With over 3 million registered nurses (RNs) in the country and a double-digit job outlook through the next decade, the demand for Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN)-educated nurses is multiplying.
Currently, BSNs enjoy high salaries and job prestige. They can also move into different specialization areas through a traditional four-year or 16 to 24-month accelerated BSN program.
Keep reading to learn more about how long it takes to get your BSN, helpful stats, salary/job outlook figures, and the process for a non-nursing degree or registered nurse to obtain a BSN.
Ready? Let’s get started!
The timeline for getting your BSN depends on the degree program.
There are several BSN degree options: traditional Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN), accelerated BSN, and RN to BSN programs.
An entry-level Bachelor’s degree in nursing takes four years to complete. To graduate, you must earn 120 credits over eight semesters. A traditional BSN consists of coursework, nursing simulations, and clinical labs to prepare students for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). Passing the NCLEX-RN transforms non-registered nurses into registered nurses.
Accelerated BSN programs take between 16 to 24 months to complete. This program offers a condensed, more intensive version of a traditional four-year program. The accelerated BSN program is popular among full-time and part-time workers.
Accelerated BSN programs apply the same principles (coursework, nursing simulations, and clinical labs) as the conventional BSN path. This program also prepares students for the NCLEX-RN.
RN to BSN programs are available to registered nurses with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) degree. Consider it a flexible pathway, where you can obtain a BSN in less time due to easier credits transfer from other institutions or fields.
If you opt for an RN to BSN program, expect to transfer a set number of credits from an accredited school. Registered nurses can become BSNs within a year.
Here are our top tips for finding the right nursing school program for you:
Accreditation: Look for nursing schools accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). The CCNE and ACEN are recognized organizations that enforce high-quality standards and placement in the NCLEX.
NCLEX Passage Rate: Consider a nursing school with NCLEX passing rates at or above 85%. Anything less should be a cause for concern.
Clinical Rotations: Study the nursing school’s clinical rotation programs. What hospitals are part of its network? How much clinical time is required? Are clinical rotation hours completed on a full-time or part-time schedule? All of these evaluation criteria matter.
Nursing School Rankings: Albeit not a primary consideration, rankings provide a solid picture of where a nursing school stands. You can get actual and up-to-date rankings from US News & World Report.
Location: Students have the choice of in-person or online options. Online BSN programs offer greater flexibility, allowing students to manage full-time or part-time jobs while schooling. However, possessing excellent time management skills is a must for this venture.
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) consists of an accelerated 16 to 24-month or traditional four-year program open to new students and registered nurses with associate degrees.
For starters, a BSN is one of the most valuable degrees in nursing.
Additionally, many healthcare organizations now demand BSNs as the minimum education requirement. Even state governments are involved. For example, in 2017, New York passed the ‘BSN in 10 law.’ This provision requires all nurses to obtain their BSN within ten years of receiving their RN license.
The NYC government passed the mandate in response to studies showing that BSN educated nurses oversee lower patient mortality rates, lesser readmission rates, and better patient outcomes.
Over the next decade, BSNs will have a healthier job outlook than most professions.
A 2021 AACN survey reveals that 93% of BSN graduates get hired within four to six months. Immediately after graduation, the numbers also look strong, with a 76% job offer rate.
Additionally, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 16% growth in healthcare occupations from 2020 to 2030. The reasons for this booming demand include older nurses leaving the workforce and the growing organic demand for healthcare.
Lastly, according to a 2019 American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) survey, 82.1% of employers demonstrated a preference for BSN graduates over lower credentialed nurses (registered nurses and ADNs).
Short for Associate Degree in Nursing, ADNs represent the entry-level pathway for registered nurses. They play a smaller role in patient health, working alongside RNs to perform numerous medical duties such as recording patients’ medical histories, administering medications, assisting with diagnostic tests, and educating patients on their condition.
Typically, an ADN program takes up to 3 years to complete.
However, RNs and BSNs enjoy a more comprehensive range of responsibilities with better patient outcomes.
Those who complete their Associate’s Degree in Nursing can enroll in an RN-to-BSN program and obtain a degree within 12 months. To meet this timeline, you must fulfill general education requirements.
Non-nurses with a different degree, registered nurses, and those with a nursing diploma, Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), or Associate of Applied Science in Nursing can enroll in a BSN program.
RN-to-BSN courses cover a wide range of pre and post-licensure coursework around the human sciences, specialized nursing courses, critical thinking, ethics, policy, research, and technology subjects.
To understand the types of courses to expect during a BSN program, you’ll need to see a sample course list.
Fortunately, we got one courtesy of Florida International University Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences (70 credits):
Junior Year: Fall Semester (15 credits)
Junior Year: Spring Semester (16 credits)
Junior Year: Summer Semester (12 credits)
Senior Year: Fall Semester (15 credits)
Semester V: Spring (12 credits)
Here’s a sample clinical curriculum of Marian University’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program:
Semester 1 (18 credits)
Semester 2 (16 credits)
Semester 3 (17 credits)
Semester 4 (13 credits)
RN is a Registered Nurse.
BSN is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
BSN holders enjoy higher salaries, an increased number of specializations, and career growth prospects than registered nurses.
Today, more and more hospitals require BSNs over RNs, thanks to the formers’ better overall patient outcomes.
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) administers the NCLEX-RN in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Nursing students take this examination to become fully licensed registered nurses.
New students with a bachelor’s degree in another field or registered nurses pursuing a BSN can take this exam upon accredited BSN program completion.
The NCLEX-RN exam covers all material learned during nursing school. This material has eight subsections:
Like most fields, BSNs can enjoy funding from all organizations, including public and private. Many BSN scholarships come from nursing organizations. Expect to meet specific eligibility requirements (a minimum GPA, financial aid, or membership in a trade or affiliation).
Don’t forget the importance of personal essays and letters of recommendation. These entries help you stand out from the hundreds of other students seeking a scholarship.
Here’s a list of BSN scholarships you can apply for:
An RN to BSN program is a bridge program allowing registered nurses to earn their BSN. Successful completion enables RNs to earn higher salaries, enter different specialization areas, and become more knowledgeable.
To participate in an RN to BSN program, nursing students must have a nursing diploma, Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), or Associate of Applied Science in Nursing (AAS).
If you rule out a BSN, here are lower credentialed nursing degrees and diploma programs worth considering:
Practical Nursing Diploma (PN): This entry-level program takes one to two years to complete. It puts you on the fast track to becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN). According to a 2020 report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), LPNs make an average annual salary of $50,090 yearly ($24.08 per hour)
Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN or ADN): ASNs/ADNs offer a two-year program. This program prepares you for the NCLEX-RN exam required to become a Registered Nurse (RN).
MSNs are special programs that allow nurses to become Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRNs).
Advanced practice registered nurses can enter many specializations, including Certified Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Certified Nurse Midwife, and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist.
Certified Nurse Practitioners perform work similar to physicians. They diagnose and treat patients from infants to the elderly.
Clinical Nurse Specialists work with a specific population and type of disease.
Certified Nurse Midwives work with pregnant and birthing mothers.
Certified Nurse Anesthetists administer anesthesia to patients undergoing surgery. They’re also responsible for monitoring and overseeing recovery, including performing postoperative procedures to minimize pain.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the average annual salaries of these professions:
Note: salaries are subject to change based on job title, years of experience, and location.
It takes approximately two to four years to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN). To ensure your journey is smooth sailing, choose a nursing school that suits your educational and financial requirements.
A BSN puts you on the fast lane to more opportunities, employment benefits, and respect within your field. With healthcare organizations and governmental bodies prioritizing this degree, getting one is a no-brainer.
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