration.
Meeting the minimum entrance average of 75% does not guarantee admission. As a result of the competitive admission process, applicants typically require a higher entrance average than the minimum listed in the admission requirements.
Semester 1 is made up of 8 semesters over a 3-year period.
Semester 1 runs September to December and Semester 2 runs January to April. Upon completion of Semester 1 and 2, students will enter Semester 3 (May to July in Halifax, September to November in Yarmouth) of the Bachelor of Science (Nursing) program. Students will have a one month break between each semester.
Graduation: Semester 1 students will graduate in May, with eligibility to practice as a graduate nurse and apply to write the NCLEX-RN Licensure Examination in April; Yarmouth students will graduate in October, with eligibility to practice as a graduate nurse and to apply to write the NCLEX-RN Licensure Examination in August.
Please reference the Academic Calendar for details.
Semester 3 entry
Semester 3 students have all of the required non-nursing courses (equivalent to semesters 1 and 2) completed with at least 30 credit hours and will enter the program at Semester 3 in September. Semester 3 entry is not available to students entering directly from high school.
Applicants with 15 credit hours or more of the Semester 3 pre-requisites, cannot be reviewed for the semester 1, entry point. Applicants will need to complete any missing pre-requisites and upon submission of an application will be reviewed for the semester 3 entry point.
Semester 3 students will enter the program at Semester 3 in September and take 6 semesters over a 2-year period. Semesters 3 to 8 are exclusively nursing courses. Fall Semester is September to November; Winter Semester is January to March; Summer Semester is May to July. Students will have a one-month break between each semester.
Graduation: October, with eligibility to practice as a graduate nurse and apply to write the NCLEX-RN Licensure Examination in August.
Semester 3 entry requirements
Please reference the Academic Calendar for details.
This two-calendar-year (six-semester) continuous period of study is designed for students who have previously studied at university and have completed the following pre-requisite courses:
i. A minimum grade of B- in each of: Anatomy, Physiology (6 CR or 3 CR + Biological Science 3 CR), Statistics, Microbiology and English is required. A minimum grade of C in each of the open electives and science elective is required.
ii. Subject requirements:
- Anatomy (ANAT) 1010 or equivalent - 3 credit hours
- Physiology (PHYL) 1001 and 1002 or 1011 and 1012 (or PHYL 1001 + Biological Science) - 6 credit hours
- Statistics (STAT) 1060 or equivalent - 3 credit hours
- Microbiology (MICI) 1100 or equivalent - 3 credit hours
- English (ENGL) 1100 or equivalent writing course- 3 credit hours
- Science elective - 3 credit hours
- Open electives* - 9 credit hours
In order to be eligible for semester 3 entry admission, the 5 core pre-requisite courses (Anatomy, Physiology, Microbiology, English, and Statistics) cannot be more than 10 years old from the forecasted date of graduation from Dalhousie's Nursing program. Elective pre-requisite courses cannot be more than 15 years old. Please see our Frequently Asked Questions page for more detail.
*Please note that Nursing courses cannot be used to fulfill the open electives pre-requisite requirement.
iii. A student with a .03 credit hour combined Anatomy and Physiology course will also be required to have .06 additional credit hours of Biological Sciences
iv. A minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5 based on overall post-secondary career or most recent year of studies (30 credit hours)
v. Meeting the minimum entrance GPA does not guarantee admission. As a result of the competitive admission process, applicants typically require a higher entrance GPA than the minimums listed in the admission requirements.
Students must seriously consider whether financial, work and family responsibilities will allow them to study full time, year round. Enrolment is limited—not all applicants with the minimum GPA will receive a place in this option.
Applicants must carefully compare courses completed with the published information to determine, to the best of their ability, whether or not the subjects align. Academic admissions requirements can be met by attending any recognized university or college.
Visit Dalhousie’s Transfer Credit Equivalency Table for more information.
Our Nursing Admissions Committee reserves the right to make the final decision on if a course satisfies admissions requirements. We encourage you to apply early to ensure you satisfy the course requirements for admissions consideration.
Please review the answers to these questions for information on admission to Nursing and clarification of requirements and procedures.
Frequently asked questions
Please note: Due to time and resource limitations, the Registrar's Office cannot conduct formal reviews of academic qualifications, transfer credits, or pre-requisites until after an official application has been submitted.
Q1. Is admission to Nursing based only on academics?
No. In addition to meeting the academic requirements outlined below, all applicants to Dalhousie's Bachelor of Science (Nursing) program are required to complete the CASPer Test, a 120-minute computer-based online assessment. Your CASPer score will be used in combination with your academic performance for admission assessment.
Q2. How is the admission average calculated?
An Admissions Officer will calculate your admissions average. When your CASPer Test score arrives your Nursing Weighted Score will be calculated using 60% of your admissions average and 40% of your CASPer Test score.
Q3. I’m applying to more than one Health Professions program that requires the CASPer Test. Do I have to sit more than one test?
Yes, each CASPer Test is designed for a specific Health Professions program. If you are applying to Occupational Therapy and Nursing, you will need to take the CASPer Test for each program.
Q4. Can I take the Nursing program on a part-time basis?
No. The Nursing program is only available for study on a full-time basis.
Q5. How do I know if I am a semester 1 applicant or an semester 3 applicant?
If you are applying to enter the Nursing program directly from High School, or if you have completed 12 credit hours or LESS of the semester 3 pre-requisite post-secondary courses, then you are a semester 1 applicant.
If you are applying to enter the Nursing program, and you have completed MORE than 12 credit hours of the Semester 3 pre-requisite post-secondary courses, then you are an semester 3 applicant.
Please note: though completing more than 12 credit hours of the pre-requisites means that you are an Semester 3 applicant, you must complete/have completed the full 30 credit hours of pre-requisites post-secondary courses in order to be eligible for admission consideration.
Q6. When I apply can I choose to be assessed for Semester 1 or Semester 3 entry, or both?
No. When you fill out an application you are applying to the Nursing program. You will be placed into either Semester 1 or Semester 3 entry based on your academic history.
Q7. What are the admission requirements for Semester 1?
Admission requirements can be found under Semester 1 requirements on this page.
Q8. What are the admission requirements for Semester 3?
Admission requirements can be found under Semester 3 entry requirements on this page.
Q9. My undergraduate classes were not taken from Dalhousie. Will they still satisfy admission requirements?
Academic admissions requirements can be met by attending any recognized university or college. Please refer to our transfer credit equivalencies table for course equivalency information.
We have also provided below our course descriptions which can serve as a guide. The final decision on if a course meets academic admissions requirements is made by the Nursing Committee. We encourage you to apply early for a full academic assessment.
Anatomy (ANAT) 1010 – Basic Human Anatomy
An introduction to Human Anatomy. The student will be able to explain and describe, at a basic level, the gross anatomy and histology of the human body.
English (ENGL) 1100 – Writing for University
An introduction to rhetoric and composition, this course is designed to prepare students to write analytic and research papers. Grammatical and rhetorical terms are addressed, and the course includes a number of assignments to hone writing skills from outline to revision.
Microbiology (MICI) 1100 – Health Science Microbiology
An introduction to microbiology and infectious diseases only for healthcare professionals. It includes a study of the structure and physiology of microorganisms, the ways microorganisms cause disease in man and the way they affect human's well being.
Physiology (PHYL) 1001 or 1011 – Human Physiology 1
This course is the first of two that explore the organization and function of the human body from the level of molecules to organ systems and the integration of systems within the whole organism. Specific topics in this course include Cellular Physiology with an emphasis on Transport, Metabolism and Communication, the Immune System, Neural, Muscle and Sensory Physiology and Control of Body Movement. Note that PHYL 1001, only, is via online distance course.
Physiology (PHYL) 1002 or 1012 – Human Physiology 2
This course is a continuation of PHYL 1001.03 or PHYL 1011 and explores the organization and function of the human body from the level of molecules to organ systems and the integration of systems within the whole organism. Specific topics in this course include Endocrine, Cardiovascular, Respiratory, Renal, Acid-Base, Whole Body Metabolism and Reproductive Physiology.
Statistics (STAT) 1060 – Intro Statistics for Science and Health Science
This course provides an introduction to the basic concepts of statistics through extensive use of examples. The topics include experimental design, descriptive statistics, simple linear regression and the basics of statistical inference. Students will learn to use the statistical package MINITAB.
Q10. What Dalhousie courses satisfy the writing requirement?
One of any of the courses listed below will satisfy the writing requirement:
- Creative Writing 1030
- English 1030, 1005,1015,1025,1040,1050, 1060, 1100
- German 1026,1027
- History 1510
- Performance Studies 1000, 1001, 1002
- Philosophy 1810, 1820
- Russian 1020, 1070
- Oceanography 1001, 1002
- Sustainability 1000
- Political Science 1001, 1002
- Journalism 1002, 1003
- Science 1111
Q11. How many seats will the program have for admission?
The Nursing program has 96 semester 1 seats and 106 Semester 3 seats at the Halifax site and an additional 16 Semester 3 seats will be offered for a May 2024 start. A total of 35 seats are available at the Yarmouth site, 30 Semester 1 seats and 5 Semester 3 seats.
Q12. How competitive is admission to the Nursing program?
The Bachelor of Science (Nursing) program is one of Dalhousie’s most competitive programs for admission. There are a limited number of seats for each entry point, and each year a large number of applications are received for those seats. As a result of this, not all qualified applicants can be offered admission to the program.
Q13. Does the program allow Semester 1 admission for non-Nova Scotia residents?
Yes, however the number of seats offered to residents of other Canadian provinces is very limited. Semester seats are primarily reserved for permanent residents of Nova Scotia. Due to residency restrictions and limited capacity, international students are not eligible for admission to this program.
Q14. Does the program allow Semester 3 admission for non-Nova Scotia residents?
Yes, however the number of seats offered to residents of other Canadian provinces is very limited. Semester 3 seats are primarily reserved for permanent residents of Nova Scotia. Due to residency restrictions and limited capacity, international students are not eligible for admission to this program.
Q15. What is the definition of a Nova Scotia resident?
An applicant is considered to be a resident of Nova Scotia if...
- the principal residence of the applicant’s parent(s) or guardian is located in Nova Scotia; or
- if the applicant is independent of his/her parent(s) or guardian, he/she must have lived and worked on a full-time basis in Nova Scotia (not attending school on a full-time basis) for a minimum of one full year; or
- the applicant or his/her parent(s), guardian or spouse does not meet the preceding requirements as the direct result of a recent employment transfer either in or out of Nova Scotia.
Q16. Who makes the admissions decisions for the Nursing program?
Admissions decisions for the Nursing program are made by the Registrar’s Office.
Q17. Does the School of Nursing have an Affirmative Action Policy for admissions?
Yes. The School of Nursing has an Affirmative Action Policy for residents of Nova Scotia who belong to the African Nova Scotian and Indigenous communities and who self-identify as such on the application for admission.
Q18. I am a Semester 1 applicant. When will I know if I am accepted into the program?
Admission for Semester 1 applicants is pooled and offers will be made to successful applicants in December and February. If you are offered admission to the program, you will be informed of your acceptance by email. After the two rounds of offers have been made, all remaining pooled applicants will be waitlisted, in the event that seats become available over the summer months. To be eligible for admission in the first round of offers you must have taken one of the CASPer tests offered in November or December.
Q19. I am an Semester 3 applicant. When will I know if I am accepted into the program?
Admission for Semester 3 applicants is pooled and offers will be made to successful applicants at the end of January, March and May. If you are offered admission to the program, you will be informed of your acceptance by email. After the last round of offers in May, all remaining pooled applicants will be waitlisted, in the event that seats become available over the summer months. To be eligible for admission in the first round of offers you must have taken one of the CASPer tests offered in November, December or January.
Q20. I have been placed on the waitlist. How will I be informed if a place becomes available for me?
If you are offered admission to the program from the waitlist you will be informed of your acceptance by email and/or phone.
Please note: We are not able to provide applicants with information regarding their place order on the waitlist.
Q21. Is there an age limit for my Semester 3 pre-requisite courses to be valid for admission?
For example, Semester 3 entry students beginning studies in September 2024 will graduate from the Nursing program in October 2026. Therefore, when applying for September 2024 admission, core pre-requisite courses completed earlier than September 2016 are not valid for admission eligibility. Similarly, elective pre-requisites courses completed earlier than September 2011, are not valid for admission eligibility. Any pre-requisite courses that exceed the age limit must be retaken in order to be eligible for Semester 3 entry admission. These age limits are strictly adhered to with no exceptions.
Q22. If I am currently completing the Semester 3 pre-requisite courses will I be included in the pool for all three rounds of offers?
Applicants must have completed the 30 credit hours of required courses by April 30 and official final transcripts received by May 15 of the year of expected entry to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Please note: If applicants are retaking any courses to meet the B- requirement, we will wait until the final grade for those courses to review for admission.
Q23. I am an applicant with an international nursing qualification. Can I apply?
Applicants should contact the relevant Canadian regulating body (e.g. Nova Scotia College of Nurses - NSCN) in order to find out what steps are required to become a registered nurse in Canada. Due to residency restrictions and limited capacity, international students are not eligible for admission to this program.
Q24. To which program should I apply to take the Semester 3 Nursing prerequisites subjects?
The prerequisites can be completed in a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Science, or as a Special Student, non-degree. You will need to submit an application and have an assessment completed based on the requirements for that program. Please visit dal.ca/admissions to learn more about the requirements.
Q25. Can I use my graduate level work to satisfy admission requirements?
We generally review only undergraduate courses for admission to the Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Some exceptions may be made for courses in Health-related programs.
Q26. Will you consider mature applicants?
The term “mature student” does not refer to an applicant’s age, rather a Canadian citizen or permanent resident over the age of 21 who has completed less than one year of post-secondary study, has not been enrolled in studies for at least two years and who does not currently meet general admission requirements. Students in this category are ineligible for admission to the Nursing program.
Q27. Is there an age limit for applicants to the BScN?
Applicants of any age who meet the program requirements are welcome to apply.
Q28. Does my health-related work experience give me an advantage compared to other applicants?
Previous work experience is not evaluated as part of the admission process for the Nursing program.