Nursing Degree You Need to Become an RN (2023)

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Nursing Degree You Need to Become an RN (1)
Nursing Degree You Need to Become an RN (2)

Registered nurses (RNs) are required to have a minimum of an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN), but a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) may help you secure a job with more responsibility and higher pay.

In this Article

While the RN designation is often referred to as a “degree,” that is actually incorrect. To become an RN, one must earn an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree with an emphasis in nursing. Once you have one of those degrees, you are eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam to be licensed as an RN.

What’s the Difference Between an ADN and a BSN?

There are two degrees available for aspiring RNs. You must earn one or the other before you can sit for the NCLEX.

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

A two-year ADN program includes courses in anatomy, nursing, nutrition, chemistry, and microbiology, among others. You’ll also be required to take general liberal arts classes. Earning an ADN is a popular option for registered nurses. It can open the door to entry-level staff nurse positions which will provide you with hands-on experience in the medical field.

Earning an ADN is the fastest path to becoming a registered nurse: most associate degree programs take two years to complete.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

An aspiring RN can earn a BSN in four years at a college or university. If you’re already an RN, you can enroll in an RN-to-BSN bridge program which is geared specifically for RNs who hold an associate degree. This path usually takes about two to three years.

If you’re already a Licensed Practical Nurse, an LPN-to-RN program will earn you either an associate degree or a bachelor’s degree, depending on the path you decide to take. The completion of either will allow you sit for the NCLEX-RN exam to become an RN. An LPN-to-ADN program takes between one and two years; an LPN-to-BSN program between two and four years.

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An even quicker BSN option is for candidates who already hold a bachelor’s degree in another field. An accelerated BSN program allows students to apply general education credits from their first degree to the BSN. This route takes between one to one-and-a-half years.

And for paramedics looking for a job in nursing, the paramedic-to-RN bridge program offers an accelerated track to a BSN using a paramedic’s existing education and experience.

Is a BSN Degree Better Than an ADN Degree?

It depends. If you are looking for an entry-level nursing job at a hospital or nursing home, for example, an ADN can help you get your foot in the door. An associate degree also takes about half the amount of time to earn as a bachelor’s degree, so if you want to get working sooner, an ADN might be a good choice.

RNs with a BSN, on the other hand, may make more money and often hold positions with more responsibility.

How This Nursing Student Conquered Her Fears About Going Back to School

What Testing and Licensing Will I Need?

Nursing Degree You Need to Become an RN (3)

After completing your degree program, you’ll need to take the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX, to qualify to become a licensed RN, which is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).

The test is used to determine whether you’re prepared for entry-level nursing and includes a minimum of 75 questions.You may answer up to 265 questions if you haven’t reached a passing score after the first round.


In order to sit for the exam, you’ll need to apply for a nursing license from your state board of nursing. Since each state has different eligibility criteria, check with your state’s agency to ensure you’ve met the requirements in order to take the exam.

The NCLEX exam covers four “categories of needs,” according to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing:

  • Safe, effective care environment: Management care and safety and infection control
  • Psychosocial integrity: Coping and adaptation and psychosocial adaptation
  • Health promotion and maintenance: Growth and development through the life span and prevention and early detection of disease
  • Physiology integrity: Basic care and comfort, pharmacological and parenteral therapies, reduction of risk potential, and physiological adaptation

You can find sample tests online or in books, and you can take an NCLEX prep course through various schools and companies.

What Will I Learn in My Courses?

Nursing Degree You Need to Become an RN (5)

Bachelor’s in nursing program coursework typically provides more depth and detail in various subjects, such as:


Emergency care, nursing research, and population-based practice.

Are Online Programs Available?

Nursing is a hands-on profession, but both ADN and BSN degree programs can be completed at least partly online. Clinical hours are the exception. Clinicals are hands-on requirements that place a nursing student directly in a healthcare setting, and these must be fulfilled in person at a clinic, hospital, or other brick-and-mortar facility.

If you’re a nursing student in a rural area with no classroom programs within reach, an online program can give you access to a wide range of educational opportunities across the country. And if you’re already busy, online learning can give you room to meet responsibilities that prevent you from attending school in person.

Are There Prerequisites?

An ADN or nursing diploma is required to practice as a registered nurse, but entry to an RN degree program is based on a few things.

  • Minimum SAT or ACT exam scores
  • GPA range between 2.0 and 3.25 (check your specific school’s requirements)
  • Three years of math, including geometry and algebra II
  • Three years of science, including biology and chemistry
  • Four years of English
  • Two years of a foreign language
  • Nursing entrance exams

About Entrance Exams

Nursing schools want to ensure you’re competent in a variety of subjects before enrolling you in a program, so you’ll likely be asked to take an entrance exam. There are a few different entrance exams schools use, but two popular ones are:

Assessment Technologies Institute’s Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS)

The Test of Essential Academic Skills is one of the most common tests required of aspiring nurses. The test evaluates and measures proficiency in math, English, science, and reading. You’ll be tested on scientific reasoning, algebraic formulas, grammar, and life sciences.

National League for Nursing’s Pre-Admission Examination (PAX)

Administered by the National League for Nursing, the Pre-Admission, or “PAX,” exam covers reading comprehension, general biology, geometry, algebra, earth science, first aid, and health in a multiple-choice format.

What Accreditation is Available for My Program?

Accreditation is a sure-fire way to know if a program meets nationally recognized nursing education standards. Independent accrediting organizations register schools once they’ve undergone an arduous application process. For students, attending an accredited school is a must if you’re hoping to receive financial aid. Secondly, earning a degree at one accredited school allows a student to pursue further education at other accredited schools.

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What are My Continuing Education Requirements?

Nursing Degree You Need to Become an RN (6)

Once you’re working as a registered nurse, you’ll be required to take additional educational courses throughout your career to keep your license current. While not all states mandate this, your employer may require it in order to maintain a specialty certification.

What Can I Expect to Earn as an RN?

Your pay as an RN depends on a number of things: where you live, what specialty you choose, and your experience, to name a new. Demand for RNs can also affect your salary: healthcare facilities in rural or remote regions may offer bonuses to nurses willing to relocate. Nationwide, RNs are in demand. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the profession is expected to grow by 9% between 2020 and 2030; about as fast as average for all occupations.

Nursing Degree You Need to Become an RN (7)

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(Video) Nursing School Prerequisites | What are the Requirements for Nursing School

Sheila Cain

ASD Writer/Editor


What degree is the best to become a RN? ›

Definitition: An Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN) is a two-year nursing degree and the most direct path to becoming a Registered Nurse.

Why do you want to be a nurse best answer? ›

Patient Care

Directly caring for patients is the biggest part of nursing, and an excellent potential aspect of your answer to the question of “why” you want to be a nurse. If you love working with patients, it could be an ideal entry into your answer to this question. “Human connection has always been important to me.

What qualifications do you need to be a nurse? ›

Entry requirements for nursing degree courses vary because each university sets its own entry criteria, but you are likely to need at least two (usually three) A-levels or equivalent qualifications at level 3, plus supporting GCSEs including English, maths and a science (usually biology or human biology).

What is the lowest degree in nursing? ›

As the name suggests, CNAs assist nurses with patient admittance and vitals. It is the lowest-level credential related to the nursing field and the quickest point of entry.

What is the easiest type of RN? ›

Keep reading to learn about some of the least stressful nursing roles that might appeal to you.
  1. Nurse educator. ...
  2. Long-term care nurse. ...
  3. Nurse administrator. ...
  4. Clinical research nurse. ...
  5. School or summer camp nurse. ...
  6. Clinic nurse. ...
  7. Nurse informatics. ...
  8. Lactation consultant nurse.
2 Dec 2019

Is becoming a RN difficult? ›

You're headed for a great career, one that's rewarding, challenging, and always exciting. But nursing school is notoriously difficult. Most nursing programs require high GPAs and impressive scores in math, chemistry, biology, psychology, and other demanding subjects. It's also extremely fulfilling.

What inspires you to become a nurse? ›

They have inspired me to become a nurse from their experience and my want to help others.” “I chose nursing because I liked interacting with people and thought it would be an interesting job – I was so right.” “I always wanted to study at University and, eventually, at the grand age of 46 I started my nursing degree.

What is nursing Short answer? ›

Nursing encompasses autonomous and collaborative care of individuals of all ages, families, groups and communities, sick or well and in all settings. Nursing includes the promotion of health, prevention of illness, and the care of ill, disabled and dying people.

What is your greatest skill as a nurse? ›

The key to being a successful nurse is communication.

Communication skills are one of the most important requirements of a nurse's job—both following directions and communicating with patients and families. Patients who are sick or suffering often are not in a position of strength to speak up for themselves.

What skills do you need to be a RN? ›

Ten Essential Skills for Nurses
  • Communication. ...
  • Attitude and confidence. ...
  • Teamwork. ...
  • Networking. ...
  • Critical thinking and creative problem solving. ...
  • Professionalism. ...
  • Empathy. ...
  • Conflict resolution.
16 Jan 2021

What skills do you need for nurse? ›

Character traits: Being an adult nurse requires you to be empathetic, compassionate, knowledgeable and possess a willingness to learn, train, and retrain. A calm attitude and the ability to remain calm in what can become a high-pressure work environment is also extremely helpful.

Why do nurses need a degree? ›

Nurses are essential in transforming healthcare and health systems. Being educated to degree-level ensures nurses are well equipped to provide high quality care. It also prepares them to take the lead, inform and design health services delivery, decision making and policy development.

Can you do nursing without a degree? ›

While nursing is a practical, hands-on profession, it also requires special technical competencies and clinical analysis skills that will potentially save people's lives. As such, you cannot become a Nurse without a degree in nursing.

Is a nursing degree the hardest? ›

There's a rumor circulating on the internet that The Guinness Book of Work Records has declared a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing to be the toughest of all bachelor's degrees to obtain. There's no truth to this claim.

What is the closest degree to nursing? ›

For those who are interested in more behind-the-scenes work, or who want to explore their options in healthcare, health science is a great alternative major to nursing. A health science degree can lead to many different careers, from a healthcare administrator to medical biller and coder.

What is the fastest I can become an RN? ›

An associate's degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN) are the two most common fast track options. With each of these ways to receive nursing instruction, they require passing the NCLEX licensure examination.

Who are the happiest nurses? ›

Low-Stress Nursing Careers
  • 1 1. Nurse Educator.
  • 2 2. School Nurse/Summer Camp Nurse.
  • 3 3. Nurse Administrator.
  • 4 4. Public Health Nurse.
  • 5 5. Nurse Researcher.
  • 6 6. Nurse Informaticist.
  • 7 7. Case Management Nurse.
  • 8 8. Home Health Nurse.
30 Sept 2020

Why do rn make so much? ›

Because of their many duties, which range from assessing patients' conditions, administering drugs to educating families and the community, it's no wonder why nurses get paid so much. Graduating from nursing school also takes a lot of hard work, which is why nurses are deserving of more compensation.

Is nursing easy to pass? ›

Nursing college is not easy; students enrolled in the courses practically learn a new language, medical terminology, while also caring for patients and their families. According to Suman, a student of B. Sc Nursing at UMU, the most difficult part of nursing college is learning to think like a Nurse.

What nursing means to me? ›

What does nursing mean to me? Nursing means helping people heal, meeting their needs while they are in your care, listening to concerns, protecting them from harm, and educating them how to care for themselves while treating them with dignity, compassion and respect.

What becoming a nurse means to me? ›

Nursing enables you to learn a specific skill set; you can work on the cutting edge of technology with brilliant people. Nursing offers you the opportunity to serve others, making a difference in the lives of others through care, prevention and wellness.

Who is a nurse in simple words? ›

A nurse is a person who is trained to give care to people who are sick or injured. Nurses work with doctors and other health care workers to make patients well and to keep them fit and healthy. Nurses also help with end-of-life needs and assist other family members with grieving.

What are 10 roles of a nurse? ›

Here are 13 of the most common tasks nurses are responsible for:
  • Recording medical history and symptoms. ...
  • Administering medications and treatments. ...
  • Collaborating with teams for patient care. ...
  • Performing diagnostic tests. ...
  • Conducting physical examinations. ...
  • Monitoring patients' health. ...
  • Providing support and advice to patients.

What is the full name of nurse? ›

The Full form of NURSE is Nurse Practitioner. NURSE is commonly abbreviated as NP. An NP is a registered nurse (RN) who has completed an advanced training program in a medical specialty, such as pediatric care. An NP may be a direct, primary health care provider, and can prescribe medications.

How do you introduce yourself in nursing interview? ›

“TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF!” for Nursing Interviews ... - YouTube

What is your strength best answer? ›

Common strengths include teamwork, communication and time management. Common weaknesses include a lack of confidence, impatience, and hacing trouble saying no. So what should you say when a recruiter asks about your greatest strengths in an interview? Here are some examples of strengths you could mention.

How do I prepare for a nursing interview? ›

Nursing Interview Tips
  1. Know where you're going. Healthcare facilities are often big and confusing. ...
  2. Dress professionally. Professional attire tells interviewers you take them and the job seriously.
  3. Rehearse your nursing interview questions. Don't just prep answers. ...
  4. Pamper yourself. ...
  5. Listen and take notes.
17 Jun 2022

What are 3 things a nurse does? ›

Assessing, observing, and speaking to patients. Recording details and symptoms of patient medical history and current health. Preparing patients for exams and treatment. Administering medications and treatments, then monitoring patients for side effects and reactions.

What are 5 things nurses do? ›

General Nurse Duties
  • Conduct physical exams.
  • Take detailed health care histories.
  • Listen to patients and analyze their physical and emotional needs.
  • Provide counseling and health care education to patients.
  • Coordinate care with other health care providers and specialists.

Is RN a good career? ›

Not only is it a stable profession to enter; it's also slated to grow, making it an ideal career path for many. The National Library of Medicine projects that between 2020 and 2029, there will be a 15% growth in healthcare, creating over two million jobs—222,000 of which will be nurses.

What does a RN do? ›

Registered nurses set up plans for patient care. Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their families.

What's the role of a nurse? ›

Patient care

The primary role of a nurse is to be a caregiver for patients by managing physical needs, preventing illness, and treating health conditions. To do this, nurses must observe and monitor the patient and record any relevant information to aid in treatment decision-making processes.

When did nursing need a degree? ›

University education for nurses was first postulated in the early 1900s in the United States and the 1940s in Australia, though it was not until the 1970s and 1990s respectively that it became mainstream. Australia now requires a bachelor's degree for nursing registration, as do most US states.

Is a nursing degree worth it? ›

Becoming a Registered Nurse is a solid career choice when it comes to job security, salary potential, and fulfillment. For nurses who plan to work in California, the rewards and opportunities are even more promising. The average registered nurse salary in California is often higher than any other state!

Can I study nursing for 6 months? ›


As an Enrolled Nurse or Registered Nurse, you can develop your career by specialising in one or more post-basic fields of healthcare.

Can nurses do without maths? ›

In simplest terms, we can say that in most of the cases (almost all cases), math is an important subject to have for nursing. This country is also known for providing industry-specific nursing courses. However, some universities can allow you to enter the course even without math.

How much do nurses make? ›

Nursing Career2019 Mean Salary
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurse (LPN/LVN)$48,500
Registered Nurse (RN)$77,460
Nurse Practitioners (NP)$111,840
Nurse Midwife (CNM)$108,810
3 more rows

How hard is the nursing exam? ›

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, in 2017, the first-attempt NCLEX pass rate for U.S.-educated nursing students was 87%. The second-attempt pass rate for domestically-educated students taking the test was 45.56%. These results demonstrate that it is a pretty difficult test.

What is the hardest kind of nursing? ›

Most Stressful Nursing Positions
  • Intensive Care Unit nurses (ICU) ICU is an extremely high-pressure environment and these nurses work with patients who have significant injuries and disease with added morbidity risks. ...
  • Emergency Department nurses. ...
  • Neonatal ICU. ...
  • OR nursing. ...
  • Oncology Nursing. ...
  • Psychiatric Nursing.
27 Jan 2021

What is a 3 year nursing degree called? ›

Undergraduate Certificate or Diploma Courses in Nursing

G.N.M. 3 years - 3.5 years.

Is nursing a 2 or 4 year degree? ›

BSN means bachelor of science in nursing, ADN means associate degree in nursing, and RN means registered nurse. BSN is a diploma from a 4-year program: A person with a BSN has graduated from a four-year nursing program at a college, university, or nursing school.

Is RN or BSN better? ›

Research with patients and patient outcomes has shown that nurses with a BSN have better patient outcomes on average. So, in a competitive healthcare market that must maximize patient outcomes, BSN has become the preferred degree for most hiring efforts.

What is the closest degree to nursing? ›

For those who are interested in more behind-the-scenes work, or who want to explore their options in healthcare, health science is a great alternative major to nursing. A health science degree can lead to many different careers, from a healthcare administrator to medical biller and coder.

Who makes more money BSN or RN? ›

But the nurse with the BSN has an advantage; they are higher in demand, can leverage their four-year education to get a higher salary, and can work in specialty areas with higher pay. According to PayScale, the average hourly salary for an RN is $29.62, and $32.20 for nurses with a BSN.

Can I be a nurse without a degree? ›

While nursing is a practical, hands-on profession, it also requires special technical competencies and clinical analysis skills that will potentially save people's lives. As such, you cannot become a Nurse without a degree in nursing.

What job is higher than a RN? ›

NPs tend to earn more than RNs, mostly because their positions require a higher level of education, additional clinical hours and certifications, and often work in private settings.

Is RN a stable career? ›

Not only is it a stable profession to enter; it's also slated to grow, making it an ideal career path for many. The National Library of Medicine projects that between 2020 and 2029, there will be a 15% growth in healthcare, creating over two million jobs—222,000 of which will be nurses.

How much does a nurse make a month? ›

On average, RNs in the US earn a monthly salary of about $6,900. Annual: Finally, the average annual salary for an RN in the United States is $82,750, which is well above the national average salary for all occupations.

How much do nurses make an hour starting out? ›

The average hourly wage for a New Graduate Registered Nurse in the United States is $32 as of September 26, 2022, but the salary range typically falls between $29 and $37.

How long does it take to become a nurse? ›

Earning a nursing associate degree is the fastest, and often the most affordable, path to becoming an RN. ADN programs generally take about two years to complete and prepare you to take the NCLEX licensure exam to become a registered nurse. A BSN degree is typically a four-year program.

Is a nursing degree the hardest? ›

There's a rumor circulating on the internet that The Guinness Book of Work Records has declared a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing to be the toughest of all bachelor's degrees to obtain. There's no truth to this claim.

What is a 3 year nursing degree called? ›

Undergraduate Certificate or Diploma Courses in Nursing

G.N.M. 3 years - 3.5 years.

What is the hardest nursing degree to get? ›

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) has been chosen as the TOUGHEST courses of all other courses including MBBS, BCOMM, Bca, IAS, IPS, and engineering by the Guinness book of world records on 18 May 2011. It has 64 university exams + 164 series exams + 174 assignments within 2 years (max 1000 working days).

How can I become a nurse fast? ›

If you're itching to enter the field, the fastest way to become a nurse would be taking the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) route. While you wouldn't actually be an RN, you could complete a Practical Nursing program and be well on your way to launching a nursing career in as few as 12 months.

What is after RN? ›

Once you reach the RN level of nursing, more specialized positions open up, such as cardiac care nurse, case management nurse, and flight nurse. To become an RN, you must earn either an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Is BSN or RN first? ›

They are both acceptable ways to list your credentials. However, the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) recommends listing the education level before the license. So, in this case, BSN RN would be the way to go.


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