If you’re a Registered Nurse (RN) who wants to advance your career, you have a path forward with an RN to BSN program. Offered by many nursing schools and universities across the U.S., you can earn a BSN in as little as a year depending on the program you choose.
Some states require a BSN degree if you want to work as a licensed RN. Others that don’t currently mandate it are beginning to shift in that direction. Regardless of the reason you want to level-up, you can use the information in this article to help you get started on the journey.
- What is a BSN degree?
- Why earn a BSN degree?
- What are the best RN to BSN programs?
- What is the impact of earning a BSN?
- What are the similarities between ADN to BSN programs?
What is a BSN degree?
A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is an undergraduate-level degree for RNs. Earning a BSN degree helps you advance your nursing skills.
RNs who hold a BSN degree have more advanced skills and knowledge than RNs with only an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). BSN programs focus on health promotion, patient care, technology advancements, research, and safety and quality improvements throughout the healthcare system.
Why earn a BSN degree?
There are several reasons why earning a BSN degree is worth the time and expense. According to the most recent data, only 56% of RNs in the U.S. have a BSN degree. As more healthcare facilities and states begin requiring these degrees to work as an RN, those numbers are expected to increase.
Out of 187,000 job openings, nurses with BSNs were qualified for 88%. Those with a diploma or ADN only qualified for 51% of those openings.
If you’re an RN with a BSN degree:
- You’re likely earning a higher salary than your ADN degree counterparts. BSN degree programs expand on the basics learned in nursing diploma and ADN degree programs. The more you know, the more you can make.
- You’re eligible for positions not available to nurses who hold an ADN degree. Leadership and supervisory roles like clinical nurse manager are open only to RNs with BSN degrees.
- You’re in greater demand among Magnet hospitals. If you work for one of these hospitals, you’ll practice the highest standard of care for patients and enjoy a work culture that supports and motivates you throughout your nursing career.
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What are the best RN to BSN programs?
Once you figure out you want to earn your BSN, the next step is deciding where to attend school. Choose an RN to BSN program that’s a good fit for your individual circumstances (even if you’ve been out of school for a while). Make sure to check out our forum to connect with other nurses looking for the best schools.
You might prefer an online BSN program if you have a family or busy schedule to work around. If you decide to go this route, make sure you choose an online program that is accredited. Reputable online nursing schools seek accreditation to demonstrate they meet national education standards for quality.
The largest nursing program accrediting bodies are the National League of Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Other accrediting agencies to look for include the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), the Higher Learning Commision (HLC), or the U.S. Department of Education (DOE).
The following schools are online and offer top-notch education (not listed in a specific order):
The 100% online learning format is great for nurses with busy schedules. UM-Flint works diligently to provide curriculum that is challenging enough to prepare current RNs for areas in community health, health promotion, nursing research, leadership, and disease prevention.
There is also a 16-hour experiential program of community-based volunteer work. Nurses can complete the experiential at hospitals, community clinics, health departments, schools, and more.
UM-Flint fosters a tight-knit community atmosphere between people all over the world. With this online program, prepare to learn from nurses from multiple countries.
Accredited through the CCNE.
In-state tuition: $5,970 (per term/12 credits)
Out-of-state: $6,582 (per term)
Another online option, Grand Canyon University (GCU) offers a program for nurses who want to go from an RN to a BSN in as little as 12 months. Most classes last five weeks and accommodate working RNs.
This BSN program prepares students for roles such as team leader, clinical manager, and unit supervisor.
GCU doesn’t have in-state and out-of-state tuition. All students qualify for the same low tuition rate since the program is 100% online. New online students can apply for 30% off tuition through student scholarships.
Accredited through the HLC since 1968.
If you want to accelerate your path from RN to BSN, Purdue University Global (PUG) can help you get there. The 100% online program is catered to working RNs who want to save both time and money.
A great thing about PUG is that you can customize your degree. Choose specific electives such as holistic nursing, palliative care, transcultural nursing, or faith community nursing.
One of the best things about PUG is there are no mandatory log-in times, seminars, or scheduling conflicts. You can log in online to access all coursework. Required clinicals can be completed at a location and time of your choosing.
Accredited through the CCNE.
Tuition rate (per term): $2,500
Boost your skills in patient care in a variety of healthcare settings with the online RN to BSN program at Arizona State University. The skills you learn can help you be a part of an essential team advancing the healthcare industry.
This program prepares students for specialties such as public health and pediatric care. Classes are designed to help students adapt to the rapid changes in the nursing field. There is also a focus on advances in technology, preparing students for the future.
ASU’s RN to BSN program is flexible, allowing you to complete courses between your busy work schedule. Nurses who go through this online program learn from the same faculty and cover the same course content as students attending ASU in person.
Accredited through the Arizona State Board of Nursing and the CCNE.
Resident tuition: $11,568 (per year)
Out-of-state: $11,702 (per year)
Chamberlain University’s 100% online RN to BSN degree provides you with the flexibility you need to accommodate your busy home and work schedules. You won’t have to compromise high-quality instruction for speed and cost. Chamberlain’s program combines top faculty with flexibility to ensure you get a quality education.
Faculty is comprised of nurses and doctoral-educated staff to ensure you learn up-to-date best practices in nursing.
Even if you take just one class at a time while continuing to work, you can earn a BSN within a year. Chamberlain has the largest nursing school in the country, giving you the opportunity to network with other nursing professionals.
RNs can receive 77 credits toward the 122-credit degree at Chamberlain for their experience. That makes the RN to BSN program just 45 credits.
Accredited through the CCNE.
Average student tuition: $14,000 per year
What is the impact of earning a BSN?
Expanding your nursing knowledge leads to more career opportunities and higher wages. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, RNs earn on average $82,750 while LPNs earn $51,850.
Beyond bigger salaries and career advancements, as an RN with a BSN, you can improve patient outcomes. Research points to decreased mortality rates, fewer medication errors, and increased diagnostic proficiency.
What are the similarities between ADN to BSN programs?
ADN and BSN programs are not that different. If you complete either program, you learn the basic skills needed to deliver quality patient care and sit for the NCLEX-RN. BSN programs take longer to earn and include general education courses in addition to nursing-specific classes.
The main difference between the two is the management component. BSN degrees focus heavily on preparing RNs for supervisory roles. You also can expect to delve deeper into ethics, nursing skills and theory, pharmacology, and public health.
What are your next steps to earning a BSN?
If you think you’re ready to earn your BSN, you can start preparing for advanced coursework by taking advantage of Incredible Health’s free online library of premium continuing education courses. Then, start exploring your options for an RN to BSN program that suits your lifestyle and nursing goals.
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- Photo by Felipe Gregate on Unsplash.