What Types of Nursing Degrees Can I Get?

Nursing DegreeThere are several different types of nursing degrees a prospective nurse can obtain, depending on what type of nurse he or she wants to be. The different degrees enable nurses to work in various settings, such as hospitals, K-12 schools, colleges, nursing homes and urgent care centers, where they can serve a variety of different roles.

Certificate or Associate’s Degree in Nursing

Certificate or associate’s degree programs in nursing prepare you to sit for the NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN, depending on if your program prepares you to become a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Registered Nurse (RN). These programs are typically offered at community colleges and technical schools, and consist of one or two years of courses. These programs are very general in their studies, preparing nurses to work under the supervision of another Registered Nurse if they are an Licensed Practical Nurse, or under a provider such as a physician if they are an Registered Nurse. Certificate and associate degree programs prepare nurses to work in numerous specialties, such as emergency medicine, intensive care, labor and delivery, hospice and medical-surgical areas. Many hospitals are making the push to hire Bachelor’s degree prepared Registered Nurses, and often financially help their current nurses go back to school to obtain one, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

A Bachelor’s degree in Nursing is offered at a four-year college or university. Students typically take two years of general studies courses then two years of nursing courses. Nurses who graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing can sit for the NCLEX-RN and can go on to practice in virtually any specialty in any type of health care setting, even settings that do not directly deal with patient care. This type of nursing degree can also be offered in an accelerated format for students who already hold an Associate’s degree in Nursing or a student with a Bachelor’s degree in another area of study.

Master’s Degree in Nursing

The Master’s degree in Nursing was designed for Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing prepared nurses who wish to further their education in a specialized area of study, according to the National Student Nursing Association. These programs are offered both full-time and part-time. Both on campus and online programs are available. Depending on if you attend full-time or part-time, a Master’s degree in Nursing can take between one to four years to obtain. There two main areas of study are clinical and non-clinical. Types of clinical areas of study include, but are not limited to: family nurse practitioner, women’s health nurse practitioner, emergency nurse practitioner and nurse anesthetist. Non-clinical areas of study commonly include nursing management, leadership and education.

Related Resource: Nurse Practitioner Careers

Doctorate or Ph.D. in Nursing

A doctorate or Ph.D. degree in Nursing is considered a terminal degree. Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing or Master’s of Science in Nursing prepared nurses who wish to earn a doctorate degree or Ph.D. must be highly specialized in their area of study, whether it be clinical or non-clinical. Typically, these programs take between two and five years to complete, depending on if you attend full-time or part-time and if you hold a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing or Master’s of Science in Nursing. Nurses who graduate with a doctorate or Ph.D. in nursing can work in positions such as nursing school directors, independent nurse practitioners and hospital nursing leadership. These types of nursing degrees are highly competitive and hold strict admission requirements.

Nurses are found in all different kinds of employment settings, from hospitals to urgent care centers. In these establishments, nurses can perform different tasks depending on the types of nursing degrees they hold.