Nurses have many options when it comes to nursing degrees. In addition to a large selection of nursing schools nationwide, nurses have several different career paths available to them, all of which can be accessed with the right nursing degree.
Faster and more affordable degree programs may last one to two years, while more advanced programs last four years or more. The level of degree attained affects salary, daily job roles, and future advancement.
Nursing Degree Coursework
Most nursing programs involve similar coursework at their core. Although different programs feature additional, more advanced classes, nursing degrees generally cover course subjects such as:
- Nursing Practices
Classes related to the role of nursing may depend on the degree level sought, as more advanced nurses take on roles that expand beyond bedside care. However, all nurses learn how to work with patients in a number of settings, and how to properly care for and treat a wide range of conditions.
In addition to coursework, many nursing degrees feature hands-on training in a clinical setting. During this time nurses may learn in a simulated clinical environment, or work under the direct supervision of actual nurses and care practitioners. This allows students to experience the role of a nurse firsthand, adding practical value to a nursing degree.
Different Types of Nursing Degrees
There are primarily three levels of nurse degree, which relate to various levels of career advancement:
- Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) – An ADN degree is an entry-level program that generally takes between two and three years to complete. These programs include core coursework in nursing in addition to hands-on training in simulated or actual clinical settings. Most nurses with ADNs can begin entry-level nursing work upon graduating, and can becoming licensed. Many nurses choose to continue their education toward a BSN degree, often through RN-to-BSN programs with the help of their employers’ tuition reimbursement plans.
- Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing (BSN) – Unlike an associate’s degree, a BSN degree can take up to four years to complete. In addition to core nursing coursework and clinical experience, those pursuing a BSN degree receive general education in courses such as communications, mathematics, general life sciences and even business, leadership or critical thinking. Bachelor’s-level nursing degrees open the door to management and supervisory positions, and other advanced nursing roles. In addition, nurse administrative and teaching positions often require bachelor’s nursing degrees.
Which Degree is Best?
In general, bachelor’s degrees and other advanced degrees in nursing offer superior opportunities for advancement, while associate’s degree programs are faster and more affordable. The right degree depends on a nurse’s chosen career path.
According to the Health Resources and Services Administration’s 2008 National Sample Survey of Registered Nurses, the most popular path into nursing is the ADN degree, followed by entry-level employment while working towards a BSN. While this may be challenging for some, making use of an employer’s tuition reimbursement plan can relieve some of the cost of a BSN program.
For some, though, a career working bedside directly with patients is the primary appeal of becoming a nurse.
Upon graduation, the first priority for most nurses is to become licensed. Nurses must first become licensed at the national level by passing one of two exams:
- The NCLEX-PN for LPNs and LVNs
- The NCLEX-RN for RNs
In addition, every state requires nurses to become licensed at the state level by passing a state licensing exam. More information about specific state requirements can be found on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website.
Becoming certified is another option for nurses upon graduation, as certification can enhance employability and provide several career benefits. Though certification is voluntary for nurses, many employers prefer to hire nurses who have achieved some form of certification.
Nursing Degree Programs Enrolling Now
Sullivan University Online
Sullivan University is Kentucky’s largest private college or university, offering higher education for people with higher goals. At Sullivan University, we focus on in-demand programs that lead to successful careers. Whether you’re a high school student considering college, or someone seeking professional development, you’ll be surprised at the alternatives Sullivan University offers. Our streamlined programs are designed to fit into your lifestyle. With online course offerings, we work around your busy schedule to help you find a flexible plan that suits you. We offer everything from certificates and diplomas to advanced degrees so you can find a program that fits. For over 50 years, Sullivan has prepared students for lifelong success. Our course offerings have continually evolved to meet the practical needs of the business world, and our work continues with unlimited employment assistance to help graduates find jobs nationwide. Find out what makes Sullivan the right fit for you!
- Sullivan University Online
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing
American Sentinel University
American Sentinel University is focused on more than just positioning you for success in your career today-we’re committed to preparing you for tomorrow. We offer accredited associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate programs in high-demand fields, and we design our curriculums to be forward thinking and market-relevant so that students can add value to their current and future organizations. With flexible delivery, outstanding student support services, and affordable tuition, we make the pursuit of your career dreams possible.
- American Sentinel University Online
- RN to Bachelor of Science Nursing
- Master of Science Nursing, nursing informatics specialization
- Master of Science Nursing, management and organizational leadership specialization
- Master of Science Nursing, nursing education specialization
- Masters Health Care Informatics
- Master of Science Nursing, infection prevention and control specialization
The Salter School of Nursing and Allied Health
The Salter School of Nursing & Allied Health is a licensed, post-secondary vocational school with a primary purpose of training individuals for employment in health care. The Career Education courses being offered are designed to provide participants with knowledge and skills that will foster employment success on a career ladder. The Salter School of Nursing & Allied Health is dedicated to the provision and promotion of quality, career-oriented educational opportunities for Nurses, Nursing Assistants, and Laboratory Personnel, through classroom presentations, hands-on laboratory experience and applicable on-the-job training in externship opportunities.
The institution is accredited by ACICS. The LPN program is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission.
- Licensed Nursing Assistant
- Practical Nursing
Lincoln / Lincoln Technical Institute
Are you looking for hands-on training at a well-respected technical school?
Since 1946, Lincoln Technical Institute has been helping students achieve professional success through personalized career support and hands-on, job-specific education. Our in-depth training programs are designed to meet the changing needs of today’s tough job market, and cover a variety of fields, including: Health Sciences, Business and Information Technology, Hospitality, automotive Technology, HVAC Technology and Electrical Systems Technology.
What sets Lincoln Technical Institute apart from other schools? Quite a few things, actually; our training programs emphasize experiential, interactive learning activities – that means you’ll do the job before you take the job. Plus, our Certificate, Diploma and Associate Degree programs are designed to accelerate your entry into the job market by offering a shorter length of training, so you may be earning valuable on-the-job experience before many of your peers do.
But our strengths go beyond that. our Lincoln instructors possess a combination of seasoned teaching skills, subject matter expertise and real world experience. Plus, we’ve built working partnerships with important industry contacts in your area. So when you graduate, we’ll help you find a good position and start your career off right.
When it comes to choosing a post-secondary educational institution, keep this in mind: Our dedication to your success sets us apart from the competition – and the specialized, career-focused training you’ll receive at Lincoln will set you apart from yours. Lincoln Technical Institute offers flexible daytime and evening programs to accommodate your busy schedule. Financial Aid is available for those who qualify and Career Placement Assistance is available upon graduation.
- Paramus (Northern NJ)
- Center City Philadelphia (Downtown)
- New Britain
- Northeast Philadelphia (Bucks County)
- Nursing (RN)
- Nursing (Practical)
Carrington College California
Now you can earn your associate degree and can get started in the career field you’ve always dreamed of more conveniently than ever by attending the online Campus of Carrington College California. Considered a leader in education, Carrington College California has a long history of helping students succeed in real world careers.
- San Jose
- Vocational Nursing
- Registered Nursing
- Vocational Nursing