How to Become a Nurse if You Have a Bachelor's Degree

become a nurse with bachelor's degree
become a nurse with bachelor's degree

Bachelor’s degree prepared registered nurses have an exciting career outlook and many growth opportunities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that there will be about 194,500 registered nurse openings per year from 2020 to 2030. Besides having the compassion to serve others, it’s no wonder that many people who have a prior degree decide to pursue a bachelor’s-to-nursing degree.

Let’s review the career options for nurses. In addition, we will discuss the prerequisites for and benefits of completing an accelerated BSN (ABSN) program.

What is an Accelerated BSN Program?

An accelerated BSN program, also called ABSN, is a program in which professionals who hold a bachelor’s degree can earn their bachelor of science in nursing degree in a shorter amount of time than the usual four-year BSN program. Accelerated programs offer a condensed curriculum, where students can commonly earn their nursing degree in 12 to 16 months or three to four semesters. ABSN programs are rigorous and intended for full-time students.

If applicants have already earned their bachelor’s degree, they can skip retaking several core classes that are required. As long as students take the required prerequisite courses, it does not  matter what degree they previously earned.

Learn more about BSN vs. ABSN programs

Benefits of Pursuing a Nursing Degree as a Bachelor’s Degree Holder

Using a prior bachelor’s to pursue a nursing degree gives you a head start and a great starting point for beginning an ABSN program.

Short Completion Time

Since students already hold a bachelor’s degree, most of the general education baccalaureate degree coursework is complete. Depending on the first bachelor’s degree an ABSN student holds, there may be a few specific prerequisite classes to take prior. Once all prerequisites are fulfilled, students can earn their nursing degree in 16 months or less.


Cost is also important when considering going from a bachelor's to a nursing degree. By condensing the coursework into fewer credit hours, the cost of tuition is less than pursuing an entirely separate bachelor’s degree. For example, Rockhurst University’s hybrid ABSN program allows students to earn a BSN with remote, online work for courses and minimal attendance on campus for clinical immersions. Rockhurst offers a lower tuition rate of $783 per credit, or total tuition of $46,980 before aid. For the on-campus residency, Rockhurst offers a specially discounted housing fee that also includes the additional perks of meals, laundry, and free internet.  

Gaining Nursing Skills and Knowledge 

By pursuing a career in nursing, students learn many valuable skills besides nursing skills. They build strong and effective communication, problem-solving, collaborative and critical-thinking skills. In addition to gaining knowledge about health care and nursing, they learn about other areas as well. Some additional areas include human anatomy and physiology, nutrition, and statistics.

Even with the condensed curriculum, ABSN programs prepare graduates with the necessary clinical skills and knowledge to be successful in their careers.

Increased Earning Potential

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nurses earn a median salary of $77,600 annually. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) recommends a bachelor’s degree as entry-level education to become a nurse. Nurses with a bachelor’s degree have more opportunity for advancement in the profession and therefore more earning potential than those with an associate’s degree. Again, this is another reason to pursue an ABSN degree.

Job Outlook and Career Options

Besides nursing being a rewarding career, the job outlook and opportunities for advancement are endless. The job outlook is expected to increase by 9% by 2030. This percentage is slightly higher than the average job outlook for other career fields.

There are also various nursing specialties, which means there are plenty of career options. If a new graduate or seasoned nurse has difficulty finding job opportunities, they have the option of switching specialities. Many nursing skills are transferable across almost all specialties.

Career Options for BSN-Prepared Nurses

As we mentioned, there are several specialties and career options for BSN-prepared nurses.

  1. Acute Care Nurse: Usually, when we think of the word “nurse”, a bedside acute care nurse is what we are referencing, meaning they provide direct patient care in a hospital setting.
  2. Public Health Nurse: Instead of working at the bedside, many nurses want to help their communities. A public health nurse educates communities about disease prevention and treatments. They also complete public health initiatives, like performing contact tracing, immunizations, and environmental health protection.
  3. Clinical Research Nurse: Nurses are researchers and practice evidence-based care. Clinical research nurses participate in patient care through clinical trials. Clinical trials can help develop future treatments and protocols for implementing best nursing practices.
  4. School Nurse: Some nurses love working with children, so becoming a school nurse is another excellent option. Besides performing first aid duties at school, school nurses also provide students with public health resources such as medical and dental health screenings.
  5. Informatics Nurse: Many nurses choose to become an informatics nurse, which combines information technology and nursing. Informatics nurses are an emerging career option for nurses. These nurses compile clinical data and experiences with technology to optimize electronic medical records to benefit patients and health care facilities.

Prerequisites for an Accelerated BSN Program

Now that we’ve reviewed the benefits and career options of having an initial bachelor's degree and then pursuing an accelerated nursing program, let’s discuss ABSN prerequisites. ABSN program prerequisites vary; for example, the Rockhurst University ABSN program prerequisites are the following:

  • Anatomy & Physiology I with lab
  • Anatomy & Physiology II with lab 
  • Microbiology with lab 
  • General Chemistry or Organic Chemistry with lab 
  • Nutrition
  • Statistics
  • Life Span/Developmental Psychology

Rockhurst’s required prerequisites total 25 credit hours when going from a bachelor's to a nursing accelerated program. This amount of coursework is minimal; students can usually complete it in two to three semesters. If applicants already have a bachelor’s in biology, they most likely have all these prerequisites completed.

Advantages of Rockhurst’s Accelerated BSN Program

There are many advantages of Rockhurst’s ABSN program. As mentioned before, there are minimal prerequisites when going from a bachelor's to a nursing degree. In addition, RU’s program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

Rockhurst’s ABSN program offers a hybrid format, with 100% of the didactic coursework being online. However, students will still need to complete their required clinical hours. Students who are concerned about finding placement for clinical hours can rest assured that Rockhurst provides complimentary placement services through their highly connected clinical placement service team.

RU’s accelerated BSN program also includes a 10-day on-campus clinical residency. For students who need to travel from outside the Kansas City area, Rockhurst offers a steeply discounted housing price of $580 that includes housing, meals in the dining center, laundry, and internet access.

Whether it be your passion for nursing, job outlook, or many of the other advantages of becoming a nurse, there is no need to wait. Start your journey from your bachelor's to a BSN nursing degree today with Rockhurst University’s Hybrid Accelerated BSN program. 

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About Rockhurst University's Online Programs

In the heart of Kansas City since 1910, Rockhurst University is dedicated to learning, leadership and service in the Jesuit tradition, and today is the #1 Regional University in Kansas City (2021 U.S. News and World Report).

Rockhurst University’s online programs are delivered by the highly reputable Saint Luke’s ™ College of Nursing and Health Sciences and the School of Education. As an educational leader serving exceptional students in the field of health care and education, we are committed to preparing the workforce of tomorrow with our unique programs designed to prepare graduates to meet the needs of diverse populations and work in various organizations.

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