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Second Degree Program FAQs

What career opportunities might I have upon completion of the program?

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, a bachelor’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 lifelong and rewarding careers.

Can I continue working while enrolled in this program?

Because the Second Degree option is a full-time, academically rigorous program, we recommend that students forgo outside employment for the duration of the program. Our most successful students are able to focus exclusively on their studies for the entire sixteen months.

What is the difference between the Second Degree option and the accelerated RN to BSN option?

The Second Degree program is for individuals who already have a baccalaureate degree in another (non-nursing) field to obtain a BSN degree in sixteen months (fall, spring, summer, and fall semesters). Prerequisite courses must be completed prior to admission. The Second Degree program is available at the Altoona and Harrisburg campuses.

The accelerated option is an RN to BSN program designed to help current RNs earn their BSN degrees as quickly as possible. Certain Nursing courses are offered each semester over seven-week sessions rather than the traditional length of fifteen weeks. Courses in this format may be available at the Abington, Altoona, Erie (Behrend), Fayette (Eberly), Harrisburg, Mont Alto, New Kensington, Schuylkill, Shenango, and Scranton campuses, as well as online through Penn State World Campus.

How many students are accepted in each cohort?

Admission to this program is very competitive. The applicant pool is typically large, and generally no more than thirty-five students are accepted per cohort.

What makes me a competitive applicant for admission?

Students who have completed all prerequisite content areas, have a competitive GPA, and who have graduated by the preceding fall semester are most competitive for admission in the upcoming fall semester. Students graduating or completing prerequisite course work in spring will be considered on a space-available basis.

Could I be considered for an early offer?

Students who have completed all prerequisite course work with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher and graduate 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 August 1–September 30 with notification in late October.

Additionally, the College of Nursing will consider making an early offer to spring-graduating seniors from Penn State who apply between August 1 and September 30, have a cumulative grade-point average of 3.5 or higher on September 30, and have completed or scheduled all prerequisites by the spring semester preceding fall start. These offers will be contingent upon spring prerequisite course completion. Summer course completion will not be considered; those students will need to reapply for the following year.

What do I do if I won’t be finished with the prerequisite courses or my first bachelor’s degree before the November 30 deadline?

Applicants who will complete their course work after the November 30 deadline must submit official transcripts immediately upon course completion to Undergraduate Admissions AND an unofficial copy by email to the Nursing program office at the campus to which you are applying. Additionally, students who are taking classes in the upcoming spring semester must email a copy of your spring schedule (or an unofficial transcript showing scheduled coursework) to the Nursing contact at your preferred location no later than the third week of December.

When will I be notified of my admission decision?

Applicants are notified by email in February regarding their status. Successful applicants with all prerequisite criteria met by the end of the fall application semester will receive an immediate offer. Successful students with pending course work or spring graduation may receive a “contingent offer.” Students who receive a contingent offer in February will receive an immediate offer in May if all criteria are met on the timeline and standards set by the Review Committee. Be sure to regularly check the email address you provide on your application or reenrollment.

Will I need to reapply to the program if I defer admission?

Students who wish to defer admission must re-apply by submitting a new application within the next appropriate application time frame. Official transcripts must be sent to Penn State for any college credit earned while on deferment. Students with extenuating circumstances may contact the Nursing coordinator or adviser at your chosen campus of attendance.

What are my options if I’m not accepted?

Applicants who are denied admission are permitted to reapply for the next cohort. You may want to consider retaking some of the prerequisite courses if you feel that doing so would increase your GPA.