Nursing curriculum programs developed to train future professional nurses, methods of teaching and learning and practice can either prepare or be an obstacle to the students' thinking and acting like independent professionals. This study was conducted for the purpose of determining the level of autonomy of nursing students in the baccalaureate degree program at Cumhuriyet University School of Nursing. The research was conducted with a total of 326 students. Two forms were used for data collection in the research. The first was a 15-question personal information form. The second was the 30 item autonomy subscale from the Sociotropy/Autonomy Scale (SAS). The research data were entered into the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) version 11.0 and frequency distribution, arithmetic mean, variance analysis (One-Way ANOVA) and Independent Samples t-test were used in the analysis of data. According to the General Autonomy (GA) score mean from the SAS administered in this study the nursing students' GA score mean was 83.03 +/- 14.51 and the highest level of autonomy was found to be in the 1st year students (84.87 +/- 14.44), followed consecutively by 2nd year (83.18 +/- 15.09), 3rd year (82.72 +/- 15.80) and 4th year (81.47 +/- 12.81) students. The conclusion of the study is that the autonomy levels of the students who regarded the professional qualities given them by the nursing education as enough have been remarkably high. This suggests that the nursing curriculum program being used is not adequately supporting the development of autonomy in students. (C) 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.