Online Pre-Nursing Degrees: Overview of Programs and Courses

Jan 15, 2020

Research online pre-nursing courses and programs. Find out what you can learn in these courses and what you'll need in order to participate in online learning to determine if it's right for you.

Essential Information

Program Levels Preparatory program (no degree or certificate issued)
Field(s) of Study Pre-nursing
Prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent
Online Availability: Difficult to find, but some blended programs are available
In-Person Requirements Lab courses
Program Length: 2 years
Licensure/Certification None

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Most pre-nursing programs take 2 years to complete and are designed to prepare students to enter an associate or bachelor's degree program in nursing. Some entry-level master's degrees in this field are also available. Pre-nursing programs are not usually offered as degree programs in and of themselves; instead, they contain specific prerequisite coursework required for admission to many nursing programs. Several colleges and universities offer pre-nursing programs online. Students enrolled in a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program will usually take the prerequisites for the nursing portion of the program during their first 2 years in school along with any other general education courses the school mandates. However, students with a bachelor's degree in another area as well as those with no degree at all will need to complete specific coursework in order to get into a nursing program if they don't want to complete a 4-year BSN.

Pre-Nursing Coursework

Prerequisite coursework is standard for most nursing schools and usually includes coursework in the art and humanities as well as specific coursework in the sciences.

Some of these courses include:

  • Anatomy
  • Physiology
  • English composition
  • Chemistry
  • Biology
  • Nutrition
  • Microbiology
  • Psychology
  • Mathematics
  • Statistics
  • Sociology

Individuals with a bachelor's degree may not need all of these classes. For example, nearly all bachelor's degree programs include requirements in English composition, and students may have taken some of the other courses to fulfill other requirements for their degree.

Coursework Available Online

Not many offer their pre-nursing curriculum online. This may be due to the fact that several of the courses have required labs. However, a few colleges do offer distance-learning options. Here are a few descriptions of some common prerequisites offered online.

Human Anatomy

Students learn about the structure and function of the different bodily systems, such as the:

  • Musculature
  • Skeletal
  • Integumentary
  • Circulatory
  • Nervous and other systems

Students study both gross and microscopic anatomy through online lectures, textbook readings, and labs. Some schools require an on-campus lab while others provide a virtual lab that students can access from their home computers. The lab usually has a human cadaver component.


This course offers various types of microorganisms and how they interactive with the environment and the body. Students learn about the different classes of microorganisms such as:

  • Bacteria
  • Fungi
  • Helminthes
  • Protozoa
  • Viruses

They also learn about the metabolic processes necessary for microbes to survive and how microbial drugs can interrupt pathogens. A lab component is part of this course.


Participants in this class study the 6 classes nutrients and their roles in maintaining the health of the human body. Also discussed is information on food labels, nutrition in different developmental stages, and the relationship between eating habits and chronic disease.

Human Physiology

Students taking this course learn about the chemical processes undertaken by several bodily systems. Course topics in electrolytes, lymphatics, and digestion. A laboratory component, virtual or in-person, compliments the lecture topics.


In this course, students obtain an introduction to basic concepts of and methods used in statistics for the health sciences. Participants learn to summarize and interpret data through graphs, examine correlations and linear relationships, and describe density curves.

Online pre-nursing degrees usually take 2 years to complete and can help prepare students for associate or bachelor's degree programs in nursing. Some of the required courses for pre-nursing include physiology, anatomy, biology, nutrition, psychology, and many more, and the majority of these courses can be completed online with the exception of a few which require labs.

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