Nursing Theory Series Completion Options

The nursing theory series includes 8 requirements across Phases I and II of the associate curriculum. You’ll need to finish the first phase before starting the second.

You can meet these requirements by taking Excelsior’s online nursing courses, Nursing Theory Conference Exams (NTCX), or Excelsior College® Examinations (ECE). These options are interchangeable so you may select any or all options to complete the requirement.


  • Essentials of Nursing Care: Health Differences
  • Essentials of Nursing Care: Health Safety
  • Foundations in Nursing Practice
  • Transition to the Professional Nurse Role


  • Health Differences Across the Life Span 1
  • Health Differences Across the Life Span 2
  • Health Differences Across the Life Span 3
  • Reproductive Health


Before signing up for nursing theory options, speak with your academic advisor to make sure you’ve met all of the prerequisites and gained approval to register.

Online courses provide 8 weeks of learning led by a faculty member. You’ll complete assignments, participate in discussions, and take quizzes and two comprehensive exams. Each course requires about 18 hours of academic activity per week.


  1. Browse upcoming nursing course offerings.
  2. Review term start dates and registration deadlines.
  3. Obtain your advisor’s approval to take the courses you want.
  4. Register for your course(s) and purchase required textbooks.

Note: Seating Is Limited
If you receive approval before course registration for the upcoming trimester you’ll be invited to register for your courses according to the number of nursing credits you’ve earned; the student with the most credit is offered the first seat, and so on. As you earn more credit, your odds of securing a seat will increase.

First invitations are sent through the Student Information System (SIS) message center at 12:01 am (ET) on the day course registration opens. Invitations expire 48 hours after the time stamp on the notification message. No extensions are granted. For more information, refer to the Student Policy Handbook.

If you want the flexibility of ECE exams, but prefer the structure of term-based courses, the NTCX hybrid learning experience may be a good fit for you.

This option offers facilitated preparation for nursing theory exams over 8 weeks. During this time, you’ll participate in discussions, take self-check quizzes, evaluate case studies, and receive faculty feedback.

If you meet participation requirements, two weeks prior to the end of the term you’ll receive authorization to schedule your exam at a PearsonVue testing center during the last week of your conference.

When you sign up for an NTCX, you’ll need to complete substantial reading before it begins. Once it starts, you can expect to spend 12 hours on academic activity per week. For more information, refer to the Student Policy Handbook.


If you want to study independently, you can simply register for Excelsior College Exams (ECEs) to fulfill your nursing theory requirements. You’ll learn the required material outlined in the content guide on your own schedule with about 135 hours of study for each exam.


  • Review your exam options.
  • Obtain your advisor’s approval to register for the ECEs you want to take in the next trimester.
  • Review the content guides for your approved exams.
  • Purchase required textbooks and complete assigned readings.
  • Register for your nursing theory exam.
  • Once you receive an Authorization to Test (ATT) letter, schedule a date to take your exam at a PearsonVUE testing center during the trimester for which you registered.

For more information, refer to the Student Policy Handbook.


Excelsior College does not contract with or endorse the services of, or study materials sold by, any test preparation providers. Be cautious of anyone selling test preparation services or materials; whatever they may say to you, they are not affiliated with Excelsior College. As an enrolled student, you’ll be guided to the right learning resources and services. Learn more.


If you take at least 6 credits of online nursing courses and/or NTCXs in a given term, you’re eligible to pay your tuition with federal student aid. For tuition costs, visit the tuition and aid page. Excelsior College Exams are not eligible for federal aid.

To apply for financial aid: submit your FAFSA, receive course approval, and then complete your financial aid study plan before the first day of course registration. The financial aid team requires 7-10 days to package an offer once your financial aid study plan is submitted.

Check your MyExcelsior messages and email for alerts from the financial aid team regarding the status of your financial aid package and/or award letter. If you haven’t accepted a financial aid package before course registration opens, you’ll need to provide another form of payment to secure a seat in your course(s). You may be reimbursed if afterward you accept a financial aid package.

For more information, speak with a financial aid counselor at 855-323-9235.

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