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Bachelor of Nursing: Degree Overview

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program prepares students to become registered nurses (RNs), teaching them to assess health conditions, communicate with patients and health professionals, assist physicians and perform various medical procedures.

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Essential Information

Completion of the BSN program provides graduates with the skills and knowledge needed to take the required national RN licensing exam. These programs include both lecture-based classes and hands-on clinical components. Some schools accept first-year college students with a high school education into a BSN program. Others require students to complete lower-level, or core curriculum, classes before applying to the program. Candidates usually need to have a minimum grade point average and have completed specified classes with a C or better.


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  • Clinical Nursing
  • Critical Care Nursing
  • Direct-Entry Midwifery - LM, CPM
  • Licensed Vocational Nurse Training
  • Mental Health Nursing
  • Neonatal Nursing
  • Nurse Anesthetist
  • Nurse Assistant or Patient Care Assistant
  • Nurse Midwife
  • Nurse Practitioner or Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Nursing Administration
  • Nursing for Adults and Seniors
  • Nursing Science
  • Occupational Health Nursing
  • Operating Room and Surgical Nursing
  • Pediatric Nursing
  • Public Health Nurse or Community Nurse
  • Registered Nurse

Bachelor's Degree in Nursing

Most of the classes in a BSN program are grounded in the biological sciences and liberal arts. In addition to classroom lectures, nursing students participate in clinical training where they work in healthcare facilities under the supervision of a licensed nurse. Typical classes include these:

  • Anatomy
  • Statistics
  • Chemistry
  • Psychology
  • Microbiology
  • Pharmacology

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

As advances in healthcare continue to develop, so does the need for nurses. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), registered nursing positions were expected to grow 16% during 2014-2024.

In May 2015, registered nurses earned a mean annual salary of $71,000, reported the BLS. States with the highest employment levels were California, Texas, New York, Florida and Pennsylvania. The highest-paying states were California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Alaska and Oregon.

Continuing Education and Licensure Information

Master's and doctoral degrees in nursing can lead to advanced positions in nursing such as clinical nurse specialists, nurse anesthetists, nurse-midwives and nurse practitioners. The Doctor of Nursing Practice is the highest professional degree level for nursing.

Nurses in all states are required to obtain licenses to practice. Each state's eligibility requirements for obtaining licensure vary, but all states require nurses to graduate from an approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination. Voluntary certifications are available from several different credentialing agencies.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs prepare students for RN licensure. This area of employment is expected to experience healthy growth over the next decade, with RN job openings projected to grow 16%. Graduate degrees can open up opportunities for more advanced nursing positions should students wish to pursue them.

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