Earning Your Bachelor's Degree in Nursing Can Expand Your Career Options

 Explore what goes into earning a BSN or RN-to-BSN.

About a bachelor's degree in nursing

bsn nurse holding patient charts

A bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree prepares you for a job as a registered nurse. While you can work as an RN with an associate's degree, nurses with a BSN are typically given more responsibility, supervisory roles and higher salaries.

A BSN program, which typically takes four years, will include both liberal arts courses which fufill general education requirements and classes specific to your major in nursing.

Why should I earn my BSN?

If you've already achieved RN status through an associate's degree program, enrolling in an RN-BSN program is the next logical step if you're looking for career advancement. The good news is an RN-BSN program can be completed while you continue working as a nurse, which means you'll advance your career without having to take time off.

If you envision yourself working in health care for the long term, earning a BSN can be a strategic move. With the nursing shortage in the U.S., RNs with BSNs are in high demand and can benefit from good salaries. In addition to this, holding a BSN puts you one step closer to a master's degree or doctorate if you decide you want to become an advanced practice nurse.

If you're already working as an RN, you have a great edge on achieving a BSN. Today, many hospitals offer tuition reimbursement programs. This means if you work as a nurse and want to advance your education, your workplace might help you pay for it. On top of that, already having achieved RN status means obtaining your BSN will take less time—and still have a great payoff.

How long does my program take to complete?

Completing your schooling generally takes the following amount of time:

  • Bachelor's degree: Three to four years
  • If you already have received certification as an RN, an RN-BSN can be completed in about two years. 

These time frames are based on full-time enrollment. Many programs allow students to attend part-time, but this will translate into a longer completion time.

Am I a good fit for this program?

To determine if you're a good fit for a BSN program, you'll first want to consider your background. There are generally three types of BSN students.

  • An aspiring RN who attends a four-year college or university
  • An RN looking to get their bachelor's degree and enrolls in an RN-BSN program.
  • A student with a bachelor's degree in another field who enrolls in an accelerated BSN program

In any of these cases, you'll be making a time commitment so evaluating your lifestyle and needs is crucial.

  • Will you need to work while you're in school?
  • Do you need time flexibility?
  • How will you pay for tuition?

On top of these types of questions, you'll want to consider the type of student you are. Some people thrive in an on-campus setting with lots of interaction with peers and professor, whereas other students may be more suitable for an online program if they need to work at their own pace or want a less expensive education option.

With so many online and on-campus BSN programs available, you won't find a shortage of schools. You'll just need to weigh the options to decide whether a traditional campus or online learning suits you better.

What will I learn in my degree program?

A BSN will incorporate both coursework and clinical practice into the curriculum. In addition to general education requirements like English, you'll also learn anatomy, physiology, biology and nutrition, among other topics.

If you already have your associate's degree or certification as a nurse, you have the option to enroll in an RN-BSN program, which uses your associate's degree coursework as a jumping off point. Your bachelor's degree program will contain science-based learning and nursing skills instruction. A typical BSN class list might include: 

  • Emergency Care
  • Nutrition
  • Health Assessment
  • Research and Scholarship for Evidence-Based Practice
  • Family, Community, and Population-Based Care
  • Public and Global Health
  • Issues and Trends in Nursing

See if online programs are available for bachelor's degree-level programs.

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