Whether you’re a recent high school graduate, considering a career change, or a healthcare professional seeking to advance your education, we are here to help you navigate the various options to get your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN.)
As the demand for highly qualified nurses continues to grow, so does the need for different nursing pathways that cater to your unique circumstances and goals. When pursuing a BSN degree, various factors must be considered. From choosing the right degree program to deciding between full-time or part-time studies, each decision plays a crucial role in shaping your nursing career.
The Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a four-year undergraduate degree for you to become a registered nurse and/or pursue further higher education. The curriculum includes a combination of general healthcare courses, nursing theory and practice, clinical rotations, and hands-on training.
A BSN degree makes you competent to take care of patients across different healthcare settings. BSN-prepared nurses are trained to assess patient needs, develop nursing care plans, administer medications, perform treatments and procedures, and collaborate with other healthcare professionals to promote patient health and well-being.
Graduate nursing programs, such as Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), require you to hold a BSN degree as a prerequisite.
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When considering a BSN degree program, it is important to look for programs that are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). CCNE accreditation is highly regarded and signifies that a degree program meets the established standards of excellence in nursing education.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, healthcare institutions will hire another 195,000 registered nurses in the next couple of years.
There are many options beyond the traditional four-year degree to get your bachelor’s in nursing. Whether you’re a working registered nurse or licensed practical nurse, or are pursuing a non-nursing degree—and wish to pursue higher education in nursing—we have covered all the available options to get your BSN.
Online BSN Programs
Online BSN programs offer a flexible and convenient option if you’re unable to attend traditional on-campus classes due to work/personal commitments or constraints. Accredited online programs are a perfectly suitable way to pursue your BSN.
CCNE accredits both in-person and online programs, so you can be sure that you will only receive quality education in every format.
Program length: 15 to 36 months depending upon the nature of the program:
- Some online BSN degrees may have an accelerated curriculum to allow you to start working as early as possible. It could only work if you come with prior training or experience.
- Some BSN degrees for non-nursing students may have longer duration for comprehensive study and If you come with no prior coursework, you might want to stretch the online program to more than four years to accommodate work.
Who can pursue online BSN programs:
- Registered Nurses (RNs): RNs with an associate degree in nursing or nursing diploma can pursue an online BSN to advance their education and career prospects.
- Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) or Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs): LPNs/LVNs can pursue an online BSN to broaden their nursing skills and open up more career opportunities.
- Non-Nursing Professionals: Individuals with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree can transition into nursing by pursuing an online BSN program.
- Non-Traditional Students: Online BSN programs are flexible and suitable for students with work, family, or other commitments.
- Military Personnel or Veterans: Online BSN programs accommodate the unique circumstances of military personnel or veterans interested in pursuing nursing.
- Geographically Remote Individuals: Online BSN programs provide accessibility to nursing education for individuals in remote areas or regions with limited access to traditional programs.
Traditional Four-Year College Degree
A traditional BSN program spans four years of full-time study, where you may need to complete 120 credits worth of study across general education, core nursing, and elective courses. Part-time options may be available but can extend the program’s duration. And if you have completed prior coursework, you can transfer credits to shorten the time to degree completion.
The curriculum for a traditional BSN program combines nursing coursework with general education requirements. You learn a broad range of subjects, including anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, microbiology, nursing theory, health assessment, and clinical skills.
Who can pursue traditional BSN programs:
- High School Graduates: Traditional BSN programs are suitable for you if you have recently graduated from high school and want to pursue a career in nursing.
- Career Changers: Traditional BSN programs offer a pathway for individuals with prior degrees or work experience in other fields who wish to transition into nursing.
- Registered Nurses (RNs) with an ADN or Diploma: RNs with an associate degree in nursing or nursing diploma often pursue a traditional BSN program to further their education and expand career opportunities.
- Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) or Licensed Vocational Nurses (LVNs): LPNs or LVNs can pursue a traditional BSN program to advance their nursing careers and broaden their scope of practice.
- Transfer Students: Students who have completed college coursework, including general education or prerequisite courses, at another institution may transfer to a traditional BSN program to complete their nursing education.
- Non-Traditional Students: Traditional BSN programs accommodate non-traditional students such as working adults returning to school, parents, or individuals with other commitments by offering flexible scheduling options and evening or weekend classes.
An accelerated BSN degree offers a fast-track program designed for you if you already hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and want to transition into nursing.
It can be completed in a shorter time frame compared to a traditional BSN program. It can vary, but most accelerated programs can be completed in 12 to 18 months of full-time study—while some programs are online and some on-campus.
You’re eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) upon completion of an accelerated BSN to obtain licensure as a registered nurse.
Who can pursue accelerated BSN programs:
- Bachelor’s Degree Holders: Individuals who possess a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field can pursue an accelerated BSN program to enter nursing. This includes individuals with degrees in disciplines such as biology, psychology, business, or any other field outside of nursing.
- Career Changers: Individuals who have work experience in a non-nursing field and are looking to make a career change to nursing can pursue an accelerated BSN program. It offers a way to leverage their existing knowledge and skills while acquiring the necessary nursing education to become a registered nurse.
- Second Degree Seekers: Those who have already completed a bachelor’s degree in another field and now want to pursue a second bachelor’s degree in nursing can opt for an accelerated BSN program. This allows them to build upon their previous educational background and transition into nursing more efficiently.
- Non-Traditional Students: Accelerated BSN programs often attract non-traditional students who are older, have life or family commitments, or have taken a break from education. These programs provide an accelerated and focused path to obtain a nursing degree, accommodating the unique circumstances and needs of non-traditional learners.
An ADN-to-BSN program is designed for individuals who have completed an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and want to pursue a BSN degree.
ADN-to-BSN programs can help you transition between ADN and BSN programs in about 12 to 18 months of full-time study, otherwise you’d have to spend more than four years to earn these degrees.
An LPN-to-BSN program is designed for Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) who wish to further their education and career by earning a BSN. The program takes two to four years to complete.
An RN-to-BSN program is designed for registered nurses (RNs) who have already obtained an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a nursing diploma and want to further their education by earning a BSN. This program may take just a year or two to complete.
After completing your BSN and passing the NCLEX-RN, you can work as registered nurses (RNs) in various healthcare settings, providing direct patient care, administering medications, and collaborating with healthcare teams.
You can also pursue specialized nursing roles, such as pediatric or critical care nursing, and can further your education through advanced degrees like an Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN), leading to roles as nurse practitioners, educators, or administrators.
The best pathway for nursing depends on individual goals and circumstances. Common pathways include obtaining a BSN degree, completing an ADN program and then pursuing a BSN, or pursuing an accelerated BSN program for those with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree.
The stages of a nursing degree typically include completing prerequisite courses (if required), completing general education and core nursing coursework, participating in clinical rotations to gain hands-on experience, and preparing for licensure exams such as the NCLEX-RN.
The best degree after a BSN depends on career goals. Many nurses pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) to specialize in areas such as nurse practitioner, nurse educator, or nurse administrator.
A BSN program is a traditional four-year bachelor’s degree program in nursing. An RN to BSN program is designed for registered nurses (RNs) who already hold an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a nursing diploma and want to obtain a BSN.