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Concordia University Irvine’s Nursing Program has one of the best reputations in the state of California and now offers a unique admissions pathway for incoming first-year students. When completed successfully, the Freshman Advantage Nursing Pathway guarantees early acceptance to the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program.

You will earn two bachelor’s degrees in as little as five years on this pathway. Unlike other Bachelor of Nursing programs, our program structure emphasizes core scientific studies and principles, followed by a highly-focused and rigorous second degree in nursing (ABSN).

Concordia nurses enter healthcare with advanced knowledge and experience that sets them apart. By pursuing this path, you’ll begin your nursing career with a firm scientific foundation and nursing specialization that will establish you as an emerging leader and highly-skilled clinician.

The Freshman Advantage Nursing Pathway is not a degree program; it’s designed to equip and assist undergraduate students of any major in earning early acceptance into the ABSN program. To enter the Freshman Advantage Nursing Pathway, you’ll submit a declaration of intent to your academic advisor during your first semester (Fall or Spring) of enrollment at Concordia.

Nursing Pathway Guarantee Admission

Guaranteed ABSN Admission

Earn your spot without the added stress and uncertainty of applying to school again.

Nursing Pathway Healthcare Experience

Healthcare Experience

Enter the ABSN program with 100+ hours of healthcare experience.

Nursing Pathway Faculty Mentorship

Faculty Mentorship

Get insightful advice and guidance from our experienced faculty.

Freshman Advantage Nursing Pathway Requirements

Nursing is a challenging, rewarding calling, and completing this pathway requires determination and commitment. If you meet all academic and personal requirements through the entire progression of your undergraduate degree, you’ll earn a spot in one of the most highly regarded nursing programs in California.

Any deviation from these requirements will result in removal from the Freshman Advantage Nursing Pathway program. If you decide not to continue or no longer meet the requirements in the program, you can still continue your major and apply for the ABSN program, if desired, upon graduation.


  • Maintain a minimum cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.25 overall for all coursework. You must meet this benchmark by the end of your freshman year and at the end of every subsequent semester thereafter.
  • You must complete all prerequisite classes for the ABSN program with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.
  • You must earn a “B-” or higher in each science prerequisite course. You must earn a “C” or higher in all other prerequisite courses.
  • You may repeat only two of the four science prerequisite courses once if necessary.
  • Your completion of the prerequisite courses for the ABSN program must meet the following guidelines:
    • All science prerequisite classes must be completed at Concordia University Irvine.
    • All non-science prerequisite classes that are not transferred at the time of admission must be completed at Concordia University Irvine.
  • You must be continuously enrolled as a full-time student at Concordia University Irvine.
  • You must complete a minimum of 100 hours of qualifying patient care experiences prior to completing your undergraduate studies. Some examples are Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), COPE Health Scholar, Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), Medical Assistant (back office), Medical Missions, Home Health Aide, Physical Therapy (PT) Aide.
  • You must complete three interviews with the Nursing admissions committee before beginning the ABSN program. During these interviews, you will be evaluated and must meet the “Average/Meets Standards” benchmark of the ABSN Interview Rubric.

For this program, “Freshman” is defined as an incoming student who has completed less than 30 semester units at the time of undergraduate admission. These units may include: ANT 210, BIO 111, CHE 101, COM 211, COM 261, MTH 265, PSY 101, SOC 101, WRT 102.

A Community of Advising and Mentorship

Concordia nursing faculty are experts in their field and have dedicated their lives to advanced nursing studies and leadership. Their mission is to uphold the Great Commission of Jesus Christ to share the Gospel and care for all of God’s people through nursing research and education.

As part of the Freshman Advantage Nursing Pathway, you’ll attend community meetings with other Pathway students, Academic Advisors, and with faculty and staff from the Nursing Program throughout your undergraduate journey. This is a unique opportunity to receive one-on-one guidance from Academic Advisors along with access to experienced nurses across a wide range of specializations (pediatrics, oncology, surgery, labor and delivery, hospice, emergency, and general practice).

Photo of Cheryl

Cheryl Smythe-Padgham, DNP, RN, WHNP-BC

Assistant Dean & Director of Nursing

Dr. Smythe-Padgham began her career as a labor and delivery nurse over 25 years ago. She attained a Masters of Science in Nursing and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner license in 1992 and worked in both private and community care settings in Orange and Los Angeles counties practicing primarily in underserved communities in order to serve the needs of women, mothers and babies. In 2009, she began her career in academia as a Concordia nursing faculty member and now proudly serves as the Assistant Dean and Director of Nursing in the Concordia Department of Nursing.

Photo of Jennifer Dahl

Jennifer Dahl, EdD, RN, RNC-OB

Assistant Director & Assistant Professor of Nursing

Jennifer Dahl began teaching at Concordia University Irvine in 2014 and currently serves as the Assistant Director of Nursing. She began her nursing career an oncology nurse until she transitioned to the maternal-newborn population where she spent over 20 years as a labor and delivery nurse. Professor Dahl has a love of the nursing profession and strives to educate students to be compassionate and holistic nurses who serve the population.

Healthcare Experience

Healthcare experience is vital for all students interested in a nursing career. As part of the Freshman Advantage Nursing Pathway, you will need to complete at least 100 hours of work in a healthcare setting.

Many of our nursing students have volunteered or worked as nursing assistants, COPE Health Scholars, EMTs, medical assistants, home health aides, and physical therapy aides. We also encourage participating in medical mission trips to uphold the Great Commission of Jesus Christ to share the Gospel and care for all of God’s people.

Healthcare Volunteer Resources

Orange County offers numerous opportunities to gain healthcare experience. These resources will help you find the right fit for your interests and level of experience. The Concordia Student Nursing Association will also provide a supportive community as you pursue this pathway.

Medical Missions
OC Health
Cope Health Scholars
Learning How to Care video

Learning How to Care

What Makes a Concordia Nurse?

Caring, compassion, competency–those are the essential qualities that define Concordia nurses. When a Concordia nurse enters a patient’s room, they bring a sense of peace, confidence, and hope. Our nurses understand the holistic nature of healthcare and minister to the mind, body, and spirit of their patients.

A Concordia nurse is trained in the latest healthcare research and technologies, clinical skills, and professional strategies. They are equally comfortable and accomplished in handling resource management and conducting research as they are in providing patient care.

When you become a Concordia nurse, you join a fellowship of healthcare professionals who fulfill their calling to serve with grace, intelligence, and tenacity.

Philosophy and Mission

Begin Your Nursing Journey at Concordia

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