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The RN to BSN program is designed for the Registered Nurse (RN) to advance their nursing career to the next level with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). The BSN program prepares nurses to apply new skills to day-to-day interactions with patients and co-workers, as well as provides students with a broader perspective on the increasingly complex healthcare environment. The RN-BSN program equips students to enhance quality and safety, work effectively in a team, grow as a professional and develop leadership skills for the future. A BSN is necessary for management positions, public health nursing, and specialized clinical positions. It also prepares individuals for admission to graduate nursing programs in nursing education, nursing administration, and advanced practice nursing.

Within the RN-BSN program, students have the opportunity to choose an area of interest for elective options and practicum experience. Interdisciplinary opportunities and clubs/organizations provide a number of opportunities for students to get involved.

Administered by the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition

RN-BSN Admissions Criteria

Applications for the RN to BSN program are individually reviewed.  Minimum requirements for admission to the BSN program include*:

  • Licensure as a Registered Nurse in Iowa or a compact state if applicable**
  • Meet all Iowa State University admission criteria for transfer students
  • Official college transcripts from all colleges and universities attended
  • Minimum of 2.5 cumulative GPA for all college coursework
  • Achievement of minimum “C” (not C-) for all prerequisite courses listed below
Anatomy and Physiology I and II (BIOL 255/L and BIOL 256/L equivalent)
English Composition I and II (ENGL 150 and ENGL 250 equivalent)
Introduction to Chemistry (CHEM 163 or CHEM 1T equivalent)
Statistics (STAT 101 or STAT 104 equivalent)
Introduction to Human Nutrition (FS HN 167 equivalent)
Developmental Psychology (PSYCH 230 equivalent)
Introduction to Sociology (SOC 134 equivalent)
  • Evidence of a satisfactory criminal background check within 6 months of application and/or 12 months of enrollment or provide evidence of current employment as a Registered Nurse in Iowa or a compact state
  • Evidence of meeting current health and immunization requirements

*Admissions requirements are congruent with the Iowa Action Coalition, RN to BSN Task Force Recommendations.  Most, and in some cases, all of these are required in the Associate’s Degree in Nursing curriculum.

**License must remain current and unrestricted while enrolled in ISU RN-BSN program. Nursing courses with a clinical or practicum component may not be taken if any of the following has occurred:  student denied licensure by the Iowa Board of Nursing; Registered Nurse license is currently suspended, surrendered or revoked in any U.S. jurisdiction; Registered Nurse license is currently suspended, surrendered or revoked in another country due to disciplinary action; or student has failed a criminal background check.

RN-BSN Progression Criteria

RN-BSN Graduation Requirements

  • At least 32 credits earned in residence at Iowa State University, and the final 32 credits taken through Iowa State University prior to graduation.
  • All general education requirements at Iowa State University must be met.
  • The BSN curriculum consists of 22 credits of NRS courses, 6 credits of FS HN courses, and 6 credits selected from approved list for a total of 34 credits in addition to prerequisite coursework and electives. 
  • Electives are selected by students to meet identified career interests, and total elective credits needed will vary based on individual transfer credits. 
  • Minimum credits for graduation is 120 credits.


NRS 2501NRS 3602
NRS 3203NRS 440*4
NRS 3403NRS 4603
NRS 4203FS HN 3653
Course from approved list3 
 13 12
NRS 470*3Electives if needed based on individual plan 
FS HN 3643 
Course from approved list3 
* Denotes practicum courses  
 12 0


(1-0) Cr. 1. F.

Prereq: Admission to the RN-BSN program.
Prepares the learner for the academic experience. Topics will include an introduction to learner-centered instruction, support services, communication, time management, and evaluation and assessment methods. Requirements of all nursing courses such as APA formatting and citation of sources will also be included. BSN students will successfully complete orientation prior to or concurrent with their first nursing course.

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: Admission to the RN-BSN program.
Exploration of the philosophical, conceptual, and theoretical bases for baccalaureate nursing practice. Key concepts impacting the nursing profession and healthcare are examined from both historical and contemporary perspectives. Topics include professional role development, interprofessional collaboration and teamwork, quality and safety, effective communication, and provision of culturally competent and patient-centered care.

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: Admission to the RN-BSN program.
Introduction to the critical thought processes and methods used in nursing research. Basic concepts and terminology of research methodology and analysis are presented. Theory as a basis for research is examined. Students are given the opportunity to interpret and evaluate nursing research. Strategies for implementation of evidence based nursing practice to support quality and transformation in health care are explored.

(2-0) Cr. 2. S.

Prereq: Admission to the RN-BSN program.
Exploration of professional issues in contemporary nursing through published research, professional standards, literature and narrative evidence, with consideration of legal/ethical influences. Discussion of the change agent process and personal empowerment will be applied to resolution of issues. Emphasis on analysis, sources of credible information, advocacy and empowerment.

(3-0) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: Admission to the RN-BSN program or permission of instructor.
Health promotion and illness prevention across the lifespan are examined in the context of the theoretical foundations, historical and contemporary practice and patient-centered care. Specific and evidence-based guidelines for supporting or improving health and well-being are explored and considered for both care recipients and care givers. Attention is given to the roles of the health care provider and care recipient in screening, communication, and counseling. The use of complementary or alternative therapeutics in assisting clients to achieve goals of health, healing and wellness is explored, as are spiritual and cultural beliefs and practices.

(3-3) Cr. 4. S.

Prereq: NRS 340 and NRS 420
Using nursing process and an evidence-based framework, the student will explore epidemiology and genetics; health promotion and disease prevention within population groups; community assessment and intervention; and factors influencing health services access and delivery in the United States and globally. Individual and family case management, community wellness, healthcare access, health literacy and health education will be considered. This course includes project and simulation based practicum experiences.

(3-0) Cr. 3. S.

Prereq: NRS 320 and NRS 340
Explores the knowledge and skills needed to implement leadership and management roles in various health care settings. Current theories of management, leadership and change are examined and related to nursing practice. Includes effective communication and relationship skills, organizational structure, information management, financial management, quality and outcomes measurement, and teamwork.

(2-3) Cr. 3. F.

Prereq: NRS 440 and NRS 460
Enables the student to further develop leadership abilities, communication, critical thinking, and decision-making skills with a focus on health promotion, quality improvement, or care management. The student develops specific learning goals for the practicum based on individualized professional goals. Each student completes 45 practicum hours in a domestic or global setting.

Cr. 1-2. Repeatable, maximum of 4 credits. F.S.

Prereq: Admission to the RN-BSN program and permission of Director of Nursing Education.
Independent work in RN role transition of the new graduate nurse. A maximum of 4 credits of NRS 490 may be used toward graduation.