Types Of Nursing Degrees: A Beginner’s Guide To Understanding Nursing Credentials

Almost all students find it challenging to decide which career path to embark on after passing senior high school. Lack of guidance is the biggest obstacle to deciding the right career that will help them get ahead in life. If you are struggling to choose a career, know you’re not alone!

Among all career paths, we’ve found nursing in high demand and one of the most rewarding. Nurses in the United States receive competitive remuneration. As per research conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in May 2021, the annual mean wage of registered nurses in the U.S. is $77,600. As such, it’s higher than the average mean wage in the entire country. 

Besides, the emotional rewards nurses receive after transforming the lives of patients by helping them heal are greater than financial compensation. As a fresh senior high school pass-out, getting intimidated by the numerous nursing degrees isn’t unnatural. To ensure you don’t end up choosing the wrong degree, we’ve put together this guide, which will walk you through the different levels of nursing degrees. By the end of the guide, we’re sure you’ll be able to decide which course to enroll in to launch your nursing career. 

5 Types of Nursing Degrees

Becoming a nurse could be one of the most satisfying careers if you wish to make a difference in people’s lives. Below are five main nursing credentials that will help you become a practicing nurse:

1. Diploma in Practical Nursing 

You can kickstart your career in nursing by earning a diploma in Practical Nursing. Upon completing the course, you’ll be recognized as a licensed practical nurse (LPN) and will be able to work in a variety of healthcare settings

With physicians and registered nurses, you can work in hospices, doctor’s offices, hospitals, nursing homes, and urgent care clinics. Little do people know that a wide number of nurses start their careers in nursing through a diploma certificate and complete their bachelor’s and master’s after a few years of practice. 

2. Associate Degree in Nursing 

Want to become a registered nurse in a two-year time frame? Well, in that case, an associate degree in Nursing is all you need to become a registered nurse and serve people in healthcare settings. 

Registered nurses, or R.N.s, are increasingly in demand because of the growing population of patients in healthcare organizations

3. Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

For aspiring nurses with no undergraduate degree or prior experience in nursing, a bachelor’s degree in nursing will equip you with the skills and knowledge needed to be a registered nurse. 

Between 48 and 60 months, students are taught to work in an extensive range of nursing positions. One of the upsides of becoming a nurse with a bachelor’s degree is that the job opportunities are vast. Of course, increased employment opportunities mean bigger paychecks. 

Nevertheless, you can go for an accelerated bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) if you wish to earn a bachelor’s degree in as little as 36 months. Few universities, like Rockhurst University, offer an accelerated BSN program, wherein students can earn a nursing degree within 16 months of enrollment. 

Students working and studying simultaneously can opt for the hybrid ABSN program offered by the university and complete their courses with minimal attendance. Even on-campus residency is offered by the university with specially discounted housing fees for students living far off. 

4. Master’s Degree in Nursing

A master’s degree in nursing (MSN) helps nursing students and professionals expand their scope of practice and become a specialist in a certain field of care. Plus, you’ll earn more than you did as a practicing nurse with a bachelor’s degree. 

Three common master’s in nursing specialties are:

  • Nurse leadership and administration
  • Nurse educator
  • Nurse practitioners

5. Doctoral Degree

You can complete your education in the nursing sector by earning a doctoral degree. Upon completion of the doctorate program, you can take up leadership roles within a broad range of healthcare settings. Like, you can take up the role of a community health specialist, nursing manager, critical care nurse, rehabilitation specialist, chief nursing officer, and so on. 

Among the several types of doctoral degrees, the Doctor of Nursing Science (DNSc or DNS), Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (Ph.D.), and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) are the most common among nursing students and professionals. 

Start Your Career in Nursing With The Right Nursing Degree

Though not an easy career, nursing is a highly fulfilling vocation. Besides the vast job opportunities, the earning potential is higher compared to other occupations. 

With this simple breakdown of nursing credentials, we are sure you would have decided which course you’d like to enroll in. A diploma would be the fastest way to start your career, but earning a bachelor’s will broaden your career horizons, and you’ll get paid well. 

And if you’re already a graduate, pursuing a master’s in nursing will add feathers to your cap. 


There are a lot of ways to pursue your career in the medical field. Nursing is one of them. One of the best and with a lot of opportunities.

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