Baccalaureate Degree Program
The College of Nursing offers a four-year undergraduate program on the Columbia campus leading to the degree of Bachelor of Science in Nursing (pre-licensure) and a post-licensure RN-BSN program. The baccalaureate program is approved by the State Board of Nursing for South Carolina and accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
BSN Program (Pre-licensure):
Lower Division. In order to be admitted into the College of Nursing, freshmen must meet all University and College of Nursing admission requirements. Students who have not successfully completed one high-school unit each of biology and chemistry are required to make up the deficiencies prior to admission. Acceptance into the University with a lower-division classification does not guarantee progression into the upper-division nursing major. Students who consider studying nursing at Carolina need to be aware that all USC undergraduates who seek a nursing degree are first admitted into the College of Nursing’s pre-nursing lower division. This does not guarantee later admission into the upper division.* Students enrolled in the lower division must meet minimum upper division admission standards set forth by the College of Nursing. Once minimum criteria are met, all qualified applicants are placed into an admissions group and are ranked by their progression grade point averages. Based on the number of available seats and available clinical sites, students are admitted starting at the top of the progression GPA ranked order list. In recent years admission to the upper division has become highly competitive as demand for the program of study has increased and therefore the average acceptable grade point average will change from cohort to cohort.
Transfer students must have a minimum life** 3.00 GPA in all University and college work attempted and must meet freshman requirements if less than 30 semester hours have been completed. Transfer students’ performance in all science and nursing courses taken at other institutions must be reviewed upon admission. Nursing courses will be considered for transfer credit only from accredited nursing programs. To be eligible to apply for the upper division, transfer students must meet the College of Nursing requirements for progression through completion of the lower-division science and nursing courses. All entering students are expected to have basic computer skills.
*Students entering the university and meeting South Carolina Honors College (SCHC) admission criteria have a one-time opportunity, at the point of freshman admission only, to come into the Smart Start Honors College Nursing Program. Students admitted into the Smart Start Honors College Nursing Program are directly admitted into Upper Division of the Nursing Program contingent upon meeting all SCHC and College of Nursing academic standards criteria and completion of all upper division application progression requirements.
** Life GPA includes all grades from USC and non-USC collegiate coursework and constitutes an overall GPA.
RN-BSN Program (Post-licensure):
In order to be eligible for the RN-BSN program, students must meet all the admission requirements of the College of Nursing and University. Specific RN-BSN program admission requirements are as follows:
- An Associate Degree in Nursing or Diploma in Nursing from an accredited ACEN (formerly NLNAC) program
- Official Transcripts from all schools attended
- Application Fee
- English Proficiency Requirement***
- Other Supporting Materials - Criminal Background check and drug screen
- Current unrestricted Registered Nurse (RN) license to practice professional nursing in the United States
- Minimum life GPA of 3.0****
***International applicants must be proficient in the English language. A score of 550 or above on the paper version of the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is required. (A score of 210 or higher on the computerized version is required, and a minimum score of 77 on the Internet version is required.) TOEFL scores are not required for international students from countries where the primary language of instruction is English nor from graduates of high schools in the United States.
****Students with a life GPA between 2.8 - 2.99 may be conditionally admitted, provided they have not completed more than 120 hours of prior collegiate coursework and have met all other admission requirements.
Students must adhere to the University requirements for advanced placement in general education courses. Only those general education courses identified by the University can be used for advanced placement through the College Level Examination Program (CLEP). University departmental exams may be used for advanced placement if offered by the appropriate department and if the student meets the expected testing level identified by the department.
Lower Division. All students in the lower division in the baccalaureate program are subject to the following regulations:
- Students must maintain a minimum 3.00 life GPA and institutional GPA in order to maintain good standing in the nursing program. Grades are reviewed at the end of each semester. Students who have less than a 3.00 life and/or institutional GPA are placed on probation within the college for one major semester or 12 credit hours but may continue to take all required courses. If at the end of the probationary semester their life and/or institutional GPA is still less than a 3.00, students must change their major before the next semester and will not be advised by the College of Nursing. Students must contact the University Advising Center.
- All incomplete grades posted on the transcript must be removed before progression into the upper division can be considered.
- Students must earn a minimum grade of C in all required courses in the nursing program. Only one below C grade is allowed in a required science or nursing (NURS) course to remain eligible for the nursing major.
- Any science course that needs to be repeated must be taken within the USC System. All nursing courses that need to be repeated must be taken at USC Columbia
- In order to progress to sophomore-level coursework and enroll in BIOL 250, BIOL 250L, NURS 212 and NURS 216 students must successfully complete designated courses with a 3.0 average to include all attempts. Designated courses include: ENGL 101, ENGL 102, PSYC 101 or SOCY 101, PSYC 420, CHEM 102, BIOL 243, BIOL 243L, BIOL 244, BIOL 244L, and STAT 112 (or Nursing approved competency equivalents).
Upper Division. Progression into upper-division nursing for pre-licensure students occurs in the summer and fall semesters; students who wish to apply to upper-division nursing must submit a completed College of Nursing Progression Application no later than Nov. 1 for the following summer or fall semester in which registration is desired. Progression is competitive, based on progression GPA, and limited to a set number of qualified students based on available clinical placement sites. Factors considered in the progression decision include:
- a minimum life and institutional grade point average of 3.00 or better
- a grade of C or better in all required courses in the nursing program
- progression GPA which includes grades on all attempts of designated courses listed above with the addition of BIOL 250, BIOL 250L, NURS 212, and NURS 216 (or Nursing approved competency equivalents).
Students must have a completed application on file, provide evidence of completion of remaining lower-division course work, be admitted to the upper division, have completed all required clinical healthcare information, and confirmed acceptance of their seat prior to registering for their first upper division nursing courses (300 level).
A minimum grade of C is required in each nursing course. Only one upper-division nursing course may be repeated once to earn a grade of C or better to remain eligible for the nursing major. All students must maintain a minimum 3.00 life and institutional GPA in order to maintain good standing in the nursing program. Grades are reviewed at the end of each semester. Students who have less than a 3.00 life and institutional GPA work are placed on probation within the college for one semester but may continue to take all required courses. If at the end of the probationary semester their life and/or institutional GPA is still less than 3.00, students are administratively removed from their required course sequence.
All students must achieve satisfactory performance on selected comprehensive achievement tests to progress through the upper division.
Smart Start Nursing Honors students should see previous section for progression requirements.
Students must apply directly to the RN-BSN program for admission to the university. Admission is competitive, based on life GPA, RN licensure, and degree completion from an ACEN accredited institution. Other admission requirements are discussed in the previous section.
A minimum grade of C is required in each nursing course. Only one upper-division nursing course may be repeated once to earn a grade of C or better to remain eligible for the nursing major. All students must maintain a minimum 3.00 life and institutional GPA in order to maintain good standing in the nursing program. Grades are reviewed at the end of each semester. Students who have less than a 3.00 life and institutional GPA are placed on probation within the college for one semester but may continue to take all required courses. If at the end of the probationary semester their life and/or institutional GPA is still less than 3.00, students are administratively removed from the RN-BSN program.
The College of Nursing adheres to the University’s attendance policy. In addition, students are expected to attend all clinical nursing activities with absences permitted up to 10 percent only if certified as unavoidable because of sickness or other cause determined acceptable by the course coordinator. Make-up time for missed clinical nursing experiences will be determined at the discretion of the faculty and availability of clinical facilities. Faculty may require withdrawal of any student who has missed sufficient practice to prevent completion of clinical objectives.
RN-BSN students must also comply with the attendance policy. Attendance is evaluated based on active engagement in the online classroom.
Readmission. A student who has been suspended or has withdrawn from the College of Nursing and subsequently readmitted will be subject to the current College of Nursing academic standards and available space in courses.
Waiver of academic standards. Any student seeking relief from academic standards shall petition the College of Nursing to waive specific standards or regulations. Information on procedures may be obtained from the College of Nursing Office of Undergraduate Studies.
Grade Forgiveness. Grade forgiveness does not apply to GPA calculation for admission to upper division in the nursing program. Any forgiveness grades will be reentered into the GPA calculations. The College of Nursing does not recognize grade forgiveness in determination of academic standing.
University Grade Forgiveness Policy: link
In addition to the regulations of the University as a whole, the following requirements apply to students in the nursing program.
Health requirements. In addition to meeting the health requirements of the University, students enrolled in clinical nursing courses are required to provide evidence of the following procedures and documents:
- Positive Titers
- Tuberculosis (TB) Screening
- Current CPR Certification
- Bloodborne Pathogens Self Study Unit & Post Test
- Consent for Release of Health Information
- Clear background check
- Clear drug screen
- Handbook Acknowledgment
- Academic Bulletin(s) and Code of Conduct Acknowledgement
- Future Focus survey
- Student nametag (RN-BSN only)
- Current, unrestricted RN License (RN-BSN only)
Information on all clinical requirements is available in the College of Nursing Office of Undergraduate Studies. Current clinical health information must be on file with approved vendor by specified deadlines. Admission to the upper division in the College of Nursing is contingent on passing a drug screen and background check. Students are not eligible to register for classes and cannot participate in practice activities at clinical sites until this information is on file. Students are encouraged to have health insurance coverage throughout the course of their studies.
Special requirements and associated expenses. Students enrolled in nursing courses with a lab or practicum must carry professional liability insurance purchased in conjunction with the courses; one-time expenses include nursing uniforms and clinical equipment and supplies. Maintenance of current CPR certification during enrollment in clinical courses is required. All students shall complete selected achievement tests, primarily in the upper division, and an NCLEX review course during the final semester.
Transportation to clinical practice sites. Each student should have a valid driver’s license and is responsible for transportation to and from hospitals and other clinical practice sites in both urban and rural areas. Sites used for clinical experiences are usually confined to the eleven-county Greater Midlands area of the state.
Application for licensure in professional nursing. Prior to completion of the second semester of the senior year, students are expected to apply for the professional nursing licensing examination, which is administered by the State Board of Nursing for South Carolina or its counterpart in the jurisdiction where the student will seek initial employment after graduation. Students in the College of Nursing are also bound to conduct themselves according to the professional standards set forth by the American Nurses Association Code for Nurses. Conviction of a crime other than a minor traffic violation could result in ineligibility for professional licensure. Under these circumstances, early notification to the Board of Nursing is recommended to clarify mechanisms related to eligibility determination.
The baccalaureate curriculum provides for eight semesters of study in general education and professional nursing. Upon admission, students are assigned an advisor to guide planning throughout the program. Students should obtain guidance in the selection of courses as early as possible.
Computer skills are required throughout the curriculum. Skills required for class assignments and clinical practice include: word processing, computerized assisted instruction, e-mail, Web access, Internet searches, database searches, computerized patient documentation, and computerized medical equipment.
The upper division focuses on clinical practice and requires full-time study. Clinical practice is supported by concurrent classroom study. Students practice in a variety of settings such as hospitals, extended-care facilities, nursing homes, clinics, schools, and other community agencies.
The Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree requires a minimum of 120 hours. These credits are distributed between general education requirements and electives, and professional nursing requirements. All lower-division requirements must be completed before progressing to upper-division courses. Upper-division courses must be taken in sequence as outlined in the Undergraduate Student Handbook.
RN-BSN Program (Post-licensure)
The Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (RN-BSN Completion) requires a minimum of 120 hours. These credits are distributed between general education requirements and electives, and professional nursing requirements. Lower division pre-requisite course requirements can be completed before progressing to upper-division RN-BSN courses.
After admission to the RN BSN program and completion of all BSN degree requirements: Students awarded an Associate Degree in Nursing from an accredited (ACEN, formerly NLNAC) program will be awarded up to 38 credits towards meeting educational competencies for their A.D.N. degree (RN Licensure); OR Students with an Diploma in Nursing from an accredited (ACEN, formerly NLNAC) program will be awarded up to 25 credits towards meeting educational competencies for their Diploma degree (RN Licensure). This credit is held and will be awarded upon successful completion of all BSN degree requirements.
USC Residency requirements for BSN Graduation:
The last 25% of a students’ degree must be completed in residence (meaning through USC Columbia coursework or other USC campus), and at least half of the hours in the student’s major and minor courses (if applicable) must be taken at the University, i.e. (122 credits = 31 hours). Advanced placement exam credits or transfer credits do not meet this requirement. Students must meet these requirements to be eligible for BSN graduation.