info graphic showing the pathways to nursing, which are described in the text below

There are multiple pathways to become a nurse in Washington State. Please consult with the Natural Science & Pre Health Professional Pathways Advisor regarding the best pathway for you.

01. Alignment Ensure that nursing is the path you want to take. Conduct interviews, shadow nurses in the field, get experience as a nursing assistant – these things help spur you forward and keep you motivated toward your pursuit of a career in nursing. And these experiences provide demonstration of alignment of your skills and interest in the field – you can write about this in your admission application!

02. Prerequisites The Washington State Department of Health web site provides a list of nursing programs. Search the document for Registered Nurse (RN) programs. Look at all viable options and research program prerequisites. Work toward completion of those prerequisites with strong grades – these are the foundation on which you will build your knowledge! Contact admissions offices at each program to talk with advisors and make a plan.

03. Apply Apply to programs that you would legitimately consider attending. Apply to both BSN and ADN programs. The best nursing school is the one you get into! If you are offered admission at more than one program, you will be able to choose the one that best suits your goals. You can pursue a program through a university for licensure + BSN. If you complete a program through a community college for licensure + ADN, you can still pursue a BSN degree after your RN license is earned to continue schooling while working as a nurse. (See the note about UWB’s BSN program below.)

04. Program & Test After graduating from a nursing program, you’ll sit for the NCLEX-RN, which is required for your Washington State RN License. Take time to study for the test. Retakes are allowed, but they can be expensive. Once you pass the test and have a license, you are ready to start working as a registered nurse!

05. Next Steps Many students want to continue their education. A BSN degree is becoming a requirement for most nursing positions, especially in hospitals. MN programs allow for professional development in nurse leadership and education. MSN programs are good preparation for continued clinical care and DNP programs.

Note about UW Bothell’s BSN program: UW Bothell does not offer a nursing licensure program. UWB’s BSN degree is a program for Registered Nurses who are already licensed. The program does not include nursing licensure, so it is not a pathway for becoming a nurse.

Nursing Resources

For more information about becoming a nurse, visit

Registered Nursing also provides these helpful guides: