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RN to BSN Programs: States with Voluntary Articulation Agreements

Higher Education Articles November 4, 2013

Articulation Agreements: Why They Matter

Despite completing all the homework assignments, studying for tests, reading assigned papers, attending required clinical rotations and wondering if they’ve made the right decision to become a RN, community college or vocational nursing students also need to be aware of their current state and facility’s RN to BSN Articulation Agreements and whether they are voluntary or mandated in nature. Although this is not usually a consideration when a student first begins classes toward a Registered Nurse diploma or an Associate Degree in Nursing Science, it should be. A state or a facility’s articulation agreement status helps determine how much time and expense a graduate RN will need to spend in order to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), the next step in their professional and educational development. They do so by determining whether credits earned in a diploma or associate degree nursing program are transferable to institutions of higher learning that offer students bachelors of nursing degrees.

The Types of Articulation Agreements

Because the detailed requirements for RN education and licensure are determined by individual state boards of nursing, there is no blanket national agreement to control this aspect of recognition or transfer of completed credits from one school to another or even from one state to an adjacent one. Instead, three types of agreements have developed as some individual state boards of nursing attempt to make earning a BSN degree an easier process by eliminating red tape. Thus, US states have mandatory, voluntary or school-to-school articulation agreements depending upon their state boards’ stances on this issue.

Mandatory Articulation Agreements

A minority of states use this type of articulation agreement in which baccalaureate programs are required by law to accept a minimum number of class credits earned by students within their original RN program. Some states also essentially require that any registered nurse applying to earn a bachelor’s degree of nursing be accepted as a student.

Voluntary Articulation Agreements

The states with voluntary articulation agreements are those in which various agreements and collaborative efforts have been agreed upon or arranged between various state-funded institutions and some private schools in order to make earning a baccalaureate degree an easier experience for RN students. Instead of a single student negotiating the reams of red tape to have some or all of his or her nursing credits accepted at the college or university he or she plans to attend, the school has already established and publicized its acceptance and transfer policy. In some cases, the agreements include all the public schools within a given state. Agreement may also provide blanket acceptance of graduates from another state’s accredited nursing programs while failing to do so for an alternate state.

School-to-School Articulation Agreements

This final type of articulation agreement is a voluntary agreement made between two or more schools in the same state or not. The admission requirements for RNs, the number of nursing credits accepted for transfer and the flexibility of the class schedule are entirely up to the specific agreement negotiated between the individual schools.

States with Voluntary Articulation Agreements

Students currently studying in a diploma or associate degree registered nursing RN program in a state with a voluntary articulation agreement need to be aware of what states and schools hold agreements with their current institution. The number, variety and location of agreed upon schools may be tremendously important should the student plan to continue studies in another state or even in a private university within their current state.

States currently operating under Voluntary Articulation Agreements, as of 2013, include:

•District of Columbia
•New Hampshire
•New Jersey
•North Dakota
•South Dakota

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