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A Registered Nurse (RN) works in medical facilities to assess patients and provide proper patient care. Their duties can be complex and varied, from administering medicine to wrapping wounds and assisting doctors during life-saving surgeries. Discover what a registered nurse does daily and what a typical day looks like.

With all the critical tasks entrusted to nurses, you’re right to assume they must attend some intensive schooling in preparation. Most often, that looks like a BSN, a bachelor’s of science in nursing.

If you’re wondering, can you become an RN without a BSN? You can, but you likely still need to attend postsecondary school.

Nurses don’t always need to obtain a BSN to become an RN. You can enter the nursing practice with other relevant degrees. If you want to know more about becoming an RN, this guide outlines the multiple paths to get a nursing education and break into the field.

What is a BSN?

A BSN is an undergraduate degree administered by a school’s faculty of sciences. The nursing program maintains a focus on the theoretical and practical skills necessary in nursing. An accredited BSN issued by a reputable institution can:1

  • Provide students with a solid foundation of medical knowledge and inform them of the various disciplines that a nurse can go into
  • Give them hands-on practice in simulated medical scenarios
  • Test their theoretical knowledge, problem-solving skills, and ability to work in a team
  • Prepare them to write the National Council Licensure Examination – Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) exam and earn their RN license

While a BSN can equip you with the necessary skills to enter the medical sector, it won’t automatically make you a nurse. You will still have to pass the NCLEX-RN exams. These tests are administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) to assess potential nurses’ theoretical and practical medical knowledge.2

If you plan to become an RN, a BSN can provide some of the best practice possible for passing the NCLEX-RN. In almost every jurisdiction, obtaining a nursing degree is a prerequisite to taking the exams.3

However, if you’ve already obtained an undergraduate in another discipline, there’s still an excellent way to prepare to become a nurse. 

Explore our BSN Degree


Can you be a RN without a BSN? Yes, but take into account that these programs may not be credited if you work in another state. An associate degree in nursing, however, can still qualify you for RN licensure within your current state. The BSN degree, on the other hand, is a more advanced educational attainment that expands your job prospects in the nursing field and increases the potential for higher salaries. A BSN nursing student is trained to assume a diverse range of roles, including management positions, research endeavors, and specialized clinical nursing care that could significantly impact patient outcomes. A BSN graduate or BSN nurse can fill in different roles in the dynamic healthcare landscape.

 If you're already an RN who wants continuing education, you may look into the RN-to-BSN- program. You might ask,  “But can I get a masters in nursing without a bsn? ”. Yes, you can look for an RN-to-MSN program. Advanced registered nursing positions that hold leadership roles may require you to earn the bachelor's or master's degrees.

How to Become a Nurse Without a BSN

Most states require you to have, at the minimum, an associate’s degree in nursing to test for the NCLEX-RN to become an RN.4 If you already have a BS in another discipline, however, there’s another way to qualify for the exams without going back to the beginning of your bachelor's.


A master’s of science in nursing (direct entry) (MSN-DE) is one way to change careers in the science sector. It’s an accelerated nursing program available to people with a bachelor’s in a relevant field like biology or psychology. Learn more about traditional vs. accelerated nursing programs to discover which pathway is right for you.

After completing the MSN nursing program, students have the educational prerequisites to sit for the NCLEX-RN. MSNs can prepare graduates for accelerated careers in nursing by:5

  • Combining concepts from nursing and adjacent disciplines to establish a standard for advanced professional practice
  • Teaching leadership skills, such as quality oversight and task delegation, to facilitate advancement into managerial roles
  • Focusing on the theoretical aspects of the discipline, such as how social, political, and technological factors affect the future of nursing
  • Setting them up for success on their NCLEX-RN exam 

Not only will an MSN allow you to sit for your NCLEX-RN and become an RN, but it may also prepare you for elevated nursing careers, such as:6

  • Public health nurse
  • Nurse manager
  • Nurse consultant
  • Clinical nurse educator
  • Director of nursing
  • Clinical research nurse
  • Nurse practitioner
  • Clinical research nurse
  • Chief nursing officer

All of these titles are generally considered senior roles. They usually require an MSN to enter, but they can also be more emotionally rewarding, depending on your passions. Of course, these roles (and others in the nursing field) still require passing the NCLEX-RN.

Explore our Nursing Degrees

About the NCLEX-RN

The NCLEX-RN is administered by the NCSBN, the regulatory board that oversees the nursing sector across America. It’s an exam designed to ensure nurses can provide the same high-quality care, no matter what state they’re in.

The NCSBN maintains regulatory practices and upholds healthcare standards via the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). State Nursing Boards, in compliance with the NLC, must adhere to its testing standards and follow its procedures when issuing licenses.7

Earn Your Nursing Degree at Alliant International University

Whether starting college fresh or planning to start your higher education, consider Alliant International University as the next step on your journey to becoming an RN.

If nursing is your goal and you don’t have an undergraduate, Alliant’s BSN satisfies the requirements to sit the NCLEX-RN and guides you through its topics. If you’ve satisfied your general education requirements, you can complete the nursing program in just two years. It can take a similar amount of time to complete as an associate’s degree, but can provide more specialized knowledge to help you kickstart your nursing career.

If you have a degree in a science-related discipline, Alliant’s MSN puts you in the fast lane and can have you sitting your nursing exam in just two years. Like our BSN, it teaches you relevant theoretical and practical information to help you pass the NCLEX-RN and obtain your RN license.

Apply today and join the new generation of nurse leaders.


  1. “Bachelor of Science in Nursing.” Alliant Intl University. Alliant Intl University. Accessed March 19, 2023.
  2. “What the Exam Looks Like.” NCSBN. NCSBN. Accessed March 19, 2023.…;
  3. “Board of Nursing Professional Licensure Requirements.” NCSBN. NCSBN. Accessed March 19, 2023.…;
  4. “Board of Nursing Professional Licensure Requirements.” NCSBN. NCSBN. Accessed March 19, 2023.…;
  5. “Master of Science in Nursing, Direct Entry.” Alliant Intl University. Alliant Intl University. Accessed March 19, 2023.
  6. “12 Master in Nursing Jobs You Can Pursue with an MSN Degree.” Indeed. Indeed, February 2, 2023.…;
  7. “About the NLC.” NURSECOMPACT. NCSBN. Accessed March 19, 2023.


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