What Is the Difference Between RN and BSN Degrees?

Aspiring nurses have a host of educational and career paths to choose from, and finding the right option begins with finding the right degree. Nurses can pursue an RN ADN or an RN BSN to become licensed, but there are some fundamental differences between the two degree paths that are important to note.

As you begin to explore the different degrees, take some time to research these key differences to find out which option is the best for you. No matter which option you choose, you can rest easy knowing you’ll get the educational foundation you need to provide skilled nursing care for your patients and their families.

If you wan to find out just what is the difference between RN and BSN degrees, here’s a breakdown of the facts you can use. As you read on, consider looking at our list of the best BSN programs to find the perfect school for your needs.

Similarities Between RNs with an ADN and a BSN

Regardless of which degree option you choose, you’ll have the opportunity to become a registered nurse. Both an ADN and a BSN degree provides you with the training needed to work in hospital settings, and they both can lead to steady, rewarding work. Here are a few other similarities between the two:

  • Require basic liberal arts courses for degree completion
  • Can consist of online courses, in-person classes or a combination of the two
  • Culminate in testing for the NCLEX-RN Licensure exam
  • Make you eligible to apply for entry-level nursing jobs

Key Differences Between RN ADN and BSN Degrees

Of course, the differences between the two degrees are greater than their similarities, and there’s a lot of ground to cover. A good place to start is the program length. An ADN typically takes two years to complete, while a BSN takes four. If you already have an ADN and want to continue your education, you can choose to enroll in an RN to BSN program. This option lets you complete your degree in as few as 12 months, and it’s designed to meet the unique needs of working nurses.

The four-year BSN program is longer, in part, because it requires more in-depth training. You’ll learn more about community health, patient support and administrative work that can help you prepare for career advancements. With an ADN, you may learn some of these concepts, but not to the same extent as a BSN student.

One of the most important distinctions between the two types of degrees is where you will actually complete your studies. ADN programs can be completed at many community colleges, while a BSN requires study at a four-year college or university. Attending a four-year school also provides more opportunities for clinical experience in the surrounding community. Many schools partner with local hospitals and healthcare systems to provide BSN students with hands-on experience in the field.

Reasons to Pursue an RN ADN

While a BSN can open more doors than an ADN, there are still many good reasons to get your associate’s degree. Some reasons to choose this two-year program over a  BSN might include:

  • Need for more immediate work
  • Unable to afford the cost of a four-year school
  • More flexible class scheduling options
  • Not interested in attending a four-year program

Reasons to Pursue a BSN

If none of the above applies to you, it’s possible that you may be a great candidate for a BSN program. You can leverage a BSN degree to get promoted in your current job in healthcare, or you can use it as a stepping stone to completing a master’s program. Nurses who obtain a master’s degree or doctorate in nursing can become nurse practitioners, nurse educators or high-level nursing administrators. Before you apply to a BSN program, consider the following questions:

  • Do you have time do devote to a full course load?
  • Are you interested in taking math and science courses?
  • Can you commit to clinical rotations at local hospitals on weekends?
  • Is going to a four-year school in your budget?
  • Are you able to balance your work, family and school life currently?

If you can answer yes to all of those questions, it may be time to start looking at schools and scholarship programs. Once you have the right program picked out and funding in place, you can begin on the path toward becoming a licensed RN. Click here to learn more about BSN programs near you.

Career Outlook for Nurses with RN ADN and BSN Degrees

The outlook for nurses in the United States is bright. The field is expected to grow by 16% by the year 2026, and an aging population of Baby Boomers is fueling the needs for more nurses in a range of settings, including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, ERs and hospitals. Whether you have an RN ADN or a BSN, you can find a great job in nursing. However, the type of job you can get will depend on which degree you have. Here are a few fast facts about the state of nursing today:

  • The median pay for RNs with either degree is approximately $68,4500
  • RNs with an ADN make an average of $57,224
  • Nurses working for the government can make around $74,000
  • It’s expected that there will be more than 400,000 new nursing jobs by 2026

While there are many different job opportunities at a range of pay rates, getting a BSN can provide you with access to better-paying jobs throughout your career. Consider contacting the guidance or student support department at the school you are interested in attending, and discuss the different degree options available to you. Once you know the difference between ADN and BSN programs, you can be better prepared to make the right choice.

Are you ready to pursue a degree in nursing? Click here to find out how to become a nurse and explore the best schools offering BSN, RN to BSN or accelerated degree programs. Our site helps you navigate to the information you need so you can be prepared for your nursing school education and a lifetime of rewarding work.

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