BSN Programs

The traditional BS or baccalaureate degree in Nursing is offered at four-year colleges and universities. This is considered as one of the most marketable degrees as employment is evident in several medical settings. BSN programs prepare students to become registered nurses just like ADN and diploma programs, however, RNs with a BSN are thought of as higher up the ladder than those with an associate’s degree.

One of the most discussed and argued upon topic among nurses is the benefit of having a BSN over ADN. Since 2004 AACN has been on the quest to make BSN the minimum entry level education for nursing practice. As a result of this and due to advances in the healthcare industry and nursing practice, most colleges are upgrading their programs to BSN level.

Various undergraduate programs are divided into the lower and upper division courses; with the former taken in freshman and sophomore and the latter during junior and senior years. The Nursing course itself is a major in the upper division. This means that there are prerequisite courses plus general education courses that should be completed during the first two years.

This nursing program often requires some of the general education courses such as psychology and sociology so that you are better able to understand your future patients. The other general education courses are considered electives, with the students having leeway in choosing according to their area of interest.

In the first year, BSN students should take advantage of this chance to choose their coursework because, as they progress, the courses will be more restrictive or prescribed. In some schools, the freshman year may have some introductory course in Nursing. This is more like an overview of nursing, with no specifics discussed yet. If a student enrolls in a large university, the introductory course could have as much as 100-200 enrollees. 

Beyond the first two years, students get into the upper division classes where nursing specialty courses are taken. These are often referred to as the clinicals. The nursing courses comprise of both general and specialty courses emphasizing on the emotional and physical patient care. The student is also taught to give bed baths and take vital signs such as pulse, blood pressure, and breathing rate. There are lab classes that train students to listen to breathing sounds and to give bed baths. Through these, they are able to point out the patient’s areas of discomfort. Communication techniques will also be taught as well as professional values, legal requirements, and ethical principles. 

The following semester, the student will attend specialty classes in mental health, maternal-newborn health, caring for children and elderly care. There are also classes in public health nursing. 

Keep in mind that every classroom course also has an equivalent clinical setting where students learn by dealing with real patients. Clinical settings are nursing homes, rehab hospitals, acute care hospitals or patient homes. 

Depending on your school’s location, the clinical setting could be just a short walk from the college/university or it can be a two-hour drive away.


One reason why RNs with a BSN degree is preferred more than RNs with a AND is simply because they are more educated as they spend more time in school and have a broader education. An additional theory, research, general education courses (usually in liberal arts) and elective studies result in a more mature and educationally rounded registered nurse. Students can expect to take such classes as political science and philosophy. Clinical rotations may be specialized and a thesis project must be completed that will require a significant amount of research.

Studies show a relationship between patient safety, quality of care, the death rate of hospitalized patients and the number of BSN nurses. Meaning,  they found that death rates decreased when BSN nurses are working in the hospital in greater number. This is one reason that hospitals are trending toward hiring RNs with a bachelor's degree.

BSN programs include the content of associate degree and diploma programs, plus it adds social sciences, nursing research, leadership, management and the humanities which promote professional development.

BSN Programs Admission Requirements

Admission to the traditional BSN program is designed for high school and transfer students who are working towards a first baccalaureate degree. Most programs run competitive admission, enrolling the best applicants in an admission period.

You can enter a nursing program as a college freshman, after completing the nursing pre-requisite courses and general education requirements. All accredited BSN programs require a minimum of 2 semesters of physiology and anatomy, as well as some credits in biology, microbiology, psychology, developmental psychology, statistics, biostatistics, chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry.

A basic nursing skill course usually designated as Health Assessment, nursing research, adult care courses, community health, family health and/or some nursing experience may also be required by most nursing programs.

BSN program requires standardized exams such as the ACT/SAT as well as nursing entrance exams such as the TEAS/HESI. You will also be required to show proof of a high school and/or college GPA (2.8-3.0 for most programs) as well as pass health assessment tests, criminal background check, writing proficiency, CPR certification, and drug screening.

Some programs require you to have a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Training or a Nursing License prior to enrollment.

Clinical experience is offered at a range of healthcare facilities including hospital affiliated with the various programs. Clinical experience requires students to take part in a range of medical departments as well as learning the duties and responsibilities of surgical nursing and more particular nursing such as pediatrics, acute care nurses and emergency room nurses.

How Much Does a BSN Program Cost?

The financial costs of the four-year traditional Bachelor of Science Nursing program tend to be the highest of all nursing programs. The costs for the program vary significantly on the basis of the type of institution offering the program and the number of preparatory courses undertaken by the student beforehand.