Types of BSN Programs: Nursing Education Programs Explained

By Craig Miller

02/8/2022



Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs are well-known for providing students with the practical skills and theoretical knowledge to succeed in a nursing career.

In addition, BSN programs help practicing nurses develop professionally by offering them opportunities for ongoing education.

If you’re looking to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing, various options are available — from traditional on-campus BSN programs to online and hybrid BSN programs.

Here we explain these BSN program options to help you make the right decision for your nursing education.

How Long Does a BSN Program Take?

The duration of a BSN program depends on the type of program and the school’s specific requirements.
Generally, BSN programs take between two and four years to complete. However, some schools offer accelerated BSN programs, which can be completed in as little as 12 months.

Types of BSN Programs

When choosing the right nursing school, you’ll find various nursing programs available. Although these programs have unique and specific objectives, their overall goal is to produce nurses.
You’ll find that some programs are better suited for your needs. If you already have a job, you may want a program that allows you to combine schooling and your work. Such considerations will ultimately influence your decision.

Traditional BSN Programs

The most common way to earn a nursing degree is by completing a traditional BSN program. A baccalaureate degree program in nursing takes the same shape as a traditional university or college program.
These programs are for new college students, and they usually span four years. Some programs take less than four years to complete, but they have requirements like previous coursework.
Application requirements for traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs include a high school diploma or equivalent.
Since the goal is to give you the full BSN degree experience, the program will also include a range of classes outside nursing. You’ll need to complete general education 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 study courses at a faster pace.

These programs are appropriate for people who already have a different bachelor’s degree or work full-time. The program demands more from students because they have to study the courses faster than usual.

It’s a great way to take advantage of knowledge from past education and combine it with new knowledge from nursing school.Even though the programs are 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

Bridge programs provide a degree pathway for nurses to expand their career opportunities. Licensed practical nurses and registered nurses with associate’s degrees can use these programs to gain advanced degrees.

Entry-level and advanced nurses can attain more responsibility in the healthcare scene with higher degrees.

Now, more employers than ever ask for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree when looking for new employees. A bridge program helps if you don’t already have one.

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 (LPN) is the fastest route to professional nursing. It only requires 12 to 18 months of study 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 move to a more advanced role in the nursing field.

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.

Usually, BSN nurses get to enjoy more advanced nursing roles compared to RNs with an associate degree even though the latter has more 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. In addition, some courses are online to help working nurses attend.

Gaining a full degree gives you the chance to work as a specialist within your preferred area. For example, 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 attend virtually. Online BSN programs help people who don’t have the time to participate in traditional classrooms or 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. BSN programs entirely online are for RNs looking to improve on an associate degree.

Because the nursing profession primarily consists of physical work, practical training is an essential part of nursing education. Therefore, there’s usually a combination of online and on-site BSN education, called a hybrid program.

Hybrid Programs

Several schools offer hybrid programs where students can enjoy online courses and physical meetings for clinical practice. This structure can be very helpful when trying to combine work with education.

Most hybrid programs give students plenty of options on combining remote education with on-site learning. Interestingly, you can take any baccalaureate degree program in hybrid form.

A full BSN degree program 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.

Financial Aid for BSN Programs

When you finally decide on a program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, there are several ways to finance your education, including scholarships, grants, and student loans.

You can also choose to work while in school or take out a loan from a private lender. Please find out more by visiting our Financial Aid Hub.

No matter which route you choose, make sure you research your options and find the best financial solution for you. Don’t let the cost of a BSN program stop you from achieving your goals!

Choose the right Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program for you.

There are different types of BSN programs available to nurses seeking to expand their knowledge and skills. Whether it’s a traditional, online, bridge, or hybrid BSN program, you’ll find one that meets your needs and prepares you for the next step in your nursing career.

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