Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing (BSN)
Whether someone is already working as a registered nurse or is entering a nursing program for the first time, earning a bachelor’s degree can be an excellent way to open up more career opportunities than those with an associate’s degree have access to. For example, these programs — which usually take four years to complete — are often prerequisites for certain positions, especially those at hospitals or public health agencies. This is important, considering that the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that hospitals employed 61 percent of all registered nurses nationwide in 2016.
Bachelor’s degree programs in nursing are designed to teach students theoretical medical knowledge and practical nursing skills that are used in more advanced positions in the field. To find out more about these degree programs, continue reading this page.
Getting Started With Bachelor's Programs in Nursing
It’s never too early for future nurses to start preparing to enter a bachelor’s degree program. Even in high school, students can take biological science courses and volunteer at a hospital or clinic to begin their exposure to health care work.
Once they enter college, students are generally required to complete prerequisite courses — such as microbiology, human anatomy and physiology, lifespan development, and chemistry — before they are able to declare nursing as their major. In addition, depending on the program, students may need to maintain a minimum grade point average in order to become a nursing major.
Best Schools Offering Bachelor's Programs in Nursing
With so many schools that offer bachelor’s degree programs in nursing, it can be difficult to decide which program to choose. In order to make this important choice easier, we have compiled a list of the best nursing schools that offer bachelor’s degree programs, based on data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). More information about the methodology used to create our rankings can be found at the bottom of this page.
Overview of Nursing Bachelor's Degree Programs
Through a combination of classroom work and clinical experiences, nursing bachelor’s degree programs expose students to principles they need to know, as well as how those principles look in practice. Many different topics can be covered in a nursing bachelor’s degree program: using technology for patient care, helping patients under emergency and non-emergency circumstances, communicating with patients’ family members, and collaborating effectively as a member of a health care team. In addition, students in these programs have the opportunity to gain an understanding of nursing regulations and the ethical principles they are expected to use in their work every day.
Common coursework found in nursing bachelor’s degree programs include:
- Pediatric nursing
- Health assessments
- Clinical nursing
- Nursing research
- Applied pharmacology
Nursing bridge programs exist so that nursing students are not required to retake coursework they’ve already completed. These programs can help students who have already completed a certain amount of nursing education to earn a higher-level degree in a shorter span of time.
For example, a student who has already earned an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) and become a registered nurse (RN) might decide to enroll in an RN-to-BSN program. This program would take into account the coursework that our theoretical student has already done in his or her associate degree program and count those courses towards the completion of the bachelor’s degree. This would allow the student to advance his or her knowledge and clinical skills without spending a full four years in the program.
For more information about nursing bridge programs and how they work, please check out our bridge program page.
Bridge Programs Leading to a Bachelor’s Degree
Bridge Programs that Start with a Bachelor’s Degree
Using the National Center for Education Statistics’ Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), we ranked 6,758 United States institutions on 11 criteria. Final data for the 2016-17 school year was used for these rankings. (Schools that did not provide data for all 11 criteria were disqualified from the ranking.)
Our 11 criteria were as follows:
- Number of bachelor’s-level degree programs offered to nursing-related majors
- Number of bachelor’s -level nursing-related degree programs offered via distance education
- Variety of bachelor’s -level nursing-related degree programs offered
- Retention rate
- Graduation rate
- Average amount of federal grant aid awarded to full-time first-time undergraduates
- Percent of full-time first-time undergraduates awarded any financial aid
- Credit offerings (Military, Dual, Life Experience, AP)
- Services (Career Counseling, Placement Services)
- Availability of tuition plans (Guaranteed, Prepaid, Payment, Other)
All schools were scored on a 10-point scale for each of the points listed above. Individual data point scores were then multiplied by their respective weights, and the scores were added together, for a maximum possible score of 10 points.
NOTE: Schools’ tuition amounts are based on 2016-17 undergraduate and graduate data reported to the National Center for Education Statistics. The actual cost of tuition may vary.
- Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, Accessed January 2018, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/
- BSN, San Francisco State University, Accessed June 2018, https://www.nursing.sfsu.edu/bsn_1
- 10 Reasons To Get Your Bachelor’s Degree In Nursing, AmeriTech College, Accessed June 2018, https://www.ameritech.edu/blog/10-reasons-get-bachelors-degree-nursing/
- Bachelors Degrees Nursing, Excelsior College, Accessed June 2018, https://www.excelsior.edu/programs/nursing/rn-to-bachelor-degree
- Online Nursing Program (RN), Western Governors University, Accessed June 2018, https://www.wgu.edu/online-nursing-health-degrees/rn-prelicensure-nursing-bachelors-program.html#
- RN vs. BSN: What You Should Know, Rasmussen College, Accessed June 2018, https://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/nursing/blog/rn-vs-bsn-what-you-should-know/
- Thinking About Nursing School?, The College Board, Accessed June 2018, https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/explore-careers/college-majors/thinking-about-nursing-school
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Accelerated, Regis University, Accessed June 2018, https://www.regis.edu/RHCHP/Academics/Degrees-and-Programs/Undergraduate-Programs/Accelerated-Nursing.aspx
- Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) – Prerequisites, The Medical University of South Carolina, Accessed June 2018, https://academicdepartments.musc.edu/nursing/academics/undergraduate/bsn_prerequisites.htm
- Your Step-by-Step Guide to Getting into Nursing School, Rasmussen College, Accessed June 2018, https://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/nursing/blog/how-to-get-into-nursing-school/
- Purpose, Outcomes and Semester Objectives, University of Nebraska Medical University, Accessed June 2018, https://www.unmc.edu/nursing/programs/bachelors-bsn/purpose-outcomes-and-semester-objectives.html
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Program: Academics, School of Nursing: Indiana University Bloomington, Accessed June 2018, https://nursing.indiana.edu/academics/bsn/index.html
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing – Program Outcomes, University of Central Arkansas, Accessed June 2018, https://uca.edu/nursing/bachelor-of-science-in-nursing-program-outcomes/
- Bachelor’s – Nursing (BSN), Georgetown University, Accessed June 2018, https://nhs.georgetown.edu/nursing/bachelors
- Prospective Students – UCI Nursing, University of California, Irvine, Accessed June 2018,
- Online BSN Degree, American Military University, Accessed June 2018, https://www.amu.apus.edu/academic/schools/health-sciences/bachelors/nursing.html
- Bachelor of Science in Nursing Overview of the Curriculum, Samuel Merritt University, Accessed June 2018, https://www.samuelmerritt.edu/nursing/bs_nursing/curriculum
- Curriculum – Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Walden University, Accessed June 2018, https://www.waldenu.edu/bachelors/bachelor-of-science-in-nursing/curriculum
- Entering Freshman Curriculum – School of Nursing, San Diego State University, Accessed June 2018, https://nursing.sdsu.edu/programs/bs-in-nursing/curriculum/entering-freshman-curriculum/
- Nursing Bridge Programs: How They Work, 2018 NurseJournal.org, Accessed June 2018, https://nursejournal.org/articles/nurse-bridge-programs/
- Consider a ‘Bridge’ Program as an Online Nursing Student, U.S. News & World Report, Accessed June 2018, https://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/articles/2016-07-19/consider-a-bridge-program-as-an-online-nursing-student
- Registered Nurses, Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Accessed July 2018, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm#tab-1