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RN to BSN Programs: States with Mandatory Articulation Agreements

Higher Education Articles November 26, 2013

What Are Nursing Articulation Agreements?

Nursing Articulation Agreements – also known as “RN to BSN Articulation Agreements” – are an important detail for every vocational or community college nursing student to know, in addition to the limits of, their state’s nurse practice act and all of the requirements they must meet for eventual licensure. With no national overseeing agency, various state boards of nursing have developed different types of articulation agreements generally classified as mandatory, voluntary or school-by-school. The term “articulation agreement” is an unnecessarily complex-sounding word to indicate whether a college or university offering a baccalaureate degree in nursing will accept any or all of the class credits an RN took in order to first earn a diploma or associate degree in nursing.

A Brief Review of the Types of Nursing Articulation Agreements

Mandatory Articulation Agreements

The subject of this article mandated articulation agreements are utilized by only eight US states despite the very positive influence they have upon helping provide the necessary number of registered nurses needed in the healthcare field. These states include:

•North Carolina
•South Carolina

Voluntary Articulation Agreements

Rather than an organized type of agreement, the term “voluntary articulation agreements” is one applied to several agreements established independently between state boards of nursing or universities.

School-to-School Articulation Agreements

This final type of agreement is another type of a voluntary agreement, albeit one that is restricted to agreements established between individual schools. Details of these contracts vary widely depending upon what specifics the educational institutions have determined will take place in the event of an RN application to the school’s BSN program.

Why Mandatory Articulation Agreements Are Important

Nursing Articulation Agreements have important influences upon individual RNs as well as their overall nursing profession. Such agreements are important for individual nurses seeking to increase their professional education and career options. Personally, nurses who transfer under mandated agreements:

•Have an easier, established application process;
•Are guaranteed a minimum number of transferable credits;
•Can save tuition costs by not having to repeat classes already taken;
•Can graduate sooner by not having to repeat classes already taken and passed.

As the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) acknowledges on their website, mandatory agreements are not necessary for any student to transfer from a junior or community college to a senior college or university. However, as the AACN points out, mandatory articulation agreements can:

•Help inform or educate students’ course selections;
•”Eliminate curriculum redundancies;”
•”Streamline the application review process;”
•”Promote collaboration among educators across nursing programs.”


The overall result of mandated articulation agreements includes an easier professionalization process and a greater number of educated nurses to meet the occupation’s needs.


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