The Wigan boss broke off from a holiday in Portugal to discuss terms with club officials after the Black Cats agreed to pay compensation to the Latics.
There are not expected to be any stumbling blocks in the personal terms and it seems an appointment is likely within the next 48 hours, although Sunderland insist they have put no timescale on negotiations.
Bruce is likely to ask for the freedom to appoint his own backroom team and he would certainly want current assistant Eric Black - whom he took with him when he left Birmingham for the JJB Stadium - to join him in the north-east.
It is also thought he would take Wigan reserve team boss Keith Bertschin and goalkeeping coach Nigel Spink to the Stadium of Light, although it is not known whether conditions for the transfer of backroom staff were included in the compensation package agreed between the two clubs.
That fee is not believed to match Wigan chairman Dave Whelan's ¦pound;3million valuation but it was enough for him not to stand in Bruce's way of a return to his native north-east - albeit it Wearside and not Tyneside, where he previously turned town the manager's job.
A compromise was reached as both clubs were looking for a swift conclusion to negotiations with pre-season training due to start in just over a month.
Bruce will take over at the Stadium of Light at the best possible time after American businessman Ellis Short assumed total control last week.
The former Birmingham and Crystal Palace manager is likely to have access to a substantial transfer fund but Short expects a return on his money and is targeting a top-10 finish after the Black Cats escaped relegation this season by only two points.