An Overview of the BSN Degree

The past few years have seen an enormous growth in the number of individuals wanting to get a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or BSN Degree. This isn’t much of a surprise considering that even in the face of today’s challenging job market, registered nurses continue to enjoy a stable and financially rewarding career.

It’s worth noting that to be able to practice as a registered nurse, you have three options to choose from: earn a 3-year diploma in nursing, a 2-year associate’s degree in nursing (ADN degree), or a 4-year Bachelor’s in Nursing degree. This article focuses on what you can expect with a degree in BSN, its advantages, and the career opportunities that await you.

Basic Education and Training

BSN programs, offered by most colleges and universities, is a typical 4-year degree. The first two years of study will be spent mostly on completing general education courses such as basic English, science, and math as a fulfillment for college level requirements.

The last two years will then tackle classroom instruction for basic nursing principles, as well as supervised training in hospitals for the technical skills needed. A BSN curriculum may include courses for anatomy and physiology, nursing management, pharmacology, nutrition and health, microbiology, health care management, and others.

Advanced Courses

One major advantage of a BSN program compared to other entry-level nursing degrees is that it also provides orientation in related areas such as communication, research, management, and critical thinking. Being trained for these skills will equip the nurse for higher nursing responsibilities, making him or her eligible for teaching jobs, consultative functions, and administrative positions.

With a BSN degree, a nurse will also be qualified for career advancement in nursing specialties such as nurse practitioners, certified nurse anesthesiologists, clinical nurse specialists, and certified nurse midwives.

Before qualifying for entry-level nursing jobs in hospitals and other health care facilities, a BSN graduate should first pass the National Council for Licensure Examination (NCLEX).

Types of BSN Degrees

A 4-year program is only one of the many ways to earn a BSN degree. As a matter of fact, many RNs start off with a nursing diploma or an associate’s degree because then, they can practice nursing and receive a regular paycheck more quickly. In addition, individuals working in an entirely different field can have the chance to shift to a nursing career via any one of the BSN degrees that best fits their current qualifications.

What are the options for earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Degree?

BSN Degree. The straight 4-year program designed for fresh high school graduates or individuals who are fortunate enough to have both the time and the financial resources to devote 4 years to concentrate solely on earning their degree. As outlined in the previous section, programs for this degree include basic college level courses, nursing theory, and skills training.

LPN to BSN Degree. While an LPN or LVN degree does not qualify one for licensure in registered nursing, graduates of these programs do have the chance to continue their education and earn a BSN degree, subsequently opening doors for better career options in the health care industry. LPN to BSN programs can be completed in as short as 24 months.

RN to BSN Degree. Registered nurses who are nursing diploma and ADN graduates can increase their earning capability by getting a BSN degree. Two-year RN to BSN online degrees are available in most states, allowing registered nurses to complete the program even while working full time.

Second Degree BSN Degree. Professionals who wish to change careers and who are already holders of non-nursing degrees can complete a second degree – BSN degree and practice as a licensed nurse. Because general and liberal arts courses taken for the first college degree are credited for the BSN degree, programs of this type often only take about 2 years or less.

Accelerated BSN Degree. Similar to the second degree BSN, the accelerated BSN degree is designed for holders of non-nursing degrees who want to start over with a nursing career. The only difference is that coursework and clinicals for accelerated BSN programs are done at a faster pace, allowing the student to finish in 12 to 18 months.

What Does a BSN Graduate Do?

Completing a BSN degree will give you eligibility for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), and passing the test will give you license as a registered nurse.

As a newly-licensed RN, you can easily find employment as a staff nurse in hospitals and in in-patient care facilities where you will be responsible for treating, monitoring, and educating patients, as well as providing information, support, and helpful advice to the family members. Specific tasks include obtaining the patient’s vital signs, running diagnostic tests, administering medications, assisting with patient rehabilitation, and many more.

With experience and good performance, RNs who are BSN graduates eventually assume leadership roles in hospitals. They also have the right qualifications for positions outside of hospital settings such as in nursing homes, private care facilities, doctor’s offices, and nursing colleges.

Average Salaries and Career Outlook

Data from the Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey Program show that registered nurses in employment services have the highest median wage, reaching up to $68,160, while those employed in nursing care services have the lowest salaries, averaging only $57,060.

Still, taking all industries into consideration, RNs enjoy one the highest pay scales in the country. While the median wage is at $62,450, the middle 50 percent of RNs receive between $51,640 and $76,570, and the top 10 percent, or nurses in specialized areas, earn at least $92,240.

Besides enjoying very decent salaries and great benefits, career prospects for registered nurses, especially those holding BSN degrees, are exceptionally good. Considered as one of the fastest growing careers today, registered nursing is a field that has created and will continue to create more job opportunities for individuals who have the right training, skills, and attitude, to complete a BSN degree and become competent nurses.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

daisy campos December 6, 2010 at 3:24 am

i am a dentistry undergraduate, i want to shift my course to nursing and eventually get a diploma or certificate. is it possible for me to study at home cause i am currently working???


Admin December 6, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Hey Daisy,

You can certainly complete some of your courses from home via online nursing programs. However, there will still be components of your education that will need to be completed in physical locations (i.e. clinicals and hands-on nursing training).

Good luck!


Lynn April 3, 2011 at 6:16 pm

If the BSN degree is obtained in one state and the NCLEX exam is passed, can the nurse practice in another state? Is the same true at the RN level? Thanks!


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