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Nursing Major

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Nursing

154,237 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
51,181 Master's Degrees Annually
#1 in Popularity
$106,910 Median Salary

Types of Degrees Nursing Majors Are Getting

The following table lists how many nursing graduations there were in 2018-2019 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 154,540
Associate’s Degree 83,213
Master’s Degree 51,213
Doctor’s Degree 8,781
Graduate Certificate 3,386
Undergraduate Certificate 2,700
Basic Certificate 1,476

What Nursing Majors Need to Know

In an O*NET survey, nursing majors were asked to rate what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important in their occupations. These answers were weighted on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being the most important.

Knowledge Areas for Nursing Majors

According to O*NET survey takers, a major in nursing should prepare you for careers in which you will need to be knowledgeable in the following areas:

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  • Medicine and Dentistry - Knowledge of the information and techniques needed to diagnose and treat human injuries, diseases, and deformities. This includes symptoms, treatment alternatives, drug properties and interactions, and preventive health-care measures.
  • English Language - Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
  • Psychology - Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
  • Customer and Personal Service - Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
  • Education and Training - Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.

Skills for Nursing Majors

A major in nursing prepares you for careers in which the following skill-sets are crucial:

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  • Active Listening - Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
  • Speaking - Talking to others to convey information effectively.
  • Critical Thinking - Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
  • Social Perceptiveness - Being aware of others’ reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
  • Reading Comprehension - Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.

Abilities for Nursing Majors

Some of the most crucial abilities to master while a nursing student include the following:

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  • Oral Comprehension - The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
  • Oral Expression - The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
  • Problem Sensitivity - The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
  • Written Comprehension - The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
  • Deductive Reasoning - The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.

What Can You Do With a Nursing Major?

People with a nursing degree often go into the following careers:

Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary
Acute Care Nurses 14.8% $71,730
Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurses 14.8% $71,730
Clinical Nurse Specialists 14.8% $71,730
Critical Care Nurses 14.8% $71,730
Medical and Health Services Managers 20.5% $99,730
Nurse Anesthetists 16.3% $167,950
Nurse Midwives 20.0% $103,770
Nurse Practitioners 36.1% $107,030
Nursing Instructors and Professors 24.0% $73,490
Registered Nurses 14.8% $71,730

Who Is Getting a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing?

154,540 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
87% Percent Women
32% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
This is one of the most frequently chosen nursing majors. It is the 1st most popular in the country with 154,237 students graduating with a bachelor’s in nursing in 2019. The major attracts more women than men. About 87% of the recent graduates in this field are female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

At the countrywide level, the racial-ethnic distribution of nursing majors is as follows:

Racial-Ethnic Diversity of Nursing Students with Bachelor's Degrees
Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 10,024
Black or African American 14,526
Hispanic or Latino 19,806
White 96,256
International Students 1,111
Other Races/Ethnicities 12,817

Geographic Diversity

Nursing appeals to people across the globe. About 0.7% of those with this major are international students. The most popular countries for students from outside the country are:

  • South Korea
  • Canada
  • China
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Nigeria

How Much Do Nursing Majors Make?

Bachelor’s Degree Starting Salary

According to 2017-2018 data from the U.S. Department of Education, students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing have a median salary of $61,050 during the early years of their career. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $56,400 (25th percentile) and $67,800 (75th percentile).

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It is possible that some of these people may have taken positions that were not related to nursing.

Salaries According to BLS

Average salaries range from $81,350 to $113,730 (25th to 75th percentile) for careers related to nursing. This range includes all degree levels, so the salary for a person with just a bachelor’s degree may be a little less and the one for a person with an advanced degree may be a little more.

To put that into context, according to BLS data from the first quarter of 2020, the typical high school graduate makes between $30,000 and $57,900 a year (25th through 75th percentile). The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $45,600 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,600 and $125,400.

Median Salary for a Nursing Major  ( 81350 to 113730 )
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250K
Median Salary for a High School Graduate  ( 30000 to 57900 )
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250K
Median Salary for a Bachelor's Degree Holder  ( 45600 to 99000 )
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250K
Median Salary for an Advanced Degree Holder  ( 55600 to 125400 )
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250K

Some degrees associated with nursing may require an advanced degree, while others may not even require a bachelor’s in the field. In general, the more advanced your degree the more career options will open up to you. However, there is significant time and money that needs to be invested into your education so weigh the pros and cons.

Find out what the typical degree level is for nursing careers below.

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Education Level Percentage of Workers
Post-Secondary Certificate - awarded for training completed after high school (for example, in agriculture or natural resources, computer services, personal or culinary services, engineering technologies, healthcare, construction trades, mechanic and repair technologies, or precision production) 0.7%
Some College Courses 1.7%
Associate’s Degree (or other 2-year degree) 17.9%
Bachelor’s Degree 16.4%
Post-Baccalaureate Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Baccalaureate degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees carrying the title of Master. 1.7%
Master’s Degree 48.2%
Post-Master’s Certificate - awarded for completion of an organized program of study; designed for people who have completed a Master’s degree but do not meet the requirements of academic degrees at the doctoral level. 5.3%
First Professional Degree - awarded for completion of a program that: requires at least 2 years of college work before entrance into the program, includes a total of at least 6 academic years of work to complete, and provides all remaining academic requirements to begin practice in a profession. 2.0%
Doctoral Degree 6.1%
Post-Doctoral Training 0.8%

Online Nursing Programs

In 2018-2019, 2,152 schools offered a nursing program of some type. The following table lists the number of programs by degree level, along with how many schools offered online courses in the field.

Degree Level Colleges Offering Programs Colleges Offering Online Classes
Certificate (Less Than 1 Year) 82 10
Certificate (1-2 years) 72 1
Certificate (2-4 Years) 39 0
Associate’s Degree 1,154 54
Bachelor’s Degree 285 79
Post-Baccalaureate 82 10
Master’s Degree 1,486 528
Post-Master’s 767 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 280 92
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 421 158
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 33 19

Is a Degree in Nursing Worth It?

The median salary for a nursing grad is $106,910 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 168% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,340,200 after 20 years!

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You may also be interested in one of the following majors related to nursing.

Major Number of Grads
Practical Nursing & Nursing Assistants 93,192

References

*The racial-ethnic minorities count is calculated by taking the total number of students and subtracting white students, international students, and students whose race/ethnicity was unknown. This number is then divided by the total number of students at the school to obtain the racial-ethnic minorities percentage.

More about our data sources and methodologies.

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