A 2-year associate's degree program is a solid stepping stone you can use to enter the nursing field. Upon completion of the coursework, you will be eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) and apply for a registered nurse (RN) license. This can open doors to entry-level positions in hospitals or inpatient facilities and provide you with valuable experience. It can also be used as a building block if you decide to earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.
Coursework usually covers basic science and math, plus English classes to make for a well-rounded education.
The other option which shares some similarities with an associate's degree is a diploma in nursing. While it qualifies you to take the NCLEX-RN exam and apply for entry-level positions, it usually takes about 3 years and doesn’t fulfill the requirements you would need to apply for BSNs or MSNs.
Bachelor's Degree Programs
Five types of Bachelor's Degrees in Nursing:
- BSN: 4-year degree and the prerequisite for applying to graduate nursing school. The first two years cover core requirements and the latter two years focus primarily on nursing. This degree is a good start for aspiring nurse practitioners who will eventually decide on a specialty.
- LPN-to-BSN: Within four semesters, a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) can earn a BSN.
- RN-to-BSN: This unique path gives RNs with an associate's degree or diploma the chance to further their career while working.
- Second-degree BSN: Intended for someone who already has a 4-year degree in another field and is interested in changing careers. This program can often be completed in two years or less because credit is given for the liberal arts education from the original degree.
- Accelerated Degree BSN: As the name implies, students can finish their degree in a shorter period of time (usually 12 to 20 months).
You can find many of these degree problems both online and on campus. As an example of a typical course load, Briarcliffe College's online BSN offers the following core coursework:
Examples of BSN Core Courses
- Health promotion and disease prevention
- Physical examination and health assessment
- Communication and collaboration
- Critical thinking
- Genetics and Genomics
- Information management
Graduates can sit for the NCLEX-RN upon graduation.
Master's Degree Program
MSN programs are generally a two-year commitment. Not only will you earn your graduate degree, but you will also be trained in a specialty of your choosing. Many MSN programs are available both online and at traditional schools.