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 Recent Jump in Nursing Degrees
Approximately 1,978 colleges in the U.S. offer a nursing degree of some kind. 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.
Nursing Degree Requirements
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.
Prior Education for a Nursing Program
A high school diploma or equivalent is typically required for most nursing degree programs and many students will need a minimum GPA and SAT/ACT score depending on the school. In addition to these basic nursing program qualifications, to serve in some nursing careers, special certification may be required outside of your degree.
Nursing Degree Types
There are many different nursing degree levels. Nursing programs offered by schools range from a to a , which is the highest nursing degree you can get. Nursing programs can take anywhere between one to four or more years for a full-time student to complete.
|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. People currently working in careers related to nursing tend obtained the following education levels.
|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 A Degree In Nursing Graduate
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%|
How Much Money Do People With a Nursing Degree Make?
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 4,669 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
Study Areas in Nursing
Nursing is one of 34 different types of Health Professions programs to choose from.
Majors Similar to Nursing
|Related Major||Annual Graduates|
|Allied Health Professions||50,338|
|Health & Medical Administrative Services||48,644|
|Allied Health & Medical Assisting Services||30,460|
|Rehabilitation & Therapeutic Professions||27,972|
Featured Nursing Schools
Southern New Hampshire University
You have goals. Southern New Hampshire University can help you get there. Whether you need a bachelor's degree to get into a career or want a master's degree to move up in your current career, SNHU has an online program for you. Find your degree from over 200 online programs ... Learn More >
Building on Purdue’s mission to provide greater access to affordable, world-class education, Purdue University Global delivers a fully personalized online experience that’s tailored to working adults. By opening the doors to adults who need flexibility to fit learning into their busy lives, we make it possible to achieve a high-quality education from the prestigious Purdue University system—completely online ... Learn More >
Grand Canyon University (GCU)
With a spotlight on intellectual creativity and innovation for the 21stcentury, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at GCU provides a job focused education. It blends the study of traditional humanities in a modern context. Through academic inquiry and beyond the box thinking, the college advances our society and its accomplishments ... Learn More >
Northcentral University (NCU) was founded to provide accessible, high-quality, online graduate degrees to working professionals. As a regionally accredited, online university, NCU serves students worldwide, focusing on Doctoral and Master's degree programs in the Schools of Business and Technology Management, Education, Psychology, and Marriage and Family Sciences ... Learn More >
Colorado Technical University (CTU)
CTU could help you connect to what matters most: a powerful professional community, aculty who are real-world professionals, and innovative technology ... Learn More >