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Northwestern State University admitted their first baccalaureate Nursing students in 1949. Over the past six decades, more than seven thousand students have received degrees from the NSU College of Nursing, making it the oldest state supported nursing program in Louisiana.

In the mid 1940's the visionary nursing community in Shreveport recognized the need for a collegiate-based nursing program. Following the recommendations of a national consultant, five hospitals agreed to phase out their diploma programs opening the door for Northwestern State University to create a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program.

During the early years of the NSU College of Nursing, students were given two options. They could exit the program at the end of three years of study with a diploma, or complete a fourth year and earn a baccalaureate degree. The diploma option was phased out in the late 1950's.

Dedicated to fulfilling a statewide need for academic opportunities in nursing, NSU established major clinical nursing campus sites in Alexandria-Pineville, Baton Rouge, Monroe and Shreveport. Beginning in the late 1950's, Northwestern also offered registered nurses the chance to earn a baccalaureate degree through a special program (RN to BSN).

Following many successful years of offering nursing courses over a large geographic area, the College of Nursing consolidated its clinical campuses to Shreveport in 1970. Two years later the College of Nursing initiated two new programs, the Associate Degree and the Master's of Science in Nursing.

In 1968, the Bachelor of Science in Radiologic Technology (BSRT) program was implemented in the Department of Life Sciences. This program was placed in the College of Nursing in 1994 and is one of only twenty-seven programs in the country. The Radiologic Sciences is offered on both the Shreveport Campus and the Alexandria Rapides Hospital Campus. The Radiologic Technology was changed to the Radiologic Sciences Degree Program in 2008. The Radiologic Science is now housed under the New College of Nursing and Allied Health.

The RN to BSN and master's programs continue course offerings in the Alexandria area. In fall 1999, RN to BSN course offerings were initiated via the Internet for those diploma and associate degree graduates who are interested in seeking a baccalaureate degree.

Beta Chi, the first chapter of Sigma Theta Tau International in Louisiana, was chartered in 1976 at Northwestern State University.