RN vs. ADN: What's the Difference and Which Is Right for You? (2023)

bothstate registered nurse(RN) andAssociate Degree in Nursing(ADN) is an educational pathway that provides people with the skills and knowledge they need to work in the nursing field. The main difference between the two is the level of education and training required.

Understand RNs and ADNs

Choosing a career path in nursing is a very important decision that requires careful consideration of various factors, such as education, career goals, and personal interests. One of the most important decisions a prospective nurse must make is deciding between being a registered nurse (RN) and being a registered nurse.Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)Program. Both pathways lead to a nursing career, but differ in training requirements, areas of activity and career opportunities. In this article, we look at the differences between the RN and ADN programs to help you decide which path is right for you.

Take away

Deciding between an RN and an ADN can be compared to choosing between a direct flight and a connecting flight to get to your destination. Nonstop (RN) flights take you directly to your destination with fewer stops, but may require more time and resources upfront. On the other hand, a connecting flight (ADN) involves more stops and may take longer to reach the destination, but requires less initial investment.

RN vs. ADN: What's the Difference and Which Is Right for You? (1)

What are ADNs?

ADN stands for Associate Degree in Nursing. This is a two-year undergraduate degree offered by many community colleges and trade schools. This program provides students with the essential knowledge and skills to become a Registered Nurse (RN) and work in the healthcare field.

The program focuses on developing skills in patient care, communication, critical thinking and decision making. Upon completion of the ADN program, graduates can take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become a Registered Nurse.

(Video) ADN vs BSN Nursing Degree's | PROS & CONS

While ADN programs provide a strong foundation for a nursing career, they may have limitations in terms of career advancement and employment opportunities.

What is a Registered Nursing Diploma?

The RN Diploma is a nursing program that provides students with the education and training they need to become a Registered Nurse (RN). They are usually offered by nursing or professional schools and last about two to three years.

These courses combine classroom instruction and hands-on clinical experience and focus on improving patient care, communication, and critical thinking skills.

However, it is important to note that the RN degree is less common these days and that most colleges and universities offer nursing programs as Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) orBachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)Program.

What are BSNs?

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing is a four-year undergraduate program that offers students a more advanced and in-depth education than the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or RN Diploma programs.

CourseBSN programIncludes general and specialty nursing courses. Includes anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, pharmacology, ethics of care, health assessment, nursing research, community health care, and nursing leadership.

Healthcare employers often prefer BSN graduates because of their more advanced training, which enables them to assume leadership roles in healthcare, pursue careers in skilled nursing, and continue their education at the graduate level.

(Video) ADN vs BSN | What is the Difference between Associates & Bachelors Degree in Nursing?

ADN vs. RN vs. BSN: Admission Requirements

RN vs. ADN: What's the Difference and Which Is Right for You? (2)

Admission requirements for ADN, RN, and BSN programs may vary by institution and program. Generally all three programs require a high school diploma or equivalent and prerequisite courses.

ADN programAdmission requirements are generally less stringent than RN or BSN programs. Most ADN programs require:

  • High school diploma or GED certificate
  • English language ability
  • High school math and science curriculum
  • 3.0 or higher GPA
  • application and fee

Registered Care PlanGeneral requirements for applicants:

  • High school diploma or GED certificate holder
  • they have English language skills
  • He graduated from high school in mathematics and science
  • Complete Advanced Placement
  • Have a GPA of 2.0-3.0 or higher
  • Apply and charge

Secondly,BSN programThey often have the most stringent entry requirements such as:

  • High school diploma or GED certificate
  • 3.0 GPA or higher with math and science courses
  • Teacher or employer recommendation
  • application and fee

Advantages of RN – ADN

The RN-ADN program can provide students with an affordable, flexible and highly effective pathway to a career in nursing with the opportunity for continued education and future career development.

affordable price

One of the main advantages is the affordable price. Often less expensive than the four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program, the RN-ADN program is a great option for students on a budget. This can help students reduce their overall student loan debt and earn a salary sooner as an RN.

All the time

Another advantage of the RN-ADN program is the time it takes to complete. Most programs can be completed in two years, which means students can enter the job market sooner and start earning a salary. This is particularly attractive to students looking to restart their nursing careers or who have other commitments (eg family or work) that make it difficult to commit to a wider programme.

(Video) RN Vs BSN | Which Nursing Degree Is Right For You?


RN-ADN programs also offer flexibility, as many programs are offered part-time or online. This makes it easier for students to balance their education with work and other personal commitments. Online courses, in particular, allow students to study from home or work and complete coursework at their own pace, making it easier to fit education into their busy lives.

Steps to get a BSN

The RN - ADN program will pave the way for a BSN. Many RN-ADN programs offer pathways to the BSN, allowing students to complete the BSN degree while working as an RN. This can open up more employment opportunities for you and greater earning potential in your nursing career.

In addition, RN-ADN graduates can take advantage of tuition reimbursement programs offered by many healthcare employers to help them continue their education and earn their BSN.

RN – BSN benefits

The RN-BSN program offers many benefits to registered nurses such as: B. Higher salary potential, advanced knowledge, improved career prospects and pathways to further post-secondary education. Pursuing a BSN degree can prove beneficial as you seek to advance your nursing career and contribute more to healthcare.

higher salary potential

RN vs. ADN: What's the Difference and Which Is Right for You? (3)

Earning a bachelor's degree in nursing provides registered nurses with more advanced knowledge and skills, resulting in higher salary potential. The intensive training and skills that come with a BSN degree prepare nurses for more advanced roles in health care, which often pay better salaries. Additionally, many healthcare employers recognize the value of BSN-prepared nurses and offer higher salaries to attract and retain these skilled professionals.

learn more

The RN - BSN program provides registered nurses with advanced training beyond the basic nursing knowledge gained through a master's degree program. Nurses with a BSN degree are better equipped to handle complex patient care situations, communicate effectively with other healthcare professionals, and make informed decisions that affect patient outcomes. By completing a BSN degree, nurses gain a deeper understanding of the nursing profession and are equipped with advanced knowledge and skills that can help them become leaders in healthcare.

more career opportunities

The RN-BSN program also gives you access to more career opportunities, as many healthcare employers prefer to hire nurses with a BSN degree, particularly in leadership and management roles. Additionally, nurses with a BSN degree are eligible to pursue a wider range of nursing specialties and certifications, which can lead to higher salaries and more fulfilling careers.

(Video) ADN vs BSN PROGRAM| What I choose | Cost of nursing programs | which degree is right for you?

Steps to get started in a graduate program

A BSN degree is considered an important prerequisite for advancing a nursing career and pursuing a master's degree in nursing. Many graduate nursing programs require applicants to have a BSN degree as a requirement for admission. Pursuing a BSN degree can open the door to a variety of post-secondary education and career opportunities, including but not limited to:Nurse, nursing educator, nursing researcher and nursing manager.

RN – ADN vs. RN – BSN: Which is Right for You?

RN vs. ADN: What's the Difference and Which Is Right for You? (4)

As an RN candidate, you may have a hard time choosing between RN – ADN and RN – BSN programs. Both programs have advantages and disadvantages, and the final choice depends on your individual career goals, financial situation, and personal preferences. That's why it's important to carefully weigh the pros and cons of each program before making a decision.

after all

In summary, choosing between RN and ADN programs requires careful consideration of various factors, including affordability, time to completion, flexibility, and career goals. By carefully weighing the strengths and weaknesses of each program, you can make decisions that meet your goals and pave the way for a fulfilling career in nursing.

RN vs. ADN: What's the Difference and Which Is Right for You? (5)

Jane Hudson, MS N

(Video) ADN vs BSN | Which Nursing Degree Is Right For You?


RN vs. ADN: What's the Difference and Which Is Right for You? ›

An RN stands for registered nurse. In this context, it typically means a registered nurse that has an ADN degree, instead of a BSN degree. An ADN stands for an Associate's Degree in Nursing which is a nursing school program that takes two- or three- years to complete.

Is RN better than ADN? ›

Is an ADN the same as an RN? An ADN is a two-year nursing degree that leads to becoming an RN. The RN credential is more than holding the degree: It includes earning an RN diploma, ADN, or BSN degree, passing the NCLEX, and completing state licensing requirements.

Is it worth getting an ADN in nursing? ›

For those who want to become a registered nurse, an ADN degree can help them get into the field quickly. It can be a useful stepping-stone to receive a bachelor's degree in nursing or for other advanced medical degrees. Becoming a registered nurse can lead to a wide variety of opportunities and career paths.

Do hospitals prefer BSN over ADN? ›

Many hospitals favor hiring nurses with a BSN because they can reach the IOM's recommendation without losing ADNs who are close to retirement age. If hospitals do hire nurses with an associate degree, they may require them to complete a BSN program within two to five years.

What is the difference between RN and ADN? ›

The main difference between the two is that the ADN is a college degree while the RN diploma is, well, a diploma. Both programs take about two years to complete, and both are considered “entry-level.” They also both prepare students to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam for licensure.

Why choose BSN over ADN? ›

A BSN degree is a bachelor's degree, typically a four-year program, that is a step higher than an ADN degree. Registered nurses with this degree not only go to school longer, but they also gain a more in-depth education compared to those with an ADN degree.

What percentage of nurses have ADN? ›

Abstract. Roughly 40% of the nearly 3 million registered nurses (RNs) in the United States have an associate's degree (ADN) as their highest level of nursing education.

What are the benefits of an ADN? ›

The main advantages of an ADN program are that it's less expensive and less time-consuming. You'll become a nurse faster, start earning money and getting nursing experience. You can complete ADN programs in as few as 18 to 24 months.

Do ADN and BSN take the same Nclex? ›

After earning their degree, BSN graduates are required to pass the same NCLEX-RN test taken by ADN candidates. As a result of the additional education, BSN-RNs are otherwise better positioned for certain nursing specialties, career advancement opportunities, and better pay.

Are BSN nurses safer than ADN nurses? ›

We found that hospitals with a larger proportion of nurses with BSN qualifications have significantly lower risk-adjusted mortality for surgical patients, regardless of the specific pathway nurses take to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing.

What does ADN mean in nursing? ›

As you've been looking into pursuing a nursing career, you've likely noticed a number of options to acquire the credentials you need. One that stands out is an associate degree in nursing (ADN) since you can finish a program in two years or fewer.

Is the Nclex hard? ›

The NCLEX is a hard exam, but it's not impossible to pass. Statistically, over 80% of students who take the NCLEX RN or NCLEX PN exam will pass. Most likely, a student will pass if they went to a good nursing program, bought a good NCLEX prep course, and has a good NCLEX study plan in place.

What is the difference between ADN and BSN a comparison of advantages and disadvantages? ›

Overall, a BSN education provides more long-term opportunities for career advancement and improvement as a nurse, but this degree costs more and takes longer. An ADN education is quicker and less expensive to obtain, but it is not ideal when taking long-term nursing goals into consideration.

What is the highest paid registered nurse? ›

What is the highest-paid nurse? Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists! Earning $195,610 annually, CRNAs earn significantly more than any other type of nurse or nursing specialty.

Can you take the NCLEX without a BSN? ›

Do you need a nursing degree to take the NCLEX exam? To take the NCLEX-RN, you'll need a four-year nursing degree from an accredited program. To take the NCLEX-PN, you'll need to complete a related diploma program or certificate course.

Does taking the NCLEX make you an RN? ›

NCLEX, which stands for National Council Licensure Examination, refers generally to one of the two standardized tests nurses need to pass in order to become either a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN).

What skills are different between ADN and BSN? ›

BSN nurses may enjoy increased autonomy in decision making on the job, with increased knowledge and understanding of RN specialties and skills. ADN nurses are typically highly focused on technical clinical tasks and day-to-day care, such as monitoring patients, administering basic procedures or updating charts.

Is ADN and LVN the same thing? ›

ADN programs are longer than LVN programs, but shorter than a four-year BSN program. As is common for most associate degrees, an ADN program typically takes about two years to complete, depending on the pace of study.

What is the youngest age to be a nurse? ›

This stipulation dictates that most aspiring nurses become licensed nursing professionals at the earliest ages of 20 and 22, depending on whether they have attended a two-year nursing program for an associate's degree or a four-year nursing program for a bachelor's degree.

How old is the average nurse? ›

Key Nursing Statistics

Over 325,000 nurse practitioners (NPs) are licensed in the United States. The nurse population is comprised of 14% men and 86% women. 44 years old is the average age of a registered nurse. 69.6% of all nurses in the United States are white.

What is the average age of a new nurse? ›

BSN programs have an average age of early-mid 20s. Students in RN-to-BSN programs are typically in their late 30s.

Do ADN and BSN make the same amount of money? ›

Associate degree nurses have a salary range from $49,810 at the beginning of their careers to over $106,000 with twenty or more years of experience. BSN nurses typically begin their careers with an annual salary of about $53,000 and may make over $115,000 annually (or more) with twenty plus years' experience.

Is an LPN or RN higher? ›

LPNs will likely earn lower salaries than RNs. This is because RNs have more advanced training and can carry out more complex types of patient care. Average salaries across both professions depend largely on your education, experience and where you practice and typically do not reflect entry-level positions.

Do you take NCLEX twice for ADN and BSN? ›

The main test that nurses take is the NCLEX, but you do not need to take it more than once after passing. Though there are no other required exams, you may want to take some of the certification exams available.

How much does an ADN make in Texas? ›

ADN Nurse Salary in Dallas, TX $75,616 - ZipRecruiter.

What percent of nurses have BSN? ›

As of 2018, the percentage of nurses that have graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN) or higher is about 57% (Campaign for Action, 2020).

What can a BSN do that an RN Cannot? ›

“As a BSN, you have more opportunities than your RN counterparts. You can step up to a leadership position, move into nursing education, work in public health and focus on health education within the community, or even go on to pursue a nurse practitioner or nurse administrator degree,” Christman said.

What is the hardest nursing certification to get? ›

Emergency nursing is considered one of the most difficult fields of nursing, and certification in this specialty is highly desirable.

What is better than a RN? ›

Doctor Of Nursing Practice (DNP)

A Doctorate Of Nursing Practice (DNP) is the highest level of nursing education and expertise within the nursing profession. DNPs work in nursing administration or direct patient care as an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN).

What can a nurse associate do? ›

Nursing associates contribute to service delivery and patient care by: • assisting nurses with a greater range of care-giving responsibilities • improving patient communication • providing more patient-centred care and acting as patient advocates • identifying and escalating patients with deteriorating health • ...

What is ADN to MSN? ›

RN to MSN programs are for registered nurses who have their associate degree in nursing (ADN) and who wish to earn their MSN without first completing a BSN program (note: some RN to MSN programs will accept RNs with a diploma in nursing).

How many times can I fail my NCLEX? ›

Though the vast majority of candidates pass the exam the first time, those who fail are permitted to retake it after 45 days from their original test date. Candidates may retest as many as 8 times in a year.

How many nursing students fail the NCLEX? ›

What Are Your Chances Of Failing NCLEX-RN On The First Attempt? The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) reports 13.43% of NCLEX-RN candidates fail the exam on their first attempt.

How many times can you take NCLEX? ›

Frequently Asked Questions About the NCLEX

According to NCSBN rules, you can take the NCLEX eight times a year with 45 days in between attempts.

Why is a BSN better than an ASN? ›

A BSN is a higher educational credential than an ASN and requires approximately four years to complete. BSN programs cover the same material as an ASN curriculum, but with greater depth and added training in leadership, case management, information management and more.

What type of nurse is most in demand? ›

BSN-prepared nurses are the most sought-after RNs in the job market and can advance to leadership and management roles more quickly than the ASN nurse.
2. Registered nurse (RN)
EducationASN (required) or BSN (recommended)
CertificationsMust pass the NCLEX-RN exam
1 more row

What is the easiest floor to work on as a nurse? ›

Many will argue that med-surg work is the heart of nursing and provides new grads with the foundational skills they will need to move on to other specialties later, if they so choose. And frankly, the easiest and fastest way to get a job as a new grad is to go to a med/surg floor.

Do L&D nurses deliver babies? ›

Labor and delivery nurses, also known as “L&D nurses,” help deliver healthy babies and get mothers through the process of pregnancy safely.

What disqualifies you from taking the NCLEX? ›

Immediate disqualifiers are as follows: Major misdemeanor conviction for crimes involving weapons, violence, embezzlement, dishonesty, misappropriation, fraud or sex crimes. Any felony conviction. More than one drunk driving or related conviction in the past three years.

What is passing rate for NCLEX? ›

NCLEX Pass Rates by State
47 more rows
Apr 1, 2023

Which state is best for NCLEX? ›

None. There is no “easy” state to take the NCLEX. The NCLEX is a national exam administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN). Because it's national, the NCLEX will be the same regardless of what state you choose to take it in.

What happens if you fail NCLEX 3 times? ›

If they fail, they'll need to wait 45 days before retesting. After failing three times, though, they'll need to complete a board-approved remediation program before the next retake. test-takers have six attempts to pass in total.

What happens if you don't pass NCLEX in 3 years? ›

If you have not passed the NCLEX by the three-year anniversary of your graduation, you will have to attend a nursing education program before you may take the exam again.

What happens if you never pass the NCLEX? ›

All nurses have to pass the NCLEX to acquire a nursing license and practice. If you fail the exam, you should reschedule and restudy as soon as possible to get closer to working as a nurse. In some states, you must inform your employer once you learn you didn't pass the NCLEX (if you're already employed).

What degree is higher than an RN? ›

There are five levels of nursing: Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Registered Nurse (RN), Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (APRN), and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). Each level has different requirements, educational qualifications, and salary rates.

What is the lowest RN degree? ›

In general, nurses fall into three categories: non-degree, degree, and advanced degree. Non-degree nurses include certified nursing assistants (CNAs) and licensed practical nurses (LPNs), who complete nursing education programs that don't culminate in a degree.

What type of RN makes the most? ›

The Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist consistently ranks as the highest-paid nursing career. That is because Nurse Anesthetists are highly skilled Registered Nurses who work closely with medical staff during medical procedures that require anesthesia.

Do you make more money as an RN or with a BSN? ›

A BSN will earn more than an RN. According to Payscale, someone with a BSN degree earns $32.41 hourly on average. In comparison, an RN with an ADN makes $29.83 on average per hour. This gap is also reflected in their respective annual salaries.

What is the hardest nurse to become? ›

Here are just a few of the specialties our readers mentioned — along with a little insight into what makes these nursing jobs so difficult.
  • Oncology. There's no surprise that this specialty is near the top of the list. ...
  • Hospice. ...
  • Medical-Surgical. ...
  • Geriatric Care. ...
  • Emergency Room. ...
  • Psychiatry. ...
  • Correctional Nursing.

What are the three types of RN? ›

They are messenger RNA (mRNA), transfer RNA (tRNA), and ribosomal RNA (rRNA).

What degree is closest to nursing? ›

For those who are interested in more behind-the-scenes work, or who want to explore their options in healthcare, health science is a great alternative major to nursing. A health science degree can lead to many different careers, from a healthcare administrator to medical biller and coder.

What is the highest GPA for nursing? ›

After acceptance into the nursing program, each student must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for coursework in the nursing major to remain in the nursing program.

How to pass level 1 nursing? ›

  1. Time Management. To be successful in nursing school, you must manage your time appropriately. ...
  2. Get Organized. ...
  3. Use Mnemonics. ...
  4. Study Everyday. ...
  5. Complete Practice Questions. ...
  6. Participate in a Study Group. ...
  7. Focus on course objectives when studying. ...
  8. Know your learning style.

What is a level 6 RN? ›

Nurse practitioner (level six): A level six nurse is a nurse practitioner who has a master's degree in nursing and assists medical teams in an advanced clinical role. They have a nurse practitioner endorsement which requires several years of nursing experience to obtain.


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