Pursue a Nursing Degree

Basics of Nursing Degrees and Programs

As nursing becomes more specialized and technologically advanced, nurses are becoming more prevalent in the healthcare industry[i]. If you plan on pursuing a career in this field, earning a nursing degree may be the first step. There are many different types of nursing degrees and programs that may fit your career and life goals.

Licensed Practical Nursing Programs: You could pursue a career as a licensed practical nurse (or licensed vocational nurse) through an accredited program, either on campus or online. Passing a certification test and state licensing are required to work as a licensed practical nurse.[ii]

Associate's Degree in Nursing: Earning an associate’s degree in nursing could be a great first step if you want to jumpstart your career as a registered nurse. Your course load will likely include science and social science courses, as well as your school’s liberal arts requirements and clinical experience. Most associate degree programs can be completed within two to three years.

Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing: You may wish to consider pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing to widen your career options. In these programs, you will get more instruction in social sciences, communications and critical thinking. You can also look into online BSN programs.

Master of Science in Nursing: If you’re a registered nurse looking to move into a specific career path, you may want to consider pursuing a master’s degree (you may be able to get accepted into an MSN program even with a low gpa!). Some examples of nursing careers that, for the most part, require a master’s degree are clinical nurse specialist, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, finishing a master’s degree requires 18 months to two years of full-time study or more if a student does not study full-time.(iii)

Doctorate in Nursing: There are several types of nursing degrees you may pursue at the doctoral level. One is a traditional doctorate degree, either a Ph.D., doctorate of nursing science (D.N.S. or D.N.Sc.), or a doctorate of education (Ed.D.). The doctorate degree is generally for nurses who wish to pursue a career in clinical research, administration or education, while a doctor of nursing degree is more practice-focused and may be better suited for someone looking to pursue becoming a specialized nurse.

Accelerated Nursing Programs: If you already have a college degree in another major and are wondering how to pursue a career as a nurse, you may want to consider an accelerated nursing program. Whether you’d like to pursue your bachelor’s or master’s degree, these programs generally take into account your previous learning experiences as you transition into nursing. Students in accelerated nursing programs also typically receive the same number of clinical hours as those in traditional entry-level nursing programs.


  • Make sure that the school is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursingand/or the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. They are the two recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Find out if the state in which you plan to work will accept an online nursing degree from the school for your state nursing license.
  • Ask how clinical experience requirements are handled in online nursing schools. Will clinical work be done through the school, or will you need to arrange clinical rotations on your own?

Is an Online Nursing Degree PROGRAM FOR YOU?

Are you inspired to help people and help yourself into a promising career? Consider the potential benefits of pursuing an online nursing degree that may help you pursue the nursing job you’ve always wanted.

With online nursing schools, you attend classes on your schedule–a major advantage when you have a job or other responsibilities. You may also become more comfortable using technology in online nursing programs, which is an important skill in the technologically advanced world of nursing. With online nursing programs, you can have the freedom to pursue a degree and manage your coursework around your existing nursing career.


Nursing careers can help you change and save lives. Many people think the only thing they can do with a nursing degree is become a nurse, but there are various options for students who complete a Nursing program. Salary as a Nursing professional is largely decided by your specific job title, your level of education, your experience and your skill. Consider the following careers, with statistics compiled by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in 2016.

Registered Nurses (i)

Registered nurses (RNs) provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members.

  • Median Salary: $70,000 per year
  • Job growth through 2026: 15% (Much faster than average)
  • Typical Entry-level education: Bachelor's Degree

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses (ii)

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) provide basic nursing care. They work under the direction of registered nurses and doctors.

  • Median Salary: $45,030 per year
  • Job growth through 2026: 12% (Faster than average)
  • Typical Entry-level education: Postsecondary nondegree award

Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners (iii)

Nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners, also referred to as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), coordinate patient care and may provide primary and specialty healthcare. The scope of practice varies from state to state.

  • Median Salary: $110,930 per year
  • Job growth through 2026: 31% (Much faster than average)
  • Typical Entry-level education: Master's Degree

(i) bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm | (ii) bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/licensed-practical-and-licensed-vocational-nurses.htm | (iii) bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm