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BSN vs ADN: Which degree should you earn to become an RN?


The two most popular degree tracks students take to become a registered nurse are the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Our accelerated nursing program in Nashville results in a BSN in 16 months of professional study.

Nurses earning associate and bachelor’s degrees receive adequate education and training in the classroom and in clinical rotations. Regardless of degree type, all registered nurses must first pass the NCLEX-RN examination in order to receive certification.

Which type of nursing degree is right for you?

Earning an ADN

Typical ADN programs are completed at a community college and are two years in length.

According to a study completed in 2008 by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) on the registered nursing population, associate degree nurses earn an average salary of $60,890. It’s important to note that nurses educated at the associate degree level are generally less likely to be promoted when compared to a nurse holding a bachelor’s degree and don’t qualify for most graduate nursing programs.

Earning a BSN

Traditional BSN programs are completed in four years, just like most other undergraduate degrees. A second option for pursuing a BSN is to complete an accelerated program like Marian University’s ABSN program. Accelerated programs are typically 12 to 24 months in length. As we mentioned, ours results in a bachelor’s degree in 16 months of professional study. Most accelerated nursing programs require a first bachelor’s degree and provide the same preparation and education as traditional BSN programs in a condensed time frame.

According to the same study by the HRSA, nurses holding bachelor’s degrees earn an average yearly salary of $66,316. BSN-prepared nurses are more likely to be promoted and are given more responsibility on the job. A BSN is also a prerequisite for most graduate programs in nursing.

Choosing Between an ADN vs BSN

When deciding which degree path to follow, it’s important to look into the future of the nursing profession. According to the Institute of Medicine, 80% of all nurses should be baccalaureate-educated by 2020. While you need to choose the degree path that is most appropriate for your current situation, we encourage you to strongly consider pursuing a BSN. A bachelor’s degree opens up many doors in the nursing profession. Find out why a BSN is a good choice.

If you’re ready to take the next step towards a career in nursing, contact us at 866.892.4355 or fill out this form. We’re ready to help you determine your best path to a nursing career.

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