If you’re like many people in the U.S., you probably went to college directly after graduating from high school. That means that you were pretty young when you chose a career path, and you may have been laboring with the suspicion that you didn’t select the right one for a few years now. Perhaps you’re wondering if a career in health-care is for you. Anyone who is interested in becoming a nurse and has already earned a bachelor’s degree in another discipline might be interested in getting a second undergraduate degree.
The good news is that it likely won’t mean having to spend another four years in full-time study. For one thing, most students who are seeking a second bachelor’s degree in nursing are more focused and dedicated than their younger colleagues. Moreover, people who are earning a second bachelor’s degree don’t have to complete all of the general education courses that were required while they worked toward their first degree. Most nursing programs simply review the student’s transcript to give them credit for all of the work they have already completed.
Numerous nursing schools offer second-degree nursing programs. This makes it possible for an entire cohort to be working professionals who are embarking on a second career. Requirements and prerequisites will vary from program to program. For instance, some will require that students have already completed courses in chemistry, anatomy and physiology, nutrition and others before being admitted to the program. If your counselor feels that you are missing important foundation coursework, then you may be required to complete these classes before joining a nursing cohort.
Furthermore, students have many options when it comes to how long it will take them to earn a second bachelor’s degree. Sixty semester hours of nursing study are typically required for graduation. This means that the program can usually be completed in two years of full-time study. However, many working professionals who are seeking a second degree cannot stop work to go to school full time. This is why many nursing programs are offered on a part-time basis, which could potentially require three or four years of study. Alternatively, accelerated programs that push students through in 15 months or a single calendar year may also be available.
For some students, an associate degree is a better option. This is especially true for prospective nurses who live in smaller communities or don’t have access to as many educational avenues. Plus, attending a community college is frequently a great deal more affordable than attending a bachelor’s degree program at a four-year college or university. For some students, the associate degree simply makes excellent sense.
Nonetheless, some students do prefer to earn a second bachelor’s degree. That’s because many employers prefer to hire candidates that have a bachelor’s degree in nursing. The perception is that graduates of these programs have probably encountered more intensive coursework and must, therefore, be better prepared to practice. If you live in an area where there is immense competition for nursing jobs, then you need a way to distinguish yourself. Earning a second bachelor’s degree may be the way to do that. On the other hand, if demand for nurses is high and there aren’t enough candidates, you may be able to do very well with just an associate degree. It may make sense to browse the local classified ads for a few weeks to see what’s in demand in your area.
Still, other students may be interested in a direct entry Masters in Nursing degree. These programs are available to people who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in another discipline. An academically competitive program like this may appeal to someone who wants to maximize their options for advancement in the nursing field.