Today, more and more nurses are pursuing their Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN) degree. All the while, more and more employers are requiring – or at least preferring – it. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, 78% of healthcare employers prefer to hire nurses with a bachelor’s degree. And that number is growing. Going to BSN school now could translate to greater job prospects, advancement opportunities, and salary potential down the road.
Deciding to pursue a BSN degree is one thing – choosing a BSN school can feel like a whole other animal. There are so many types of programs out there, and so many great schools, how can you choose the best one for your needs? Knowing the right questions to ask beforehand can make all the difference.
Below, we highlight the top seven questions to ask yourself, and your prospective college or university, before getting started.
- What type of BSN program do I need – and do they offer it?
You may think the BSN degree path is straightforward, but there are actually several options depending on your current experience. Are you new to nursing and just starting your career path, or do you already have your RN licensure?
If you are new to nursing, there are a few possible paths you can take towards a BSN. As a freshman in college, you can apply to a direct-entry BSN program, which (like most bachelor’s degrees) will take about four years to complete. You can also pursue your associate degree in Nursing (ADN) to start working more quickly, and go back for your BSN degree later on. An associate degree is the standard requirement to become a registered nurse today, though many employers encourage nurses to go back for their BSN.
If you are already a licensed registered nurse, and are considering advancing your career, you can pursue an RN-to-BSN program. An RN-to-BSN program is a flexible option for nurses who already have a career, and will be balancing that with school. The RN-to-BSN program at Goodwin’s nursing school, for example, is offered entirely online and can be completed in just 16-months part-time.
If you are switching career paths, have a college degree in hand, but want to start fresh in the nursing field, the ABSN path will be for you. An ABSN is an accelerated BSN program, designed for aspiring nurses who have their bachelor’s degree in another major. This offers a shorter path than the traditional four-year route, and will allow you to earn a BSN degree in just 16-months full-time.
Now that you know the different types of BSN programs out there, it’s important to determine which is right for you – and ensure the nursing school you are applying to has that option available.
- Is the BSN program accredited?
Accreditation ensures that a nursing program meets – and adheres to – certain academic standards, set forth by an accreditation agency. Essentially, it confirms that the program, and its clinical facilities, are of high-quality and can prepare students successfully for the nursing field.
There are two national accrediting bodies for BSN programs – the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), which is granted only to bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN), which can accredit any level nursing program.
It is important to ensure the BSN program you choose holds one of these accreditations. An accredited nursing school is highly valued among employers, because the school has been reviewed and approved by nursing experts. Graduating from an accredited BSN school is also important if you are considering a master’s degree in the future. If the school is not required, you will not be eligible to attend an accredited MSN program down the road.
- Is there room to grow after my BSN education?
Speaking of continuing education, that is another important question to ask a prospective BSN school. While a BSN degree will qualify you for near-every nursing position, there are advanced titles that call for a graduate degree – such as a Nurse Anesthetist, Nurse Manager, and Nurse Educator.
If you wish to become a leader in the field, it can help to a find a school that offers continuing education opportunities like a Master’s in Nursing (MSN) program. By choosing a nursing school that offers both, it can make the process much easier – in terms of transcript and credit transfers – when you decide to take that next step.
- Does the school promise flexibility?
Every BSN program is unique. If you require flexibility in your class schedule, it is important to ask about the program’s format options. Most RN-to-BSN programs will offer flexibility for the working nurse, such as online courses and part-time formats. Some require a combination of hands-on and online work.
Goodwin’s RN-to-BSN program, for example, can be uniquely designed to meet each student’s needs. You can choose to take classes in a part-time format, and entirely online if you wish. This structure is designed to help nurses balance their education with work and other obligations.
- Which BSN courses will I take?
Just as it is important to find a program that aligns with your experience-level, it is also important to find a program that aligns with your interests and goals. Do you wish to pursue a specialization, or take certain courses while enrolled in BSN school? Think about the topics that are important to you, and determine if these will be covered through the program’s curriculum. Students enrolled in the RN-to-BSN program at Goodwin University, for example, can expect to take courses in:
- Health Assessment
- Healthcare Policy and Advocacy
- Public and Community Health Nursing
- Clinical Nursing Leadership
- Nursing Research
You can also choose from electives in topics such as mental health, family, children, and women’s wellness.
- How much will it cost?
You already know that pursuing a BSN degree is an investment in your future, but it can still help to know just how much that will cost.
While cost shouldn’t be a deciding factor, it’s important to ask questions about tuition and any correlating fees. For example, is the tuition a full-and-flat cost, or will other fees arise during the program (think: student health insurance, matriculation fees, graduation fees, technology fees, credit charges, clinical fees, and more)? Goodwin works on a fixed tuition model. This means, before entering any program, you will know the total cost of completing your BSN degree prior to starting classes. Not to mention, our BSN school has one of the lowest tuition costs for private, nonprofit colleges in the state.
While on the topic of tuition, you should also ask about any financial aid opportunities that may be available to you. Some BSN schools offer federal financial aid, work-study programs, grants, and scholarships to aspiring students. Learn about Goodwin’s financial aid opportunities here.
- How do I get started?
Your journey towards a BSN degree has already begun. Your next step is to find the right program for you, to ask these questions, and – when you’re ready – to apply!
Application requirements and prerequisites vary school to school, and will depend on the type of program you pursue. For example, Goodwin’s RN-to-BSN completion program requires you to be a licensed RN, while our accelerated BSN requires candidates to have a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing major prior to application.
At Goodwin, enrollment is hassle-free. We offer 3 class starts a year so that you can begin your BSN program whenever you are ready. To learn more about applying to our nursing programs, please do not hesitate to reach out. Call the University at 800-889-3282 or visit us online to request more information.
Goodwin University is a nonprofit institution of higher education and is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE), formerly known as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). Goodwin University was founded in 1999, with the goal of serving a diverse student population with career-focused degree programs that lead to strong employment outcomes.