RN to BSN Program FAQs – Penn State Nursing (2024)


Is the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing Accredited?

Yes, the Penn State Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing’s programs are approved by the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing and are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).


May I start the program prior to being licensed?

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.

When does the RN to BSN Program begin?

This program offers the flexibility to start in any semester (fall, spring, and summer).

When can I apply to the RN to BSN 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

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 admissions@psu.edu, by phone at 814-865-5471, or through your MyPennState account.

Do I need to apply if I was previously a Penn State student?

Former Penn State students may not need to complete the admissions application. You may qualify for re-enrollment or academic renewal.

Re-enrollment allows former degree-seeking students who have been away from school to resume their studies. To qualify for re-enrollment, you must:

  • have had a 2.00 or higher cumulative GPA as of your most recent semester at Penn State
  • meet the entrance-to-major requirements for the RN to BSN program (i.e., completed an RN program and possess an RN license)
  • be in good standing with the University

Academic renewal provides the opportunity for students with a poor academic record to start over with a new cumulative GPA. Credit for courses completed with a grade “C” or higher may be used toward a new program if it is applicable to your degree. Please note, all courses with a grade “D” may no longer apply towards degree requirements, including General Education or electives.

To qualify for academic renewal, you must:

  • have been away from Penn State for four or more years
  • have had below a 2.0 cumulative GPA

Transfer Credits

Do I get credit from my prior Nursing coursework?

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.

Previously completed bachelor-level nursing courses may be petitioned for credit towards the RN to BSN degree major requirements if completed within the past five (5) years. The Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing may allow up to 3 credits of clinical coursework and 3 credits of theory coursework to fulfill RN to BSN major requirements, with petition approval. An additional three (3) credits of nursing supporting coursework may be approved; these credits are not subject to a time limitation.

How will transfer credits and CLEP credits fit into the nursing curriculum?

Regardless of when courses were completed, applicable transfer and CLEP 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 review your course history and provide you with an evaluation of your remaining requirements.

To learn more about CLEP as a replacement test for General Education subjects, visit CollegeBoard. Information about how CLEP exams may allow you to earn Penn State credit can be found on the Undergraduate Admissions Office’s website. Please consult with an academic adviser to determine if any credits would apply to your degree program.

Can I have my transfer credits reviewed before I apply?

An unofficial pre-evaluation of transfer credits can be completed by an academic adviser prior to applying to the program. Email nursing@psu.edu to request an unofficial pre-evaluation. Please remember that the unofficial pre-evaluation is subject to change, pending submission and review of your official transcripts through the Undergraduate Admissions Office at the time of application and admission.

Tuition and Financial Aid:

How much is tuition?

Information on Penn State tuition and fees can be found on the Penn State Tuition website.

The Student Tuition Calculators can help students estimate their tuition, fees, and essential costs based on campus, program, student level, and residency.

There are financial implications to consider when dropping courses. Information on the Tuition Adjustment Policy and the Tuition Adjustment Schedules can be found on the Office of the Bursar’s website.

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 for more information.

Completion of the FAFSA form automatically enters you into consideration for scholarships offered by the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing, if available. More information is available here[BDR1] .

Agencies, nonprofit organizations, and professional associations may offer additional scholarships. Some employers are willing to help with tuition or loan repayment in exchange for a commitment to employment for a certain length of time. Private loans also may be considered. It is the student’s responsibility to research these options.

Degree Planning

How many credits will I need to take?

To earn a bachelor’s degree, Penn State requires at least 120 credits of applicable coursework. The number of credits you need to complete at Penn State depends upon how many credits you have completed in the past through Penn State or outside institutions as well as how many required courses you still need to complete the specific RN to BSN degree requirements.

The RN to B.S.N program includes 22 credits of required theory and clinical coursework, plus 6 credits of Nursing Supporting coursework. In addition, you may need to complete general education, prerequisite and elective courses required by Penn State or the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing.

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. You may need to complete additional general elective credits to fulfill this requirement.

How long will it take to earn my degree?

The degree is designed to be flexible, allowing you to complete courses at your own pace based on your specific needs. The time it takes to earn the degree depends on previous coursework completed, credits remaining in the program and how many courses are taken each semester. Many courses are also offered in the summer semester, allowing the option to take courses during three semesters within one calendar year. Some students can complete their degree in one to three years, while others take longer.

Are there clinical courses?

The RN to B.S.N. program includes two required clinically-based courses: NURS 352 and NURS 475. NURS 352 – Advanced Health Assessment for the Registered Nurse. This course includes 45 hours of clinical and is intended for students who are already nurses and who have relevant basic education of health and physical assessment. This course enhances the RN student’s knowledge base with more advanced techniques of interview and examination and is completed online or in a simulation lab setting. A health-related project is required for NURS 475 – Integrated Concepts in Nursing Practice, where you will work with your instructor to set goals and objectives for the experience. You also may decide to complete an independent study course (NURS 495) that is a clinical observation experience.In this case, you must work with the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing ahead of time to ensure that an active Clinical Affiliation Agreement is in place between Penn State and your desired facility.

Are there any additional requirements to participate in clinical courses?

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”. Depending upon the clinical site selected, students may need to complete some or all of the following requirements:

  • Pass an annual physical examination, which includes one-time antibody titers, vaccination history, and immunizations. Please be aware that insurance may or may not provide coverage.
  • 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

Are courses available evenings or online?

Through the on-campus programs, many Nursing courses are offered during convenient evening times or in a web-based format.

Additionally, the entire RN to B.S.N program, including Nursing and general education courses, is available online through Penn State World Campus.

RN to B.S.N. students have the ability to take courses both on-campus and online through multiple campuses to complete degree requirements.

Are accelerated courses available?

Many Nursing courses are offered in an accelerated, or “dynamic”, format, condensing a full 15-week course into an intensive 7-week block. Since these courses are covering 15 weeks’ information in 7 weeks, prepare to double your weekly workload to maintain the pace of the course and complete course requirements.

May I take courses at another campus? Can I change campuses?

Students are assigned to the primary campus to which they were admitted. However, the Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing allows RN to BSN students to take courses at multiple Penn State campuses in a “hybrid” format. For example, a student enrolled on-campus at Abington may take courses online through World Campus at the same time. The secondary campus may need to grant approval for you to enroll in classes.

Students who plan to complete more than 50% of their credits at the secondary campus for one or more semesters will need to complete a request for either a Temporary Change of Campus or a Permanent Change of Campus. Students have the option to permanently change their campus to any of the campuses that offer the R.N. to B.S.N. program. More information can be found on the University Registrar website.

RN to BSN Program FAQs  –  Penn State Nursing (2024)


What is the pass rate for Penn State Nursing? ›

The national average first-time NCLEX pass rate in 2023 is 89% while the Penn State rate is 97%.

Is it hard to get into Penn State's nursing program? ›

First-year students are admitted directly to the B.S.N. program in Nursing in the fall semester only. Admission is competitive and requires a strong high-school GPA.

What is the easiest RN to BSN? ›

Top Picks for Easiest Online RN to BSN Programs
  1. Western Governors University. ...
  2. University of Phoenix. ...
  3. American Public University System. ...
  4. Aspen University. ...
  5. Rasmussen College. ...
  6. Capella University. ...
  7. Grand Canyon University. ...
  8. Purdue Global.

How long is Penn State, RN to BSN? ›

The total program is 120 credits, however you will be credited with up to 33 nursing credits related to your previous nursing education and nursing license. To earn a Penn State degree, you must take 36 of your last 60 credits with us.

What is the hardest test in nursing school? ›

The National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX, is a critical exam that every nursing student must take to become a licensed nurse. Passing the NCLEX is essential to begin your nursing career, but it is also one of the most challenging exams you will ever take.

How many people pass the nursing exam the first time? ›

As you can see in the data listed above, first-time NCLEX and Next Gen NCLEX test-takers consistently perform better than repeat test-takers. In 2023, first-time U.S.-educated test-takers have a pass rate over 83%, compared to their counterparts who repeated the test and passed at a rate of only about 42%.

How selective is Penn State nursing? ›

Admission is competitive. In a typical year, The Ross and Carol Nese College of Nursing receives upwards to 4,000 applications, 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?

What GPA do you need for Penn State Nursing? ›

The General Nursing option admits applicants as first year students only and is not available for transfer admission. Penn State Commonwealth Campus Locations: Available for transfer admission. Nursing requires a cumulative college GPA of 3.0 or higher in addition to 4 credits in anatomy and 3 credits physiology.

How good is Penn State's nursing program? ›

— The Penn State College of Nursing moved up six places to the 24th spot on the U.S. News & World Report annual ranking of nursing graduate programs for on-site master's degree programs. Penn State tied with University of California–Davis for the No. 24 spot in U.S. News' 2022 "Best Graduate Schools" rankings.

What is the hardest class in BSN? ›

Hardest Nursing School Classes
  • Pathophysiology. In this course, students learn how different anatomical systems work and how diseases or injuries affect these systems. ...
  • Pharmacology. ...
  • Medical Surgical 1 (also known as Adult Health 1) ...
  • Evidence-Based Practice.

Should I do RN or BSN first? ›

To become a registered nurse, one needs to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) after completing an approved nursing program: a BSN, an ADN, or a diploma program.

Are BSN programs harder than ADN? ›

A BSN degree is a bachelor's degree, typically a four-year program, that is a step higher than an ADN degree. Registered nurses with this degree not only go to school longer, but they also gain a more in-depth education compared to those with an ADN degree.

What is Penn State Nursing ranked? ›

Penn State University Park Nursing Rankings
Ranking TypeRank
Best Colleges for Nursing107
Highest Paid Nursing Graduates186
Best Nursing Colleges for Veterans241
Best Nursing Colleges for Non-Traditional Students299
3 more rows

Does Penn State have a RN to BSN program? ›

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

Is Penn State Nursing direct admit? ›

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.

What is a passing grade for Penn State? ›

Undergraduate Grading System
Quality of PerformanceGrade
Good - Extensive AchievementB+ B B-
Satisfactory - Acceptable AchievementC+ C
*Poor - Minimal AchievementD
Failure - Inadequate Achievement (To secure credit, course must be repeated.)F
1 more row

Is Penn State a good school for nursing? ›

The Penn State College of Nursing moved up six places to the 24th spot on the U.S. News & World Report annual ranking of nursing graduate programs for on-site master's degree programs. Penn State tied with University of California–Davis for the No. 24 spot in U.S. News' 2022 "Best Graduate Schools" rankings.

What percentage of people pass nursing exam? ›

Falling Pass Rates

Pass rates continued to decline in 2022, with an average pass rate of 80.9% opens in a new tab or windowfor all first-time U.S.-educated candidates, and a rate of 66.6% for all candidates, based on a dataset that excludes the fourth quarter of the year.

How hard is it to pass nursing entrance exam? ›

Nursing entrance exams can be challenging for many test-takers. They're timed, which can increase the intensity of the test. Most tests have practice tests available that you can take beforehand to prepare. Some tests will also give you a break during the test so you can recharge.

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