Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

By Craig Miller


As the demand for qualified nurses steadily grows, more people are looking at the nursing profession when considering a career move. The professional nursing practice is expected to grow at 12% every year till 2029. What this means is more jobs for nursing professionals.

With a bachelor’s degree in nursing, you can be confident of getting all the knowledge that’s needed to start your nursing career. Registered nurses can work after only earning an associate’s degree in nursing. But as more employers are asking for a bachelor’s degree, it’s better to be prepared.

In 2019, 56% of registered U.S. nurses had a BSN degree or higher. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing survey the same year showed that 82% of employers “expressed a strong preference for a bachelor’s degree,” even though almost half of U.S. registered nurses had lower degrees.

After a BSN degree program, you get the chance to move towards a graduate-level nursing degree. This advanced degree helps you to land jobs at educational institutions, research centers, and healthcare organizations.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Program Overview

A bachelor’s degree program is always a good fit when looking to increase your knowledge in a chosen field. Nursing programs offer students the chance to learn and advance their nursing careers.

With employers preferring higher degrees, the future looks bright for ambitious nurses. Attending a BSN program can seem like hard work, but you’ll find great use of the years invested after getting your nursing degree.

Currently, there’s a big gap between the demand and supply of RNs. Today, a registered nurse is expected to have immense knowledge and critical thinking skills to handle complex cases.

Healthcare professionals make clinical decisions daily, and a bachelor’s degree program can help furnish you with the knowledge to handle complicated health issues.

You can read more about this topic in our article section: Guide To Online Nursing Programs

What’s a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree and How Does It Differ From Other Nursing Degrees?

Even though many employers want nurses with higher degrees, an associate degree is enough to obtain an RN license.

Currently, all 50 US states allow nurses with an associate degree who have passed the NCLEX-RN exam. An ASN degree is received after attending two years in a nursing school.

Associate’s Degree in Nursing vs. Bachelor of Science in Nursing

What separates both programs is the amount of time spent in classrooms and clinical settings. As BSN students have several hours of extra time, their theoretical knowledge is more advanced. They put learned nursing theory into practice during their four years of study.

As a result, employers have more assurance about their proficiency when hiring. Thanks to this, registered nurses with a BSN often score higher-paying jobs, even at entry-level positions.

On the other hand, associate degree holders gain more experience with their two years of working in the nursing role. This can be an excellent way to kickstart your nursing career if you don’t have the financial aid needed for a BSN program.

Nursing Diploma vs. Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree

The third pathway to becoming a registered nurse is by completing a nursing diploma program. A nursing diploma program is the least valuable when comparing the three RN programs. Also, it can be hard to land a position as an RN with just a diploma.

We often find that diploma-holding nurses get lower roles than LPNs and CNAs. What’s good about these programs is the short time required to complete them, allowing students to gain substantial professional experience in a short time frame. In addition, the low program cost is an essential factor many consider.

Types of Bachelor of Science in Nursing Programs

When starting your journey to become an RN, you’ll find different nursing programs in your face. Although these programs have different focuses, they all lead to the road to becoming a nursing graduate.

You’ll find that some are better suited to your needs. In the end, what’s important is earning a bachelor’s in nursing and starting your career.

Traditional BSN Programs

The most common way to earn a nursing degree is by completing a traditional BSN program. When attending a baccalaureate degree program, you’ll study the same way it’s done in a traditional university or college program.

These programs are intended for new college students, and they usually span four years. Even though some programs offer the chance to earn a bachelor’s in less than four years, these programs tend to come with requirements like previous coursework before you can apply.

Application requirements for traditional Bachelor of Science programs include a high school diploma or equivalent.

Since the goal is to give you the full BSN degree experience, a range of classes outside of nursing will also be included. You need to complete both general education courses and nursing courses to earn your BSN degree.

Accelerated BSN Programs

An accelerated BSN program is the way to go for students looking to get into nursing positions as fast as possible. You’ll typically earn your degree in as little as two years. The shorter duration is due to the presumed ability of students to read courses at a faster pace.

These programs are appropriate for people who already have a different bachelor’s or are working full-time. As courses are read faster, the program demands more from students. It’s a great way to take advantage of knowledge from past education and combine it with new knowledge from nursing school. Look for programs that have high acceptance rates that can fast-track you to the career you want.

Even though the programs go faster, a nursing student attending won’t miss out on the opportunity of diving deeper. Accelerated BSN programs still offer specialization within a chosen field, just like traditional programs.

Bridge Programs

In the same way, the possibility of working as a nurse without a bachelor’s degree exists, and so do bridge programs for those seeking to expand their career opportunities. Licensed practical nurses and registered nurses with associate’s degrees can use these programs to gain advanced degrees.

With higher degrees, they can attain more responsibility in the healthcare scene and improve their salaries. Now, more employers than ever ask for a Bachelor of Science degree when looking for new employees.

A bridge program allows nursing students to apply previously acquired knowledge to their studies. It saves transfer students both time and money, as they can keep working while reading for a full degree.

LPN to BSN Programs

Becoming a licensed practical nurse is the fastest route to professional nursing. It only requires 12 to 18 months of your time and provides you with a nursing practice license. LPNs, for the most part, carry out more entry-level duties. So it’s natural that some wish to gain more responsibility after a while.

Continuing education through a bridge program will help develop the skills and provide the advanced knowledge needed for leadership positions. A bridge nursing program can also be helpful when you’re looking to relocate to a more senior role in the nursing field.

Public health agencies consider nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing before others. Even an experienced nurse with an associate degree may be put on the sidelines.

The LPN to BSN bridge program is accelerated and utilizes previous knowledge of practical nurses to get to the vitals. By expanding on previous topics and integrating experience from clinical hours, LPNs can earn RN licensure and gain employment opportunities in no time.

The nursing program will cover nursing science, theory, management and leadership skills, research methods, public and community health, and more.

RN to BSN Programs

An RN to BSN program can help registered nurses with an associate degree improve their theoretical knowledge. Most promotions or more advanced positions go to BSN nurses, even though those with an associate degree have gained experience from workplace practice.

Typically, these programs last two years but can be accelerated. Since registered nurses already have licensure and clinical experience, they can skip many steps usually involved in a standard BSN program. Some courses are offered online to help working nurses attend.

Gaining a full degree gives you the chance to work as a specialist within your preferred area. You could be a clinical nurse specialist, a school nurse, or a nursing director.

Online BSN Programs

Like many other college programs, nursing education also offers students a chance to partake virtually. Online programs help people who don’t have the time to spend or individuals who have a long way to travel.

While you might not get a full degree from an online program alone, you can access a large part of the curriculum online. Bachelor’s programs entirely online are the ones for RNs looking to improve on an associate degree.

Because the nursing profession primarily consists of physical work, practical training is part of the different forms of nursing education. A BSN program offered both online and on-site is called a hybrid program.

Due to their flexibility, compared to traditional BSN programs, hybrid programs have become popular. People can take courses and work or take care of their families without inconvenience.

Hybrid Programs

Thanks to modern-day technology, you can complete a nursing curriculum via online programs. Several schools offer hybrid programs where students can enjoy online courses combined with physical meetings for clinical practice. This can be very helpful when trying to combine work with education.

Most hybrid programs give students plenty of options on how to combine remote education with on-site learning. Interestingly, you can take any BSN program in hybrid form.

A full BSN degree requires collegiate nursing education combined with clinical experience. Hybrid programs work with hospitals and other healthcare establishments to give students the clinical experience they need while conducting online theoretical courses.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Curriculum

Traditionally, bachelor’s programs combine general education courses with nursing theory and clinical training. The degree requires about 120 credits, which have to be filled. It differs from an associate program in its deep level of learning.

BSN curriculum goes beyond the basics to offer a fully comprehensive experience. Specific courses may differ quite a bit from school to school. But, typically, a BSN curriculum covers courses in social sciences, humanities, and basic sciences that are helpful in nursing studies.

Nursing Courses

Many programs start with the general courses and only introduce nursing classes after the general ones have been completed. This way, prospective nurses can focus entirely on nursing-related topics once they start. As one course may be related to another, study becomes more effortless.

Typically, students get up to 800 hours of clinical experience in a bachelor’s program. Clinical practice involves different settings where the evidence-based nursing practice is taught. Even though hours differ between schools, they all cover the minimum time needed to meet the licensing requirements.

Admission Requirements for Bachelor of Science in Nursing Programs

As with all colleges, there are some admission requirements you need to meet to enter a nursing school. Students must prove their ability to handle the pace of courses attended.

Common admission requirements include:

  • Minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75
  • GPA over 2.5 in science courses
  • Some schools require the TEAS exam.
  • An admission essay
  • Personal references
  • Resumé
  • Experience from volunteering
  • Prerequisite courses

Nursing Specialties

When attending nursing schools to get your BSN, there’s a chance you’ll eventually specialize in a particular field. Focusing on one area allows nurses to gain knowledge that’ll provide them with job roles similar to a doctor.

Specialization is also the best way to give yourself a chance at increasing your salary. There are hundreds of areas where you can specialize. Make sure to discuss these opportunities with your school. Following are some popular nursing specialties:

Pediatric Care

Children’s care can be tricky as kids aren’t always good at communication. Learning about age-specific illnesses and developmental milestones is a part of pediatric care. A pediatric nurse will be found in settings where juveniles are found.

Nurse Midwife

With a focus on prenatal care and childbirth, midwives are essential for pregnant mothers. They work through pregnancies and help deliver healthy babies.

ICU/Emergency Care

Intensive care units are full of different medical issues. It’s where you’ll probably find the highest pace of work and stress level in a hospital. ICU nurses often come across always-changing cases, so they never stop learning.

Neurological Care

Working on the brain is an exciting role. Neurological illnesses require a lot of knowledge because the brain is the most complex organ in the body. A neuroscience nurse may work with brain disorders, brain testing, and brain-related treatment.

Registered Nurse Salary Overview

Nursing is a good-paying job, but getting a more advanced degree will help increase your salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary of an RN is about $77,460 per year.

For nurses with an associate degree, the average annual salary is $71,000. Nurses with a bachelor’s in nursing make an average of $83,000 yearly. That’s a difference of $12,000 or around 17%. The salary also largely depends on your specific nursing role and the state you reside.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)​

Nurses who hold BSN degrees spend two more years in school, where they gain a lot more knowledge before entering the profession.

Earning a bachelor’s degree will not only help you land better positions, but it’ll also better prepare you for the job and get you a higher salary.

There are several bridge programs for working nurses looking to advance their careers. Many universities offer nurses a chance to work while studying. Nurses can transfer credits previously earned.

Usually, a BSN program requires about four years of training and education. However, you can speed things up with an accelerated program.

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