Is A BSN Worth It? – (Pros VS. Cons)


Written By: Kelsey Bader, BSN, RN

Are you considering going to nursing school and now realizing there is more than one path that can be taken to obtain a degree in nursing? With so many options, it can be hard to choose. One of the most popular nursing degrees, and one that employers tend to favor, is the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. With so many things to consider, you may be left wondering, “Is a BSN degree program worth it?” It can feel especially overwhelming if you do not know what to ask.

No worries, though! I am here to help! In this article, I am going to tell you 15 reasons why a BSN degree program is worth it and 5 reasons why it may not be the right degree for you. By the time you finish reading, you will have a better understanding of the pros and cons, so you can decide if this is the right degree path for you.



How Long Does a BSN Degree Take?


The time it takes to obtain a BSN degree really depends on your starting point. Program length can vary from one year to four years, contingent on the type of BSN program you choose and whether you have already earned transferrable college credits.

The traditional, entry-level BSN program takes about four years to complete as a full-time student. For example, the Kitty Degree School of Nursing at the University of Louisiana at Monroe takes eight semesters, including the pre-nursing semesters. Of course, this time can vary slightly from program to program, as each program has an individualized roadmap of coursework. Additionally, if you have already attended college and earned college credits, you may be able to shorten the time it takes you to complete this BSN pathway.

An excellent option geared towards returning students who have already obtained a Bachelor’s degree in another field of study is an accelerated BSN program. Some programs, like the ABSN program at Creighton University, can be completed in just twelve months… a fraction of the time it takes to complete a traditional BSN program.

Lastly, if you have already obtained your ASN, then an RN-BSN program, which is what I chose, may be a good option. One example is the program offered at Lehman College that takes two years to complete.



How Much Does a BSN Degree Cost?


The cost associated with completing a BSN degree can range from $10,000 to $200,000 - or more. Many factors impact the cost, such as private vs public schooling, in-state vs out-of-state tuition, room and board (if applicable), enrollment status (full-time vs part-time), etc. A few examples of the price differences include the University of Massachusetts-Boston ABSN program, which costs an average of $30,000, and the traditional BSN program at the University of Virginia, which costs between $89,202 and $235,320, based on whether you are a state resident or out-of-state student. Additionally, the RN to BSN program at the University of Louisville costs military personnel approximately $7,750 and non-military students around $12,000.



Why is a BSN Degree Program Worth It? – the Pros

(The following are the 15 main reasons why a BSN degree program is worth it.)


REASON #1: More Job Opportunities

The vast majority of employers prefer to hire candidates that have successfully completed a BSN program. Many job postings in the field of nursing list a BSN as a standard requirement for employment consideration. If a job listing does not specify a BSN as a criterion for being hired, chances are candidates with a BSN are still given preference over registered nurses with an associate degree. Increasing the likelihood of landing your dream job is a benefit that makes the BSN degree program worth it, especially if your ideal position happens to be a highly sought-after position to begin with!

I originally went the route of obtaining my ASN. I later went back to school to complete an RN-BSN bridge program. Upon graduation, I was eligible to apply to significantly more job positions within the field of nursing. Having my BSN opened the door for multiple opportunities that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.


REASON #2: Higher Level of Compensation

As a BSN graduate, your earning potential as an entry-level nurse is higher than that of an ASN graduate. While an ASN graduate may start out with a salary of around $50,000, a BSN graduate may start out with a higher salary of around $54,000. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average yearly salary of a registered nurse with a BSN is $80,320.

Of course, this wage gap can vary depending on factors like certifications and specialty training. As for salary projections throughout your career, you must take into consideration contributing components such as your years of experience, selected industry, and geographical location.


REASON #3: Career Advancement

Not only does a BSN degree open so many more doors when it comes to applying for an entry-level position, but having your BSN will also give you opportunities for career advancement! A BSN degree will help you meet the eligibility requirements for advanced roles in leadership, management, and administration. You may have opportunities to work in roles such as charge nurse, unit manager, or director of nursing. The opportunity to take your career one step further and advance in your professional role is one of the top reasons why a BSN degree program is worth it!


REASON #4: Job Security

One of the main reasons I chose a career in nursing is that I knew that I would not have to worry about job security. With a growing family and the cost of living at an all-time high, knowing you have a dependable job and income is essential!

It’s no secret that the healthcare system is currently facing a shortage of nurses. What this means for you is that when you earn your BSN degree, the chances of you finding a job that offers long-term security are good. If your goal is to work in a specialty role within nursing, then obtaining your BSN is the first step to achieving more stable job security because managers of specialty units are more inclined to staff their units with BSN graduates when compared to associate degree registered nurses.

According to a report by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), 69.8% of employers express a strong preference to hire BSN program graduates. The push for BSN nurses can be attributed to the fact that the BSN programs are lengthier and more in-depth when compared to the ASN programs, resulting in a nursing graduate who has had more exposure to things like clinical skills development, critical thinking, leadership, and interdisciplinary teamwork.


REASON #5: Increased Opportunities for Professional Development

The BSN program is structured to cover more than just the fundamentals of nursing. The coursework covers additional topics such as leadership, management, ethics, and professional research. Students are taught the fundamentals and given the tools needed for professional development. These additional courses are one of the main features that differentiate a BSN program from other undergraduate nursing programs, and they are another of the biggest reasons why a BSN degree program is worth it.

By completing coursework aimed at professional development, BSN graduates can fulfill leadership and management roles that they would not be eligible for otherwise. Overall, BSN graduates are better equipped to contribute to a team's success because they have been trained in the fundamentals of teamwork.


REASON #6: Pathway to an Advanced Degree

As a nurse, you may choose to continue your education and obtain a more advanced degree. The path you choose depends on your individual career goals. Some nurses may continue their education and obtain an advanced nursing degree such as a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) or a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP).

You could decide to become a Nurse Practitioner, a Certified Nurse Midwife, or a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. The possibilities are endless when it comes to the nursing field, but obtaining a BSN degree is a critical step in the pathway to an advanced nursing degree.


REASON #7: Opportunities to Specialize

If you have set a career goal to go into a specialty field within nursing, such as critical care, pediatrics, oncology, or psychiatric-mental health, then completing a BSN degree program is worth it! BSN programs provide the foundation and training that will help you to be successful in these specialty areas. For many specialty units, a BSN degree is one of the minimum requirements for employment consideration, and it is often a requirement for advanced certifications. This is just another example of how a BSN can open doors to a wider selection of career opportunities.


REASON #8: Enhanced Clinical Competency

BSN programs are structured to provide more in-depth training when it comes to clinical skills and evidence-based practices. BSN programs offer more clinical exposure compared to associate degree nursing programs. The increased level of clinical exposure affords you the time to master clinical skillsets and become comfortable with providing quality care to a variety of patients in different environments.


REASON #9: Better Patient Outcomes

Because BSN programs provide a more in-depth clinical training experience to nursing students, patients cared for by BSN graduates tend to have better health outcomes. BSN graduates have had more practice utilizing their critical thinking skills and clinical judgment to implement evidence-based practices throughout a variety of healthcare settings, leading to better patient outcomes. Having a stronger clinical skillset allows you to quickly assess and intervene as problems arise.

The AACN reports that patients cared for by nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree have lower mortality rates, a greater chance of surviving cardiac arrest, and decreased length of hospital stay.


REASON #10: You Will Learn Interdisciplinary Collaboration

I love meeting new people and enjoy working with people who have different skills and views from my own. I think our differences make for a better-rounded team, which means we can offer more to our patients, our teams, and the nursing profession.

As a nurse, you will work with a variety of team members from all different backgrounds. Some of these team members may include physicians, nurse practitioners, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, dieticians, physical therapists, and case managers - just to name a few! This means you are going to need strong teamwork skills and effective communication practices.

Focusing on building such a set of skills is one of the biggest reasons why a BSN degree program is worth it! The program is designed to prepare you to actively participate in and contribute to interdisciplinary collaboration with a collective goal of providing quality patient-centered care.


REASON #11: Professional Recognition

Nurses who hold a BSN degree usually receive more respect from patients, colleagues, and employers because they have fulfilled an extensive commitment to further their education and obtain more advanced healthcare training. BSN graduates are typically seen as being more competent due to having completed a more in-depth and lengthier program. By choosing to complete the more strenuous program, BSN graduates are often recognized and respected for their commitment to the field of nursing.


REASON #12: Improved Advocacy Skills

I believe one of the most important jobs we have as nurses is to advocate for the patients in our care. I can think of so many times when I had to stand in the gap for patients and advocate for their right to decline treatment, even when their families wanted them to undergo painful therapy or treatments. I have also been part of advocacy teams that worked together to advocate for new equipment for our facilities to improve patient care and changes in scheduling to help prevent nursing burnout.

Throughout a BSN program, nursing students are trained on how to effectively advocate for their patients, their families, and the profession. When compared to other programs, BSN students receive more exposure to opportunities to advocate for patients.

Because the BSN program tends to focus a great deal on advocacy, by the time you graduate from your BSN program, you will have more confidence in speaking up on behalf of your patients. Being comfortable with standing up for your patients and representing their best interests is crucial to being an effective advocate. Your BSN program will prepare you with the foundation and communication skillset that is required to be a good patient advocate.


REASON #13: Increased Chance of Finding Job Satisfaction

Since the BSN program is longer and you can have a more involved experience with clinical rotations, you will have more insight into which area of nursing you would like to pursue upon graduating. Also, because the programs are longer and have more clinical practicum experiences, you are more likely to have greater exposure to the wide variety of nursing roles that exist. Oftentimes, this extended exposure helps new graduates navigate their chosen career path, and having more comprehensive insight helps each graduate select the nursing role that is the right fit for them, leading to increased job satisfaction upon graduating. These invaluable experiences and insights are another reason why a BSN degree program is worth it.


REASON#14: Enhanced Contribution to Healthcare

In your BSN program, you will complete coursework on various topics such as community health, research, cultural considerations, health education, and quality improvement. The additional courses that encompass a BSN degree program help shape nursing students into a more well-rounded nurse who can contribute to the healthcare field on a greater level. Understanding the fundamentals of things, like the importance of cultural competence in nursing, allows BSN graduates to adequately care for a more diverse population. Courses such as research and community health help to prepare graduates to implement the most successful evidence-based practices to help combat any issues that their community is facing.


REASON #15: Personal Achievement

For some nursing students, obtaining a BSN degree is a goal that was set before even applying to the nursing program. Some students are driven to complete the BSN program to prove to themselves they can accomplish a more challenging curriculum. Graduating with a BSN becomes a measurement of personal achievement.

I can tell you from personal experience that sometimes, a BSN program feels never-ending! Being focused and driven to achieve this goal helps you become a driving force when you face challenges in the program. I always knew that I would push myself to return to school one day to complete my BSN. In my case, I knew I might want to obtain an advanced degree in the future, but I also just wanted to complete the BSN program to be able to say I did it. The feeling of personal achievement is amazing!



Why a BSN Degree Program May Not Be Worth It for You? – the Cons

(Now that we have discussed the 15 reasons why a BSN degree program is worth it, I will share 5 main reasons why a BSN degree program may not be worth it for you.)


REASON #1: The Financial Burden Can Be Challenging

Nursing school is expensive. Regardless of the program you choose, there are going to be associated costs. Those costs can vary greatly depending on the length of the program, the type of institution, and whether or not you are an in-state or out-of-state student. For these reasons, the shorter programs with the lower ticket price may be more appealing when compared to the tuition costs of a Bachelor’s program.

For me, going the route of federal student aid was the best option. I did not have the funds to outright pay for my degree and knew I could get low-interest loans with payments deferred until after I graduated. You can apply for federal grants and loans by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).


REASON #2: Time Commitment

Maybe the 4-year time commitment just doesn’t fit the timeline that you have in mind. This was the case for me. Having completed two Bachelor's degrees already, the four-year time requirement just wasn’t appealing. I wanted to get out in the field as quickly as possible. Thankfully, I was able to take advantage of an RN to BSN bridge option.

However, even if you qualify for shorter BSN programs, it is crucial to realize that you must commit a significant amount of time to earning your degree. The programs have rigorous curriculum plans. You must learn tons of content, participate in clinical practicums, complete projects, and…if you are not an RN advancing to a BSN, then you must also prepare for the NCLEX-RN exam. Regardless of the BSN program option you choose, if you cannot commit significant time to earning a degree, you may feel a BSN program is not worth it.


REASON #3: Your Career Goals May Not Require a BSN

Depending on what you have set as your career goals, you may not need to obtain a BSN degree, as some registered nurse roles do not require a Bachelor’s degree. However, just be mindful that you may be boxing yourself into those roles by not completing your BSN. If you feel working in a bedside role is something you want to do from now on, a BSN may not be worth it to you. However, if you later decide you wish to move into a management, leadership, or advanced specialty role, you will likely have to go back to school and earn your BSN.


REASON #4: There Are Alternative Paths to Becoming an RN

It's like the old saying goes, "There's more than one way to skin a cat." At the end of the day, you can choose to complete the shorter ASN program and still become credentialed as a Registered Nurse. While you may have a narrower scope of practice when compared to an RN with a BSN degree, you will still be able to function in the role of a Registered Nurse. As I've said, you can always decide to go back to school and complete the RN-BSN bridge program. For me, this was the best pathway because it allowed me to work towards completing my BSN degree while working in the field and gaining experience.


REASON #5: Personal Preference

You may have no desire to obtain a BSN, and there's nothing wrong with that. Maybe you're like me, and you just want to get out in the field as quickly as possible. If you know that you plan to fulfill a nursing role that does not require a BSN, then it is likely that a BSN is not worth it. Just remember that requirements and regulations can change at any point in time, so a role that does not require a BSN right now may require one in the future. If that happens, you can always attend a bridge program to complete the required coursework and obtain your BSN.



What is the Average Salary for BSN Degree Holders?


According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a BSN graduate is projected to make an average annual salary of around $89,000. The annual salary is equivalent to $42.79 per hour, $1,712 per week, and $7,420 per month. As you progress in your career, many factors will impact your pay, leading to increased earning potential, such as years of experience, specialty training and certifications, and geographical location.

Hourly$42.79
Weekly$1,712
Monthly$7,420
Annual$89,010
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)



Is the Cost of a BSN Degree Worth the Return on Investment (ROI)?


The answer to this question is going to depend on your personal goals and aspirations. If you break down the cost of a program compared to the income you can earn, the return on investment seems worth it. Even the most expensive BSN programs lead to good-paying jobs with opportunities for growth, advancement, and increased earnings.

You will need to take inventory and decide what exactly you want to achieve through your career in nursing. For me, the cost of obtaining my BSN was well worth the return on investment simply because it allowed me to have countless opportunities that I would not have had otherwise. However, the driving force to obtain a BSN degree is different for each student, which means only you can truly answer whether the cost of a BSN degree is worth the return on your investment.



My Final Thoughts


If you are considering earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing, it is natural to ask yourself, “Is a BSN degree program worth it?” With different paths to choose from, you could certainly make earning a BSN worth your while. In this article, we talked about 15 reasons why a BSN degree program is worth it and 5 reasons why it may not be the right degree for you to give you a better understanding of the pros and cons of a BSN program.

In my experience, obtaining a BSN was worth it, and it definitely opened the door to opportunities that I did not have access to with my prior degree. My path to obtaining my BSN degree may look different than the path you choose to take, and that's okay! At the end of the day, you simply must assess your own circumstances, goals, and aspirations to determine if this type of program is worth it for you!



List Of Sources Used For This Article


1. “35 Best Accelerated BSN Programs in the Nation-2024” (nursingprocess.org)
2. “The Best RN to BSN Programs in the Nation-2024” (nursingprocess.org)
3. “RN vs. BSN Salary- How Much More Does a BSN Nurse Make?” (nursingprocess.org)
4. “NCSBN Research Projects Significant Nursing Workforce Shortages and Crisis” (ncsbn.org)
5. “2023 Employment Research Brief” (American Association of Colleges of Nursing)
6. “The Impact of Nursing Education on Patient Outcomes” (aacnnursing.org)
7. “What is Cultural Competence in Nursing? (With Examples, Importance, & Barriers” (nursingprocess.org)


Kelsey Bader, BSN, RN
Kelsey Bader is a registered nurse from Louisiana. Kelsey has a diverse range of experiences. Some of Kelsey’s work experience includes bedside nursing in ICUs at various hospitals in COVID and non-COVID units, emergency rooms. Kelsey has worked in remote chronic care management, as a remote patient monitoring nurse, and has experience as an Assistant Director of Nursing.