How to Become a Nurse with a Biology Degree in 7 Steps

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Learn how to become a nurse with a biology degree. First, choose a BSN program, talk with an admissions counselor, and complete prerequisites before applying to the ABSN program. Next, graduate from the program, pass the NCLEX, and earn your license. Then you're ready to begin working as an RN.

nursing student using microscope

After graduating with a biology degree, many find that the biology field doesn’t appeal to them anymore. In fact, a lot of our incoming students studied biology because they intended to go to medical school, but then decided they would rather be a nurse. Sound familiar? Your education in biology sets you up to excel as a nurse. If you’re looking for a meaningful career with the potential to make a real difference in people’s lives, nursing is an excellent way to use your biology degree.

So, how complicated is switching from biology to nursing? The process of how to become a nurse with a biology degree is actually quite straight-forward if you choose an accelerated nursing program. Because of your prior biology courses, you will likely be able to transition to nursing school quickly and begin your career in a relatively short timeframe.

Located in Parsippany, New Jersey, Felician University’s 16-month Hybrid Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) and 18-month On-Ground ABSN program accept students from all fields of college study, many coming from a biology background. The hybrid ABSN program helps you make the change from a biology degree to a BSN sooner through an innovative mix of online courses and in-person labs and clinical rotations.

We’ll walk you through the seven steps of how to become a nurse with a biology degree, and you’ll see just how prepared you are to take the next step toward becoming a nurse.

1. Decide on a Nursing Program

The first step in switching from biology to nursing is choosing a nursing program that’s right for you. Registered nurses can have a variety of degrees, including an associate degree (ADN), a bachelor’s degree, or a master’s degree (MSN).

The trend within the nursing community has been moving toward nurses having at least a bachelor’s degree, so it’s a good idea to be forward-thinking and choose a BSN program. Entering the field with a bachelor’s degree will likely provide you a higher salary and more career and leadership options compared to entering the profession with an ADN.

nursing students in class

Discover more reasons why a bachelor's degree in nursing is important as you pursue a career as a nurse.

When choosing a particular BSN program, consider these factors as you are comparing programs:

  • Accreditation/state approval: Confirm that the program is accredited and also state approved.
  • Eligibility: Look at whether it requires a prior bachelor’s degree or if you can transfer in with 60 college credits.
  • Requirements: Consider GPA, prerequisites, and entrance exam requirements.
  • Program length: Think through the time you want to spend in the program. Accelerated programs generally range from 16–20 months. Felician offers 16-month and 18-month ABSN options.
  • Quality of clinical education: Research the quality of clinical rotations and nursing labs so you know the program will sufficiently prepare you for your nursing career.
  • Start dates: How many start dates are offered each year? More start dates mean you’ll likely be able to start sooner.

Felician offers both a 16-month hybrid ABSN program and an 18-month on-ground ABSN. The hybrid program offers three start dates each year, and the on-ground program offers one start date each year. The ABSN curriculum consists of a combination of nursing coursework, skills and simulation labs, and clinical experiences.

2. Talk with an Admissions Counselor

The next step in the process of becoming a nurse with a biology degree is talking with an admissions counselor about the ABSN program. This will be an informal, low-stress conversation where you’ll share why you’ve chosen to become a nurse. Then you’ll talk about your background, and the admissions counselor will help you determine your eligibility.

Switching careers is a big step. Learn how to change careers to nursing and see how your background will benefit your nursing career.

Woman at desk writing in notebook

Felician’s full-time ABSN program lets you pick up where you left off with your biology degree, making a quick transition into nursing possible. Here are the requirements you’ll need to be eligible for the ABSN program:

  • A non-nursing bachelor’s degree or at least 60 non-nursing college credits
  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 in all undergraduate coursework
  • A grade of C+ or higher in each of the ABSN prerequisites

With a biology degree, you’re off to a good start.

Your admissions counselor will then help you make a timeline for completing prerequisites and applying to school. At Felician, we offer three start dates each year for the hybrid program — in January, May, and August — and one start date in May for the on-ground program.

3. Complete Prerequisites

Before you apply for the program, ensure you finish any incomplete prerequisites. Because you have a biology degree, there’s a good chance you’ve completed most, if not all, of our prerequisite courses, which are:

Prerequisite CourseCredit Hours
Microbiology + Lab*4
Anatomy & Physiology I + Lab*4
Anatomy & Physiology II + Lab*4
Principles of Chemistry*4
Statistics I3
Lifespan Development3
*Must be completed within seven years of your program start date.

If you still need to complete some prerequisites, your admissions counselor can create a completion plan based on your preferred start date for the ABSN program.

4. Apply to the ABSN Program

Once you’ve satisfied all ABSN program requirements, you’re ready to begin the application process. While the applying may seem intimidating, it doesn’t have to be — just be sure to work with your dedicated admissions counselor every step of the way. Your counselor’s job is to ensure you submit the most competitive nursing school application possible.

nursing student standing by lockers

As part of your application, you’ll need to submit the following:

  • Official college transcripts
  • Prerequisite completion form
  • Professional resume
  • Personal goal statement or letter of intent
  • Letters of recommendation

5. Earn a BSN

Once accepted into our 16-month hybrid ABSN program or 18-month on-ground ABSN program, you’ll start applying your biology background to your education, which will help ease you into the nursing curriculum. Why? Because your biology studies taught you the foundations of life, which is something registered nurses apply every day on the job.

Hybrid ABSN Curriculum

As a hybrid ABSN student, you’ll complete a rigorous blend of online courses, hands-on nursing labs, and clinical rotations in diverse areas of practice. Here’s what you can expect from these three distinct learning components:

  • Online courses serve as the foundation of your nursing education, teaching you the fundamentals and theories of the profession, from nursing modalities to legal issues in healthcare.
  • Nursing labs provide a realistic, risk-free platform for developing your hands-on skills and clinical judgment. Hybrid ABSN students complete labs at the Parsippany program site, and on-ground students complete labs at the Rutherford program site.
  • Clinical rotations at local healthcare facilities afford real-world experience in diverse areas of nursing practice, from acute care to public health.
Felician ABSN student smiling in lab

Discover the differences between online and traditional learning in nursing school.

During the fourth and final semester of the ABSN program, you can expect to complete a clinical immersion course. Sometimes referred to as a “preceptorship” or “role transition experience,” this course provides you with concentrated clinical experience in a specific area of nursing practice.

Overall, to keep pace in our ABSN program, you should expect to devote between 40 and 60 hours a week to your professional nursing studies.

How hard is nursing school? See what it'll take to succeed in the ABSN program.

nursing students studying with tablet

6. Apply for Licensure and Take the NCLEX

Once you graduate with a BSN, you’re ready to apply for nursing licensure in the state where you’ll work as a nurse. The state board of nursing will then grant you approval to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN®), the major checkpoint before earning your license.

The NCLEX is an exam that every nursing school graduate must pass to be able to legally practice the profession. It helps determine if you’re prepared for entry-level nursing practice. In other words, the exam serves to protect the public. It’s a challenging test, but as a graduate of the ABSN program at Felician, you’ll be prepared to sit for the NCLEX with confidence.

Once you pass the NCLEX and receive your license, you’re a registered nurse — credentials that can take you down an extraordinary career path.

7. Start Your First Nursing Job

Now that you have your BSN and your RN license, you can choose to work in any number of practice settings, from hospitals and private practices to military bases and cruise ships. You can also pursue certification in a nursing specialty, such as flight nursing, critical care nursing, pediatric nursing, and labor and delivery nursing, to name a few.

As of May 2021, the median pay for RNs is $77,600 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. When it comes to the New York, Newark, Jersey City metro area, nurses earn an average salary of $98,460. By earning your degree at Felician, you’ll start forming connections at healthcare facilities in the area. This will help you prepare to begin your nursing career in this prime location.

How Nurses Use Biology

RNs use their biology knowledge to make informed decisions about patient care management daily through:

  • Providing care based on a patient’s body composition and family medical history.
  • Ensuring a patient gets the right medication for their medical status.
  • Determining dosage calculations when administering medication to a patient.
  • Restoring balance in patients’ bodies so they can regain proper health.
  • Maintaining patient environments free of contamination and infection.

Transform Your Biology Degree to a BSN

Nursing is a great application of your biology degree, not only because of the professional advantages, but also because of the personal fulfillment that comes alongside a nursing career.

nursing students in class

Is nursing school worth it? Learn what to ask as you consider making the change to nursing.

Switching from biology to nursing is possible through an accelerated program like Felician’s hybrid ABSN program in Parsippany, New Jersey, or on-ground ABSN program in Rutherford, New Jersey.

If you’re ready to go from a biology degree to a BSN in as few as 16 months, fill out our online form, and our admissions team will reach out to talk through how to set your nursing education in motion.