The Nursing major is a department within the College of Health and Behavioral Studies.

Admission and Progression Standards

Visit the Major Snapshots site to learn more about the admission and progression standards of this major.

Description of Major

Nursing is a highly marketable “helping” profession that offers choices among many general and specialty areas of practice. The goal of the Nursing Department is to provide quality, professional undergraduate and graduate education that prepares nurse leaders to influence a changing profession, society, health care system, and global health needs. The program through the Department of Nursing leads to a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing and prepares graduates to take the National Certification and Licensure Exam (NCLEX). Courses in the Nursing major span 4 semesters (2 academic years) and normally begin in the fifth or sixth semester at JMU. During each semester of the program students experience both classroom courses and clinical practice experiences in a variety of health care settings.  Within the program students experience or observe most of the career choices listed below. Admission to the program is competitive and requires a BSN Admission Application. Information about the program and admission procedures can be found on the Nursing Department website.

More About the Field 

Nurses help people to seek and maintain health, to adjust to and live with chronic illnesses, and to recover from acute illnesses. The career of nursing offers many professional choices, challenges, and rewards. Baccalaureate nurses can choose from a variety of practice roles and settings within the health care system to make a difference in the lives of individuals, families, and communities. Some nurses prefer fast paced high technology settings like intensive care units or trauma centers; others choose community health or home health settings. New roles and opportunities are emerging in the rapidly changing health care system. Nurses are in short supply, so market demand and career opportunities for nurses are increasing.


Registered nurses can choose to practice in a variety of specialty areas in nursing. In some areas, RNs can seek specialty certification through examination after they complete continuing education and practice within that specialty area. A second route to specialization is graduate study in an advanced practice area. Master's programs prepare nurses to become advanced practice nurses in a variety of areas, including nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse leaders, and nurse midwives.

Complementary Majors and Minors 

Nursing students frequently seek elective courses or a minor in areas of study that complement nursing. These include Chronic Illness, Medical Spanish, Family Studies, Gerontology, Health Communication, Health Sciences – Public Health Education concentration, Religion, Sociology, Substance Abuse Intervention, or Women's Studies. Students who seek to complete the General Education and Nursing programs within 8 semesters will not be able to add a minor to their course of study.

Characteristics of Successful Students

Students who are successful in nursing are motivated, think critically, develop strong communication and negotiation skills, value health and wellness, and desire to be health advocates for clients. Successful nurses are leaders and change agents.


Many graduates choose typical career paths associated with this major. However, some graduates choose unrelated careers that utilize skills and experiences developed during their years in college. Keep in mind, that some fields will require graduate study or further training. The listing below offers examples of possible career paths and is not meant to be comprehensive.

  • Army Nurse Corps
  • Cardiac Care Nurse
  • Case Manager/ Care Coordinator
  • Clinical Implementation Consultant
  • Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Community Health Worker
  • Diabetes Educator
  • Educational Coordinator
  • Emergency Medical Technician
  • Emergency Room Nurse
  • Family Nurse Practitioners
  • Geriatric Nurse
  • Head Nurse
  • Health Educator
  • Home Health Care Nurse
  • Hospice Coordinator
  • Hospital Administrator
  • Hospital Unit Manager
  • Intensive Care Nurse
  • Medical Hotline Representative
  • Medical/ Surgical Nurse
  • Nurse- Midwife
  • Nurse Anesthetist
  • Nurse Educator
  • Nurse Practitioner
  • Nurse Supervisor
  • Nursing Home Administrator
  • Obstetrics/ Gynecology Nurse
  • Occupational/ Industrial Health Nurse
  • Oncology Nurse
  • Operating Room Nurse
  • Paramedic
  • Peace Corps/ Vista Nurse
  • Pediatric Nurse
  • Private Duty Nurse
  • Private Physician Practice Nurse
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse
  • Public Health Nurse
  • Radiation Therapy Technician
  • Recreation Therapist
  • Registered Nurse
  • School Nurse

Who Employs Graduates?

Day Care Centers, Clinics and Outpatient Settings, Colleges / Universities, Community Agencies, Corporate Settings, Extended Care Facilities, Health Maintenance Organizations, Home Health Agencies, Hospices, Hospitals, Independent Practices, Insurance Companies, Laboratories, Managed Care Companies, Mental Health Agencies , Military Branches, Nursing Homes, Physician Offices, Outpatient Surgery Centers, Public/Community Health Agencies, Public and Private Schools, Recreational Facilities, Rehabilitation Agencies, Research Centers, Senior Centers, Shelters, or Trauma Centers

Internships and Experiential Opportunites 

The Nursing program includes many real life practicum experiences in a variety of settings. During the 4-semester program, students practice in hospitals, home health agencies, clinics, long-term care facilities, health and human service agencies, and JMU outreach programs. Practicum experiences emphasize “real” health needs and a student service-learning model. Students practice under the supervision of a nursing faculty member. Many students obtain positions with hospitals to practice as externs during the summer between the junior and senior year. Many nursing students seek these employment opportunities in order to advance their knowledge and skills.  

View our list of  internship coordinators for each major.

Career Profiles:

Additional Resources to Research Careers
  • Handshake: view new internships and jobs that employers are looking to hire JMU students from your major 
  • Career Outcomes: see where alumni worked or studied right after graduating.
  • GoinGlobal: learn more about employment opportunities overseas as well as H1B visa information for international Dukes pursuing jobs in the U.S.
  • O*NET: browse occupational profiles to learn about thousands of different careers, pulling data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics 
  • CareerOneStop: explore thousands of different careers by looking at career profiles 
  • Utilize the LinkedIn Alumni tool to see what others have done with their majors and what their career paths look like. Reach out to alumni via LinkedIn and conduct an informational interview.

© University Career Center, James Madison University

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without permission from the JMU University Career Center. Content for each major has been written/reviewed by faculty in the respective department and is revised each year. Requests to update content can be submitted to career@jmu.edu

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