How to Get a Degree in Nursing

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook[1]the employment of registered nurses (RNs) is expected to grow by 26% from 2010 to 2020. This employment rate is faster than most careers, and is due in part to an aging population and rapid advances in technology. This article explains what you need to do in order to get a degree in nursing; your first step towards a promising and financially rewarding career.


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    Decide which degree you want to earn. An associates’ degree in nursing (ASN) will take two years to complete, and the coursework must be done at a state-approved training program or school. A bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) will require four years of coursework at an accredited university. (A BSN will open the door to more job opportunities and higher salaries.)
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    Find the school you need. Not every university offers a nursing degree program. Go to the All Nursing Schools Directory to find schools that offer the type of program you need in order to get your nursing degree.[2]
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    Think about getting an advanced degree. If you are already an ASN or LPN, you can build on your degree and experience to pursue a bachelor’s or graduate degree in nursing. Sometimes, universities will waive prerequisites based on your education and your work experience; you may be able to earn a bachelor’s degree in far less than the normal 4 years of study required
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    Consider switching career fields. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in another discipline, you can enroll in an accelerated BSN or master’s degree (MSN) program. Investigate your options and choose a university that offers accelerated programs in which you can earn your BSN or MSN in 3 years or less.
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    Be prepared for clinical training. Even if you plan to use your nursing degree to pursue a career in administrative duties, you will still have to complete intensive clinical training.
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    Get licensed in the state in which you want to practice. In addition to your nursing degree, you will have to pass an NCLEX exam. This examination is administrated by the national Council of State Boards of Nursing.[3]Your state may also demand other requirements are met before you can practice nursing, such as a criminal background check, or specialized training in a particular field.
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    Apply for a job. There is no need to limit yourself to a hospital setting. RNs work in just about any type of facility that provides healthcare services, including:
    • Physician offices
    • Home healthcare agencies
    • Nursing homes and assisted living homes
    • Hospice services
    • Schools (elementary through university)
    • Community health agencies, such as the visiting nurse programs
    • Correctional facilities
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    Don’t forget to explore job opportunities that don’t require your interaction with patients. Non clinical nurses are needed in a variety of institutions:
    • Government agencies
    • Insurance companies
    • Law firms
    • Publishing houses and online medical websites (nurses with writing and editing abilities)
    • Health care organizations (RNs needed as administrators)
    • Private medical-related businesses, such as pharmaceutical companies


  • You will have a better chance at working regular business hours if you look for a job in non-clinical settings, such as a school or a private corporation.
  • A nursing degree presents endless opportunities for employment. Because nursing care is always needed, you can work just about anywhere in any capacity.
  • If you are a registered nurse in one state, you can apply for reciprocity in other states. Check with the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) for specific information about each state’s reciprocity requirements.[4]
  • Even if you are in the midst of pursuing an advanced degree in nursing, you can get certification as a nurse’s aide or medication aide by passing exams administered by The National Nurse Aide Assessment Program (NNAAP).[5]


  • Nurses who work directly with patients are often exposed to infectious illnesses. Other job risks include dealing with patients who have mental health disorders who might become violent or abusive.
  • Registered nurses who work in clinical settings often have to spend long periods of time on their feet, and they often have to be able to lift patients.
  • If you want a career in research or teaching nursing at the university level, you will need to earn a doctoral degree.

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Categories: College University and Postgraduate