Different Types of Nursing Degrees

There are many different types of nurses in the field of nursing. They can range from ER nurses to obstetrics and gynecology nurses. And just as there are different types of nurses, there are different types of nursing degrees. The level of education required varies from one degree to the next. Briefly discussed below are the various types of nursing degrees and the differences between each.

Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
An LPN is the lowest level in the field of nursing. One can generally become an LPN with only one year of training. The duties and responsibilities of an LPN vary depending on the state and work environment. They may be required to help feed and care for infants, and in certain states, may be allowed to give patients medication or even start an IV drip.

Registered Nurse (RN)
Registered nurses have more responsibility and authority than an LPN. RNs also usually work in a specific field of medicine, such as a cardiovascular nurse. In order to become a registered nurse, completion of one of three differing types of degrees must be attained:

  • Diploma From an Approved Nursing Program
    This is not an actual nursing degree, but rather a diploma that is awarded from a hospital-based nursing program. These programs are typically more hands-on and usually take 2-3 years to complete.

  • Associate's Degree in Nursing
    This is a nursing degree that is obtained by attending a two-year nursing program, usually offered at a community college. An associate’s degree in nursing requires courses in subjects such as chemistry, anatomy & physiology, microbiology, college level algebra, and psychology. This program also typically takes 2-3 years to complete.

  • Bachelor's Degree in Nursing (BSN Degree)
    The BSN degree is usually obtained at a four-year university. This is because it is a more in-depth degree and requires more time to complete. Most employers today will require their nurses to have a BSN degree.

Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN)
This is a nursing degree that requires post-graduate education. Anyone interested in becoming a manager of other nurses or an educator of nurses would need to complete an MSN. It is also required in order to receive a doctorate in nursing.

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
Courses in a DNP program focus primarily on diagnosis and treatment of different diseases. It is intended to prepare nurses to become independent care providers. DNPs usually specialize in specific fields of medicine, such as anesthesiology. A DNP is a doctorate degree, which carries the title of “doctor.” It is an extensive program and typically takes three years to complete.