Nursing Schools that Accept Low GPA

If you’re looking to earn a master of science in nursing, but didn’t earn a high undergraduate GPA, don’t worry! There are many low GPA nursing schools that are looking for applicants just like you.

List of 11 Low GPA Nursing Schools

The master’s degree in nursing can prepare a registered nurse for advanced practice patient care or leadership roles in patient care, administration or education. Explore the list of partner schools below for online, hybrid, and on-campus MSN options that accept candidates with a low undergraduate GPA.

#1: University of Southern California

MSN GPA Requirement: No minimum GPA

The University of Southern California is a private research university in Los Angeles with a Health Sciences campus known for specialized care and research in:

  • Cancer
  • Stem cell and regenerative medicine
  • Orthopedics
  • Sports medicine

About the MSN at University of Southern California

The online Masters in Nursing program at USC teaches comprehensive nursing skills, aspects of research and policy, and social work concepts to help students build a strong foundation in social factors related to health.

Program Details:

  • Online only
  • Completion in 21 to 33 months
  • 2 on-campus intensive faculty skill assessments
  • RN and BSN required
  • One year of clinical experience required
  • Pursuing initial accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

Available Nursing School Concentrations

  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

#2: Cumberland University

MSN GPA Requirement: 2.5 minimum

Cumberland University is a private, independent, liberal arts institution located 30 miles outside Nashville, Tennessee and offering seven graduate degree programs.

About the MSN at Cumberland University

The online master’s in nursing program at Cumberland University teaches communication, critical-thinking, and decision-making skills to nurses who aspire to management roles or are looking to advance their career and teach other nurses.

Students applying to nursing grad programs with a low GPA are welcome at Cumberland, as the minimum requirement is 2.5, with lower GPA accepted in some cases. For instance, students with less than 2.5 GPA may complete two courses of graduate coursework with B or higher to earn final acceptance

Program Details:

  • Online
  • RN and BSN required
  • GRE scores required
  • 2 start dates per year
  • Completion in 18 months
  • Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and pursuing initial accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

Available Nursing School Concentrations

  • Nurse Educator
  • Nurse Executive Leadership and Administration

#3: Saint Xavier University

MSN GPA Requirement: 2.75 or 3.0 GPA (Varies by Program)

Saint Xavier University of Chicago is one of the top universities in the Midwest, and one of the five largest nursing schools in Illinois. It has been designated a Center of Excellence in Nurse Education by the National League for Nursing.

About the MSN at Saint Xavier University

The Master of Science in Nursing programs from Saint Xavier University aim to teach students how to improve patient care with the most up-to-date evidence-based practices, new technologies and effective communication strategies.

With the business, management, and clinical skills taught in the MSN programs at SXU, students may be prepared to pursue leadership roles in their department or unit. For prospective students looking to get into nursing with a low GPA, the Executive Nurse Leadership program requires only a 2.75, and SXU’s other programs will consider a low GPA.

Program Details:

  • Online
  • RN and BSN required
  • At least one year of full-time work experience required
  • Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

Available Nursing School Concentrations

#4: Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

MSN GPA Requirement: GPA of 2.7 – 2.99 Considered for Provisional Acceptance

Bloomsburg University is a public university located in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania offering 20 graduate programs and an alumni base of over 70,000 that enables students to network throughout the eastern U.S. and beyond.

About the MSN at Bloomsburg University

The MSN at Bloomsburg University is known for academic excellence and facilitating the adult learner to achieve their professional goals in advanced nursing practice. Graduate students have the opportunity to learn leadership behaviors as they engage in responsive, accountable, and autonomous nursing practice designed to meet the needs of society.

Students applying to nursing school with low GPA may be accepted to Bloomsburg provisionally.

Program Details:

  • Blended format (online core courses and on-campus clinical courses)
  • RN and a Bachelor’s degree required
  • Accredited by the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

Available Nursing School Concentrations

  • Anesthesia
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Nursing Administration
  • Community Health

#5: California State University, Fresno

MSN GPA Requirement: Overall GPA of 2.5 (3.0 in Nursing)

California State University, Fresno serves the diverse region of Central California and is designated by the U.S. Department of Education as both a Hispanic-Serving Institution and an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-Serving Institution.

About the MSN at California State University, Fresno

The Fresno State School of Nursing aims to prepare nurses for advanced practice with knowledge and skills in physical diagnosis, psychological assessment, and management of health-illness needs through the Master of Science in Nursing.

For students looking to get into nursing grad school with a low GPA, Fresno State accepts 2.5 overall as long as nursing courses average 3.0 or higher.

Program Details:

  • On-campus
  • RN and Bachelor’s degree required
  • GRE required
  • Accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Available Nursing School Concentrations

  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Pediatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist

#6: Minnesota State University, Mankato

MSN GPA Requirement: Lower than 3.0 GPA May Be Accepted with GRE Scores

Minnesota State University, Mankato sits outside the Twins Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, and offers over 85 graduate studies programs. The College of Allied Health and Nursing offers a wide range of health, wellness and interdisciplinary programs taught by faculty who are leaders in their professions.

About the MSN at Minnesota State University, Mankato

The web-enhanced MSN program at Minnesota State aims to prepare students for advanced nursing practice roles with family-focused curriculum and simulation experiences where they can learn how to provide the best care to individuals, families and the community.

Applicants to the MSN with a low GPA will be considered by Minnesota State if they submit GRE scores from the past 5 years.

Program Details:

  • Blended format (online courses with some on-campus seminars)
  • RN and Bachelor’s degree required
  • 2 years of nursing experience required
  • Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

Available Nursing School Concentrations

  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Educator

#7: Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing

MSN GPA Requirement: 2.8

Saint Francis Medical Center, one of the nation's largest Catholic health care facilities, is located in Peoria, Illinois. The College of Nursing has been teaching compassionate, skilled nursing care for over 100 years.

About the MSN at Saint Francis Medical Center College of Nursing

The graduate nursing program at Saint Francis presents students with theory, research and practice for the improvement of client care and advancement of the nursing profession. Students will have the opportunity to learn collaborative leadership within the complex health care system.

Program Details:

  • Blended format (Online courses with on-campus practicum)
  • RN and BSN required
  • Clinical experience requirements vary by program
  • Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

Available Nursing School Concentrations

  • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Educator
  • Nursing Management Leadership

#8: Walden University

MSN GPA Requirement: No minimum GPA

Walden University in an online learning community made up of students from all 50 U.S. states and over 150 countries, plus faculty, alumni, national experts and visiting scholars. Their mission is to produce graduates who are committed to effecting positive social change.

About the MSN at Walden University

The online master’s in nursing program at Walden University aims to prepare students for patient care in advanced practice nursing and a variety of leadership roles within the healthcare system. Walden’s programs have entry paths for registered nurses with a BSN, those with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field, and those with just a high school diploma, all with minimum GPA requirement.

Program Details:

  • Online
  • RN required
  • Two years of work experience required for nurse practitioner specializations
  • Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

Available Nursing School Concentrations

#9: Mount Saint Mary College

MSN GPA Requirement: 2.75

Mount Saint Mary College is a competitively-priced private school located in Newburgh, NY, midway between New York City and New York's capital, Albany.

About the MSN at Mount Saint Mary College

The Mount Saint Mary College School of Nursing has an established reputation for nursing excellence. The Master of Science in Nursing is offered in two advanced practice nursing specialties taught by highly-qualified faculty who are experienced in their field.

Program Details:

  • Blended format (online and on-campus courses)
  • Start in any session (fall, summer, spring)
  • Completion in 2.5 - 3.5 years
  • RN and BSN required
  • Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

Available Nursing School Concentrations

  • Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner (ANP)
  • Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP)

#10: Southeastern Louisiana University

MSN GPA Requirement: 2.7

Southeastern Louisiana University is the state’s third-largest public university, with over 150 programs of study. With a close-knit community of engaged learners, Southeastern aims to lead the educational, economic, and cultural development of southeast Louisiana.

About the MSN at Southeastern Louisiana University

The master of science in nursing program at Southeastern is part of a consortium of four universities working collaboratively to prep graduates with theory and clinical skills for opportunities in the health care profession.

Program Details:

  • Blended format (online courses, face-to-face clinical training)
  • RN and BSN required
  • GRE scores required
  • One year of clinical experience required
  • Consortium structure allows students to enroll in courses at McNeese State University, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and Nicholls State University (Thibodaux, LA) and receive credit toward their MSN
  • Member of the cooperative Intercollegiate Consortium for a Master of Science in Nursing Program (ICMSN), which is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

Available Nursing School Concentrations

  • Nurse Executive
  • Nurse practitioner

#11: Southern University & A&M College, Baton Rouge

MSN GPA Requirement: 2.7 (Conditional Admission)

With five campuses across Louisiana and a legacy over 130 years old, Southern University and A&M College System is the only historically black university system in America.

About the MSN at Southern University & A&M College

The masters in nursing program at Southern University & A&M College aims to prepare future family nurse practitioners and nurse educators. The program is designed with care by award-winning faculty who are nationally recognized for their contributions to nursing education.

Students applying to nursing graduate schools with low GPA may be accepted at Southern University with conditional acceptance and full admission is granted after B is earned in first 9 hours of graduate coursework.

Program Details:

  • On campus
  • RN and BSN required
  • Clinical experience requirements vary by degree
  • GRE scores required
  • Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

Available Nursing School Concentrations

  • Nursing Education
  • Administration
  • Nurse Practitioner

Did You Know?

There is growing consumer demand for advanced practice nurses in the United States due to a shortage of primary care physicians, high health care costs, and increased life expectancy of the aging population. This demand has led to higher salaries. In fact, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that the median annual salary in 2017 was $110,930.i

How to Get into Nursing School with a Low GPA

Nursing graduate programs are typically designed for working professionals with clinical experience. A GPA lower than 3.0 in undergraduate work is not ideal but doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker for those looking to get into nursing school.

Additionally, while traditional nursing schools require both RN licensure and a BSN degree, many programs offer accelerated MSN programs for registered nurses with a non-nursing baccalaureate degree or just a high school diploma.

Below are some ways to present yourself as a desirable candidate to nursing schools, even if you have a low GPA.

1. Score High on the GRE

In your search for nursing graduate schools, you may discover institutions that accept a low GPA if the applicant submits optional GRE scores. If you can achieve a high score on the GRE, you’ll be showing admissions that you have what it takes to study and perform well academically—regardless of the grades you achieved in undergraduate work.

2. Explain Your Low GPA

Some nursing programs request a low GPA explanation letter from candidates with less-than-ideal grades in their bachelor’s degree coursework. Even when this is not required for admission, you may choose to address the issue anyway as part of your personal statement.

If your undergraduate grades were low because you had other obligations like full-time employment or family caretaking, explain that in the letter. Without a good reason for your poor performance, you can always describe how you’ve grown up since college and why you’ll perform better in graduate school.

3. Letters of Recommendation

Most MSN programs request up to three letters of recommendation. You could increase your chances for acceptance by providing impressive references from your professional or academic life.

People in roles such as clinical supervisor, undergraduate academic advisor, or practicing advanced practice nurse mentor will have insight into what makes you a dedicated and capable nursing student who will thrive in a graduate program.

However, there are some grad schools that don’t require letters of recommendation.

4. Clinical Experience

MSN programs are built for students with current RN licensure, with varying amounts of clinical experience required depending on the program. If you can show via your resume, personal statement, and interview that you have a proven record of professional responsibilities in the field of nursing, this can add to your appeal as a degree candidate.

5. Higher Grades in Nursing Coursework

If you performed well in the undergraduate courses you were most passionate about—nursing-related subjects—this can work to your advantage. Some graduate programs have a lower GPA requirement for non-nursing courses. For those that don’t, pointing out that your low grades were mainly in courses outside of your field could help your case.

Shining a light on the high grades you achieved in courses specifically related to nursing may help admissions counselors to see that your knowledge base in nursing isn’t lacking, and you have the ability to achieve academic success in the field.

Apply to Nursing School Today!

To learn more about getting into these nursing schools with a low GPA, click on any of the sponsored program listings on this page. You can also find online graduate nursing programs that do not require GRE scores for admission.


[i] bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-5

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