Second Degree Nursing Programs: What You Should Know

Working in the nursing field allows you the unique opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. Whether you choose to work in a hospital or laboratory, pediatrics office or nursing home, a nursing career is always rewarding, exciting, and important to the greater healthcare system. Perhaps you are here because you are considering switching careers to become a nurse. You may feel inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic to help those in need. Or, you may be seeking a change of pace from your current role. No matter your reasoning, a second degree nursing program is worth considering.

What is a Second Degree in Nursing?

A second degree in nursing is a type of accelerated nursing program for those who already have a bachelor’s degree in another field. Second degree nursing programs involve intensive nursing coursework and clinicals, in efforts to quickly prepare aspiring nurses for a career in patient care.

Upon successful completion of a second degree nursing program, graduates walk away with their Bachelor’s in Nursing (BSN) degree. They are also eligible to pursue licensure as a Registered Nurse (RN), which is required to practice.

Due to their fast-paced curriculums, second degree nursing programs are commonly referred to as accelerated nursing programs or accelerated BSN programs. These programs typically take between 16 to 18 months to complete, compared to the traditional four-year baccalaureate program.

Why Pursue a Second Degree Nursing Program?

Simply put, there is a growing demand for nurses – particularly those with a bachelor’s degree.

There will always be a need for nurses, but the demand for qualified professionals is growing. Now, more than ever, aging patients are requiring healthcare services. New research around complex disease and pandemics is coming forth. There is also a greater focus on wellness and preventive care than in generations past. It is no wonder, then, why employment of Registered Nurses (RNs) is increasing each year in the United States. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that almost 195,000 jobs will become available to Registered Nurses annually between 2020 and 2030.

Now is the time to get into a nursing career.

Along with the high demand for nurses comes the need for highly educated nurses who hold a bachelor’s degree. While an associate degree in Nursing is an acceptable standard in the field, employers today are looking for BSN-educated nurses to step up. According to a recent 2020 survey by the AACN, more than 82 percent of healthcare employers strongly prefer to hire BSN degree holders.

If you have a bachelor’s degree in Nursing, you will have a leg up when it comes to career prospects. And if you have a bachelor’s degree in another major, you will have a leg up when it comes to qualifying for an accelerated BSN degree.

Who is Eligible for a Second Degree in Nursing?

Second degree nursing programs are just what their name entails: nursing programs that offer a second degree to people who have already earned a primary degree, but in a different field. In order to qualify for a second degree in nursing, therefore, you must have a bachelor’s degree.

Second degree nursing program requirements vary by school and program. A bachelor’s degree is a standard prerequisite, but specific coursework and GPA requirements can vary. At Goodwin University, for example, you must have:

  • A bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing major, from a regionally-accredited college or university
  • Graduated with a minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Completed Chemistry, Statistics, and Lifespan Development prerequisite courses with a grade of “C” or higher
  • Completed prerequisite Biology coursework with a grade of “C+” or higher

Should I Pursue a Second Degree in Nursing?

There are many reasons one might pursue a second degree nursing program. Typically, however, these programs are geared towards those making a career change. These students have completed studies in another field, but later feel called to enter healthcare and help patients in need. An accelerated BSN program, or second degree in nursing, grants the opportunity to make this career change relatively fast.

As noted above, second degree nursing programs can take up to 18 months full-time to complete. However, this fast-pace does not mean these nursing programs are a breeze. Accelerated BSN programs cover an extensive amount of nursing material in a very short amount of a time. Classes may be longer than those found in a traditional BSN program, and are generally less flexible than other BSN colleges (usually full-time to allow for faster degree completion). This is because of the intensive coursework that will be needed to earn a full bachelor’s degree in less than two years’ time.

With that in mind, however, you can rest assured that your prior college experience will count towards your second degree. Most nursing schools will allow you to transfer general education or other applicable science credits towards your Bachelor’s in Nursing. This can allow for faster degree completion, and leaves you to focus on your core, career-focused nursing education.

What are the Other Benefits of an Accelerated BSN Program?

As exciting as the prospect of earning your second degree may be, the notion of committing to another four-year program can be overwhelming. It’s no wonder why. Four-year nursing programs can be pricey! An accelerated BSN or second nursing degree removes this barrier, taking less than two years’ time to complete. This is the key benefit of a second degree nursing program – the low time commitment involved.

Additionally, there are many overarching benefits of earning a BSN degree. One includes career prospects. Nurses with a BSN degree qualify for more advanced job opportunities – such as leadership positions – and are often preferred by employers in competitive job markets. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing found that, in 2020, the average job placement rate for BSN graduates was 94 percent, compared to all graduates at 63.5 percent. On top of this, 41 percent of hospitals are now requiring nurses to have a Bachelor’s in Nursing. This is because BSN-educated nurses are viewed as having a very high quality of patient care and successful patient outcomes.

However, all nursing degree programs have their benefits. While BSN degree holders are preferred by many employers today, an associate degree in Nursing remains the standard and the preferred pathway for students seeking a fast, entry-level program to prepare for their careers. The right option for you, ultimately, will depend on your level of experience and your history of higher education.

Which Nursing Degree is Right for You?

If you have a bachelor’s degree and wish to become a nurse, a second degree in nursing is a great next step for you. This will enable you to gain the fundamentals of nursing, practice patient care, and walk away with a Bachelor’s in Nursing. While you can pursue an associate degree in Nursing to enter the nursing field, a second degree in nursing takes approximately the same amount of time, ending with a bachelor’s degree that can set you apart from other job candidates.

If you do not have a bachelor’s degree, however, an associate degree in Nursing (ADN) is your best next step. An associate degree is the standard requirement in the nursing field and also takes under two years to complete. At Goodwin University, for example, the associate degree in Nursing program can be completed in 20 months part-time. This is also a good option for those who need a part-time program.

What about those nurses who have experience in nursing, but wish to earn a second degree in nursing? If you are a Registered Nurse and seeking to advance your education, consider pursuing an RN-to-BSN program. An RN-to-BSN program is designed for experienced nurses who have their RN license, but are wishing to take that next big step towards their bachelor’s degree. An RN-to-BSN program, similar to a second degree nursing program, offers a fast-paced curriculum so that you can advance your skillset fast. However, it allows for more flexibility than the second degree. At Goodwin, the RN-to-BSN program can be completed part-time in just 16 months, and enables you to continue working as a nurse while pursuing your BSN degree.

About Goodwin’s Nursing School

Goodwin University is an accredited nursing school in Connecticut, known for our flexible nursing programs. Whether you are pursuing an accelerated BSN, associate degree, or RN-to-BSN program, our nursing courses are tailored to meet the different needs of our busy students. We also offer three academic sessions per year for faster degree completion and there are no wait times for nursing enrollment. If you have already gone to college and completed general education courses, you can learn about transferring those credits here for an even faster degree path. As a recap:

  • The associate degree in Nursing (ADN) at Goodwin can be completed part-time in just 20 months, and is designed for new nurses without a bachelor’s degree.
  • The RN to BSN programat Goodwin can be completed online, in 16 months part-time, and is available to students who already have their nursing license and associate degree.
  • The accelerated BSN program, also called a second nursing degree program, can be completed in 18 months full-time, and is designed for new nurses who have completed a bachelor’s degree in a different, non-nursing field.

Goodwin University’s flexible nursing degrees are specially designed around nurses and their busy lifestyle, so that you’ll never have to delay earning your degree due to other life obligations. Why not start today? We accept nursing applications three times each year, and there are no wait lists to enroll in our nursing school.

Interesting in jumpstarting your career in nursing? Call 800-889-3282 today to learn more about our fast-paced nursing program, or visit here to learn why Goodwin University is a leader in nursing education.