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General BSN Program FAQs

What is the General Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing?

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) General Option is a 4-year program that combines foundational science and liberal arts courses with nursing courses that include hands-on experience in clinical settings. Graduates are prepared to sit for the national exam (NCLEX-RN) for licensure as registered nurses.

Where is the Nursing Program offered?

The 4-year BSN is offered at University Park (includes Hershey Medical Center campus), Altoona, Behrend (Erie), Fayette, Mont Alto, Schuylkill, and Scranton.

Can I change campuses?

Students may not change campus locations for the nursing degree. Students must complete the program at the campus where they begin. However, students admitted to University Park will spend one year at the Hershey Medical Center campus as part of the University Park program.

Students can select two years at Hershey when you apply! 

Beginning with the 2025 application year, students will be able to select a 2+2 option on the Nursing application. With this option, years one and two will be completed at University Park while years three and four will be spent entirely at the Hershey Medical Center and surrounding area. Lock in the Hershey Experience x2 from the beginning and set yourself up for an incredible nursing education journey! 

Is the Nursing Program accredited?

Yes, the BSN program is accredited by the CCNE:

Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
655 K Street, NW, Suite 750
Washington, DC 20001

How competitive is the Nursing Program?

Admission is competitive. In a typical year, The Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing receives upwards of 4,000 applications, with the intent to yield 160 students at University Park and an additional 300 students across the other campuses where the BSN program is offered. 

Are students admitted directly into the Nursing Program? 

Yes, first-year applicants are admitted directly into the Nursing Program. Transfer students are eligible to apply to the four-year BSN program at one of the six Commonwealth Campuses through a competitive entrance-to-major process. Transfer students should contact their campus of interest to discuss admission requirements. 

Campus High School Students or Adults with Less than 18 College Credits Penn State Students or Adults with 18 or More College Credits
Altoona, Behrend (Erie), Fayette, Mont Alto, Schuylkill, Scranton First-year direct admission into the major Must have earned C or higher in Anatomy and Physiology (or A&P I and II) and at least 9 other non-remedial credits
University Park First-year direct admission into the major Not eligible for admission

Entrance to major information >>

When does the Nursing Program begin?

The program begins every year in the fall. There is no spring admission.

Students may begin University coursework in the summer. First-year nursing students at University Park have the option to participate in the following unique summer opportunity:

  • LEAP (Learning Edge Academic Program) is an optional summer program reserved for first-year students to assist with the transition to college. LEAP is an opportunity for new students to start their Penn State career in a small-college atmosphere within the larger University. Students enroll in a LEAP section of two courses with a small group, or “pride”, who live together in the same dormitory area and have an upper-class student mentor to guide them through their first semester. LEAP will complete the first-year seminar requirement. More information can be found at The Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing does not recommend a specific LEAP section, but Nursing students may find the sections offering ENGL 15, CAS 100 or STAT 200 particularly helpful in completing their degree requirements.

Will applying for the summer semester at University Park improve my chance of being admitted to the Nursing Program?

Students applying to the Nursing Program may be considered for admission to the summer session at the University Park campus; however, application to the summer session does not provide an advantage towards being accepted into the Nursing Program at University Park.

What are the admission requirements?

The following high school courses (or a college equivalent) are required:

  • four years of English
  • three years of science
  • three years of math (algebra, geometry, or trigonometry)
  • three years of social studies/art/humanities combined
  • two years of a single world language other than English (students lacking two years of the same world language who graduated from high school after 2001 must complete one course in a world language within the first two years at Penn State)

What are the average SAT or ACT scores and the average high school GPA for students offered admission into Penn State?

Updated ranges for the middle 50 percent of students offered admission to Penn State can be found at the link below. Nursing students typically place in the upper end of these ranges.

Admission Statistics >>

What is the deadline for application?

The deadline for application for the Nursing Program is December 1 and admission is competitive. Late applications are typically considered on a space-available basis only. We recommend that students strive to meet the Admissions Early Decision deadline of November 1.

Who makes admissions decisions?

Penn State admissions decisions are made through our centralized Undergraduate Admissions Office (UAO) for all Penn State campuses and programs. The Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing does not evaluate applications. If you have questions about your application or the decision-making process, please contact the UAO by email at, by phone at 814-865-5471, or through your MyPennState account.

Is special housing available for first-year nursing students at University Park?

First-year students are required to live on campus and may be assigned to any residence hall. However, there are Special Living Options (SLO) that are available to students who would like to live and learn with classmates who share their interests. For example, Health and Human Development (HHD) House is designed for students who are interested in pursuing a health-related major, as well as students who are committed to healthy living. Students do not need to be in the College of HHD to be eligible to live in this SLO. Students live with other members of their SLO in close-knit communities (“houses”) located in the residence halls, where they have the opportunity to participate in field trips, group dinners, and other social and educational activities. SLO options are limited. Contact Penn State Housing Services for more information if you are interested.

How much is tuition?

Tuition and fees are available at

Consistent with other academic institutions, Penn State charges lower-division and upper-division tuition based on credits earned. Students with 59.1 earned credits will be charged upper-division tuition, which is based on the primary campus designation and the program of study. Information on these rates for the current academic year can be found at by selecting applicable state residency and campus. Tuition and fee rates are subject to change.

Are there any additional costs or requirements?

1. Nursing students must purchase a personal laptop computer to participate in classroom-based assignments and Nursing examinations throughout the course of the program.

2. In addition to standard tuition and fees, Nursing students may expect to spend approximately $5,000 or more throughout the program for textbooks, uniforms, curriculum support materials (such as ATI software and simulation lab supplies), and clinical compliances, which include child abuse and criminal clearances, fingerprinting, liability insurance, drug screening, a completed physical, and other costs.

3. Clinical sites require anyone working on their premises to be appropriately vetted. In the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing, we refer to these requirements as “compliances”. Each May following the nursing students’ first year of enrollment, students must complete the following requirements:

  • Pass an annual physical examination, which includes one-time antibody titers, vaccination history, and immunizations. Please be aware that insurance may or may not provide coverage for these medical requirements.
  • Students must be fully vaccinated to participate in clinicals. Required vaccinations include COVID-19 and all boosters.
    • Required vaccines include all childhood vaccinations AND COVID vaccinations with current boosters. While Penn State has a process for religious, medical, or other exemptions, our clinical sites do not. Since clinical participation requires all vaccines and all nursing programs require clinical to be eligible for licensure, only fully vaccinated students will be successful in completing the Nursing curriculum.
  • Complete Pennsylvania and federal criminal background checks (fingerprinting is required and students must be free of felony convictions in the past ten years).
    • Questions regarding how criminal history affects nursing licensure should be directed to the student’s state board of nursing.
  • Complete Pennsylvania child abuse background checks.
  • Provide proof of medical coverage (student insurance policies are available).
  • Purchase professional liability (malpractice) insurance.
  • Complete the American Heart Association Healthcare Provider CPR course.
  • Complete a 10-point drug test.

All program requirements must be met and submitted on time each year in order to progress in the program. For a detailed breakdown of costs, please refer to the Prospective Student Info Packet.

What financial aid is available?

If you are enrolled as a degree-seeking student, you may be eligible for various federal and state grants or loans. Contact the Office of Student Aid for more information.

Completion of the FAFSA form automatically enters students into consideration for scholarships offered by the Nese College of Nursing.

The Nese College of Nursing does offer scholarships to selected students who meet demonstrated need and other requirements specific to funding sources. These scholarships are typically offered to students beginning their second year in the nursing program and may or may not be renewable. A few scholarships are offered to students in their first year. In order to be eligible for Nese scholarships, students must only have a FAFSA on file. Other requirements, if needed, are emailed to students via student listserv emails or advertised in the college’s newsletter. It is the student’s responsibility to look into various hospitals, professional associations, military groups, community or other organizations which may also offer scholarships or low-interest loans.

How will transfer credits and Advanced Placement (AP) credits fit into the nursing curriculum?

Transfer credits and AP credits may sometimes be applied to general education or elective credits. Admissions determines whether credits from other institutions will be accepted. The Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing determines how these credits are applied towards your degree. Keep in mind that these credits would not impact your GPA at Penn State. These credits have the potential benefit of decreasing course load, which could provide students with the opportunity to explore a minor or other interests if desired. However, please note that a tuition increase takes place when a student reaches 59.1 credits. Students bringing in credits may reach this tuition “bump” earlier. Please communicate with the Academic Advising Office if you are planning on bringing in college-level credits. Additional information on how Penn State awards credits for AP exams can be found here.

What and where are clinical courses?

Clinical courses typically involve a lecture and a hands-on component in a clinical setting. Clinical sites may be anywhere within a 50-mile radius of campus. Clinical experiences and schedules vary each semester, but they are typically offered in six- to eight-hour blocks between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.

Nursing students participate in nearly 900 hours of diverse and educationally rewarding clinical experiences. University Park students spend one or more years (third and/or fourth year) at the Hershey Medical Center Campus. Housing is reserved for nursing students at Hershey.

Our state-of-the-art simulation labs provide confidence-building practice to
students beginning your third semester. Our labs include:

  • Health Assessment/Skills Lab
  • Home Health
  • Critical Care
  • Pediatrics
  • Maternity/Newborn
  • Advanced Practice Primary Care Labs

Examples of BSN Clinical Sites

Clinical locations may include:

  • Geisinger-Lewistown Hospital
  • Mount Nittany Medical Center
  • Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
  • Philhaven Behavioral Healthcare
  • The Meadows Psychiatric Center
  • University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) Altoona
  • Doctors’ offices
  • Schools, non-profite and community agencies, or prisons
  • Assisted-living facilities

Will I need to have my own car?

Nursing students must have their own transportation starting in the spring semester of the second year. Carpooling may be an option during the second year, but students should not rely on this option. Students are responsible for getting themselves to their clinical sites throughout the Nursing Program.

Will I go to Hershey Medical Center?

Hershey Medical Center (HMC) is a Level I Trauma Center for both adult and pediatric populations. Nursing students at University Park are required to spend one academic year living and studying at HMC. In the second year, students are assigned via modified lottery to third or fourth year at HMC. Exceptions to this requirement may be Schreyer Scholars, Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), and student athletes who fall under the NCAA requirements to maintain eligibility (this does not include cheerleading, the Lionettes Dance Team, club sports, or the Blue Band).

Commonwealth Campus students participate in clinical experiences within a 50-mile radius of their campus.

Students can select two years at Hershey when you apply!

Beginning with the 2025 application year, students will be able to select a 2+2 option on the Nursing application. With this option, years one and two will be completed at University Park while years three and four will be spent entirely at the Hershey Medical Center and surrounding area. Lock in the Hershey Experience x2 from the beginning and set yourself up for an incredible nursing education journey!

Hershey Assignment & Lottery Process

Please note that the Hershey assignment process is subject to change without notice. Students are sent a survey in May or June after their first year in nursing. Students may submit their first choice of living at Hershey in third year, fourth year, or both years. Students who submit multiple surveys will be held to the most recent survey time stamp. If student selections do not naturally split the cohort in half, the Office of the Undergraduate Dean utilizes a random lottery to move identified students from the larger group to the smaller. Hershey year assignments are never guaranteed, and students must be prepared and willing to attend Hershey whenever they are assigned. Changes in assignment may only be accomplished by swapping with a student who has an alternate assignment and money, goods and services may never be exchanged as part of a Hershey assignment swap.

Are meal plans and housing offered while I’m at Hershey?

Students are responsible for providing their own meals during their time at Hershey. There is not a meal plan option. Grocery stores are within a five- to ten-minute drive.

Penn State provides apartment-style housing that is a short walk to the Hershey Medical Center. There are four nursing students in each apartment. Each student has his or her own bedroom and shares a common bathroom, kitchen, and living area. Students also have the option to live off-campus if desired. There is no additional fee for parking for students at Hershey.

Am I able to complete the Pre-medicine program with the nursing degree?

With careful planning and collaboration with the program of interest, it may be possible to complete the Pre-medicine curriculum concurrent to the Nursing Program. The traditional medical model approaches patient health from a disease concept model, while nursing takes a more holistic approach that focuses on patient wellness, support systems and resources. Because the Nursing Program is highly structured, students should discuss any plans for the Pre-medicine curriculum with their Academic Adviser as soon as possible.

Am I able to complete a minor/certificate with the nursing degree?

With careful planning and collaboration with the program of interest, it may be possible to complete a minor or certificate concurrent to the Nursing Program. Because the Nursing Program is highly structured, students should discuss any plans for a minor or certificate with their Academic Adviser as soon as possible. Nursing students must be prepared to prioritize the nursing curriculum over minor or certificate coursework and for the possibility that this may mean not completing the entire minor or certificate if it interferes with nursing coursework or clinical rotations.

We are often asked for “typical” minors and certificates completed by Nursing students. Typical minors include Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS), Child Maltreatment and Advocacy (CMAS), Psychology (PSYCH) or Psychological Sciences (PSYSC). Gaining popularity are Bioethics Medical Humanities (BMH) and Global Health (GLBHL), and The Nese College of Nursing offers two Nursing Certificates, Nursing Forensics and Nursing Informatics, through the World Campus. However, students may complete any minor or certificate available at University Park, provided they meet minor requirements. Work with your adviser to plan out minor or certificate coursework in the nursing curriculum.

Can I specialize?

Upon graduation, Penn State entry-level nurses are prepared to practice as generalists and can work in any number of settings. True specialization requires graduate education.

Are there any social/professional groups for nursing students?

One of the most fulfilling aspects of the Penn State experience is participation in student organizations. Penn State offers over 1,200 students groups and organizations. Nursing-specific organizations are listed below. Students are strongly encouraged to participate in SNAPS in addition to any other organizations that resonate with their interests. Students are also encouraged to moderate their extracurricular activities, including THON participation, to prioritize their academic performance. Examples groups include:

Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing Student Ambassadors (CONAm)

This student group represents the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing and provides a student perspective at information and recruitment events. Ambassadors embody Nursing students of varied interests, activities and backgrounds and volunteer to share their love of Penn State and all things nursing.

The Art of NurSing

The Art of NurSing is a choir of nursing and allied students who hope to bring joy and healing to the elderly and sick through song. We value the arts and humanities in our own lives and as a means of connecting with the same patients/residents we care for during our local clinical rotations.

Discover more student organizations in nursing >

Can I study abroad?

Nursing students who wish to study abroad have the following options:

  • Penn State Nese College of Nursing faculty offer short-term international experiences called “Embedded Programs.” Experiences vary each year. Students are sent information on available opportunities for the upcoming academic year.
  • Global Penn State offers experiences during the summer or other breaks.
  • Opportunities are available through student organizations, such as the PSU Global Brigades.
  • One minor that Nursing students interested in studying abroad may want to consider is the Global Health Minor. This minor allows students to explore health issues and challenges affecting populations across the globe and incorporates a 6-week international “Global Health Fieldwork Experience” course.

Due to the sequenced nature of the nursing curriculum, nursing students can complete traditional study abroad only during the summer or other breaks. Students who complete traditional study abroad programs during fall or spring semesters will find themselves a year behind in the curriculum.

How will Penn State prepare me for the NCLEX-RN exam?

The National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) is the national licensing examination for all registered nurses. Passing this exam after graduation is the final step in becoming a nurse. Penn State prepares nursing students early for their licensing examination by introducing Assessment Technologies Institute (ATI) Nursing Education beginning second year. The ATI software incorporates practice exams, individualized coaching, and focused NCLEX-RN preparation. Additional information about ATI Nursing Education can be found here.

The Pennsylvania Department of State and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing report national and state annual first-time NCLEX pass rates. The national average first-time NCLEX pass rate in 2023 is 89% while the Penn State rate is 97%.

What other supports does Nursing offer to students?

Just as you’re invested in your education, we are invested in your academic, personal, and professional success. In addition to the technology, clubs & organizations, student services and resources that Penn State offers to all students, Nese College of Nursing students have access to:

Academic Advising

You will be assigned an academic adviser at New Student Orientation (NSO) and will remain with them through graduation. Advisers are similar to your high school counselors, but different in that you are expected to take responsibility for regularly checking in with your adviser. At minimum, plan to schedule an appointment with your adviser once per semester for an academic and scheduling check-up, butyour adviser can also explain and facilitate Penn State policy and processes, help you connect to resources, advocate for and support you. Advisers offer weekly Office Hours, regular Walk-In/Zoom-In hours at key times of the year, and group advising. Our advisers’ backgrounds are in counseling and education.

Faculty Advising

In your third year, you will also be assigned to a nursing faculty adviser. Your faculty adviser may be based at Hershey or at University Park and is available to discuss career planning and professional development. In your professional development coursework, you will create your resume for your job search, and participate in a brief mock interview.

Academic Success Coaches

Students may contact them on their own and may also be referred by faculty or
advisers. The Success Coach can help with time management, study skills, and course content, in addition to referring you to other resources.

Career Fair

A Nursing Career Fair is sponsored each fall for Nursing students to connect with recruiters and companies from Pennsylvania and some surrounding states. Additionally, Penn State’s Bank of America Career Services Office hosts career fairs each semester. All these events offer internship/externship and job opportunities.

Alumni Mentoring Program

Rising third-year students may apply for the Alumni Mentoring Program to be matched with a Nese College of Nursing Alumnus through the students’ graduation. Mentoring pairs are required to attend a kick-off event and meet at least once per month with at least one in-person meeting per year.

CONversations with Dr. Brown

These monthly, open-forum Zoom-In sessions with our Associate Dean for Undergraduate Programs and the University Park and Hershey Nursing Programs Coordinators Dr. Nelson and Dr. Barton provides updates on the Nursing program, respond to questions, and elicit your thoughts on programmatic topics, students’ needs and concerns, and any other topics that arise. CONversations are a fantastic way to connect with Nese leadership and have your voice heard!

First-Year Seminar (Nursing FYS/NURS 100)

Nursing FYS introduces students to the University, the Nese
College and the profession of nursing. Students are introduced to Penn State and nursing expectations, policies, and resources to prepare them for the rigor of the nursing curriculum and nursing practice. Course content promotes human health and initiatives that enhance quality of life. FYS offers a small class size and a safe environment for students to ask questions and meet other students in the nursing major.

What does a typical day look like for a Nursing student?

Our students participate in Greek life, ROTC, Athletics, Schreyer Honors College, and numerous clubs, groups, and activities. Many hold part-time jobs or volunteer while in school. Setting realistic involvement goals and managing time wisely are key.

For examples of detailed schedules, please refer to the Prospective Student Info Packet.

What graduate nursing programs are available at Penn State?

PhD and DNP Programs

Penn State offers a BSN to PhD degree program for highly qualified students to pursue doctoral study directly from their BSN program. This program incorporates a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, which prepares nurse scientists and clinical scholars to continue for the PhD in Nursing. We also offer an MSN to PhD degree program for students with an MS degree. Nursing PhD students may pursue one of our dual-title PhD program in Nursing & Bioethics or Nursing & Clinical Translational Sciences.

Our DNP degree program online through Penn State’s World Campus with two entry options: directly from the BSN, or post-MSN The DNP is a professional, practice-focused doctoral degree with options in Nursing Leadership or Nurse Practitioner with options in Psych/Mental Health Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, and Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner.

MSN Programs:

Penn State offers an MSN degree program online through Penn State World Campus with two Advanced Role options: Nurse Administrator and Nurse Educator.

A BSN is required for admission to a graduate program of study in Nursing at Penn State. Graduate-level nursing certificates are also available. Additional information on the graduate programs can be found here.

Helpful Websites:


Nese College of Nursing named a National League for Nursing Center of Excellence