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There are three different programs to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree: General (four year), Second Degree, and RN to B.S.N.

Established in 1965, the General B.S.N. program is a four-year program that combines a broad liberal arts and science foundation with an extensive range of nursing courses. The program prepares students to provide nursing care in a variety of settings, including hospitals, private practice, long-term care, clinics, and health care/community agencies.

Students gain experience in diverse settings such as academic medical centers, rural hospitals, community agencies, schools, and prisons. After earning the B.S.N., students are eligible to take the national examination for licensure as a registered nurse (NCLEX).

Why a four-year nursing degree?

A four-year education helps nurses navigate the increasingly complex medical field. In its report The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health, the Institute of Medicine recommends that 80 percent of all nurses have, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree by 2020. Hospitals applying for Magnet status employ a larger percentage of nurses with a B.S. degree than those without. Many institutions have higher pay grades for baccalaureate-prepared nurses. A four-year degree is also the foundation for the advanced education needed for advanced practice positions (nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist) and other advanced nursing roles (administrator, educator, or researcher).

Program Goals

Upon completion of the Bachelor of Science Program in Nursing the students will be able to:

  • Evaluate principles, models, and theories from nursing and related
    disciplines for applicability in clinical practice.
  • Apply the nursing process with individuals, families, and groups of
    diverse cultural, ethnic, and racial backgrounds in a variety of health
    care settings.
  • Collaborate with colleagues from nursing, other disciplines, and
    consumers to facilitate desirable outcomes in clinical practice.
  • Critically analyze research studies and apply to clinical practice.
  • Demonstrate accountability in the delivery of professional nursing
  • Participate in activities that advance nursing as a profession and
    self as a professional.

Career Opportunities

Graduates of the baccalaureate program in nursing have a vast array of employment opportunities open to them. 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, to name a few.

In addition, the B.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 a lifelong and rewarding career.

Credit Requirement

The program for the bachelor of science degree must include a total of at least 120 credits as outlined in the College of Nursing Student Handbook.


The General (four-year) B.S.N. program in Nursing is open to incoming first-year students at the following campuses:

Students admitted directly to Nursing must start and remain all four years at the campus to which they are admitted. University Park students will spend one academic year at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Previous and current Penn State students and transfer students may also be considered for the campus B.S. programs (see B.S.N. Program Admission Information). University Park will continue to admit only first-year applicants (high school students or adults with fewer than 18 college credits). Students cannot enter the B.S.N. program at University Park other than as incoming first-year students admitted directly to the major.

For more information, contact: