When you shop for a nursing school you also usually have an idea of what degree level of nursing you’re going for. The two-year Associates and the four-year Bachelors degrees remain the two most popular avenues to the nursing profession.
Vocational nursing programs, usually called Practical Nurse study programs, you’ll find offered at the community college, technical school, and vocational nurse training schools. The Practical Nurse programs prepare you for entry-level nursing jobs in a limited environment. For example you may have little opportunity to work in a critical care area or ICU. Use this to get a head start in the industry, then take your degree training to the Associates or Bachelors level for greater career mobility and increased scope of practice.
Most popular nursing degrees by far are the two-year Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN) and the four-year Bachelors of Science in Nursing (BSN). These degrees are both entry-level but offer great career mobility. ADNs study most commonly in a community college setting and the emphasis is on practical skills. At the BSN level nursing students are given a balance of didactic and practical skill work.
Both degrees transition easily upwards—RN to BSN offers ADN nurses the additional 2 years of study to earn their BSN and the BSN-to-MSN is a fast-track to a Masters in Nursing.
An increasingly common degree is the Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN). This level of study indicates an RNs intent to pursue more advanced nursing practice. Most university nursing schools offer the MSN in combination with a slew of specializations. Common advanced practice degrees include MSN Nursing Anesthetist, Nurse Midwife, Nurse Practitioner, and Clinical Nurse Specialist.
Learn what graduate and post-graduate RNs are doing to advance their scope of practice.
Non-degree nursing courses and accelerated degrees are popular nursing strategies.