The population of mature age students entering university nursing programs has steadily increased in both Australia and worldwide. The objective of the literature review was to explore how mature age students perform academically and to analyse the factors associated with their academic performance in nursing programs. A literature search was conducted in the following databases: CINAHL, ProQuest, Medline, Cochrane, Mosby’s Index, Joanna Briggs Institute (JBI), and Scopus. Twenty-six (26) research papers published between 2000 and 2014 have met the selection criteria of this review. The key themes identified include; 1) ambiguity in definition of mature age and academic success, 2) age and academic success, 3) intrinsic factors (life experiences, emotional intelligence, and motivation and volition), and 4) extrinsic factors (peer, academic and family support; and learning style, components of the modules and mode of delivery). Current literature provides evidence that mature age nursing students perform at a higher level within the methodological issues discussed in this paper. Future research is warranted to advance the understanding of the complex relationship between extrinsic and intrinsic factors of mature age students and their academic success in higher education. Nursing educators will benefit from novel evidence, ideas and opportunities to explore and implement in nursing education.