How to Switch from a Biology Degree to Nursing in Eight Steps

Each blog post is dated and contains accurate information as of that date. Certain information may have changed since the blog post publication date. If you would like to confirm the current accuracy of blog information, please visit our ABSN overview page or contact admissions at (877) 505-2276.

Can you go to nursing school with a biology degree? Absolutely! You could transition from a biology degree to nursing with an ABSN program. You’ll need to pass one or more entrance exams, take any necessary prerequisites and consent to a background check before applying.

close up on woman with test tube

You can do a lot with a biology degree, but what if you’ve decided that health care suits you better? It’s possible to switch from a biology degree to nursing.

At Harding University, we facilitate the pathway to nursing for students like you with prior college education. Through our accelerated Bachelor of Science in nursing program, it’s possible to go from biology to a nursing degree in as few as 16 months.

Not only is it possible to go from biology to a nursing degree, it’s also not that much of a switch. Nurses need to know the fundamentals of biological sciences, other life sciences and college-level mathematics. As a current or former biology major, you likely have already taken some of the classes aspiring nurses need.

You will enter the program with a thorough grounding in foundational principles like the scientific method. In previous science and math courses, you learned essential soft skills like critical thinking and analytical reasoning. You’ll need those skills and ethical decision-making skills to serve your future patients well.

person's hand holding stethoscope

Interested in a meaningful career with great perks? Explore the top seven reasons to become a nurse.

How can you go to nursing school with a biology degree? It starts with finding the right nursing program that fits your needs and academic background.

1. Find the Right Nursing Program

You may have already completed your undergraduate biology degree or part of it. In either case, it’s unnecessary to return to school for four more years. Instead, you may be eligible for an accelerated nursing degree via an ABSN program like the one at Harding University.

An ABSN program provides the same quality of nursing education as a traditional four-year program but on an accelerated timeline. It works by leveraging your prior college credits to fulfill some credit requirements, allowing you to earn a Bachelor of Science in nursing in far less time than traditional undergraduate nursing students. At Harding, you could graduate in as few as 16 months.

How can you determine if a particular ABSN program is right for you? If you meet the admissions requirements and the school’s overall mission and vision align with your core values, it may be the right school for you. Harding University is a popular destination for aspiring nurses who embrace the Christian perspective as our Carr College of Nursing’s mission is to develop nurses as Christian servant leaders.

harding nursing students on laptop

2. Contact an Admissions Counselor

After choosing a nursing program, the next step is to contact the admissions team to discuss eligibility and the admissions process. If you decide to apply to Harding’s ABSN program, you’ll be assigned a dedicated admissions counselor. Your counselor will be your primary point of contact and will help you develop a personalized plan to meet the admissions requirements.

Having your unofficial college transcripts on hand is helpful when you call. Your counselor can review your college credits and answer any questions you may have about the ABSN program.

3. Complete Any Necessary Prerequisites

The next step in switching from a biology degree to nursing is to complete any lingering prerequisites. The prerequisites are courses intended to help you prepare to excel in nursing school. As a former biology major, you’ve likely fulfilled some or all the prerequisites, including chemistry, statistics, microbiology and general psychology courses.

If you have one or more prerequisites to fulfill, you can take them online at Harding University. This will allow you to become familiar with our e-learning platform, which you’ll use for your nursing curriculum.

4. Take the HESI Admission Assessment Exam

In addition to completing the prerequisites, you’ll need to take the HESI Admission Assessment Exam. This is a standardized, proctored entrance exam widely used by health care education programs. The exam assesses your readiness to work through the nursing curriculum.

The HESI Admission Assessment Exam will evaluate your knowledge and skills across three major areas:

  • English language
  • Mathematics
  • Science

You’ll receive a composite score that is the average of all three scores in those areas. Because your score will play an important role in your admission decision, it’s a good idea to take some time to prepare for the exam. Exam prep materials are available online, along with practice exams.

5. Complete the TOEFL if Necessary

Harding University welcomes a diverse student body. If English is not your native language, you may need to complete the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) iBT exam. This test measures your English skills across four areas: speaking, listening, reading and writing.

You can take the TOEFL at a testing center or home via computer. Like the HESI exam, the TOEFL is best taken after spending sufficient time preparing for it. The administrator of the TOEFL, ETS, offers exam preparation materials, including self-paced courses and practice exams.

6. Complete the Background Check

nursing student practicing on manikin with a syringe needle

Aspiring nurses are required to consent to a state and national background check. For nursing school, a background check will typically verify your identity and past education and check for criminal convictions. Not all criminal convictions will automatically disqualify you from entering nursing school or obtaining your nursing license. However, they will typically warrant a closer look.

7. Submit Your Application

After you’ve passed the entrance exam(s), completed the prerequisites and cleared the background check, you’re almost ready to switch from biology to a nursing degree. The last main step is to submit your application.

Paying close attention to your admissions counselor’s guidance is essential. Your counselor will help ensure your application package isn’t missing any important documents or other components. Each nursing school has its own application requirements.

Among our requirements at Harding is the character reference. The person you choose to provide a character reference cannot be a family member. This person must fill out a short questionnaire via email.

In addition, it’s common for nursing schools to require applicants to submit an essay or personal statement, often about why they want to become a nurse. Take your time writing your statement as this is an opportunity to stand out from other applicants. Be sure it reflects your genuine voice, and proofread it carefully before submission.

Portrait of nursing student smiling

When you head off to nursing school, follow these top five nursing school tips for success.

8. Get Ready for Nursing School

If you’re accepted to the ABSN program, congratulations! You’re well on your way toward enjoying a meaningful career helping others in your community. Here are a few steps you can take to prepare to transition from biology to a nursing degree:

  • Fill out the FAFSA to see if you qualify for federal student aid.
  • Apply for scholarships.
  • If you don’t live within commuting distance, prepare to relocate for nursing school.
  • Prepare to take a hiatus from work while you attend school as a full-time student.
  • Purchase any necessary supplies for nursing school.
  • Get into the habit of practicing good stress and time management.
nursing student smiling with manikin in background

Why Switch From Biology to a Nursing Degree at Harding?

Are you ready to transition to a rewarding career in health care? Harding University blends an online curriculum with onsite, hands-on learning for greater convenience. With three start dates per year, you can be on track toward earning your BSN sooner than you’d think.

Contact our friendly admissions team today, and a dedicated admissions counselor will work with you one-on-one to help you navigate the enrollment process.