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Undergraduate Nursing Student Handbook


The Undergraduate Student Handbook is designed to be a resource to academic procedures and policies specific to undergraduate nursing students. Students should use the handbook as a first point of reference for questions concerning the program of study, course scheduling or academic policies, and refer to online policies for additional clarification.

Advisers and faculty are prepared to assist students throughout the nursing program and in planning for a career after graduation. SDSU has a number of resources to assist students and opportunities for student participation at the university and college levels. Please utilize these and all that they offer.

You have embarked on an exciting and rewarding journey. We are here to assist and support your educational and career endeavors. While you are primarily responsible for you own success, many individuals are ready to assist you in your efforts. On behalf of the Dean, faculty and the staff of the College of Nursing, we wish you success with your academic studies and pursuits.

Table of Contents

Section I: Introduction

Section II: University and college information

Section II: Academic advising

Section IV: College of Nursing professional standards

Section V: College of Nursing academic standards

Section VI: Senior exit and graduate process

Section VII: RN to B.S.N. specific

Section I: Introduction

The Undergraduate Student Handbook is designed as a guide to help students in their educational pursuits. The handbook directs students to services, procedures, policies and requirements of the South Dakota State University College of Nursing. The purposes are to:

  • Provide guidance for new and continuing students.
  • Describe general expectations and resources.
  • Inform students of their rights and responsibilities.

The handbook should be used in conjunction with syllabi and other materials distributed during orientation, registration or by faculty and administrative offices. The College of Nursing reserves the right to change policies and procedures without prior notice. Changes are often made in response to university or partnership policy changes. This handbook is not intended to be and should not be regarded as a contract between the University, College and/or any student or other person. The College of Nursing will post a notification to students when changes in procedures or policies are made. The student is accountable for those changes.

Details of policies discussed in this student handbook are available online in the College of Nursing Handbook. Questions can be answered by Nursing Student Services staff and advisors.

About the College

The College of Nursing began in 1935 with the goal of educating nurses to meet the health care needs of the people of South Dakota and beyond. Approximately one third of the newly licensed registered nurses in South Dakota are SDSU graduates. The College’s mission, vision and values may be accessed at the College of Nursing Handbook.


The baccalaureate, master's, DNP and postgraduate APRN certificate programs at South Dakota State University are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Educational Philosophy

Undergraduate education of nurses and other health care professionals is essential to the health and quality of life in the state, region and nation. Education is a self-directed, yet interactive lifelong process that empowers learners to think critically and grow toward their potential as individuals and contributing members of the nursing profession and society. Being self-directed means that students will be expected to read material that may not be covered in class. Students should also seek information through the library and other sources.

The essential components of professional nursing education include liberal education, professional values, clinical reasoning and role development. The role of faculty is to guide, direct, facilitate and evaluate learning while encouraging curiosity, creativity and independent critical thinking so that you are prepared for practice in a rapidly-changing health care environment and in multiple settings. Professional nurses are expected to continue to learn and stay current in health care and nursing.

Educational Opportunities

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) Program

Undergraduate education provides students opportunities to gain the knowledge and skills needed for basic entry into professional nursing practice. This education provides the foundation for the development of professional knowledge, critical thinking, ethical decision-making, leadership skills and pursuit of high standards in health care to influence quality health outcomes. Students are prepared to practice in hospital and non-hospital settings.

There are three options in the B.S.N. program. The standard program is offered at the Brookings, Rapid City and Sioux Falls sites. The accelerated program is designed for students who can commit to completing the entire nursing program in one year. The accelerated programs are offered at the Sioux Falls, Aberdeen and Rapid City sites. The RN to B.S.N. program is offered on-line. Students should talk with their academic advisor about the specifics of each option. Application processes and dates are available at College of Nursing.

Health Science Minor

The health science minor offers nursing and other professional students the knowledge and skills to promote health, prevent disease and protect the environment. Other minors are also available. Information about options for a minor is available from the student’s academic advisor.

Graduate Nursing Programs

It is never too early to think about graduate education, even for students who have not completed a bachelor’s degree. A Master of Science in Nursing prepares nurses for advanced practice in nursing or for specialty areas of nursing practice. The advanced professional nursing role relies on best practices and evidence-based research with a focus on evaluation of health outcomes and process. The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in nursing prepares the nurse scholar to influence health care through leadership in education, policy, research, nursing theory and knowledge development. Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) education prepares the nurse clinician for advanced practice in a primary care role and to influence health policy and systems. Students will hear more about the options and roles as they continue their education.

Section II: University and College Information

Undergraduate Catalog

The University currently provides an Undergraduate Catalog online. The catalog, which is in effect at the time a student is admitted to SDSU, is a guide for students that provides academic rules and regulations.

Student Conduct Code

As a student enrolled in the College of Nursing, you are a part of the total university community, with freedoms and responsibilities inherent in that capacity. The SDSU Student Conduct Code is the basic guideline reflecting university-student relations. You also have the responsibility to act appropriately while a student; the Student Conduct Code outlines those responsibilities.

College of Nursing policies

College policies are available online in the College of Nursing Handbook. There are resources that pertain to all students under College Policies, Procedures and Guidelines. There are also specific resources that pertain to undergraduate students under Undergraduate Policies, Procedures and Guidelines. Please make time to review those and access them as needed.

Technical Standards

The SDSU Technical Standards for admission, academic progression and graduation, or Technical Standards, are an integral component of the SDSU College of Nursing academic requirements. See Technical Standards for details.

Key areas of the technical standards in nursing include:

  • Observation
  • Communication
  • Motor movement
  • Intellectual, conceptual and quantitative abilities
  • Behavioral and social attributes
  • Ability to manage stressful situations

Nursing students must meet all of the requirements of the Technical Standards, with or without reasonable accommodations, in order to successfully progress through and graduate from the program. These requirements pertain to student conduct regardless of the setting (e.g. classroom/didactic, office, on-campus simulation, off-campus clinical, email communications, etc.).

Students interested in applying for admission to the College of Nursing should review the Technical Standards to become familiar with the skills, abilities and behavioral characteristics required to complete the program.

Students newly accepted into the major sign a document as part of clinical requirements acknowledging acceptance of the Technical Standards. Students who have questions about whether they are able to meet the technical standards should contact the SDSU Director of Disability Services at 605-688-4504 or at Disability Services.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Accommodations for students with disabilities are available. Any student who feels they may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the SDSU Director of Disability Services. No accommodations will be made without appropriate documentation verifying a student's disability. Once the Director of the Disability Services office has received a request from the student for accommodation and documentation of disability has been made, a determination of appropriate accommodation(s) will be made. These decisions are made based on the Civil Rights Law: Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Any further questions should be referred to the SDSU Director of Disability Services at 605-688-4504.

Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity/ Title IX

SDSU and the College of Nursing are committed to maintaining a campus environment free from discrimination and harassment as articulated by federal law and university policy. If you feel that you have been discriminated against, harassed verbally, physically, or emotionally, or have experienced an assault or violence, please contact someone immediately. The Equal Opportunity Officer/Title IX is available online at Title IV/Equal Opportunity or by phone 605-688-4128. Emergencies at the Brookings site should be reported to the SDSU Police Department at 605-688-5117. Emergencies at other sites should be reported to the local police of that city. Additional information and resources are found at Safety and Security.

Language Proficiency Requirements

As the nurse is a professional who deals with human lives, it is mandatory that a higher level of English fluency be met in order to ensure the safety of clients and students. The College of Nursing requires all students who meet the definition of student with English as a Second Language complete the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or an accepted substitute. English as a Second Language is defined as a student who was instructed and spoke primarily in a language other than English in the K-12 grades, or primary and secondary schooling. The minimum TOEFL score required for admission to the nursing major is 84 (iBT), with a minimum speaking score of 26. The required IELTS band score for admission to the nursing major is 6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 in each module. The TOEFL or IELTS is required for all students for whom English is a second language, regardless of residency status. These scores are required before the student will be accepted into the major.

Release of Information

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) (also known as the Buckley Amendment) is a Federal law designed to protect the privacy of a student's personal education records kept at the University. The law provides that the institution will maintain the confidentiality of each student’s education records and covers matters relating to access to student records and the disclosure of such records. The Registrar or designee is the SDSU official who coordinates inspection, review and/or disclosure procedures for student’s records, which include admissions, personal and academic records. Questions related to release of student record information can be addressed with the Registrar’s Office 605-688-4121 or 800-952-3541 or the Office of the Dean of Student Affairs 605-688-4493.

Communication with Faculty

Students who have questions or concerns regarding course attendance requirements, grades on assignments or exams, etc. are expected to follow the communication links outlined in the Guideline for Communication of Undergraduate Student Program Concerns.


There are a number of resources to help you be successful. Resources differ based on the program location so check with your academic advisor or faculty member for the specifics.

Student Involvement

Students are encouraged to be involved in university and college activities. The activities listed here are specific to the College of Nursing. There are additional activities available to students at the university level.

Within the undergraduate nursing program, students have representation on semester faculty teams. The elected student representative(s) participate in general course discussions and provide input to the semester faculty team. Student representatives are not included in discussions regarding the performance of other students.

The College of Nursing has Nursing Student Ambassadors at each site. Check with academic advisors on the application process. Ambassadors assist with a number of events and activities representing the college to future and current students, families and the public.

Student Nurses Association chapters are active at each site. They have informational meetings with speakers, fundraising projects to support community service activities and participate in state and national association activities.

A Nurses Christian Fellowship group may be available at each site.

NURS 495 Practicum Capstone.

SDSU will priority place for NURS 495 practicum capstone at South Dakota clinical facilities. Other requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis and may be subject to additional charges. Any additional charges for practicum placement are the responsibility of the student.

Section III: Academic Advising

Academic advising is formal and informal guidance intended to help you investigate, identify and accomplish individual academic and career plans. The process of academic advising is an important part of the successful completion of the nursing major and graduation requirements. Academic advisors are able to provide you with assistance in course selection and scheduling, academic issues, application to the nursing major and information on campus resources. For detailed information on the purpose of advising and the role of the advisee, see the SDSU Undergraduate Catalog.

The College of Nursing employs professional academic advisors with a master's degree, or higher, education who advise students from pre-nursing all the way through the nursing program semesters. Students are assigned to an academic advisor who will assure that they meet the academic requirements for graduation and help them with resources for success. Students work closely with their academic advisors throughout their academic careers. Students who have concerns about the academic advising process with their academic advisor may contact the Director of Nursing Student Services.

Academic advisors assist students with the following:

  • Registering for classes.
  • Nursing major application process.
  • Dropping courses or making significant schedule adjustments.
  • Academic difficulties (including mid-term deficiencies).
  • Academic petitions finding or using university information and academic resources.
  • Transferring to another college or university.
  • Changing majors at SDSU.
  • Identifying equivalent courses at other universities.

Transfer Course Permission and Transcript Evaluation

Current SDSU students should see their academic advisor before enrolling in support courses at other colleges and universities that have not been approved to replace an SDSU support course. When these courses are taken at colleges or universities outside the South Dakota Board of Regents System (SDBOR), students must have official transcripts sent and evaluations processed through the Records and Registration Office. Once courses are evaluated, the student can check the electronic system to see how their courses officially transferred to SDSU. Students should keep in mind that the transcript evaluation process may take several weeks to finalize. Having all transfer work evaluated in a timely manner is important to ensure accurate advising and graduation.

After meeting with their academic advisor, students in the nursing major will be advised how to register for all nursing curriculum courses through the College of Nursing, just as during the pre-nursing semesters. However, the nursing curriculum courses are delivered in a cohort model so that students in the major will register for a bundle of classes that must be taken and all passed successfully before moving on to the next semester’s nursing courses. Students are expected to meet with their academic advisor at least once a semester throughout their pre-nursing and nursing semesters.

Adding and/or Dropping a Course

Procedures for adding or dropping a course are outlined in the SDSU Undergraduate Catalog.

Withdrawal from Nursing and/or the University

Students desiring to withdraw from the nursing major or the university should consult their academic advisor prior to the withdrawal. Withdrawal from the nursing major and transition to another major can be done through the College of Nursing, and the academic advisor can guide students through complete withdrawal from the university if the student feels they need to do so.

Site Transfer Requests

On rare occasions, students may be allowed to transfer from one nursing major program site to another. These requests must be submitted via a site transfer request during the progression process. The progression committee will review and approve/disprove the request. Requests for site transfers are approved on a space-available basis and only for extenuating circumstances; written documentation must be provided. The student should contact their academic advisor for further information and initiation of the appropriate form.

Section IV: College of Nursing Professional Standards

Professional Standards

Nurses have ethical and professional standards to maintain in working with clients or patients. As members of the health care team students are expected to demonstrate professional conduct and behaviors consistent with professional nursing and the Code of Ethics for Nurses. Unethical, dishonest or illegal conduct that is inconsistent with the Code of Ethics for Nurses may result in dismissal from the nursing major. Student conduct concerns are handled by the Vice President of Student Affairs.

Unsafe Behavior During Nursing Courses

Student behavior may be considered unsafe in the clinical, simulation or classroom setting if it endangers self or others. Unsafe or unacceptable clinical performance occurs when there is harm or potential for harm. This can be determined by the faculty or nursing staff in the area. Clinical includes acute, ambulatory, community and simulation learning experiences. Unsafe or unacceptable care may occur when procedures are carried out incorrectly, care is not delivered in a timely manner, assessments are inaccurate or changes are not reported. Some examples include:

  • Inability to complete care/assignment within the established time period.
  • Inappropriate or untimely communication.
  • Evidence of behaviors by the nursing student that reflect an impaired state.
  • Evidence of inadequate preparation for clinical activities.
  • Incorrect or inadequate assessment/intervention.
  • Dishonesty.

If a student is not prepared for clinical, the faculty member may ask the student to leave, which will result in an unexcused absence. A performance improvement plan document will be initiated by the instructor. The faculty member will work with the student to correct the performance. Should a student’s behavior continue to be unsafe, the faculty member can choose to remove the student from the clinical area at the time of the occurrence or for the rest of the semester. The College of Nursing may require a student to be drug tested for cause.

Patient Privacy

Students must comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Students must complete required training prior to clinical. Violations of HIPAA may result in sanctions up to and including dismissal from the nursing program as well as federal prosecution, fines and imprisonment.

The College of Nursing upholds the American Nurses Association (ANA) Principles for Social Networking (2011). Students are expected to observe ethically prescribed professional patient-nurse boundaries. Standards for professionalism are the same online as they are in other circumstances.

Postings should not include any private patient information. Remember that patients, colleagues, institutions and employers may view postings.

Legal Issues

Any student charged with a crime at the misdemeanor or felony level, with or without conviction, must notify the Director of Nursing Student Services within 48 hours. It should be noted that many moving violations are issued at the level of misdemeanors. All violations must be documented, including documentation of the resolution such as payment of the ticket (which constitutes “pleading no contest”) to ensure no warrants for unpaid tickets have been issued.

Failure to disclose could result in disciplinary action. Some convictions such as fraud, abuse or assault, may result in being unable to be licensed as a nurse. A pattern of convictions for driving under the influence, underage drinking or drug possession may result in the need for a formal addiction assessment prior to licensing, or dismissal from the program. Future employment as an RN may be limited in some states based on legal violations.

Legal documents, including the compliance background checks, fingerprint results and drug screen results, are managed and viewed only by the office of the Director of Nursing Student Services and students should direct all such documents to the Director’s office rather than faculty or advisors in order to protect student privacy.


Appropriate attire is required to present a professional image and to ensure safety in all acute, ambulatory, simulation and community settings. Students are required to adhere to the College of Nursing Nursing Student Uniform and Appearance Policy.

Questions related to uniforms or appearance should be directed to Nursing Student Services or the semester coordinator. The College of Nursing has contracts with numerous health care and community agencies. Clinical site policies supersede College of Nursing policies if they are more stringent.

For example, in some specialized areas, students will wear the designated uniform of that unit. Consult the faculty member in charge of the appropriate clinical experience concerning any changes in clinical uniform.

SDSU photo ID and name badges are required for all clinical activities. The College of Nursing pays for the first name badge. If the name badge is lost or damaged, the student is responsible for replacement. Contact Nursing Student Services or replacement information. The student uniform and name badges are to be worn only for clinical experiences authorized by the College of Nursing.

NOTE: Students wearing face masks in academic or clinical settings must wear masks without logos , symbols or verbiage other than the SDSU logo, symbol or verbiage.

Other Professional Requirements: Compliance

All undergraduate students are required to submit SDSU College of Nursing compliance documents. Non-compliance with document submission (by stated deadlines) will result in the following:

  • Registration hold will be placed on future course registration until the student is in compliance.
  • The student will not be allowed to participate in clinical experiences until in compliance.
  • Each absence will be considered unexcused and will follow the billing procedures for an unexcused off or on-campus clinical.

To better serve our students, SDSU College of Nursing uses a secure, online platform for managing our students' compliance documents. The online management system allows students to meet the requirements of the agencies where they participate in clinical experiences. This online management system provides students with the following features:

  • Secure upload of immunization records and other compliance documents from a personal computer or device.
  • Electronic access to documents 24/7 while in the program.
  • Email reminders for requirements not yet completed or with approaching renewal deadlines.
  • Easy and comprehensive way to complete background checks and drug screenings.

Once admitted to the nursing program, the student will be given instructions to complete compliance requirements through the online management system. 

A complete list of compliance requirements can be found in the Compliance Requirements section of the Nursing Student Services page.

Section V: College of Nursing Academic Standards

Student Academic Integrity and Appeals

Student Academic Integrity and Appeals: The university has a clear expectation for academic integrity and does not tolerate academic dishonesty. The SDSU Policy 2.4 sets forth the definitions of academic dishonesty, which includes but is not limited to, cheating, plagiarism, fabrication, facilitating academic dishonesty, misrepresentation and other forms of dishonesty relating to academics. This policy describes how charges of academic dishonesty are handled at the university. Academic Dishonesty is a serious charge. If a student is determined to be guilty of academic dishonesty, it may result in student discipline up to and including dismissal from the university.

Grade Appeal

The South Dakota State University Policy 2.4 also outlines the process a student needs to follow if he/she feels that a final grade is not accurate. The policy outlines the timeline, process and the form to be completed. While the process may seem complex, it assures that the student’s issue is addressed with due and fair process.

Course Grading Scale

The Undergraduate Nursing Department grading scale is as follows:

  • A = 92 to 100%
  • B = 84 to <92%
  • C = 76 to <84%
  • D = 68 to <76%
  • F = <68%

Percentages, points and point fractions will not be rounded for any exam, assignment or course total.

Refer to individual course syllabi for performance standards.

Final Examinations

(SDSU Policy 2.1)
The purpose of final examinations is to provide a final evaluation of a student's academic progress for the entire course or since the last examination. Final examinations or other learning experiences will be scheduled during the scheduled finals week for courses of two or more credits unless exceptions have been approved by the College of Nursing administration. Students should check with the Semester Coordinator at the beginning of the semester to determine the final examination schedule and plan to be on campus during finals week.

Grades Needed to Continue in the Nursing Major

  • The nursing major is completed in a five-semester sequence. Each course of each semester must be completed before continuing to the next semester.
  • A grade of “C” or higher is required in all nursing major courses (including prefixes NURS, HSC or PHA). All undergraduate courses with the NURS prefix utilize the university’s ConnectState early alert function, which notifies the student’s adviser when a student is not meeting course expectations. Students who fail a nursing major course may repeat with application to and permission from the Progression Committee. Permission may be granted based on the circumstance related to the failure and based on available space. Students should work with their academic advisor to initiate a progression application.
  • Students should consult with their academic advisor as early as possible if a potential for failure in a nursing course exists. Advisors can assist students in the appropriate steps to take and assist students with a withdrawal from the course(s) if that is appropriate.
  • Students should note that while a withdrawal (“W”) grade in a course prevents failure, students receiving them will still need to apply to repeat the course(s) and progress in the major. Additionally, the university differentiates between various types of withdrawal grades and a GPA impact may occur with a large number of “W” grades. Students should consult the university catalog grading policies.
  • A student who fails a course due to unsafe practice in a clinical experience will not be eligible for readmission to the nursing major unless evidence is submitted that unsafe behaviors have been corrected.
  • Incomplete “I” grades may be given at the instructor’s discretion in appropriate circumstances and per university policy.
  • All incomplete “I” grades in nursing major courses and other required courses must be satisfactorily removed before progression to the next semester of the nursing major.
  • A cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher is required for continuation in the nursing major.
  • Students falling out of progression (not continuing with the same cohort through the same Semester 1 through Semester 5 courses in normal progression), may incur additional academic costs. For example, the EHR-GO subscription required of students in the program may need to be extended at the student’s expense.
  • Once admitted to the professional major, the College of Nursing requires an exam average of 76% in courses with an “NURS” prefix in order to pass. This excludes NURS 323. Refer to syllabi for grading guidelines.
    • Students must earn a 76% average on exams in all nursing courses (except NURS 323: Pathophysiology) to progress to the next semester of the major. If a student does not achieve this exam average, the student cannot receive higher than a D in the course. If the exam average is above 76%, the score from quizzes and other assignments will be added to the exam score to determine the final grad.

ATI Protocol for Students

Assessment Technologies Institute (ATI) offers an assessment-driven review program designed to enhance student NCLEX-RN success. The comprehensive program offers multiple assessment and remediation activities. These include assessment indicators for academic success, critical thinking and learning styles, online tutorials, online practice testing and proctored testing over the major content areas in nursing. Assessments are incorporated into nursing courses once students complete the initial semester of the nursing major. Students should refer to the protocol listed in individual D2L course sites for more information.

Grade Reports


Mid-term deficiency reports are used to let students know that they are not completing requirements at a satisfactory level. The notification of deficiency is issued through the Registrar’s Office to the student. However, it is not recorded on the student’s official transcript. The ConnectState early alert system also notifies academic advisors of students’ deficiency reports.

Students should check “Grades” under the dashboard on MyState shortly after midterm to see if they have received any deficiencies. Students who receive deficiencies may have a C, D or F in the course at mid-term. It is highly suggested that students who receive a deficiency in a course make an appointment with faculty teaching the course and discuss options for improving their grade. Students can also schedule an appointment with their academic advisor to discuss other study strategies.

Final Grade Reports

Final grade reports at the issues at the conclusion of the semester may be reviewed on the dashboard on MyState under “Grades.” If a student feels that a grade is not accurate, he/she should first talk to the instructor, following the Guideline for Communication of Undergraduate Student Program Concerns. If there is no resolution, the student can initiate the academic appeal process outlined in the SDSU catalog and linked above.


For student absences, refer to South Dakota State University Policy 2.5 Class Attendance. Extended absences should be reported by the student to the Director of Nursing Student Services and/or the Vice President of Student Affairs 605-688-4493. It is the expectation that all students will be present for scheduled academic events, including orientation sessions. Refer to course syllabi for consequences of unexcused absences. Students who have an unexcused absence from clinical will be billed for payment to make up the time required, as outlined in the Billing Procedure for an Unexcused Clinical Absence/Simulation/Community Experience.

Injuries, Exposure or Needle Sticks

Students who experience an injury, exposure to blood or body fluids, or a needle stick while in clinical, simulation or the skills lab are expected to notify the instructor immediately. The instructor will guide the student in accessing any needed medical care and will assist to complete required reports at the agency and for the university. Students are responsible for costs for any needed medical care. The policies with specific instructions and access to required forms are found in the College of Nursing Handbook. Policies differ depending on the campus site.


See College of Nursing policy #c4340.

Section VI: Senior Exit and Graduate Process

Exit Survey and Interview with Leadership

It is an expectation that students will complete an online exit survey as part of the College program evaluation process. Students will be given an opportunity to participate in a Focus Group discussion with the Assistant Dean for Undergraduate Nursing prior to graduation. The feedback from graduating students is important for quality improvement in undergraduate programs. Information gathered through these exit processes will be reviewed and reported in aggregate. No individual student comments or information will be reported.

All graduating seniors will be required to follow the designated process for having a professional photo taken for the Composite photograph prior to the conclusion of Semester 5 coursework. Specific details are available from Nursing Student Services at each site.

Requesting a Reference or Recommendation

The student may contact the faculty member or academic advisor of choice for the recommendation. Providing additional background information such as the student’s community/college activities and professional or leadership positions held or scholarships awarded is beneficial. Prior employment should also be included. Allow adequate time for the faculty member/academic advisor to write the recommendation before the stated deadlines.

Registration for NCLEX and State Licensure

There are two steps students must take to become licensed as a registered nurse. Nursing Student Services can guide students to 1) register for the NCLEX (National Council Licensing Exam) through Pearson Vue and 2) help students obtain and complete information for State Board Licensure in the state in which the student plans to practice. Nursing Student Services can also provide general information about licensure issues and state compacts.

Licensure and application processes differ by state so it is important to check the state board of nursing website for the state in which the student plans to obtain a license. It is important to begin this process early in the 5th semester as some require a background check, drug screen or other documentation that take time to complete.

The steps for licensure and links to the state nursing boards are found on at the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

Pinning and Annual Commencement Ceremonies

The College of Nursing holds a Pinning Ceremony for graduating students at each campus site (Brookings, Sioux Falls, Aberdeen and Rapid City). The ceremonies are held in December, May and August. The pinning ceremony recognizes the discipline of nursing uniquely and in addition to university ceremonies of graduation.

The university commencement (graduation) ceremony occurs each year in May at the Brookings campus. Since this ceremony is an annual event, students completing their degrees in the previous 12-calendar months may attend. August and December graduates may request to participate in the May ceremony by contacting the Registrar’s Office.

There are additional charges associated with ordering academic attire and graduation announcements, and the Registrar’s Office provides information to students who have applied for graduation, including how to order diplomas and ordering academic regalia at CB Grad.


Diplomas take approximately 3-4 months after the official graduation date to process and be signed. Students must decide how they plan to obtain their diploma, either through mail or picked up on campus. Diplomas are NOT sent to the College of Nursing. While ordering their graduation attire, students indicate how their diploma will be delivered. An additional fee is charged for mail delivery of the diploma.


Official transcripts will be available after graduation and final grade approval. There may be a delay for graduates needing final transcripts to complete an out-of-state licensure application. It is highly recommended that students applying for licensure in a state that requires an official transcript for licensure (as opposed to a Certificate of Education signed by the College of Nursing), order their transcript prior to graduation, ordering them electronically, with a copy to self and choosing the option “Hold for Degree”. This will mean that the official transcript will be issued as soon as your degree is “conferred”, a process that may take 1-2 months after your official graduation date. Information on ordering transcripts is found at theRegistrar’s Office.

Section VII: RN to B.S.N. Specific Information


Students in the RN to B.S.N. online program register for courses with the assistance of the RN to B.S.N. Program Coordinator/Academic Advisor. The program coordinator serves as the primary campus liaison for students in this program. RN to B.S.N. online students receive email notification of the registration times each semester and work with the program coordinator/academic advisor to ensure all the nursing required support courses are completed.

Malpractice Insurance Requirements

Registered nurses who are enrolled in the nursing major courses must seek individual malpractice insurance. SDSU is required to maintain malpractice insurance on all undergraduate students who are not licensed; because RN to B.S.N. students are already licensed registered nurses, they are required to maintain this same standard for the RN to B.S.N. program duration. Since requirements for the amount change, please check with the program coordinator/advisor to determine the required coverage. The RN Students must have proof of malpractice insurance coverage submitted to CastleBranch before they can begin the program.


RN students in the RN to B.S.N. program are required to provide their own transportation to complete their clinical experience.


RN to B.S.N. students are asked to wear professional attire when meeting with agency personnel and during population-based clinical experiences. Students must wear their SDSU nursing student badge. There is no specific uniform requirement for RN to B.S.N.

Updated by Nursing Student Services: July 2023