Online Bachelor's in Nursing Degree

What You’ll Learn & What You Can Do After Graduation

Registered nurses seeking to advance their careers and expand their healthcare expertise often consider online accelerated bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) programs. These accredited and affordable programs provide an in-depth study of medical practice, research, and professional ethics.

Typically, BSN graduates enjoy higher earning potential than their registered nurse (RN) counterparts. In fact, BSN graduates report making an average annual salary of $80,000 compared to $63,800 for registered nurses. Below, learn more about the skills you can gain through an online BSN program and career options available to graduates.

What Is Nursing?

Nurses enjoy rewarding careers helping others. Their knowledge about human health and wellness allows them to help patients who cope with long-term illnesses, suffer from injuries or disease, or seek preventative care. They may also help educate communities about public health concerns, such as smoking, seasonal health threats, or infectious diseases. Nurses work on the front line of healthcare and play a vital role in the coordination of treatment.

About 60% of nurses work in hospitals, but they may also work in physician offices, outpatient care facilities, and home healthcare agencies. Additionally, nurses may provide general services, or they may specialize in a particular area of medicine, such as surgery, emergency medicine, or pediatrics.

Almost three million nurses were working in the U.S. in 2016, and more than 430,000 new nursing jobs are expected through 2026. Healthcare employers not only need new nurses to fill positions left by those expected to retire over the next decade, but they also need help providing care to an aging population battling chronic disease; requiring long-term care; or seeking outpatient treatment for surgery, rehabilitation, or chemotherapy.

Online BSN programs prepare nurses to tackle a variety of healthcare challenges and take on leadership roles where they work. This four-year degree offers graduates a competitive edge because of its increased educational requirements. The degree also prepares nurses for a master's degree or to become a nurse practitioner.

What Can I Do with an Online Bachelor's in Nursing Degree?

Earning a BSN online prepares graduates to take the National Council Licensure Examination and gain state licensure as a registered nurse. Many employers consider the BSN the minimum education requirement to start working in the field.

Online accelerated BSN programs allow nurses with an associate degree to advance their careers while continuing to work and build their professional experience. Below you can learn more about the skills you can gain from an accredited online BSN program, as well as possible career opportunities and future earning potential.

Skills and Knowledge Gained

Online BSN programs teach nurses human physiology, patient care, and recordkeeping. Many online accelerated BSN programs build on the skills and knowledge registered nurses develop while earning their associate degree and/or their on-the-job experiences. In these programs, nurses also gain a broader view of healthcare concepts and enjoy opportunities to specialize in caring for a specific population or conditions, such as oncology or pediatrics.

Broadly, the curriculum for a BSN covers patient assessment and care. It also hones your analytical and decision-making skills, which are necessary to make important healthcare decisions quickly, such as triaging patients in an emergency room. In addition to learning how to implement policies, students are taught how to incorporate professional ethics, legal requirements, and clinical standards in their decision-making. These skills allow nurses to take on supervisory and leadership roles.

Accredited degrees also prepare students to conduct research that can inform healthcare policy or help develop effective communication and education plans for community health positions. Such skills prepare nurses for roles in government agencies, community health nonprofit organizations, or healthcare offices.

Technological advances continue to impact healthcare and the role of nurses. Nurses need to be comfortable using technology like electronic health records. They also need to be skilled in communication technology, such as teleconferencing or video conferencing; as the country copes with physician shortages, many communities rely on this technology to provide life-saving care to remote patients.

The top online BSN programs prepare students for exciting careers in the healthcare industry and related fields. Below, learn more about the industries that need the medical expertise, analytical abilities, and human compassion nurses develop through their education and patient care experiences.

Careers and Salary Potential

Earning a BSN online prepares nurses to work not only in traditional healthcare settings, but also in related industries like healthcare insurance administration or with nonprofit organizations. Some nurses may prefer working with specific populations, such as children or the elderly, or they may enjoy educating people about better health. With a variety of career opportunities available, nurses have the flexibility to find the sector that ignites their passion for their job and helps them find personal and professional fulfillment.

  • Hospital Healthcare/Medical Services: Again, most nurses find work in hospitals or physician offices. They may provide direct patient care, such as taking vital signs, charting medication, or explaining home care. Nurses may also supervise other nurses who provide direct patient care.
  • Health Insurance: Insurance companies seek nurses to help with reviews of health claims. Nurses may also act as health coaches to help members improve their overall wellness or manage chronic conditions.
  • Home Healthcare: Nurses bring quality care to a patient's home and help keep them comfortable by avoiding the travel required to a medical office. They may also manage medications or educate families on how to help their loved one get better.
  • Nonprofit: Many nonprofit agencies specialize in educating the public about specific health concerns, such as the dangers of obesity or the risks of drug use and addiction. Nurses with experience in a specific area of concern may help develop effective marketing and communication plans, speak to community groups, and organize events.
Registered Nurses

Median Annual Salary: $71,730

RNs provide direct patient care in a variety of healthcare settings. They also consult with medical providers, set up care plans for patients, educate patients and families about illnesses or injuries, and provide emotional support. Finally, they may supervise other nurses, nurse assistants, or home health aides.

Health Educator

Median Annual Salary: $46,080

These professionals may work in hospitals, nonprofit organizations, or government agencies to educate the public about health concerns. They often develop community campaigns on specific health topics, conduct research on health impacts, and organize events to raise awareness.

Nurse Case Manager

Median Annual Salary: $70,521

Care managers work with a patient's healthcare team to coordinate care for multiple conditions or chronic health concerns. They may work with insurance companies to determine coverage for treatments or help the patient access specialized care. They often provide a holistic approach to patient health.

Utilization Review Nurse

Median Annual Salary: $68,085

These nurses review treatment plans to determine insurance benefits. They may take part in the preauthorization of care from an insurance company or examine medical history as part of the claims process.

Nurse Practitioner

Median Annual Salary: $92,042

Nurse practitioners diagnose and treat patients for a variety of conditions. In most states, they work under the direction of a physician, but they can prescribe medication and administer care. They may specialize in family practice or women's health. A bachelor's degree serves as a step along the path to becoming a nurse practitioner, but the job does require a doctorate in nursing practice.

Source: BLS/PayScale