shutterstock 1535365025Registered nurses who want to advance their nursing career can become advanced practice nurses (APRN). Advanced practice nurses are registered nurses that have completed graduate level degrees or terminal degrees in nursing. Advanced practice degrees can be categorized into several different areas of nursing including: nurse practitioner, education, administration, public health, management and forensics. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, advanced practices nurses are projected to grow 26% over the next 10 years. This is much faster than the average amount of projected growth for all occupations.

According to the U.S. News & World Report, most Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degrees require students to complete 35-50 credit hours of graduate level nursing education. Most MSN degrees require 36 credit hours. MSN degrees with a focus on nurse practitioning, nurse midwife, and clinical nurse specialist require more credit hours due to required clinical hours needed to practice. Do most master’s programs in nursing require students to take the GRE? The answer is, no most graduate programs in nursing do not require GRE testing.

What is the GRE?

The GRE exam is a computer-based standardized exam that tests basic arithmetic, algebra, geometry, data analysis, college-level vocabulary, analytical writing, and verbal reasoning. GRE stands for the Graduate Record Examination. The GRE is used as a tool to determine success in graduate school, although not all graduate schools require the GRE. The GRE scores are correlated with student success in graduate school, graduate school completion, and high performances during graduate school. The GRE has a particular scoring system unlike other standardized tests.

There are three scores on the GRE:

  • Analytical writing
  • Verbal Reasoning
  • Quantitative Reasoning

Scores will be assessed in these section:

  • Analytical writing assessment section
  • Verbal reasoning sections
  • Quantitative reasoning sections.

The quantitative reasoning and verbal reasoning sections are each scored on a scale of 130 to 170. The mean score for verbal reasoning is 151, and the mean score for quantitative reasoning is 153. The analytical writing assessment is scored from 0 to 6 in half-point increments. The mean score for the analytical writing section is 4.0.

The GRE is similar to the NCLEX as more difficult questions arise the better the student does on each question. The GRE is a multi-skilled test, which means that the level of difficulty on subsequent sections are based on your performance on the first sections. This means that students should try to perform well on the first sections of the exam in order to access higher level questions on the second part of the exam. Otherwise, you are limited in your scores.

What is a good GRE score?

When considering your GRE score goal, look at the requirements at the school in which you are applying. This will inform you of a baseline goal to try to score at or above. Since the mean score for verbal reasoning is 151, the mean score for quantitative reasoning is 153, and the mean score for the analytical writing section is 4.0, this means that any score equal to or above this mean is considered a “good score” for nursing graduate school.

For example, Vanderbilt University’s Family Nurse Practitioner program requires a minimum score of 153 in both of the verbal and quantitative sections and a 4.5 in the analytical writing assessment section. These scores, however, are not set in stone. A student can score a 150/150/4.0 on the GRE but have a 4.0 GPA; which may give them more clout when applying. Each school will post minimums, but generally, any score over 150 and 4.0 is considered a “good” score. Ultimately, it depends on the interview and acceptance committees’ standards and other candidates applying. Schools labelled as more “prestigious” often require GRE scores in order to be more competitive.

The following Universities do require GRE scores for master’s programs in nursing:

  • Vanderbilt University
  • Columbia University
  • Yale University
  • Emory University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Ohio State University
  • Harvard University

Several other schools do not require GRE exams even for nurse practioner degrees. Many online universities waive GRE scores based on other application requirements. In order to review which schools require GRE exams, go to the college’s website, then click on the “admissions” page and then “requirements”. Most websites are very organized and list requirements, including GRE scores, for each master’s in nursing programs.

Nursing School Requirements

Not all MSN programs require students to submit GRE scores, in fact, many schools waive the GRE based on a student’s overall undergraduate degree GPA. Colleges that offer Master’s in Nursing degrees all have different admission requirements. In general, all colleges require a nursing undergraduate degree from an accredited university with a 3.0 GPA or higher on a 4.0 scale. Many colleges require a current resume, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and experience in healthcare.

A current resume is viewed to see work and professional experiences. Letters of recommendation help academic committee members get a sense of an applicant’s personality, work ethic, and past performances. Statements of purpose help students stand out from other applications by outlining professional goals and career paths. Experience in healthcare is often required, due to the nature of the degree and its’ heavy involvement in healthcare and nursing practice. Some advance practice nurse degree programs only require 6 months of bedside nursing practice. GREs are often required for colleges that are particularly competitive to gain entrance or ones that are considered prestigious.

Besides GRE scores, other tools used to determine success in graduate school are resumes, statement of purpose, reference letters, and overall GPA from undergraduate degrees. The main determinate for all colleges is previous GPA averages for undergraduate course work. If students fall below the required GPA, they must re-take some courses to increase their GPA scores to then re-apply for the university.

Master’s programs in nursing also require an unencumbered registered nurse license. A current license is required, and universities will ask for the state in which students practice and their license number to verify. The RN license cannot be revoked or under investigation by the Board of Nursing. All licenses must be unencumbered in order to proceed with graduate schooling.

Overall, nursing school requirements for master’s programs in nursing require a 3.0 GPA, require a current resume, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, experience in health care, and sometimes GRE scores. Students can look on each college’s website to view requirements, specifically GRE score requirements. If you are looking to gain an advanced practice nursing degree, now is the time as growth in this field is increasing.

Tessa Chatham

Master of Science (M.S.), Nursing Education| Aspen University

Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Nursing| Texas Christian University

Bachelor of Arts (B.A), Psychology and English| The University of Texas at Arlington

November 2019

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