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The Differences Between the RN and BSN Degrees

Higher Education Articles March 31, 2015

Registered nurses (RN) are nurses who have passed the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) upon completion of an accredited training program. These programs are available as a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.) or Associate of Science in Nursing (A.S.N.). The degrees differ in the required coursework for graduation and the time needed to complete them.

Associate of Science in Nursing and Bachelor of Science in Nursing Programs

A two-year associate’s degree program at a nursing school or community college may be pursued by aspiring registered nurses. Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a GED certificate or a high school diploma. Students at a four-year university or college may earn a BSN.

Prerequisite courses in science and math may need to be taken by applicants to these programs. Previous experience in the healthcare field may also be a requirement for admission to some schools. Schools offer accelerated programs for those who already hold an A.S.N. or for those wishing to earn a second bachelor’s degree.

Coursework

Coursework in an associate’s degree program is devised to teach basic nursing skills to students by combining classroom lectures and hands-on clinical experiences. Students often take general education courses in English, science, and math. Coursework varies by school and may also cover liberal arts courses to aid students seeking to transfer to a B.S.N. program.

Coursework in a bachelor’s degree program varies owing to the addition of courses in communication, biochemistry, and statistics. Additional general education courses must also be completed by students. But, as in the case of an A.S.N. program, bachelor’s degree program candidates are also required to undergo extensive clinical practicums and basic nursing coursework. Core coursework may include topic areas such as the following:

•Microbiology
•Pharmacology
•Surgical nursing
•Mental health nursing
•Anatomy and physiology
•Nursing fundamentals
•Nursing theory
•Pediatric nursing

Successful completion of the program will entail eligibility to take the NCLEX-RN.

Continuing Education and Career Choices

Those who graduate from either a B.S.N. or A.S.N. program can seek entry-level careers in nursing. Work experience will enable RNs to advance to management positions regardless of the level of degree they hold themselves (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics).

However, continuing education is the avenue that is most likely to lead to advancement. A B.S.N. degree holder may pursue a master’s or doctoral degree program in nursing, whereby he or she can get trained to become an advanced practice nurses, such as nurse-midwives, clinical nurse specialists, or nurse practitioners.

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5 Program(s) Found
  • Which career path will you take – Business, Nursing, Education, Psychology? Something else? GCU offers more than 100 majors to get you started!
  • Colangelo College of Business: Features more than 25 programs from the bachelor through the master's level, including several high-demand MBA programs and an accelerated accounting degree.
  • College of Nursing and Health Care Professions: Rich 25-year history providing outstanding health care and nursing degree programs, including an RN to BSN program & master's in nursing degrees.
  • College of Education: Whether you are looking to start or advance your career as a teacher or administrator, GCU offers bachelor’s and master’s in education degrees in key areas.
  • College of Humanities and Social Sciences: Provides a job focused education and features a variety of programs from counseling and psychology to justice studies, history and English literature.
  • Does something else interest you? GCU also offers programs in Doctoral Studies; Theology; Science, Engineering & Technology; and Fine Arts & Production. Speak with an enrollment counselor today!
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
3 Program(s) Found
  • Ranked among top Regional Universities in the South by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Ranked 37th among the Best Colleges for Veterans by U.S. News and World Report in 2015.
  • Stands as the largest private, nonprofit university in the nation with 100,000+ students.
  • Offers over 230 programs online, from the certificate to the doctoral level.
  • Has a student-faculty ratio of 25:1, and 42.3% of its classes have fewer than 20 students.
Show more [+]
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Program(s) Found
  • Recognized as a Top 20 Best Online Bachelor’s Program by U.S. News & World Report in 2016.
  • Online, campus-based, and evening courses offered in 95 areas of study, including Business, Nursing, Psychology, & more.
  • Endorsed by G.I. Jobs and Military Advanced Education magazine as a Military Friendly School in 2015.
  • Features small class sizes, with a student-to-faculty ratio of 23 to 1.
  • 88% of Regent University students receive financial aid, with $18 million awarded in institutional scholarships & aid each year.
  • Online Courses
5 Program(s) Found
  • Online bachelor's programs include BBA, Criminal Justice, IT, Healthcare Management, Pscyhology & Public Health
  • Over 115 years of delivering quality education and personalized attention to students
Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
1 Program(s) Found
  • Named a Best for Vets school by the Military Times in 2014.
  • Has specialized in student-centered technology, business, criminal justice, health science, and culinary education for over 45 years.
  • Makes it possible for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in 2.5 years or an associate’s in 1.5 years by providing a year-round schedule.
  • Offers externships and clinical experience that help students prepare for life after they graduate.
  • Has 10 campuses across the mid-Atlantic, plus online degree programs.
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits

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