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RN to BSN Programs

Registered nurses (RN) with an associate's degree in nursing (ADN) or diploma may want to consider pursuing a bachelor's of science in nursing (BSN). Transitioning from ADN to BSN may mean salary and career advancement, as well as a broader-based education.

Are RN to BSN Programs Worthwhile?

For many RNs, going back to school means making significant time and financial commitments, often at the cost of personal time and money. Is making the move from RN to BSN worth it? Many believe it is. Before enrolling in a nursing program, one should consider the benefits to earning a BSN degree:

  • Build useful skills. The National Advisory Council on Nurse Education notes the nursing environment is changing and becoming more complex. Nurses increasingly need "higher levels of professional knowledge and judgment and an expanded set of skills." Pursuing a BSN may ensure nurses have a broad skill set.
  • Increase career options. Because BSN students train in the sciences and in non-hospital clinical settings, these nursing students receive a broad-based education. In turn, BSN nurses are well-prepared to hold a wide range of positions.
  • Get one step closer to a MSN. A BSN is essential for nurses who wish to pursue a master's degree--the requirement for becoming nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, certified nurse-midwives, and clinical nurse specialists, as well as many administrative positions.
  • Admission Criteria

    Most RN to BSN programs require that students be licensed RNs with an ADN or state-approved diploma. Other admission requirements vary depending on the competitiveness of the program, but many programs require a grade-point average of around 2.5 or better. Most programs enable nurses to transfer credit hours from previous nursing coursework as long as a passing grade of at least a C is earned.

    Typical Program Requirements

    While many programs require an average of around 120 credit hours, this number varies greatly depending on the program. BSN students typically have the opportunity to transfer credits from previous nursing coursework -- usually up to around half of the credit hours required for the degree. Some programs also offer credits based on one's experience working as an RN.

    Accelerated or "fast-track" RN to BSN programs expedite the time to degree, but most RN to BSN programs take between one and two years to complete.

    RN to BSN Coursework

    RN to BSN coursework usually combines general education requirements (classes in the liberal arts and humanities, for example) with nursing-specific classes. Nursing courses may include:

    • Physical assessment
    • Research in nursing
    • Leadership in nursing practice
    • Community health nursing
    • Contemporary issues in nursing

    Furthermore, RN to BSN degrees include a clinical component that can be fulfilled in non-hospital settings, such as community health centers, hospice organizations, and advanced care facilities.

    BSN Job Outlook

    According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the job outlook for nurses with a BSN is excellent. From 2008 to 2018, employment of registered nurses is projected to grow by 22 percent. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that RNs with bachelor's degrees are likely to have better job prospects than those without this degree.

    Schools offering RN to BSN Programs
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