Top 6 Trending Nursing Degree Programs To Advance Your Career

Nurses have always been in demand, but the recent pandemic has highlighted their importance for the healthcare industry even more. In 2021, “nurse” was the most searched term on GOOGLE for “how to become” questions.

Thanks to a higher probability of employment right after degree completion, there is a general increase in students’ interest in various nursing degrees. From community colleges to universities, nursing degree enrollments are witnessing an increase.

Some trending nursing degrees available to you for a career in nursing include the following.

1.       ADN (Associate degree in nursing)

This is one of the fastest routes to kickstart your career in nursing. It aims to develop your core clinical knowledge and skills. An associate degree is also the minimum qualification needed to appear for the state licensing exam to become a Registered Nurse.

ADN is offered at community colleges and universities. You can complete an associate degree in nursing within two years. However, some institutions also offer programs that can be completed in as little as 18 months.

Courses offered in an associate degree program include adult acute and chronic disease, mental health nursing, behavioral health, microbiology, the foundation of nursing, etc.

With an ADN degree, you can work as a:

  • Registered Nurse
  • Labor and Delivery Nurse
  • Nursing Care Facility Nurse
  • Physician’s Office Nurse
  • Public Health Nurse

2.   BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing)

You can start working as an RN with ADN; some practitioners wait to earn a BSN or an advanced degree in nursing before starting their practice in a prestigious hospital.

A higher education degree, whether online or on-campus, significantly improves your employment chances. Your employment prospects and earning potential increase further with a specialization in nursing. For instance, a nurse who graduated from one of the geriatric nurse practitioner programs online or from a university can definitely earn a better salary than a nurse practitioner. The increase in salary prospects is due to higher competencies and knowledge gained during a higher education program.

Besides the obvious appeal of earning a higher salary with a higher education program such as a BSN, nurses are motivated to earn BSN because hospitals now demand it for entry-level positions. 

Candidates can earn a BSN degree in a community college as well as in a University. Typically you need at least four years to complete this degree with full-time attendance.

Besides completing the coursework, clinical hours are necessary for the hands-on training of the BSN candidates. During clinical, you apply the knowledge gained through your nursing degree in a real-world situation.

Candidates must be particular about institutional and program accreditation when searching for a BSN program. Some states don’t let the candidates appear for the NCLEX exam if they graduated with a non-accredited nursing program because they believe that non-accredited nursing programs don’t impart students with the required skills and knowledge to work with actual patients.

3.       RN-to-BSN

Enrolling in an RN-to-BSN program is another pathway for advancing your nursing career if you are already a registered nurse. This pathway differs from the standard BSN program as it considers the credits earned through prior courses and builds on the knowledge gained through an ADN or diploma in nursing. RN-to-BSN programs usually follow a year-round calendar instead of a semester-based timetable.

RN-to-BSN candidates already have the state license, which removes the requirement for clinical that otherwise are mandatory in a standard BSN program.

Work setting open to you with a BSN degree include the following:

  • Intensive care units
  • Healthcare administrative departments
  • Oncology floors
  • Private clinics
  • Residential care facilities
  • Ambulatory healthcare services

Students with a BSN degree find many career opportunities open up to them. Some career options for a BSN nurse are:

  • Critical Care Nurse
  • Emergency Room Nurse.
  • Psychiatric Nurse
  • Nurse Navigator
  • Trauma Nurse

4.       MSN (Masters in Nursing)

MSN programs are for nurses who want to expand their nursing career and train for advanced nursing practice. MSN degree means preparing yourself for leadership positions, becoming a master in one nursing area, starting your own practice, or performing the roles of a physician. 

Nurses with an MSN degree are more autonomous. Their education and leadership skills are assets in healthcare facilities trying to navigate technological changes.

You need about one to four years to complete an MSN degree, contingent on your prior education. However, candidates must have a BSN and active RN license to enroll in an MSN program.

During the degree program, students are offered core courses and those related to their specialization. Core courses include health care policy, foundations of nursing practice, evidence-based practices, disease prevention, etc.

Specialization available for an MSN candidate includes the following:

  • Pediatric nurse practitioner
  • Family nurse practitioner
  • Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner (AGPCNP)
  • Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)
  • Neonatal Nurse Practitioner

MSN graduates have advanced clinical knowledge and skills geared toward bolstering patient care and wellness. Career opportunities available to them make use of their skills and competencies in an excellent manner.

An MSN candidate can assume one of the following roles after degree completion.

  • Nurse practitioner
  • Nurse midwife
  • Nurse educator
  • Certified Nurse Anesthetist
  • Nurse Manager

5.       Direct-Entry MSN Program

This type of program is suitable for an individual with a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field who wants to launch a career in nursing. Their previous credits are usually considered to meet the course requirements for BSN. So, it is one of the fastest ways to enter nursing as a qualified professional.

Students require about three years to complete their courses and clinical for an MSN through this channel. Career opportunities available to graduates with a Direct-entry MSN are the same as those with a regular MSN degree.

6.       Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

DNP is the apex of nursing education. It is designed for nursing professionals who want to prove themselves as cutting-edge leaders.

DNP graduates have the knowledge and the aptitude to become change agents, identify structural problems, and uplift the standards of healthcare services provided to the general public.

DNP nurses bring change and impact healthcare outcomes through policy change, direct patient care, and organizational leadership.

Candidates need a BSN or an MSN to enroll in a DNP program. Unlike other programs, those with a BSN degree can also directly enroll in a DNP program. Another route is to have an RN license, obtain an MSN and then enroll in a DNP program.

The core curriculum in a DNP program might include the following:

  • DNP foundations
  • Quality improvement
  • Evidence-based practices
  • Leadership and Policy & Inter-professional Cooperation


Nursing degrees vary regarding their job responsibilities. Some nursing degrees prepare you for entry-level positions that involve bedside care. While others place you in administrative and leadership positions. Some trending nursing degrees available to advance your career are mentioned above. You can choose them based on your career goals and previous qualification.

Vivek is a published author of Meidilight and a cofounder of Zestful Outreach Agency. He is passionate about helping webmaster to rank their keywords through good-quality website backlinks. In his spare time, he loves to swim and cycle. You can find him on Twitter and Linkedin.