Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Overview
Earning a BSN prepares you to become a registered nurse (RN) and helps you develop critical thinking and decision making-skills to manage teams of healthcare providers and safely handle large caseloads.
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Opportunities With a Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Good career mobility
Path to advancement
Featured Online Programs
Featured BSN Specialties
Beyond working in hospitals as RNs, individuals with a BSN degree find careers as geriatric nurses, OBGYN nurses, and neonatal nurses. Check out the descriptions below to learn more about these specialty occupations.
How Much Will I Make With a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing?
How to Get a BSN
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Types of Bachelor's Degrees in Nursing
Admission Requirements for a BSN Program
A BSN applicant's admission requirements depend on their status as a student. Schools set different criteria and credit requirements for freshmen, transfer students, and international students. However, most BSN degree programs maintain the following common admissions requirements for all students:
- High school or college transcripts
- SAT or ACT scores
- A CV or resume
- A GPA of at least a 2.5 or 3.0
Schools often expect applicants to have completed classes in microbiology, physiology, chemistry, and anatomy. Some institutions may give preference to candidates with volunteer service experience.
Core Concepts in a BSN Program
Bachelor’s of science in nursing programs include two phases: a didactic portion, which is taught in classrooms, and a clinical learning experience. Through lectures and reading assignments, students learn to promote safe solutions and good health, prevent and manage disease, reduce risks, and improve patient outcomes. Candidates gain foundational knowledge through core courses such as:
- Community health nursing
- Leadership and management
- Nursing informatics
- Research and statistics
Upper division courses explore speciality areas such as gerontology, global public health, maternal-child care, and pediatrics.
Clinical & Lab Components in a BSN Program
BSN programs may require students to spend time in a hospital, clinic, or lab stimulation setting in which they work an actual shift. During clinical experiences, candidates work under licensed RN mentors as they deliver medications, assess and diagnose patients, plan interventions, and monitor outcomes. By the end of the program, students can work independently with their own patients. Clinicals offer the opportunity to:
- Shadow working RNs
- Apply classroom skills on patients
- Network with future employers
- Build confidence
What to Expect From an Online RN-to-BSN Program
Students earning their RN-to-BSN or second degree BSN have the option of attending an online program instead of traditional face-to-face classes. Online RN-to-BSN degrees let students take core classes in anatomy, pharmacology, and psychology remotely. While distance learners do not have to meet on campus for their foundational courses, they must complete clinicals or labs in their local communities. During a program's clinical component, students work in labs or at their local hospitals, clinics, or nursing care facilities. Students are often required to find their own clinical experiences.
Nothing, aside from the format, differentiates online degrees from traditional programs. Online learners receive the same degree and education, learning from professors who work on campus. Instructors use online learning platforms to meet live with students or assign online work.
Learn more on this page about how online programs work.
Should I Get a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing?
Your personal financial situation, time constraints, and family obligations may impact your decision to pursue a 4-year degree. Take a look at the pros and cons of pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing:
Advantages to a BSN
Disadvantages to a BSN
Explore BSN Programs
Nicole Galan is a registered nurse who started on a general medical/surgical care unit and then moved to infertility care where she worked for almost 10 years. She has also worked for over 13 years as a freelance writer specializing in consumer health sites and educational materials for nursing students. Galan currently works as a full-time freelancer and recently earned her master’s degree in nursing education from Capella University.