How Long Does IT Take To Earn A BSN?

Many colleges and universities offer BSN degree programs in traditional and/or accelerated formats. Explore what these programs entail and then take a look at key career information that aspiring nurses will want to know. View article »

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  • 0:03 BSN Overview & Timeframe
  • 0:53 Coursework
  • 1:42 Licensure
  • 2:22 Salary Information
  • 3:08 Job Outlook

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Video Transcript

BSN Overview and Timeframe

Students interested in pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program can learn about the time-frame and coursework here. Also learn about the licensing process, job salaries, and job outlook for this healthcare occupation. Typically, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program takes four years to complete. This 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.

Some schools offer accelerated bachelor's degree options for those that meet certain requirements. RN-to-BSN programs are designed for registered nurses who already have an ADN and desire to expand their knowledge and skills in nursing practices.


BSN programs are also available to students who already have a bachelor's degree in another field but are interested in transitioning to a career in nursing. These accelerated programs typically take 12-18 months to complete.

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 NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination - Registered Nursing). 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 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 March 2017 salaries for BSN holders in each position include:

  • $60,616 for registered nurses
  • $69,449 for nurse case managers
  • $62,192 for emergency room nurses
  • $79,794 for clinical nurse managers
  • $72,678 for nursing supervisors
  • $83,048 for nursing managers

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.

To recap, a traditional BSN program takes four years to complete, while an RN-to-BSN program may be more accelerated at 12-18 months. Graduates can become registered nurses after passing the national exam, and they can expect positive job growth in the field.

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