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
At Post University, we believe you shouldn’t have to put your life on hold to further your education. That’s why we offer a wide range of quality Certificate, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in a highly interactive online format that emphasizes flexibility, convenience, and support. Whichever program you choose, you can take classes in 8-week modules, six times a year from faculty members with advanced degrees and extensive real-world experience. You’ll also enjoy access to a full array of academic support services, including advising, tutoring, writing center assistance, and our virtual library at no additional charge.
- Post University Online
- Certificate: Legal Nurse Consulting
Franklin Pierce University
- 100% online – complete your degree on your own time, wherever you’d like
- 8-week courses – finish courses faster than in a traditional semester program
- Credit transfer available – transfer your associate degree or diploma credits easily
- Financial aid available to those who qualify – don’t let costs keep you from progressing in your nursing career
- RN to BS in Nursing
Discover all that Northwestern College has to offer:
- Financial aid and scholarships (for those who qualify)
- Day, evening, weekend, and online courses
- Academic and career advising
- Free tutoring sessions
- Employment assistance
- Externship opportunities
- An encouraging learning environment
- Medical Assisting
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
Concorde Career College
We believe hands-on experience is the best way to learn. And at Concorde, you’ll find that a “learn by doing” approach to healthcare training will get you the skills you need to succeed – and get you into the workforce quickly.
Even in today’s economy, the demand for skilled healthcare professionals shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s Career Guide to Industries (2010-2011 Edition), the healthcare industry will generate .2 million in new wage and salary jobs between 2006 and 2016 – more than any other industry.
Now’s a great time to get started – and to move toward a rewarding healthcare career.
- Kansas City
- San Bernardino
- North Hollywood
- San Diego
- Garden Grove
- Nursing - (AS)
- Nursing - (AAS)
- Practical Nursing - Diploma
- Practical Nursing
- Vocational Nursing
- Vocational Nurse