BSN: Overview of the BSN Degree

BSN programs can provide students with a well-rounded education while also preparing them for nursing careers. Learn about the requirements and courses for this program, in addition to career information and options for further education.

Essential Information

A four-year BSN is designed to educate students on what it takes to enter the nursing field. Students are only required to be high school graduates in order to enroll. Some programs are available to students who have already completed a degree program or nurse training courses. These accelerated programs typically take around two years to complete.

Offered via universities, colleges, and other higher learning institutions, these programs tend to feature more extensive clinical experiences than associate's-level degree offerings.


Bachelor's Degree in Nursing

BSN programs are divided into clinical experiences, laboratory work, and classroom studies. Students will be given the opportunity to conduct research in teams or independently. The programs should include course topics such as:

  • Medical ethics
  • Nursing and healthcare management
  • Research in nursing
  • Healthcare systems
  • Patient psychology
  • Special needs nursing

Popular Career Options

Completing a BSN program should enable graduates to become registered nurses (RNs) and assume leadership nursing roles and other positions of greater responsibility in healthcare or nursing education.

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Registered nursing is a career field with a faster-than-average job growth of 16% in the 2014-2024 decade, according to projections from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) (www.bls.gov). Registered nurses who have earned a BSN degree will typically enjoy the greatest demand for their knowledge and skills, according to the BLS. RNs will be in high demand in underserved healthcare areas, such as inner cities and rural areas. The BLS notes that as of May 2015, the mean annual salary for registered nurses was $71,000. Hospitals, health clinics, and home healthcare facilities are popular employment spots for nurses.

Continuing Education

The possibilities for continuing education or licensing within the nursing field are plentiful. In most instances, BSN graduates become registered nurses by passing the National Council of State Boards of Nursing-issued NCLEX-RN or National Council Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses (www.ncsbn.org). In other instances, BSN graduates pursue higher education or further specialization within the nursing field.

Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) programs can lead students into jobs as educators or into advanced nursing positions, including clinical nurse specialist or nurse practitioner. MSN programs typically last two years.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs help students earn licensure as Registered Nurses and allow practicing nurses to continue their education. Program graduates can take on leadership roles in the field or pursue graduate education.


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