Typical Course Duration of a BSN Program

Information regarding the average length of time it takes to complete a BSN program, including accelerated BSN programs and bridge programs.
Typical Course Duration of a BSN Program

If you want to become a registered nurse (RN), you need to earn your RN license. For this to happen, you must complete an accredited nursing program and pass the NCLEX-RN licensing exam. Naturally, you are probably eager to get the ball rolling and complete your educational requirements as quickly as possible. However, earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or BSN, doesn't happen overnight. Learn more about the typical length of BSN programs by reading on below.

Before looking at the average duration for most BSN programs, it helps to understand what they entail. Bachelor of science in nursing degrees are most commonly offered by four-year colleges and universities. The educational requirements typically include about two years of general education or liberal arts courses along with about two years of nursing-specific courses. As a result, BSN programs traditionally take around four years to complete. However, that is not universally true, and many nurses earn their BSNs more quickly.

Is a BSN the Quickest Option?

As you probably already know, earning a BSN is not the fastest path to becoming a registered nurse. You can actually earn an associate degree in nursing, or ADN, and be eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN upon completion. It typically only takes around two years to earn an ADN, so why don't all aspiring nurses do so? Mainly because BSN-educated nurses are in high demand, and they have many more options in terms of career advancements and the like. Additionally, they tend to command higher pay and better benefits. Even though it takes longer, earning a BSN is generally preferable to earning an ADN.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a BSN?

If you were to ask most nursing students how long it takes to earn a BSN, most would immediately say "four years." However, as mentioned before, that isn't always the case. There are circumstances under which you can earn a BSN within a much shorter period of time. As you may have surmised, however, you usually need some additional credentials to make up for the briefer duration of the program.

On average, here's how long it takes to complete a BSN, depending on the circumstances:

As a New Student

If you have no prior educational or work experience in nursing and want to earn a BSN, your best bet is to enroll in a four-year college or university to do so. Assuming that you just have a high school diploma, you will have many general education requirements to fulfill before you can start on the actual nursing program. Thanks to online BSN programs, you don't necessarily have to be on campus regularly to make this happen.

With an ADN

What if you already have an ADN, but want to enjoy the perks that go along with having a BSN? You're in luck because you almost certainly won't have to endure four additional years of education. Rather, you can most likely earn your BSN through an ADN-to-BSN bridge program. Otherwise known as RN-to-BSN bridge programs, they take your prior education and experience into account, allowing you to complete your remaining requirements more quickly. With this option, it can take as little as two years to earn a BSN.

With a BA

What if you already have a bachelor's degree in a different area? Fortunately, your prior education won't go to waste. You should be an ideal candidate for what is known as an accelerated BSN program. Assuming that you earned the usual general education credits while pursuing your first BA, you shouldn't have to complete them again for nursing school. For this reason, you may be able to complete an accelerated BSN program in as little as 1 to 1.5 years.

Which Considerations Should Be Made Before Obtaining a BSN?

Does it make sense for you to earn a BSN? More importantly, do you have enough time in your life to do so? First, consider your personal life and work situation. Do you have much flexibility there? If not, you might opt for an online BSN program. What about tuition? How much can you afford? This will play a huge role in which options are available to you. Do you need a lot of flexibility, or can you devote yourself to pursuing your BSN on a full-time basis? By keeping these points in mind, you will be able to make a strategic and effective decision regarding the course of your education and career.

What are Common Prerequisites of BSN Programs?

As mentioned previously, most BSN programs include around two years of general education requirements. If you have already completed these, you may be able to switch to an accelerated BSN program. Otherwise, you will probably need to meet certain requirements concerning GPA and ACT or SAT test scores. Simply having a high school diploma isn't enough.

Are Online BSN Programs Faster?

Like many aspiring RNs, you may be looking for ways to earn your BSN more quickly. You may be able to do so through an online BSN program, but that depends on the exact nature of the program. Some online programs are asynchronous, which means that students can essentially work at their own pace. Others follow a set schedule, however, which means that it will take you around four years no matter what you do. With an asynchronous online BSN program, however, you may be able to complete tasks early and earn your degree faster. If this is what you want, you'll have to look carefully for such programs.

As nice as it would be, BSN degrees don't just fall from the sky. Several years of work and training go into earning them, since so much ground has to be covered. Although it may seem like too much right now, you will be glad later when you are working as a confident, well-trained and well-educated nurse.

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