Even though there are multiple ways to obtain a nursing degree that makes you eligible to take the NCLEX-RN or certification exam to become a registered nurse, the degree that will take you further than the others is the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). This degree is the most favored nursing degree by employers and prepares you to advance in nursing quicker than the diploma or Associate Degree in Nursing.
Below are a few featured RN to BSN or Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs. You can click on their listing and get more information about their program directly from their admissions department. You should be sure to ask about program length, what the online learning environment is like, flexibility (if you are working and plan to take classes simultaneously), and tuition assistance programs. As with any major decision, it’s a good idea to consider a handful of different nursing programs to make sure you find the one that will work best for you.
Why Earn a BSN?
Many RN’s wonders what earning a BSN will do for their nursing career. The National Student Nurses Association put together an excellent resource for current Registered Nurses wondering what options they have and what results in a BSN can bring them (PDF). Long story short, BSN’s tend to make more money in terms of salary and they tend to have more responsibility and thus more career advancement opportunities.
How to Earn a BSN – 4 Different Paths
Just as there are different pathways leading to a nursing degree, there are different ways to earn a BSN in Nursing. While every nursing program will cover the same core nursing classes and clinical work, each academic program may have different requirements in the additional classes required to earn the degree. Some of the paths to earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree are explained below.
There are many nurses who have been working in their position for years and yet do not have a four-year degree. The RN to BSN program path bridges this gap, allowing nurses who went through a diploma or Associate Degree program to continue their education and obtain the necessary classes and degrees required to move into management. These programs also allow the nurse to continue working while going to school.
New students who are just starting out and know they want to get their full Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree should consider a four-year college. These programs are basically two years of general education and elective classes followed by two years of nursing classes and clinical work. Colleges and universities that offer nursing programs all have different prerequisites for entry into the program. Students should make sure they know what these are and can meet these before committing time and money to the program.
A third path to becoming a nurse is not as common as the other paths but is an excellent opportunity for those that are educated that want to become a nurse, which is the Second Degree BSN program. Some students start out in one career and have a four-year degree only to find out later that they are not happy and so they change professions and go back to school. The classes they took for their first Bachelor’s Degree that are general education and liberal arts can be applied to their bachelor of Science degree and allow them to have only the nursing segments to complete in order to have their nursing degree.
Lastly, there is the accelerated BSN. This is essentially a four-year degree compressed into twenty or twenty-four months. This is not a program for everyone. You must be very dedicated and disciplined. You will have a lot of work to do in a little bit of time and you have to concentrate on it in order to be successful.
These options should illustrate that if you want to earn a BS in nursing there is more than one way to do so.
BSN Program Requirements & Prerequisites
The prerequisites for earning a BS degree in Nursing vary from one nursing school to another; however, you can expect to need satisfactory scores on the SAT or ACT or the school’s own entrance exam. If you are already an RN you will need to have a current license that is in good standing.
You should also be able to provide your diploma or degree for your nursing program that is from an accredited institution. This is important to take into consideration when considering a diploma or Associate Degree nursing program. If the school or program is not accredited the course work may not be accepted by colleges and universities if you choose to continue your education. Other requirements will be detailed by the individual school you choose to attend.
Nurses who have a Bachelor of Science in nursing degree have an advantage over nurses with a diploma or Associate Degree. While all three nursing degrees can work in hospitals and healthcare facilities, the nurse with the Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing qualification is eligible for entry into management training positions and can advance their degree for specialty work such as nurse anesthetists.
Registered nursing is a strange field since there are so many points of entry. While many Registered Nurses come through accredited Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs, not all of them do.
There are actually three different ways that many states allow registered nurses to begin practicing:
– By getting their bachelor’s of science in nursing.
– By getting an associate’s degree.
– By graduating from a diploma program.
Getting Licensed with a BSN
Nursing students who have graduated aren’t nurses yet- they still need to pass their NCLEX-RN in order to practice. In many states, it’s actually faster for nursing students to get four-year degrees and take their NCLEX-RN than it is for them to get two-year degrees before the exam. So, if you’re in a hurry to graduate and begin practicing, then, depending on your state, it may make more sense to get your BSN instead of an associate’s or nursing diploma.
Many states are also tightening their requirements for licensure. As a result, the three-entry registered nursing industry may be on its way out. Though a serious shortage of nurses means that nursing schools need to focus on turning out as many nursing graduates as possible, regulatory organizations also recognize the need for these nurses to be highly trained. This means that the BSN may end up being the minimum education required for nurses in many areas.
Accredited Schools that Offer BSN Programs
If you’re looking for a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in a big state like California, you’re in luck- California has a ton of accredited BSN programs available from both public and private schools. Nursing students can go to a plethora of California State University locations, San Diego State University, San Francisco State University, Mount St. Mary’s College, or Concordia University Irvine, among others. In smaller states, your choice of schools may be more limited. New Hampshire, for example, only has four schools currently offering BSN programs for registered nurses- Colby-Sawyer College, St. Anselm College, University of New Hampshire, and the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. In general, the number of nursing schools a state offers has to do with the number of colleges that the state’s population can support, not its geographic size. New York City, a medical hub, is a relatively small area, but still offers a lot of BSN programs- CUNY Hunter College, CUNY Lehman College, CUNY York College, LIU Brooklyn, New York University, Saint Joseph’s College, SUNY Downstate Medical Center, and Wagner College are all located either in New York City itself or in the immediate surrounding area, like Brooklyn and Staten Island.
Even if you are in an area with relatively few accredited BSN programs, it may be possible to avoid ending up on a waiting list if you choose to do some of your coursework at a liberal arts college or two-year nursing school. This can allow you to eliminate some of your liberal arts coursework, like English and Psychology, while still allowing you to complete your core classes in a nursing BSN program.
To find a complete, up-to-date list of accredited BSN programs in your state, it’s important to contact your state’s Board of Nursing. The Board governs which BSN programs are and are not approved, and it’s possible for schools to gain or lose approval over time.
It’s also possible for non-accredited BSN programs to attempt to misrepresent themselves as having Board approval. Unfortunately, students who graduate from these programs are not eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN, which means that they are also ineligible to practice nursing. Even if a student enrolled in a non-accredited program because they were misled, it is still their responsibility to enroll in and graduate from a Board-approved program before they will be allowed to take the NCLEX-RN.
Every state has some good, accredited BSN programs, and usually has several tuition help schemes in place to assist nurses who can’t afford them. If you’re considering getting into nursing, then a BSN can give you the foundation you need to pass the NCLEX-RN, and go on to practice in a medical facility, continue your nursing education with an advanced degree, or specialize with any certification program you desire.
★ Featured Online Bachelor’s in Nursing Programs
The following schools have online Bachelor’s in nursing programs and are currently accepting applicants from around the US. Get in contact with them for more information on their programs and admissions standards.