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Herzing Staff

How to Earn Your BSN Degree: 5 Steps to Get Started

A BSN is increasingly becoming the educational standard for registered nurses. If you’re ready to pursue your BSN, here are five steps to get you started.

Pursuing a career as a registered nurse (RN) means you’ll not only have the opportunity to care for others, but you’ll be a part of one of the fastest-growing career fields. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of registered nurses is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations, increasing 12% from 2018 to 2028 and adding more than 370,000 new jobs.

This anticipated growth is partly due to aging baby boomers, who require care for a variety of health conditions. As the demand for their healthcare increases, so will the need for qualified nurses. Also, many nurses from that generation are retiring in the coming years.

A BSN is increasingly becoming the educational standard for registered nurses. Whether you’re looking to begin or advance your nursing career, enrolling in a BSN program is a great place to start.

Do I Really Need a BSN?

RNs who have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, or a BSN, have the opportunity to earn a higher salary than nurses with an associate degree. The average annual salary for an RN was $71,730 in May 2018, according to the BLS, but the highest 10% earned more than $106,530.

Earning a BSN can also provide a competitive advantage in the workforce, as RNs with a BSN tend to have better job prospects than those without one. This is due in part due to a 2010 report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), which recommended that 80 percent of the nursing workforce obtain their BSN by 2022. Hospitals aspiring to Magnet Status – which requires the 80-percent standard – are more likely to hire BSN-prepared nurses and they strongly encourage their current nurses to advance their education with a BSN.

Additionally, a BSN allows RNs to advance their careers, offering a stepping stone into a BSN to MSN program pathway. They could also move into specialized roles ranging from a pediatric nurse to an oncology nurse.

5 Steps to Earning a BSN

If you’re ready to pursue your BSN, here are five steps to get you started:

1. Do your research

Find a school that’s going to support you throughout your journey to becoming a BSN. If you’re transferring from another university or re-enrolling after taking some time off, look for a school that values your prior education and experience and will work with you to maximize your transfer credit. It’s also important to consider whether or not the school offers flexible learning options – especially if you plan to work full-time while enrolled. At Herzing University, nursing students have the opportunity to learn at their own pace. Coursework can be completed online, and there are also night classes available to make it easy to reach your career goals without disrupting your life.

2. Choose your path

There are a few ways you can go about earning your BSN. You can opt for a traditional BSN path, allowing you to earn your degree in three years or less. We now offer a BSN program online in addition to on-campus availability at many of our campus locations.

If you already have an active RN license, however, you may prefer the RN to BSN pathway. Our online RN to BSN option allows RNs to earn their BSN in one year or less. There’s also the accelerated BSN pathway for students who already hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university. Students on the accelerated pathway can earn their BSN in as little as 20 months.

3. Consider a dual-credit option

At Herzing, qualifying students have the option to complete up to four graduate-level (MSN) courses as part of their BSN or RN-BSN program, saving time and money on their education. Students who opt for dual credit will be working toward their nursing careers while also setting themselves up for advancement in the future.

4. Make the most of your clinical experience

Clinical experience is an integral part of your nursing education and can give you the opportunity to practice what you’ve learned in the classroom and apply it to real-life scenarios. Clinicals also allow you to discover what you like and don’t like, which can help you determine which nursing positions you might want to apply for when you earn your degree. During your clinical experience, don’t be afraid to ask questions or request clarification – this is how you learn.

5. Apply for RN licensure and take the NCLEX-RN exam

All RNs are expected to pass the NCLEX – a nationwide cumulative exam required for nursing licensure. Just like any exam, it requires plenty of study time, and one of the best ways to prep is with an ATI NCLEX Review or Kaplan NCLEX Test Prep. Schools typically offer these resources to help set students up for success.

Learn More About Our Nursing Programs


* Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics 2023 / Occupational Outlook Handbook 2022. BLS estimates do not represent entry-level wages and/or salaries. Multiple factors, including prior experience, age, geography market in which you want to work and degree field, will affect career outcomes and earnings. Herzing neither represents that its graduates will earn the average salaries calculated by BLS for a particular job nor guarantees that graduation from its program will result in a job, promotion, salary increase or other career growth.

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