Information For

Understanding Nursing

Understanding the Nursing Degree

We will be covering the information below at a Nursing break-out session as part of
Orientation; however, students will be better  prepared  to have read this prior to
attending Orientation.  Bring any questions with you to Orientation!

An Impacted Program -- What does this Mean?

A program becomes 'Impacted' when there are more applicants than spaces available. All First Year students wanting to pursue the Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (BSN) will first enter the University as 'Pre-Health Science' students.  You will spend your first year taking Speech, English, Critical Thinking and Math, along with other General Education Courses.  Our first level of Impaction governs who moves into the four Pre-Nursing Core Science courses in your Sophomore year.  Once approved to move into the four science courses, you will then need to apply for admission to the actual Nursing program. Students will typically spend 4 semesters completing the Pre-Nursing Core required courses, along with other General Education courses specific to Nursing.  Many of you  will be applying for entry to the actual Nursing Program at the beginning of your Sophomore year, and can still have needed coursework in progress during that Sophomore year of study here.

Some students may take longer to get prepared to enter the Nursing program.  For all Pre-Nursing students, it will be at the beginning of your final year for completing the Pre-Nursing Core required courses, that you will be applying separately to the School of Nursing for admission to the Generic/Basic BSN Program.  The nursing term,  'Generic/Basic' applies to a program designed for students who are not licensed as a Vocational Nurse (LVN) or Registered Nurse (RN); therefore, they are considered 'basic' BSN students.  Once admitted, the Generic/Basic BSN program is a three-year program, which includes two mandatory summer terms.   Students who complete the Generic/Basic BSN degree are eligible to take the NCLEX (RN license exam) immediately upon graduation.

Admission to the University as a Pre-Nursing student does not guarantee entry into the Generic/Basic BSN.  The Nursing Advisors have designed and implemented many ways to help our students in being successful and in preparing our students to get admitted into a Nursing program.  Additionally, the University offers the Center for Learning & Academic Support Services.

Point System -- Supplemental Admission Criteria

Due to the Impaction Status of all CSU Nursing programs, campuses must develop Supplemental Admission Criteria (often referred to as a 'Point System') for determining how applicants are rank-ordered for  acceptance into an actual Nursing program.  A 'Point System' typically assigns a certain number of points based on how an applicant meets various supplemental admission criteria. Our current Point System requires a minimum 2.75 GPA in the CSU Pre-Nursing Core courses and a minimum 71.0% composite score on the TEAS exam (an exam specifically designed to measure a student's success in a BSN program).  Students will wait to take the TEAS exam here on campus until nearing completion of the science courses in the Pre-Nursing Core.  CSU Campuses must apply annually for 'Impaction Status' and must get any Supplemental Admission Criteria approved each year by the CSU Chancellor's Office.  Our Point System also includes other Criteria areas in which to earn points, but these additional Criteria areas are optional.  Students are advised to try and earn as many points as possible.  We will be reviewing the 'statistics' with our Pre-Nursing students about what it takes to get admitted to our Nursing program.

Admission to our Generic/Basic BSN program is highly competitive. It is important for Pre-Nursing students to strive for the best grades possible in the Pre-Nursing Core courses. The grades earned in the Pre-Nursing Core courses carry more 'weight' in the Point System.

Our current Point System encourages early completion of English, Math, Speech, Critical Thinking, and the University's Language Other Than English requirement.  Additional points can be earned in other optional areas as volunteer and/or work experience in an acute-care facility and involving some form of interaction with patients, and enrollment in our designated CSU Service area for recent college coursework (CSUSM). We will be distributing a copy of the approved Point System for Nursing at Orientation, and we will be more thoroughly reviewing this information with you in the fall during an individual advising appointment with each of you.

Pre-Nursing Core

We are following the established "CSU Pre-Nursing Core" agreed upon by all CSU Nursing Programs.  Completion of this Core ensures that students will be eligible to apply for admission to our Nursing program at CSU San Marcos and also apply to other CSU Nursing programs.  Each CSU Nursing program, however, does have its own Supplemental Admission Criteria.  These Point Systems are similar, but can vary by campus.  We work with our students to assist them in researching other CSU Nursing Point Systems to ensure that students stay competitive.

CSU Pre-Nursing Core

A minimum GPA of 2.75 in these Pre-Nursing Core courses, below, is needed for entry into our 3-year Generic/Basic Nursing Program (B.S. Nursing).  Students should strive for the highest grades possible in these Pre-Nursing courses, as these courses provide the foundation for all future Nursing courses.  Students must complete all Pre-Nursing and Nursing Major courses, or equivalents (refers to each separate course, including labs) with a letter grade of C or better (including GE).  Courses with substandard grades [C- or below] can be repeated only once and grades will be averaged.  The University does not allow for the repeating of courses in which a grade of C or better was earned initially.  If a course was previously taken for Credit (CR) and 'Credit' at that institution indicates a grade of C or better, we will use a grade of C when computing the Core GPA.  Acceptable AP and/or IB credit does not get factored in to the Core GPA. 

GE Area at CSUSM for Native Students CSUSM Course No. CSUSM Course Title No. of Units C -- Co-requisite;  P -- Pre-requisite
B2 BIOL 175 Introduction to Anatomy/Physiology I 4 Beginning in Fall 2010, P will be GEW 101, GEO 102, any A3 Course; any B4 Math course.
BIOL 176 Introduction to Anatomy/Physiology II 4 P -- BIOL 175
BIOL 160 Microbiology 4 P - ELM requirement; Beginning in Fall 2010, P will be BIOL 175
B1 CHEM 105 Organic and Biochemistry for Life 4 P - ELM requirement and admission to BIOL 175
B3 CHEM 105L Organic and Biochemistry for Life Laboratory 1 C – CHEM 105
B4 Any CSU GE B4 Math course Any CSU GE B4 Math Course 3 ELM requirement met
A1 GEO 102 Oral Communication 3 None
A2 GEW 101 Written Communication 3 P -- EPT requirement met
A3 Choose One:
LTWR 115 or

MATH 110 or

PHIL 110 or

PSYC 110
Critical Thinking
Critical Reading and Writing
Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking in Psychology
P – GEW 101




3-Year Generic/Basic Nursing Program

Our 3-year Generic/Basic BSN program includes six semesters and two, summer terms.  Included within each semester of required NURS courses, are the additional courses required by the State Board of Registered Nursing (including the remaining General Education requirements) and additional graduation requirements (Language other than English requirement for all California State University San Marcos 1st Bachelor Degree graduates) and the State American Institutions requirement. 

Students can 'pull out' some of these non-NURS courses early and take these required courses (which meet General Education requirements) early during the time that they are Pre-Nursing students.  This is recommended as a means of 'lightening up' the course load when a student enters an actual Nursing program. (Note: You must apply for this program)

General Education

The California State University system has established a lower-division General Education (GE) pattern for all students to meet in order to graduate.  Each CSU campus also requires several upper-division GE courses, as well.  All GE (lower- and upper-division) is built into the Nursing major.  A grade of C is required for every course which is applied to the Nursing major at our campus. 

Other University Graduation Requirements

Other University graduation requirements include the Language other than English requirement and the American Institutions requirement.  These requirements are explained in detail in the Media-site modules, which are required to be viewed prior to attending an Orientation, as linked within the Orientation Programs Web site for First Year students.