What does RN-BSN mean? (Confused)

Students ADN/BSN

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I'm a high school student who aspires to become a nurse and later on a nurse practitioner. Because of this, I want to get my Bachelor's first, (not ADN) and then move on from there. I obviously need to do my pre-reqs and all that but I'm confused about the path of becoming a RN.

I'm confused on the meaning of RN-BSN. Does this mean that when you are a registered nurse, you go get your bachelors? That doesn't make sense to me because I thought you needed your Bachelor's to become an RN.

I'm graduating high school this year and interested in becoming an RN(hopefully an NP later on in the future) but I'm confused on how to go about this.

I hear some folks say that nursing school IS a 4-year college, but some say that you go to a 4-year school, complete your pre-reqs THEN apply to a nursing school. Which is it?

I know my questions seem pretty simple to some but I really want to try to make the best decisions and take the best routes to help me in my future career.

I went on several websites and they say that this program is for people who already are RN's. I don't understand this. I thought if you want your Bachelors, you go to a RN-BSN program?


151 Posts

It's a program for RNs with associate's degrees who want to earn a bachelor's. Think "RN-to-BSN."

Specializes in Emergency.

Or RNs with diplomas moving on to get their BSN degrees. It means they are given some credit for their prior knowledge & work experience.

BSN is not a requirement for entry to practice for an RN. It depends where you live. Some places its only a diploma, other places ADN, other places (like where I live) its now BScN.

There is a lot of talk about Diploma-ADN-BSN-MSN on this website, have a look around, and you'll learn a lot.


1 Article; 6,683 Posts

I merged the two threads on this topic into one, in keeping with our Terms of Service, so that no one gets confused.

Carry on!

allnurses Guide

Spidey's mom, ADN, BSN, RN

11,302 Posts


Or, it means a Registered Nurse who became a Registered Nurse by getting her Bachelor's Of Nursing degree.

I applaud you for going for your Bachelor's Degree. Especially since you will be going straight from high school to college and since you want to become a NP. Many choose other ways due to going back to school for a second career and they choose the community college route, or because of cost. (Which is what I did - after majoring in Social Work at university right out of high school).

I'm in a RN to BSN program now, which is for Registered Nurses who have Associate's Degrees to get their Bachelor's Degree. I'm interested in Public Health nursing, and you have to have a BSN to do that.

I would suggest a meeting with a counselor at the school you are looking at to help you wade through all the details of becoming a nurse.

Elvish, BSN, DNP, RN, NP

16 Articles; 5,259 Posts

Specializes in Community, OB, Nursery.
stevielynn said:
RN-BSNOr, it means a Registered Nurse who became a Registered Nurse by getting her Bachelor's Of Nursing degree.

I would suggest a meeting with a counselor at the school you are looking at to help you wade through all the details of becoming a nurse.

Stevielynn gives great advice here.

I went to a 4-year college & graduated w/ a BSN. The first two years were a mix of pre-reqs (anatomy, physiology, microbiology, etc.) and the other stuff required for a BS degree. Somewhere during my sophomore year I submitted my app for nursing school & got my answer during the second semester. Then it was two summers and two years of nursing school before graduation. Once I graduated, I had a BSN but still had to pass the RN licensure exam before I could put RN behind my name.

Does that clear anything up for you?

jjjoy, LPN

2,801 Posts

The routes of nursing that pertain to your situation and questions:

1) RN program - usually at a community college or vocational school. Such programs earn you the qualification to sit for an RN license. If at a community college, you probably also earn an associate's degree at the same time... ASN (Associates of science in nursing). There are also still a few "diploma" schools out there which are hospital based programs that grant ability to sit for RN licensure. RN programs tend to take 3 years. Either 3 straight years, or 1 year of pre-reqs and 2 years of full-time coursework.

2) RN-BSN program - through a university. Either 4 years of integrated general education, nursing education or 2 years of pre-reqs/gen ed and then 2 years of nursing education, both ending in a bachelor's degree (Bachelor of science in nursing BSN) along with qualification to sit for RN licensure.

For those who earned their RN directly, there are programs out there specifically for them to earn a BSN (RN-to-BSN), usually 1-2 years.

You might wonder why one would choose option 1 over option 2 since option two is only one year longer and gets you a bachelor's as well. One reason might be that community colleges are usually less expensive than universities. Another is that community colleges are more likely to offer part-time coursework or alternate schedules for those working full-time jobs.

Finally, each school has it's own strengths and weaknesses and each student has their own strengths and weaknesses. One school might be well known for structure and if a student knows they do well with structure they might decide to choose that school. If a local school is well-known for training up confident, competent nurses, someone might choose that one over a big name university with new, unproven nursing program.

Good luck with your schooling decisions!

Signorina, RN

35 Posts

Thanks to everyone who has replied to this thread. I was in the same state of confusion. I am presently going through a 3 year program to earn an RN, By next year I'll be an RN here in Nigeria, however I intend coming over to the USA to obtain a Bsc in Nursing.

Can anyone recommend a good University and tell the me the requirement?


LeshaiRN, RN

3 Posts

Specializes in ER/ICU/CCU School Nurse.

There are many different means to RN-BSN. 1) An person which has a Bachelors of Science in another field can do what they call and bridge program and become an RN. 2) An LPN which desires to further his/her nursing career and continue their studies instead of starting from the beginning 3) An RN which has either a diploma or Associates degree can obtain her Bachelor's.

And to answer your other part of your question about what direction to go in Nursing, according to what the profession states when you have and Associate Degree you are just considered a technical nurse and with a Bachelors you are "a Professional Nurse". Even though when you get your license it will Registered Professional Nurse. Word to the wise, choose the path that works best for you, do not become stressed out and regardless of a big name school or a community college, we are all taught the same things and are all considered nurse. GOD LUCK!!!

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