Nursing education at Gardner-Webb University began in 1965 with the establishment of the Associate Degree Program (ADN) under the direction of Mrs. Grace C. Lee. The establishment of the ADN program was a joint effort between Gardner-Webb University and two local health care facilities, Cleveland Memorial Hospital and Rutherford Hospital. Mrs. Grace Lee was the first Director of the ADN Program. The ADN program at GWU is the oldest ADN program in North Carolina. In 1978 Dr. Shirley Toney was appointed Program Director. In 1982 a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) completion program, directed by Dr. Janie Carlton, was added to the programs to allow ADN students to achieve their Baccalaureate Degree in two years. This program was offered at two sites, the Boiling Springs Campus and the Statesville campus. In 1991, the BSN completion program became the Davis Nursing Program and outreach centers offered nursing courses in several counties. The School of Nursing was formally established at Gardner-Webb University in 1995 under the guidance of Dr. Shirley Toney.
The Master of Science in Nursing Program (MSN) was established in 2000 directed by Dr. Rebecca Beck-Little. In 2006, Dr. Toney retired and was appointed Dean Emeriti. At that time, Dr. Beck-Little assumed leadership of the School of Nursing as Dean.
In October 2009, the North Carolina Board of Nursing approved the School of Nursing to begin offering a traditional four year generic Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program on the main campus at Boiling Springs. The first cohort of students was admitted Fall 2010.
In November 2009, the Southern Association of Colleges and Boards approved the School of Nursing to begin offering the Doctor of Nursing Practice for a cohort of students beginning May 2010.