Nursing is a challenging and rewarding career that provides significant opportunities to help others and make a difference in the world. There’s also ample room to achieve higher levels of education and advance into many different roles. Many nurses wish to continue their education and grow in the profession, becoming advanced practice registered nurses, community or public health nurses, nursing and health care administrators, nurse educators, and health care policymakers.
If you’re thinking of becoming a nurse or looking to expand your nursing career, this article is for you. It explains the various nursing degrees you can earn, average time to completion, and the possible career outcomes that go along with each degree.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of registered nurses is expected to grow 15% between 2016 and 2026, much faster than the average for all occupations.
This program is mostly offered through on-campus community colleges and career schools, although some hybrid online/on-campus programs exist. It usually takes about two years to complete.
This is a bachelor’s degree program for those who do not already hold an RN license. It usually takes about four years to complete.
Successful completion of these programs qualifies you to sit for the NCLEX-RN, the exam that, if you pass, gives you the RN credential.
Many nurses who hold an ASN and work as registered nurses go back to school to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Not only do BSN programs aim to provide a broader educational perspective, but many employers prefer a BSN, and having one may present you with greater career opportunities. In addition, a 2010 report from the Institute of Medicine recommended that 80% of nurses hold a BSN by 2020.
These programs are available at on-campus colleges and universities and in online programs. The time to complete varies. Purdue University Global offers an online RN-to-BSN program as well as an accelerated competency-based online RN-to-BSN program known as Excel Track.
Numerous certificate programs are available to help you build upon your master’s degree in nursing. These are available at on-campus colleges and universities and in online programs, and they usually take about two years to complete.
One of the highest nursing degrees you can earn is the Doctor of Nursing Practice. This degree program is available at on-campus colleges and universities and in online programs, and the time it takes to complete varies.
A doctorate in nursing degree could provide new opportunities for clinical and higher level leadership positions, including working in clinic administration or as a healthcare executive, working in healthcare policy development, or holding a position as faculty in a School of Nursing.