Nursing Bachelor's Degree Programs
Bachelor's degree programs in nursing train both new nurses and practicing RNs the skills they need to exceed in the work environment. Learn about schools, degree requirements, course topics, employment outlook and average salary for potential nurses.
Why Do I Need a Nursing Bachelor's Degree?
You can qualify to become a Registered Nurse (RN) if you hold a diploma or an associate's degree in nursing and pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurse (NCLEX-RN), which is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. However, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that because the nursing profession is becoming more complex, you may stand a better chance of employment and advancement if you hold a bachelor's degree in nursing (www.bls.gov).
|Program Availability||Over 770 accredited bachelor degree programs are available for enrollment|
|Common Courses||Pharmacology, surgical nursing, community health nursing, pathophysiology, acute care|
|Learning Environment||Traditional classroom and online learning options are available|
|Continuing Education||Passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) is required for licensure|
|Median Salary (2020)||$75,330* (for registered nurses)|
|Job Outlook (2019-29)||7%* (for all registered nurses)|
Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
How Can I Find a Good Program?
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) stated that as of 2016, there were over 770 nursing bachelor's degree programs accredited by one or both of the two nationally recognized accrediting agencies (www.accn.nche.edu). The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, which you can reach through the AACN website, offers an online national directory of accredited baccalaureate nursing degree programs. The American Commission for Education in Nursing also has an online listing of accredited programs, wherein you can search for an appropriate program by level, institution or state (www.acenursing.us).
What Are Some Program Specifics?
Program content can vary somewhat from school to school. Usually, you can complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program in four years. A typical program might include such courses as human anatomy and physiology, medical and surgical nursing, nursing theory concepts, community health nursing, pharmacology, pathophysiology and acute care. There are always a number of labs and clinicals to complete as well. You may also be required to participate in an externship at a school-approved healthcare facility. At the conclusion of the program, you may be eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN examination.
What Are Some Online Opportunities?
Though there are schools that present you with the opportunity to complete a 4-year BSN program nearly entirely online, there are many more RN-BSN programs online. You must complete the same number of in-person requirements in an online 4-year program as in an on campus program. Conversely, RN-BSN programs can be delivered entirely online and consist entirely of upper-level, didactic courses. In some cases, you might be required to attend an orientation session and a series of brief classes on campus.
You may be eligible for admittance to such a program if you're already an RN, hold an active license and have earned an associate's degree in nursing. You may also qualify if you're an active RN and hold a diploma in nursing. However, according to the BLS, diploma programs that qualify you to sit for a NCLEX-RN examination are quite rare.
What Is the Occupational Outlook?
In 2019, the BLS stated that employment for RNs would increase 7% from 2019-2029. This is much faster than the national average for all occupations. This may be due to factors such as, an increasing older population, increased emphasis on preventative medicine and an increased access to healthcare. Salary statistics from the BLS found the median wage for registered nurses to be $75,330 in 2020.