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What Is A BSN Degree: A Full Breakdown


Nurses serve an integral role in the medical field. As a nurse, you can work in a variety of settings and affect everything from a patient’s health to public healthcare policy. In the pursuit of becoming a nurse, there are several educational routes that are available to you. Along your research, you’ll come across acronyms like RN and BSN. For those who have asked, “What is a BSN degree?” let this article serve as your complete breakdown of everything you need to know about a BSN degree.

What Is A BSN Degree?

BSN is an acronym that is short for Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

When you have a BSN, you qualify for the widest range of positions in the nursing field. Like most bachelor degrees, it tends to be a four-year degree. Along with the specific classes for nursing (that you’d find in an associate-level degree), BSN students also complete general education requirements.

During the completion of a BSN program, students also become RNs, or registered nurses.

Nurse and doctor treating a patient in a hospital
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Benefits Of A BSN Degree

A BSN is just one route to become an RN. Students can also choose to become a RN with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), instead of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. ADNs take two years as opposed to four to complete. However, a BSN offers a variety of benefits that an ADN does not. Some of these benefits include:

  • Earning Potential: With an increased level of education comes higher earning potential. In fact, the difference is substantial and on average amounts to an extra $13,000 for first-year BSN graduates when compared to ADNs.
  • Delivery Of Care: BSNs go through a more comprehensive training as education runs longer. As such, they have an increased knowledge to provide better delivery of care to their patients.
  • Opportunities: As the highest level degree in the field of nursing, BSNs qualify for any type of position. In fact, hospitals often have a specific quota to meet for hiring BSN Nurse Managers, so the jobs are more plentiful for BSNs.
  • Options For Specialization: BSNs can specialize in different units of patient care. For example, you can choose to become a BSN with a speciality for pediatrics, oncology, or geriatrics, to name a few.

Types Of BSN Programs

If you’re entering the field of nursing for the first time with no prior degrees, you may opt for a BSN if you want to qualify for the aforementioned benefits. Alternatively, if you are a registered nurse with an ASN looking to grow in your career, then a BSN is the next logical step. Here’s a look at the three paths to earning your BSN.

1. BSN

As the most common path, this option is for students who have yet to earn any degree in nursing. It consists of four years of study — the first two will consist of general education requirements and prerequisites, and the second two will be filled with clinical training and advanced nursing subjects.

2. RN To BSN

For nurses who already hold an ADN, but wish to excel in the field, they have an option to go back to school to earn their bachelor’s degree. Since ADNs have already worked in the field, they may be able to apply their experiential knowledge to test out of some required coursework. As such, most students who take this route can complete the program in less than two years.

3. Accelerated BSN

Perhaps you have a bachelor’s degree in another subject that’s related (like Health Science) or unrelated (like Education). You’ve decided to make a career change and wish to become a nurse as quickly as possible. An accelerated BSN program takes between 11-18 months and contains all the necessary coursework that’s needed to practice. They’ll still require that you pass the NCLEX licensing exam for nurses, but you can even take an accelerated program online.

Are You A Good Fit For A BSN Program?

Finding the right BSN program depends on taking into consideration a few variables. For example, if you are currently working, you’ll want to enroll in a flexible program. You’ll also want to ask yourself:

  • How will I pay for tuition? (Consider looking into financial aid options like loans, scholarships, and grants)
  • How much time can I dedicate to a BSN program?
  • Do I want to study on-campus in a traditional setting or seek online options for remote learning?

Online BSN Programs

For students who wish to maintain a job while going to school, or have other commitments like raising a family, online educational programs are a great method to achieve your dreams. Online education is a way in which students can manage their own time with a flexible schedule and still receive the quality education that’s required to do their job well.

Some online BSN programs include:

While the University of the People does not offer nursing programs, we do have a Health Science program for those who want to enter different positions within the medical field. The program is tuition-free and entirely online, making it both convenient and affordable.

How Much Does A BSN Cost?

Speaking of affordability, there’s no doubt you’ll consider costs when earning your BSN. A BSN ranges in pricing according to the location of the school, type of institution, and your residency status.

However, you can expect to pay an average between $70,000 and just north of $100,000 to obtain your BSN. This cost is just for tuition. You’ll also have to factor in the cost of housing, food, and supplies. Keep in mind that you can apply for financial aid like scholarships to help cover costs for your education.

Nurse holding baby
Photo by 东旭 王 on Unsplash

BSN Job Outlook And Career Options

As you can see, a BSN can be expensive, yet the career opportunities are lucrative in themselves. Not only do you get the reward and fulfillment of helping others, but the pay becomes commensurate with your education and experience.

The job outlook is very high as the demand continues to grow. It’s expected that there will be more than 500,000 new RN positions through the year 2026, which represents a higher-than-average rate of growth.

BSNs can work in a wide range of settings, including, but not limited to:

  • Hospitals
  • Doctor’s offices
  • Government agencies
  • Schools
  • Patient’s homes
  • Pharmacies
  • Nursing care facilities

BSN-RNs can specialize in the field of their choice. Some field options include:

  • Surgery
  • Oncology
  • Home health
  • Pediatrics
  • Family medicine
  • Labor and delivery
  • Hospice care

BSN Salary

Your salary undoubtedly depends on the setting in which you work, the country of employment, and your experience.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses earn a median salary of $73,300 in the United States. The starting salary of BSN nurses hovers around $55,805, so it’s clear to see how career growth can offer high earning potential.

Furthering Your Nursing Education

If you want to continue your education in nursing, you can also go on to earn a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN). These programs prepare graduates to teach in community colleges or hospital diploma programs. They can also work as nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, or clinical nurse specialists.

The Bottom Line

Nursing is a dynamic career that continues to change with technology, patient needs, and global health trends. A BSN degree can provide you with all you need to know to maximise your earning potential and job opportunities. The field of nursing will continue to grow and earning your BSN is a great way to solidify your standing as a nurse!