Pennsylvania Nursing Programs and Degrees Guide

The following guide contains important information on the nursing programs, including profiles of several programs, offered at the colleges and universities in Pennsylvania. The state’s colleges and universities feature a diverse menu of undergraduate and graduate nursing programs with concentrations in nurse educator, nurse administrator, family nurse practitioner, adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, and adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioner. In addition to traditional nursing programs, students can now choose an online bachelor’s or master’s in nursing program.

Pennsylvania School Facts:

  • 32 colleges and universities offer an associate’s degree in nursing.
  • 59 colleges and universities offer a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
  • 43 colleges and universities offer a master’s or advanced degree in nursing.
  • Highest graduation rate*: The University of Pennsylvania 96%.1
  • Highest transfer-out rate*: Alvernia University 36%.1
  • Highest net price*: Drexel University $35,948.1
  • Lowest net price*: Penn State University Penn State Abington $11,298.1
  • Annual undergrad tuition range for schools in Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s in nursing program: $12,146 – $43,738.2
  • 4 schools in US News Best Nursing Schools (2011) Top 100: The University of Pennsylvania (1), The University of Pittsburgh (7), Pennsylvania State University, University Park (44), and Villanova University (64).

*For 4-year colleges and universities with nursing degree programs.

Following are several profiles of the bachelor’s and master’s in nursing programs offered in Pennsylvania.

Bachelor’s in Nursing Programs in Pennsylvania

West Chester University
Graduates of the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program at West Chester University have the necessary qualifications to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). Eighty percent of graduates of the BSN program pass the NCLEX-RN on the first attempt. Students take general college requirements and basic nursing courses in the freshmen and sophomore years of the four-year program before predominately focusing on nursing courses in the junior and senior years. Courses include labs and clinical practicums to allow for hands-on experience in a supervised setting, such as nursing homes, schools, and hospitals.

Temple University
Nursing majors at Temple University must complete 122 credits, generally over a four-year period, to earn the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). General college coursework is typically completed in the first two years with the final two years predominately concentrated on the nursing curriculum. Courses focus on genetics and genomics, community home, primary and secondary care of the family, and perspectives on health. Academically eligible nursing majors may apply for the Nurse Scholars Program, which allows graduates to earn both a BSN and a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) in an adult nurse practitioner or a family nurse practitioner concentration. Current registered nurses, who already hold an associate’s degree in nursing, may want to opt for the nursing department’s RN to BSN program.

Master’s in Nursing Programs in Pennsylvania

Penn State University
Graduate students pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) at Penn State University choose from one of five concentrations: family nurse practitioner, adult gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, adult gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, nurse educator, and nurse administrator. Graduates of the nurse practitioner tract are generally eligible to sit for the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) and the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners exams. Students may fulfill degree requirements on a full-time or a part-time basis. All graduate students, regardless of the track, complete nine core courses and a scholarly paper in addition to concentration-specific coursework.

York College of Pennsylvania
York College of Pennsylvania confers the Master of Science (MS) in Nursing in one of four concentrations: adult gerontology nurse practitioner, certified registered nurse anesthetist, adult gerontology clinical nurse specialist, and nurse educator. The program prepares graduates for advanced nursing positions. The adult gerontology nurse practitioner tract consists of 44 credits and more than 700 hours in clinical practicums. Students can fulfill degree requirements within two or three years on a part-time basis. The nurse anesthetist track requires 94 credits and 2,000 hours of clinical experience with students completing the program on a full-time basis over 32 months. The nurse educator track is part-time with students taking 39 credits and 224 clinical hours over a three-year period.

University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania’s School of Nursing offers several undergraduate degrees for students who want to pursue a nursing career. Students, who do not hold a bachelor’s degree, can opt for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Nursing majors can minor in one of several areas, including multicultural global healthcare, health communications, health services management, and nutrition. The program also allows undergraduates to pursue dual degrees in economics or engineering. Incoming students, who already have a bachelor’s degree in another specialty, may choose between the BSN Second Degree Program or the BSN to MSN, the latter of which results in both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in nursing. The BSN Second Degree Program features an accelerated format, which allows students to apply for the MSN program following their first clinical experience. Graduates of the BSN will have the necessary qualifications to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), resulting in earning status as a registered nurse. Penn also offers a Direct Entry BSN to MSN program. Students can complete the BSN components, gain licensure, and work part-time as a registered nurse while completing the MSN in one of more than a dozen areas, including family nurse practitioner, pediatric critical care nurse practitioner, and women’s healthcare nurse practitioner.

Student Reviews

I attended Drexel University from 2007 till 2013. I enjoyed the program there very much. Drexel has two campuses, the medical one being further downtown than the University City location. First year students live on campus and the student housing dorms are all in University City so the commute to the medical campus was not expected when I was a Freshman. Yes, my core courses were all on the main campus but anything within the medical school is on the other campus. After freshman year, I moved to a more appropriate location for my class schedule. Nobody told me this in advance, that is why I mention it now in this review. Otherwise, Drexel was a great school. It was demanding and really pushed me to be the best I can be. The nursing students really stick together because it is such different academic program then design or engineering (both very popular programs at Drexel). Their whole intern program opens doors to career paths for students and really helps you learn what kind of nurse you want to be. Drexel’s nursing program is a very tough one but well worth the work. My degree from such a well known institution opens doors for me in my career all the time.” – Student at Drexel University

The Franklin County Vocational Technical School – Practical Nursing Program was one of the best, yet toughest experiences of my life. It was a very challenging program to complete. However, it did prepare me for my lifelong career as well as to enable me to apply the many experiences that I had while attending nursing school. My instructors were extremely knowledgeable and helpful with whatever situation was at hand. At the time of my graduation, we had been instructed and taught as much information as the registered nursing program. Our school was ranked in the top 10 in the United States. Our program consisted of 3 levels. Level one was all classroom and lab work. Level two was half classroom and half hospital experience and level three was half classroom and half nursing home experience. During level two, we had the chance to rotate throughout the various departments within the hospital, such as the Emergency room, Operating room, Labor & Delivery, etc. Overall, this was a great experience for me.” – Student at Franklin County Vocational Technical School

I graduated with a BS in Nursing from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and it prepared me for a career as a registered nurse. This was a state school, I go a well-rounded education. The first year was the easiest since all my classes were liberal studies. My sophomore year is when my clinical started. The one thing I disliked was I had to drive from Indiana to Pittsburgh twice a week for my clinical. This is costly for a college person with no extra income. Throughout the last six semesters, clinical experiences in patient care are provided in acute and long-term care facilities as well as community settings.” – Student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania

The Nursing Department at West Chester University provided the students with a very challenging, but also extremely rewarding program. This program was known to be one of the most difficult majors at the university, with important tests that required extensive studying combined with proper judgment and decision-making abilities, semester-long involvement in writing the intimidating term papers, and of course the clinical rotations. However, nothing stands out more than the clinical experiences you have as a nursing student. The valuable hands-on experience that you get to experience at different sites and specialties (such as pediatrics, maternity/labor & delivery, developmentally disabled schools, geriatrics, etc) was a great way to use the knowledge we worked so hard to learn in lectures, and consequently make a difference to our very first patients.” – Student at West Chester University

1. National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Niche: https://colleges.niche.com/search/t-traditional/sm1-nursing/d-bachelor/st-pa/