Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions About Nursing

How do I know if nursing is for me?
Johnson & Johnson sponsors a website that includes a great deal of information about nursing and opportunities in nursing. It can be accessed at 

What is the starting salary for new nurses? 

The starting salary at area hospitals ranges from $38,434 to $44,969 depending on the hospital. This does not include a pay differential for working evenings, nights, weekends, or holidays.

General Questions About The Program

I’ve heard nursing at Onondaga is a self taught program. Does this mean I will be learning on my own? 

Onondaga Community College’s Nursing Program utilizes a self-directed study model for the nursing theory component of the program. Rather than attending lectures, students are given course material with specific objectives to study and assignments to help them master the material. There are plenty of resources available to assist the student, and course instructors spend a lot of time with 1:1 help for students. When you feel you have mastered the material in a unit, you take an exam on the computer. You need to be able to discipline yourself to study and test on a regular schedule since you will not have an instructor telling you when a specific exam will be given. The clinical part of the program, however, is like any other program – you will spend one full day a week (112 hours each semester) in clinical with an instructor and a group of students. Nursing faculty members work hard to foster the independence of our students, and it is the resulting independent practitioner that is so valued by local employers. This program has an individualized advisement system and each faculty member works closely with advisees both 1:1 and behind the scenes to enhance student success.

What is the cost of the program? 

Please refer to the college website for tuition costs. There will be fees added for uniform, books, clinical agency parking, etc. A complete break-down of additional costs can be obtained from the Nursing Department. Once the student has completed the program there will be additional fees for licensure and NCLEX Exams.

Admission Issues

What do I need to do to get into the RN Nursing Program? 

  • Please contact the Admissions Office at (315) 498-2221 for upcoming Health Professions Information Sessions.
  • Student new to the College must have all the prerequisites with supporting documentation completed and the College application submitted by the deadline date to be considered for admission.
  • Current students, re-admits and dual degree students should go to  Student Central to speak with an Enrollment Associate, have all prerequisites, with supporting documentation completed, and a Nursing Program Application submitted by the  deadline date to be considered for admission.
  • Because admission to the program is competitive, students are ranked according to  specific criteria.

Who do I contact to meet with someone to discuss what I’ll need for the Nursing Program? 

  • If you are a new student to Onondaga, please contact the Admissions Office at (315) 498-2221 to set up an appointment with an Admissions counselor or email admissions at [email protected].  Appointments are recommended.
  • If you are a current or previously matriculated student at Onondaga, speak to an Enrollment Associate at Student Central, 498-2000 or call the Center for Advisement at (315) 498-2904.

When will I be notified if I am admitted? 

You can expect to hear your admission status within 2-3 weeks after the application deadline.

What if I met prerequisites but am not admitted?  

Admission to the program is competitive. Those students who meet the prerequisites but are not admitted to the program will be notified of their status as a “Standby” and may register for non-nursing classes. In the event seats open, this list will be used to fill those positions in rank order. If the program remains full, you will need to re-apply for future semesters, applications will not be retained from one year to the next.

Is there a waiting list? 

No. Applicants are reviewed each semester. When the program is full, those who were notified that they were on standby if spots became available, must submit another Nursing Program application by the deadline for the following semester. They will then be ranked with other applicants for the following semester.

I’ve met the nursing prerequisites for another school and decided to attend your school. Am I all set to start? 

Prerequisites vary between schools. Students should not assume because they have completed prerequisites for one nursing school that they’ve met them for other schools. Meet with an admissions counselor to confirm that  prerequisites for this program have been met.

What if my prerequisite courses were taken in another country? 

Foreign transcripts need to be evaluated by an official evaluating agency. The Admissions office has a list of appropriate sources for this evaluation.

Placement Exam Issues

What placement exams do I have to take and where do I take them? 

All placement exams are completed in OCC’s  Testing Services Office. All students must complete OCC’s placement test with placement into English 103 and Reading 153 or the equivalent in college level courses. Students desiring admission to Nursing also have to complete math placement requirements and a standardized pre-entrance exam (TEAS).

What are the math placement requirements? 

All students must demonstrate eligibility for enrollment in credit-bearing college level math at Onondaga within two years prior to matriculation in Nursing. This requirement can also be met by completing MAT 114 or higher, MAT 084/088, or the equivalent college-level math course.

Do I have to take the math placement exam if I have a degree in math? 

Yes. All students need to meet the math placement requirement within two years prior to matriculation in Nursing. This can be done by taking the math placement exam or an equivalent college-level math course.

What courses do you accept as prerequisites? 

High school courses in biology and chemistry with a grade of 77 or better fulfill the prerequisites. College level general biology and chemistry courses with a grade C+ or better fulfill the prerequisites. A lab component is required for biology but chemistry does not require a lab.

CLEP credits are accepted with a score equivalent to C+ or better and BOCES/EOC courses are accepted with a certificate stating that they are equivalent to high school courses. Nursing ABC credits are accepted as pre-requisite courses for admission but will not earn college credit towards graduation requirements.

What if I took one anatomy and physiology course at another college? 

Each college divides the content for the two sections of anatomy and physiology differently; therefore, it is best if both can be taken at the same institution. If that is not possible, the Biology department will determine how the one course fits with Onondaga’s syllabi.

Where do I get information about the standardized nursing preadmission test? 

View detailed information on nursing tests, including TEAS. If you have any questions regarding testing, please e-mail the Testing Center at [email protected].

What if I don’t score high enough on TEAS? 

If the required score is not achieved on the first attempt, it is recommended that students take classes in the deficient areas and retake the exam at a later date. An assigned academic advisor can help students make appropriate course choices. Two attempts will be allowed.

Time Issues

Is the Nursing Program offered evenings and/or weekends? 

No. Onondaga’s Nursing Program is primarily a daytime program. Occasionally, you will be able to do a clinical rotation on a Saturday or evening, but you cannot complete the program during evenings or weekends. The skills evaluation lab is open Monday- Friday from 8:30 to 4:00.

What is the time commitment while in the program? 

Students must be available one eight-hour day per week for clinical. Another two days per week will be required, to take exams, practice nursing skills, evaluation of nursing skills, and to attend course overviews.  Additional hours of reading/study time will be required. 

Can the program be completed in less than two years if all arts and science courses are finished? 

No. Because each clinical course is a prerequisite to the next one, it will take at least four semesters for generic students to complete the program once the nursing courses are started.

Even if you have a bachelor’s degree and have all of the liberal arts and science courses for the degree completed before starting the Nursing Program, the nursing theory and clinical courses are divided into four levels. Students will complete one level each semester and must complete each of the level requirements before advancing to the next. In addition, each clinical course is a prerequisite to the next one; therefore, you will not be able to double up to move ahead more quickly.

Can the Nursing Program be completed part-time? 

Yes. If you are a part-time student, you’ll need to allocate about 25 hours a week to your nursing studies. In addition to preparation for theory courses, you will have a clinical that requires you to spend one eight-hour day per week in a nursing care setting. You will also need to allow time at the clinical agency to review charts and pertinent texts and to prepare your weekly nursing process record. You will be expected to complete the program within 3 years of starting the first NUR course.

When can I start the Nursing Program? 

Level 1 beginning students may start in either in the fall or spring semester upon meeting prerequisites and acceptance into the program. Advanced standing student, i.e licensed LPN’s and students transferring nursing courses start once a year in the first summer session.

Course Issues

Can I take a nursing course without being matriculated in the Nursing Program? 

Yes. NUR-253 Safety in Med Administration for Nurses, and NUR-175 Introduction to Nursing Informatics (the later starting spring 2013) online courses open for non-matriculated students. All other nursing courses require matriculation into the Nursing Program before registration.

How and where are the clinical courses taught?

Nursing students spend 112 hours each semester in clinical with an instructor and up to 8 other students. All of the area hospitals are used for clinical. By the time students graduate, they will be expected to care for up to 4 patients each week. Students practice and test out of nursing skills on mannequins prior to using the skills in the clinical setting.

What does English have to do with nursing? 

In order to give safe patient care, nurses must have strong oral and written communication skills. Nurses communicate with patients, patient families, other health care providers, community agencies, and nursing colleagues to gather and pass along information, teach, and plan for patient care.

Why do I have to a math course? 

Nurses are required to do math calculations in order to administer safe doses of medication to patients.

Advanced Standing Issues

I’m an LPN. What do I need to do to get into the RN Nursing Program? 

You will need to be currently licensed and meet the prerequisites by the deadline date March 1. If accepted, LPN and nursing transfer students start in the advanced placement class which is offered only in the first summer session.    

How long will it take me to complete the program if I am an advanced standing student? 

Students admitted as an LPN will need to take at least three semesters of nursing courses, including the summer session classes. The time for transfer students to complete the program varies on the amount of nursing courses transferred from another program; however, at least two and a half semesters of nursing courses will be required including the summer session classes.

What do I need to do to transfer from another RN nursing program into your nursing program? 

You will need to meet the prerequisites for the program. Upon acceptance into the program, students start in the  advanced placement class which is offered only in the first summer session. Students transferring into the OCC Nursing Program should meet with the Program Chairperson to determine what previous nursing courses will transfer and if you qualify to start as an advanced standing student. Also required upon meeting with the Program Chairperson are transcripts, syllabi from nursing courses and a favorable letter of recommendation from your previous school.

Can I apply for the LPN license while attending this program? 

No. As of June 2007, the New York State Department of Education changed their policy and no longer allows students from an RN program to request licensure as a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) without attending an LPN program.