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Nursing Professions & Pathways

Nursing Professions & Pathways

Nurses are crucial members of healthcare teams who make significant contributions to patient care in various facilities, including, but not limited to, hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, schools, and community health centers. They have an extensive range of duties and responsibilities that encompass Direct Patient Care, Health Promotion and Education, Advocacy, Collaboration, and Research and Evidence-Based Practice. They also advocate for healthcare policy reforms that enhance patient safety and improve health outcomes.

In general, nursing is a dynamic and enriching profession that provides opportunities for professional development, continuous learning, and positively impacting individuals, families, and communities' health and well-being. Whether pursuing an entry-level nursing degree or advanced practice specialization, nurses play a vital role in promoting and maintaining health across the lifespan.

Nursing degrees are designed for students who want to pursue assisting patients and overall promoting health. There are varying levels of nursing, but nurses operate as integral members of healthcare teams. They play a crucial role in promoting, maintaining, and restoring patients' health and well-being. Nurses specialize in a diverse array of areas, descriptions may vary depending on the specific department or specialization. 

Though this page covers nursing, we are not directly a part of CSUSB's BSN program or the Department of Nursing. For specific information regarding CSUSB's BSN program, please visit: CSUSB - Department of Nursing.

Nursing Degree Types

Below is a list of the degree routes you can take to become a nurse. Most students opt for the BSN, and it is a great idea to familiarize yourself with the many degree paths! There is no one right way to become a nurse, so long as you obtain your degree. The degrees can differ in pay, length, and opportunities, so be sure to weigh out the pros and cons of pursuing each! It is always a good idea to come to our HPAC Advising Drop-Ins if you have trouble distinguishing the degree types.

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

An ADN is an undergraduate degree program that prepares individuals to become registered nurses (RN). These programs are designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills needed for entry-level nursing practice. ADNs take around 2 years. The average salary of a nurse with an ADN degree is $85k a year.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

A BSN is the most common nursing degree, making up a little over 50% of the current nurse workforce. This provides a baseline for the most common way to become a nurse, indicating that this degree is relatively safe in terms of job security and availability. The average salary of a nurse with a BSN degree in California is $128k a year. A BSN would typically take 4 years to complete. For more information about CSUSB's BSN degree, please visit CSUSB: Bachelor of Science in Nursing.

Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN)

The higher the education, the higher the opportunities tend to be. With an MSN, there is room for specialization and the opportunity to become a nurse practitioner/nurse educator. There are also possibilities to perform research, run an executive position, and teach prospective nurses. Along with these, it is also good to keep in mind that the average salary of a nurse with an MSN degree in California is $180k a year (ZipRecruiter). The journey of obtaining an MSN would typically take around 6-7 years to complete (4 years in undergrad and 2-3 years in masters).

Stuck on which degree to pursue or want to pursue a graduate-level degree?

Check out our Advanced Practice Nursing page to help!

Nursing Prerequisites

NOTE: Specific prerequisite courses can vary by school--always double-check the website of each nursing school you are applying to for specific requirements. Please review the CSUSB Catalog as a guide to completing the CSUSB prerequisites.

Common Prerequisite Courses (BSN, A-BSN, and E-MSN)
Prerequisites CSUSB Courses


A semester of Microbiology must include a lab.

A year of Anatomy & Physiology must include a lab. Courses can be separated into one semester of anatomy, one semester of physiology, or taken as a year-long series.


BIOL 2200 OR BIO 3200

BIOL 2230 and BIO 2240 OR

BIOL 4630 and BIO 4640


A General Chemistry course OR a chemistry course that includes a combination of general chemistry, organic chemistry, and biochemistry. 

Some programs will prefer that students complete the entire chemistry series.


See desired nursing program prerequisite listing for the exact course options. 

CSUSB nursing program: CHEM 2070


A semester of statistics that contains descriptive and inferential statistical topics.


Math 1201, or Math 1202 & Math 1203


A semester of introductory psychology


PSYC 1100

Recommended Coursework

Developmental Psychology

Although this course is not required before applying to a nursing program, it is often a prerequisite before taking nursing courses once accepted into a nursing program. Accordingly, we recommend completing this course before entering a nursing program. (PSYC 2201).

Sociology/Cultural Anthropology: 

An introduction to Sociology or Cultural Anthropology course (SOC 1000 or ANTH 1002). These courses must be introductory or fundamental courses, and courses in other subfields of sociology or anthropology may not be accepted.

 What are the TEAS and NCLEX Exams?

The TEAS Exam

The Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) is an exam that students take when applying for nursing school in the United States. It tests what a nursing student’s academic potential may be in nursing school. Areas that this exam covers include:

  • Math
  • Science
  • English Reading
  • English Language Usage

For more information regarding the TEAS Exam and registration, please visit this website by ATI Testing. Also, check out Kaplan Test Prep's How to Prep: TEAS Study Guide.

The NCLEX Exam

The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) is a computer-based adaptive exam that nursing graduates take post-education to assess their ability to practice as an entry-level nurse. The exam tests critical thinking, patient assessment, and general judgment skills that nurses will need to use daily. The NCLEX-RN will be taken after the successful completion of a nursing program (BSN or entry-level MSN) and is the final step to becoming a registered nurse. Areas that this exam covers include:

  • Safe and Effective Care Environment
  • Health Promotion and Maintenance
  • Psychosocial Integrity
  • Physiological Integrity

For more information regarding the NCLEX Exam and registration, please visit this website by NCLEX. Also, check out NurseJournal: The Ultimate NCLEX Study Guide.

California A-BSN Programs

Below is a list of Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing Programs. These programs offer an entry-level position as a Registered Nurse and these programs usually take around 2 years to complete. This list is not an exhaustive one: many more programs can be found from a quick Google search!

Explore Nursing!

Below is a list of helpful links that can help you explore different facets of nursing. Whether you are thinking of becoming a nurse, are currently in the process, a recent RN, or an RN with a good amount of experience, these links are good ways to ensure you are knowledgeable in all of the resources around us!

Nursing Resources
Resource Name Description
Entry-Level MSN Transfer Agreement: Azusa Pacific University E-MSN Transfer Guideline Azusa Pacific University offers a transfer guideline agreement that allows CSUSB students to transfer into their E-MSN program. Outlined are the classes needed along with other requirements.
Johnson & Johnson: Nursing Specialties Johnson & Johnson allows the user to select and explore different departments, levels of demand, and degrees required for various nursing specialties.
Onestaff Medical: Travel Nursing & Allied Healthcare Staffing Onestaff Medical is an independent nursing and allied health staffing firm that claims to provide high-quality employment. This staffing firm includes a plethora of benefits that are definitely worth checking out! offers a list of nursing schools in the U.S. along with nursing specialties.
California Board of Registered Nursing: Pre-Licensure RN Programs

This site provides a list of Pre-licensure registered nursing programs in California that are currently approved by the Board of Registered Nurses.

California Board of Registered Nursing: Nursing Programs This site provides a list of registered nursing and advanced practice nursing programs in California that are currently approved by the Board of Registered Nurses.
NursingCAS NursingCAS is the Centralized Application Service for nursing programs nationwide. Students who plan on applying to external nursing programs will utilize this application service.