RN-BSN Programs: An Overview
If you thought that an Associate degree in Nursing was the quickest route to a nursing career, you are not
alone. The degree, which was introduced 50 years ago, has registered a phenomenal growth over time;
so much so that it currently contributes about 60 percent of entry-level nursing graduates entering the
field each year.*
The degree program provides a solid foundation in direct patient care, and some believe that registered
nurses (RNs) who graduate from an ADN program are more proficient in the technical scope of nursing
However, the important question you need to ask yourself is whether an associate’s degree is where you
want to stop your educational journey. Does the career that an ADN program can lead to satisfy your
professional goals and personal aspirations? Or does the fire to do more still rage inside your belly?
After all, it’s no secret that an associate’s degree in nursing can limit your career opportunities. There are
various roles within the nursing field that are only open to graduates who have a Bachelor’s of Science in
Nursing or a higher degree.
Professional Growth with RN-BSN Programs
The good news is that professional growth is easier than you think, once you have entered the nursing
workforce. Registered nurses who want to go back to school for a Bachelor’s of Nursing degree have
several options in the form of RN-BSN programs.
Available only to practicing registered nurses who have an ADN or a diploma in nursing; these programs
allow them to earn their bachelor’s in less-than-normal completion time. RN-BSN programs usually
include general education and nursing courses that are designed specifically for practicing RNs.
Consequently, those who choose this program are expected to bring to the table (or classroom, rather)
the skills and experience of hands-on nursing practice.
Types of RN-BSN Programs
There are several types of RN-BSN programs that registered nurses can choose in their effort to advance
their careers. Here’s a quick look at some of them:
Campus-based RN-BSN programs: These are programs that are offered by four-year colleges and
universities on campus, which means that students are required to sit in a classroom and follow a fixed
schedule at school. But the level of interaction in this type of program far surpasses what other RN-BSN
programs have to offer.
Online RN-BSN programs: Often preferred by practicing nurses, these programs are delivered online
and provide RNs the flexibility to work full time even as they study. Since not everyone has the financial
prowess to take a sabbatical from work to return to school, online RN-BSN programs can be the most
successful road to graduation for many RNs.
Accelerated RN-BSN programs: Although most RN-BSN programs are, by default, shorter in duration
than regular bachelor’s programs, accelerated RN-BSN degrees can be completed in even less time.
However, it’s important to know that such degrees are extremely intensive, which may make it difficult for
students to manage work and school together.
Advantages of RN-BSN Programs
Academic focus: While the technical competencies provided by an ADN program can be quite
comprehensive, where it often lacks is in providing the theoretical knowledge necessary for graduates to
assume complex nursing roles. An RN-BSN program can not only fill that gap, but can also help inculcate
critical thinking, analytical ability, and other such advanced skills because of its academic and intellectual
Career opportunities: There are broader arrays of career opportunities for RNs who have a bachelor’s
degree as compared to those who have an associate’s degree in nursing. If you’re not content being a
staff nurse for a good part of your career, the only way forward is usually an RN-BSN program.
Educational advancement: An RN-BSN program is necessary if you’re interested in pursuing a graduate
degree. Roles like nurse educator, nurse manager, advanced practice nurse, researcher, etc. require
candidates who have completed a master’s or a Ph.D. program.
Higher pay: According to payscale.com, RNs who have a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing degree can
earn an average of up to $79,009 per year depending on experience, education, and location, whereas
those who have an associate’s degree in nursing may earn up to $74,487,** depending on experience,
education, and location.