How long does it take to get a Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN) degree, and become a registered nurse? The answer is simple: it varies. The time it takes to get a BSN can depend on a variety of factors, including the type of degree program and course structure you choose.
The path to becoming a nurse is not always linear. There are different types of nursing programs you can pursue, certifications you can achieve, and timelines you can follow to become a registered nurse (RN). Some people enter college knowing that they want to go to nursing school. Others discover their passion for nursing over time. Some realize they’re meant for nursing only after securing a degree – and a career – in another field. Some balance their nursing classes with a full-time job, while others take a full-time course load. Therefore, the length of time to become a nurse, and to get a nursing degree, can vary greatly for each individual.
Today, an associate degree in Nursing is the standard pathway to become a nurse. However, more employers are expressing preference for RNs with a Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN) degree. A BSN degree is recognized as the gold-standard for nursing professionals, as it reflects their commitment to the nursing field, and the level of skill they can offer. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), “BSN nurses are prized for their skills in critical thinking, leadership, case management, and health promotion, and for their ability to practice across a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings.”
While employers often seek out nurses with a BSN, not all nursing candidates are enthused by the thought of a bachelor’s degree program. Many ask, “How long does it take to get a BSN degree,” and “How much time will I invest in nursing school?” If you are already working as a nurse, or in another job, the thought of a bachelor’s degree can be even more daunting. So, what can you expect?
In this article, we will explore how long it takes to complete a BSN degree, as well as the different types of BSN programs you can pursue and the typical timetable for each.
BSN Degree Options & Typical Timelines
Traditional, Entry-Level BSN: 4 Years Full-Time
Like any traditional bachelor’s degree, an entry-level BSN program takes about four years to complete. These programs are designed for students who are entering college and have no prior experience in the nursing field. They prepare students with fundamental nursing skills, knowledge of the sciences, as well as technical competencies. Typically, four-year BSN programs combine general education courses with major-specific classes, as well as clinical training. Students complete general education courses (such as science and math courses) during their first two years in school, followed by two years of advanced nursing curriculum. Therefore, these BSN programs are comprehensive, extensive, and often require a full-time college course load.
Accelerated BSN (ABSN): 16 months full-time
An accelerated BSN program, sometimes called a second degree nursing program, is designed for aspiring nurses who already have a bachelor’s degree in another, non-nursing field. In other words, ABSN candidates have earned a bachelor’s degree in a different major, but have since decided to change careers to nursing. Because they have already invested time in another program or school, the timeline to become a nurse can be accelerated. These students have already checked off many of their general education requirements. They may have completed science credits that can be applied to their BSN degree. Therefore, an accelerated BSN can be accomplished in as few as 16 months, full-time.
A key aspect to note is that ABSN programs are full-time programs. While ABSN students have attended college before, they are still entirely new to nursing. Therefore, they must still complete fundamental nursing courses, clinical training experiences, and advanced nursing projects prior to graduation day. The ABSN is, therefore, an entry-level nursing program on an accelerated timeline. They are intensive, but worth it. In just 16 months, you can earn your Bachelor’s in Nursing and qualify for advanced nursing positions, on top of the NCLEX-RN licensing exam.
RN-to-BSN: 16 Months Part-Time
An RN-to-BSN program is a type of BSN designed for registered nurses who are already licensed in the field, but looking to advance their education. These nurses may have received training via a hospital diploma program, or earned their associate degree in Nursing, in order to launch their career. They later decide to go back to school for their BSN, after gaining experience in the field.
The RN-to-BSN pathway accelerates a nurse’s pathway to a bachelor’s degree. Rather than a four-year time commitment, RN-to-BSN programs can be completed in a matter of months. They are also designed with busy, working nurses in mind. At Goodwin University, RNs can get a BSN degree in as few as 16 months on a part-time class schedule, and entirely online. During this time, they develop advanced nursing skills in health assessment, leadership, healthcare policy, public health nursing, and more.
You may be wondering, “Why earn an associate degree, then go back to school for a BSN later in life? Isn’t that added time?” The truth is, this is a very smart pathway for nurses looking to enter the workforce fast. An associate degree (from an accredited nursing school) is the standard requirement needed to take the NCLEX-RN exam and become a nurse—and it also can be completed in months. At Goodwin, for example, the associate degree in Nursing can be completed just 20-months part-time, and even faster with a larger course load. Combined with an RN-to-BSN program, the length of nursing school in total is 36 months, part-time, with some years of experience between each degree. The latter half of that time in nursing school can be completed online, adding another layer of flexibility.
When to Earn Your Bachelor’s in Nursing Degree
Nursing is not just a career path, it’s a calling for many of people. Those who enter the nursing field often do so with a passion for helping others and a desire to make a difference. Some of these people grow up their whole lives knowing that they want to become a nurse. For many, however, the path to nursing takes more time. Most nurses enter the field because they have been inspired at some point in their lives, often later in life, before deciding to take the leap. Some do so on a timeline that they’ve built, and a nursing curriculum that they’ve designed, to accommodate their needs. Some do so in an accelerated, full-time class format. But all walk away with a highly-valued, respected, and sought after BSN degree in hand.
As you ask the question, “How long will it take to get a BSN degree?”, remember that this is personal. Your timeline will vary on where you are in your current job, your experience in nursing, your ability to commit to nursing school, and the type of BSN program you pursue.
If you have found a BSN degree that can fit your needs, and you feel ready to invest the time, then do not wait. The demand for nurses is higher than ever, with nearly 195,000 job openings for registered nurses expected each year. You can enter this field and secure a career you love, quickly, with just months in nursing school.
Contact Goodwin University’s nursing school to start your journey today. We have a variety of associate degree and BSN degree options for aspiring nurses like you. Request more information online today.