What Types of Nursing Degrees Are There?

Students can pursue several nursing degrees to enter various nursing specializations and domains.

Depending on the degree, students can become registered nurses (RNs) or advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs).

The four most common degrees for students

It includes the Associate Degree in Nursing, Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing degree, Master’s of Science in Nursing, and Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree.

The first two nursing programs offer two and four-year academic timetables to obtain an ADN or BSN degree.

These degrees allow nurses to pursue various healthcare fields, from bedside care and private duty nursing to legal consulting and forensics.

Nevertheless, many facilities prefer registered nurses with Bachelor’s degrees for advanced/non-entry level positions.

Over 100 specializations are available for registered nurses to pursue with their nursing licenses. 

As a result, there are fantastic career opportunities for nurses of all backgrounds, personalities, and work preferences.

The final two nursing programs require nurses to possess their BSN before postgraduate education.

These programs require two to six years to complete and award students with an MSN or DNP degree.

Registered nurses who possess an MSN or DNP degree are advanced practice registered nurses.

Advanced practice registered nurses have the broadest scope of practice within the nursing profession.

As a result, they can provide more extensive patient care and have the best opportunities for promotion.

Some APRNs own and operate clinics, diagnose conditions, prescribe medications, and act as primary care providers.

Each advancement in degree offers better career options, increased pay and benefits, and a broader scope of practice.

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

The Associate Degree in Nursing degree is a two-year program that prepares students for entry-level nursing positions.

This degree gives students the fundamental knowledge and training to work as competent and accountable nurses.

Many nursing students pursue an ADN degree to begin working in the nursing profession quickly.

It’s excellent for aspiring nurses who want to earn money and determine whether nursing is the right career.

Nevertheless, those looking to advance their career will want to earn their Bachelor’s degree.

A bachelor’s degree offers more opportunities for career advancement, better pay, and a broader scope of domains to pursue.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree is a four-year program providing new and existing nurse opportunities.

This program teaches nurses special training in nursing science, research, leadership, and informatics.

They also receive further training in various areas taught in the ADN program.

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree is the most common for nurses looking to advance in their careers.

Sometimes, an employer may require a BSN degree to apply to particular positions or advanced career jobs.

Without a Bachelor’s degree, getting hired for a position beyond entry-level work can be challenging.

Many registered nurses still possess an ADN, and their services are vital to healthcare.

Contrarily, a nurse with a BSN has a better chance of becoming a flight nurse, emergency room nurse, legal nurse, critical care nurse, or obtaining work in other sensitive, high-risk settings.

Master’s of Science in Nursing (MSN)

The Master’s of Science in Nursing degree is a postgraduate degree requiring nurses to have a BSN first.

The MSN program requires two years to complete after nurses spend four years obtaining their BSN.

This degree provides schooling in a specialized area and allows nurses to become advanced practice registered nurses.

These healthcare experts have a broad scope of practice and earn six figures yearly in top-level positions.

APRNS work as nurse practitioners, certified nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists, and nurse-midwives.

This education level opens up new opportunities for further advancement into more elevated leadership roles.

In addition, it provides nurses with different management, legal consulting, educational, and entrepreneurship options.

Doctorate’s Degree in Nursing (DNP)

The Doctor of nursing practice degree is the most comprehensive degree in nursing.

It focuses on the clinical aspects of nursing compared to the academic research field often taught at lower education levels.

This degree prepares nurses to work as independent primary healthcare providers in their chosen nursing field.

It also gives them the most autonomy of all the nursing education programs.

Nurses who earn their DNP degree can go on to open clinical practices and work in independent roles.

They also become professors of education at a college or university, provide the highest level of legal counsel to attorneys and lawyers, and apply for the highest levels of management in their field.

Nurses who possess an MSN or DNP degree have numerous advantages regarding pay, opportunities, and benefits.

How to Obtain a Nursing Degree

Those interested in starting a career as registered nurses must first obtain their diploma or GED.

Most colleges will not accept students who do not have at least a GED.

Students must then apply to an accredited school, get accepted, and complete the required nursing school prerequisite courses.

Prerequisite requirements will vary depending on the university.

However, most schools have similar educational requirements for needed course credits.

Once the prerequisite courses are complete, students can apply for a nursing program.

It’s important to mention that different schools have different GPA requirements that students must meet.

As a result, spring nursing students may apply to several colleges to get accepted.

Once entered into the nursing program, students spend two to four years learning the ins and outs of nursing.

Finally, students must pass the NCLEX-RN examination at the end of the program to obtain licensure and work as registered nurses.

Final Words

The registered nursing profession is vast and offers incredible disciplines for individuals.

Each level of education and degree in nursing opens up new doors, opportunities, responsibilities, and benefits.

Those who work in this profession or want to become nurses should determine what domain they want to pursue.

Accordingly, you can gear your education towards specializing in a particular field.

With that said, most nurses with a BSN will have a wide variety of professions to pursue.

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree is the best option for most individuals.

It offers entry into the many different fields of nursing beyond entry-level work and lower-level jobs.

From there, you can work in various settings and decide where to focus your attention.

If you pursue an MSN or DNP, the BSN degree is beneficial, permitting you to apply directly to a postgraduate nursing program.