RN to BSN and RN to MSN "bridge" programs are designed to allow nurses to transition to higher degrees with as little frustration as possible. However, each school has specific transfer and admission requirements that must be considered. For example, it's imperative to determine the timeframe in which courses are transferrable; some schools require certain courses to be completed within a specified number of years from the time of admission.

Another consideration is the amount of transferrable credits allowed by the BSN/MSN program. Some schools have a maximum number of credits that can be transferred. Again, each school has specific requirements which nurses should familiarize themselves with.

General Courses

Courses taken as prerequisites to the RN program may be transferrable, such as English, math (statistics), microbiology, anatomy and physiology, and chemistry. Community colleges do a great job at indicating which classes are transferrable to universities, so students who earned an Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN) from a community college should make sure that the classes they took are transferrable.

For those who attended a diploma RN program, prospective students should contact their former school or obtain a copy of their transcripts and speak with an adviser in the RN to BSN/MSN program to ensure the classes count toward the higher degree.

RELATED: What Is the Difference Between an ADN and RN Diploma?

Nursing Courses

RNs going for their Bachelor's of Science in Nursing (BSN) do not need to repeat all the nursing basics. Diploma and ADN programs both prepare students to become nurses, so much of the curriculum is standardized in terms of nursing care of adults, children, maternal/newborns, and psychiatric patients. Therefore, most schools will allow the transfer of these general nursing courses, so the BSN student would only need to focus on courses specific to bachelor's-prepared nursing and nursing theory; for example, leadership and management, informatics, etc.

Nurses looking to go from an RN to a Master's of Science in Nursing via an RN to MSN program also fall into this category. The nursing basics are usually transferrable, and the nurse can just focus on BSN-related curricula and then begin MSN courses.

Clinical Experience

Interestingly, some schools allow for clinical experience to count towards transfer credits. This is especially helpful for those nurses who have been out of school for a while. Thankfully, working nurses are required to take continuing education courses to maintain their licensure so they are kept up-to-date with the ever-changing field of medicine. Prospective students can visit their school of choice's website to find out if real-world experience is accepted as transfer credit.

Course Transfer Tips

One of the most important things to keep in mind when considering nursing programs is to make sure the program is accredited. One has more options for higher education when the nursing program is nationally accredited. This can also affect licensing. To avoid having to repeat courses in the future and (hopefully) expedite program completion, proper accreditation is key!

If courses do need to be repeated, students can find courses at a community college or even online, which can help reduce the cost. However, they should ensure the course is transferrable to whichever degree program they choose. For example, if a statistics course is required for a BSN program, a student can easily find one at a community college for a fraction of the cost of a university – and it's most likely transferrable.

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