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The minimum degree required to become a registered nurse (RN) is an associate’s degree, which requires the completion of 60 college credit hours. However, many RNs decide to earn higher degrees which allows them to take on more responsibility in different nursing roles, which will increase their expected salary. Consider the different tiers of nursing degrees, the positions that are available at each level, and their expected salary:

  • Associate’s degrees in Nursing (ASN) will allow graduates to become Registered Nurses, who perform all of the basic medical tasks, and earn an average salary of $70,000 per year.
  • Bachelor’s degrees in Nursing (BSN) take twice as long as an Associate’s degree and will allow graduates to become Psychiatric Technicians, Research Nurses, or a Medical and Health Services Manager, who earn an average salary of $98,350 per year.
  • Master’s degrees in Nursing (MSN) will allow graduates to take on extra responsibilities by performing medical tasks with higher stakes, such as Physician Assistants, who earn an average salary of $104,860.
  • Doctoral degrees in Nursing (DNP) will qualify graduates for any job in the field of nursing, including Nurse Anesthetists, who earn an average salary of $169,450.

If you are an undergraduate student looking to become a nurse, the best route will be to earn your BSN. If your current school does not have a BSN program, you can take science courses like Biology, Organic Chemistry, and Human Anatomy that will count towards your degree, and then transfer to a school that has a nursing program by Junior year. If you are currently a practicing RN and want to go back to school to earn your BSN, there are many online RN-BSN programs that will allow you to transfer previous credits and earn your nursing degree as fast as possible while keeping your schedule flexible to maintain your current employment. For reference to some of the top online BSN programs in the United States, check out our list of the 30 Best Online Bachelors of Nursing Programs. Let’s take a closer look at a couple of the online BSN programs that made our list.

Featured Schools

Fort Hays State

Fort Hays State is a public university that was established in 1902, and is located in Hays, Kansas. The university’s Department of Nursing offers a traditional on-campus BSN program, as well as an online RN to BSN program. Graduate students can earn an online MSN in Nursing Education, or Nursing Administration, as well as an online DNP. The total tuition cost for the 2017-18 school year came out to $5,009 for in-state students, and $14,832 for out-of-state students, making it a great deal for an online nursing degree.

Ball State University

Ball State University is a public research university that was founded in 1918, and is located in Muncie, Indiana. The university offers a variety of online nursing degrees, including a traditional BSN, as well as an accelerated “Degree in Three [Years]”. Online students can earn an MSN with a concentration in nurse administration, nurse education, or family nurse practitioner. Ball State also offers an online doctoral nursing program that will provide you with clinical experiences in your own community, wherever you live. The total cost of tuition for the 2017-18 school year at Ball State came out to $9,774 for in-state students and $25,942 for out-of-state students.


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