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How to Get A Nursing Degree

Nursing degrees give men and women great opportunities for medical careers. Nurses have a choice of earning a two-year degree or a four-year degree to become an RN. There are several steps to take to make the process easier.

Research Programs And Choose A Degree Path

First, decide whether to enter a two-year program or four-year program. Some students start with the two-year program and finish their bachelor's degree later on. It is important to choose several prospective nursing schools or online degree programs. Keep in mind that nursing courses require hands-on labs, so students will have to spend some time in the classroom or in medical facilities. After choosing a list of schools, make a list of the prerequisite classes. These must be completed before a student enters a nursing degree program.

Finish Prerequisites

Complete the prerequisites online or in a classroom. Since most credits are transferable, many students complete these classes in their home state or at a community college where tuition is cheaper. When completing any courses that typically come with labs, make sure the course has a lab credit. For example, Anatomy and Physiology should be a four-credit course with a lab instead of a three-credit class without a lab.

Enroll In A Program

Next, apply to several nursing schools or degree programs. Most programs have several pieces of information they require. If any prerequisites were completed elsewhere, request transcripts to be sent to reflect those. After filling out an application to the program itself, which is different than applying to the school or college in some cases, some schools may require accepted nursing program candidates to submit to a background check. They may also require a current health exam, a TB skin test, Hepatitis B vaccinations, professional references and a statement explaining why the student wants to become a nurse.

Job Opportunities With A Nursing Degree

Nurses work in hospitals, skilled nursing home facilities, rehab centers, mental health centers, home care and even in offices. They may work at schools or other government organizations. Duties include patient care, medication administration, assistance in medical procedures, educating patients about health and much more.

Expected Job Growth And Salary

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, RNs earn an average of about $65,500 per year. In the next decade, projected job growth is about 20 percent.

Top Online Nursing Programs

Rank School FT to PT
Faculty Ratio
Fin. Aid Rate
Acceptance Rate Retention Rate Graduation Rate Accred.
Job Place. Rate
1 Ohio State University-Main Campus

190 N. Oval Mall,
Columbus, Ohio 43210

(614) 292-6446

2.32 to 1 71% 64% 92% 82% 101 0% N/A
  The generic BSN program at Ohio State University requires one year of prerequisite Pre-Nursing coursework, which students can complete through Ohio State's College of Nursing or at another university. The College of Nursing also offers an RN to BSN degree program for registered nurses who hold an associate degree or diploma in nursing.
2 The University of Alabama

739 University Blvd,
Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487-0166

(205) 348-6010

2.61 to 1 47% 53% 85% 67% 117 0% N/A
  Registered nurses at the University of Alabama's Capstone College of Nursing can earn a bachelor's degree by taking their nursing courses online while conveniently completing their clinical activities at facilities near their home. For those interested in furthering their education to become a clinical nurse leader or to go into case management leadership, the RN to BSN/MSN accelerated program is available to qualified registered nurses who hold an associate degree or diploma in nursing.
3 Villanova University

800 Lancaster Avenue,
Villanova, Pennsylvania 19085-1699

(610) 519-4500

1.63 to 1 55% 46% 94% 88% 93 0% 70%
  Villanova's College of Nursing, which has been designated a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education by the National League for Nursing (NLN), offers a BSN completion program for registered nurses who have graduated from an ACEN accredited diploma or associate degree in nursing program. Villanova offers the same curriculum and noted faculty and degree in its online RN to BSN program as the campus-based program.
4 Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus

201 Old Main,
University Park, Pennsylvania 16802-1589

(814) 865-4700

6.42 to 1 30% 52% 92% 86% 93 0% 83%
  Penn State, with its 100+ years of distance education and more than a decade of online learning experience, offers three options for study in its baccalaureate nursing degree program: the B.S. for students entering the four-year program for an initial professional degree; the Second Degree program for students who already hold a bachelor's in another subject; and the RN to B.S. for RNs who want to complete the B.S. degree. As RNs move on to their B.S. degrees, they can also earn a specialized certificate in Nursing Management, Nursing Informatics, or Nursing Forensics.
5 University of Vermont

85 S Prospect St,
Burlington, Vermont 05405-0160

(802) 656-3131

4.07 to 1 84% 77% 85% 76% 85 0% 60%
  Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, University of Vermont's online RN to B.S. program gives registered nurses the opportunity to complete a Bachelor of Science degree -- expanding their employment options, increasing their professional knowledge and gaining a higher earning potential. The RN to B.S. program has existed for more than 20 years and is a partnership between the Department of Nursing and Continuing Education at UVM.
6 Indiana University-Bloomington

107 South Indiana Ave.,
Bloomington, Indiana 47405-7000

(812) 855-4848

5.66 to 1 45% 74% 88% 75% 101 0% N/A
  The RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree completion program at Indiana University-Bloomington is designed for registered nurses who hold an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) or nursing diploma from a nationally accredited program. With all classes available online, students have the option of graduating in 12, 18, or 24 months after meeting general education requirements.
7 University of Massachusetts Amherst

374 Whitmore Building 181 Presidents Drive,
Amherst, Massachusetts 1003

(413) 545-0111

8.45 to 1 57% 63% 88% 70% 82 0% 62%
  For those interested in nurse management positions, clinical specialties, and public health and research, UMass Amherst's online RN to B.S. in nursing completion program provides a convenient way for registered nurses to complete their bachelor's degree while continuing to balance their professional and personal lives. Students in this online program can expect to earn the same high-quality education as students in the on-campus program.
8 University of Cincinnati-Main Campus

2624 Clifton Avenue,
Cincinnati, Ohio 45221-0063

(513) 556-6000

40.21 to 1 49% 68% 86% 55% 101 0% N/A
  Designed to build on an associate degree or diploma in nursing, University of Cincinnati provides registered nurses with a flexible and affordable way to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing through its RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing online completion program. As an online RN to BSN student, you will have access to a strong network of alumni and leading faculty, as well as extensive resources needed to succeed and expand your opportunities.
9 Saint Anselm College

100 Saint Anselm Drive,
Manchester, New Hampshire 03102-1310

(603) 641-7000

1.97 to 1 96% 75% 88% 74% 73 0% N/A
  Through Saint Anselm College's hybrid online RN to BSN program, registered nurses who hold an associate degree can complete a bachelor's in as little as 15 months, with two eight-week courses offered per semester and a hybrid format that requires two on-campus sessions per course to supplement online learning. With no minimum course load requirement, this online program gives working nurses the freedom to take classes when it best fits their schedules.
10 Saint Louis University-Main Campus

One Grand Blvd,
Saint Louis, Missouri 63103-2097

(314) 977-2222

1.23 to 1 90% 64% 88% 70% 98 0% 57%
  Saint Louis University offers the RN to BSN online nursing program for registered nurses who wish to continue their nursing education and expand their opportunities. As a partnership between the School for Professional Studies and the School of Nursing, students will need to be admitted to the School for Professional Studies and complete the pre-nursing core courses before transferring to the School of Nursing as a RN to BSN program major.