Last Updated on August 30, 2023
What is a BSN Degree?
A BSN, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, is a four-year degree in nursing that is one of two degrees available to nurses. Unlike the ADN, the BSN degree provides two years of prerequisite courses and general education courses followed by another two years of nursing classes and clinical rotations. Becoming a Registered Nurse with a BSN degree promises higher compensation and opens many more doors. Many healthcare facilities have begun to require that their RNs have a BSN degree, even for entry-level nursing positions.
Though the shortest route to becoming a Registered Nurse is to pursue the minimum requirement — a two-year Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN) which provides just enough education and clinical training for graduates to sit for the required exams and obtain their license — those who want to become RNs are strongly encouraged to pursue a BSN.
Having a BSN gives you more opportunities to practice in specialty areas and puts you on a career path that can lead to supervisory and management positions. This is because those positions require a more in-depth level of knowledge and critical thinking skills that the four-year degree provides. Having a BSN is also a required step for pursuing an advanced nursing degree such as an MSN (Master of Science in Nursing), a DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice), NP (Nurse Practitioners), or CNS (Clinical Nurse Specialist).
Though every BSN curriculum is different, accredited nursing programs follow the framework provided by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, which outlines the essential curriculum contents and core competencies needed to prepare a BSN for their role and responsibilities. In addition to offering basic prerequisite coursework and general education classes, including Math, Composition, and History, followed by coursework that is specific to their nursing practice, including
- Assessment of Health and Illness
- Anatomy, or Structure of the Human Body
- Health Maintenance and Restoration
- Research in Nursing
- Health Promotion and Risk Reduction
- Mental Health
- Reproductive Health
- Community Health Nursing
- Leadership and Management
- Nursing Care I and II
How Much Can a Nurse with a BSN Make?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics does not have specific data for what nurses with a BSN can earn, but rather publishes figures for what registered nurses make. The average salary for registered nurses is $77,460 a year.
How does that compare to other nursing roles?
Earning a bachelor’s in nursing and working as an RN can put you almost in the middle of the pay spectrum of potential nursing salaries, but significantly ahead of entry level nursing positions, according to BLS figures.
How Much Does a BSN Degree Cost?
There are many factors that contribute to the cost of a BSN degree. These include where the school is located, whether you choose to enroll at a private college or a state school, and if the latter, whether you are attending as an in-state student or an out-of-state student. Four-year BSN programs cost an average of between $72,000 and $104,000 for tuition, plus there are additional costs for housing, meals, books, fees and more.
Though cost is always an important consideration, it is also important that you remember the significant benefits and increased earnings that follow earning your BSN degree, as well as that you can lower your costs significantly by attending public institutions, seeking financial aid, and applying for governmental grants.
BSN Career Outlook
The demand for Registered Nurses with BSN degrees is already high and is expected to continue to grow, with more than half a million new RN positions anticipated through the year 2026 and another half million RNs that will be needed to replace those who leave the field.
In its publication “The Future of Nursing: Focus on Education,” the Institute of Medicine set a goal of having 80% of the nation’s Registered Nurses holding a BSN by the year 2020.
Currently the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that number is only 55%, At the same time, the AACN says that 43.7% of hospitals and other healthcare facilities require that all new hires have their BSN degrees, while 78.6% indicate a strong preference that new hires have earned the more advanced degree.
Much of the new opportunities for Registered Nurses with BSNs comes from our aging population, which will require more care as longevity increases despite illness and the need for care, particularly for those with chronic diseases. There will also be an increasing need for BSNs as healthcare becomes more focused on wellness and preventive care. As a result, the need for BSNs is expected to jump by 19% as compared to an 11% average growth rate for all other occupations.
BSNs have a wide range of environments in which they can work, including:
- Physicians’ offices
- Nursing care facilities
- Home healthcare services
- Government agencies
- Educational services
- Support services
- Community centers
- Urgent care centers
- Patients’ homes
Registered Nurses who have earned their BSN have the opportunity to work in every healthcare specialty, including:
- Family medicine
- Home Health
- Substance abuse
- Geriatric care
- Labor and Delivery
- Public health