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General BSN Degree Program


Is this program for you?

This program is for you if you have never completed a nursing program and don’t already possess a four-year college degree. This includes high-school students, current or former Penn State students who have not yet completed a college degree, transfer students and adults interested in completing a four-year Nursing degree and obtaining a license to practice Nursing.

Upon completion of required coursework and clinical experiences, you will be eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and begin your nursing career! Employment settings include trauma centers, community hospitals, home health agencies, rehabilitation centers, long-term care facilities, hospice agencies, schools, industrial and organizational settings, the military, and so much more.

Nursing is everywhere!

Why should I earn a four-year nursing degree?

In its report The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, the Institute of Medicine recommends that 80 percent of all nurses possess a bachelor’s degree by 2020. We are making progress, but have not yet met that goal! Many institutions have higher pay grades for baccalaureate-prepared nurses or will not hire nurses with less preparation. A four-year degree is also the necessary foundation for advanced practice positions (nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist) and other advanced nursing roles (administrator, educator, or researcher).

You should know:

The Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing requires state and federal criminal background checks of all Nursing students prior to their sophomore year. A criminal record may restrict clinical site availability, delay progress in the program, and/or delay the licensing exam. Students may not sit for the NCLEX if they have a felony conviction within the past ten years.

Nursing students must be up-to-date with vaccinations in order to participate in the clinical experience. Required vaccines include COVID-19 (including boosters) and flu. Up-to-date vaccines are required regardless of whether students obtain vaccine exemption from the University, as our clinical sites will not permit students who are not fully vaccinated.

Regardless of campus location, clinical experiences occur at clinical facilities within a 50-mile radius of campus. University Park students spend one full academic year at Penn State Hershey Medical Center, which requires students to reside at that location.

All transportation and expenses related to clinical experiences are the responsibility of the student. Students must purchase Penn State Nursing scrubs and other uniform attire; carry professional liability insurance; complete an annual health examination, obtain criminal background and child abuse history clearances and submit to drug testing; maintain American Heart Association Healthcare Provider CPR certification; and adhere to any additional requirements of the clinical facilities. Additional costs over four years (not including tuition, housing, vehicle and laptop) may total $5,000 or more.

Students must have access to a vehicle in order to travel to clinical sites. Clinical experiences begin with sophomore-level spring coursework. Public transportation may not reach to all clinical locations or may be cost-prohibitive, and carpooling may not prove reliable.  Students are expected to attend all clinicals in order to pass; lack of transportation will not be accepted as an excused absence.

Professional Licensure/Certification

Many US states and territories require professional licensure/certification to be employed. If you plan to pursue employment in a licensed profession after completing this program, please visit the Professional Licensure/Certification Disclosures by State interactive map.



There are two ways to enter the General Nursing Option:

1) Apply as a first-year student for direct admission to one of our seven Penn State campuses for summer or fall entry.

This is the appropriate option for students applying while in high school, adult students with no prior college experience or students with less than 18 credits earned from another college institution. Nursing students must start and remain at the campus of admission all four years (changing campuses after admission is not possible).

2) Apply as a transfer or change-of-major student for the Entrance to Major Review.

Transfer or Penn State change of major students may apply through a competitive process at six Penn State campuses: Altoona, Erie, Fayette, Mont Alto, Scranton, or Schuylkill. University Park is typically first-year admission only.  


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