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Everything You Need to Know About a BSN Degree

posted on: Apr 29, 2021

Many people pursue a career in nursing because they want the opportunity to help people and make a positive impact through their work. Nurses play a crucial role in the healthcare system, and skilled nursing professionals are in high demand. If you are considering becoming a nurse, then earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) will open up the widest possibilities in the nursing field. Nurses with a BSN have a higher skill set and are eligible for top-level positions and better compensation. 

Completing a BSN is not cheap, and you will need to be prepared to put in the time and hard work to achieve the qualification. Earning a BSN is not easy, either, but it is a smart investment for any nurse wanting to advance in their job role and move up the career ladder. In this guide, we will cover everything that you need to know about pursuing a BSN degree. This will include the different routes to becoming a BSN nurse, what to expect from the course, and how to get the most out of the program. 

What is the difference between an RN and a BSN? 

There is a common misconception that all nurses are trained to the same level, but this is not the case. Many graduate nurses choose to enroll in advanced programs such as an RN to BSN or a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). If you are already a registered nurse (RN), then you have the option to complete an accelerated program like an RN to BSN. This is the fastest and most affordable way for qualified nurses to achieve BSN status and enjoy the perks that come with it.

The major difference between an RN and a BSN nurse is the level of education obtained. Most RN’s complete a two-year associate degree in nursing before applying for a license to practice. RN’s assist physicians in caring for patients and work in a wide variety of healthcare settings, including hospitals, private clinics, and doctor’s surgeries. On the other hand, BSN nurses typically complete a four-year bachelor’s degree before being awarded a nursing license. 

Both RN and BSN nurses are licensed to practice, although many entry-level nursing positions now require a BSN qualification. A BSN qualification is preferred over an associate’s degree in most healthcare settings. This means that BSN nurses enjoy wider career opportunities and higher compensation. BSN nurses are also eligible for higher-level nursing positions and leadership roles. This is why many RN’s choose to complete a bridging program like an RN to BSN once they have achieved certified status. 

What are the different routes to a BSN?

There are several different routes to become a BSN nurse. The best path for you will depend on your previous experience and education. Here are the most common BSN career paths:

  • Four-year BSN degree 

The most common route to becoming a BSN nurse is to complete a traditional four-year BSN degree at college. You can choose to complete a BSN degree at a campus or opt for an online course. A four-year BSN degree is designed for students without previous nursing education or experience.

  • LPN to BSN program

A Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) has a nursing license, but some states set limits on the level of care they can provide. For instance, an LPN may be unable to administer certain medications and treatments. Becoming an LPN can be a good option if you want to get into the nursing profession quickly. You can complete an LPN certification in as little as 12 to 15 months. However, LPN’s typically have restricted career opportunities and lower earning potential. An LPN to BSN program expands an LPN’s existing skills and knowledge and helps them progress in their nursing career. Most LPN to BSN programs take two to three years to complete. 

  • RN to BSN program 

As mentioned, an RN to BSN is a bridging program that allows RN’s to achieve BSN status. These courses take between 18 and 24 months to complete. Many nurses choose to complete an online program like this so that they can continue to work alongside studying. An RN to BSN program can open up many career opportunities in the nursing field. BSN graduates are eligible for senior roles such as registered nurse supervisors and ward managers

Who is a BSN degree best for? 

A BSN degree is ideal for any nurse who aspires to excel in their career and advance into a more senior role. Nurses who complete a BSN program like an RN to BSN have the opportunity to expand their skills and expertise and improve their clinical care. For that reason, BSN nurses typically feel more confident in their abilities and deliver a higher level of patient care. 

Achieving BSN status should also open up new career opportunities in the nursing field and improve your salary potential. A recent survey found that “RN’s with a Bachelor’s degree earn an average of $80,000 per year, compared to $75,000 for RN’s with an Associate’s degree.” Nurses who complete an RN to BSN program can expect to earn more than nursing staff without a BSN. Your BSN salary will be affected by various factors such as your RN to BSN specialty and the state that you live and work in. Nurses with a BSN qualification are highly regarded in the healthcare industry and tend to secure top-level positions. Completing an RN to BSN can put you in a stronger position when higher-level nursing positions become available. 

What is covered in a BSN program?

Most BSN programs combine classroom-based learning with clinical placements. The curriculum will depend on the type of BSN course you choose. For instance, RN to BSN programs are less lengthy and intensive when compared to a traditional four-year BSN degree. A BSN course is designed to equip student nurses with the specialist skills and expertise to make a meaningful contribution to the healthcare system. According to information on, the following core curriculum is included in more BSN programs:

  • Human anatomy 
  • Microbiology 
  • Nutrition
  • Nursing assessment 
  • Nursing statistics 
  • Basic pharmacology 
  • Nursing research 

Most BSN programs also require students to complete a set number of clinical hours. Nursing placements are designed to give BSN students insight into the day-to-day responsibilities of a BSN nurse. You must build your clinical experience to expand your skills and gain expertise in your chosen nursing field. Potential placement settings include private clinics, hospital wards, and doctor’s offices. Most schools help BSN students secure suitable placements and internships while they are studying. Be proactive when it comes to building your work experience and start research internship opportunities early on. 

What are the admission requirements? 

The admission requirements will depend on the type of BSN course you choose. For instance, most traditional BSN courses don’t require any previous nursing education or healthcare experience. However, you will need to show copies of your high school transcript and GPA scores. Some courses may also require professional references and a personal statement. If you are enrolling in a bridging program like an RN to BSN, then you are required to provide proof of an active RN license and clinical experience. The admission requirements will vary depending on the degree format and school that you choose. Make sure that you contact the course provider in advance to check the course admission requirements. Get all of your supporting documents in order before you apply for the course to make it as easy as possible. 

How long will it take to complete a BSN degree?

The time that it takes you to complete a BSN will also vary depending on the degree format and course provider that you choose. As discussed, a traditional BSN degree will usually require four years of full-time study. Students with prior nursing qualifications and experience can typically earn a BSN in a much shorter time frame, though. An RN to BSN program can be completed in as little as 18 months, for example. A BSN will take considerably longer to finish if you choose to study on a part-time basis. Keep this in mind when you are considering different BSN degree options. 

Can I earn a BSN degree online? 

Earning a BSN is a big undertaking, and many students cannot afford to give up work or commit to campus-based teaching sessions. Fortunately, many education establishments now offer online BSN programs. Completing a BSN program like an RN to BSN online offers far greater flexibility when compared to traditional courses. Online BSN courses are convenient, and you will have complete autonomy over your study schedule and learning style. This freedom offers dozens of benefits, but it can also bring about some challenges. Students who do well with distance learning are self-motivated and extremely organized. You must manage your time well to achieve course milestones and meet coursework and assessment deadlines. 

An online BSN program can be a great option, especially for nurses who are currently working and want to complete an RN to BSN program. However, you must be aware of the challenges of distance learning and weigh up the pros and cons carefully. Make sure that you enroll in a BSN program that will suit your learning preferences, lifestyle, and family commitments. Check out this article for tips on how to achieve online nursing class success. 

How much does a BSN cost?

A BSN is not cheap, and you must be prepared to make a sizable financial investment. Tuition fees for a four-year BSN degree can be anywhere from $40,000 to more than $100,000 a year in a private college, according to the Imagine America Foundation. You also need to factor in additional expenses such as accommodation and course materials. The cost of a BSN will be significantly lower if you already have nursing education and enroll in a bridging course like an RN to BSN. Studying for a BSN online should also lower the costs and make the qualification more affordable. 

There are several options available when it comes to funding a BSN degree. Many students apply for a student loan to cover their tuition and maintenance costs. In most cases, a student loan will cover the entire costs of your BSN, and you won’t need to start repaying the debt until you are employed and earning a salary. There is also a good selection of financial aid to support BSN students. You can apply for a variety of scholarships and grants and receive financial aid to support you through your BSN program. Take some time to look through your options.  

What should I look for in a school? 

Choosing the best school can be difficult, especially when there are so many BSN course providers out there. You must research the different options carefully and invest your money in a school that will give you the most for your money. Most schools publish key statistics on their website. This should include student pass rates, the percentage of recent graduates who are employed as nurses, student to faculty ratio. Reviewing this information should give you insight into the quality of the school. You also need to check that the course structure and location will suit your lifestyle and learning preferences. For instance, look for a reputable online RN to BSN program if you want a flexible course that will fit around your work and family commitments. 

Final thoughts 

More and more nurses are choosing to complete a BSN to remain competitive in the nursing field and access wider career opportunities. Earning a BSN qualification is a huge commitment, but it can give a fantastic return on investment. BSN graduates typically enjoy better salaries and become eligible for high-level nursing positions. Students with prior nursing education and experience can achieve BSN status in as little as 18 months by enrolling in a bridging program like an RN to BSN. Earning a BSN is an excellent way for nurses to enhance their skills, build their expertise, and advance in their careers.

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