How to Become a Registered Nurse with a Bachelor's Degree

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Are you wondering how to become a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree in another field? While changing careers can be difficult, for many this decision is the right move. Whether your degree is in economics, history, biology or another field, it is still possible to change course and pursue a fulfilling career in nursing.

Pacific Lutheran University ABSN students looking at hospital equipment

At Pacific Lutheran University, new ABSN site located just north of Seattle, we make it possible for you to make the meaningful change to a career in nursing even if you hold a bachelor’s degree in a different field. Our Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program, which offers three start dates throughout the year, makes it possible for eligible students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree — or at least 60 non-nursing college credits — to earn a BSN in as few as 16 months.

Becoming a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree requires determination and hard work, but with dedication and passion, you can achieve your goal of becoming a registered nurse (RN). Read on to learn how to become a registered nurse with a bachelor’s degree as well as the path to earning a BSN from various bachelor’s degrees and education levels.

5 Steps to Earn a BSN with a Bachelor's Degree

Earning a BSN with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree requires hard work, but the process is straightforward and can be completed more quickly than you may think. This post outlines the step-by-step process of earning a BSN with a prior bachelor’s degree or non-nursing college credits.

1. Apply to an Accelerated Nursing Program

Choosing a program and beginning the admissions process are the first steps if you are considering a career in nursing. Investigate the accredited and state-approved ABSN programs in your region, or expand your search nationally if you are willing to relocate. The accelerated BSN program at PLU, located just north of Seattle, is an ideal option for someone looking to jumpstart their career through a hybrid online and in-person curriculum.

Pursue your nursing career

Learn more about how to earn your BSN in as few as 16 months with the PLU Accelerated BSN program.

Accelerated BSN Requirements

To be eligible for the accelerated BSN program at Pacific Lutheran, you will need to have a prior non-nursing bachelor’s degree (or at least 60 college credits) as well as a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. The ABSN program at PLU is designed for students who are new to nursing, so if you have a prior nursing degree or certification, please contact an admissions counselor for program options.

Pacific Lutheran’s ABSN program requires the completion of several prerequisite courses, which are necessary to ensure students are prepared for the nursing curriculum. You may have taken some of the prerequisite courses while completing your prior bachelor’s degree. The prerequisite courses for Pacific Lutheran’s ABSN program are listed below and must have been completed at an accredited institution with at least a B- grade.

  • Intro to Microbiology with Lab
  • Human Anatomy & Physiology I and II with Lab
  • Chemistry of Life with Lab
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Development Across the Lifespan
  • Introductory Statistics
  • Theology
  • Diversity

How to Apply for an ABSN

The ABSN application process at PLU consists of a few key steps:

  • Submit an inquiry form to the ABSN admission team.
  • Discuss your program eligibility with an admission counselor.
  • Make a prerequisite plan and choose a start date with an admission counselor.
  • Complete your remaining prerequisite courses.
  • Submit your completed application for the ABSN program.
  • Submit your official transcript and any necessary supplemental documents.

2. Begin the ABSN Program

Once you’ve enrolled in an accelerated nursing program, the hard work begins. Accelerated programs are intended to be rigorous. The fast pace makes it possible for a student to acquire the necessary knowledge to be a skilled nurse in less time than in other BSN programs.

The ASBN program curriculum at PLU consists of the following components:

  • Online Courses: This is where you’ll gain didactic nursing knowledge. Online courses provide the structure of an instructor’s guidance and a set curriculum. As a plus, you will have the flexibility to study whenever and wherever is best for you and your schedule.
  • Skills and Simulation Labs: Hands-on nursing labs with classmates and instructors at the Accelerated BSN Site offer a safe environment to practice your nursing and patient care skills. You’ll also participate in myriad nursing scenarios through the program’s simulation labs.
  • Clinical Experiences: The final component of an effective nursing curriculum is real-world exposure to patients. Clinical rotations in various specialties will give opportunities to practice your nursing skills under the careful guidance of skilled professional nurses.
Pacific Lutheran University nursing student working with lab equipment

3. Graduate with a BSN Degree

Earning your BSN is the most important step in becoming a registered nurse. This degree provides the foundational education and skills needed to launch your new career. It’s no easy feat to complete a nursing curriculum in as few as 16 months, but by investing the time and hard work now, you’ll be able to begin your career sooner.

Here are a few tips to help you succeed in nursing school and graduate quickly:

  • Create a study schedule and use a planner. Organization will be key to your success.
  • Use active study techniques that match your learning style.
  • Study in a group. Studying with others increases accountability, understanding and comradery.
  • Balance school with personal wellness by taking time for family, friends and hobbies.

Once you graduate from the ABSN program, you’ll nearly be at the finish line!

4. Take the NCLEX and Get Licensed

To earn your nursing license, you will need to successfully pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX). Nursing licensure is determined on a state-by-state basis, so you will apply for licensure and approval to test in the state where you plan to live and work.

After graduation, students generally devote about one to two months to studying before taking the NCLEX. It takes practice to master the questioning style seen on the exam, which asks participants to choose the best answer amid multiple correct answers. Luckily, the ABSN program at PLU prepares students for the NCLEX by using a similar style of testing questions throughout the curriculum.

After taking and passing the NCLEX, you’ll receive your official license from the state board of nursing.

5. Begin Working as a Nurse

At this stage, the hard work has finally paid off. After receiving your RN license, you can now practice as a nurse and begin your new career. Many nursing students choose to begin their job search during the final semester of nursing school. This makes it possible to start a new job soon after receiving a nursing license.

B.S. to BSN

Are you wondering how the pathway to nursing works if your prior degree is a Bachelor of Science? Many students enter the ABSN program at PLU with a prior B.S. degree. If you have a B.S. degree, you’re likely well prepared with the general education requirements for a BSN. Depending on your major, you may also have completed several of the prerequisite science courses needed to begin the ABSN program at PLU.

Transitioning from a B.S. to a BSN allows you to earn your nursing degree in even less time, having already completed some science prerequisites. Choosing an accelerated program rather than a traditional four-year nursing program saves valuable time when you are eager to begin a new career.

Biology Degree to BSN

If you have a Bachelor of Science in biology but don’t want to work in a lab or become a physician, what else can you do with your degree? Through Pacific Lutheran’s ABSN program, you could become a nurse. Students with a prior bachelor’s degree in biology are ideally placed for a smooth and efficient transition to nursing. Their education has set them up with a solid foundation and prepared them well for the nursing curriculum.

With a degree in biology, you have likely completed most prerequisite courses and may be able to begin the ABSN program sooner than you might think. The course load for a biology major includes nursing prerequisites such as microbiology, chemistry, statistics, and anatomy and physiology. If you have earned a biology degree, you are well prepared to start the journey to becoming an RN.

Liberal Arts Degree to BSN

Are you wondering if it’s possible to become a registered nurse with a liberal arts bachelor's degree? If you have a bachelor’s degree in a non-scientific field, such as writing, music, history or economics, you can still make the transition to nursing.

With a prior Bachelor of Arts degree, you have likely fulfilled the general education requirements needed for an accelerated BSN program. Liberal arts programs also teach many of the soft skills needed to succeed as a nurse, such as communication, critical thinking and problem-solving.

If your prior degree was in a non-scientific field, you may have taken very few science courses in college and will likely need to complete some prerequisite science classes before beginning the ABSN program. While it takes some extra time to complete these courses, eligible students with a liberal arts degree can begin the 16-month ABSN program at Pacific Lutheran soon after the courses are completed.

Launch Your Nursing Career with Pacific Lutheran

Pacific Lutheran University nursing students with instructor

Nursing is a fulfilling career that makes it possible to make a daily impact on your community. You’ll benefit from having an in-demand career with endless growth potential. If you are ready to begin the process of becoming a nurse with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree or at least 60 non-nursing college credits, Pacific Lutheran may be just the right fit for you.

PLU’s accelerated BSN program offers three start dates each year, allowing you to get started soon after being accepted and avoid waiting up to a year to begin your degree. Eligible students with a prior bachelor’s degree or at least 60 college credits can earn their BSN in as few as 16 months. With the ABSN program’s mix of online courses, skills and simulation labs and clinical rotations, you’ll receive a nursing education that truly prepares you for the real world.

Reach out to our admissions counselors to discover how PLU can help you achieve your nursing career goals.