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What is a BSN Degree?

What is a BSN Degree?

If you are considering a career in nursing, you might have wondered to yourself, “What is a BSN degree?” Simply put, it’s a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing. However, it’s so much more than a piece of paper. This degree puts you on a path to become a registered nurse with a great career outlook.

Nurses are in high demand, and that demand is expected to rise over the next decade. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that the job outlook would grow by as much as 15 percent between 2016 and 2026, but with that growth comes a demand for more highly trained nurses. That’s where getting a BSN degree comes in handy. A nurse with this type of degree can make an average of about $68,000 per year or around $32 per hour.

A BSN degree can provide you with the skills you need to provide more specialized care for patients, and it also gives you the added confidence that comes with a four-year degree. Use this guide to learn more about what a BSN degree is and why you need it to advance your career as a nurse. You may just find that a BSN is the perfect option for your future career goals.

BSN Degree Requirements and Curriculum

Freshmen entering a BSN program will be required to complete their liberal arts education courses in the first two years of study, along with some nursing prerequisite classes that will help ease the transition into more challenging coursework. Some of the prerequisites you can take in the first two years might include:

  • Foundations of Nursing
  • Professional Nursing
  • Basics of Mental and Behavioral Healthcare
  • Acute Care Nursing

Each school may set up the courses differently, so you might take one class listed during a later term.

In the second half of the degree program, there is more of a focus on advanced learning. It’s at this time that you may also begin clinical rotations at hospitals or medical practices within the nearby community. Some schools are attached to their own hospital networks, which can make it easier to schedule clinical rotations in addition to your regular classes. Some schools that are part of a medical system include the University of Illinois at Chicago and New York University.

Your curriculum may be delivered in one of several forms, so it’s also important to look at which learning style works best for you. Classes can be held in one of the following ways:

  • Online: courses are completed online with some instructor-led sessions and student group chats
  • In-Person: courses are held on campus in lecture halls or classrooms
  • Hybrid: courses are held both online and on campus for a unique blend of learning experiences

If you prefer one-on-one communication and instructor-led lectures, you may want to attend all of your courses in-person at the school’s campus. Independent learners can benefit from online classes, which also make it easier to schedule courses around your daily life. For a blend of both, look for a school that offers hybrid learning. This combination of in-person and online courses is a perfect balance for many students. You may prefer to complete your basic liberal arts courses online while attending nursing prerequisites on campus.

Upon completion of your four-year degree program, you’ll take the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. It’s only after passing this test that you will become a registered nurse.

Advantages Over an ADN

A BSN isn’t the only degree that puts you on the path to becoming an RN. You can complete an ADN, which is an associate’s degree. This degree can give you access to nursing jobs, but it has a few disadvantages over a BSN. Here’s a closer look at how these two degrees compare:

  • Nurses with a BSN can make around $8,000 more per year than those with an ADN
  • BSN degrees can open the door to more advanced career options
  • BSN degrees provide a path to a higher degree, including an MSN
  • Having a BSN can help you stand out in the application pool for job openings
  • Some employers may prefer the skillset of a nurse with a four-year degree

A recent study of 187,000 job postings showed that nurses with only an ADN or equivalent diploma were only qualified to apply for slightly more than half of the open positions. Those with a BSN were eligible for far more.

However, you don’t have to start off in a BSN program. If you want to begin nursing as quickly as possible, consider starting with an ADN and pursuing your BSN later. Many schools offer RN to BSN programs designed for working nurses, so you can continue your education while still doing what you love.

RN to BSN Programs

As mentioned above, current working nurses can opt for an RN to BSN program if they already have an ADN or equivalent diploma. To apply for this type of program, you’ll need to have some basic coursework completed, including biology and anatomy. With an RN to BSN program, you may be able to complete your degree in as little as a year. The program length may vary depending on how may classes you can handle while still maintaining your work schedule. Some schools only offer classes on nights and weekends to ensure nurses have enough time to focus on both school and work.

Schools Offering BSN Degrees

When it comes to looking for schools that offer BSN degrees, there’s no shortage of great options. Public schools in every state, such as the California State and State University of New York school systems offer a host of degree options that give nurses access to campuses close to home. While private schools may cost a bit more, you can also choose to study at an esteemed institution, such as Rutgers or Baylor.

As you look for schools that offer BSN programs, keep the cost of tuition and the distance from your home in mind. You may find that there’s an affordable school right around the corner from you.

If you are interested in learning more about schools offering BSN programs, click here to explore our list of the best schools offering BSN degrees. Each school is ranked by tuition cost to help you find the best match for your needs.

Preparing to Earn a BSN

If you are interested in a career in nursing, it’s a good idea to begin preparing as soon as you can. Here are a few steps to consider as you begin your road toward a nursing degree:

  • Research schools
  • Apply for financial aid
  • Talk to a nurse about the job
  • Volunteer at a hospital
  • Obtain your high school diploma or GED
  • Ask your employer about tuition reimbursement
  • Examine your work schedule to make room for classes
  • Get excited about your new career

If you are already a registered nurse with an ADN or diploma, you can prepare for your BSN by collecting your transcripts and asking your employer for a letter of recommendation. Be sure to check the application requirements for transfer students at your school of choice to ensure you have all of the required paperwork in place when you apply.

What You Can Do with a BSN

A BSN can prepare you for a host of nursing jobs. You may prefer general nursing in a hospital or medical practice, but your degree can also open up other opportunities for you. Some potential jobs in nursing you can get with a BSN include:

  • Nurse Case Manager
  • Forensic Nurse
  • Legal Consultancy Nurse
  • Nurse Anesthetist
  • Health Administration Nurse
  • Clinical Nurse Leader
  • Nurse Educator
  • Occupational Health Nurse

Becoming a nurse provides a way for you to provide essential support for your community and improve the lives of those you care for. With a BSN degree, you can get the training and hands-on experience you need to excel.

If you are interested in obtaining your BSN, or if you simply want more information about how to become a nurse, click here for more information.

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