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Nursing Major

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Nursing

165,503 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
51,608 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 2020-2021 for each degree level.

Education Level Number of Grads
Bachelor’s Degree 165,538
Associate Degree 85,504
Master’s Degree 51,608
Doctor’s Degree 10,943
Graduate Certificate 4,413
Undergraduate Certificate 2,494
Basic Certificate 2,092

What Nursing Majors Need to Know

O*NET surveyed people in occupations related to nursing and asked them what knowledge areas, skills, and abilities were important for their jobs. The responses were rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being 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

nursing majors are found most commonly in careers in which the following skills are important:

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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?

165,538 Bachelor's Degrees Annually
87% Percent Women
36% Percent Racial-Ethnic Minorities*
This is one of the most frequently chosen nursing majors. It is the 1st most popular in the country with 165,503 students graduating with a bachelor’s in nursing in 2021. This major is dominated by women with about 87% of recent graduates being female.

Racial-Ethnic Diversity

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

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Race/Ethnicity Number of Grads
Asian 11,646
Black or African American 17,898
Hispanic or Latino 23,410
White 96,897
International Students 1,343
Other Races/Ethnicities 14,344

Geographic Diversity

Students from other countries are interested in Nursing, too. About 0.8% 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 2019-2020 data from the U.S. Department of Education, students who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in nursing have a median salary of $62,880 during the early years of their career. During this timeframe, most salaries fell between $59,104 (25th percentile) and $68,393 (75th percentile).

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Note that some of these people may have jobs that are not directly related to a nursing degree.

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 )
0K
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 )
0K
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 the 2020-2021 academic year, 2,141 schools offered some type of nursing program. 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) 0 0
Certificate (1-2 years) 75 1
Certificate (2-4 Years) 37 0
Associate’s Degree 1,140 16
Bachelor’s Degree 276 79
Post-Baccalaureate 0 0
Master’s Degree 1,371 401
Post-Master’s 755 0
Doctor’s Degree (Research) 278 63
Doctor’s Degree (Professional Practice) 497 151
Doctor’s Degree (Other) 34 16

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 84,274

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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