Graduate Admission Requirements

For admission to the Nursing program, an applicant must hold either (1) a bachelor's degree in nursing from a U.S. regionally accredited institution or (2) a postsecondary degree in nursing that is equivalent to a U.S. baccalaureate degree earned from an officially recognized degree-granting international institution.

M.S.N. Applicants

The M.S.N. in Nursing consists of five options—three resident instruction (RI) and two World Campus (WC).

Resident instruction options

  • Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner

World Campus (online) options

  • Nurse Administrator
  • Nurse Educator

Applicants to the M.S.N. options are required to hold a baccalaureate degree from an ACEN- or CCNE-accredited program. For the RI options, applicants must be licensed to practice professional nursing in Pennsylvania. For World Campus, applicants must be licensed to practice professional nursing in the United States or another country. In order to be considered for admission, an application must be submitted to the Graduate School at Penn State.

The College of Nursing application compiles evidence of the applicant's potential for success in graduate studies.

Each component of the application is carefully reviewed by a faculty committee in order to evaluate your potential to succeed in our program. General expectations are listed in the requirements below. These are benchmarks, not rules—please do not hesitate to discuss your application with the associate dean for graduate education or the chair of the admissions committee.

1. Transcripts: Submit original official transcripts (two copies are required) of all previous course work from professional/undergraduate programs of study.

Expectations: GPA of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale
Grades of B or better in all sciences and nursing courses
College chemistry and statistics (NOTE: Chemistry is not required for those applying to the Nurse Administrator option.)

Transcripts should be mailed to the address at the bottom of this page.

2. Licensure: For the RI options, applicants must be licensed to practice professional nursing in Pennsylvania. For World Campus, applicants must be licensed to practice professional nursing in the United States or another country.

3. References: Two letters of reference are required. It is recommended that you obtain letters from academic and professional perspectives. If you attended college-level courses over the last five years, an academic reference is required. Other references should be from a nursing supervisor, preferably with a degree higher than yours.
To submit references, input your referees' contact information (including email address) in the reference section on your application. Your referee will receive an email notification with log-in information to submit the reference online via the Graduate School automated system. The College of Nursing no longer accepts paper references.

Expectation: Strong references without identification of significant threats to potential success.

4. Personal Statement or goals statement.

Expectation: Coherent writing style with no grammatical errors; description of relevant work experience; clearly articulated reasons for applying to the selected option and specialization; long-term goals or career aspirations.

5. GRE Scores**—GREs are not required for M.S.N. degree applicants. However, if you already took the GREs and submitted the scores to Penn State, they will be reviewed as part of your application.

6. TOEFL or IELTS—The language of instruction at Penn State is English. All international applicants must take and submit scores for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), with the exceptions noted below. The minimum acceptable score for the TOEFL is 580 for the paper-based test, or a total score of 100 with a 25 on the speaking section for the Internet-based test (iBT). The minimum composite score for the IELTS is 7.0.

International applicants are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement if they have received a baccalaureate or graduate degree from a college/university/institution in any of the following: Australia, Belize, British Caribbean and British West Indies, Canada (except Quebec), England, Guyana, Republic of Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the United States, and Wales.

7. Applicants to the Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner option are required to have two years of acute care hospital experience.

8. M.S.N. degree applicants are encouraged to discuss program options with the faculty; however, an interview is not required.

Doctoral Applicants

M.S. (B.S. in nursing to Ph.D.); D.N.P. (B.S. in nursing to D.N.P.; M.S.N. to D.N.P.), and Ph.D.*

1. Transcripts: Submit original official transcripts (two copies are required) of all previous course work from professional/undergraduate/graduate programs of study.

Transcripts should be mailed to the address at the bottom of this page.

a. M.S. applicants (B.S. in nursing to Ph.D.)—A cumulative grade-point average of 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale) for the baccalaureate degree is expected with a B or better in all science and nursing courses. College-level statistics is also required.
b. B.S. (nursing) to D.N.P. applicants are expected to have a cumulative undergraduate grade-point average of 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale). College-level statistics is also required.
c. Ph.D. or D.N.P. applicants—A cumulative grade-point average of 3.5 (on a 4.0 scale) for master's and subsequent course work is expected.

2. Letters of Reference: Three letters of reference should be solicited from professional colleagues and faculty who can attest to the applicant's ability. If you completed college-level courses over the last five years, an academic reference is required. Other references should be from a nursing supervisor, preferably with a degree higher than yours.

To submit references, input your referees' contact information (including email address) in the reference section on your application. Your referee will receive an email notification with log-in information to submit the reference online via the Graduate School automated system. The College of Nursing no longer accepts paper references.

3. Personal/Goals Statement: All applicants must submit a statement of purpose. Coherent writing style with no grammatical errors is expected. A description of relevant work experience, clearly articulated reasons for applying to the doctoral program, research interests, and long-term goals or career aspirations should be included.

4. Scholarly Writing: All applicants must submit a published or unpublished scientific paper, thesis, or other scholarly writing sample.

5. Curriculum Vita (résumé): Applicants must submit a curriculum vita. There is no required format; the selected format should provide an accurate presentation of relevant professional experiences.

6. GRE Scores**: Required for admission to the M.S. and Ph.D. degree programs. GRE scores are not required for D.N.P. applicants, but if the scores are submitted to Penn State, they will be reviewed as part of the application. GREs must be taken within five years of the application. The 50th percentile in each component of the exam iis expected.

7. TOEFL or IELTS: The language of instruction at Penn State is English. All international applicants must take and submit scores for the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), with the exceptions noted below. The minimum acceptable score for the TOEFL is 580 for the paper-based test, or a total score of 100 with a 25 on the speaking section for the Internet-based test (iBT). The minimum composite score for the IELTS is 7.0.

International applicants are exempt from the TOEFL/IELTS requirement if they have received a baccalaureate or graduate degree from a college, university, or other institution in any of the following countries: Australia, Belize, British Caribbean and British West Indies, Canada (except Quebec), England, Guyana, Republic of Ireland, Liberia, New Zealand, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the United States, and Wales.

8. Licensure:
a. D.N.P. applicants must hold a current license to practice professional nursing in at least one U.S. state or a foreign country.
b. M.S. applicants must hold a current Pennsylvania license to practice professional nursing.
c. Ph.D. applicants must be licensed to practice professional nursing in at least one state or a foreign country.

9. Interviews: Doctoral applicants will be contacted by the College of Nursing to schedule a required interview (either in person or via Internet-based videoconferencing).

* Applicants interested in applying to the dual-title Ph.D. in Nursing and Bioethics must be accepted into the Ph.D. program in Nursing prior to applying for admission to the Bioethics program.

For More Information

For more information on graduate study in nursing at Penn State, send an email to nursgrad@psu.edu or call or write:

Graduate Program
College of Nursing
The Pennsylvania State University
203 Health and Human Development East Building
University Park, PA 16802-6508

Phone: 1-814-863-2211

Application Request

To apply to the College of Nursing, please go to the Application Procedure page for more information.

** GRE Prep Courses

Penn State offers low-cost GRE preparation courses to help students prepare for graduate admission tests. For more information, please visit the Career Services website.