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Second Degree Nursing Programs Overview

Second degree nursing programs are intended for individuals who are interested in switching careers into registered nursing. These programs require a bachelor's degree and usually take one or two years to complete, focusing primarily on core nursing skills and practices.

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Essential Information

Most second degree nursing programs last 12-24 months and lead to a BSN. Applicants must already have completed baccalaureate programs in other fields and may transfer their general education credits over to a second degree nursing program. The completion of clinical component is also required in order to complete a nursing degree program. Graduates are eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).


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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

Second Degree Nursing Program

A bachelor's degree is an absolute prerequisite for entrance into a second degree nursing program. An interest in becoming a registered nurse is another requirement. Other academic requirements may apply depending on the program. Students in a second degree nursing program focus on the core courses of a regular BSN program. In clinicals, they gain first-hand experience under the supervision of registered nurses. These programs include the following courses:

  • Health assessment
  • Pathophysiology
  • Foundations of nursing practice
  • Adult and pediatric nursing
  • Psychosocial and family nursing
  • Public health

Employment and Career Outlook

A second degree in nursing prepares individuals to become registered nurses, or RNs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), www.bls.gov, RNs held over 2.7 million jobs in the United States in 2014. Most work in physicians' offices, outpatient centers, hospitals and nursing care facilities. The job growth rate is expected to be 16% between 2014 and 2024, which is faster than average. The median annual salary of a registered nurse is $67,490 according to data released by the BLS in May 2015.

Continuing Education

Those who hold bachelor's degrees in nursing are qualified to pursue graduate degrees in the field. A popular track for nurses is the graduate nurse practitioner program where nurses may choose among several degree specializations, including adult, family, geriatric, anesthesia, pediatric and nurse education.

A second degree program in nursing usually lasts between 12-24 months, and requires a bachelor degree to enroll. After being taught the skills and practices needed to become an RN, you will be able to enter a growing job market with the ability to advance in various specializations and opportunities.

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