Frequently Asked Questions


The first business day of October to January 31.

There are 80 students admitted into year 1 of the program each September.

On average, we receive almost 700 applicants annually for 80 seats. 

Admission to the program depends on a combination of factors: how complete your application is, your GPA and submission of your CASPer score.

If you qualify for admission, you may be contacted. Please remember to keep your contact information current on your student record (phone/email/postal address).

You can apply according to the dates of application listed within the calendar. Your application will not be considered complete until you provide official interim or final grades for pre-requisite courses by the date specified in your letter from the Admissions office.

It is in your best interest to apply as soon as applications open.  In some cases, your application date may be considered in the determination of the ranking of applicants. 

Admission to the program is competitive and is partly based on a GPA (grade point average) calculation on the grades for the admission pre-requisite courses (Minimum "C+" in each of Chemistry 11, Biology 12, English 12, and a minimum "C+" in one of Principles of Math 11, Pre–Calculus 11, or Foundations of Math 12; or equivalents). If an applicant presents an eligible course at a higher level than the stated required course, there is a potential to have the grade used for the GPA calculation to be inflated. For example:

Applicant has an A in English 12 from high school. The A will be used in the calculation of the admission average. If the student takes ENGL 115 and earns an A, the grade used for admission average would be the ENGL 115 A plus a half letter grade or an A+.

Applicant has a B in Biology 12.  The applicant earned a B+ in BIOL 156.  The grade used for the admission average would be the B+ in BIOL 156 plus a half letter grade or an A-.

Applicant has an A in Chemistry 11 from high school. The applicant earned an A in Chemistry 12.  The grade used for the admission average would be the A plus a half letter grade or an A+.

Applicant has a C+ in Pre-Calculus from high school. The applicant took ABE math assessment, was admitted to MATH 046 and earned an A+. The A+ is used for the admission average.

The Advising Centre may be able to give you suggestions that are unique to your circumstances.

Yes. If you are qualified to enter but did not get in, you may re-apply for the following year.

Generally yes you need to take the entire 4 year program.  Based on previous experience as an HCA and/or PN, you may be able to either get advanced credit or be able to PLA (Prior Learning Assessment) some courses (see Notes on Admission). For more information about this process, contact the VIU Advising Center and review the information on the VIU website about recognition of prior learning.

Yes. To decrease your course load in the first year of the BSN program, you may take up to six courses for credit toward your nursing degree before admission to the BSN program   You will need to make application to VIU and submit a separate application for the Exploratory University Studies (EXPO). You can then register to take the two required English courses, two general electives (any university transferable course-see BC Transfer Guide and BIOL 156/157 or equivalent. (Seats in Biol 156/157 at VIU may become vacant once the reserves for nursing students are removed at the beginning of the semester.) Some of these courses are also available in an online format (e.g. through Thompson River University TRU-OL).

‘FNFS 105:  Learning Strategies for Success in Health Sciences (3 credits) – this course is strongly recommended as one of the two general electives for students who need to develop more effective learning and strategies and skills that will support deep learning and critical thinking.  You must be taking another course concurrently(preferably BIOL 156 or equivalent) to benefit from this elective. 

You may also want to consider exploring other health-related programs at VIU that may be less competitive:  HCA (Health Care Assistant), PN (Practical Nursing), Dental Hygiene, Dental Assistant.  Please see the VIU Health Programs for further information.

There are students entering the program who range in age from 18 to 45 years.

Applicants are usually informed of admission decisions in late Spring (April/May). Some seats may be offered conditionally based on successful completion of your pre-requisites. You will receive a letter from Admissions/Registration letting you know the decision. If you have been accepted/conditionally accepted, you will be instructed to pay a tuition deposit (commitment fee) by a certain date to hold your seat.

Selective Entry

Selection is based on a combination of GPA 60%(Grade Point Average) and 40%CASPer score. In order to be considered, all applicants must meet the minimum pre-requisites (see Admissions Requirements tab on BSN website), complete the CASPer (Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics) and have their CASPer score submitted to VIU Registration by the admission deadline date. VIU Registration then ‘ranks’ students based on a combination of GPA and CASPer scores and sends a letter of invitation to the top 80 ranked students. Successful completion of CASPer is mandatory in order to maintain admission eligibility. Please note: CASPer scores are only valid for one admissions cycle.

Information is presented to applicants on

CASPer (Computer-Based Assessment for Sampling Personal Characteristics) is an on-line test which assesses for non-cognitive skills and interpersonal characteristics that we believe are important for successful students and graduates of our program, and will complement the other tools that we use for applicant screening (e.g. GPA).  In implementing CASPer, we are trying to further enhance fairness and objectivity in our selection process.  The CASPer test is comprised of 10-15 sections of video and written scenarios. Following each scenario, the student is required to answer a set of probing questions under a time contract (100-120 minutes).  Each response is graded by a different rater, giving a very robust and reliable view of personal and professional characteristics important to our program.

No studying is required for CASPer, although you may want to familiarize yourself with the test structure at

Atlus Assessments administers CASPer, calculates your CASPer score and submits your score to those schools you have requested they send your results to.

Please go to to sign up and reserve a test using your VIU student ID number and a piece of government-issued photo ID.  You will be provided with a limited number of testing dates and times (please note that test times are scheduled in Eastern Time Zone only).  These are the only testing dates available for your CASPer test; there will be no additional tests scheduled.  You must register for your exam date a minimum of three (3) days in advance of the test date in order for Atlus Assessments to ensure sufficient time to validate your Government issued photo identification and payment processing timelines.  Last minute bookings are not recommended.  Please use an email address that you check regularly; there may be updates to the test schedule.

In order to take CASPer, you will be responsible for securing access to a computer with audio capabilities, a webcam, and a reliable internet connection on your selected test date. CASPer can be taken practically anywhere that you can satisfy the stated requirements. No exceptions will be provided for applicants unable to take CASPer online due to being located at sites where internet is not dependable due to technical or political factors. On test day, ensure you have a quiet environment to take the test.

The cost is $40 (CAD) for the test plus an additional $12 (CAD) administrative fee for each school of nursing to which the student applies.

For applicants requiring accommodation, a formal request and supporting documentation must be submitted to Atlus Assessments at least three weeks in advance of the applicant taking the test in order to allow sufficient time for document review and a decision on appropriate accommodation.

No. Results of the CASPer test are provided only to the university admission offices which the student has identified (typically within one month of the student taking the CASPer test). Students do not receive their CASPer scores.

A student can take the CASPer test only once per admission cycle (VIU has an annual admission cycle for the BSN program). Scores are only valid for that admission year. If you aren’t admitted to the BSN program that year, you must reapply to the BSN program and retake the CASPer the following year.

Direct any inquiries about CASPer to Alternatively, you may use the ‘Support’ button on the website.


As a Registered Nurse - you will join the ranks of nearly 40,000 professional men and women in British Columbia and more than 275,000 professional nurses across Canada.  The BC 2025 Labour Economic Outlook predicts registered nurses will be among the most in demand occupational groups requiring post-secondary training in BC, with more than 25,000 job openings to 2025 (WorkBC).  According to a 2009 study by the Canadian Nurses’ Association, Canada will experience a shortage of almost 60,000 full-time equivalent (FTE) registered nurses (RNs) by 2022.

Learn more about nursing careers:

  • Classes are small (i.e. generally between 26 - 80)
  • Excellent teachers with current practice skills
  • A multitude of practice agencies in acute care and community provide health care practice experiences
  • The cost of living in Nanaimo is considerably lower than in Victoria or the lower BC mainland.
  • Our Nanaimo campus on Vancouver Island is spectacular. The University is set on a hill overlooking the Strait of Georgia and the mainland mountains. Beautiful scenery, Japanese gardens, student housing and the Nanaimo Art Gallery are noteworthy features.
  • Our mild winters and sunny summers make Vancouver Island a highly desirable place to live.
  • Beautiful waterfront and green parklands offer endless opportunities for kayaking, sailing, hiking, beachcombing, sightseeing, island exploration and recreation
  • The majority of our graduates from the BSN program are able to secure employment with Island Health Authority.

Tuition is based on the number of semester credit hours that you are taking. To calculate the fees, view the number of credits and then calculate the fees by going to the appropriate fee category.

Please refer to the ‘Program Fees’ tab on the BSN Program.

Additional fees include (fees are approximate and subject to change):

N95 Fit Testing:  $35 (year 1); $30 for each of year 2, 3 & 4

CPR-C:  (renew every 2 years)

Mandatory scrub uniform (available from VIU Bookstore)

Miscellaneous $200/year (e.g. nametags for each year in BSN program, cost of Criminal Record Check, Grad & Alumni fees, other misc.)

Practice experiences may require travel to Duncan, Port Alberni, Qualicum Beach, Parksville, and Ladysmith. You will need to provide your own transportation to these practice sites; opportunities to carpool with fellow classmates may be possible. At times, there are opportunities for travel internationally - in this case, travel, accommodation and other related costs are the student’s responsibility. Additional costs may include printing costs for assigned readings, reading packages for courses including on-line supplemental resources for textbooks, and costs for incidentals such as coffee/snacks. Many students find that having their own desktop or laptop computer beneficial.

Yes. Each semester of full time study is 15 or more credits. For information on student loans, see: Financial Aid and Awards.

When you graduate from the program, you are eligible to write licensure exams and apply for licensure with the BC College of Nurses and Midwives (BCCNM). This license enables you to call yourself a Registered Nurse in the Province of British Columbia. You will also be eligible for licensure in other provinces and territories in Canada, however, you will need to contact each provincial College of Nursing for details.

It is sometimes possible to transfer to/from other schools of nursing within BC dependent upon seat availability, articulation of curriculum and institutional residency requirements. There is no 'laddering' between the HCA (Health Care Assistant) or PN (Practical Nursing) Programs. Please see the BSN Advisor for more information.

Practice experiences in a variety of health agencies and practice settings are essential to learning in the BSN program. The majority of practice placements take place in Central Vancouver Island region. Students are required to arrange their own transportation/accommodation at their own expense. There will be times during the practice experiences and consolidated practice experiences when students will be expected to work varying hours or shift work including days, evenings, nights, weekends, 8 and/or 12 hour shifts. Students are required to complete their consolidated practice experiences during the months of May/June or July/August, depending on the availability of practice resources. For the first consolidated practice experience (CPE I), you are assigned either the May/June or July/August course. For subsequent consolidated practice experiences (CPE II and CPE III), you will be advised on the process for whether you are assigned May/June or July/August.

Program Format

Class size is generally 26 students, although there are some classes when the enrolment will be 80.

There are from 15-27 hours of class and practice per week. Each week includes 3-4 theory/lab classes and 1-2 days per week of practice. For practice courses, days of the week and hours of practice/week vary with each semester. Students will likely work a variety of day/evening shifts beginning in year 2 of the program and day/evening shifts and weekends by the end of year 3. The late afternoon/evening before a practice day should be reserved for preparing to come into practice the following day.(e.g. doing patient research, developing a care plan, etc.) – this can take approx. 3-4 hours.

At the end of each academic year, students must complete a consolidated practice placement which, depending on the year of the program, is between 4-8 weeks. Generally, this entails 4-5 days/weeks of nursing practice for the duration of the practicum.

Students are in classes or nursing practice 4-5 days per week. The program runs for 10 months of the year, with 2 months off school. Depending on your practice schedule, your time off may fall in May/June or July/August. There are 2 four-months semesters (fall and spring semesters), and 1 two-month semester (intercession) each year (May/June or July/August). There are 2 four-month semesters (fall and spring semesters), and 1 two-month semester (intercession) each year (May/June or July/August. This impacts the amount of employment that students are able to manage during the year.

Theory and lab/learning centre classes are on the Nanaimo campus. Students are assigned to practice locations which range from Duncan to Port Alberni including Qualicum and Parksville.

There are times when our students are able to travel to international locations for their courses. These opportunities are determined by our BSN Curriculum Committee. Information on various international opportunities can be found at: VIU Education Abroad.

Students tell us they study on average between 4-6 hours per day. This may increase slightly when assignments are due. Students should expect about 6-9 hours per week of study or class preparation for every 3 credit course.

Students should connect with Accessibility Services and can also talk with Student Affairs. Students with disabilities have successfully completed this program.

Certain skills and abilities are required to succeed in the nursing field. These skills and abilities are described on the BCCNM website. Please read the BCCNM Requisite Skills and Abilities to determine if nursing is the right choice for you.

Many students do maintain employment while attending post-secondary institutions, however BSN students tell us that the workload within the program is heavy and it is hard to keep up with a job, particularly around evaluation/end of term. As well, working limits the amount of time you can give to your studies; that in turn may affect your marks, and your ability to progress in the program. Obviously, individual needs determine your ability to work and go to school.

The program is not available part-time.

In some semesters, courses are scheduled during the evening. BSN courses are not scheduled on the weekends at this time. However, practice courses at the end of the academic year may be scheduled over the weekend.

Yes, for selected courses. VIU’s Policy 91.02 addresses Prior Learning Assessment.

Once a student is admitted to the program, they hold a full time seat for each of the 4 years. If a student leaves, another person may take that seat - and so the original student no longer has a guaranteed seat. Students that leave the program must apply to the Chair of the BSN program for permission to re-enter. Re-entry in to the BSN program is dependent upon seat availability. For students who have been out of the program for more than 12 months, a 'pre-assessment' process may be required before being considered for re-entry. If significant time has elapsed (e.g. 2 years of more), the student may be required to re-apply to the BSN program and, if accepted, begin the program at year 1.

Most post-secondary educational institutions have requirements around transferring and the completion of degrees. This information determines the type and the number of credits needed for degree completion. The student is responsible for contacting the BSN program at the institution they wish to transfer to. The receiving institution will determine transfer credits and options.

Employment Outcomes

Graduates of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program are qualified to work as Registered Nurses (after successful completion of licensure examinations - see the next question) in a wide variety of settings including: hospitals, multi-level care facilities, community agencies (home care, public health), and government agencies and in a wide variety of areas and client populations including mental health/addictions, public health, community care, travel nursing, international nursing, gerontology, medical-surgical, critical care (Emergency, Intensive Care Unit, Cardiac Care, Operating Room, Indigenous health, pediatrics, women's health, nursing education.

Completing the BSN program qualifies you to write the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) licensure exam needed for the title of Registered Nurse. Successful completion of the NCLEX-RN is required to legally use the title of Registered Nurse. This examination is used in 10 jurisdictions in Canada.

No. However, some graduates choose to continue with their education by entering certificate programs for nursing specialties (e.g. critical care, perinatal, operating room) or a Masters degree in Nursing.

Currently, there is shortage of nurses across Canada and throughout the world. Typically, there are opportunities in the Nanaimo/Duncan/Port Alberni area and throughout Vancouver Island. There are also job opportunities in most areas of the provinces and across Canada, if you wish to travel.

85-90%, although not all complete in four years. Some students leave the program for various reasons. Most students return later to successfully complete the program. Bachelor of Science in Nursing students must complete their degree requirements within seven years.

Currently all graduates who seek employment, find work.

Canadian nurses are valued and able to work in many countries. We regularly receive correspondence from our graduates, letting us know of their employment all over the world. Writing the NCLEX-RN after program completion provides a license to work in most provinces of Canada, except Quebec, Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut.