Terry Ferns, a senior lecturer, and Professor Liz Meerabeau at the University of Greenwich in London surveyed 114 third year student nurses in the south east of England.
They found 46% had reported they had been verbally abused by patients, relatives or staff.
More than a third (39%) had seen other students being verbally abused and 61% said they were aware of other students experiencing verbal abuse.
Eight percent (5 students) said they had received death threats.
Mr Ferns, who has worked as a nurse in the acute sector, said: "Having worked in the NHS myself I was not all that surprised by what I found but what did surprise me is the extremely obscene nature and seriousness of the abuse that many student nurses are experiencing, including racial abuse and death threats.
"Traditionally mental health and learning disability settings are seen as high risk areas for the abuse of healthcare workers but what this research shows is that student nurses are just as likely to receive abuse from patients and relatives in general medical and surgical wards.
Abuse should not be seen as part and parcel of the job and it is vital that trusts ensure they make clear to the public what constitutes reasonable behaviour."
research paper "The exposure to verbal abuse of student nurses gaining placement experience" Mr Ferns
cites examples of the sorts of abuse students were subjected to, including racist taunts, sexually orientated swearing and threats of physical and sexual violence.
"The exposure to verbal abuse of student nurses gaining placement experience" is being presented by Terry Ferns, Senior Lecturer at the School of Health, University of Greenwich, London.
It is co-authored by Professor Liz Meerabeau, Head of the University's Health and Social Care School
The Royal College of Nursing's
2007 International Nursing Research Conference is taking place in Dundee from May 1 to 4.