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ADN vs. BSN: Which should you choose?

ADN vs. BSN: Which should you choose?

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First of all, let’s establish what each one stands for. A BSN is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, while an ADN is an Associates Degree in Nursing. Both degrees lead to getting your RN but there are some differences between the two.

The main difference is the length of time and the amount of credits required to complete the program. An ADN typically takes 2 years to complete while a BSN will take 4 years to complete (including the time spent taking the prerequisites to enter the program.) There are also accelerated BSN programs (18-21 months) for students who have already obtained a previous Bachelor’s degree.

Both programs would include the following in their core curriculum: Adult health, Maternal and newborn nursing, and pediatrics. Psychiatric nursing, community health nursing, and gerontological nursing are sometimes included as well. A BSN program would typically offer more courses in nursing theory, including nursing research, and nursing informatics, which is a field of study that examines how nurses use technology.

Generally speaking, the starting rate is the same for an ADN or a BSN prepared nurse, but because many advanced positions require a BSN, the BSN prepared nurse does have the potential to earn more money. In 2006 the state of California conducted a survey of registered nurses. This survey showed that BSN prepared nurses have a mean income of $75,017 while ADN prepared nurses had a mean income of $70,804.

Advantages to taking an ADN program:

  • It is usually less expensive
  • It is less time consuming – You will become a nurse quicker

Advantages to taking the BSN:

  • You will have more opportunities to advance to higher positions in nursing (for example as a nurse manager.)
  • You will be prepared to enter a advanced degree program (for example, nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, or nurse anesthetist.)

How common is one over the other?

In the state of California in 2006, 46.6% of RN licenses were obtained through ADN programs, while 37.7% of RN licenses were obained through a BSN program. The rest of the RN licenses were obtained through hospital based diploma programs. This is a type of nursing program which is administered by a hospital. When completing a diploma program, one is eligible to sit for the NCLEX (the exam to become an RN), however, no degree is obtained.

ADN vs. BSN? Click here to join the discussion!


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  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Account Removed

    over 6 years ago

    SLewis; You can work as a L & D nurse or a lactation consultant with an ASN.

  • Sebrena_max50

    SLewis

    over 6 years ago

    6 comments

    I am seriously considering making a career change in the the medical profession. I have a non-nursing bachelors degree and am currently working as a CNA. I'm currently considering 2 programs: ASN, part-time for 21 months, >$7,000 (28 mile commute) or an Accelerated 2nd degree BSN, full-time for 12 months, <$20,000 (56 mile commute). I too think I would like to work is a L&D nurse and then possibly even as a lactation consultant. Can anyone offer any advice on which RN track I should persue?

  • Yop_max50

    karlagb

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    Wow, I just wanted to thank everyone who responded with comments to this article. I have a big question mark above my head trying to figure out which way to go for my RN. Both have different advantages. I want to ask a question (that caroldeaver asked already, but was not answered). I also would like to work in Maternity, other than RN is there any requisite needed for that?

    thank you in advance for your help and wish me luck on my new adventure!!!!!

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    electra7780

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    Hi Nurses everywhere and from all backgrounds...First, the ADN, then I bridged BSN and then14 years ago MSN Family Nurse Practitioner. How long did it all take....well, about 7 years and people invariably ask...why didnt you become a doctor?? I AM A NURSE, that is why! And furthermore, many clinical doors have opened on the way and whenever I need to challenge myself there is a new opportunity. There is no one program which excels another as we all have to do whatever it takes to get to our goal and along the way we learn and that is what counts. Good luck all of you out there going for more education, that is the key and let your voices be heard to legislators and to state level nursing lawmakers and nurse lobbyists.

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    didirn04

    over 6 years ago

    26 comments

    I have my A.D.N.; Right after school I worked on Tele floor, and now I work in the ICU department of the same hospital. I work with other nurses who have their A.D.N. and some that have their B.S.N.. (and we make the same amount) I think it depends on what you want to do with your career, if u want a manager type position then maybe the BSN is a better choice for you. I am going back to school but I'm thinking of doing a BA in healthcare management, instead of the BSN program. Alot of schools offer RN to BSN which is also a good idea b/c then u can bridge into a BA program with already having your A.D.N.

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    AbusyRN2go

    over 6 years ago

    13876 comments

    It is really true, you generally do get make more money with your BSN, but it does depend on your career path. You can get paid more if you desire to go into management, but the hours...I don't know.

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    Account Removed

    over 6 years ago

    WOW...think I was screwed. I started school in 2005 and will graduate in 2009 with my ADN. By leaving a school and entering another I was required to take additional classes. Not sure why this won't allow me a Bachelors. The whole thing is a scam if you switch schools. It's all a money thing if you ask me.

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    caroldeaver

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    hello...i am currently looking into starting school to get my RN. after i get my RN i want to work in the maternity wing. can someone tell me if i can chose to do that w/ just an ADN or if i have to have a BSN?

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    Pamprdpriness

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I an LPN with a lot of prerequisites completed. What is a quick & inexpensive program to get into? Has anyone started the University of Phoenix LVN to BSN Program?

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    niksmom

    over 6 years ago

    4 comments

    If you are thinking about furthering your education to a masters or doctorate in nursing you should go for the BSN from the beginning. My boyfriends sister and I started nursing school at the same time. She took 3 years in an ADN program and is graduating in May. I am going to be a Senior in the fall and graduate in May 09 with my BSN. I can continue my education in a Masters program right away, but she would have to get her BSN first and it would take her at least another 2 years. So if you can, the BSN programs get you farther quicker. Also alot of hospital are now strictly hiring BSN prepared nurses....just something to think about:)

  • 100_0138_max50

    makeupgal

    over 6 years ago

    38 comments

    Now that California has a way for LVN's to become RN's again, I am now enrolled!! But...one big change. The program is called, "LVN to BSN". That is the only way now that CA LVN's can advance to become an RN. We had nothing for about 4 years, they stopped the LVN to ADN program. I am so excited, as I have tried twice to go back two different ways to continue my education towards my RN. Now I am focused on the BSN work, as that is the only way I can take my NCLEX now. I am just looking at this as a great opportunity, and as my schooling. Not just thinking I am getting my BSN and RN when I graduate. I know my opportunities are going to be much more open, as looking for a job now, I see that about 85% of employers that want RN's, want BSN's.

    Good luck to all of us, just look at all these wonderful people, all we want to do is help people, there is a nursing shortage, and we are all here asking questions about how how how do I do......but all to further our education. I am proud to be here with all of you!

    My question is kind of like one I saw above regarding the Florence Nightingale days. Why do we vary so much from state to state? I would love to see a National Nurse Registry! All of us have to have the same amount of education, be that an ADN, or a BSN.

  • 100_0138_max50

    makeupgal

    over 6 years ago

    38 comments

    Now that California has a way for LVN's to become RN's again, I am now enrolled!! But...one big change. The program is called, "LVN to BSN". That is the only way now that CA LVN's can advance to become an RN. We had nothing for about 4 years, they stopped the LVN to ADN program. I am so excited, as I have tried twice to go back two different ways to continue my education towards my RN. Now I am focused on the BSN work, as that is the only way I can take my NCLEX now. I am just looking at this as a great opportunity, and as my schooling. Not just thinking I am getting my BSN and RN when I graduate. I know my opportunities are going to be much more open, as looking for a job now, I see that about 85% of employers that want RN's, want BSN's.

    Good luck to all of us, just look at all these wonderful people, all we want to do is help people, there is a nursing shortage, and we are all here asking questions about how how how do I do......but all to further our education. I am proud to be here with all of you!

    My question is kind of like one I saw above regarding the Florence Nightingale days. Why do we vary so much from state to state? I would love to see a National Nurse Registry! All of us have to have the same amount of education, be that an ADN, or a BSN.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    kat88

    over 6 years ago

    98 comments

    vascrn, you brought up someting I have been thinkin gabout off and on for a while. I went LPN, ADN, BSN and it took me 4 years to get ADN then 2 1/2 more to obtain BSN (at a later date). Other BSN people please respond I am interested in knowing how long it takes most people????
    I think this is part of nursing shortage and less people going into nursing. For instance teachers and other friends I have, spend 4 years and far less money to get their bachelors. NLN sets the standards. Maybe they need to change make ADN a bachelor program and BSN a masters program, maybe by adding a couple classes and get rid of different degrees for an RN.
    What do other people thing of this???

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    nursingstudent2010

    over 6 years ago

    14 comments

    Information on the difference between ADN and BSN is of great use! Currently I am in nursing school almost into my 2nd year! I went straight to the BSN program because my goal is to become a Nurse Practitioner (not sure what specialty yet), no kids yet, so I figured why not! I am so excited to start Clinicals here soon, get out there for more hands on action! Hopefully this will help me chose what I want to do! Anyone have any comments on what specialty you're in?

  • Me_max50

    SurgiNurse

    over 6 years ago

    2 comments

    I went through the ADN program at my local community college, which prepared me well for the boards and my career as a nurse. I feel slighted a bit because, as mentioned in the above article, "An ADN typically takes 2 years to complete while a BSN will take 4 years to complete (including the time spent taking the prerequisites to enter the program.) " I spent more than 2 years obtaining my ADN degree because of all the prerequisites. I now am spending the next 2 years trying to get my BSN. Sometimes I wish I had just gone for the BSN to begin with. But then I wouldn't be working as an RN now... Just something to think about.

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