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Emotional intelligence (EI) is essential for providing quality and competent care in the nursing profession. Because nurses need to be competent in EI, it is important to determine if inherent factors and academic performance contribute to the development of EI. The purpose of this study, guided by the 4-branch ability model of EI by Mayer and Salovey, was to examine the relationship of EI levels and academic performance, gender, and ethnic background in associate degree nursing (ADN) students who attended a community college. Using convenience sampling, 110 ADN students completed the Schutte Self-Report Emotional Intelligence Test and sociodemographic data. Data were analyzed using an independent t-test, and analysis of variances which indicated no statistical significance between EI levels and academic performance, gender, and ethnic background. Although the findings did not show statistical significance, drawing attention to EI among nursing students and nurse educators may increase nurse educators' awareness of the importance of cultivating EI in nurses and the need to incorporate concepts of EI into the nursing curricula. Doing so can effect positive social change because nurses with higher EI may be better able to understand and manage the emotions of others and themselves in stressful situations. The concept of EI is important to incorporate into nursing curricula to provide the nursing student opportunities to practice and apply the concepts learned in an educational setting. Doing so may improve students' preparation to use EI in their nursing careers. Future research could be done to determine if EI levels change throughout a nursing program and to determine if EI skills are taught in nursing programs.