Introduction to BSN Programs

Nursing is an exciting and rewarding career for those interested in helping and caring for others. Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs combine coursework instruction with hands-on practical learning to prepare nurses for their future careers. Whether you are a new student or already an RN or LPN and looking to advance your career, pursuing a BSN is a great step to take.

Featured Online BSN Programs and Schools

For LPNs or RNs looking to make more of a contribution in their nursing professions, obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN) is a good step in the right direction. Below you'll find online schools schools that offer programs to help you achieve your nursing goals.

Kaplan University — If you're an RN looking for more responsibilities (and a larger paycheck), the RN to BSN completion degree program from Kaplan is an ideal choice. The online coursework includes studies in ethics, health care policies, health promotion, and much more.

Grand Canyon University — For registered nurses looking to improve their careers or take on more of a role, GCU offers an RN to BSN program that is sure to be of good value. Grand Canyon's program focuses on both the science and the art of nursing, so that students get a full education of the field.

Utica College — Utica College offers a fully accredited Bachelor of Science in Nursing online program. The online program covers a wide range of topics including: Nursing Management, Clinical Pharmacology, Community Health Nursing and Health Assessment. The same professors that teach on campus teach students in the online program.

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What is a BSN Program?

The BSN degree, or Bachelor of Science in nursing, is a 4-year academic college degree providing an opportunity for students with no prior experience to obtain nursing licensure. In the case of ADN to BSN programs, the BSN gives current RNs an opportunity to expand their careers and nursing knowledge.

A BSN programs differs from a 2-year ADN program in that it prepares nurses for a professional role away from the bedside with coursework in nursing science, research, leadership, and nursing informatics. BSN coursework emphasizes critical thinking, health and human functioning, care and therapeutics, person/environment fit and health care resources. Clinical experiences are offered in many locations including hospital and community settings serving diverse populations. Role development, decision-making, health status evaluation, and scholarship are highly emphasized in these programs. BSN programs are usually somewhat competitive and demand rigorous academics combined with experiential learning.

Typically the first 1 to 2 years of the nursing program are spent fulfilling general education requirements, a generalist or liberal arts component to the degree that are necessary to complete for graduate education and continuing professional development. The first year also establishes the foundation for the study of nursing with an introduction to concepts and theories related to understanding nursing practice. The second year usually introduces clinical study, with the focus on health promotion and identification of risk factors in patients. Clinicals are continued throughout the next 3 years of education, with the experiences often planned to encourage synthesis of knowledge gained in preceding years and focus on individuals, families, and communities. The last two to three years are also spent on more advanced nursing education courses. Graduates from a BSN program are then eligible to take their state’s NCLEX-RN (National Council Licensure Examination), which is the registered nurse licensure exam.

If you look at job postings, you’ll often find that a BSN degree is a requirement for many positions. It is the entry point for many professional positions in nursing.

What are the different types of BSN programs?

Nursing distinguishes itself from other majors in that there are levels of education outside of the standard associate, bachelor, master, and doctorate programs. Students can become registered nurses (RN) or licensed practicing nurses (LPN) before they even achieve an associate’s degree! Because of this, there are several bridge programs designed for students with a background in nursing already in addition to the standard BSN program.

What Prerequisites are Necessary for a BSN Program?

Each nursing BSN program has an individual list of prerequisites that are required for admission. More competitive programs will have a harder list of prerequisites than a less competitive program. It is therefore important to look into potential universities before applying to make sure you qualify for their prerequisites—just because you qualify for one school’s does not mean you will qualify for all.

Many universities have BSN information sessions for prospective students. It’s strongly advised to attend these sessions so you can receive a basic overview of the school’s program with information regarding prerequisites and detailed admission criteria. Also, most schools admission’s offices can help you with any questions you have about their BSN program.

In general, high school graduates who are interested in applying to BSN programs are advised to take biology (anatomy and physiology), chemistry, and psychology courses. If one did not take these courses in high school and they’re necessary prerequisites, many community colleges offer these classes at a less expensive rate. Students are also required to have completed the proper units of high school education, which looks something like four years of English, three years of social studies, two years of mathematics (including algebra), and two years of science with related laboratory or the equivalent. A satisfactory GPA, around 2.0 to 3.0, is needed for admittance. Additionally, schools require SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) or ACT (American College Test) scores at a certain level set by that BSN program.

What are the Objectives in Completing a BSN Program?

Universities often outline the objectives of completing a BSN program. As a graduate of a BSN program you will be able to:

  • Synthesize theoretical, empirical, and experiential knowledge gained from the liberal arts, human, natural and social sciences, and nursing to develop holistic plans of care for individuals, families, and communities throughout the lifespan.
  • Demonstrate skills in critical thinking, decision-making, and effective communication in the use of delivering holistic care with individuals, families, groups, and communities experiencing complex health problems.
  • Intervene therapeutically to promote, restore, and maintain the maximum health potential of individuals, families, groups, and communities.
  • Coordinate with the interdisciplinary team to assess, plan, implement, and evaluate safe effective care.
  • Provide health education for individuals, families, groups, and communities.
  • Incorporate teaching/learning principles in promoting health for diverse individuals, families, and populations.
  • Plan, implement, and evaluate nursing research findings to guide nursing practice.
  • Apply leadership and management principles as a novice professional nurse in the effective delivery of nursing care.
  • Evaluate the impact of trends and issues affecting health and access to health care.
  • Assume responsibility and accountability for own decisions and actions in the practice of nursing.
  • Incorporate professional standards and values, including ethical and legal aspects, into the nursing practice.
  • Communicate effectively in interactions with individuals, families, groups, and communities.
  • Integrate technology in planning, delivery, and evaluation of nursing care.
  • Demonstrate evolving competence in multicultural interactions and advocate for persons, groups, and communities based on awareness of ethical and legal issues affecting health care.

What Career Options Exist for BSN Program Graduates?

As a BSN graduate you can work in many medical settings. A BSN program prepares you for many entry-level positions, and most health care employers prefer if you have a BSN. Additionally, after passing the NCLEX-RN you’re qualified to work in any state and anywhere in the world. You can choose a certain age group you wish to work with. You can also focus your career on specific ailments, such as cancer, stroke or trauma. There are traditional health-care facilities such as clinics, nursing homes, and hospitals. There are also businesses you can start a career in such as book publishers, pharmaceutical and insurance companies, and law firms. Also, schools, psychiatric units, and home-care agencies are locations to practice your nursing in.

Typical career options for a Nursing school graduate with a BSN include:

  • Hospitals
  • Health departments
  • Prisons
  • Nursing homes
  • Public schools
  • Research labs
  • Rehabilitation centers

Additionally, a BSN prepares nursing students for graduate studies, so you could go on to receive your master’s or doctorate in nursing through many different programs. Opportunities with a master include, but are not limited to, becoming a nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist, nurse anesthetist, or nurse midwife. It is crucial though to know what you want to study before you enter a master’s program.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that job opportunities are expected to be excellent for graduates with a BSN degree. Jobs may vary by geographical location and employer, so if you want a higher salary you may need to move to a specific city. Employment is expected to grow faster than average for all occupations through 2016. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that because this occupation is so large, many new jobs will be created.

Resources for More Information About BSN Programs:

  • The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)has information that can help you in your research about BSN programs. They can assist you in searching for jobs, news, grants and funding, current policies, and other helpful information.
  • The HRSA, or Health Resources and Services Administration, is a branch of the HHS. You can find links to grants, loans, and scholarships through the HRSA website. Also you can find data and statistics, as well as public health information here.
  • provides important information on the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program. This program is to assist in the recruitment and retention of professional nurses wanting to provide health care to underserved populations. The program provides nurses with substantial assistance to repay educational loans in exchange for service in eligible facilities, which are usually areas very short on nurses. There are different levels of qualification for the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program: For two years of service they will pay 60% of total qualifying loan balance; For three years of service they will pay 85% of total qualifying loan balance. If a person working two years decides to continue their contract into a third year, the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program will pay an additional 25% of the qualifying loan balance. Check out the website for more detailed information.
  • The United States department of Labor has “The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook,” which can provide you a detailed breakdown of what the nursing profession is all about, along with some salary statistics.

Find an Online BSN School

Find the BSN program that's right for you by filling out this short form below: