Bachelor of Science Degree (RN to B.S.)

"Penn State's RN to B.S. program has inspired me to learn, to become a better nurse, and to share all that I learned and know."
—Donna O'Neill, RN

The RN to B.S. program began in 1973 and was one of the first of its kind in the nation. The program makes it possible for registered nurses to earn a B.S. degree through full- or part-time study while maintaining personal and employment responsibilities.


The RN to B.S. program is offered at the following campuses:

Nursing students in training

Accelerated R.N. to B.S. Degree Program


The Accelerated Bachelor of Science (A.B.S.) Nursing program is a fast-track RN-to-B.S. completion program being expanded to Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, and Penn State Worthington Scranton. A three-year continuance grant received by Dr. Raymonde A. Brown from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) facilitated the program’s expansion in July 2011.

The primary purpose of the program is to increase the number of baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses (B.S.-RNs) in underserved rural areas of Pennsylvania with a special emphasis on creating a nursing workforce better prepared to assume the direct care of this vulnerable patient population.

The National Advisory Council on Nurse Education and Practice supports the goal of having all registered nurses prepared at the baccalaureate level or higher to improve quality and safety in U.S. health care.

The A.B.S. program enables associate degree–prepared registered nurses to obtain a baccalaureate degree in one year—less than half the time it usually takes to complete a typical RN-to-B.S. completion program.

Program Goals

Overall A.B.S. program goal

Impact the health profession workforce composition by increasing the number of B.S.-RNs, which will ultimately impact the quality of care in rural Pennsylvania.

Healthy People 2010 Goal 1

Increase quality and years of healthy life (B.S.-prepared nurses have been linked to quality care, decrease in mortality, and a survival advantage).

Bureau of Health Professions Goals (1 and 3)

Eliminate health barriers: Assure the appropriate supply, diversity, composition, and distribution of the health professions workforce.
Assure the quality of care: Improve the knowledge, skills, competencies, and outcomes of health professions workforce.

About the Program Curriculum

The program curriculum is designed so that students spend only one day per week on campus and all course work is completed in three semesters, which allows those individuals who are limited by location and/or employment a greater opportunity to participate in the program. The cornerstone of the A.B.S. curriculum is providing a quality B.S. completion program in a format that is time efficient.

The compressed curriculum design incorporates a blend of in-class, web-enhanced, and online courses over seven-week sessions. Each student will have a plan of study developed and will have access to a variety of support and retention activities designed to ensure their success, including: the assignment of a mentor; computer support; tutoring and writing center services; access to Penn State’s course management system (ANGEL) and extensive library collection; and online or in-person access to project staff and faculty.

Benefits of Obtaining a B.S.

Historically, bachelor's degree–prepared nurses demonstrate stronger professional-level skills such as communication, critical thinking, problem solving, leadership, professional integration, and research/evaluation.

Employment opportunities

  • Hospitals preparing for Magnet® status employ a larger proportion of B.S.-RNs.
  • Higher pay grades in some institutions (e.g., the Veterans Administration system pays B.S.-trained nurses more).

Advanced education

  • B.S. required for admission to graduate-level programs.

Career advancement

  • Management opportunities (e.g., many institutions require a B.S.).
  • Clinical specialty positions (e.g., critical care, life-flight nursing).
  • Career-ladder opportunities (e.g., the Veterans Administration system encourages nurses with A.D. degrees to pursue B.S. degrees).

Project Staff

Raymonde Brown, Ph.D., RN, CNE

Project Director

Jo Anne Carrick, D.Ed., RN, CNE

Project Coordinator, Penn State Erie, The Behrend College

Verna Saleski, M.S., FNP

Project Coordinator, Penn State Worthington Scranton

Aimee Hagerty, B.S.N., M.S.N.

Project Student Adviser, Penn State Erie, The Behrend College

Milton Evans, Ph.D., RN

Project Student Adviser, Penn State Worthington Scranton

More Information

For more information, contact any of the project staff via e-mail, or learn more about the A.B.S. program by reviewing individual campus websites:

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Students in a clinical setting