The best ADN to BSN programs are designed for nurses who already have their RN license and want to continue their education and advance in their profession. Most students who enroll in ADN to BSN programs have a traditional or online associate, however, some schools also accept students with a nursing diploma.

You will typically need 2 to 4 years to complete your ADN to BSN degree depending on the number of credits that you are able to transfer from your associates degree as well as whether you enroll part time or full time. The ADN to BSN degree is an uncommon educational track compared to standard associates or bachelors programs, and only a few universities and colleges offer traditional or online ADN to BSN options.

Top ADN to BSN programs will usually require you to first complete any missing prerequisite courses that you may not have taken for your associates degree, like microbiology, college algebra and English composition. After this phase, you will begin to take higher-level courses on topics like ethical healthcare and nursing management while also fulfilling your clinical requirements. When you graduate from an ADN to BSN program, you will have the
same credentials as a traditional BSN student.

Who should enroll in an ADN to BSN program?

Practicing RNs who have already worked several years in the field are the most common ADN to BSN students. For some of these students, ADN to BSN degrees are just a 1 step in the path of completing BSN to MSN programs.

However, not all ADN to BSN students are interested in pursuing a graduate degree. Many nurses choose to get a BSN because it opens up a variety of career opportunities that are unavailable to nurses who only have an associates degree.

ADN to BSN programs provide nurses with much deeper and more extensive knowledge than an associates degree program. For this reason, graduates of ADN to BSN programs are often able to find jobs that involve more than just traditional patient care. For instance, when you finish your ADN to BSN program, you can take on new roles such as charge nurse, clinical manager or nurse educator at a hospital or technical college. Additionally, a BSN qualifies you to work as a consultant for health insurance companies or even write and edit literature for medical publications.

Upper-level coursework in ADN to BSN programs places a lot of emphasis on both theory and clinical practice. A few of the most common courses include:

This course introduces students to various health and concepts from a theoretical and empirical perspective. Students explore concepts like life span, the health-illness continuum and medical ethics as well as how these relate to nursing duties like diagnosis, plan of care and intervention.

Administration and organization of healthcare systems

This course focuses on developing leadership within community-focused healthcare systems. You will explore the organizational structure and culture of these systems and learn how to apply leadership skills and nursing theory to maximize their potential.

Theory and research in nursing

These courses offer an overview of the interrelationships between theory, research and practice in the nursing profession. You will explore processes for gathering clinical knowledge and learn strategies to help you translate theoretical knowledge into practice.

Advanced clinical nursing skills

This course provides additional training in how to use nursing science and research in everyday clinical practice. Supervised clinical work will help you learn to apply theory in practical ways to provide better healthcare to individual patients, families and communities.

Advanced adult health nursing

This course focuses on the RN’s role in providing care to adult patients with a variety of injuries and chronic illnesses. Students learn how to consult patients about treatment options as well as develop strategies for health promotion and illness prevention in a clinical environment.

Gaining admission to an ADN to BSN program

In addition to standard application forms and an application fee, ADN to BSN programs require you to submit a copy of your current RN license as well as an official transcript from of your previous degree.

Be aware that many programs will not accept an RN license that is not issued from the same state in which the school is located. Therefore, as a general rule, you should try to apply to ADN to BSN programs in the state that issued your RN license, or be sure to research the requirements for obtaining a license in your preferred school’s state.

Additionally, applicants must also satisfy general education requirements, which usually include courses like introductory chemistry and anatomy and physiology. Many ADN to BSN programs will allow you to take these lower-level courses at partnering community colleges and technical schools before applying for admission. This can save you a lot of money in tuition fees if your ADN to BSN program is located at a university. Some ADN to BSN programs even allow you to skip over some classes by passing exams that test your knowledge of specific course subjects.

Holding a job during your ADN to BSN program

Although there are not many online options for ADN to BSN degrees, the majority of students continue to work part time or even full time as an RN during their studies. However, if you are unable to do this you may have to adjust your course schedule by cutting down on your normal
work hours or working on evenings, weekends and holidays.

Because ADN to BSN degrees are intended for professional RNs, many schools have designed their programs to fit their students’ work schedules. For instance, some ADN to BSN programs cluster upper-division courses into 2 consecutive days, which leaves you free to work normal hours during the rest of the week. Other schools make their programs available on a part-time basis or even hold evening classes so that you can work during the day. Finally, some programs will even allow you to fulfill your required practicum or clinical hours at your place of

Although holding a separate job while studying can be challenging, students interested in earning a masters degree or doctorate should understand that graduate-level admissions panels often prefer applicants who have substantial clinical experience working in the field.

Studying online in an ADN to BSN program

Students hoping to enroll in the best online ADN to BSN programs will be disappointed because the options are very limited. One of the main reasons why accredited ADN to BSN online programs are so rare is that many students who already hold an associates degree prefer to enroll
in traditional bachelors or RN to MSN programs.

Many schools simply allow students with an ADN to enroll in their standard BSN programs instead of offering a separate accredited ADN to BSN online program. Although these degrees are not specifically designed for students who already have an associates degree, the curriculum and standards are very similar. And most traditional BSN programs will also recognize some or all of the coursework and clinical hours that you completed in your ADN program.