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RN to BSN Degree Program


Is this program for you?

This program is for you if you’re currently a registered nurse who has earned either an associate degree or diploma in nursing and want to earn a BSN degree through full- or part-time study while balancing personal and employment responsibilities.

This program will help you meet changing healthcare demands by expanding and enhancing your existing nursing education. Additionally, this degree provides a foundation for continuing to graduate-level nursing programs.

Why should I earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing?

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:

Students must have already completed an RN program to be accepted and enroll in the RN to BSN program. Students may begin taking classes before passing the NCLEX and becoming licensed as an RN. However, students must possess an active and valid RN license to enroll in required nursing clinical courses to complete the program.

Your complete degree application, including all transcripts, must be received by the following deadlines:

  • June 30 for fall semester admission
  • October 31 for spring semester admission
  • March 15 for summer semester admission

Associate-level nursing courses from accredited institutions apply toward the “portfolio” section of the degree requirements, for up to 33 credits of pre-licensure nursing coursework. Students who completed a diploma program in nursing are granted 33 portfolio credits in recognition of their RN training.

Applicable transfer credits may be applied to general education or elective credits. The Undergraduate Admissions Office determines whether Penn State credit will be awarded after reviewing official transcripts. Once admitted to the program, students are assigned to an academic or faculty adviser, who will provide an evaluation of remaining requirements.

To earn a bachelor’s degree, Penn State requires at least 120 credits of applicable coursework.

Regardless of the number of required credits needed, Faculty Senate Policy 83-80 states that all students must complete 36 of their last 60 credits of coursework at Penn State to earn a Penn State bachelor’s degree.

The RN to BSN program includes two clinically-based courses:

  • NURS 352: Advanced Health Assessment (students may take NURS 251: Health Assessment where NURS 352 is not available)
  • NURS 475: Integrated Concepts in Nursing Practice

NURS 475 is a project-based capstone clinical course for the RN student with a focus on the application of nursing concepts and the RN’s development of future career goals.

Penn State campus locations may offer a variety of evening, web-based, and accelerated courses for this program.


The RN to BSN program is offered at 4 residential campuses and online through Penn State World Campus.


To apply for this program, you must:

1.     Be a high school graduate or have completed your GED.

2.     Have completed an RN program or have an RN license to practice in the United States.

Prior to enrollment in clinical courses, all RN to BSN students must possess an active RN license in the state in which clinical coursework hours will be completed. Internationally educated students who already possess an RN license to practice in the United States are eligible to apply.

3.     Have completed 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 in order to complete degree requirements.

First-Time Penn State Students:

Please work with the Undergraduate Admissions Office to complete your application.

Previous Penn State (Re-enrolling) Students:

You may qualify for re-enrollment, adult learner re-entry, or academic renewal. Please work with the University Registrar on this process.

This program offers the flexibility to start in any semester (fall, spring, or summer). There are specific application deadlines for each semester.


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