An RN to BSN program is an undergraduate degree program geared toward nurses who have already completed an associate degree and who would like to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This bridge program offers nurses the ability to earn a BSN in as few as 12 months, which can then lead to a wider range of career opportunities as well as increased advancement and earning potential.

What Does the Curriculum Cover?

An RN to BSN program generally digs deeper into nursing theory and concepts, including healthcare information technology, leadership roles, research methodologies, advanced patient care, and global and community health initiatives.

Content may vary slightly by program, but the Nevada State College online RN to BSN program includes the following courses, each lasting seven weeks:

  • Theory of Caring Science.
  • Conceptual Bases of Nursing.
  • Holistic Health Assessment.
  • Nursing in the Global Environment.
  • Bioethics and Health Informatics.
  • Theory and Practice of Conscious Dying.
  • Biostatistics for Nursing.
  • Care of Aging Populations.
  • Caring in Nursing Communities.
  • Engaging in Leadership and Health Policy.
  • Scholarly Inquiry of Nursing.
  • Synthesis of Professional Nursing.

What Is the Value of a BSN?

BSN-prepared nurses may realize several benefits upon degree completion:

  • Wider variety of employment options or nursing roles.
  • Potential for earning a higher salary.
  • Opportunity to pursue leadership or management positions requiring a BSN.
  • Ability to move into research, training, or other roles besides direct patient care.
  • Option to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or other graduate degree.

The value of a BSN degree may be related to the rising industry demand for baccalaureate-prepared nurses. According to a 2013 survey conducted by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), nearly 44 percent of hospitals and other healthcare employers require new hires to have a bachelor’s degree, representing an almost five percent increase over 2012 data. In addition, more than three-quarters of employers express a strong preference for BSN-prepared graduates.

The recent increase in demand is not surprising considering that the push for higher levels of education began in 2010 following the release of The Future of Nursing report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), now called the National Academy of Medicine (NAM). The report recommended that 80 percent of the nursing workforce should be BSN-prepared by 2020 in order to meet the healthcare needs of a rapidly aging and diverse population. Between the expansive Baby Boomer generation — estimated to account for approximately one-fifth of the population aged 65 and older by 2030 — and the growing number of complex health conditions that nurses may encounter, the IOM suggested that nurses obtain a BSN in order to have the skill set to effectively manage those healthcare challenges.

The report urged healthcare employers to encourage nurses with associate degrees to pursue BSN credentialing within five years of graduation and facilitate this pursuit by offering tuition reimbursement, career advancement opportunities, and higher salaries. According to PayScale data as of April 2017, the salary difference alone can be substantial. Nurses with associate degrees and one to four years of experience earn a median yearly wage of $60,649, while BSN-prepared nurses with similar experience earn $69,580.

Dr. Cecelia Fernan, an assistant professor in the online RN to BSN program at Nevada State College, sums up the value of a BSN nicely: “A BSN degree is proven to enhance the knowledge and competencies of nurses to be better prepared for the challenges of 21st century nursing. Baccalaureate-prepared nurses are well-equipped to be critical thinkers, nurse leaders, healthcare innovators, and advanced-practice nurses.”

Moving Ahead

With the majority of employers strongly preferring BSN-prepared candidates, an RN to BSN program is ideal for nurses seeking to further their education and careers. Nurses completing such a program may have more diverse career advancement opportunities available to them, including leadership, management, and research roles as well as the potential for higher lifetime earnings. The degree may lead to even greater career stepping stones as it positions nurses to be able to pursue graduate or advanced nursing studies in the future.

Learn more about the Nevada State online RN to BSN program.


PayScale: Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) Salary

PayScale: Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Degree Salary

Institute of Medicine: The Future of Nursing: Focus on Education

American Association of Colleges of Nursing: New AACN Data Confirm that Baccalaureate-Prepared Nurses Are More Likely to Secure Jobs