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16 Different Types of Nursing Degrees & Top Schools Offering Them


Written By: Darby Faubion BSN, RN

Are you considering a career in nursing? If so, you are probably aware there are several types of degrees in nursing. You may have asked yourself, “What are the different types of degrees in nursing?” or “How do I know which type of nurse to become?” In this article, you will find information about 16 different types of nursing degrees and some schools that offer them. I will also tell you about the costs and how long these programs typically take to complete.


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WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF NURSING DEGREES?


There are six main types of nursing degrees, each with subcategories of certificates, diplomas, or degrees you can pursue. Depending on your long-term professional and financial goals, you may choose from a Certificate and Diploma, Associate, Bachelor's, Master’s, Doctoral, or Ph.D. program.

1. Certificate And Diploma Programs:

Certificate and Diploma nursing programs are shorter-term programs. These programs, including Certified Nursing Assistant and Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse programs, prepare students to provide clinical or hands-on, care. While an LPN/LVN may work as a Nursing Assistant supervisor or in a charge nurse role, both Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurses and CNAs work under the direct supervision of Registered Nurses.

Program Type What Can I Become?
CNA Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)
LPN/LVN Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)/
Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)


2. Associate Degree Programs:

Associate Degree Nursing programs are one of the types of nursing degrees offering an undergraduate nursing degree and the opportunity to become licensed as a registered nurse. This type of program is an excellent option for Licensed Practical Nurses who wish to climb the professional nursing ladder or individuals who want to become an RN and do not want to spend several years in nursing school.

Program Type What Can I Become?
LPN/LVN-to-ADN Registered Nurse
ADN


3. Bachelor’s Degree Programs:

Bachelor’s degree programs are another of our featured types of degrees in nursing. This program offers a few options to earn a degree as an RN: LPN/LVN to BSN, ADN to BSN, BSN, and Accelerated BSN. Like the associate degree in nursing, the BSN is also an undergraduate nursing degree.

Program Type What Can I Become?
LPN/LVN-to-BSN Registered Nurse
ADN-to-BSN
BSN
Accelerated BSN


4. Master’s Degree Programs:

The first among the types of nursing degrees to offer a graduate degree is master's degree programs. While some people choose Direct Entry Master's programs, others earn an associate or baccalaureate degree first then pursue an MSN. No matter which program type, nurses who graduate with a master's degree can pursue advanced practice roles such as becoming Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Executives, Nurse Educators, or Informatics Nurses.

Program Type What Can I Become?
ADN-to-MSN Nurse Practitioner (NP), Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM),
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA),
Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS),
Nurse Executive, Nurse Administrator, Nurse Educator,
Public Health Nurse, and Informatics Nurse
BSN-to-MSN
Direct Entry Master's


5. Doctoral Degree Programs:

A Doctor of Nursing Practice is one of two types of degrees in nursing known as “terminal degrees.” DNPs are advanced practice registered nurses focused on clinical practice. These registered nurses may pursue specialties including Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Administrator, Certified Nurse Midwife, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, and Public Health Nurse.

Program Type What Can I Become?
ADN-to-DNP Nurse Practitioner (NP), Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM),
Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA),
Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS),
Nurse Executive,Nurse Administrator, Nurse Educator,
Nurse Researcher, Public Health Nurse, and Informatics Nurse
BSN-to-DNP
MSN-to-DNP


6. Ph.D. in Nursing Programs:

Ph.D. in Nursing is the second type of terminal nursing degree. Unlike the DNP, a nurse with a Ph.D. is focused on nursing research. Some colleges offer BSN to Ph.D. and/or MSN to Ph.D. options. Graduates may take on roles in nursing research or academia.

Program Type
BSN-to-Ph.D.
MSN-to-Ph.D.



HOW MUCH DO THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF NURSING DEGREES COST?


The different types of nursing degrees can vary in cost from $1,200 to $270,000. Previous college credits and the type of degree you choose to pursue are a few of the main factors that impact the overall cost.

1. Certificate And Diploma Programs:

Certificate and Diploma nursing programs range from $1,270 to $42,400. Certified Nursing Assistant programs are the least expensive among our featured types of nursing programs, typically costing between $1,270 and $1,910. LPN/LVN programs structured as diploma programs have wider cost ranges, from $4,240 to $42,400.

Program Type Program Cost
CNA$1,270 - $1,910
LPN/LVN$4,240 - $42,400


2. Associate Degree Programs:

Another of this article’s featured types of nursing degrees is the Associate degree program. This program has two options: LPN/LVN to ADN and direct admission into an ADN program. LPN/LVNs who pursue an associate degree in nursing may pay tuition and fees from $7,420 to nearly $85,000. Prospective students who are not already licensed as practical/vocational nurses can spend $6,360 to more than $148,000 for their associate degrees.

Program Type Program Cost
LPN/LVN-to-ADN$7,420 - $84,800
ADN$6,360 - $148,400


3. Bachelor’s Degree Programs:

Bachelor's degree nursing programs cost from $8,480 to $213,060. There are several routes to earn this type of degree in nursing, depending on whether you already have a diploma or nursing degree or are just getting started. Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree programs are available in LPN/LVN- and ADN-to BSN options as well as accelerated and traditional BSN pathways.

Program Type Program Cost
LPN/LVN-to-BSN $11,660 - $154,760
ADN-to-BSN $10,600 - $106,000
BSN $8,480 - $213,060
Accelerated BSN $9,540 - $137,800


4. Master’s Degree Programs:

When you choose a master's program in nursing, you could pay from $20,140 to $196,100 in tuition and fees. The Master of Science in Nursing is one of the types of nursing degrees conferring a graduate degree. There are options for ADN or BSN entry and Direct Entry Master's programs.

Program Type Program Cost
ADN-to-MSN$23,320 - $130,380
BSN-to-MSN$20,140 - $196,100
Direct Entry Master's$23,320 - $125,080


5. Doctoral Degree Programs:

Doctoral nursing degrees are one of the most expensive types of nursing degrees. Nurses who already possess a master's degree in nursing may earn a DNP with as little as $18,720 investment. Associate or Bachelor's to Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees can cost between $27,560 and $286,200.

Program Type Program Cost
ADN-to-DNP$33,920 - $286,200
BSN-to-DNP$27,560 - $269,240
MSN-to-DNP$18,720 - $179,140


6. Ph.D. in Nursing Programs:

The Ph.D. in nursing is another of the types of degrees in nursing considered a terminal degree. These programs, like DNP programs, are some of the most expensive. For Ph.D. in nursing programs, tuition and fees range from $31,800 to $201,400.

Program Type Program Cost
BSN-to-Ph.D.$42,400 - $201,400
MSN-to-Ph.D.$31,800 - $148,400



HOW LONG DO THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF NURSING DEGREES TAKE TO COMPLETE?


The amount of time it takes to earn the different types of nursing degrees varies. Some factors that determine how long it takes to complete a program include the class schedule and whether you choose to enroll in school part-time or full-time. Here is a breakdown of the length of time for each program.

1. Certificate And Diploma Programs:

Certificate and Diploma programs are the shortest among the types of nursing programs and can take six weeks to two years to complete. Certified Nursing Assistant programs are shorter, typically six to twelve weeks. Licensed Practical/Vocational Nursing students can earn a diploma in nine to twenty-four months.

Program Type Program Length
CNA 6 to 12 Weeks
LPN/LVN 9 to 24 Months


2. Associate Degree Programs:

A Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse can earn an associate degree in nursing in fifteen to eighteen months. Individuals entering an associate degree nursing program with no previous credits and is not an LPN/LVN typically graduate in eighteen to twenty-four months.

Program Type Program Length
LPN/LVN-to-ADN 15 to 18 Months
ADN 18 to 24 Months


3. Bachelor’s Degree Programs:

Bachelor's nursing programs last eleven months to four years, depending on the study track. For example, accelerated BSN programs may only take eleven to eighteen months to complete, while a traditional BSN program can take three to four years. LPNs can choose to pursue an RN degree without first earning an associate degree by enrolling in an LPN/LVN to BSN program. Registered Nurses with an associate degree may choose the ADN to BSN option.

Program Type Program Length
LPN/LVN-to-BSN 20 to 36 Months
ADN-to-BSN 18 to 24 months
BSN 36 to 48 Months
Accelerated BSN 11 to 18 months


4. Master’s Degree Programs:

If you are considering the different types of degrees in nursing and are interested in earning a master’s degree, you could spend from one to three years in school. Associate degree registered nurses typically take twenty-four to thirty-six months to earn a Master of Science in nursing. BSN-to-MSN students can usually complete the program in twenty-four months or less. Direct entry master’s students can complete the program in fifteen to thirty-six months.

Program Type Program Length
ADN-to-MSN 24 to 36 Months
BSN-to-MSN 12 to 24 Months
Direct Entry Master's 15 to 36 Months


5. Doctoral Degree Programs:

Earning a doctorate in nursing takes RNs with an associate degree an average of forty-two to fifty-two months. Bachelor’s prepared nurses may earn a DNP in three to four years. An MSN-to-DNP student can graduate in as little as one to two years. These types of nursing degrees make it possible to achieve one of the highest nursing degrees available in a maximum of a little over four years.

Program Type Program Length
ADN-to-DNP 42 to 52 Months
BSN-to-DNP 36 to 48 Months
MSN-to-DNP 12 to 24 Months


6. Ph.D. in Nursing Programs:

Are you dreaming of becoming a nurse researcher and earning a degree as a Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing? If you have a bachelor’s degree in nursing, you could earn your Ph.D. in four to five years. Registered nurses with an MSN can finish one of these types of nursing degrees in thirty-six to forty-eight months.

Program Type Program Length
BSN-to-Ph.D. 48 to 60 Months
MSN-to-Ph.D. 36 to 48 Months



WHAT SPECIALIZATION OPTIONS ARE AVAILABLE IN DIFFERENT TYPES OF NURSING DEGREES?


One of the benefits of a career in nursing and the many options available in types of nursing degrees is the broad range of specializations from which to choose. If you are considering a nursing career, look at the options available below.

1. Certificate And Diploma Programs:

Certificate and diploma nursing programs prepare students for hands-on clinical roles as Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA) and Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurses (LPN/LVN). While graduates may choose to work in a specific setting or within a designated patient population, CNAs typically do not take specialization classes or courses. The National Association of Practical Nurse Education and Service offers LPN/LVNs the option to earn certification in IV Therapy, Long-Term Care, and Pharmacology.

Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)/Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)


2. Associate Degree Programs:

With an associate of science in nursing degree, you will be eligible to take the NCLEX-RN and practice as a registered nurse. You can focus on a specialty but need experience before pursuing certification. The American Nurses Credentialing Center offers specialties and certifications available to ADN registered nurses, including Cardiac Vascular Nursing, Gerontological Nursing, Ambulatory Care Nursing, and Medical-Surgical Nursing.

Registered Nurse (RN)


3. Bachelor’s Degree Programs:

A bachelor’s degree program in nursing is one of the two main types of nursing degrees that prepare students to become registered nurses. In addition to becoming licensed as an RN, graduates of these programs may choose a specialty certification such as ICU/Emergency Care, Hospice/Palliative Care, Neurology, or Pediatric Care.

Registered Nurse (RN)


4. Master’s Degree Programs:

With a graduate degree, like a Master of Science in Nursing, you can choose an advanced practice specialty such as becoming a nurse practitioner. Nurse practitioners can choose general practice as a Family Nurse Practitioner or choose a specialty such as pediatrics, women's health, and mental health. Graduates with this type of degree in nursing may also select a non-APRN specialty and become a nurse researcher, clinical nurse leader, or nursing executive/administrator.

APRN Specializations: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP), Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP), Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP), Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (PACNP), Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (PPCNP), Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP), and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)

Non-APRN Specializations: Clinical Nurse Leader (CNL), Nursing Executive/Administrator, Nurse Educator, Nurse Researcher, Public Health Nursing, and Nursing Informatics


5. Doctoral Degree Programs:

Doctoral degree nursing programs are another of the graduate-level types of nursing degrees. Graduates of these programs can choose the same specialties as MSN graduates. Some doctorally-prepared nurses choose advanced practice specialties which allow a hands-on approach to practice. Others choose non-advanced-practice roles in administrative or academic roles as Nurse Administrators, Nurse Educators, Nurse Informaticists, and Nurse Leaders.

APRN Specializations: Adult-Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (AGACNP), Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP), Certified Nurse Midwife (CNM), Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA), Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS), Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), Neonatal Nurse Practitioner (NNP), Pediatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner (PACNP), Pediatric Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (PPCNP), Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP), and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner (WHNP)

Non-APRN Specializations: Nurse Administrator, Nurse Educator, Nurse Executive, Nursing Informatics, and Nursing Leadership


6. Ph.D. in Nursing Programs:

A Ph.D. in nursing is the preferred type of nursing degree for nurses who wish to pursue a career in nursing research. Nurse researchers study various aspects of healthcare, health, and illness. They design and implement scientific studies and look for ways to improve health care services, patient health, and health outcomes. Nurse researchers may take a job as a research assistant, clinical research monitor, or clinical data coordinator.

Nursing Research



WHAT ARE THE ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF DEGREES IN NURSING?


The admission criteria for the different types of nursing degrees are determined by the school offering the program. Colleges, universities, and other educational institutions offering nursing programs must align with state and federal guidelines to be accredited.

CERTIFICATE AND DIPLOMA PROGRAMS


1. CNA:

Admission to a Certified Nursing Assistant program is contingent upon an applicant having a high school diploma or the equivalent and passing an admission exam. Prospective students will likely be required to pass a physical examination to show they can perform the job duties of a CNA without risk to their health or the health and safety of patients.

2. LPN/LVN:

Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse programs typically require a high school diploma or a High School Equivalency test with a minimum average score of 500. Applicants will be asked to provide official high school transcripts and college transcripts, if applicable. Physical and mental wellness promoting safe performance in an LPN/LVN role must be verified by a pre-admission physical exam.

ASSOCIATE DEGREE PROGRAMS


1. LPN/LVN to ADN:

LPN to ADN applicants must possess an active, unencumbered license to practice as a Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurse in the state where they will complete clinicals. Official transcripts with a minimum 2.5-grade point average from the practical nursing program are typically required. Additionally, some schools may require prospective students to complete pre-requisite math, science, or English courses before admission to the program.

2. ADN:

Admission to associate degree nursing programs requires submitting official high school transcripts, and transcripts from any post-secondary school attended. Criminal background checks and pre-admission drug tests are required. Prospective students may be asked to provide a personal statement or essay. ACT and SAT scores are generally required, with minimum scores determined by the school.

BACHELOR’S DEGREE PROGRAMS


1. LPN/LVN to BSN:

Licensed Practical Nurses planning to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing must have an active license to practice as an LPN/LVN. Entry into one of these types of nursing degrees typically requires applicants to have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for any previous college coursework.

2. ADN to BSN:

An associate degree in nursing with an active, unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse are two admission criteria for ADN to BSN applicants. Candidates for these types of degrees in nursing are usually required to have a cumulative pre-requisite grade point average of at least a 2.5 on a 4.0 scale and at least a "C" in Human Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, and Statistics.

3. BSN:

Applicants to traditional BSN nursing programs will be asked to provide a copy of the high school transcript and any transcript from post-secondary schools. These types of nursing degrees often require forty or more pre-requisite semester hours of college coursework relevant to the nursing degree. Most colleges and universities prefer students to complete Anatomy and Physiology I before being admitted to the nursing component of the program. An introductory sociology and/or psychology course may also be required.

4. Accelerated BSN:

Admission to accelerated BSN programs typically require prospective students to possess a bachelor's degree from an accredited college in a non-nursing field and at least a 3.0 GPA for all undergraduate coursework. Previous completion of anatomy and physiology, microbiology, statistics, and introductory psychology is typically required.

MASTER’S DEGREE PROGRAMS


1. ADN-to-MSN:

Prospective ADN to MSN students will have an associate degree in nursing awarded by an accredited nursing school and an active, unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse in the state where clinicals will be performed. Typically, a grade point average of 3.0 or higher in all previous nursing coursework is required.

2. BSN-to-MSN:

The first step in pursuing a BSN to MSN degree is to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Applicants to these types of nursing degrees should have their BSN awarded by an accredited school of nursing and possess an active license to practice as a registered nurse. Transcripts should reflect a cumulative undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 grading scale.

3. Direct Entry Master's:

Admission to direct entry master's nursing programs is typically reserved for students with a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field. Applicants should have an academic GPA of 3.0 or higher from an accredited college or university. Official transcripts from all post-secondary learning institutions must be submitted. Prospective students may be required to submit GRE scores and ACT or SAT scores.

DOCTORAL DEGREE PROGRAMS


1. ADN-to-DNP:

ADN to DNP applicants will hold a current license to practice as a registered nurse and have an associate degree in nursing from an accredited nursing school. Admission criteria may include submitting letters of recommendation, a personal essay or statement of intent, and other documentation, as per school protocol.

2. BSN-to-DNP:

Applicants who want to pursue BSN to DNP program must possess a bachelor's degree in nursing from an accredited university and an active license to practice as an RN. Prospective students will be asked to submit a resume and/or curriculum vitae, letters of professional recommendation, and choose an area of specialization.

3. MSN-to-DNP:

After earning a Master of Science in Nursing, individuals interested in earning a terminal nursing degree may choose from two types of nursing degrees, the MSN to DNP or the MSN to Ph.D. (see below). If you are interested in the MSN to DNP option, you will need to submit copies of official transcripts supporting academic achievement and reflecting a 3.0 or higher GPA on all secondary scholastic work, letters of professional recommendation (usually three), a professional resume, or curriculum vitae, copies of any certifications and possess an active license to practice as a registered nurse.

PH.D. IN NURSING PROGRAMS


1. BSN to Ph.D.:

A minimum bachelor's degree in nursing from an accredited institution and an active RN license are the first requirements for individuals considering a BSN to Ph.D. in nursing. Applicants will be asked to provide professional letters of reference, one of which should be from a Ph.D. prepared individual, GRE scores, resume or curriculum vitae that includes community service, scholarly activities, research, awards, and all relevant work experience.

2. MSN to Ph.D.:

MSN to Ph.D. applicants must possess a Master of Science in Nursing and an active RN license. Prospective students for these types of nursing degrees will be asked to submit the same documentation as BSN to Ph.D. applicants for most schools.



WHAT IS THE COURSEWORK FOR THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF DEGREES IN NURSING?

Coursework for the different types of nursing degrees varies, depending on which program you pursue. Some programs have coursework that is focused on more hands-on clinical nursing care while others integrate administrative and management studies. Here we will look at some of the coursework students in each of these programs will study.

CERTIFICATE AND DIPLOMA PROGRAMS


1. CNA:

The coursework for Certified Nursing Assistant programs includes classes such as Communication, Personal Care, Basic Nursing Skills, and Vital Signs Assessment. Students learn the importance of effective verbal and nonverbal communication, proper documentation, and chain of command. CNA students are taught how to assess vital signs, including identifying abnormal or out-of-range measurements and providing assistance with activities of daily living.

2. LPN/LVN:

Practical/Vocational Nursing programs are designed to prepare students to understand basic nursing skills necessary to provide competent patient care and improve patient outcomes. The curriculum for these types of nursing programs prepares students for clinical roles in settings including hospitals, physicians' offices, nursing homes, and home health agencies, to name a few. Some of the classes students take include the following.

• Medical Terminology
• Anatomy and Physiology
• Nutrition
• Medical-Surgical Nursing
• Nursing Fundamentals
• Maternity and Pediatric Nursing
• Mental Health Nursing


ASSOCIATE DEGREE PROGRAMS


1. LPN/LVN to ADN:

The LPN/LVN to ADN program is designed to teach students how to demonstrate therapeutic communication, perform nursing skills and techniques safely, and use the nursing process to meet the needs of patients in clinical settings. Some coursework for these types of nursing degrees includes the following.

• Developmental Psychology
• Pharmacology
• Microbiology for the Health Sciences
• Adult Health Nursing
• Reproductive Health and Newborn Nursing
• Chemistry
• Science of Human Nutrition
• Introduction to Sociology
• Anatomy and Physiology


2. ADN:

The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is offered to students with no previous nursing license, which means foundation coursework and nursing coursework are required. The following are examples of ADN coursework.

• Life Span and Developmental Psychology
• Microbiology for the Health Sciences
• Introduction to Sociology
• Clinical Microbiology
• Anatomy and Physiology I and II (with lab)
• Quantitative Reasoning
• Trends and Issues in Nursing
• Nursing Fundamentals
• Concepts of Adult Nursing
• Obstetrics and Maternity Nursing


BACHELOR’S DEGREE PROGRAMS


1. LPN/LVN to BSN:

Students enrolled in an LPN/LVN to BSN program are required to complete pre-requisite courses before beginning the professional nursing sequence of the program. Pre-requisites include classes in sciences, English, and math. As the name suggests, these classes are 100% related to nursing. Here are a few examples of LPN/LVN to BSN coursework.

• Anatomy and Physiology I and II with lab
• Basic Microbiology
• College Algebra
• English Composition
• Introduction to Professional Nursing
• Human Growth and Development for Health Professionals
• General Psychology


2. ADN to BSN:

Students in ADN to BSN programs benefit from having already taken pre-requisite coursework such as math and English and some level I and II nursing classes. These students take upper-level nursing courses, including the following.

• Healthcare Policy
• Professional Nursing
• Pathophysiology
• Nursing Leadership and Management
• Quality and Safety in Nursing
• Statistics
• Sociology


3. BSN:

Traditional BSN programs take an average of four years to complete. Students will be involved with pre-nursing classes in the first two years, and the final two will be dedicated to clinical nursing practices, typically with a combination of classroom and experiential learning opportunities.

• Chemistry
• Introduction to Statistics
• English Composition
• Human Growth and Development
• Nutrition
• Foundations of Relationships
• Clinical Nursing Skills and Assessments
• Pharmacology and Pathophysiology Across the Lifespan


4. Accelerated BSN:

Because students enrolled in an Accelerated BSN are earning a second degree, they can graduate in less time with fewer classes than traditional BSN students. Coursework for students in these types of nursing degrees includes the following courses.

• Physiologic Homeostasis
• Health Assessment Across the Lifespan
• Wellness/Health Promotion Across the Lifespan
• Professional Nursing: Evolution of the Evidence-Based Clinician
• Community and Public Health Nursing
• Nursing Care of Patients with Complex Health Problems


MASTER’S DEGREE PROGRAMS


1. ADN-to-MSN:

The most in-depth or course-heavy MSN program is the ADN to MSN option. These programs introduce associate degree registered nurses to leadership, management, and advanced nursing care. The following are examples of classes students in these types of nursing degrees will take.

• Concepts of Professional Nursing Practice
• Health Promotion in Populations
• Healthcare Leadership and Collaboration
• Healthcare Quality Improvement
• Organizational Leadership and Communication
• Advanced Pharmacology
• Advanced Pathophysiology


2. BSN-to-MSN:

Building upon the foundation of all undergraduate nursing studies, the BSN to MSN student will focus on leadership and management roles and advanced practice specialty choices. The list below offers a sample of a few classes students in these programs will complete.

• Leadership in Health Systems
• Human Resource Management
• Transforming Advanced Nursing Practice
• Health Policy and the Healthcare System
• Population Health


3. Direct Entry Master's:

Direct Entry MSN programs offer students with a non-nursing degree the opportunity to pursue a career as a nurse. Students in these types of nursing degrees will take courses specific to advanced practice registered nurses. The following are a few examples.

• Finance and Leadership in Healthcare Systems
• Management Research
• Fiscal and Operations Management
• Strategic Management
• Research Design and Methods for Advanced Nursing Practice
• Discipline of Nursing


DOCTORAL DEGREE PROGRAMS


1. ADN-to-DNP:

Registered nurses who have obtained an associate degree in nursing can be considered for admission to an ADN to DNP program. These programs include all undergraduate nursing coursework. Some colleges may confer a bachelor's degree in nursing once criteria are met. After undergraduate coursework is complete, graduate coursework begins. The following are examples of ADN to DNP courses.

• Anatomy and Physiology I and II
• Microbiology
• Pathophysiology
• Health Politics and Policy
• Advanced Clinical Skills for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses
• Acute and Episodic Care Management
• Advanced Clinical Economics and Finance


2. BSN-to-DNP:

The BSN to DNP program gives students intensive experiences in the APRN role while integrating biosciences, education, business, and research necessary to earn the Doctor of Nursing Practice. Some classes students in these types of nursing degrees take are listed below.

• Biostatistics for Advanced Practice in Healthcare
• Advanced Pathophysiology
• Pharmacology and Pharmacotherapeutics for Advanced Practice Professionals
• Healthcare Research and Theoretical Perspectives
• Health Policy and Economics


3. MSN-to-DNP:

A post-master's DNP program is the shortest RN to DNP program available. These types of nursing degrees allow students to strengthen clinical skills and gain a more profound theory relevant to their specialty practice area. The following are examples of classes MSN to DNP students will take.

• Methods for Evidence-Based Practice
• Epidemiology
• Healthcare Policy and Economics
• Organizational Leadership and Management
• Leadership and Teaching Practice Strategies


PH.D. IN NURSING PROGRAMS


1. BSN to Ph.D.:

The BSN to Ph.D. in nursing prepares RNs at the baccalaureate level to earn a terminal nursing degree rooted in nursing research. Students in these types of nursing degrees may take some of the following classes.

• Philosophical Perspectives in Health
• Quantitative Research Design and Methods
• Qualitative Research Design and Methods
• Mixed Methods Research Design
• Statistical Methods in Public Health
• Theories and Concepts of Health Behavior


2. MSN to Ph.D.:

Students in an MSN to Ph.D. in Nursing program take fewer classes than those in a BSN to Ph.D. program. A few examples are listed below.

• Activities and Responsibilities of the Nurse Scientist
• Grant Writing
• Comprehensive Examination Techniques
• Scientific Perspectives in Nursing
• Qualitative Research Design and Methods
• Special Topics in Violence Research
• Stress and Stress Response




WHAT ARE THE CLINICAL REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF DEGREES IN NURSING?


Some schools have limited clinical spots available, resulting in students taking a little longer than the "typical" time mentioned. It is always a good idea to discuss how clinicals are scheduled and if there is competition for spots in the clinical component of any nursing program.

CERTIFICATE AND DIPLOMA PROGRAMS


1. CNA:

The clinical requirements for students in Nursing Assistant programs vary among schools and depend on criteria established by the state board of nursing where the program is offered. Most CNA programs require forty to one hundred twenty direct contact hours. However, some states allow as few as twenty clinical hours.

2. LPN/LVN:

Licensed Practical/Vocational Nursing students are usually required to complete at least seven hundred clinical hours. These hours involve hands-on nursing care supervised by a licensed nurse preceptor and/or nursing instructor.

ASSOCIATE DEGREE PROGRAMS


While many LPN/LVNs may receive credit for work experience when they enroll in an associate degree nursing program, they are usually required to complete the same number of clinical hours as traditional ADN students. The number of clinical hours varies and is determined by the state board of nursing, where the student is licensed as a registered nurse. Most associate degree nursing programs require students to complete at least five hundred clinical hours.

The above requirements apply to the following Associate Degree Programs.

• LPN/LVN to ADN
• ADN


BACHELOR’S DEGREE PROGRAMS


Students in all Bachelor's degree nursing programs should expect to complete between five hundred and seven hundred hands-on clinical hours. The minimum number of hours varies by state and should be verified with your state's board of nursing before enrolling in any program. Further, nursing schools reserve the right to require more hours than the state minimum.

The above requirements apply to the following Bachelor's Degree Programs.

• LPN/LVN to BSN
• ADN to BSN
• BSN
• Accelerated BSN


MASTER’S DEGREE PROGRAMS


Master's degree nursing students must earn at least five hundred clinical practice hours with an approved preceptor. When an application for admission is completed, nursing advisors typically review the applicant's curriculum vitae and verify previous clinical hours to determine the number of transferrable hours.

The above requirements apply to the following Master’s Degree Programs.

• ADN-to-MSN
• BSN-to-MSN
• Direct Entry Master's


DOCTORAL DEGREE PROGRAMS


All DNP students must complete a minimum of 1,000 preceptor-supervised post-baccalaureate clinical hours. The number of hours each student completes is determined by evaluation and approval of previously awarded clinical hours.

The following Doctoral Degree Programs observe the 1,000-hour clinical requirement.

• ADN-to-DNP
• BSN-to-DNP
• MSN-to-DNP


PH.D. IN NURSING PROGRAMS


Ph.D. in Nursing is focused on scientific inquire instead of clinical practice. Therefore, students complete a dissertation instead of clinical immersion.

• BSN to Ph.D.
• MSN to Ph.D.




WHAT ARE THE TOP SCHOOLS IN THE NATION FOR DIFFERENT TYPES OF DEGREES IN NURSING?


Choosing the school that is the best fit for you and your professional and academic goals is essential to success in nursing. The following are the top schools in the nation for the various types of degrees in nursing featured in this article.

CERTIFICATE AND DIPLOMA PROGRAMS


TOP 5 CNA PROGRAMS


1. Fox Valley Technical College - Appleton, WI

The CNA program at Fox Valley Technical College is a full-time program offering day and evening classes. Graduates receive a technical diploma and, upon successful completion of the Wisconsin Nurse Aide Competency Exam, become certified as a Nursing Assistant.

2. Hinds Community College - Raymond, MS

Students in the Hinds Community College CNA program receive instruction in the knowledge and performance skills needed to provide basic care to patients. The program is one hundred contact hours and is offered each spring, summer, and fall semester.

3. Southwestern College - San Diego, CA

The Certified Nurse Assistant program at Southwestern College is an 8.5-unit course, including 5.5 units of lecture and three lab units. The program is offered four times throughout the year in January, March, June, and August.

4. Howard Community College - Columbia, MD

At Howard Community College, students are prepared for a career as a CNA in six to eight weeks. The program is 145 hours, including 100 hours of theory and 45 hours of clinical training, in compliance with Maryland Board of Nursing regulations.

5. Western Technical College - La Crosse, WI

The Western Technical College CNA program is offered during fall, spring, and summer semesters, each one lasting four to six weeks. Students work independent workbooks and online assignments and participate in lab sessions to demonstrate skills before beginning supervised clinical rotations at local long-term care facilities.


TOP 5 LPN/LVN PROGRAMS


1. Florida State College at Jacksonville - Jacksonville, FL

Students in the LPN/LVN program at Florida State College at Jacksonville earn the Practical Nursing Career Certificate. The program offers entry options in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Tuition and fees for this LPN/LVN program are approximately $3,942.

2. Vincennes University - Vincennes, IN

The Vincennes University LPN/LVN program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and the Indiana State Board of Nursing. The program is forty-six credit hours, including 800 clinical hours.

3. SUNY College of Technology at Canton - Canton, NY

The SUNY College of Technology at Canton offers a thirty-six-credit-hour LPN/LVN program. Students must maintain a minimum 2.0-grade point average for the duration of the program. All students in the program must purchase an Assessment Technology Institute (ATI) Nursing Review Program and complete ATI exams as scheduled by instructors.

4. Colorado Mesa University - Grand Junction, CO

Applications for admission to the Colorado Mesa University LPN/LVN program must be received by March 1 for classes beginning in August. Students are eligible for graduation after earning fifty-eight semester hours as outlined in the practical nursing curriculum.

5. Maria College - Albany, NY

The LPN/LVN program offered at Maria College is a sixteen-month program. Nursing classes, including clinicals, require participation in weekend rotations as scheduled by the program’s coordinator. Students earn forty-six credits, including sixteen liberal arts and sciences credits and thirty nursing course credits.



ASSOCIATE DEGREE PROGRAMS


TOP 5 LPN/LVN-to-ADN PROGRAMS


1. Western Kentucky University - Bowling Green, KY

Students enrolled in the LPN/LVN to ADN program offered at Western Kentucky University are offered diverse scheduling options, challenge exams, and credit for experience. After admission to the ASN program and completing Psychology 220, Biology 131, and Nursing 150, students will submit proof of current LPN/LVN license. After their license is verified, they may receive nine credit hours toward the associate degree in nursing.

2. Kent State University - East Liverpool, OH

At Kent State University, LPN/LVN to ADN students are prepared for roles as registered nurses, including jobs in community health centers, clinics, hospitals, and home health agencies. The program is accredited by the Ohio State Board of Nursing and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

3. Ohio University Southern - Ironton, OH

The LPN/LVN to ADN program at Ohio University Southern is a two-year program with an established reputation for graduating high-quality nurses prepared to take on roles as registered nurses. Students typically complete thirty-nine credit hours, including two hundred sixty-seven in-person clinical hours.

4. Mississippi University for Women - Columbus, MS

The Mississippi University for Women offers another of our featured types of nursing degrees, the LPN/LVN to ADN. This program is a sixty-credit hour program.

5. Weber State University - Ogden, UT

Weber State University’s LPN/LVN to ADN program is a seventy-four to seventy-seven credit hour program. Students receive up to fifteen hours of credit from their practical nursing program and earn an additional twenty WSU credit hours after completing the mandatory Weber State University residency program.


TOP 5 ADN PROGRAMS


1. Georgia State University - Clarkston, GA

Admission to the ADN program at Georgia State University is competitive, as is the progression in this program. Students complete seventy-one credit hours in two to three years and, after meeting graduation and state requirements, are eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN.

2. University of Alaska Anchorage - Anchorage, AK

The ADN program offered by the University of Alaska Anchorage includes a minimum of twenty credit hours.

3. The University of Arkansas at Little Rock - Little Rock, AR

The University of Arkansas at Little Rock boasts a state-of-the-art simulation hospital and clinical rotations at some of the best healthcare facilities available in central Arkansas. The ADN program offered by the university prepares students for careers as compassionate, dedicated, and competent registered nurses.

4. Kent State University - East Liverpool, OH

At Kent State University, students in the associate degree nursing program learn to demonstrate therapeutic communication skills with patients and peers, perform nursing skills and techniques relevant to the role of a registered nurse, and function within the ethical and legal guidelines of the RN role.

5. Eastern Kentucky University - Richmond, KY

The ADN program offered at Eastern Kentucky University provides an educational foundation for students to grow and develop their nursing potential. The program includes sixty-four credit hours of coursework designed to create a pathway for future baccalaureate, graduate, or doctoral studies.



BACHELOR’S DEGREE PROGRAMS


TOP 5 LPN/LVN-to-BSN PROGRAMS


1. Kent State University - Kent, OH

The LPN/LVN to BSN program at Kent State University is a flexible BSN program designed to meet the demands of Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurses. The program prepares students for professional nursing, helping them understand their roles in society and graduate study.

2. California State University - Fullerton, CA

The California State University LPN/LVN to BSN program is a full-time program. Students complete the program in as few as five semesters, including one summer semester. Admission is competitive. Therefore, nursing advisors use a points system to determine eligible applicants for entry.

3. University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center - Oklahoma City, OK

The LPN/LVN to BSN program at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center is also referred to as the “Degree Completion Program.” The curriculum is sixty credit hours. Thirty hours are earned through advanced standing examinations, and the other thirty are completed within the program.

4. Azusa Pacific University - Azusa, CA

Azusa Pacific University offers a rigorous nursing curriculum coupled with practical, faith-based education to offer its unique LPN/LVN to BSN program. Classes comprise a small cohort of peers from diverse backgrounds and professional nursing experiences. Students can graduate in as few as two years.

5. Loma Linda University - Loma Linda, CA

The LPN to BSN track at Loma Linda University emphasizes patient and student wholeness, preparing students for rewarding careers as registered nurses. The program requires students to complete one hundred eighty-five units of coursework and clinicals, after which the Bachelor of Science in Nursing is conferred.


TOP 5 ADN-to-BSN PROGRAMS


1. New York University - New York, NY

NYU helps registered nurses with an associate degree in nursing expand their knowledge of physical and social sciences while increasing professional expertise in patient advocacy, patient assessments, and nursing management with its ADN to BSN program.

2. Oregon Health and Science University - Portland, OR

The Bachelor's completion, ADN to BSN program at Oregon Health and Science University, is offered online. The program's concept-based curriculum is nationally recognized. Students complete clinical experiences in their communities with the university's designated clinical partners.

3. University of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh, PA

At the University of Pittsburgh, professional nurses with an associate degree have the opportunity to enhance their career prospects and knowledge by earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in the university's ADN to BSN program. The program is offered in an online format allowing flexibility for practicing nurses.

4. Ohio State University - Columbus, OH

The Ohio State University ADN to BSN program is ranked #4 in the country by US News & World Report Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. The university has made the program affordable for students by offering in-state tuition to students regardless of state residency status and providing university-provided resources, eliminating the expense for textbooks.

5. The University of Alabama at Birmingham - Birmingham, AL

Students enrolled in the ADN to BSN program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham are offered a flexible curriculum plan with three, four, and five-semester study plans. The curriculum consists of thirty credit hours earned in nine classes.


TOP 5 BSN PROGRAMS


1. University of Pennsylvania - Philadelphia, PA

The University of Pennsylvania uses a mentored, hands-on approach to nursing education to prepare registered nurses with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. The BSN program features a state-of-the-art simulation lab, extensive mentorship program, and team-based clinical experiences designed to give students the best opportunity for effective learning and retention.

2. University of Washington - Seattle, WA

The BSN program at the University of Washington is a two-year professional nursing program designed to prepare students for a career as a registered nurse. The university offers nationally recognized nursing faculty, interactive scenarios in the Learning Lab, and over 1,000 hours of hands-on patient care in a preceptor/instructor-supervised clinical setting.

3. Emory University - Atlanta, GA

The BSN program offered at Emory University is an excellent option for students who desire academic independence and value resources in one of the country's largest cities. The four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing program offers several internship opportunities for students to enhance their skills and promote marketability.

4. The University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, MI

The mission of the University of Michigan School of Nursing is to “educate nurses who can deliver patient care that meets and exceeds the highest standards in health care." Students are engaged in a rigorous education with opportunities to develop nursing and leadership skills. The program includes 1,000 hours of direct patient care clinical hours led by internationally recognized practitioners and scientists.

5. University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, NC

The University of South Carolina offers a BSN program full of opportunities for student research, innovative approaches to classroom instruction, and dedication to interprofessional education. Students in the program complete sixty credit hours, including at least 1,000 hands-on clinical hours.


TOP 5 ACCELERATED BSN PROGRAMS


1. University of Pennsylvania - Philadelphia, PA

The accelerated BSN program at the University of Pennsylvania features hands-on learning experiences that engage students through clinical practice, community engagement, laboratory simulations, and comprehensive mentorship. The university offers the unique opportunity for students to begin graduate-level coursework while finishing their BSN through a submatriculation program.

2. Duke University - Durham, NC

The Duke University accelerated BSN program is a second-degree program designed for students who have completed an undergraduate degree and required pre-requisites. The program is a full-time, campus-based program that lasts sixteen months. Students focus on evidence-based nursing, culturally appropriate care, clinical leadership, health, wellness, and disease prevention.

3. University of Washington - Seattle, WA

Applicants who have a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and wish to make a career change or add a second career in nursing may find the accelerated BSN program at the University of Washington a good fit. Students complete academically rigorous coursework in four consecutive quarters and are eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

4. Emory University - Atlanta, GA

In as little as one year or three semesters, students can complete the accelerated BSN program at Emory University. The program is presented in a distance-based learning format featuring a team-based learning community using a blend of lecture and clinical practice experiences in the student’s local community.

5. University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, NC

Students who have previously earned a bachelor's degree in another subject and desire a nursing degree can earn a BSN in four semesters at the University of North Carolina. This accelerated BSN program requires applicants to have completed anatomy and physiology with lab, statistics, and introductory psychology before admission.



MASTER’S DEGREE PROGRAMS


TOP 5 ADN-to-MSN PROGRAMS


1. Washington State University - Tri-Cities - Richland, WA

If you are a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree in any field, the Washington State University-Tri-Cities ADN to MSN program allows you to pursue a Master of Science in Nursing alongside your other life commitments. Full-time students can finish the program in two years, while part-time students may take three to three and a half years.

2. University of Mississippi Medical Center - Jackson, MS

Associate degree registered nurses considering earning a master’s degree in nursing may not need to look further than the University of Mississippi Medical Center. The university, the only academic health sciences center in Mississippi, offers six RN to MSN options. Students can choose from four nurse practitioner tracks, the nursing administrator track or the nurse educator track. Flexible study plans and unlimited resources help students focus on their careers while earning a master's degree.

3. Drexel University - Philadelphia, PA

The Drexel University MSN Bridge program is available to associate degree registered nurses who wish to pursue their MSN degree. Applicants may choose from MSN specialties, including Nursing Education, Public Health Nursing, Leadership in Health Systems Management, and Quality, Safety, and Risk Management.

4. Georgia State University - Atlanta, GA

At Georgia State University, RNs with an associate degree or diploma from an accredited nursing program and at least one year of work experience as registered nurses can pursue a Master of Science in Nursing through the online ADN to MSN bridge program. The MSN program prepares students for one of four nurse practitioner specialties: Adult-Gerontology Primary Care, Pediatric Primary Care, Family, or Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.

5. Ursuline College - Pepper Pike, OH

The National League for Nursing (NLN) has designated the Breen School of Nursing at Ursuline College as a National Center of Excellence. The ADN to MSN program offered at the college is open to RNs who hold a diploma in nursing from a three-year hospital-based nursing program or an associate degree in nursing but do not hold a bachelor’s or master’s degree.


TOP 5 BSN-to-MSN PROGRAMS


1. Emory University - Atlanta, GA

At Emory University, baccalaureate-prepared nurses can earn a Master of Science in Nursing with specialties as an Adult-Gerontology Acute or Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Emergency Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal NP, Nurse-Midwifery, Pediatric Acute or Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, or Women’s Health NP.

2. Duke University - Durham, NC

The BSN to MSN program at Duke University is offered as a distance-based learning option. The program offers three non-clinical majors and eight advanced practice registered nurse majors. Non-clinical options are Health Informatics, Nursing and Healthcare Leadership, Nursing Education. APRN options include Acute or Primary Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Acute or Primary Care Pediatric NP, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and Women's Health NP.

3. University of Pennsylvania - Philadelphia, PA

The University of Pennsylvania prepares BSN to MSN students to combine clinical decision-making and management with the knowledge and skills necessary to perform in advanced practice roles. The university offers eight nurse practitioner specialty options, an advanced specialty in nurse-midwifery, and three administrative BSN to MSN options.

4. University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, NC

The School of Nursing at the University of North Carolina offers students an energetic, diverse environment to participate in scientific inquiry, interprofessional education, and clinical practice opportunities. Along with highly regarded faculty, these features make the BSN to MSN program at the university an excellent choice for registered nurses seeking to advance their careers by earning a Master of Science in Nursing.

5. Vanderbilt University - Nashville, TN

Vanderbilt University offers an extensive network of nursing faulty, flexible formats, including distance learning, and several advanced practice specialties to meet the diverse professional interests of students. Most MSN specialties can be completed in one year. Students also can progress directly to the DNP program after earning their MSN.


TOP 5 DIRECT ENTRY MASTER'S PROGRAMS


1. Johns Hopkins University - Baltimore, MD

The world-renowned Johns Hopkins University offers a full-time graduate program where students with a non-nursing bachelor's degree can earn a Master of Science in Nursing. Graduates of the direct-entry MSN program are prepared to take the NCLEX-RN and become licensed as registered nurses. After graduation, students in this program may enter directly into the nursing workforce or choose to continue their studies in an advanced practice nursing specialty or the doctorate nursing program.

2. Emory University - Atlanta, GA

The Master of Science in Nursing pre-licensure program at Emory University is a full-time program that allows students to earn an MSN in as few as fifteen months. The program is campus-based and has a focus on leadership roles in nursing. Eligible applicants will possess a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing discipline.

3. Columbia University - New York, NY

The Master’s Direct Entry program offered by Columbia University is a full-time nursing program available to non-nurse colleges graduates who desire a career as a registered nurse. The program prepares students to provide evidence-based nursing care emphasizing care coordination and religious/cultural care to clients from diverse backgrounds and on all wellness and illness continuum levels.

4. Vanderbilt University - Nashville, TN

The Pre-Specialty master's program at Vanderbilt University offers individuals with a bachelor's degree but no nursing experience or nursing degree the opportunity to earn a Master of Science in Nursing. Students complete a three-semester Pre-Specialty year building a foundation equivalent to a BSN. After completing the Pre-Specialty year, students are eligible to take the NCLEX-RN. Students then complete an additional sequence of coursework in their chosen specialty to earn the MSN.

5. Ohio State University - Columbus, OH

After fulfilling pre-requisite coursework, students enrolled in the Direct/Graduate Entry Master of Science at Ohio State University can earn their MSN in approximately three years of full-time study. At the program's midpoint, students will take the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs, choose a specialty and enroll in graduate courses.



DOCTORAL DEGREE PROGRAMS


TOP 5 ADN-to-DNP PROGRAMS


1. University of Michigan-Flint - Flint, MI

The RN/ADN to DNP pathway offered at the University of Michigan-Flint is designed for practicing registered nurses who also hold a non-nursing bachelor’s degree. Students can earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice with a specialization in Family Nurse Practitioner, Adult Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, or Adult-Gerontology Nurse Practitioner.

2. The University of Hawaii at Manoa – Honolulu, HI

RNs with an associate degree in nursing and a non-nursing bachelor’s degree can earn a DNP, specializing as an Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner or Family Nurse Practitioner at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. The ADN to DNP program incorporates AACN Essentials for Doctoral Education for Advanced Nursing Practice as the foundation for its curriculum. Students learn to integrate quality improvement, systems leadership, and evidence-based practices into specialized advanced nursing practice.

3. Delta State University - Cleveland, MS

The Robert E. Smith School of Nursing at Delta State University offers another of our featured nursing degree programs, the ADN to DNP. Upon completing the first year of nursing coursework, students are awarded the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. They then seamlessly continue coursework to satisfy the DNP criteria. The program is offered 100% online and completed in four years.

4. Union University - Jackson, TN

The Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Union University in Jackson, Tennessee, begins once per year in the fall semester. The program is offered in a hybrid format with classes online and on-campus. Applicants must be graduates of an Associate of Science nursing program accredited by the ACEN or CCNE. A bachelor’s degree is not required for entry into this program. However, applicants with an ADN and non-nursing Bachelor's are eligible for admission. Applicants must possess a current, unencumbered license to practice as a registered nurse in Tennessee or a compact state at the time of application to the program.

5. Otterbein University - Westerville, OH

With student-friendly flexible curriculum plans, the Otterbein University ADN to DNP program allows working nurses to achieve a healthy work and life balance while earning a graduate degree.


TOP 5 BSN-to-DNP PROGRAMS


1. Rush University - Chicago, IL

Baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses with or without a master’s degree in a non-nursing field can take advantage of the BSN to DNP program at Rush University. Students may choose from eleven specialties, including Pediatric Acute or Primary Care, Psychiatric Mental Health, Public Health, Population Health, Systems Leadership, and Adult-Gerontology Acute or Primary Care.

2. Johns Hopkins University - Baltimore, MD

The DNP Advanced Practice track at Johns Hopkins University is open to registered nurses with an active, unencumbered license to practice who have earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. The BSN to DNP advanced practice tracks prepare students for advanced roles as healthcare and clinical leaders. Options include Adult-Gerontology Acute or Primary Care, Family NP, Pediatric Primary Care, Pediatric Dual Primary/Acute Care, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, and Clinical Nurse Specialist pathways focused on Adult-Gerontological Health, Adult Gerontological Critical Care and Pediatric Critical Care.

3. University of Washington - Seattle, WA

Registered nurses who have earned a bachelor's degree from an NLN or CCNE accredited nursing program and have at least one year of clinical nursing experience may apply to the BSN to DNP program at the University of Washington. The university offers study tracks in Adult-Gerontology, Pediatric, and Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse-Midwifery, Psychiatric Mental Health, Pediatric or Women's Clinical Nurse Specialist, and Population Health & Systems Leadership.

4. Duke University - Durham, NC

If you are a post-baccalaureate registered nurse interested in taking your career to the next big level, the Duke University BSN to DNP program could be an excellent choice for you. A few student advantages include completing the DNP project at your place of employment, 900-level online DNP classes, and preparation for the certification exam in your chosen specialty.

5. Columbia University - New York, NY

Columbia University offers six BSN to DNP specialties: Adult-Gerontology Acute or Primary Care Nurse Practitioner, Pediatric Primary Care NP, Family Nurse Practitioner, Psychiatric Mental Health NP, and Nurse Midwifery. The post-BSN program is a full-time program for registered nurses with a bachelor's degree and current license. Students can graduate in three years, including the time spent in clinical immersion.


TOP 5 MSN-to-DNP PROGRAMS


1. Rush University - Chicago, IL

Whether you want to work with adults, children, expectant mothers, or in a leadership or public health role, the Rush University MSN to DNP has something to fit with your goals. Students entering with a master’s degree in nursing can earn a Doctor of Nursing Practice in two to three years, depending on full-time or part-time enrollment.

2. Johns Hopkins University - Baltimore, MD

The Johns Hopkins University MSN to DNP program offers two pathways. The Doctor of Nursing Practice, Advanced Practice Track, and Doctor of Nursing Practice, Executive Track. Applicants should be graduates of an ACEN or CCNE accredited Master of Science in Nursing program. Both pathways require prospective students to have a cumulative academic grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 grading scale.

3. Duke University - Durham, NC

The post-master's DNP program at Duke University allows students to continue working in their current positions while earning a doctoral degree in nursing. The program's mission is to prepare nurses as advanced practice nursing professionals and clinical scholars skilled in clinical practices promoting improved patient outcomes and transforming healthcare systems.

4. University of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh, PA

The University of Pittsburgh offers part-time and full-time enrollment options to students enrolling in its MSN to DNP program. Students may choose from multiple DNP tracks, including Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Anesthesia, Nurse Midwife, Nurse Practitioner, and Health Systems Executive Leadership.

5. Vanderbilt University - Nashville, TN

Vanderbilt University prides itself on preparing leaders in advanced nursing practice who bring evidence-based knowledge into practice and, as a result, strengthen nursing leadership roles and improve healthcare outcomes. Nurses with a Master of Science in Nursing can graduate in five or six semesters with a specialization in Advanced Clinical Practice, Advanced Systems Practice, or Executive Leadership.



PH.D. IN NURSING PROGRAMS


TOP 5 BSN-to-Ph.D. PROGRAMS


1. Rush University - Chicago, IL

At Rush University, a select number of qualified applicants are admitted to the Ph.D. program, ensuring a close working relationship with faculty and research mentors. Graduates of the program commonly lead clinical research projects, influence national health policy, and serve in senior academic nursing positions nationwide. The program can be completed in as few as three years of full-time study or five years of part-time study.

2. Johns Hopkins University - Baltimore, MD

A Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University positions graduates to advance the theoretical foundation of nursing and healthcare delivery. Most full-time students receive a stipend to fund 100% of the first three years of study. By graduation, most scholars have been awarded grants that help them begin their careers and continue their research.

3. University of Washington - Seattle, WA

Students worldwide learn from global leaders in nursing science in the University of Washington’s Ph.D. in Nursing program. The program caters to students with diverse backgrounds who desire to become leaders in nursing research. Students learn from faculty with a broad array of research specialties and methodologies, including health equity, health promotion, and disease management across the lifespan, system science, innovative methods, and policy analysis, and advancement of cost-effective healthcare systems.

4. Duke University - Durham, NC

The Duke University School of Nursing Ph.D. program builds upon the foundational knowledge and expertise baccalaureate-prepared nurses have already gained. The program aims to develop nurse scientists who contribute significant expertise to understanding chronic illness and care systems. Tuition and twelve-month stipends are fully funded for the student's first two years in the program. Tuition and nine-month stipends are fully funded in years three through five.

5. Columbia University - New York, NY

The full-time BSN to Ph.D. program at Columbia University is a research-intensive program designed to prepare nurses for careers as nurse scientists who conduct research related to health conditions across a broad range of populations. The program emphasizes health disparity populations to transform clinical practice and health policy across the lifespan.


TOP 5 MSN-to-Ph.D. PROGRAMS


1. Johns Hopkins University - Baltimore, MD

The MSN to Ph.D. program at Johns Hopkins University is one of two Ph.D. nursing programs offered by the school. Registered Nurses with a Master of Science in Nursing degree from an accredited nursing school and an active license to practice as an RN are eligible to apply. Students can complete this terminal graduate degree in as little as twenty-four months.

2. Duke University - Durham, NC

Master's prepared registered nurses can earn a Ph.D. in nursing in as little as five semesters at Duke University. Students typically have tuition and twelve-month stipends fully funded for the duration of their studies. Candidates should possess an MSN from a United States nursing program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

3. Columbia University - New York, NY

The Columbia University MSN to Ph.D. program brings the foundation of nursing science together with courses focused on practice, translational research, leadership, and policy. Students are engaged in core courses to help them obtain the knowledge and skills necessary to conduct well-designed, relevant research studies. They also choose electives related to an area of clinical interest to increase their understanding of an analytical or research method.

4. University of Pittsburgh - Pittsburgh, PA

The University of Pittsburgh School of Nursing's Ph.D. program was one of the first Ph.D. in Nursing programs in the United States. Students benefit from learning from internationally recognized faculty who are involved in the most up-to-date interdisciplinary research measures. The program offers in-depth laboratory and clinical research training, preparing graduates to become nurse scientists and academic faculty.

5. Vanderbilt University - Nashville, TN

The MSN to Ph.D. program offered at Vanderbilt University is delivered using face-to-face and distance learning instruction methods, with limited visits to the campus. The program is designed to equip scholars for academic and research careers in the private and public healthcare sectors. Graduates of the Ph.D. in Nursing program conduct research related to regional, national, and international priorities.




WHAT IS THE AVERAGE STARTING SALARY FOR DIFFERENT TYPES OF DEGREES IN NURSING?


Graduates of all types of nursing degrees have the potential to earn generous incomes. The higher degree you reach, the greater your income-earning potential. For some people, beginning salary is one of the most pressing concerns. The following is the average starting salary for each of the featured nursing degrees in this article.

1. Certificate And Diploma Programs:

Graduates of certificate and diploma programs have an average starting salary of approximately $14 per hour. This pay is equivalent to $51 weekly, $2,430 monthly, or $29,160 annually.

Hourly Weekly Monthly Annual
$14.02 $561 $2,430 $29,160


2. Associate Degree Programs:

Registered Nurses who have earned an Associate degree in nursing can begin their nursing career with salaries averaging $51,680 per year. This income equals $24.85 per hour, $994 weekly, or $4,310 monthly.

Hourly Weekly Monthly Annual
$24.85 $994 $4,310 $51,680


3. Bachelor’s Degree Programs:

Earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing means starting salaries of more than $56,000 yearly. Entry-level BSN-prepared registered nurses earn approximately $4,690 monthly, $1,082 weekly, or $27.04 per hour.

Hourly Weekly Monthly Annual
$27.04 $1,082 $4,690 $56,240


4. Master’s Degree Programs:

RNs who have earned a Master of Science in Nursing earn an average starting salary of $18,000 more than baccalaureate-prepared registered nurses. The annual starting salary of MSN nurses is $74,660, equal to $6,220 monthly, $1,436 weekly, or $35.89 hourly.

Hourly Weekly Monthly Annual
$35.89 $1,436 $6,220 $74,660


5. Doctoral Degree Programs:

A Doctor of Nursing Practice has the highest entry-level salary of all the types of nursing degrees featured in this article. These professionals earn a starting salary of a little more than $41 per hour. This wage averages $1,643 weekly, $7,120 monthly, or $85,450 annually.

Hourly Weekly Monthly Annual
$41.08 $1,643 $7,120 $85,450


6. Ph.D. in Nursing Programs:

After earning a Ph.D. in Nursing, the beginning salary averages $76,900 yearly. This annual salary is equivalent to $36.97 hourly, $1,479 weekly, or $6,410 monthly.

Hourly Weekly Monthly Annual
$36.97 $1,479 $6,410 $76,900



HOW MUCH WILL YOUR SALARY GROW WITH EXPERIENCE FOR TYPES OF DEGREES IN NURSING?


One of the most important factors people consider when choosing nursing degree options is potential income. The following is the income-earning potential based on years of experience for graduates of each of this article’s featured programs.

1. Certificate And Diploma Programs:

Graduates of certificate and diploma nursing programs see an increase of about $9,000 within their first four years of experience, bringing their annual salaries to an average of $34,355. In five to nine years, they can earn more than $19 per hour or $3,320 monthly. In as few as ten years, these nursing professionals can earn an additional $8,000 each year. With incomes of approximately $25.87 per hour or $4,480 monthly at the twenty-year or longer mark, certificate and diploma nursing graduates have an average salary of $41,070 across their professional lifespan.

Level of Experience Hourly Monthly Annual
Starting $14.02 $2,430 $29,160
1-4 Years of Experience $16.52 $2,860 $34,355
5-9 Years of Experience $19.15 $3,320 $39,835
10-19 Years of Experience $22.80 $3,950 $47,425
20 Years or More Experience $25.87 $4,480 $53,815
Average Salary $19.75 $3,420 $41,070


2. Associate Degree Programs:

Registered nurses with an associate degree earn an average of $77,420 each year from their first to the twentieth year of work. These RNs can earn almost $20,000 more than their entry-level salary by the time they have five years of work experience. That number increases by nearly $40,000 each year with twenty or more years of experience as a registered nurse.

Level of Experience Hourly Monthly Annual
Starting $24.85 $4,310 $51,680
1-4 Years of Experience $28.67 $4,970 $59,630
5-9 Years of Experience $35.04 $6,070 $72,890
10-19 Years of Experience $43.54 $7,550 $90,560
20 Years or More Experience $54.07 $9,370 $112,460
Average Salary $37.22 $6,450 $77,420


3. Bachelor’s Degree Programs:

Earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing means higher beginning salaries and increased earning potential over time. The BSN registered nurse can experience pay increases between $800 and $6,000 monthly, progressing from their first year of work. By the time baccalaureate RNs achieve ten years of nursing experience, they earn close to $99,000 annually. Their average annual salary from one to twenty or more years is $84,250.

Level of Experience Hourly Monthly Annual
Starting $27.04 $4,690 $56,240
1-4 Years of Experience $31.20 $5,410 $64,900
5-9 Years of Experience $38.13 $6,610 $79,320
10-19 Years of Experience $47.38 $8,210 $98,550
20 Years or More Experience $58.84 $10,200 $122,390
Average Salary $40.50 $7,020 $84,250


4. Master’s Degree Programs:

The relationship between salary and years of experience is evident in the chart below, depicting the salaries of Master's-prepared registered nurses. The starting salaries of MSN nurses grow by $26,000 with five to nine years of experience. Their incomes can almost double by the time they have twenty years of experience, making their salaries $140,540, equal to $11,710 monthly or $67.57 per hour. These graduate-level nurses earn an average annual salary of $103,060 throughout their careers.

Level of Experience Hourly Monthly Annual
Starting $35.89 $6,220 $74,660
1-4 Years of Experience $41.06 $7,120 $85,400
5-9 Years of Experience $48.32 $8,380 $100,510
10-19 Years of Experience $56.36 $9,770 $117,220
20 Years or More Experience $67.57 $11,710 $140,540
Average Salary $49.55 $8,590 $103,060


5. Doctoral Degree Programs:

Earning one of the most prestigious types of degrees in nursing, a Doctor of Nursing Practice, comes with the reward of excellent income opportunities. DNPs can earn nearly $98,000 per year in as few as one to four years. Every five to ten years of additional experience, salaries can increase by $18,000 to $26,000. Doctors of Nursing Practice nurses with twenty or more years of experience earn approximately $160,840 annually, equal to $13,400 per month.

Level of Experience Hourly Monthly Annual
Starting $41.08 $7,120 $85,450
1-4 Years of Experience $46.99 $8,150 $97,740
5-9 Years of Experience $55.30 $9,590 $115,030
10-19 Years of Experience $64.50 $11,180 $134,150
20 Years or More Experience $77.33 $13,400 $160,840
Average Salary $56.71 $9,830 $117,950


6. Ph.D. in Nursing Programs:

A Ph.D. is one of the highest levels of nursing degree, and those who earn the credential also earn generous salaries. A Ph.D. in nursing can make an average annual salary of $106,150 throughout their professional nursing career. While their starting salaries are around $77,000, that number increases by approximately $24,000 within ten to nineteen years and nearly doubles with twenty years of work experience.

Level of Experience Hourly Monthly Annual
Starting $36.97 $6,410 $76,900
1-4 Years of Experience $42.29 $7,330 $87,960
5-9 Years of Experience $49.77 $8,630 $103,530
10-19 Years of Experience $58.04 $10,060 $120,730
20 Years or More Experience $69.60 $12,060 $144,760
Average Salary $51.03 $8,850 $106,150



WHAT IS THE JOB OUTLOOK FOR THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF DEGREES IN NURSING?


In addition to income potential, one of the most important factors to consider when choosing a career is the outlook for the job. All types of nursing degrees have a promising job outlook. Here’s a look at the outlook for graduates of each type of program.

1. Certificate And Diploma Programs:

Graduates of certificate programs, like Certified Nursing Assistants and Licensed Practical/Vocational nurses should experience a positive job outlook for years to come. Like graduates with other types of degrees in nursing, they will see an influx of patients due to an aging population. Because CNAs and LPNs perform a great deal of hands-on nursing care, the need for their services will grow as the patient population ages.

2. Associate Degree Programs:

Associate degree nurses work in positions that require a registered nurse but that do not demand higher degrees. In 2020, the AACN conducted a survey that indicated 59% of hospitals and other health care facilities continue to hire nurses with an ADN. These nurses can perform most of the same duties as nurses with a bachelor’s degree. However, they may not make as much money, making them a cost-effective choice for employers. Their ability to provide skilled nursing care and save employers money suggests the outlook for employment for graduates of ADN programs is positive.

3. Bachelor’s Degree Programs:

While nurses with an ADN can expect to see steady job availability, graduates of bachelor’s degree nursing programs can expect a promising future, as well. Surveys indicate eighty-two percent of employers prefer nurses with a BSN and forty-one percent of healthcare facilities require candidates for employment to have a BSN, making the outlook for baccalaureate-prepared nurses promising.

4. Master’s Degree Programs:

Master’s-prepared nurses can pursue advanced practice specialties such as nurse practitioner, CRNA, clinical nurse specialist, or nurse-midwife. Although entry-level graduate nursing programs are expected to transition to DNP programs in the next few years, nurses who have earned an MSN will not be required to earn a doctorate to continue practicing. For employers, this means they can continue to hire nurses with an MSN who will perform the same duties as those with a DNP, but for less money. Most people in the nursing and healthcare industry view this as a win-win for patients, nurses, and healthcare facilities as everyone benefits from nurses who are prepared at the graduate level while saving money.

5. Doctoral Degree Programs:

In 2018, the National Organization of Nurse Practitioner Faculties announced all entry-level nurse practitioner programs will shift from master’s programs to the DNP. This transition is planned to be complete by 2025. It is natural to expect job descriptions will follow suit requiring nurses with a DNP to fill any graduate-level position, indicating a positive outlook for graduates of these types of nursing degrees.

6. Ph.D. in Nursing Programs:

Nursing research is vital to understanding illness, disease, and patient responses to treatment. It is especially important as the results of the research are used to contribute to medical science and develop measures to improve patient outcomes.


My Final Thoughts


The nursing industry is an ever-evolving, ever-expanding industry that offers great promise for individuals considering a career as a nurse. In this article, you have found the answer to the question, “What are the different types of degrees in nursing?” and learned about the 16 different types of nursing degrees. If you can see yourself working in any nursing-related role, statistics and employment data suggest there is no time like the present to get started.


Darby Faubion BSN, RN
Darby Faubion is a nurse and Allied Health educator with over twenty years of experience. She has assisted in developing curriculum for nursing programs and has instructed students at both community college and university levels. Because of her love of nursing education, Darby became a test-taking strategist and NCLEX prep coach and assists nursing graduates across the United States who are preparing to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).