RN to BSN Programs

If you’ve been thinking about going to school to become a nurse, you’ve almost certainly come across the acronyms “RN” and “BSN.” At first glance they may seem interchangeable, but they’re two different programs that can provide different career outcomes. Imagine America looks at RN to BSN programs:


The RN or registered nurse degree is an associate degree in nursing (also referred to as an ASN). Because it’s a two-year degree and typically available to any student who has completed their high school diploma or GED, it’s often an accessible and popular choice to get into the field quickly. It covers everything you need to know in order to pass the NCLEX certification exam you need to work as a nurse and prepares you for the most common job responsibilities of an RN.


The bachelor of science in nursing is typically a four-year degree, though accelerated programs may be available to allow you to earn your bachelor’s degree in three years. It provides a more in-depth education than you’ll get with an ASN degree program. While you can become a nurse with just an associate degree, a bachelor’s degree often opens up many more opportunities: higher earning potential, increased responsibilities, and additional job possibilities. With a BSN, you can take your nursing career even farther.


For students who already have their RN but want to get a BSN degree, many schools offer a completion program. The program is designed specifically for students who already have the RN foundation—and, usually, some experience working as a nurse already—to help them complete their bachelor’s degree. Often called a bridge program, the RN-to-BSN program fills in the gaps between the ASN and BSN degrees.


Whether you want to pursue an RN, a BSN, or a completion program, you must also pass certain certification exams before you start work as a nurse. Once you’ve graduated (or are about to graduate), you can sit for the NCLEX exam. It’s not until you have that certification from the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses—no matter what degree you have—that you can begin your nursing career.

Find Scholarships for RN to BSN programs

Ready to find a nursing program in your area? The Imagine America Foundation has a robust database of nursing schools: https://www.imagine-america.org/nursing-school-scholarships/ offering the RN, BSN, and RN-to-BSN completion programs to help you meet your nursing career goals.

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