New AACN Data Confirm that Baccalaureate-Prepared Nurses Are More Likely to Secure Jobs Soon after Graduation than Other Professionals

More Nurse Employers Are Expressing a Preference for Baccalaureate-Prepared Nurses

WASHINGTON--()--New data from the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) show that graduates of entry-level baccalaureate (BSN) and master’s nursing programs are much more likely to have job offers at the time of graduation or soon after than are graduates from other fields. A national survey of deans and directors from U.S. nursing schools found that 59% of new BSN graduates had job offers at the time of graduation, which is substantially higher than the national average across all professions (29.3%). At four to six months after graduation, the survey found that 89% of new BSN graduates had secured employment in nursing.

“Despite concerns about new college graduates finding employment in today’s tight job market, graduates of baccalaureate nursing programs are finding positions at a significantly higher rate than the national average,” said AACN President Jane Kirschling. “As more practice settings move to require higher levels of education for their registered nurses, we expect the demand for BSN-prepared nurses to remain strong as nurse employers seek to raise quality standards and meet consumer expectations for safe patient care.”

In August 2013, AACN conducted an online survey of nursing schools offering entry-level baccalaureate and graduate programs in the U.S. to better assess the experience of new graduates seeking employment. The survey found that the average job offer rate at the time of graduation was 59% for new nurses based on data collected from 413 schools. By comparison, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) conducted a national survey of 38,000 new college graduates across disciplines and found that only 29.3% of new graduates in 2012 had a job offer at graduation.

Other key findings from the AACN survey include:

  • The percentage of BSN graduates with job offers at graduation varied by region of the country, from 68% in the South, to 59% in the Midwest, to 50% in the Northeast, to 47% in the West.
  • At 4 to 6 months after graduation, the average job offer rate climbed to 89% nationally for graduates of entry-level BSN programs.
  • The job offer rate for new nurses at the 4-6 month mark also varied by region from 93% in the South, to 90% in the Midwest, to 82% in the Northeast and West.
  • The AACN survey also looked at new RNs graduating from entry-level master’s programs and found that these nurses were even more likely to secure a position soon after graduation. The latest data show that 67% of these graduates had jobs at graduation, and 90% had jobs 4-6 months after completing their studies.

Employer Preference for Baccalaureate-Prepared Nurses

Once again this year, AACN asked nursing schools to identify if employers in their region were requiring or indicating a preference for hiring new nurses with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. A significant body of research shows that nurses with baccalaureate level preparation are linked to better patient outcomes, including lower mortality and failure-to-rescue rates. With the Institute of Medicine calling for 80% of the nursing workforce to hold at least a bachelor’s degree by 2020, moving to prepare nurses at this level has become a national priority.

Based on completed responses from 515 schools of nursing, 43.7% of hospitals and other healthcare settings are requiring new hires to have a bachelor’s degree in nursing (up 4.6 percentage points since 2012), while 78.6% of employers are expressing a strong preference for BSN program graduates.

“Clearly, healthcare settings nationwide are seeing a difference in nursing practice based on the level of education and are making hiring decisions to enhance the quality of care available to patients,” added Dr. Kirschling. “With a significant number of nurses nearing retirement, we fully expect to see the demand for baccalaureate-prepared nurses continue to rise into the foreseeable future.”

The 2013 AACN Research Brief on Employment of New Nurse Graduates and Employer Preferences for Baccalaureate-Prepared Nurses is available to download for free from

For more background information on this issue, see AACN’s fact sheet on the Impact of Education on Nursing Practice, which may be downloaded at

For a list of talking points on the Impact of the Economy on Nursing Education, see

The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) is the national voice for university and four-year college education programs in nursing. Representing more than 740 member schools of nursing at public and private institutions nationwide, AACN's educational, research, governmental advocacy, data collection, publications, and other programs work to establish quality standards for bachelor's- and graduate-degree nursing education, assist deans and directors to implement those standards, influence the nursing profession to improve health care, and promote public support of baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, research, and practice.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)
Robert Rosseter, 202-463-6930, x 231

Release Summary

New data from AACN show that graduates of entry-level baccalaureate (BSN) and master’s nursing programs are much more likely to have job offers than other professionals.


American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)
Robert Rosseter, 202-463-6930, x 231