Difference Between ASN and BSN Nursing Degrees

An ASN educated nurse thinking about her career advancement.

Registered Nurses (RNs) deliver various types of treatment, care, counseling, and health information to patients. They are educated, trained and certified in a wide range of skill-sets and specialties, however all have in common being registered and licensed nurses by passing the National Council Licensure Examination for RNs (NCLEX-RN).

Constituting one of the largest healthcare professions with almost 3 million jobs nationwide, approximately 60% of registered nurses are employed in hospitals. The job outlook for RNs is estimated at 12 percent growth from 2018 to 2028, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Why Prospective RN’s Should Pursue Degree Programs

There are 3 main ways to get your Registered Nurse license – via diploma, associate’s degree or bachelor’s degree programs. It is highly recommended to get your RN via the associate’s or bachelor’s in nursing degree paths due to more stringent hiring policies by employers today.

If you’re considering becoming an RN you should consider looking into multiple schools and pathways to accomplish your goal. You may enroll in nursing programs at community colleges or 4-year academic institutions. If you’re an LPN you can pursue an associate’s or bachelor’s degree and RN license through transitional bridge programs that give merit for prior LPN nursing education and experience.

You may prefer to enroll in a program that’s held in the traditional classroom setting. Or you may decide to go with a program that implements more contemporary methods of education.

These may feature programs instructed by means of correspondence courses, modular format, online courses, integrated courses taken through the classroom and the internet, and additional non-traditional approaches to teaching.

Many nursing programs offer night and weekend classes to accommodate those who work for a living. Clinical education/training is even offered nights and weekends in some programs.


The following is a quick and concise comparison between the Associate’s and Bachelor’s nursing degrees.

Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN)

The ASN degree can be acquired in 2 years at a university, community college, vocational school or even some hospitals. An ASN training program readies nurses to deliver direct patient treatment or carry out other qualified nursing duties and responsibilities inside the field of health care. This 2-year degree can be the groundwork for more advanced nursing academic options like a bachelor’s or master’s in nursing. It is a relatively fast way to get into the nursing field and start earning income – making the ASN option a good choice for many people.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

A traditional BSN degree typically takes 4 years to acquire (from time of entry as a freshman to graduation) at most of the universities and colleges that offer these programs. Accelerated programs lessen this time by about 1 year. If you already have a non-nursing bachelor’s, these programs usually take around 15 months to complete.

The BSN readies nurses to perform in most medical environments. While the job environments for RN’s with BSN degrees may be almost identical to that of RN’s with an ASN degree, those who completed BSN programs have additional preparation and training for clinical jobs that could include management, fiscal duties, medical personnel scheduling, administration, leadership and research roles.

Furthermore, registered nurses with a BSN possess substantial opportunities for advancing their careers. As an example, a bachelor’s in nursing is needed for acceptance into a master’s nursing program, which can lead to careers in health care administration, or specialty nursing roles like nurse practitioner, nurse anesthetist or clinical nurse leader. A BSN is also favored and commonly required for military and public health nursing and other more specialized jobs.