What Is a Bachelor’s in Nursing? 2023 Degree Guide
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Earn a bachelor's in nursing degree to pursue a career as a nurse. Discover bachelor in nursing career paths, specific jobs, and top employers for BSN degree graduates
Nursing is a rewarding, in-demand profession ideal for anyone who wants to make a difference in health care. Nurses have many career options working, including in clinical or non-clinical settings. One way to achieve a career in nursing is to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN).
While there are other educational pathways to pursue a career in nursing, a BSN degree is the preferred educational qualification by most employers. It is also the base prerequisite for the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree and many advanced certifications you may want to pursue as you advance through your career.
What exactly is a Bachelor of Nursing degree (BSN)?
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, also known as a BSN, is a four-year undergraduate degree intended for students who want to pursue a career as a registered nurse (RN) or beyond. It’s the foundational undergraduate degree for most careers in clinical nursing. With a BSN degree, you'll prepare for a career in nursing with foundational skills in pharmacology, anatomy, ethics in health care, and microbiology. BSN degrees have a clinical component where students complete a set number of clinical hours before graduation. BSN students may also choose to concentrate in a specific field of nursing.
BSN degree programs can be completed online or in person, depending on the school. Some schools also offer bridge programs and accelerated BSN programs that may not take the entire four years to complete. Admittance requirements for a BSN include a high school or associate degree. GPA requirements, coursework, and previous experience in health care vary by program. BSN programs should be accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
How long does it take to earn a bachelor's in nursing?
It takes four years to earn a traditional BSN degree. Other types of BSN degrees will not take a full four years. Accelerated BSN degrees allow students who hold a bachelor's degree in another discipline to earn a BSN in 11 to 18 months, depending on the program. Bridge programs may also be available to RNs who hold an associate degree and want to earn a BSN degree. These programs are called RN to BSN and typically take about the same as other accelerated programs to complete, between 11 and 18 months.
Typical requirements for a BSN degree program
Expect requirements vary by BSN program. Typical requirements include GPA, SAT scores, degree program application, personal references, and relevant experiences related to nursing. Some specific admittance requirements that are typical of a BSN degree program include:
High school diploma or GED
GPA of 3.00-3.25 or higher (depends on school and program type)(Video) Bachelor of Nursing in Australia course Information. What to expect! Student life in Australia|2023
Successful completion of prerequisite high school and college coursework (chemistry, biology, and other science and math courses)
Passing the SAT or TEAS (score requirements vary by school)
Submission of nursing school application which may include varying components such as an essay, letters of recommendation, and volunteer experience
Research requirements for entry prior to applying. Prepare to explain to the admissions department why you want to become a nurse and how this program can help you with your personal and professional goals. Most programs include an essay component that is your chance to show your personality.
How much does a BS in nursing cost?
The average total cost of tuition to attend a bachelor in nursing program ranges from $40,000 to over $100,000, according to Nurse Journal . Prepare to pay registration, application, and technology fees. Most BSN students pay for their books and supplies, scrubs/uniform, immunizations and physical examinations, insurance, and room and board if living on campus.
Factors that impact the total tuition cost for a BSN degree include whether the school is in or out of state and whether the school is a public or private university. Public schools typically have lower overall tuition costs and more financial aid opportunities. Financial aid opportunities may be available to students through scholarships, government-funded aid, school-funded aid, and military discounts.
Common BSN concentrations
Nursing students may be able to choose a specialization or concentration while pursuing a BSN degree. Concentration options vary by school. Choosing to specialize in a certain area of nursing can positively impact your earning potential after graduation. With your BSN degree concentration, you may pursue specific nursing careers that may require additional certification, education, or experience. Here are a few common concentrations to consider:
Adult health nursing: This concentration focuses on providing nursing care to adults, including assessing and managing chronic illnesses, acute medical conditions, and other health problems.
Pediatric nursing: This concentration focuses on providing nursing care to children and adolescents, including the assessment and management of common pediatric health conditions.
Mental health nursing: This concentration focuses on providing nursing care for patients with mental health conditions, including assessment, intervention, and prevention of mental health problems.
Obstetrics and gynecology nursing: This concentration focuses on the care of women during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum periods, as well as addressing women's health concerns throughout their lifespans.
Community health nursing: This concentration focuses on health promotion and disease prevention in the community. Students in this concentration learn to work with populations to address public health concerns, such as health education, community outreach, and disease prevention.
Geriatric nursing: This concentration focuses on providing nursing care to older adults, including assessing and managing the unique health challenges faced by the elderly population.
Nursing leadership: This concentration focuses on developing the skills and knowledge needed to effectively manage nursing teams, including leadership strategies, budgeting, staffing, and organizational behavior.
Critical care nursing: This concentration prepares students to provide specialized nursing care to patients who are critically ill or injured, often in settings such as intensive care units (ICUs). Students in this concentration learn to manage complex medical devices, interpret lab results, and make quick and informed decisions.
Oncology nursing: This concentration focuses on the care of patients with cancer. Students in this concentration learn about cancer biology, treatments, symptom management, and patient education. They also learn to provide compassionate care and support to patients and their families.
Emergency nursing: This concentration focuses on providing nursing care in emergency situations, such as trauma, cardiac arrest, or other life-threatening conditions. Students learn to work in fast-paced and high-stress environments, and to quickly assess and stabilize patients.
Common BSN coursework
Coursework as part of a BSN program prepares students with the skills necessary to provide medical care in various settings and understand the health care system. This coursework focuses on the foundational skills every nurse will need, whether working as an RN or specialized nurse. Common core BSN coursework may include:
Foundations of nursing practice(Video) 2023 Bachelor's Degree in 6 Months! | Top 2 Strategies... Degree by Exam vs C.B.E.
Nutrition and diet
Science and technology of nursing
BSN nursing students also complete a set number of clinical hours. The amount of hours required depends on the program and ranges from 300 and 700 hours. Where you complete your clinical experience depends on your concentration, among other factors like location and availability.
Benefits of a bachelor's in nursing degree
Nurses are a necessity in health care. BSN degrees are the foundational degree for several jobs in health care, even those outside of nursing, and the first step to pursuing a career in nursing. Nurses are generally well respected in health care and get the opportunity to help others daily. Confidently create a long-term career in health care and reap the benefits as a BSN degree graduate, which might include:
BSN degree holders earn more than associate degree holders in the same position. Eligibility requirements for higher-paying nursing jobs likely include a BSN degree. As you gain experience in nursing, you can pursue higher-paying positions in specialized fields of nursing and even leadership positions. Many of these positions pay more and include additional benefits like bonuses, profit sharing, paid time off, and insurance options.
BSN graduates who pass the NCLEX-RN are open to various bachelor in nursing career paths. RNs are needed in many different settings, which provide BSN degree holders the opportunity to work with diverse populations. RNs can work in physicians’ offices, hospitals, nursing homes, or patients' homes. Employers of nurses include nonprofit organizations, government agencies, educational organizations, and more.
Advanced career opportunities in nursing will likely require a BSN degree to enroll in a master’s degree program in nursing or earn advanced certifications. For example, all APRN positions require an MSN degree and certification. Leadership positions also require further education. A BSN degree is a core requirement before attaining either of these qualifications. While a BSN degree is a core requirement before achieving these qualifications, some schools offer direct-MSN programs that allow students to earn a master's in nursing with a non-nursing bachelor's degree.
Most employers prefer hiring candidates with a BSN degree over an associate in nursing or other qualifications. Hospitals and other health care providers seek highly trained professionals to meet the demands of health care needs in the US. When you earn a BSN degree, you’re improving your chances of being hired and increasing job security.
BSN degree programs prepare students for the reality of a nursing career, which likely involves a skill set balanced in technical and personal skills key to professional success. It’s critical to know technical skills like the dynamics of human anatomy, but it’s also important to learn effective patient communication, critical thinking, and leadership skills. The coursework and clinical experience part of an accredited BSN degree program specifically focus on in-demand skills nurses need, meaning BSN graduates leave with a more advanced skill set than other non-nursing or lesser degrees.
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Better patient outcomes
Multiple reports have shown BSN-educated nurses provide better quality care to patients. Higher quality care equates to better patient outcomes ranging from lower mortality rates to fewer errors when caring for patients. Employers seek BSN graduates for the advanced education tailored to nursing profession. With a BSN degree diploma comes the knowledge that this candidate has real-world experience in clinical nursing and the training necessary to offer a higher level of care to patients of varying needs.
BSN job outlook
A BSN degree sets you up for a career in the nursing field. When choosing a BSN job, prepare to have many directions to take after graduation. Non-clinical nursing jobs in administration or operations, specialized nursing positions that focus on a certain disorder, condition, or disease, and nursing jobs providing care to a specific population are all possible with a BSN degree.
Most BSN graduates take the NCLEX-RN exam, which means you're officially a registered nurse (RN). This licensure is the prerequisite if you plan to enroll in a master’s program in nursing or gain certain specialized certifications. Most specialized nursing positions beyond an RN require an MSN degree and certification.
The outlook for BSN jobs is optimistic as there is a continual need for medical care. Between 2021 and 2031, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects a 6 percent growth rate for RNs .
Nursing shortages due to the COVID-19 pandemic have created an even higher demand for nurses. Employers are trying to retain nurses while filling openings by offering a variety of incentives ranging from higher pay to tuition assistance for nursing students. The 2022 Nurse.com Salary Report found that 25 percent of nurses surveyed reported a 25 percent salary increase since the start of the pandemic .
Is a bachelor's in nursing right for you?
If you see yourself working in nursing or health care long-term, a BSN degree can provide you with the qualifications and credentials you’ll need to advance your career in health care. Nurses who gain professional experience can become specialized nurses who deliver babies, administer anesthesia, and even create and implement hospital policies. With so many directions to take your nursing career, a BSN is an assurance that you meet the educational requirements to pursue more advanced degrees and credentials.
Ready to start the journey?
Enrolling in a BSN degree program is a big step. Discover more about BSN degree programs and the entire nursing field, along with the jobs available to you before making the commitment. On Coursera, you can find helpful career-guided courses like Career 911: Your Future Job in Medicine and Healthcare.
If you know that you want to pursue nursing, find out more about specializations through courses such as Nursing Informatics Leadership or Infection Prevention in Nursing Homes. These courses can help give your career path some direction and can be listed as educational credentials on resumes.
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This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.
Nursing school is competitive to get into and challenging to get through. Because programs require many credit hours, nursing students sometimes end up taking multiple difficult courses in one semester. Think of late nights studying for exams in addition to clinicals where you'll gain hands-on nursing experience.Is it worth it to get a BSN in nursing? ›
One of the top reasons why an RN-to-BSN is worth it is the opportunities for career advancement. Whether you want to earn a specialty certification, pursue a leadership role, or precept nursing students, earning a BSN is an excellent way to advance your career.Can you go to med school with a BSN? ›
Yes. Once you obtain your BSN you can follow the same path as all medical students by taking the MCAT, applying and attending medical school, and completing a residency program.What do I need to know about getting a BSN? ›
- Earn a high school diploma or GED. ...
- Apply and gain admission into an accredited four-year BSN program. ...
- Complete the undergraduate nursing program.
- Take and pass the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX). ...
- Apply for licensure.
- Find employment.
- Pathophysiology. In this course, students learn how different anatomical systems work and how diseases or injuries affect these systems. ...
- Pharmacology. ...
- Medical Surgical 1 (also known as Adult Health 1) ...
- Evidence-Based Practice.
- Chartered Accountancy.
- Quantum Mechanics.
- Aerospace/ Aeronautical Studies, Engineering.
- Biomedical Studies, Neurosciences, Biochemistry.
- Dentistry, Medicine.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistic's Occupational Outlook Handbook: ”Generally, registered nurses who have a bachelor of science degree in nursing (BSN) will have better job prospects than those without one.” Increasingly, a BSN degree is becoming the degree of choice for other reasons as well.What percentage of nurses have a Bachelor degree? ›
SOURCE: CAMPAIGN FOR ACTION
The percentage of registered nurses who hold a bachelor's of science in nursing or higher is at an all-time high with a national average of about 56 percent, up from about 49 percent in 2010.
Research with patients and patient outcomes has shown that nurses with a BSN have better patient outcomes on average. So, in a competitive healthcare market that must maximize patient outcomes, BSN has become the preferred degree for most hiring efforts.Is it hard to go from nurse to doctor? ›
A nurse can absolutely become a doctor, but there are no educational shortcuts. Going from RN to MD takes the same amount of time as it would for any regular application. A BSN degree will count as a bachelor's degree in the case of an RN, which is a requirement for medical school.
Depending on if you have your Bachelor's degree already, going from an RN to an MD could take anywhere from six to ten years.Do you get paid for residency? ›
Although salaries vary based on the year of residency and your specialty, medical residents are paid for their work. According to the American Association of Medical Colleges (AAMC), there were over 144,000 active medical residents as of 2021, and the average salary for medical residents was $64,200.Should I get my BSN first? ›
Earning your BSN degree sets you up to receive a higher income for the length of your nursing career. According to the 2020 National Nursing Workforce Survey, nurses with a bachelor's degree routinely made more per year than those with an associate degree.What is the difference between BSN and BS in nursing? ›
Despite the difference in name, the curriculum is essentially the same. If the BSN acronym is used, the institution awarding the degree has a School of Nursing. For institutions that do not have a School of Nursing, the university itself presents the degree, thus awarding a BS in Nursing.What is the difference between BSN and BS? ›
While both undergraduate degrees will provide a strong academic foundation, a BS is a more general science degree while a BSN prepares graduates specifically for furthering their careers in nursing.What is the easiest branch of nursing? ›
One of the easiest nursing jobs to get into is in the field of occupational health. Occupational health nurses work in large industries, HMOs, and factories to treat work-related injuries and onsite illnesses. This type of nurse is employed to keep the workers on the job.
The fastest way to become an RN is through an RN diploma program, which can be completed in as little as a year. While completing this program does not lead to a degree, it does make the individual eligible to take the NCLEX and earn their RN license.What's the easiest major in college? ›
Business isn't just one of the easiest college majors — it's also the most popular major. You'll study core topics like accounting, management, and organizational behavior. You can specialize your skills with upper-level courses in logistics, training and development, or entrepreneurship.
- Viticulture and Oenology. ...
- Horology. ...
- Air Transport with Helicopter Training. ...
- Ethical Hacking. ...
- Brewing and Distilling. ...
- Ethnobotany. ...
- Animal Behaviour and Psychology. ...
- Baking Science and Technology.
Associate degrees are one of the fastest degrees that pay well, requiring only 60 credit hours—half the time required for bachelor's degrees—and professional certifications can take only anywhere between three and six months depending on the program you choose.
Nurses in clinical practice tend to list their licensure first followed by degrees and then certifications. For example: RN, BSN, CCRN. Nurses who are academic educators list their academic degrees first followed by licensure and then certifications. For example: DNP, RN, CNE.Why do nurses need a Bachelor's degree? ›
More Comprehensive Education & Better Patient Care
Research from the American Association of the Colleges of Nursing (AACN) showed that BSN-educated nurses have lower mortality rates, lower “failure to rescue” rates, and higher proficiency in making good diagnoses than their peers with associates degrees.
What is the highest level of nursing? The highest level of nursing education is the doctoral level. Positions that require doctoral nursing degrees include certain types of advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), as well as leadership positions such as chief nursing officer or director of nursing.What is a nurse with a Bachelor degree called? ›
BSN is the abbreviation for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and refers to someone who has earned their bachelor's degree in nursing. It often precedes the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program, which is available to BSN nurses who wish to further advance in their careers.What is the average age of a nurse? ›
Average Age Of Nurses
The average age of a registered nurse in the United States is 44, though this may change as the demand for nurses increases.
According to the National League for Nursing, the national dropout rate for nursing programs in the United States is 20%, and this high attrition rate is considered problematic. The National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission set the desirable retention rate at 80%.Does a BSN or MSN make more money? ›
Although professionals with either a BSN or an MSN often can receive high salaries, having an MSN typically raises a nurse's earning potential more. The national average salary for registered nurses is $85,008 per year .
BSN programs provide a more in-depth education in nursing theory and practice, as well as courses in leadership, communication, and research. BSN-educated nurses are prepared to provide advanced patient care and may have more career advancement opportunities than RNs with an associate degree or LPNs.What is the difference between BSN and ASN? ›
A BSN is a higher educational credential than an ASN and requires approximately four years to complete. BSN programs cover the same material as an ASN curriculum, but with greater depth and added training in leadership, case management, information management and more.What is the hardest job as a nurse? ›
The most stressful nursing jobs include ICU nurse, ER nurse, and NICU nurse. In these roles, nurses work in an intense environment with high stakes. They manage emergency situations and care for critically ill patients. Other stressful nursing jobs include OR nursing, oncology nursing, and psychiatric nursing.
- Long shifts. Nurses often work 10- or 12-hour shifts. ...
- Changing schedules. ...
- Emotional involvement. ...
- Physical demands. ...
- Exposure to illness and chemicals. ...
- Lack of nurses. ...
- Changing technology. ...
- Poor treatment from patients.
Can an RN become a doctor? A registered nurse (RN) can become a doctor if they complete the required certifications and education. Typically, nurses have many of the prerequisites that medical schools require, so you may be able to accelerate the medical school admissions process.Do nurses know as much as doctors? ›
Your experienced floor nurse knows way more about medicine than your average intern. Physician assistants can sew up wounds and assist in surgery. A person who becomes a nurse is just as smart as a person who becomes a doctor, which has always been true, but not always acknowledged.Is nursing school harder than med school? ›
Academically, yes, medical school is harder, and by a mile (I have both degrees - Nursing and Medicine) but the workload of doctors does not compare to what nurses do. Which is harder nursing school or medical school? I am a nurse and am half way through medical school.Do nurses have better hours than doctors? ›
Nurses Have Better Work Schedules. In the traditional hospital setting, the work schedules are much different for nurses vs. doctors. Doctors may earn a larger annual salary than nurses, but they are required to be on call 24 hours per day, seven days per week.Do you get paid during med school? ›
No, medical students do not get paid while they're still in school. This includes rotations/clerkships. The reason is mostly that you're still not fully trained to provide medical care. You might be shadowing or assisting physicians, but if you're doing any actual hands-on work, it's going to be minimal/minor.Can you get pregnant during residency? ›
Having a baby during residency can be tough, but it's not impossible. Residents should look at each aspect of their personal lives, and understand leave policies, their financial situation, and available support, to help plan a pregnancy.How much money do doctors make a month in US? ›
|Annual Salary||Monthly Pay|
The average age of ADN nursing students at community colleges is 26-40 years old. BSN programs have an average age of early-mid 20s. Students in RN-to-BSN programs are typically in their late 30s.What is the fastest I can get my BSN? ›
The fastest RN to BSN online programs are eight to nine months. However, this is for programs that are year-round. If you feel ready to jump in, American Sentinel University offers start dates every month, and you can complete it in as short as forty weeks.
- BS - Nursing (Registered Nurse - R.N. to B.S.N.) Grand Canyon University. ...
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) Walden University. ...
- RN to BSN Utica University. ...
- BS in Nursing (RN to BSN) Louisiana State University Alexandria.
While several degree options that grant entry into the nursing profession exist, the BSN is the one that opens the most doors. That's because it goes beyond basic nursing knowledge, taking a deeper dive into health policy, research and evidence-based practice and leadership development.What state has highest RN salary? ›
In the United States overall, the average registered nurse salary is $82,750 and the median (50th percentile) is $77,600. California, with RN salaries averaging $124,000, is the highest-paying state for nurses as of May 2021 (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics).What is higher than a BSN? ›
After earning your BSN and becoming a registered nurse, you can reach the next level in nursing by earning your master's degree.Does a BSN mean you are a nurse? ›
BSN is an undergraduate degree which stands for Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Completing a BSN program is one way to start your career in nursing and obtain your RN license. While technically all BSN graduates are RNs—at least if they take the RN licensure exam and practice nursing—all RNs aren't BSNs.What does ADN stand for? ›
As you've been looking into pursuing a nursing career, you've likely noticed a number of options to acquire the credentials you need. One that stands out is an associate degree in nursing (ADN) since you can finish a program in two years or fewer.What does DNP stand for? ›
A doctor of nursing practice, or DNP, and a medical degree are both earned following rigorous coursework, and both lead to or accelerate careers in the health care field.What makes nursing school so hard? ›
Why is nursing school so hard? The top 6 challenges of earning a BSN include the rigorous curriculum, fast pace, need for multitasking, time commitment, personal sacrifices, and NCLEX preparation. However, despite these rigors, it's possible to rise up and master how to succeed in nursing school.Why do so many people fail nursing school? ›
Some of the common reasons nurses drop out of nursing school include poor time management skills, overwhelming stress, bad study habits, and difficulty taking the new NCLEX-style questions on exams.How to pass nursing school easily? ›
- Time Management. To be successful in nursing school, you must manage your time appropriately. ...
- Get Organized. ...
- Use Mnemonics. ...
- Study Everyday. ...
- Complete Practice Questions. ...
- Participate in a Study Group. ...
- Focus on course objectives when studying. ...
- Know your learning style.
To start nursing school, you don't need any prior nursing experience or healthcare education. All you need is a high school diploma or GED. Once you are accepted, your journey to RN begins! You can become an RN in 2 to 4 years by studying for an associate's degree (ASN) or bachelor's degree (BSN).What is the hardest field of nursing? ›
- Intensive Care Unit (ICU) nurses. ICU is an extremely high-pressure environment and these nurses work with patients who have significant injuries and disease with added morbidity risks. ...
- Emergency Department nurses. ...
- Neonatal ICU. ...
- OR nursing. ...
- Oncology Nursing. ...
- Psychiatric Nursing.
- The Critical Thinking Questions. ...
- Learning How to Study. ...
- Learning How to Manage Your Time. ...
- The Stress and Anxiety. ...
- Staying Motivated. ...
- Not Seeing Your Friends and Family. ...
- Going to Nursing School Clinicals. ...
- Dealing with Assignment and Proficiency Exam Overwhelm.
Nursing in the "real world" generally requires very basic math skills, but almost all programs require at least one college-level math class — usually algebra. Some nursing schools may require a basic statistics course as well, so if you know what schools you're applying to, be sure to check for this requirement.What's the hardest Bachelor's degree? ›
- Environmental Economics and Policy.
- Environmental Earth Science.
- American Studies.
- Nuclear Engineering.
- Energy Engineering.
- Applied Mathematics.
Algebra I is the single most failed course in American high schools. Thirty-three percent of students in California, for example, took Algebra I at least twice during their high school careers. And students of color or those experiencing poverty are overrepresented in this group.