Nursing degree programs such as an Associate Degree in Nursing (ASN, ADN), Bachelor Degree in Nursing (BSN), Licensed Practical Nurse to Registered Nurse (LPN to RN), and Registered Nurse to Bachelor Degree in Nursing (RN to BSN) are offered by traditional colleges and universities and increasingly with online or self-study class formats.
Nursing degrees differ from non-degree programs in that the institution has not granted a recognized Associate or Bachelor degree upon completion. Practical Nursing Certificate, Practical Nursing Diploma, or Practical Nursing Program are the commonly used titles for non-degree nursing programs leading towards LPN or LVN credentials, for example. Non-degree programs can help entry level nurses reduce tuition costs, get a nursing job faster, and are generally of shorter duration when compared to a nursing degree granted by a traditional college or university.
Nursing Degree Programs: Associate, Bachelor, and Master
The most common Associate, Bachelor, and Master degree programs in nursing can be grouped into the titles we list below. Some college and university nursing departments may come up with unique nursing program names not found on our website. Prospecting students should compare at least three nearby nursing degree programs from competing schools. For each program, identify which NCLEX exam you will be able to take upon completion, NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN for example. Also identify for which state license you will be able to apply, LPN/LVN or RN for example.
- Associate Degree in Nursing (ASN, ADN)
- Bachelor Degree in Nursing (BSN)
- Master Degree in Nursing (MSN)
- LPN to RN
- LVN to RN
- LPN to BSN
- RN to BSN
- RN to MSN
Ultimately the nursing license requirements in your state must be in sync with your nursing degree program. Registered Nurse (RN), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN), and Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), these are all occupational licenses granted by your state department of health or state board of nursing. Once you understand the licensing requirements for your state, you can better compare the nursing degree programs as presented to you by both local and out of state nursing schools.
Help Me Choose The Right Nursing Degree Program
Nursing school entry requirements, state board of nursing license requirements, personal finances, family commitments, location of nearby nursing schools, and professional goals combined will lead you to the nursing degree program that is right for you. The more research and planning you do up front, the more confident you will be in your choice. Below are a few things we think all prospecting nursing students should do to help choose a nursing degree program.
- Print and read your state board of nursing license application.
- Create an annual household budget by month including program costs.
- Determine how many hours per week you can study and attend class.
- Identify which nursing degree program entry requirements you meet.
- Seek alternatives such as your local community college or a nearby hospital program if ever asked to sign an expensive contract.
Don't struggle too much with areas of concentration. Changing your area of concentration, switching to another nursing school, continuing onto advanced studies is normal. A common mistake nursing students make is to attend a non-accredited nursing school. By non-accredited what we really mean is any school for which your credits will not transfer, to the local community college or state university, for example. Attending a non-accredited nursing school can create problems if you need to take time off, transfer credits, advance your nursing education, or apply for a nursing job out of state.
After reading through the above most popular nursing degree programs, we recommend that you visit at least three nursing school websites in your state of employment. Compare each school's nursing degree programs for your desired level of education. Nursing school website links and each school's campus location can be found via satellite map on our site by viewing our nursing schools section. We have also included links to each board of nursing, so that you can print and read that nursing license application!
Last updated: February 19, 2017
- Articulation Agreements Among Nursing Education Programs. Fact Sheets, American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Retrieved January 29, 2016.
- Baccalaureate Nursing Programs. Education Resources, American Association of Colleges of Nursing. Retrieved January 29, 2016.
- Student Guidelines and Information. Texas Board of Nursing. Retrieved January 29, 2016.