Second Degree Program

Second Degree Program

NOTE: All applicants must complete the Departmental Application required for College of Nursing (use the button above) in addition to the required Standard Admission Application or Re-Enrollment Form. 

The Penn State Second Degree program is an intensive 16 month program for individuals who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field. During the program, students will be enrolled in 14-17 credits per semester for a total of 60 credits. This rigorous program is offered in a cohort format (all cohorts start in fall semester) and requires extensive commitment. Currently, the Second Degree program is offered at Penn State Altoona and Penn State Harrisburg.

The required Penn State prerequisites for applicants for fall 2017 include the following:

  • BIOL 129: Mammalian Anatomy with Lab
  • BIOL 141 and 142: Physiology and Lab
  • HD FS 129: Human Development and Family Studies OR PSYCH 212: Developmental Psychology
  • CHEM 101: Introductory Chemistry (3 credits, including lab) OR CHEM 110 and 111: Chemical Principles I (lecture) and Experimental Chemistry I (lab)

College level courses in the following areas, although not required for an offer to the major, will support the student’s success in the program.

  • Microbiology
  • Statistics
  • Nutrition
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Algebra

Please note: Admission criteria for future years (fall 2018 and later) is subject to change. Prospective applicants are encouraged to frequently check this web site for updates.

For students beginning the Second Degree program in the fall, all prerequisites must be completed by the end of the preceding spring semester. The most competitive candidates will have all prerequisite coursework completed by the end of fall and a strong GPA. Prerequisite courses may be taken at any Penn State campus or other colleges or universities. If you are unsure if a course from another college will transfer, please contact the Admissions Office or one of our nursing advisers.

Because the program is intensive, it is recommended that students be able to go without outside employment for the duration of the program. Our most successful students are able to focus exclusively on the program for the 16 months. At the completion of their course work, graduates will be eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and begin new careers in professional nursing.

Career Opportunities

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, 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 lifelong and rewarding career.

Applying to the Program

Admission to this program is very competitive. We typically have a large applicant pool and generally accept no more than thirty-five students in a cohort. Students who have completed all four prerequisites courses, have a competitive GPA and graduated by the end of the preceding fall semester are most competitive for admission the following fall semester. Students graduating or completing prerequisite coursework in spring will be considered on a space available basis. An Early Offer opportunity is available for applicants who meet the criteria. Students may only apply to one campus location. We encourage you to become familiar with both locations before you make your campus choice.

Application Timeline

Complete application must be received by November 30. Applicants are notified in February by email regarding their status. Successful applicants with all prerequisite criteria met by the January review will receive an immediate offer. Applicants who have pending coursework or graduation may receive a “contingent offer.” Students with a contingent offer will receive an immediate offer if all criteria are met on the timeline and standards set by the review committee. Be sure to regularly check the email you have provided on your application or your re-enrollment. 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. Transcripts or a copy of your spring schedule if you will complete course work in spring must be submitted by the third week in December. Because of the volume of the applicant pool, incomplete applications and late submissions will not be considered. Students who do not provide the required information by the deadline may re-apply for a future cohort.

Previous Penn State Students

If you previously attended Penn State as an undergraduate student, you must submit an Undergraduate Re-Enrollment Form to the Registrar’s office at the campus to which you are applying. For fall 2017, re-enrollment forms will be accepted from September 1 - November 30, 2017.

Penn State Spring Graduates

If you are a Penn State student who will graduate in spring, you must complete the following:

  • Contact the nursing program office at the campus in which you are interested and request to be manually added to the review list.
  • File your Intent to Graduate on LionPATH as soon as you may do so.
  • Submit the Undergraduate Re-Enrollment Form as explained above under “Application Timelines” above.
  • Send transcripts for any non-PSU coursework not previously submitted (as explained under “Application Timeline” above.)

Transfer Students (Advanced Standing Applicants)

An advanced standing applicant is one who never attended Penn State as an undergraduate degree-seeking student. Between September 1 and November 30, transfer (advanced standing) applicants must:

  • Complete the online application and pay the processing fee.
  • Submit all materials (including official high school and college transcripts, and AP or CLEP scores) directly to Undergraduate Admissions, as explained under “Application Timeline” above. Items must be postmarked by November 30.

Undergraduate Admissions will calculate your cumulative GPA based on all undergraduate course work from all post-secondary institutions.

International Applicants

International transcripts may be reviewed only by Undergraduate Admissions staff at University Park. This process takes a significant amount of time. In some cases, applicants need to apply for a future cohort. To have an international transcript reviewed, you must:

  • File an application and submit an official transcript to Undergraduate Admissions, who will review your transcripts and add transfer credits.
  • Notify the nursing program office at the campus in which you are interested that your transcripts are ready to be reviewed for the prerequisites required for the Second Degree. The Admissions Office will provide the GPA for review.

Early Offer

Students who have completed all prerequisite coursework with a cumulative GPA of 3.5 of higher and graduated 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 September 1-30 with notification in late October. To be considered for an early offer, please provide a written email request to the nursing program office at the campus you would like to attend September 1-30.


Penn State University

Undergraduate Admissions
201 Shields Building
University Park, PA 16802-1294

Penn State Altoona


Dr. Suzanne Kuhn, Ph.D., CNE
Nursing Campus Coordinator

Cathy Kozak
Nursing Adviser
Office 814-949-5142

Financial Aid/Veteran Affairs Office: 814-949-5282
Registrar’s Office: 814-949-5035
Altoona Admissions Office: 814-949-5466