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RN to BSN: Advancing Your Nursing Career

4 min readFebruary, 09 2024

If you’re a registered nurse (RN) with an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) looking for more job security, earning potential, and job satisfaction, an RN to BSN program may be the ideal next step in your career. Obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) can open new financial, leadership, and learning opportunities in your nursing career while providing a solid foundation for future growth.

What Is an RN to BSN Program?

An RN to BSN program provides ADN nurses with a straightforward path to completing their BSNs. It typically takes four years to complete an undergraduate BSN degree. However, if you’ve already earned an ADN, you can complete an RN to BSN program in two years or less.

Having a BSN can open the door to more advanced nursing leadership roles, increasing your career options and salary while positioning you to pursue more advanced degrees.

RN to BSN Requirements

Many public and private colleges and universities offer RN to BSN programs. Each institution sets its own admission policies, but specific requirements generally apply. All programs require you to have an ADN, and your license to practice as an RN must be active and unrestricted. Other RN to BSN requirements may include:

  • A minimum GPA. Your previous college and high school academic performance may impact admission decisions.
  • Standardized test scores. Most schools require the SAT or ACT.
  • Prerequisite classes. ADN coursework generally satisfies this requirement. (Note that some older STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) credits may need to be retaken depending on admission requirements.)

RN to BSN Curriculum

The RN to BSN program curriculum picks up where your ADN ends. RN to BSN classes delve into nursing theory, public health and policy, specialized health sciences, and management and administration. The total credit hours required vary by program, and there’s usually flexibility in the number of hours taken each semester for full-time and part-time students. RN to BSN programs typically occur on-site, but many schools also offer accredited RN to BSN online programs, including some without clinicals. An online program is a convenient and manageable option for nurses working while in school.

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How Much Does an RN to BSN Program Cost?

The cost of an RN to BSN program varies depending on the institution you choose. The average tuition for an in-state resident at a public university is typically about $9,600 per year. Private universities are significantly more expensive, with average annual tuition and fees closer to $34,000. Financial aid for nursing students is available through various sources, such as scholarships, grants, fellowships, loans, and work-study programs.

The Benefits of an RN to BSN Program

Obtaining a BSN gives RNs more opportunities for career advancement. Many health care facilities and employers actively seek nurses with a BSN. Studies indicate patients have better outcomes, shorter stays, and incur fewer costs in hospitals that have more BSN nurses on staff. Some states, including New York, have even enacted laws that require RNs to complete a BSN within ten years of licensure.

Beyond the industry’s structural change toward hiring BSN nurses, consider an RN to BSN program’s financial, professional, and personal advantages.

Financial Benefits

Compensation for BSN nurses is significantly higher than for ADN RNs. Depending on where you live, you could earn upwards of $90K as a BSN nurse, according to ZipRecruiter, compared to an average salary of $75K for an ADN nurse. With the career opportunities available to BSN nurses, the differential expands as you assume more advanced roles and responsibilities.

Professional Benefits

A BSN allows greater professional flexibility and more access to leadership opportunities. Whether you want to specialize in cardiology or oncology, join the staff at a Magnet-designated hospital, or become a nurse administrator or educator, a BSN is essential. This status is also required for admission to graduate nursing programs.

Personal Benefits

Many nurses find the intellectual challenge and pride of accomplishment in earning a BSN inspiring and fulfilling. Besides the new skills and training you’ll receive, obtaining a BSN gives you more freedom and control over your career.

If you’re an RN who wants to make significant contributions to health care, an RN to BSN program is a rewarding investment that gives you a competitive edge.


Images sourced from Getty Images

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