• Certifications and Licenses
  • BSN - Bachelor of Science in Nursing

    • costs vary
    • degree program
    • 11 months to 4 years

    COURSE FORMAT

    Online
    In Person
    Blended

    About

    A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a four-year nursing degree earned at a college or university accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). As nursing diploma programs near extinction, earning a nursing degree has become the common requirement to become a registered nurse. Prospective nurses can enter the nursing field with an associate degree in nursing, but many healthcare facilities have begun requiring BSN degrees even for entry-level positions. Therefore, earning a BSN can put RNs in a better position from a career standpoint, among other things.

    Course Format

    A Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree is beneficial for various students and situations. A BSN degree can be an entry-level degree for first-time college students going into nursing or for students with a bachelor’s degree in another field but want to switch to nursing. Additionally, BSNs can be for licensed RNs who entered nursing by completing a diploma program or earning an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) and want to expand their career opportunities by earning their BSN. As a result, the program format and courses required, completion time, and cost can all vary based on the student’s previous education and nursing experience.

    Completion time based on various pathways:

    • Traditional BSN college degrees for high school graduates with no previous college education or healthcare experience generally take four years of full-time study.

    • RN-to-BSN bridge programs, also known as ASN-to-BSN programs, are for RNs with an active license who want to increase their education and take about 18 to 24 months.

    • LPN-to-BSN programs allow students to simultaneously earn a BSN and the credentials needed to qualify for an RN license and typically take 2 to 3 years of full-time study.

    • Accelerated or direct entry programs are for students who currently hold a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field and want to use their liberal arts courses to meet general course requirements and begin BSN coursework quicker. These programs usually take 11 to 18 months of full-time study or 22 months for part-time programs with evening and weekend classes.

    Costs

    BSN costs widely vary based on the type of educational institution, but they also have a wide range among like institutions. The average cost of earning a BSN at a community college ranges between $3,000 to $14,000 per year. In comparison, a private university’s fees can range from $40,000 to over $100,000 per year. Textbooks cost between $1,000 and $3,000+ per year. Other cost considerations include uniforms, required vaccinations. and medical devices like stethoscopes, thermometers, sphygmomanometers, etc. Nursing students can qualify for a variety of financial aid, including scholarships, grants, student loans, and employer tuition reimbursement.

    The curriculum for traditional BSN programs combines general education courses and core nursing courses with clinical training hours. Although every BSN curriculum is different, accredited nursing programs must follow the parameters set forth by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). The AACN outlines the essential curriculum and core competencies required to prepare BSN-trained RNs for their nursing roles and responsibilities. Besides classroom studies, nursing programs must provide students with clinical experience in various healthcare settings serving different patient populations.

    Certification

    Information on Obtaining BSN Degrees

    Most nursing programs have prerequisites for enrollment. For traditional four-year BSN programs, applicants must have their high school diploma or GED. High school graduates may be required to have a grade point average of 2.0 or better or 3.0 or better, depending on the college. They may also need to complete several years of English, math, biology, and a foreign language while in high school.

    Most nursing schools require applicants to pass a pre-admission exam but some don’t. Programs that do generally require either the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) proctored by the Assessment Technologies Institute (ATI) or the Health Education Systems, Inc Admission Assessment (HESI A2) administered by Elsevier. The TEAS consists of 170 questions with a 209-minute time limit and covers reading, math, science and English/language use. The HESI has a 4.5-hour time limit and covers biology, chemistry, grammar, reading comprehension, vocabulary/general knowledge, and math.

    Other items students may need during the application process include:

    • High school transcripts / GED scores

    • Postsecondary school transcripts for bridge programs

    • Proof of active RN license for bridge programs

    • Standardized scores for the SAT or ACT

    • Proof of legal authorization to work in the U.S.

    • Personal statement of purpose

    • Professional and/or academic recommendations

    • In-person interview

    • Proof of required immunizations and negative TB test

    Once admitted, students must finish all program requirements to complete their BSN program. The curriculum for traditional BSN programs combines general education and nursing courses with clinical training. On average, a BSN degree requires 120 semester credit hours of coursework, plus a significant number of clinical training hours. Some programs only include the minimum number of clinical hours necessary to meet the licensing requirements of the state board of nursing. However, others require much more. Programs can require as little as 400 clinical hours or as much as 1,200, but the average is 700-800 hours.

    Colleges may also require nursing students to complete a National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) Live Review course to better prepare them for their licensing exam. Once all requirements are fulfilled, the school usually requires students to complete a Graduation Clearance Form before distributing their diplomas.

    Other Resources

    Armed with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, new nurse graduates must apply for licensure and pass the (NCLEX-RN) exam before they can become a registered nurse. The NCLEX is used in all 50 states to determine whether a prospective RN is ready to practice safely. The exam is graded pass-fail and currently costs $200. Each state’s licensing board may have other additional requirements. 

    Next Steps

    Advanced education often results in advanced practice roles for nurses, which can increase career options and salary. Therefore, a logical next step for nurses who’ve earned their BSN is to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

    After obtaining an MSN, nurses can take their higher education even further by obtaining their doctorate, which could include a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or a Ph.D., sometimes referred to as a Doctor of Nursing Science (DNS or DNSc) or Doctor of Science in Nursing (DSN).

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    Frequently asked questions

    Why do hospitals want BSN-trained nurses?

    Many healthcare facilities prefer BSN-prepared nurses because their educational programs are more comprehensive, providing them with a better ability to navigate the complexities found in healthcare environments. Studies have also shown that the abilities of BSN-prepared nurses lead to improved patient outcomes and increased patient safety.

    Do BSN-trained RNs earn more than ASN-trained RNs?

    Registered nurses earned an average annual wage of $75,330 in May 2020 (BLS). However, this data doesn’t distinguish between salaries among BSN-trained RNs and ASN-trained RNs. While the difference in starting salary compared to ASN-trained nurses may be relatively negligible, BSN-trained RNs typically have more career opportunities and earn more over time.

    Where do nurses earn the most money?

    States like California, Hawaii, Alaska, Massachusetts, Texas, and Oregon traditionally pay higher wages compared to others, but this can change as demand for nurses increases or decreases in an area. However, don’t forget to compare the cost of living in states with higher pay. Nurses may earn more money but keep less of it due to a higher cost of living, so the difference in discretionary income compared to states with lower salaries may be more comparable than initially realized.