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Will a four-year degree soon be required to become an RN?

Dear Nancy,

There is a rumor at my college that it soon will be a requirement to have a four-year degree to become an RN. Is there any truth to this?


Dear Jason,

There has been a recommendation for some time that nurses advance their education to the baccalaureate degree and higher degree levels.

As an example, in 2013, the Joint Statement on Academic Progression for Nursing Students and Graduates promoted academic progression in nursing. The statement was endorsed by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, the National League for Nursing, the American Association of Community Colleges, the Association of Community Colleges Trustees and the National Organization for Associate Degree Nursing. In addition, in May of 2010, the Tri-Council for Nursing, composed of the AACN, the American Nurses Association and the NLN, published its consensus statement, Educational Advancement of Registered Nurses, calling for all RNs to advance their education.

To date, no state has passed a requirement making a baccalaureate degree mandatory for licensure as an RN. Whether this will happen in the future remains to be seen. However, whether a requirement for licensure or not, there is no doubt that nurses who have baccalaureate and higher degrees are better prepared to meet the demands of patient care in all settings. One study done in 2008 by nurse researcher Linda Aiken found that every 10% increase in the proportion of BSN nurses on the hospital staff was associated with a 4% decrease in the risk of death [of patients], according to AACN.

It sounds as though you are enrolled in a baccalaureate nursing program. Good for you. But as you know, learning is lifelong, so you will want to consider an advanced degree in the near future. Doing so will allow you many opportunities to practice nursing in unique and exciting ways and provide your patients with excellent care.


By | 2015-08-25T13:26:16-04:00 August 28th, 2015|Categories: Nursing Careers and Jobs|2 Comments

About the Author:

Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN
Our legal information columnist Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN, received her Juris Doctor from Loyola University Chicago School of Law and concentrates her solo law practice in health law and legal representation, consultation and education for healthcare professionals, school of nursing faculty and healthcare delivery facilities. Brent has conducted many seminars on legal issues in nursing and healthcare delivery across the country and has published extensively in the area of law and nursing practice. She brings more than 30 years of experience to her role of legal information columnist. Her posts are designed for educational purposes only and are not to be taken as specific legal or other advice. Individuals who need advice on a specific incident or work situation should contact a nurse attorney or attorney in their state. Visit The American Association of Nurse Attorneys website to search its attorney referral database by state.


  1. Avatar
    Linda September 6, 2015 at 2:04 pm - Reply

    I’m working on my BSN and possibly MSN but I will say that I have no plans to go back to bedside nursing as most of my BSN-MSN friends. So good luck with that those employers. My take is the salaries will be stagnated or dropped because of this. Good patient care comes from the education, experience and skill set combined. I know several MSNs that haven’t been nurses longer than some LVNS or ADNs and I wouldn’t let them take care of dog, mainly because their skills is subpar. If you choose a lawyer do you want an experienced lawyer who can handle big cases or do you want mediocre lawyer right out of school to handle your case?

  2. Avatar
    Betty Jones September 22, 2015 at 6:56 pm - Reply

    Dear Nancy, in the facility where I work, there are many RNs with a Bachelor’s degree. However, I think it’s all about attitude and love for the profession. I don’t think that your level of education make you work harder and care more for the patient. Of course we need nurses who practice safe care at all times but it’s mostly about having the right attitude. There are many RNs with a bachelor’s who I am embarrassed to even associate myself with.

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