Eligibility to Take the NCSN Exam

Eligible candidates must

  1. Submit a copy of their license as a registered nurse (RN) in one of the United States.
  2. Submit an academic transcript or proof of current certification, demonstrating attainment of one of the following:
    1. A bachelor’s degree or higher in nursing or the equivalent in other countries (Please note that as of January 1, 2020 a bachelor’s degree or higher in nursing or the equivalent in other countries will be the requirement. The Exceptions listed below will no longer be accepted.)
    2. A bachelor’s degree or higher in a health-related field relevant to school nursing , (see acceptable_degrees).
    3. Candidates with a bachelor’s degree or higher in a non-nursing or non-health-related field must have a total of six (6) additional credits for undergraduate or graduate courses in any combination of the following subjects:
      1. Management of primary health care problems of children and/ or adolescents
      2. Health assessment of children and/or adolescents
      3. Public health/community health/epidemiology


    4. Current certification by NBCSN as an NCSN.
  3. Meet the clinical practice requirements of a minimum of 1,000 hours that have been worked within the three years prior to taking the test. 1000 hours is roughly equivalent to the hours worked by a full-time school nurse who works at least 6 hours/day for a school year of 180 days documented by a note on letterhead from your supervisor or district official. See below for more information about clinical practice requirements.
  4. Complete the online application to take the certification examination for school nurses.
  5. Pay the required fee.

Eligibility versus readiness to take the exam

The NBCSN board advises that eligibility should not be confused with readiness. While some school nurses may be prepared to take the exam after meeting the minimum eligibility criteria, others may require more clinical experience and exam preparation.

Please see the exam preparation page for suggested approaches to studying. Factors that may affect an individual’s readiness include:

  • level of education
  • formal coursework in school nursing and education systems
  • nursing experience prior to school nursing (e.g., child and adolescent primary care and public health versus adult inpatient nursing)
  • exposure to child health in age ranges outside of school assignment
  • continuing education
  • supervision by a school nurse administrator
  • on the job reference materials
  • formal or informal mentoring
  • professional development and professional leadership provided within the school district and state.