How Long Are RN to BSN Programs?

One of the best ways to broaden your horizons as a nurse is to always keep learning. For registered nurses looking to strengthen their expertise, enrolling in an RN to BSN program is one of the greatest investments you can make. Here are some answers to the most common questions from prospective BSN students.

What Is an RN to BSN Program?

Whether you’re already a registered nurse or looking to take the first step into a nursing program, an RN to BSN program may be the best choice for you. But what exactly does this mean?

RN to BSN programs are designed to help registered nurses take the next step in furthering their careers. The coursework for these degrees is specially designed to cater to associate’s degree holders, building on their existing knowledge and expertise as they work toward a bachelor’s degree of science in nursing (BSN).

Nursing programs like these have gained popularity among nurses who already engage in professional practice. With extensive curriculum and flexible learning opportunities, RN to BSN programs are great for licensed registered nurses looking to further their nursing education.

RN vs. BSN: The Differences Explained

To better understand the value of an RN to BSN program, it helps to clarify the differences between RN licensure and a BSN degree.

While nurses at all degree levels are thoroughly trained to give patients their best experience, RN and BSN refer to two different levels of educational practice. Those with their RN license have passed the National Council Licensure Examination

(NCLEX) and are legally certified to care for patients. A registered nurse may have an associate’s degree, which requires fewer credit hours than a bachelor’s program.

BSN programs require nursing students to complete a full 120 credit hours of courses to obtain a bachelor’s degree. For those looking to advance their careers or transition into a full-time nursing job, a BSN degree is essential and often the key to a higher-paying senior role.

The Benefits of an RN to BSN Program

RN to BSN programs are useful apart from giving you a new degree to list on your resume. Besides the obvious benefit of furthering your education to broaden your knowledge of the field, there are a few specific benefits of a BSN degree that may motivate you to enroll in a program.

Setting Yourself Apart

The nursing industry is expected to grow a full 6% by 2031

, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. With more people in the field than ever before, it’s crucial to set yourself apart from the rest any way you can, especially if you’re looking to advance in your career.

Compared to registered nurses with an associate’s degree, BSN students are generally more desirable to employers. Completion of more credit hours means graduates are thought to be better prepared for their daily nursing practice and thus more suitable for leadership roles. Though an RN is a valuable certificate, a BSN degree can be what you need to advance in the field.

Raising Your Salary

Caring for patients is largely the biggest draw to a career in nursing. However, a good salary is essential for handling family responsibilities and maintaining a personal life. In most cases, nurses with BSN degrees are paid higher than those with an RN license alone.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, nurses with associate’s degrees are paid an average salary of $75,000 per year

, while BSN graduates have an average salary of $80,000. In many cases, this gap widens with more time spent in the field.

Even if RN and BSN graduates enter the industry with similar salaries, a bachelor’s degree is likely to result in significantly higher pay by the end of your career. For this reason, a BSN program can ultimately make thousands of dollars difference in your compensation.

From Nursing to Teaching

Some nurses choose to spend part of their careers in a teaching role. Whether it’s educating other nurses or promoting public health, such positions can be rewarding in a way that nursing traditionally isn’t.

For those interested in teaching, a BSN program is essential. Since most teaching positions require a master’s degree, they’re largely unobtainable to those with no more than an RN. Undertaking an RN to BSN program now means a teaching credential is only one step away should you decide to pursue it.

A Path to Better Patient Outcomes

Above all else, providing patients with the best care is any nurse’s ultimate goal. RN to BSN programs give nursing students the opportunity to expand their knowledge and broaden their skill set, making them a good reason to invest in ongoing education.

Furthering your education can lead to greater proficiency in diagnosing patients, assisting in time-sensitive cases and generally providing adequate care. Not only do patients benefit from this additional education but so will you as the nurse. Greater knowledge leads to increased confidence in your field and a more fulfilling career overall.

RN to BSN Program Length

When deciding whether to enroll in an RN to BSN program, it’s natural to wonder how long it will take to complete. Pursuing a BSN degree is a serious investment that can be tough to balance, especially if you’re already working as a registered nurse.

Though RN to BSN program length can vary, they can generally be completed in as many as four years or as few as one. Generally, the length of any nursing program depends on how many courses a student is able to take each semester. Full-time enrollment makes it possible to complete an RN to BSN program in one or two years, while part-time students can expect an extended timeframe of three to four years of year-round enrollment.

Deciding Factors in RN to BSN Programs

Whether you’re enrolled as a full- or part-time student can be a good estimator of the length of your RN to BSN program. But since all nursing students are different, not everyone will fit into this timeline. Here are a few deciding factors that can influence the length of RN to BSN programs.

General Education Courses

Since RN to BSN programs are designed for those who’ve already obtained an associate’s degree in nursing, most students will have already completed some of their general education courses.

While these courses aren’t specific to BSN curriculum, they typically round out your educational experience overall. Often, they act as prerequisite courses designed to introduce you to specialized nursing courses.

In a typical bachelor’s degree program, 120 credit hours are required to graduate, about half of which are gen ed courses. Depending on where you enroll for your RN to BSN program, you may have already completed some or all of these courses. A high number of transferable credits can shorten the length of your program, even with part-time enrollment.

Abbreviated Programs

Some institutions offer courses in abbreviated programs for those who can manage an accelerated curriculum. When available, these programs allow students to enroll in courses with shorter timeframes, thus increasing the number of courses they can complete in a single semester.

With an abbreviated program, it’s possible for even part-time students to complete an RN to BSN program within two years with consecutive semesters of shortened courses. For full-time students, this can be a great way to shorten the educational period even further.

In-Person vs. Online Courses

If you’re currently a working nurse, it may not be possible for you to attend in-person classes. For this reason, online RN to BSN programs can be the best way for you to further your education.

An online program makes it easy for working professionals to take courses at their own pace. Most are tailored to an independent learning experience, meaning you can control how and where you conduct your studies for a more hands-on approach.

An online RN to BSN program also eliminates the need to attend in-person lectures, one of the most common barriers for those looking to further their education. Without the need to be on campus, your education can be molded to fit your schedule.

This additional flexibility does more than simply save you a commute. With an online RN to BSN program, you may be able to increase your course load, shifting from part-time to full-time status and earning your degree faster.

Furthering Your Nursing Education With Aceso

For those looking to enroll in an online RN to BSN nursing program, there’s no better institution than Aceso. With flexible scheduling and an advanced curriculum, Aceso’s nursing programs are designed by nurses, for nurses.

It’s never been easier to further your education and broaden your employment opportunities. Apply now and take the first step toward a BSN degree today.