Second Degree Program

The Second Degree program is an intensive sixteen-month program open to 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 general education prerequisites include the following:

  • Anatomy (4 credits)
  • Physiology (4 credits)
  • Microbiology (4 credits)
  • Chemistry (3 to 4 credits)
  • Statistics (4 credits)
  • Nutrition (3 credits)
  • Intro to Psychology (3 credits)
  • Intro to Sociology (3 credits)
  • Human Development or Developmental Psychology (3 credits)
  • General Arts (6 credits)
  • General Humanities (6 credits)
  • English Composition (3 credits)
  • English with a writing emphasis (3 credits)
  • Effective Speech (3 credits)
  • Quantification Elective (3 credits)
  • General Electives (4 to 5 credits)

For students beginning the Second Degree program in the fall, all general education prerequisites must be completed by the end of the preceding spring semester. These can be taken at any Penn State campus or other college or university.

The program prepares nurses to provide nursing care in varied settings, which include hospitals, private practice, long-term care, clinics, and other health care and community agencies. Students gain experience in diverse settings, which include trauma centers, rural hospitals, community health agencies, and other health care settings.

Because the program is intensive, it is recommended that students be able to go without outside employment for the duration of the program. At the completion of their course work, graduates will be eligible 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 a lifelong and rewarding career.

All About Applying

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 prerequisite course work, 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.

Application Timeline

Complete applications must be received by November 30, and applicants are notified in February regarding their status. Applicants who will complete their course work after the November 30 deadline must submit transcripts immediately upon course completion (official transcripts to Undergraduate Admissions; unofficial copies to the Nursing program office at the campus to which you are applying). Transcripts (or a copy of your spring semester schedule if you will complete course work in the spring) must be submitted by the third week of December. Incomplete applications and late submissions will not be considered.

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 you are applying by November 30.

Penn State Spring Graduates

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

  • Contact the Nursing program office at the campus in which you are interested and request to be manually added to the Entrance-to-Major (ETM) review list.
  • File your Intent to Graduate on eLion as soon as you may do so.
  • Submit the Undergraduate Re-Enrollment Form as explained above under "Previous Penn State Students."
  • 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:

  • Complete the online application and pay the processing fee.
  • 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.

An unofficial pre-review of transfer credits will be made available once all transcripts are received. (See the Transfer Course Evaluation Guide for more information.) Undergraduate Admissions will calculate your cumulative GPA based on all undergraduate course work.

International Applicants

International transcripts can be reviewed only by Undergraduate Admissions at University Park, so pre-reviews are not possible. To have an international transcript reviewed, you must:

  • File an application and submit an official transcript to Undergraduate Admissions, who will review your transcripts and add transfer credits.
  • 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 option.

This process takes a significant amount of time, so apply as soon as possible.

Early Offer

Students who have completed all prerequisite course work with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher and graduated 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 October. To be considered for an early offer, please notify the Nursing program office at the campus you would like to attend.

Additional Information

For more information on such topics as clinical experiences, extra requirements, costs, and financial aid, visit the College of Nursing FAQ page.

Penn State's Tuition Calculator is a helpful tool for estimating your tuition, fees, and essential costs.


Penn State Altoona

Maggie McNulty, M.Ed.
Pre-Nursing Adviser

Penn State Harrisburg

Ronda Stump, M.Ed.
Academic Adviser, Nursing Programs