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General B.S.N. Program FAQs

What is the General Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing?

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) 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 B.S.N. 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.

Is the Nursing Program accredited?

Yes, the B.S.N. 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. The Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing received close to 3,000 applications for the 2018-19 academic year with the intent to yield 160 students at University Park and an additional 250 students across the other campuses where the B.S.N. program is offered.

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 will be required to take one course in a world language within the first two years.

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 B.S.N. 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

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

The ranges in the chart below represent the middle 50 percent of students offered admission to Penn State for Fall 2018 – they are not cutoffs or averages. Nursing students typically place in the upper end of these ranges. Additional information is available at

University Park: High School GPA (4.0 scale), 3.55-3.97; SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing + Math, 1250-1430

All other campuses: High School GPA (4.0 scale), 3.07-3.60; SAT Evidence-Based Reading and Writing + Math, 1070-1290

What is the deadline for application?

The deadline for application for the Nursing Program is November 30 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 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 Undergraduate Admissions Office 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. These options are limited so 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 $3,600 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, 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. Students must be vaccinated to participate in clinicals. Please be aware that insurance may or may not provide coverage for these medical requirements
  • Complete Pennsylvania and federal criminal background checks (fingerprinting is required and students must be free of felony convictions in the past ten years)*
  • 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.

*Questions regarding how criminal history affects nursing licensure should be directed to the student’s state board of nursing.

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 at for more information.

Completion of the FAFSA form automatically enters students into consideration for scholarships offered by the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing. Information is available at

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 at

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 (junior and/or senior year) at the Hershey Medical Center Campus. Housing is reserved for nursing students at Hershey.

Examples of B.S.N. Clinical Sites

In addition to our state-of-the-art simulation labs, 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 or prisons
  • Assisted living facilities

Will I need to have my own car?

Nursing students are required to have their own transportation starting in the spring semester of sophomore year. Carpooling may be an option during the sophomore 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 in Hershey, PA studying at HMC. In sophomore year, students are assigned via lottery to junior or senior year at HMC. Possible exceptions to this requirement may be Schreyer Scholars, Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC), and student athletes who fall under the NCAA requirements in order to maintain eligibility (this does not include cheerleading, the Lionettes Dance Team, club sports, or the Blue Band). Students may request to spend both their junior and their senior year in Hershey. Commonwealth Campus students participate in clinical experiences within a 50-mile radius of their campus.

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 a minor or the Premedicine program with the nursing degree?

With careful planning and collaboration with the program of interest, it may be possible to complete a minor or the Premedicine curriculum concurrent to the Nursing Program. Because the Nursing Program is highly structured, students should discuss any plans for a minor or the Premedicine curriculum with their Academic Adviser as soon as possible.

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?


Each campus has a chapter of the Student Nurses Association of Penn State (SNAPS), the state-approved organization of the National Student Nurses Association (NSNA). SNAPS activities include professional development, community service and outreach, as well as social activities. Penn State’s chapter of SNAPS also actively participates in THON, which is the largest student-run philanthropic event in the world to raise money to fight pediatric cancer. See or for more information.

Sigma Theta Tau

Students with outstanding records of scholarship and leadership are invited to join Sigma Theta Tau, the international honor society for nursing. Penn State is home to the Beta Sigma chapter, one of more than 150 chapters of Sigma Theta Tau located at colleges and universities throughout the world.

Can I study abroad?

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

Penn State Ross and Carol 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.

The University Office of Global Programs offers experiences during the summer or other breaks. Information can be found at

Other opportunities are available through student organizations, such as the PSU Global Brigades. Information on this organization can be found at

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. More information can be found at

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 sophomore year. The ATI software incorporates practice exams and focused NCLEX-RN preparation. Additional information about ATI Nursing Education can be found at

Currently, the first time pass rate for Penn State Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing students is 95.47% based on statistics from the Pennsylvania Department of State. According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, the national average first time pass rate in 2018 was 89.41% ( While these numbers change slightly from year to year, Penn State Nursing students’ pass rate is consistently above the state and national averages.

What graduate nursing programs are available at Penn State?

Ph.D. and D.N.P. Programs:

  • Penn State offers a B.S.N. to Ph.D. degree program for highly qualified students to pursue doctoral study directly from their B.S.N. program. This program incorporates a Master of Science in Nursing (M.S.N.) degree, which prepares nurse scientists and clinical scholars to continue on for the Ph. D. in Nursing. There is also an M.S.N. to Ph.D. degree program for students with an M.S. degree. Nursing Ph.D. students may pursue additional trainings in bioethics through the dual-title Ph.D. program in Nursing and Bioethics.
  • Penn State offers a D.N.P. degree program online through Penn State World Campus with two entry options: directly from the B. S.N., or post-M.S.N. The D.N.P is a professional, practice-focused doctoral degree.

M.S.N. Programs:

  • Penn State offers an M.S.N. degree program at selected Penn State campus locations with three Advanced Practice options: Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, and Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner.
  • Penn State offers an M.S.N. degree program online through Penn State World Campus with two Advanced Role options: Nurse Administrator and Nurse Educator.
  • A B.S.N. 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 at

Helpful Websites:

For more information:

Please email or call 814-863-2229.


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