How Long Does IT Take To Earn A BSN?

A BSN degree program takes typically four years to complete. Accelerated BSN programs, however, may take fewer than two years to complete. Students who have already earned a associate's degree in nursing can enroll in an RN-to-BSN program. Those who have a bachelor's degree in a field other than nursing can take advantage of other accelerated BSN programs.

BSN Overview and Timeframe

A BSN is a 4-year Bachelor of Science degree program in nursing. The bachelor's degree program places more emphasis on leadership, critical thinking and communication, as well as clinical experience in a non-hospital setting than the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program does.

Registered nurses with an ADN often enroll in RN-to-BSN programs to work toward a bachelor's degree with a broader range of nursing practice. BSN programs are available to students who already have a bachelor's degree in another field but are interested in transitioning to a career in nursing. These programs are typically available in an accelerated format and last from 12-18 months.


BSN programs include courses in anatomy, chemistry, physiology, psychology, microbiology and nutrition. BSN programs also include liberal arts courses. Students complete supervised clinical training in hospitals. Some departments where students may train include maternity, surgery, pediatrics and psychiatry. Students may also train in other settings, such as nursing homes, health departments, ambulatory centers and home health agencies.


While licensure requirements vary by state, all registered nurses in the United States must graduate from an approved nursing program and pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). The exam, administered by state boards of nursing, tests students on the skills deemed necessary for entry-level nursing work. The exam covers patient care topics such as physiological and psychosocial integrity, safety, pharmacological therapies, basic care and health promotion and maintenance. The exam is the same in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Salary Information

According to PayScale.com popular job titles for BSN degree holders include registered nurse, nurse case manager, emergency room nurse, clinical nurse manager, nursing supervisor and nursing manager. Median February 2016 salaries for BSN holders in each position include:

  • Registered Nurse $59,172
  • Nurse Case Manager $66,884
  • Emergency Room Nurse $67,834
  • Clinical Nurse Manager $78,719
  • Nursing Supervisor $69,286
  • Nursing Manager $81,049

Job Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses can expect a 16% increase in job opportunities from 2014 to 2024. This growth can be attributed to an expected increase in the elderly population and technological advancements in patient care. Due to shortening hospital stays, outpatient and nursing care facilities, physicians' offices and freestanding emergency and ambulatory surgical centers are predicted to experience rapid growth.

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