2021 Nursing Degree Guide
If you would like to help treat, examine, and heal patients, consider a degree in nursing. A career as a nurse allows you to have face-to-face interaction with people in need; you are on the front-lines in preventing disease, fighting illness and promoting healing.
Nursing students work closely with many patients to perform physicals, administer treatments, aid in diagnostic testing, and provide basic needs, among many other tasks. Classes in biology, anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, medical terminology, psychology, and behavioral science prepare nurses to work in a variety of locations aiding doctors and assisting patients.
Nursing is a broad field and has many areas of specialization available to students. For example, students can choose a major in Registered Nursing or Nursing Administration. Depending on your interest, your studies can also focus on adult health, anesthesia, family practice, maternal and neonatal, midwifery, public health, surgery, critical care, geriatric care and more.
A Spike in Nursing Degrees
Nursing was the 3rd most popular major in the 2018-2019 school year. Colleges in the United States reported awarding 305,309 degrees in this year alone. This represents a 3.8% increase in nursing degrees awarded over the prior year's total of 293,633.
The United States has 1,978 different schools where you can get a degree in nursing. This year's Best Colleges for Nursing ranking compares 723 of them to identify the best overall programs in the country. Continue reading to check out one of our many unbiased rankings of nursing programs later in this article.
What Are The Requirements For a Degree in Nursing
Since nurses work closely with patients, it is important to have strong interpersonal and communication skills. Nurses must give patients information and keep them calm during procedures and exams. Compassion and sympathy will help you sympathize with patients and make them more comfortable. Additional skills that are required for a career in nursing are analytical and critical thinking, detail-orientation, and patience.
The majority of Nursing graduates work in hospitals, however some also work in medical clinics and schools. Since the public needs health services 24/7, nurses may be required to work at night, on the weekends, and during holidays. They often work rotating shifts so they have time off to rest.
While a bachelor's degree or certification will allow nurses to pursue successful careers in nursing, some students go on to receive a graduate degree. This advanced degree allows nurses to advance to administration positions or conduct research.
Getting Accepted Into a Nursing Program
New students will need to have completed high school or a GED program and each school will have their own minimum GPA and SAT/ACT test requirements. Once you obtain your degree, additional nursing certifications required to pursue a career in this field.
Nursing Degree Types
There are various different levels of nursing degrees. You can spend many years getting as high as a professional practice doctorate's in nursing to something that takes less time like a associate's. The time it takes to complete a nursing degree varies depending on the program.
|Degree||Credit Requirements||Typical Program Length|
|Associate Degree||60-70 credits||2 years|
|Bachelor’s Degree||120 credits||4 years|
|Master’s Degree||50-70 credits||1-3 years|
|Doctorate||Program required coursework including thesis or dissertation||At least 4 years|
A master's degree is the most common level of education achieved by those in careers related to nursing, with approximately 46.7% of workers getting one. See the the most common levels of education for nursing workers below.
|Level of Education||Percentage of Workers|
|Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree)||17.9%|
This of course varies depending on which nursing career you choose.
Career Opportunities for Nursing Majors
Nurses have jobs in many different locations including hospitals, medical centers, schools, the armed forces, corporations, and private medical practices. They teach classes, give medical exams, and update patient information in many settings. Nurses are an important part of the work force and find jobs in almost every area of the medical field.
Due to the aging population and increase in preventative care services, the Nursing occupation is a good profession to be in.
High Growth Projected for Nursing Careers
Want a job when you graduate with your nursing degree? Nursing careers are expected to grow 16.5% between 2016 and 2026.
The following options are some of the most in-demand careers related to nursing.
|Occupation Name||Projected Jobs||Expected Growth|
|Medical and Health Services Managers||424,300||20.5%|
|Nursing Instructors and Professors||84,200||24.0%|
Nursing Degree Salary Potential
Recently graduated nursing students earned an average of $66,994 in 2017-2018. Earnings can range from as low as $5,800 to as high as $188,500. As you might expect, salaries for nursing graduates vary depending on the level of education that was acquired.
High Paying Careers for Nursing Majors
Salaries for nursing graduates can vary widely by the occupation you choose as well. The following table shows the top 5 highest paying careers nursing grads often go into.
|Occupation Name||Median Average Salary|
|Medical and Health Services Managers||$113,730|
|Nursing Instructors and Professors||$81,350|
Getting Your Nursing Degree
With over 5,914 different nursing degree programs to choose from, finding the best fit for you can be a challenge. Fortunately you have come to the right place. We have analyzed all of these schools to come up with hundreds of unbiased nursing school rankings to help you with this.
Top Ranking Lists for Nursing
Nursing Related Majors
Nursing is one of 34 different types of Health Professions programs to choose from.
Most Popular Majors Related to Nursing
|Related Major||Annual Graduates|
|Allied Health & Medical Assisting Services||99,641|
|Practical Nursing & Nursing Assistants||93,192|
|Allied Health Professions||86,697|
|Health & Medical Administrative Services||82,868|