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Ways to get a BSN degree 


This article has been vetted by University of Phoenix's editorial advisory committee. 
Read more about our editorial process.

Raelene Brooks, Dean, College of Nursing

Reviewed by Raelene Brooks, Dean, College of Nursing

Registered nurses (RNs) are a vital part of the healthcare system and can pursue numerous specializations. (The field has Many types of nurses, including charge nurses and travel nurses, for example.) From patient advocacy to hands-on treatment, they provide essential care in hospitals, clinics, outpatient surgery centers, public healthcare settings and more.

To become an RN, you can take a variety of paths. You can complete a diploma nursing program or earn an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and then obtain licensure. You can continue your education and pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), to enhance your career and explore new opportunities.

Ready for the challenge? Maybe it’s time to pursue an RN to BSN degree

Ultimately, the difference between an RN and a BSN is that RN describes a professional role that requires a license, whereas a BSN is a nursing degree program that allows RNs to grow their skill set, such as in leadership, and potentially adopt new roles within the nursing field.

If you’re an RN who wants to take the next step in your career, an online nursing degree can help prepare you for your nursing journey. Let’s explore how to earn a BSN, including why competency-based RN-BSN programs can streamline the process for working RNs who hold an active license.

How to get your BSN degree 

Despite the ways online coursework can make earning a degree more feasible for working adults, completing your BSN takes time and dedication. University of Phoenix is committed to removing as many barriers to education as possible by offering online programs and flexible scheduling, but it’s still essential to research all pathways before deciding which makes the most sense for your situation.

RNs who hold a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing and who want to enhance their careers can consider an option outside of the BSN. Nurse bridge programs, like the one offered by University of Phoenix, provide licensed nurses with an avenue for additional education and career enhancement through a Master of Science in Nursing.

An MSN program at UOPX is a post-licensure nursing program designed for nurses with current RN licensure who desire to obtain a Master of Science in Nursing with a specialization, such as Administration, Education, Informatics, Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric Mental Health.

How to go from RN to BSN 

Nurses who have graduated with a nursing diploma or an ADN and who have obtained their RN licensure, can earn their BSN through the University of Phoenix’s traditional RN to BSN program track.

For nurses who have at least one year of full-time, post-high school, clinical RN work experience and who thrive in self-governed educational settings, University of Phoenix offers an RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Competency-Based) program track.

Competency-based (CB) programs are structured differently from traditional degree programs. At UOPX, for example, students in non-CB programs usually take one class at a time. But the University’s CB programs allow taking four classes at a time.

More importantly, students in CB programs work with faculty advisors to focus their education on learning skills and knowledge they don’t already have. By scheduling regular competency assessments according to their needs and in conjunction with faculty advisors, students can spend more time learning what they don’t know and less time proving what they do know.

Students can complete the competency-based BSN program in as little as 12 months. 

How to go from an ADN to a BSN 

Nurses who hold an ADN and who have completed their RN program and NCLEX licensure, can also earn their BSN through University of Phoenix’s RN to BSN program. You will only need experience if you are looking to take the competency-based RN to BSN program.

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Understanding competency-based (CB) education

BSN admissions requirements 

University of Phoenix’s BSN programs require candidates to hold an active, unencumbered RN license in each jurisdiction in which they have licensure.* As mentioned, applicants for the CB track must have at least one year of nursing work experience.

*Other admissions requirements include proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent residency. There’s no SAT/ACT or essay requirement, and UOPX can usually request your transcripts at no additional cost. The University accepts eligible credits from more than 5,000 accredited institutions.

Expected BSN coursework 

UOPX’s BSN program aligns with the American Association of Colleges of Nursing Essentials to deliver the necessary curriculum and expected competencies. In addition to general education coursework to help develop your knowledge of health, wellness and nutrition, you’ll complete coursework that focuses on:

  • Public health fundamentals
  • Healthcare policy and financial management
  • Professional nursing leadership perspectives
  • Ethical and legal considerations
  • Research outcomes management

The degree program includes 11 core nursing courses and 47 general education credits. Students must also complete 90 direct care clinical hours. While you can take all of the instructional courses online, the clinical hours must occur in person in a community setting.

Hard and soft skills you’ll develop when earning a BSN 

The hard and soft skills you’ll learn when earning a BSN go beyond the basic skills needed for nursing, like how to administer medication and insert an IV. You’ll learn how to practice evidence-based care that reflects your knowledge of health and wellness. You’ll demonstrate professional standards of ethics and legal conduct within the healthcare industry, and you’ll learn how to better communicate within the health setting, whether that’s with patients or peers.

Skills you’ll acquire during the program include the following:

  • Communication
  • Critical thinking and holistic nursing
  • Compassion in population health
  • Professionalism
  • Leadership
  • Coordination of safe care
  • Information management and communication
  • Quality improvement and case management

Many of these skills can even translate to additional alternative careers to nursing, further setting you up for career success.

Potential careers after earning a BSN 

Earning your BSN can prepare you for additional career opportunities for RNs. Given that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects faster than average job growth for registered nurses between 2022 and 2032, ensuring you have the right credentials could help prepare you for your career journey.

Depending upon your role and experience, nursing salaries across the country can vary.

The BSN from University of Phoenix prepares for the following roles:

  • Charge nurse: Charge nurses are RNs who oversee administrative duties and coordinate between hospital leaders and general nursing staff. Their role often involves patient care as well. Many charge nurses provide crucial guidance to nurses and coordinate schedules among their teams.
  • Public health nurse: Public health nurses promote and protect population health with knowledge gained from nursing, social and public health sciences. Rather than treat acute health problems, a public health nurse’s primary responsibility is to prevent disease and disability among the people in their community. Public health nurses can work in research facilities, outpatient clinics, community health clinics and other institutions. The BLS doesn’t differentiate between PHNs and other types of RNs; earning potential for this role falls in line with other RN roles.
  • Director of nursing: Directors of nursing incorporate years of experience to handle the duties of overseeing an entire department’s nursing operation. In many cases, they implement policies, set budgets, manage staff and help triangulate information between administration and nurses. The BLS includes nursing directors as medical and health services managers, which can lead to increased earnings; in May 2023, salaries for this role landed between $86,080 and $157,640.

Salary ranges are not specific to students or graduates of University of Phoenix. Actual outcomes vary based on multiple factors, including prior work experience, geographic location and other factors specific to the individual. University of Phoenix does not guarantee employment, salary level or career advancement. BLS data is geographically based. Information for a specific state/city can be researched on the BLS website.

Earning a BSN at UOPX 

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs available at University of Phoenix are excellent ways for RNs to learn relevant skills that can enhance their careers.

RNs can choose from the following bachelor’s degree programs:

No matter where your RN career takes you, a BSN from University of Phoenix can help you gain valuable skills that may help you achieve your future goals. 

Headshot of Michael Feder


A graduate of Johns Hopkins University and its Writing Seminars program and winner of the Stephen A. Dixon Literary Prize, Michael Feder brings an eye for detail and a passion for research to every article he writes. His academic and professional background includes experience in marketing, content development, script writing and SEO. Today, he works as a multimedia specialist at University of Phoenix where he covers a variety of topics ranging from healthcare to IT.


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