ABSTRACT: Attitudes towards mental illness and psychiatric nursing can have far-reaching consequences for patients and the perceived desirability of this as a future career choice. Attitudes can be both brought into training and affected by training experiences, although the direction of these associations is unclear. Using a cross-section design, this study investigates the associations between attitudes, demographic variables, mental illness exposure, and career aspirations in 164 nursing students. Year of training and area of intended practice independently predicted attitudes. These findings have important implications for nursing training. They demonstrate the need for specifically focusing training to target the students with the most negative attitudes.