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How Long Does It Take to Earn a BSN?

New college students interested in nursing often earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), bundling the core curriculum with a nursing coursework over a four-year period. However, many other nurses earn their credentials through an associate degree program.

Nurses with an active registered nurse (RN) license and an associate degree can earn a BSN in under two years. Over the last few years, the demand for more BSN-prepared nurses has led schools to create accelerated BSN programs that RNs can complete in just one year. For example, the University of South Carolina online RN to BSN program can be completed in as few as 12 months.

The Call for BSNs

In 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) issued multiple recommendations related to the nursing workforce. Among the most significant of these recommendations was the call for 80 percent of a hospital's nursing staff to hold a BSN by 2020. Many states and healthcare systems across the country have taken the recommendation to heart and are encouraging RNs to go back to school, and they are raising hiring requirements. This has resulted in more nursing schools offering accelerated RN to BSN programs.

The Accelerated BSN

Obtaining a BSN in one year can be an attractive prospect for working nurses who feel they are too busy to give up much time to advance their education, but schools like the University of South Carolina offer accelerated BSN programs online for students who meet core credit hour requirements.

The USC program, a comprehensive 31-credit-hour curriculum, covers community practice, evidence-based care, nursing leadership and management, and nursing science in professional practice. Nurses who complete these programs gain the professionalism and critical thinking skills needed in the rapidly evolving healthcare industry. Beyond helping nurses meet new state requirements, the RN to BSN program is the perfect launching point to pursue graduate study in nursing.

Active RNs looking to acquire a BSN in one year benefit from the flexibility and convenience of an online RN to BSN program, which allows them to plan their coursework around a busy schedule for a better work-life balance.

Finally, increasing the number of BSNs in hospitals is associated with improved patient outcomes. For example, one study shows that a 10 percent increase in proportion of BSN nurses in hospitals is associated with lowering the odds of mortality by about 10 percent.

Learn more about the USC online RN to BSN program.


U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2016 - Registered Nurses

National Academy of Sciences: The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health

American Association of Colleges of Nursing: The Impact of Education on Nursing Practice

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