There are many different kinds of nursing degrees, such as associate, bachelor, master and doctorate degrees. Each of these programs prepare nurses for different types of careers in the health care industry. The two most common programs in nursing are an Associate of Applied Science and a Bachelor of Science. Both programs prepare students to take the registered nurse licensing exam called the NCLEX-RN, a required exam for anyone who wants to practice nursing in a specific state.

Undergraduate Nursing Degrees

The types of classes that students have to take in college to become nurses vary greatly across colleges, degree programs and states. An Associate of Science in Nursing degree has two to three years of coursework and provides students with basic critical thinking skills and knowledge to practice nursing. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree is a more advanced degree that gives students more clinical and theoretical expertise in nursing. It requires approximately four to five years of coursework. Both degree programs require students to take similar lower division courses in liberal arts, biology, chemistry and mathematics. However, the bachelor degree also requires students to take many additional courses in nursing.

Liberal Arts and Mathematics

Both associate and bachelor degrees in nursing require students to take a number of courses in writing, reading and history or culture. These courses help develop a student's critical thinking and reasoning skills and expose students to different ideas and cultures. Examples of possible courses include composition, critical reading, anthropology and sociology. Both programs also require students to take a course in mathematics such as college algebra or elementary algebra. These courses ensure that students are prepared to do basic mathematical manipulations, which are required of them in general chemistry and pharmacology.

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Biology and Chemistry

Biology is the study of life and all nursing students are required to take a series of courses in biology. Common course requirements are general biology, human anatomy, human physiology and microbiology. These courses introduce students to the human body and its functions, and are prerequisites for all nursing courses. In addition to biology, both degrees also require students to take a course in general chemistry. This course introduces students to the organic and inorganic compounds that make up everything around us, and the periodic table of elements.

Pharmacology and Psychiatric Nursing

After completing the above requirements, both associate and bachelor students move on to courses in nursing. Requirements vary, but both programs typically require students to take two courses in pharmacology, one course in nursing principles and one course in mental health nursing. In addition to these courses, bachelor of science students may also take courses in more advanced and theoretical aspects of nursing care such as advanced critical care, advanced psychiatric nursing, community health nursing, nursing research and legal aspects of health care.

About the Author

Kate Prudchenko has been a writer and editor for five years, publishing peer-reviewed articles, essays, and book chapters in a variety of publications including Immersive Environments: Future Trends in Education and Contemporary Literary Review India. She has a BA and MS in Mathematics, MA in English/Writing, and is completing a PhD in Education.