BSN Degree Programs

It is not a secret that there is a widespread nursing shortage in the United States. In fact, according to the American Nurses Association, the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) predicts “…the supply in nurses in America will fall 36 percent (more than 1 million nurses) below requirements by the year 2020.” The Washington Post noted that the Bureau of Labor Statistics “…projects that 526,800 more nurses will be needed by 2022 – an increase of 19.4 percent from 2012 – to help keep up with patient growth and replace those who leave.” In addition, the nursing shortage can be physically and emotionally damaging to the nurses that are currently in the work force. The American Nurses Association notes that due to the shortage, nurses are working longer hours; this can result in fatigue, physical injury and job dissatisfaction. Nurses working in areas of shortage are more prone to medication errors, which affects patient care and subsequently patient satisfaction. Knowing that the nursing shortage is a big problem that is projected to continue worsening, what can be done to educate more nurses and entice them into the nursing field?

What is an Accelerated BSN Program?

An accelerated BSN program (ABSN) are a viable option to decreasing the nursing shortage. An accelerated BSN programs is designed for non-nursing professionals who already hold an undergraduate degree. As such, they are sometimes called a “second degree nursing program.” The American Association of Colleges of Nursing notes that these programs are typically between 11 and 18 months, and that also includes prerequisites. These programs can be shorter than a typical BSN program because the students already have many of the prerequisites required of a BSN degree, as they already have a bachelor's degree. Ultimately, these programs will educate and train students who are already educated – this will enable these students to get into the nursing workforce quickly.

Who Is Eligible for Enrollment in an Accelerated BSN Program?

Accelerated BSN programs are typically offered to a student who already holds a bachelor's degree or a graduate degree in a non-nursing discipline. Most of these programs require a minimum of a 3.0 grade point average, although some require a lesser GPA if other requirements are met. Some programs require standardized testing, such as the GRE. Most programs require specific prerequisites prior to admission, such as statistics, anatomy and physiology, nutrition and microbiology. Candidates may undergo an extensive interview process. Administrators want to ensure that the applicants they accept will be able to complete the program successfully. Most programs request that their students do not have a job throughout the program, as the workload can be exhaustive.

Where Can I Attend an Accelerated BSN Program?

Accelerated BSN programs can be found in 46 states in addition to the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, “In 2012, there were 255 accelerated baccalaureate programs and 71 accelerated master's programs available at nursing schools nationwide.” Click here for a list of accelerated BSN programs in the United States.

What Does an Accelerated BSN Program Entail?

All programs will vary slightly, depending on the school. Duke University has a School of Nursing that offers an accelerated BSN program, also called the ABSN program. Their program is based on-campus, is 16 months in duration, and broken down into 4 semesters. Students will complete 58 credit hours and about 800 hours of clinical experience. Their program requires that all prerequisites be completed prior to enrollment, but do require 6 elective credits throughout the program. Per Duke's website, “This program incorporates all of the components of a traditional Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program with an additional focus on 21st century health care needs and environment.” It also boasts an exceptional clinical experience to its students – students may be placed in various locations of the Duke University Health System and even around the world.

Duke's requirements are similar to requirements of other accelerated BSN programs; the applicant must hold a bachelor's degree in any major, must have a 3.0 GPA and must have all prerequisites completed prior to entrance of the program. Once the student is accepted into the program, the semester course load varies; students will take 12 – 16 credits each semester throughout the program. Coursework includes classes that focus on wellness and health promotion, pharmacology, pediatrics, obstetrics, geriatrics and multiple courses dealing with management, leadership and critical thinking. In addition, Duke has an MSN program. Students that are enrolled in the ABSN program are eligible for early application and admission for the MSN program prior to regular admission cycles.

How Can I Pay for an Accelerated BSN Program?

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, one downfall to an ABSN program is that financial resources are limited. However, graduates from ABSN programs are highly sought after as employees as they have a multifaceted approach to nursing due to prior work experience. In order to recruit these staff nurses, hospitals may offer tuition repayment programs. These programs are designed to attract ABSN graduates and pay for a portion of their education. In addition, hospitals are beginning to partner with colleges. This allows the hospital to recruit ABSN graduates to work for them after graduation. Hospitals or health systems that have partnerships with local schools include Tenet Healthcare, arondelet Health Network, University of Missouri Health Care, North Carolina Baptist Hospital and Duke University Health System. Many other hospitals and health care systems are following their examples. Duke University also offers programs that will help their students afford their education. These programs include scholarships, federal loans, and employment options. For example, a student that is already employed at Duke Hospital may have up to 90% of their education paid for if they agree to continue working there for a year after graduation.

Are There Any Online Accelerated BSN Programs?

The majority of ABSN programs are on-campus programs. However, there are some programs that are offered online. Online programs still have specific requirements, may have a grueling interview process and are also full-time, as opposed to other online nursing programs. An online program may be desirable to students who would otherwise have to commute to attend their classes. It may also be desirable for the student who learns best through self-study. According to Nurse Journal, there are a variety of online programs. For example, University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh is renowned as one of the best nursing schools in the country. The majority of coursework is completed online, although clinical experiences must be completed on-site in a variety of settings. This program is unique in that it does require a bachelor's degree in any field, but also requires its applicants to hold a certified nursing assistant (CNA) certification in their state of residence. This allows the student to be familiar with certain aspects of the nursing field prior to enrollment. This program typically costs about $41,500. In contrast, Thomas Edison State College, located in New Jersey, also offers an online ABSN program. Similarly to the online program offered by University of Wisconsin, this program is based online or on-campus. It is designed for adult learners. It also has specific requirements for admission. However, this program costs about $33,580, which is about $8,000 cheaper than University of Wisconsin. Prospective students must research ABSN programs thoroughly to ensure that they meet all requirements and that they can afford their education.

Why Should I Enroll in an Accelerated BSN Program?

As with any type of nursing school, an ABSN program may be difficult and time-consuming. Many hours will be spent studying and many cups of coffee will be downed in preparation for these study sessions and early morning clinicals. However, the time passes quickly and at the end of the program, the student will be the proud holder of a Bachelor's of Nursing Degree.

ABSN program graduates are highly sought after as entry level nurses after graduation. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, “The typical second-degree nursing student is motivated, older, and has higher academic expectations than traditional entry-level nursing students. Accelerated students excel in class and are eager to gain clinical experiences. Faculty find them to be excellent learners who are not afraid to challenge their instructors… graduates of accelerated programs are prized by nurse employers who value the many layers of skill and education these graduates bring to the workplace.” This fact alone is a reason to enroll in an accelerated BSN program as opposed to a different type of nursing program.

Other reasons to enroll in an accelerated BSN program include personal satisfaction towards earning an additional bachelor's degree, a rewarding career, an excellent salary and numerous other personal reasons. While all students will have their own reasons for continuing their education, doing so in nursing will also be to the benefit of others.

There are a number of different types of BSN programs available. If an accelerated BSN program is available and the student meets all requirements, this is an excellent option in order to achieve an additional bachelor's degree in a short period of time and begin working as an RN in a short period of time.

Supplies for an LPN to BSN Online Bridge Program

quote image with info on lpn to bsn online classesIt may seem like an LPN to BSN online program would require different supplies than an in person program. However, online programs generally require the exact same supplies as an in person program. Online programs work with local hospitals to bring you into a clinical environment. An online program will always need a computer, but an in person program may not. Other common supplies include…

  1. Scrubs, nursing shoes, and white socks. Sometimes your program will send you school specific scrubs with their logo. Sometimes you will need to buy them yourself at a store. Nursing shoe requirements are often specific. You will need to pay close attention to your school’s uniform requirements.
  2. A reliable stethoscope.
  3. Bandage scissors specially shaped to protect skin.
  4. A penlight.
  5. A pocket notebook for taking notes on clinical days.

These are all nursing program specific supplies. In addition, you need supplies like textbooks, notebooks, pens, pencils, and binders. Most of your homework will be online. However, physical notebooks and textbooks make studying much easier.

LPN to BSN Online General Classes

In addition to clinicals, LPN to BSN online programs require many basic or general classes. Almost every bachelor’s degree in the US requires some form of general classes. These classes include…

  • Two English classes.
  • Two Math classes.
  • Two Life or Earth Science classes.

There are also science classes that every nurse must take. These are much more specific to nursing knowledge.

  • Anatomy and Physiology 1 & 2
  • Microbiology
  • Lifespan Human Growth and Development

These classes are often given different names, but they all teach the same material. Some colleges will leave out the Lifespan Human Growth and Development course because the material is included in Anatomy and Physiology. This all depends on the program. You need to speak with your academic counselor to know which specific courses you have to take for your program.

Taking LPN to BSN Online Clinicals

accreditation blue graphic for nursesThe clinical portion of the LPN to BSN online program varies depending on the school that you attend. Some schools require that you find your nurse preceptors yourself. Other schools have partnerships with local hospitals which will work with you directly. Always be wary of programs offering “no clinicals”. These programs are often not accredited. That means you can't get your RN certification. The only program that doesn’t have clinical classes is the ADN to BSN program. Nurses with an ADN degree have already completed their clinicals. After you’ve gotten your clinical classes sorted out, you will practice in 4 general areas. These include…

  1. Fundamentals
  2. Medical/Surgical
  3. Pediatrics/OB GYN
  4. Psychiatric

Some programs will require additional clinical study areas, like gerontology, or critical care.

Prepping for LPN to BSN Online Courses

Nursing school is hard, but you can alwblue image with blue text giving tips on getting good gradesays make it easier by preparing yourself properly. Preparation for your courses begins at the start of every semester. You will receive a syllabus for every class you are attending online. After you’ve received the syllabus, there are 3 things that you can do to prepare for the class properly.

  1. Study the syllabus to understand how the professor grades the course. Many students lose important grade points by forgetting or misunderstanding how their professor grades. Make special notes if tests are weighted, quiz grades dropped, or if extra credit is available.
  2. Create a calendar for ALL the due dates outlined in your syllabus. Use the notes that you took on how the class is graded to keep yourself up to date on what each due date means. Make sure that the calendar is something you can access easily and often. There are several calendar apps for your phone which you may want to use if possible.
  3. Buy all the textbooks that you will need before you attend your first class. Showing up to class without the necessary materials is a big mistake for any degree. You may want to start studying the first few chapters.  This will familiarize you with the way the material is formatted. Doing this helps you better understand how to study for the rest of the semester.

Once you’ve taken care of each of these things you will be properly prepared for the school workload.

How to Study for LPN to BSN Online Tests

LPN to BSN online tests are difficult. The nature of BSN online programs mean less hands on and more academic work. It is also difficult to know where you are going wrong. Some professors do not respond to their emails quickly enough. However, with enough studying, you can always make a passing grade on your tests. There are many guides on study strategies for BSN degrees, which can easily be applied to LPN to BSN programs. We’ve compiled some of them here for you.

  1. The guide on the How to Study website is a great place to start. It is 12 chapters long and summarizes the basic approach that everyone should take for studying. Every student should be familiar with this approach. It explains not only how but WHY you should study.
  2. There are several guides for studying at the Straight A Nursing Student website. Each of them are highly recommended. Nurse Mo, who runs the blog, even has a paper nursing school planner that she designed herself.
  3. Nurse Amy ran the blog Amy47 while studying for her RN licensure. The blog hasn’t been updated in a few years, but her thorough study notes is a good option to work with. Use the dropdown at the top of the page to select which notes you’d like to use.

How to Work While Attending an LPN to BSN Online Program

Time management is key if you are working while attending a nursing program. You will need to work out a time conscious system for yourself. You need enough time to study AND enough time to work and support yourself. This can be extremely difficult for a number of reasons.

The main reason is that studying for nursing school properly takes an estimated 40 hours a week. Working full time is another 40 hours a week. If you sleep 8 hours a night for 7 nights a week, that’s another 56 hours. That leaves exactly 4.5 hours a day to get ready in the morning, eat breakfast, run errands, eat lunch, exercise, eat dinner, socialize, and take care of yourself. It surprises most nursing students how little 4.5 hours will feel to take care of things.

You can utilize time management systems such as apps, physical planners, and spreadsheets. Ultimately, the perfect system for you will be one that you understand and use every day.

What is an LVN?

An LVN practices nursing in California or Texas. In all other 48 states, these nurses are referred to as LPNs. The jobs are essentially the same; the major difference between the LVN and the LPN is the job title and location of employment. Regardless of the state of employment, an LVN/LPN may desire to continue their education and become an RN. They may choose to obtain an ADN degree or a BSN degree; both options will allow the nurse to earn an RN license. It is not surprising that there are many types of education programs that will allow the LVN to become an RN; below is a description of the types of programs. The differing programs will allow the LVN to select a program that best fits his or her needs.

What is the Difference Between an LVN and an RN?

There are a few different ways to obtain the title of RN– obtaining an ADN degree, a BSN degree, or a diploma nursing certificate. An ADN degree and diploma nursing certificate take less time and less education than earning a BSN degree. An ADN degree typically takes 2 years after obtaining prerequisites. A diploma nursing certificate has a variable length of time and is dependent on the program itself. A BSN degree takes about 4 years to obtain – start-to-finish, prerequisites included. The total time in this nursing program is roughly 3 years, depending on the program. The end result of an RN program is an RN license, obtained by sitting and passing the NCLEX-RN.

An LVN may choose any of these routes when advancing their degree. While all education paths will allow the LVN to increase earning potential, expand the job pool, and perhaps increase job satisfaction, earning a BSN degree will increase job opportunities more than the other options.

What is the Difference Between the Types of RN Nursing Degrees?

An RN is a registered nurse. There are a few different ways to obtain this title – obtaining an ADN degree, a BSN degree, or a diploma nursing certificate. An ADN degree and diploma nursing certificate take less time and less education than earning a BSN degree. An ADN degree typically takes 2 years after obtaining prerequisites. A diploma nursing certificate has a variable length of time and is dependent on the program itself. A BSN degree takes about 4 years to obtain – start-to-finish, prerequisites included. The total time in this nursing program is roughly 3 years, depending on the program. The end result of an RN program is an RN license, obtained by sitting and passing the NCLEX-RN.

An LVN may choose any of these routes when advancing their degree. While all education paths will allow the LVN to increase earning potential, expand the job pool, and perhaps increase job satisfaction, earning a BSN degree will increase job opportunities more than the other options.

Education Options for LVN to BSN

An LVN may have their pick of multiple types of LVN to BSN programs. The options can be weighed based on the needs of the LVN – does he or she desire to be done with school quickly, maximizing their earning potential? Does he or she desire to work quite a bit and still have time with family? These are things that can be considered when selecting a type of nursing school

A traditional LVN to BSN program is an option; a traditional BSN program is typically offered at colleges and universities. These may be either public or private schools. A traditional program may or may not take into consideration prior nursing experience. Typically the LVN must apply just as all other students will. These programs often have a set amount of spaces available and the LVN will be competing for these spots with all other students. This option may be desirable to the LVN that desires an education from a very well-known college or university. It may also be desirable if the school is close to the area of employment or where the LVN lives.

Online LVN to BSN programs is a great option for the LVN who must continue to work full-time as these programs typically have the option of being full-time or part-time. They also may have clinical portions that the LVN can select based on their own preference in location. In addition, for the LVN with a family or other obligations, having the option to attend school part-time is desirable. The caveat is that the student typically must be motivated and a self-starter; some people have a difficult time staying motivated and keeping up with coursework when they are not in a classroom, so this should also be considered when weighing options.

A fast-track LVN to BSN program is designed to get the student through school quickly; these programs are typically three semesters, back-to-back, with no summer break. This is desirable for the LVN who wants to become an RN quickly in order to maximize earning potential. These programs may not be desirable for people who must work full-time or balance family and other obligations.

Cost of LVN to BSN Programs

The cost of an LVN to BSN program is highly variable. A public university or college will be more affordable than a private university or college. An online program may end up being more costly due to the convenience of the program. It is difficult to give a cost for such programs, so many colleges and universities offer an online tuition calculator to estimate costs. For example, our list of net-price calculators gives nurses the options to enter grade level, in-state or out-of-state residency, on campus or online and multiple other options. The results that follow are based on the credit hours, but it gives the user a broad idea of what the cost for a year of education will be. In addition, the following link gives the LVN an idea of other costs that may be associated with their LVN to BSN education. While a calculator put forth by a college or university typically estimates the cost per credit hour, this link will allow the user to estimate other costs, such as textbooks, uniforms, and other fees associated with a college education. Using a tuition calculator and the former link will give a generous idea of what the cost of a nursing school education will cost.

Waiting Lists for LVN to BSN Programs

The terms “nursing school” and “waiting list” are notoriously associated. Traditionally, nursing schools accept a set amount of students per semester, placing the students that were not accepted on the dreaded wait list. According to the American Nurses Association, the nursing shortage is not stopping soon. For a variety of reasons, the United States will be seeking an increasing amount of RNs to fill the void. However, the fact that almost all nursing schools have a wait list means that there are plenty of students seeking to become RNs who are unable to get into nursing school, although they meet all of the requirements. There is not necessarily a lack of nursing schools, but a lack of instructors to teach all of the would-be RNs.

For the LVN who is having a difficult time obtaining entry into an LVN to BSN program due to the highly competitive nature of the program, there are options. Many online programs do not have wait lists; they will take on as many students as possible. For the LVN who is not self-motivated and does not do well without a classroom setting, this can certainly be daunting. However, entry into these programs is practically a given if minimum requirements are met. It used to be that students graduating from an online program were thought to have an inferior degree; however, that mindset is changing as our world is becoming increasingly virtual. It is now possible to find almost every type of college degree at an online school so this should not deter would-be BSN students.

Job Outlook for LVNs Becoming BSNs

According to California Healthline, new nurses in California may have a difficult time finding an entry level nursing job. This may be due to the fact that baby boomer nurses are working longer due to job satisfaction and increasing retirement needs. While the demand is still high for nurses, many hospitals are just not hiring new graduates without experience. This leaves a conundrum for these new BSNs – how to obtain experience if no one will hire the new graduate? However, California hospitals are often hiring BSN-prepared RNs versus ADN-prepared RNs, making an RN with a bachelor’s degree more hirable. In fact, “the proportion of California hospitals requiring new hires to have a bachelor’s degree rose from 4.6% in 2011 to 8.2% in 2013… More than half of employers require a Bachelor of Science in Nursing for positions beyond staff nurse.” For the LVN who selects an LVN to BSN program, this may be reassuring.

Texas has over 68 transitional nursing programs. This means that from anywhere in this state, there is an option for the LVN to continue for their BSN, whether it is from a traditional education setting or an online school. In addition, Texas has a low unemployment rate, meaning that people seeking any type of job will have an easy time finding work. Texas also has a high concentration of LVN jobs – this means that Texas is a great place to find work, no matter what type of nursing degree is held.

Employment Options for LVNs Becoming BSNs

LVNs are typically in entry level positions, at the patient’s bedside or in clinics. Once the LVN obtains a BSN degree, they may still have to work in an entry level job. However, with a little experience, job opportunities really open up. Due to the greater depth of education of a BSN degree holder, often these RNs are eligible for jobs in management and faculty positions. These positions typically are not open to LVNs or RNs with an ADN.

In the end, career goals must be assessed prior to continuing for an RN degree. If the ultimate goal is working at the bedside, an LVN or ADN degree is sufficient. If a higher level nursing job is desired, a BSN degree is most likely required.

Salary Comparison: LVN vs BSN

When comparing the salaries of an LVN to a BSN, we can see that the difference in earning potential is staggering. The salary is dependent on location and specialty of nursing. However, we can outline the average salary by state.

LVN Salary in California

  • California
    • On average, an LVN will earn $51,700. California also employs roughly 61,000 LVNs.
    • On average, an RN will earn $90,860. California employs about 250,230 RNs.
Area Employment Hourly Median Wage Annual Median Wage
Bakersfield-Delano, CA          1,200 $23.66 $49,210
Chico CA              400 $23.29 $48,450
El Centro CA              200 $24.80 $51,580
Fresno CA          1,290 $22.96 $47,750
Hanford-Corcoran CA              320 $25.53 $53,110
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale CA Metropolitan Division        20,780 $24.09 $50,100
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana CA        27,170 $23.97 $49,870
Madera-Chowchilla CA              210 $25.30 $52,620
Merced CA              250 $23.72 $49,330
Modesto CA              650 $23.98 $49,890
Napa CA              140 $26.44 $54,990
Oakland-Fremont-Hayward CA Metropolitan Division          3,750 $29.62 $61,620
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura CA              840 $24.85 $51,680
Redding CA              310 $22.84 $47,500
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario CA          6,280 $22.78 $47,380
Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Roseville CA          2,440 $27.17 $56,510
Salinas CA              930 $23.75 $49,410
San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos CA          4,440 $24.31 $50,570
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont CA          5,850 $29.32 $60,980
San Francisco-San Mateo-Redwood City CA Metropolitan Divi          2,090 $28.77 $59,850
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara CA          2,150 $28.04 $58,330
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles CA              320 $25.43 $52,890
Santa Ana-Anaheim-Irvine CA Metropolitan Division          6,380 $23.68 $49,260
Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta CA              580 $27.46 $57,120
Santa Cruz-Watsonville CA              220 $29.54 $61,440
Santa Rosa-Petaluma CA              740 $24.72 $51,420
Stockton CA              930 $24.40 $50,740
Vallejo-Fairfield CA              670 $25.54 $53,120
Visalia-Porterville CA              580 $21.92 $45,590
Yuba City CA              200 $22.46 $46,720
Mother Lode Region of California nonmetropolitan area              190 $25.53 $53,110
North Coast Region of California nonmetropolitan area              430 $24.16 $50,250
North Valley Region of California nonmetropolitan area              110 $23.16 $48,180
Northern Mountains Region of California nonmetropolitan ar              420 $24.71 $51,400

Source:, 2014 Data

LVN Salary in Texas

  • Texas
    • On average, an LVN will earn $44,880. Texas employs about 71,000 LVNs.
    • On average, an RN will earn $67,580. Texas employs about 185,000 RNs.
Area Employment Hourly Median Wage Annual Median Wage
Abilene, TX              960 $18.37 $38,210
Amarillo TX          1,110 $20.12 $41,860
Austin-Round Rock-San Marcos TX          3,480 $21.74 $45,230
Beaumont-Port Arthur TX          1,110 $18.07 $37,590
Brownsville-Harlingen TX          1,100 $21.19 $44,080
College Station-Bryan TX              450 $18.28 $38,020
Corpus Christi TX          1,240 $20.21 $42,030
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington TX        15,700 $23.05 $47,950
Dallas-Plano-Irving TX Metropolitan Division        11,320 $23.68 $49,250
El Paso TX          1,530 $21.11 $43,910
Fort Worth-Arlington TX Metropolitan Division          4,390 $22.26 $46,290
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown TX        13,680 $22.21 $46,200
Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood TX          1,500 $20.63 $42,910
Laredo TX              560 $23.88 $49,680
Longview TX              940 $20.37 $42,360
Lubbock TX          1,600 $21.02 $43,720
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission TX          2,190 $22.69 $47,200
Midland TX              330 $20.98 $43,640
Odessa TX              250 $20.22 $42,060
San Angelo TX              510 $20.47 $42,570
San Antonio-New Braunfels TX          6,730 $20.56 $42,760
Sherman-Denison TX              860 $21.61 $44,960
Texarkana-Texarkana TX-AR              660 $16.46 $34,230
Tyler TX          1,460 $20.76 $43,190
Victoria TX              660 $16.94 $35,230
Waco TX              600 $22.37 $46,530
Wichita Falls TX              930 $17.30 $35,980
Northwestern Texas nonmetropolitan area          2,950 $17.65 $36,710
North Central Texas nonmetropolitan area              800 $20.40 $42,430
Eastern Texas nonmetropolitan area          3,230 $19.14 $39,810
Central Texas nonmetropolitan area          1,800 $19.85 $41,280
Southern Texas nonmetropolitan area              870 $17.28 $35,940
Gulf Coast Texas nonmetropolitan area          1,560 $20.85 $43,360

Source:, 2014 Data

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