10 Pros and Cons of RN-TO-BSN Degree Programs

Written By: Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN

Have you been thinking about your career lately, and you are just not sure if pursuing your BSN is worth everything that can potentially come along with pursuing this degree, good and bad? I mean, you already are working as a registered nurse, right? Well, like with anything in life, there are always going to be pros and cons. Knowing the pros and cons of an RN-to-BSN program will help solidify any decision you will make about your future. So, what are the pros and cons of RN-to-BSN degree programs? Below you will find the top 10 pros and cons of an RN-to-BSN degree program. This information will arm you with the tools to really figure out what direction you feel your life should take.


(The following are the top 10 disadvantages of RN-to-BSN degree programs.)

1. Hope you have been saving up.

Let’s face it, nothing is truly free in life. So, this will definitely go for your education as well. An RN-to-BSN program can typically run you anywhere from $8,000 to $55,000. For example, Ohio State University will cost you $16,422 if you are an Ohio resident, and $17,022 for an out-of-state resident. These figures reflect a full-time course of study and will not include the cost-of-living expenses you may incur. The total cost of your education will make this one of the top cons of RN-to-BSN degree programs. Let’s face it, we all know money does not grow on trees.

2. How much time do you have?

An RN-to BSN program will take you anywhere from 18-24 months to complete. So that is 18-24 months of juggling everything in your life that needs to fit into that precious 24 hours a day. That is almost 2 years where you will have to try to balance all that life will throw at you. I am already exhausted thinking about it.

3. How do you feel about debt?

Regardless of where you are in life, you may or may not be in debt. So, if you decide to pursue this endeavor, you may find yourself in new debt, or you may find yourself adding to your existing debt. Taking on more debt is definitely one of the major disadvantages of RN-to-BSN degree programs. If you are up for the challenge of paying off your debt over the course of years, then hey, go for it.

4. How well do you deal with stress?

Of course, taking on more responsibility will add to your stress level. If you are a person who does not perform well with stress, this degree may cause you to break. The increased stress level will be one of the top disadvantages of RN-to-BSN degree programs. You will be facing the stress of school full time all the while of trying to juggle everything going on in your life.

5. Your work hours will not change.

If you are under the impression that if you pursue your RN-to-BSN degree that the type of schedule you have at work will change, well, you are wrong. Regardless of earning your BSN, you will most likely continue with shift work unless you decide to take a further leap and leave your current job. A bedside nurse will typically work 8-12 hours regardless of the type of degree that they hold.

6. How was GPA?

Many RN-to-BSN programs will set a minimum GPA of what they are willing to accept into their program. This range is often somewhere between 2.5 and 3.0. PACE University has established its minimum GPA to 2.75, as is the GPA at the University of West Florida. So, if you want to pursue your RN-to- BSN degree, I hope you make the cut.

7. Is your program accredited?

If you plan on ever moving on to a postgraduate degree program in the future, you better make sure that you attend a school that has been accredited by either the Accreditation Commission For Education in Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Finding an RN-to-BSN program with the proper accreditation will require additional research on your part as well as time, which already may be limited.

8. An application fee may apply

Many RN-to-BSN programs that you apply to will require that you pay an application fee. I know what you are thinking, wait, I have to shell out more money? Well, yes, yes you do. These application fees are one of the disadvantages of RN-to-BSN degree programs. This fee does not guarantee your admission to the program of your choice and is non-negotiable. For example, William Paterson University requires that you submit an application fee of $50.00 along with your application to even be considered. Think about it, if you are applying to more than one school, this can really add up.

9. Not really reaching that GPA?

Let's just say that you did not really make the cut in terms of your GPA; well, you can repeat required prerequisite courses in order to increase your GPA. This will definitely raise your GPA, but it will also decrease your bank accounts or increase your debt.

10. Will you be able to continue to work full time?

Going to school and managing a full-time job can be difficult for some people. You may worry that either your academics or your job will suffer. If this sounds like something that will be difficult, you will definitely have some hard decisions to make down the road. If you end up not being able to work, you may end up further increasing your debt.


(The following are the top 10 advantages of RN-to-BSN degree programs.)

1. Get ahead of the game.

Depending on what state you practice in, you may eventually feel a push to get your BSN degree. Not only will the push come from the states themselves, but you may also feel the push from institutions that you are currently or will potentially work for. This is because many institutions will only consider nurses with a bachelor’s degree for hire. This push is based on the Institute of Medicine's recommendations, The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health. Also, many hospitals are striving to achieve the prestigious recognition of being a Magnet institute, but in order to even be considered for Magnet, the hospital must satisfy the recommendation that 80% of their nurses hold a BSN. In short, if you don't want to feel this push and want to get ahead of the game, there is no better time than the present to start.

2. You will not have to retake your state boards.

One of the top pros of RN-to-BSN degree programs is that you will not have to retake your state boards again. You already have passed your state boards and earned your nursing license, so you don't need that extra stress of studying for this make it or break exam. Now, that being said, why wouldn't you get your BSN. You get a bachelor’s degree without having to sit for the boards. This is a total win for you.

3. You have the option to complete your work online.

If you are dreading the thought of sitting in the classroom for hours upon hours, then the good news for you is that you will have the option to complete your coursework online. Many RN-to-BSN programs have a total remote option for their students. This is great news for somebody who thinks they cannot find flexibility in an RN-to BSN program.

4. You will have a higher pay scale.

A nurse who holds an associate degree in nursing is looking at making around $70,820 per year. So, let us compare that to somebody who has earned their BSN degree. A BSN-prepared nurse with 20 years’ experience will be making around $115,280 per year. This difference in these two salaries is definitely one of the pros of RN-to-BSN degree programs, it will allow you to increase your earning potential. I do not know about you, but that is a pretty nice salary for a BSN nurse.

5. It will open up more job opportunities.

Earning your BSN will open up a whole new world of job opportunities to you. You will be able to apply for jobs looking for nurses who have a bachelor's degree, such as a charge nurse. Think about it; you could find yourself running an inpatient hospital unit.

6. You will be able to climb that career ladder.

One of the advantages of RN-to-BSN degree program is that it will enable you to climb that career ladder. You may now meet those qualifications to work in a leadership position. You will also be more likely to be considered for promotions. This will often not only increase your status within the institution you work for, but it will increase your pay as well.

7. You will have such a comprehensive knowledge base.

As a nurse with an associate's degree or a diploma, you are prepared for the tasks associated with being a nurse. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), bachelor’s-level prepared nurses gain abilities beyond basic nursing skills. As a bachelor prepared nurse, you will gain skills such as case management, critical thinking, health promotion, and leadership. These newly acquired skills will make you such an asset to anyone you work for.

8. Your patients have been shown to have better outcomes.

Another one of the advantages of RN-to-BSN degree programs is that nurses who hold a BSN have shown to have patients that will have a decreased morbidity and mortality. Many studies have shown that patients who are cared for by a nurse who holds a BSN have better outcomes than those who are cared for with an associate degree or diploma. Some of these areas where these patients had better outcomes is with pressure ulcers, a lower incidence of postoperative deep vein thrombosis, a lower incident of hospital-acquired infections, and a lower incidence of post-surgical mortality among patients.

9. You are closer than you think to a nurse with a master’s degree

If you dream of one day is earning your master’s degree, you will have to complete your bachelor's degree in nursing first. This is a stepping-stone to advancing your nursing education. So, by completing your RN-to-BSN degree, you are partially on your way to an advanced nursing career.

10. You will gain an increased sense of personal satisfaction.

Accomplishing a goal like earning a BSN degree is a great accomplishment that will lead to an increased level of personal satisfaction. You now possess the knowledge base and skills that are expected of a bachelor-prepared nurse. Think about how many people try to obtain this degree but just fall short. So, way to go!

The Bottomline

So, what is the bottom line here? Obtaining an RN-to-BSN degree is a personal decision and one that you will have to make for yourself. It is one that will impact your current and future life situation no matter how you slice it. Well, what are the pros and cons of RN-to-BSN degree programs? You have just been presented with the top 10 pros and cons of RN-to-BSN degree programs, which should help clear up any uncertainty you may have about choosing a career path for yourself. If you are just starting out thinking about your RN-to-BSN degree, this guide will definitely help point you in the best direction for you.

Jennifer Schlette MSN, RN
Jennifer Schlette is a registered nurse in pediatric critical care in New York City. She is the former Director of Undergraduate Nursing at a college located in New York. After obtaining her BSN from the College of Mount Saint Vincent, she went on to complete her MSN.