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Second Degree Program

The Second Degree program is an intensive sixteen-month program for individuals who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field. This rigorous program is offered in a cohort format (all cohorts start in fall semester) and requires extensive commitment. Students take 14–17 credits per semester for a total of 60 credits.

Currently, the Second Degree program is offered at Penn State Altoona and Penn State Harrisburg.


The required Penn State prerequisites for fall 2017 applicants are:

  • BIOL 129: Mammalian Anatomy (with lab)
  • BIOL 141 and 142: Introductory Physiology and Physiology Lab
  • HD FS 129: Introduction to Human Development and Family Studies —OR— PSYCH 212: Introduction to Developmental Psychology
  • CHEM 101: Introductory Chemistry (3 credits including lab) —OR— CHEM 110 and 111: Chemical Principles I (lecture) and Experimental Chemistry I (lab)

College-level courses in the following areas, although not required for an offer to the major, will support the student’s success in the program.

  • Microbiology
  • Statistics
  • Nutrition
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Algebra

Please note: Admission criteria for future years (fall 2018 and later) is subject to change. Prospective applicants are encouraged to check this website frequently for updates.

For students beginning the Second Degree program in the fall, all prerequisites must be completed by the end of the preceding spring semester. The most competitive candidates will have all prerequisite course work competed by the end of fall and a strong grade-point average.

Prerequisite courses may be taken at any Penn State campus or other colleges and universities. If you are unsure whether a course from another college will transfer, please contact the Admissions Office or one of the advisers listed below.

Because the program is intensive, we recommend that students forgo outside employment for the duration of the program. Our most successful students are able to focus exclusively on their studies for the entire sixteen months.

At the completion of their course work, graduates will be able to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and begin new careers in professional nursing.

Career Opportunities

Graduates of the baccalaureate nursing program have a vast array of employment opportunities. Employment settings include trauma centers, community hospitals, home health agencies, rehabilitation centers, long-term care facilities, hospice agencies, schools, industrial and organizational settings, and the military.

In addition, the B.S. degree is required to pursue an advanced degree in nursing, which prepares the nurse for roles such as nurse educator, nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist, nurse administrator, and nurse researcher. The nursing profession encompasses opportunities for lifelong and rewarding careers.


Admission to this program is very competitive. We typically have a large applicant pool and generally accept no more than thirty-five students in a cohort. Students who have completed all four prerequisite courses, have a competitive GPA (e.g., 3.5 or above), and graduated by the end of the preceding fall semester are most competitive for admission the following fall semester. Students graduating or completing prerequisite course work in spring will be considered on a space-available basis. An Early Offer opportunity is available for applicants who meet the criteria.

Students may apply to only one campus location. We encourage you to become familiar with both locations before making your choice.

Application Timeline

Complete application materials must be received by November 30. Applicants are notified by email in February regarding their status.

Successful applicants with all prerequisite criteria met by the January review will receive an immediate offer. Those with pending course work or graduation may receive a “contingent offer.” Students with a contingent offer will receive an immediate offer if all criteria are met on the timeline and standards set by the review committee. Be sure to regularly check the email you address you provide on your application or reenrollment.

Applicants who will complete their course work after the November 30 deadline must submit official transcripts immediately upon course completion to Undergraduate Admissions and an unofficial copy by email to the Nursing program office at the campus to which you are applying. Transcripts (or a copy of your spring schedule if you will complete course work in spring) must be submitted by the third week in December. Because of the volume of the applicant pool, incomplete applications and late submissions will not be considered. Students who do not provide the required information by the deadline may reapply for a future cohort.

Previous Penn State Students

If you previously attended Penn State as an undergraduate student, you must submit an Undergraduate Re-enrollment Form to the Registrar’s office at the campus to which are you applying. For fall 2016, re-enrollment forms will be accepted from September 1 to November 30, 2016. PLEASE NOTE: Due to administrative system changes, students may not submit re-enrollment requests during summer 2016 for fall 2017.

Penn State Spring Graduates

If you are a Penn State student who will graduate in spring, you must complete the following:

  1. Contact the Nursing program office at the campus in which you are interested and request to be manually added to the review list.
  2. File your Intent to Graduate on LionPATH as soon as you may do so.
  3. Submit the Undergraduate Enrollment Form as explained under “Application Timeline” above.
  4. Send transcripts for any non–Penn State course work not previously submitted (as explained under “Application Timeline” above).

Transfer Students (Advanced Standing Applicants)

An advanced standing applicant is one who never attended Penn State as an undergraduate degree–seeking student. Between September 1 and November 30, transfer (advanced standing) applicants must:

  1. Complete the online application and pay the processing fee.
  2. Submit all materials (including official high school and college transcripts and AP or CLEP scores) directly to Undergraduate Admissions, as explained under “Application Timeline” above. Items must be postmarked by November 30.

Undergraduate Admissions will calculate your cumulative GPA based on all undergraduate course work from all postsecondary institutions.

International Applicants

International transcripts may be reviewed only by Undergraduate Admissions staff at University Park. This process takes a significant amount of time. In some cases, applicants need to apply for a future cohort. To have an international transcript reviewed, you must:

  1. File an application and submit an official transcript to Undergraduate Admissions, who will review your transcripts and add transfer credits.
  2. Notify the Nursing program office at the campus in which you are interested that your transcripts are ready to be reviewed for the prerequisites required for the Second Degree program. The Admissions Office will provide the GPA for review.

Early Offer

Students who have completed all prerequisite course work with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher and graduate from an accredited baccalaureate program by the summer immediately preceding the fall application cycle may be considered for an early offer. The early offer cycle runs September 1–30 with notification in late October. To be considered for an early offer, please provide a written email request between September 1 and 30 to the Nursing program office at the campus you would like to attend.



Undergraduate Admissions

201 Shields Building
University Park, PA 16802-1294


Penn State Altoona

Suzanne Kuhn, Ph.D., CNE
Nursing Program Coordinator

Cathy Kozak
Pre-Nursing Adviser

Financial Aid/Veterans Affairs: 814-949-5282

Registrar: 814-949-5035

Admissions (Altoona): 814-949-5466


Penn State Harrisburg

Ann Swartz, D.Ed., CRNP, CS
Nursing Program Coordinator

Ronda Stump, M.Ed.
Nursing Adviser

Financial Aid/Veterans Affairs: 717-948-6307

Registrar: 717-948-6020

Admissions (Harrisburg): 717-948-6250