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Should I Get a Degree or Diploma in Nursing?
No matter which direction you want to take your career, every prospective nurse starts with one major question: which is better, a degree or a diploma in nursing? It’s a tough call – one that could affect everything from student debt to future employment opportunities.
Making the wrong decision is not the end of the world, but dreams are achieved much faster when career goals line up with educational realities.
Diploma in Nursing versus Bachelor’s Degree
A diploma in nursing means different things in different countries.
In the United States, completion of a diploma course will qualify you to take the NCLEX-RN exam and apply to become a registered nurse. A nursing diploma can be earned much faster than a degree, but a bachelor’s degree is necessary for most routes of advancement.
Most of Canada requires at least a baccalaureate degree (or will require one in the near future) with two exceptions: Quebec and Yukon.
In England, the nursing diploma is being phased out in favor of a degree program, but many students are able to convert easily from one to the other. You may notice that the advance diploma in nursing option is very popular in much of Europe, but difficult to find anywhere else.
In reality, you never know what your diploma in nursing will get you in your particular area until you talk to a few professionals who have already tested the waters.
You may find that the ability to jump into the job market sooner can expand your future educational options.
A bachelor’s degree, on the other hand, is often worth the time and money if swift advancement is the goal.
Again, please don’t despair if you feel like a diploma in nursing isn’t enough to meet your goals. You may be able to take a few classes and upgrade your nursing diploma online, using one of the many diploma-to-bachelors programs available via distance learning. Or, you could skip the diploma in nursing altogether and go straight for the bachelor’s – no matter which you choose, you’re still one step closer to becoming an employable, competent nurse.
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