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differences in nursing degrees

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Nursing Degrees

ADN and ASN – two names for the same nursing degree1

There are two names for associate degree programs that can lead to a career as a registered nurse – the Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN) and the Associate of Applied Science in Nursing (ASN).
These programs are the same and include the following in their core curriculum: Adult health, Maternal and newborn nursing, and pediatrics. Psychiatric nursing, community health nursing, and gerontological nursing are sometimes included as well. A BSN program would typically offer more courses in nursing theory, including nursing research, and nursing informatics, which is a field of study that examines how nurses use technology.
Many advanced positions require a bachelor degreee in nursing (a BSN) and position the student for more earning potential and responsibility.

Understanding the differences in nursing degrees.1,2

Full Title


Licensed Vocational Nurse or Licensed Practical Nurse


Registered Nurse Advanced Practice Nurse/Nurse Practitioner
Required Education


One year of training post high school

Two-year Associates (ADN, ASN or AAS-N) or four-year Bachelor (BSN) degree Four-Year bachelor degree and master's degree



State licensing

National licensing exam NCLEX Specialty certification exam
Summary of 


Works directly under a doctor, RN or senior LVN to take medical histories and vitals, record symptoms, and give injections.


Provide direct patients care with physician oversight. Administer treatments, evaluate patient and help them manage treatment plan, explain medical information, coordinate care. May often diagnose and treat patients autonomously, without physician oversight. May order diagnostic tests and interpret results. Some may prescribe medication (state rules vary).

Learn more about the differences between an RN and an LVN or RN and nurse practitioner

1 Nurse Journal, Associates Degree in Nursing, retrieved 4/9/16,
2, LPN vs RN, retrieved 4/9/16