comparing an RN to a BSN

What is the Difference Between an RN and BSN?

Becoming a nurse is a noble pursuit. Nurses tackle some of the biggest problems faced by the American healthcare system. They care for aging patients, provide health education to their community, and fill an integral part in their patients’ health care team.  In recent years, a shortage of nurses has become ever-pressing. In other words, it’s never been a better time to become a nurse. However, if you’re new to the nursing world, you may wonder, “what’s the difference between RN and BSN?” In simple terms, a BSN is a degree path while an RN is a licensed position. There are multiple ways to become an RN, however, earning a BSN is an excellent way to increase your employability and overall professional success.

What is an RN?

A registered nurse, or RN, becomes a licensed professional upon completing their required education at an accredited institution and passing their exams, proctored by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). An RN licensure is earned upon successfully passing the NCLEX-RN licensing exam. The state is responsible for granting licensure. Registered nurses can earn their credentials by pursuing one of two educational paths.

An associate degree in Nursing (ADN) offers students the ability to begin their career quickly, with many associate’s degree programs requiring a mere two years to complete. These programs provide students with the basic clinical skills and foundational knowledge they need to begin working in the field of nursing. The classes that nursing students in associates degree programs complete prepare them to take their NCLEX-RN licensing exam. However, while an ADN does allow graduates to earn their licensure and begin working as a nurse, many students choose to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) instead.

What is a BSN?

A BSN, or bachelor of science in nursing, is an educational degree that prepares students to take their licensing exam. However, in many ways, a BSN is a better option than an ADN. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) reports that 88% of employers prefer to hire nurses who hold a BSN. Additionally, nurses who hold a BSN are likely to earn a higher annual salary than those who do not. Lastly, the AACN is advocating for the BSN to be the minimum educational requirement for RNs. In some states, this advocacy has resulted in new policies being enacted. For example, New York state now requires that nurses who earned their license after 2017 must complete a BSN program by the year 2027. This legislation is likely to be replicated in other states, making it a wise decision to begin your nursing career having already earned a BSN. However, for those nurses who are already working with an RN licensure, there are ways to complete a BSN without stepping away from work.

RN to BSN: A Great Option for Working RNs

If you’re currently working as a registered nurse, it’s possible to expand your career mobility by earning a bachelor’s degree in Nursing. The RN to BSN program can be completed online, on your schedule.

Time Commitment

While RN to BSN degree paths can vary from school to school, many schools allow students to transfer credits from their ADN to their BSN program. At University of Bridgeport, students are able to transfer up to 90 credits from an accredited institution to their RN to BSN program. Depending on how many credits students have previously completed, it’s possible to complete the program in less than two years’ time.

Many nurses continue to work full-time while earning their BSN. Courses are offered in 7-week intervals and, if students wish to continue working, they can take as few as one or two courses every 7-week term. Alternatively, students can also choose to complete their studies as quickly as possible by taking up to four courses per semester.


Students enrolled in an RN to BSN degree program complete courses in both basic and upper-level nursing. This program prepares them to provide high-level care and, eventually, fill leadership positions. Some examples of courses students can expect to take include:

  • Nursing Theory
  • Leadership and Management in Nursing
  • Community Health
  • Health Assessment
  • Population and Global Health
  • Quality, Safety/Health Policy

Nurses are highly sought after members of the medical community. Thanks to their adaptability, empathy, and integrity, they provide and maintain a high standard of care to their patients. As the nursing shortage deepens, the medical community will turn to new graduates and those who hold BSNs for nursing leadership. Now is the time to begin your BSN journey!

Pursuing a BSN, whether you’re just starting out or you’re already working as a nurse, is possible at University of Bridgeport! Request more information on how you can get your BSN started!