Click on a question to read the answer.

What are the minimum academic requirements to be considered for the program?

A high school diploma or GED. Applicants must have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher. Most recent college GPA must be ≥ 2.0 (if completed at least 12 credit hours). High school graduates who earned less than a 2.0 GPA during high school will be considered for admission if they have generated a college GPA of 2.0 or above based on 12 or more credits. The GPA is determined at the end of the spring semester (2023). Please Note:  For spring 24 only, we will allow the GPA to be used at the end of summer 23 for spring 24 consideration. 

The following high school courses with a grade of “C” or higher: Algebra I (or MDE 10) and Biology (or BIO 101/NAS 2). Appropriate developmental or college course equivalents can be substituted. Must be completed by the end of Summer 2023 to be eligible for the Fall 2023 program. Please note that the Algebra I (or MDE 10) and Biology must be completed within five years prior to fall 23. Older coursework will need to be repeated to be within the five year limit prior to beginning the program in spring 2023.

Are there additional requirements?

Yes. You must submit a handwritten essay with your program application and official transcripts. Instructions are provided on the back of the program application form. This must be submitted prior to the April 1 deadline. Applicants being considered will be required to take an entrance examination (Kaplan) in the fall. All eligible applicants may be asked to attend a personal interview with the program faculty in the fall. However, please note that interviews have not been conducted since 2020.

When should I apply?

Deadline for all materials is April 1. Early application is encouraged for advising purposes. If you apply now, this will allow us to help you plan and suggest proper courses to begin your studies. Current enrollment in missing prerequisites is not required to apply early, but must be successfully completed before entering the program. You may benefit from advising by the Pre-Practical Nursing advisor, who will be able to discuss your transcript(s), placement testing, prerequisites, support classes, etc. and complete any needed transfer evaluations for you (if applicable).

Is admission to the program very competitive?

Approximately eighteen (18) students will be admitted to the Practical Nursing class that will begin August 2023. Meeting the program admission standards does not guarantee program admission.

Who makes the admission decisions? When are the results given to the applicants? How long is the program?

Admission decisions are made by the Practical Nursing Admissions Committee following completion of Admission Testing held in Fall or Spring. Admission decisions are mailed to the applicants as soon as possible, usually within the month. The program accepts cohorts in Fall and Spring yearly and is 18 months in length (August to following December or January to following May). We do not offer a part-time program at this time.

Will I need to take any courses to be eligible for the program?

Some applicants may need developmental courses for math or English (prior to prerequisites or support courses), which can be determined by reviewing your high school transcripts with a counselor, if graduated within the last five years. Outside of five years, direct enrollment upon your Virginia Western application will assist with math placement and also working with an Advisor. A review of your transcripts after application will assist in determining if you lack the required prerequisites (Algebra I and Biology) or if they have not been completed within the five year time-frame. If you need to establish a 2.0 GPA, please speak to the advisor to determine appropriate coursework. Applicants interested in taking additional curricular support courses prior to knowing if they are accepted are encouraged to work with the advisor to see if taking support classes is practical based on their individual circumstances (taking in consideration whether they are part-time, full-time, financial circumstances, holding a job, etc.). Some students elect to take some of the general education courses such as ENG 111, PSY 230, PHI 220, and SDV 101 before beginning the program, but they are not treated as prerequisites. Note: The eighteen month curriculum will be very intense and taking the support courses prior to admission can lessen the academic burden during that time. However, please note that completion of the support classes may impact your ability, if accepted, to remain part-time in the program due to less than six credit hours in a semester.

Should I be concerned if I have a felony or misdemeanor on my record?

Based on the below Code of Virginia, the Virginia Western Community College Practical Nursing Program makes potential students aware that prior actions may prohibit testing for the NCLEX-PN post- graduation. Applicants that have prior acts that may impact testing should clarify these with the Virginia Board of Nursing before program entrance. Conviction of a felony, misdemeanor or any offense substantially related to the qualifications, functions, and duties of a practical nurse may constitute grounds for not allowing a candidate to take the licensing exam. The Board of Nursing, not the college, makes the determination of NCLEX-PN test approval. Application to the Board of Nursing that discloses prior disciplinary actions may delay or prevent NCLEX-PN testing.

The Practical Nursing Program requires a Criminal Background Check and Drug Screening prior to program admission and annually while in the program. The student will be required to undergo an annual Criminal Background Check and Drug Screen prior to admission to facilities for direct care clinical hours. This information must be submitted in CB Bridges prior to access to the facilities.  Participation of the student is dependent upon facility acceptance of the results of the testing.

Admission Disclosures:

Requirements for admission to a practical nursing education program shall not be less than the requirements of §54.1-3020 A 1 of the Code of Virginia that will permit the graduate to be admitted to the appropriate licensing examination. The equivalent of a four-year high school course of study as required pursuant to §54.1-3017 shall be considered to be:

  1. General Educational Development (GED) certificate for high school equivalence; or
  2. Satisfactory completion of the college courses required by the nursing education program

§ 54.1-3020. Qualifications of applicant for practical nurse’s license.

A. An applicant for a license to practice as a practical nurse shall furnish evidence satisfactory to the Board that the applicant:

  1. Has completed two years of high school or its equivalent;
  2. Has received a diploma from an approved practical nursing program;
  3. Has passed a written examination as required by the Board; and
  4. Has committed no acts which are grounds for disciplinary action as set forth in this chapter.

B. The Board shall consider and may accept relevant practical experience and didactic and clinical components of education and training completed by an applicant for licensure as a practical nurse during his service as a member of any branch of the armed forces of the United States as evidence of the satisfaction of the educational requirements for licensure.

Code 1950, § 54-348; 1970, c. 116; 1979, c. 5, § 54-367.19; 1982, c. 598; 1988, c. 765; 2011, c. 390.

What would the impact be on program completion, for a person who does not have the COVID-19 vaccination?

Virginia Western Community College faculty and students must comply with the policies required by clinical facilities with which we have legal agreements. If a student refuses to comply with a clinical facility immunization and vaccination requirement, Virginia Western Community College will attempt, but cannot guarantee, to assign a student to an alternative clinical facility. A student will be placed in an alternative location only if it meets the educational objectives of Virginia Western Community College and program requirements for clinical placement. Faculty also must be available to appropriately supervise students at the clinical facility. Refusal to comply with a clinical facility immunization and vaccination requirement by a student in our health programs may impede your progress in the program or your ability to remain in the program.

How do I obtain licensure as a licensed practical nurse?

You must successfully complete an approved Practical Nursing education program and pass a licensure exam, which is administered by the National Council of the State Board of Nursing. You must apply to the regulatory board of the state in which you plan to practice. The general requirements include personal, character, and criminal background information. The Virginia Board of Nursing requires a current Background Check. Application information is found on the Virginia Board of Nursing website with directions for information for completion of the application process. Applicants will receive a letter from the Board after records indicate approval for testing. Applicants will then apply for the NCLEX-PN through the National Council State Board of Nursing site. Board application, NCLEX exam fees, and Background check fees are the applicant’s responsibility

Does VWCC have a transition program for LPNs who want to become RNs? What would be required?

Students must have a current LPN license (or anticipate LPN graduation and passing their board exam) and meet all prerequisite and GPA requirements to be considered for the transition curriculum. If you need more information, please view the transition website.

What process do I follow if I want to apply for a future year?

If you are interested in taking classes to prepare for future entry into the program, but you are unsure when you will be eligible, please submit the current application form with the appropriate transcripts. This will allow us to help you plan and suggest proper courses to begin your studies.

What is the policy regarding non-discrimination?

Applicants for admission to the practical nursing program are considered for class positions based on their ability to meet program admissions standards, without regard to race, color, sex, age, religion, disability, national origin, or other non-merit factors.


Est. Tuition*: $
Credits: 48 Hours
Time: 1.5 Years

*Estimated cost reflects in-state rate and is subject to change


The cost of attendance is an estimate of the costs a student may have while at Virginia Western.

Click here for the cost of attendance for financial aid.

 Fralin Center HP339
New Students: Chapman Hall
 540-857-7341 or 540-857-6644
Fax: 540-857-6640

Mailing address:
School of Health Professions
3091 Colonial Ave., SW
Roanoke, VA 24015


Melinda Wooldridge, BSN, RN-BC
Program Head, Practical Nursing

Diploma – Tazewell County Vocational Practical Nursing Program, 1985
A.A.S. in Nursing – Southwest Virginia Community College, 1998
B.S.N. – American Sentinel University, 2019
Certified Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse, 2022


Martha Sullivan, Dean