A degree as a registered nurse can provide you with an access key to a richly rewarding career helping people. RNs are professionals who have graduated from a college nursing program and passed the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses exam. Several types of nursing degree programs will prepare you to take the NCLEX-RN, ranging from quick and inexpensive nurses' training programs to extensive liberal arts degrees at traditional universities.

Community Colleges

Community or junior colleges offer a relatively quick route toward an associate degree and nursing licensure. In addition to the core courses required in the professional training program, many require students to take classes such as written and spoken communication and math. The advantage of an associate nursing degree from a community college is that such an educational path is inexpensive compared to lengthier programs. However, some hospitals may require you to return to school to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at a four-year or online university.

Four-Year Colleges & Universities

Four-year colleges and universities offer Bachelor of Science in Nursing degrees. These schools often require students to complete extensive coursework in nursing and nursing-related subjects such as biology, anatomy and psychology. Additionally, they require students to complete core coursework that all undergraduate students must complete. The advantage of acquiring a BSN at a four-year school is that you will enter the job hunt with a widely respected degree. The disadvantages of getting a BSN relate to the time and money commitment you will need to make to attend a four-year university.

Online Universities

In an effort to offer a BSN, while keeping cost and time commitments down, many universities offer an online BSN program in which students can complete some or all of their coursework online. Additionally, some universities exist entirely online. The advantages of these online universities are that you will usually spend less time and money on completing your coursework, but still graduate with a BSN. The disadvantage is that some potential employers regard degrees from online universities to be less than degrees from traditional, brick-and-mortar universities.

Direct-Entry Master's

Many four-year universities with BSN programs also offer direct-entry master's in nursing programs. Such programs admit students who have already completed a four-year degree in a field other than nursing, and have passed certain prerequisite courses such as Human Anatomy & Physiology and Microbiology. Most often, those students who choose to pursue a master's degree in nursing do so as part of a career shift from some other field into nursing. The advantages of a direct-entry master's program at a four-year university are that students can focus entirely on nursing-related coursework. The disadvantages are that such programs can be expensive compared to other nursing schooling options.

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