Your Step-By-Step Guide on How to get into Nursing School in Canada

Getting into nursing school can seem like a very daunting task. There’s research into schools, applications, interviews and so many questions along the way. Canada’s nursing programs are some of the highest quality programs in the world, however, because of that, there is also a lot of competition to get into these programs. So how do go about giving yourself the best chance to get into nursing school in Canada? Keep reading for your step-by-step guide.

What are the steps for getting into nursing school in Canada?

Step One

There are many academic prerequisites that need to be met before you apply to nursing school. The first is that you need a Grade 12 diploma with a high GPA in mathematics and science classes. Some institutions will have specific requirements for which math and science classes you need to have to apply, however, most programs require at least a C average in English, Math, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics.

Step Two

Research universities/institutions that are offering nursing programs. There are 73 Universities in Canada that offer nursing degrees and courses which means you are likely to find one in almost every province and there may even be one close to you. Since there can be competition to get into these schools, you will want to pick two or three universities that you are interested in applying to before heading to the next step.

If you are looking to apply to a nursing school in Ontario, check out our blog How to Apply to a Nursing Program in Ontario for more information.

Step Three

Visit the university and set up a time to talk with their admissions department. This will give you the best feel for the school and you may even be able to sit in on a class or two, giving you a good basis for making the decision on which school you want to attend.

Step Four

The Casper Test. All nursing schools require completion of the Casper test either before applying or during the application process. Some schools have direct links to the test in the application process, while others do not and you will need to take that test and have the results in hand before you start your application. Keep in mind, it can take up to, or more than, three weeks for Casper test results to come in so this means you will want to start the application process early to accommodate any waiting times to receive your results.

Step Five

Start the application process, pay the application fee, gather your documents, and submit your application to the nursing school(s) of your choice.


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How do you find the right nursing school?

As we mentioned before, there are 73 universities in Canada that offer nursing programs. That’s a lot to go through and a lot to pick from. When you are considering what the right nursing school is for you, you will want to consider where you are living currently, distance of travel to get to school, where you would like to attend school, and most importantly what nursing specialty you want to take. Once you know all that, you will be able to break down that list of 73 into a much smaller easier to manage a list of choices.

What are the most common nursing degrees in Canada?

There are five different types of nursing degrees in Canada. The chart below shows what each of those is, the education level that you will receive when you complete your studies, and the entry-level salary you can expect after you graduate from nursing school.

What are the most common career paths?

After the completion of nursing school, there are different career pathways that nurses can take depending on their abilities, passions, and aspirations for the future. A nursing school graduate can start their career path in a hospital, clinic, school, long-term care home, rehab centre, prison, humanitarian, army, public health care, and even private health care companies. It is common for nurses to move between different types of organizations depending on the pay scale, life situation, and the availability of jobs in their area.

How do you pay for nursing school?

On average, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BScN) degree will cost nursing students $20,000 - $40,000 per year. That’s a lot of money for anyone to have to come up with. There are financial aid options available to nursing students in the form of scholarships, grants, bursaries, and student loans.

There are a lot of scholarships and bursaries available for nursing students every year. The thing about scholarships is that there is generally some work that goes into applying for them and you may not get the scholarships that you apply for. We strongly recommend that you apply for as many scholarships and bursaries as you can as many go unclaimed every year due to a lack of student responses.

Below is a list of websites and other places you should check out that have information about scholarships that are open/available to nursing students.

Financial aid is available to most full and part-time students through the Canada Student Financial Assistance Program. It is easy to apply for this program through your province and you could be eligible for grants (money that you do not have to pay back) as well as repayment assistance/deferrals after you complete your studies.

Financial aid for nursing school can also be applied for through your bank and don’t forget to investigate any RESP’s that your family may have as well.   

Read More: How To Apply To A Healthcare Post-Secondary Program In Ontario

What are the salary and job outlooks for nurses?

Nurses are one of the most in-demand professions across Canada right now. With the nursing shortfall expected to rise in the coming years, the outlook for nursing jobs in Canada will remain good for years to come. Salaries for nurses vary by the province as well as the type of nursing education and experience that you have.

Frequently Asked Questions About Nursing School

How long is nursing school?

The length of time that you will spend in school varies depending on the program and specialty that you choose. Some even return to school to further their education after they complete their first diploma or degree. On average, you can expect to be in school for anywhere between 2 – 7 years.

What are the best nursing schools in Canada?

There are a few factors that are studied to determine which nursing school(s) are ‘the best’ in Canada. The factors are post-education hiring rate, cost of tuition, and the number of degree/program options that are offered by the educational institution. According to Youthfully, the top five nursing schools in Canada are the University of Toronto, the University of Alberta, McMaster University, McGill University, and Queen’s University Nursing.

How do I get into nursing school?

Each university has its own application process. Start by researching the school(s) that you would like to attend and find out what all is involved in their application process. You can even set up a time to talk with their admissions department so that you are well prepared to go into their application process.

Is it hard to get into nursing school?

Yes. Unfortunately, getting into nursing school can be difficult as there are thousands of applicants and only so many available spots at each institution. The high competition rates mean that even if you have a high GPA and meet all other requirements you may be waitlisted until a spot opens in your program of choice.

However, don’t let that discourage you. Talk to the admissions department before deciding not to apply and check out the Ontario Colleges website for a list of schools with open program status. A lot of nursing schools work collaboratively with each other to make sure that they can accommodate as many students as possible.

Another option is if you have applied to an RN program where you have been waitlisted, you may want to try applying to an RPN/LPN program to get started on your studies and then transfer out to the RN program when a spot becomes available. Make sure to talk with the admission department to ensure that your credits will transfer and that this is a viable option for your educational career.

What is the average salary of a nurse?

Salaries for nurses vary across the country. Your salary will be dependent on your experience as well. As you gain more experience, you should expect your salary to increase. The table below shows you the Canadian averages for nurses.

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Can you transfer nursing schools?

Yes. You can transfer from one nursing school to another. You will need to complete the same application process as new applicants do, so there is a chance that you could be waitlisted. You will want to check with admissions for the school that you are transferring to that your credits will be transferrable.

How hard is nursing school compared to other degrees?

Nursing school is notoriously difficult, but Caring Support can help you there too! Check out our article titled Survival Tips for Healthcare Students for some tips on how to get through nursing school and remember that while nursing school will be difficult and time-consuming it will result in you having a very rewarding career.

How can I get a nursing job after I complete nursing school?

For more information on healthcare career education, healthcare worker jobs, interviews and more head to our website and check out the Caring Support Blog.


Until next time, good luck with your application to nursing school and don’t forget to sign up for your FREE Caring Support account so you can keep an eye on employment and volunteer opportunities in your area!


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