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Nursing Major

286,632 yearly degrees
#3 in popularity
$107,000 median salary

Nursing is a major that typically falls into the Health Professions category.

There are 1,172 programs available throughout the country that offer an associate’s degree in nursing, 1,233 that offer a bachelor’s degree, and 1,519 that offer a master’s degree. There are also at least 693 schools in the nation where you can get your doctorate degree in the field.

Who Is Getting a Nursing Degree?

Nursing is the second most popular college major in the country. In 2017, roughly 144,700 students graduated with a bachelor’s degree in the field. The major attracts more women than men. About 87.2% of the recent graduates in this field are female.

Racial Distribution

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

  • Asian: 6.3%
  • Black or African American: 9.2%
  • Hispanic or Latino: 12.2%
  • White: 63.2%
  • Non-Resident Alien: 0.7%
  • Other Races: 8.4%
Nursing Majors Ethnic Diversity Statistics

Americans aren’t the only ones with an interest in nursing. About 0.7% of those graduating in 2017 were international students. The most popular countries sending nursing majors to the U.S. are South Korea, Canada and China.

What Will You Learn as a Nursing Major?

An O*NET survey asked people with careers related to nursing to rate how important certain subject areas were to their job. The following are some of the results of that survey. Importance was rated on a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being most important.

Knowledge Areas for Nursing Majors

This major prepares you for careers in which these knowledge areas are important:

Important Knowledge Areas for Nursing Majors

Skills for Nursing Majors

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

Important Skills for Nursing Majors

Abilities for Nursing Majors

As you progress with your nursing degree, there are several abilities you should pick up that will help you in whatever related career you choose. These abilities include:

Important Abilities for nursing Majors

What Can You Do With a Nursing Major?

Below is a list of occupations associated with nursing:

Careers Related to Nursing
Job Title Job Growth Rate Median Salary

Nurse Midwives



Nursing Instructors and Professors



Acute Care Nurses



Nurse Practitioners



Clinical Nurse Specialists



Nurse Anesthetists



Registered Nurses



Critical Care Nurses



Advanced Practice Psychiatric Nurses



Medical and Health Services Managers



Nursing Major Salary

Nursing majors often go into careers where salaries can range from $81,000 to $114,000. This range includes all degree levels, so you may expect those with a more advanced degree to make more while those with less advanced degrees will typically make less.

To put that into context, the typical high school graduate makes between $29,000 and $57,000 a year. The average person with a bachelor’s degree (any field) makes between $44,000 and $99,000. Advanced degree holders make the most with salaries between $55,000 and $120,000.

Average Salary for a Nursing Major  ( 81000 to 114000 )
Average Salary for High School Graduate  ( 29000 to 57000 )
Average Salary with Bachelor's Degree  ( 44000 to 99000 )
Average Salary with Advanced Degree  ( 55000 to 120000 )

The area of the country you choose to work in will also affect your career and salary prospects. Getting a graduate degree may open up more options with higher salary potential.

Amount of Education Required for Nursing Major Jobs

Some careers associated with nursing require an advanced degree while some may not even require a bachelor’s. 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.

How much education do you really need to compete in today’s job market? People currently working in careers related to nursing have obtained the following education levels.

Education Levels for Careers Associated With Nursing
Level of Education Percentage of Workers

Less Than a High School Diploma


High School Diploma or Equivalent


Post-Secondary Certificate


Some College Courses


Associate's Degree or Equivalent


Bachelor's Degree


Post-Baccalaureate Certificate


Master's Degree


Post-Master's Certificate


First Professional Degree


Doctoral Degree


Post-Doctoral Training


Online Nursing Programs

There are 1,233 colleges that offer a bachelor’s degree in nursing, with 521 of them offering at least some courses online.

Online learners must listen or watch video lectures, participate in group chats or forums, submit papers and assignments electronically, take tests, and meet deadlines.

Getting your degree online is not easy and includes watching and listening to hours of lectures, participating in group charts, submitting papers by the appropriate deadline and taking tests. Some online programs will also feature internships or in-person clinical hours.

Is a Nursing Major Worth It?

The median salary for a nursing grad is $107,000 per year. This is based on the weighted average of the most common careers associated with the major.

This is 175% more than the average salary for an individual holding a high school degree. This adds up to a gain of about $1,360,200 after 20 years!

nursing salary compared to typical high school and college graduates over a 20 year period


Bureau of Labor Statistics
National Center for Education Statistics
O*NET Online
Image Credit: Aleksahgabrielle via License

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