Characteristics of Second Step baccalaureate nursing programs as compared to National League for Nursing generic baccalaureate nursing programs

TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


A review of the literature reveals that data about Second Step baccalaureate nursing programs for registered nurses remain elusive due to a lack of comprehensive research although such programs represent a significant trend in nursing education.

The purpose of the study was to describe post-licensure professional nursing education according to selected institutional, program, faculty, and student characteristics; analyze the importance of educational decisions made about and for registered nurses in Second Step programs; and compare post-licensure professional nursing education, Upper Two and Two-Plus-Two programs, with NLN generic baccalaureate nursing education.

The population included 100 Second Step programs consisting of two curriculum patterns: 82 Upper Two and 18 Two-Plus-Two programs, and a random sample of 30 NLN. generic baccalaureate nursing programs who responded to the survey questionnaire.

The major findings reveal a great deal of similarity between the characteristics of Second Step programs and NLN generic baccalaureate programs in faculty preparation; faculty/student classroom and clinical size; proportion of nurse administrators with doctorates; required hours for the baccalaureate nursing degree including nursing-cognate, humanities, foundations, and electives; types of institutions which contain programs; and the awarded degrees. TwoPlus-Two graduates appeared similar to NLN generic baccalaureate graduates by being predominantly full-time, single, white, and female. More Upper Two graduates were married, divorced, widowed, older, and attended school on a part time basis.

Nurse educators had a high degree of consensus on the importance of educational decisions made about and for registered nurses in selecting applicants, awarding credit, nursing curriculum content required at the upper division level, nursing learning experiences, evaluation of students' learning experiences, and program objectives.

Post-licensure professional nursing offers a mechanism for nursing career mobility and higher education articulation for non-degree registered nurses. The proliferation of programs and graduates demonstrates Second Step programs are part of the mainstream of professional nursing education.