Managing the Graduate Nursing Admissions Process

FEATURED ARTICLE | JANUARY 31, 2017 | BY Jennifer VanLaeken, Director of Graduate Student Services, University at Buffalo School of Nursing

Nurses are lifelong learners – and you, being the ambitious professional you are, have decided to take your career to the next level. 

Every successful journey starts with a plan.

Whether you have set your sights on research or advanced practice, being both prepared and informed will help you more successfully navigate the graduate nursing admissions process. As the director of graduate student services at UB School of Nursing, I would like to offer a few tips about applying to a graduate nursing program.

1. Do your research.

  • Explore the different types of graduate nursing degrees and choose the path that is right for you and what you hope to accomplish.
  • Research the various fields of expertise and pursue your passion.
  • Find a mentor in your desired position or field of expertise and ask them for advice on effectively working toward that position.
  • Research schools to determine the best fit for you, personally and professionally. Factors to consider include program length, course offerings, cost, location, clinical placement sites, faculty engagement and research opportunities. 

2. Build a relationship with the schools you are considering.

  • Ask about the qualities they seek in a candidate.
  • Ask specific, targeted questions that show that you have done your homework.
  • Ask to set up a time to meet the faculty, students or an admissions representative. Not only are they interested in meeting you, you should be interested in meeting them to determine if the program is the best fit for you.  

3. Follow instructions and advice.

  • When you are ready to apply, be sure to follow each school’s specific application instructions.
  • Pay special attention to deadlines for both the application and the supplemental materials. Don’t wait until the last minute to submit!
  • Carefully review and include the required supplemental application materials. Pay attention to details such as specific requirements for personal statements, letters of intent, letters of recommendation, resume/vita and transcripts. Be sure to proofread your written statements.
  • If a standardized test is required, determine the best time to take the exam. Most schools ask that you submit your test results prior to the application deadline, so plan accordingly – many exams take at least 10 to 15 business days to score.  

4. Be patient.

The application process, from your initial inquiry to application submission, can be lengthy. And, waiting for the decision can be stressful. Stay positive! 

Many nursing programs are competitive and can only accommodate a small, select group of students each year. With careful planning and research, though, you can make your application stand out among the rest and find the best program for your career path!

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