BSN Degree: Definition and Program Types

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated March 15, 2021 | Published February 25, 2020

Updated March 15, 2021

Published February 25, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you're interested in furthering your career as a nurse, consider obtaining a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN). Not only is it a great stepping stone for beginning your medical career, but it can also open several opportunities for you in the future, as well. In order to determine what type of nursing degree is best for you, it's important to consider what's involved with the most common of them all.

In this article, we will define the BSN degree, its advantages and the various types of BSN programs.

What is a BSN?

Simply put, a BSN is a four-year academic degree in nursing. You can earn this degree after completing a rigorous set of coursework tailored toward teaching you the necessary skills and knowledge you'll need to succeed as a nurse. Not only will it aid in your educational advancement, but it also has the potential to open up more job opportunities for you, as well. In order to obtain a BSN, you'll need to complete the required coursework from an accredited institution.

Related: Learn About Being an ER Nurse

Advantages of getting a BSN

There are several advantages to obtaining your BSN. Here are some of them:

  1. Higher pay rate

  2. More employment options

  3. More education and skills

  4. It can be earned online

  5. Career advancement

1. Higher pay rate

As is generally the case, the more education you receive, the greater your chances are of receiving a higher salary from your employer or prospective employer. For example, if you're a registered nurse (RN), you may or may not have a bachelor's degree. If you were to apply for a job with a Bachelor's in Nursing rather than just your RN license, you'd have a better chance of earning a larger salary. This is because employers generally want to hire people with more experience and expertise. Both of these things come with a higher education degree.

2. More employment options

If you obtain a BSN, you'll also open yourself up to more job opportunities in your field. This is because many nursing careers require more extensive education. For example, the majority of graduate nursing programs require you to have a bachelor's degree. Once you obtain your four-year degree, you'll have more career options to choose from in the nursing profession such as a nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist or clinical nurse specialist. It's important to note that these are some of the highest-paying nursing professions. Therefore, the more education you receive generally will translate to not only more opportunities, but higher-paying opportunities, too.

In addition, medical facilities are always looking to hire more educated nurses. If you obtain your BSN, you'll have gained a wealth of knowledge and skills in your particular field. If you apply for a position with a BSN, employers are more apt to want to hire you for the position rather than a candidate without a BSN because of your expanded skill set.

3. More education and skills

As with all bachelor's degrees, obtaining a BSN means you'll have added experience and skills to add to your resume. Not only that, but this newly earned knowledge can be applied to your everyday shift. Now that you know more nursing or advanced medical techniques, you can translate that into better patient care. This is especially crucial in trauma or life-or-death situations since you'll be better equipped to handle high-stress circumstances.

4. It can be earned online

Thanks to the rise of the internet, there are many BSN programs readily available online. This is greatly beneficial if you have outside familial or personal obligations. An online nursing program would allow you to work from the comfort of your own home. In addition, you'd save money that you'd likely be spending on gas and time spent on your daily commute to campus. Overall, an online BSN program is something to consider if you value the added flexibility it provides.

5. Career advancement

Once you have a BSN, you'll be able to obtain various specialties in the medical profession such as oncology, gynecology and psychiatry. If you don't have a bachelor's degree, it's possible that you could be limiting your potential and your future career, as well. If you're hoping to advance in your nursing career, it's important to consider obtaining a BSN.

Related: Learn About Being a Registered Nurse (RN)

Differences between BSN and ADN

Though you can become a nurse with both an associate's degree in nursing (ADN) and a BSN, there are many differences between the two. Whereas a BSN typically requires four years of education, you'll only need approximately two years of education for an ADN. Because of this, medical professionals with a BSN are better trained in the nursing profession.

Typically, this translates to better patient care. In addition, while both will provide you with employment opportunities, a bachelor's degree will open up more opportunities as well as higher-paying ones. Another main difference between the two degrees is the type of skills you'll learn. For example, if you have an ADN, you'll have more technical nursing skills, whereas with a BSN, you'll have more clinical, leadership and management skills.

Related: When a Professional Degree Will Help You Advance in Your Career

Average salary for BSN nurses

The average salary for a nursing position will depend on the type of nurse you are as well as your location and workplace. Here are some common positions for nurses with a BSN and their national average salaries:

  1. Registered nurse: $33.93 per hour

  2. Registered nurse - ICU: $1,584 per week

  3. Registered nurse - operating room: $1,720 per week

  4. Labor and delivery nurse: $1,775 per week

  5. Registered nurse - emergency room: $44.84 per hour

BSN programs (include online programs)

There are several BSN nursing programs to consider. Here's a glimpse at some of them:

Direct entry or Accelerated BSN program

If you already hold a bachelor's degree in another field, the Accelerated BSN program is for you. Rather than taking your general education classes all over again, you'll only need to take nursing-specific courses and prerequisites. Because you don't have to take the typical prerequisites required for a bachelor's degree, this program is far shorter than a typical BSN.

Traditional BSN program

If you have yet to obtain a bachelor's degree, this is the common route to take if you want to be a nurse. This type of program is readily available across the states. If you're an RN, on the other hand,you should consider the RSN-to-BSN program.

Online BSN program

If you'd prefer a more flexible schedule, consider applying for an online BSN program. Not only will you be studying the same curriculum, but you'll be able to do it on your time. Because of their increasing popularity, online BSN programs are becoming more readily available.

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