Best Online BSN Programs

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According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, total enrollment in U.S. RN to BSN programs grew over 22% between 2011 and 2012. With interest and demand in nursing completion programs on the rise, schools are working to make programs more accessible to working nurses. Today, over 400 of the nation’s 700 RN to BSN programs are offered partially or entirely online.

Students seeking to pursue their BSN are at an advantage when they come to a program with licensure as an RN. Flexible programs are often aimed at working nurses, offering tuition incentives or accelerated graduation times to professional students. Once enrolled in courses, students can expect to complete curriculum rich in direct and indirect care competencies, policy and practice, and hands-on experience in nursing via simulated and physical practicum.

Using our standard methodology, we have ranked the following online BSN programs. This collection assesses each school’s academic strength based on their reported acceptance rates, admissions statistics, and retention and graduation numbers.

2016 Online Education Trends Report: Learn how online programs are changing the face of higher education.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Graduation Rate Location Description

Northeastern University

 5/581.62%Boston, MA


The Program

This online program can take from three semesters (full-time) or two years (part-time) to complete. Classes in the online RN to BSN are offered completely online for students in many states, with over 200 specially designed courses that simulate the kind of decision-making that students will need for their career in nursing. The college also offers an Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) hybrid program for students in the Boston area. This full-time 16 month program marries online coursework with the same experiential learning that on-campus students experience.Currently, the clinical supplements which are required for completion of these programs are available in the following states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina (conditional), South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming.

The Platform

As part of the experiential learning component associated with this program, students must be enrolled in a state in which they may complete clinical practicum. Please see the list above.Northeastern University uses Blackboard Learn as the online learning environment for their nursing program. Here, students will have access to assessments, exams, classroom/instructor communications, course materials, a suite of Google productivity apps, and mobile connectivity.

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Florida National University

 3/556.84%Hialeah, FL


The Program

Florida National University’s Advanced RN to BSN program is 100% online. Taught by instructors who are active in the healthcare field, students who enroll in the RN to BSN can study in any state in the U.S. without restriction.The 120 credit-hour BSN Advance program is designed to enhance the education of RN graduates and advance the professional options of those who already possess an RN in their state of residence. Students who meet the program requirements can begin eight-week classes once every 16 weeks.The college also offers an on-campus program for entry level nursing students. However, clinical work will be required to complete this program.

The Platform

FNU’s Blackboard Learn provides students with all of the tools needed to learn immersively online. Through Blackboard, students have 24/7 access to assessments, class announcements, lectures and assignments, discussion boards and more.Students who possess an RN license to practice in their state of residence are not required to complete any on-site clinical work for Florida National’s Advanced RN to BSN program.*Thanks to a partnership with Ed4Online, FNU also offers enrichment courses that healthcare students might find interesting. Information about these self-paced courses can be accessed online.

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Crown College

 4/557.14%Saint Bonifacius, MN


The Program

Crown College has a 95-year history of affordable excellence in the Christian tradition. The program builds on the already in-place skillsets of those who have earned their RN degree.
This curriculum boasts high employment rates among its graduates, and a student-to-teacher ratio of only 15:1.Nationally ranked among the Top Online Programs by U.S. News and World Report, Crown College’s online offerings have been recognized for being military friendly. The school extends a number of scholarship opportunities to students, which boasts a higher-than-average percentage of online learners at both the undergraduate (38%) and graduate (97%) levels.Crown takes pride in making every effort to provide an affordable online nursing education. Tuition at Crown is 20-40% lower than at most other area private Christian colleges, and 98% of Crown’s student body receives financial aid; the average aid amount is $10,320.

The Platform

Students at Crown College online utilize the Blackboard Learn LMS. This up-to-date learning management software allows students to collaborate from locations across the country 24/7. Using video, audio, and Powerpoint supplements, asynchronous modules and assessments inform students about the latest trends in nursing.As a benefit to Crown students, Microsoft office 2010 (or newer) is offered at a discount. Students have access to an .edu email, as well as productivity tools and networking opportunities thanks to a class directory that helps keep students and teachers just an email away.

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Augsburg College

 5/562.64%Minneapolis, MN


The Program

Augsburg College has offered a strong nursing program since 1978. Their flexible, hybrid nursing curriculum is one of the most popular programs on campus for professional undergraduates. With evening and online course of study, students can earn their degree in as few as two years at one of two Minneapolis locations. Classes meet on alternate weekday evenings for four-hour time blocks. Online instruction and activities occur between face-to-face class times.There is an experiential learning component to the program that offers students more than just a regional flexibility for the completion of hands-on, practical course credit. Clinical practicum typically occurs during the week; optional field experience both locally and abroad take place at various times. The Department of Nursing can offer prospective students greater detail.The Minnesota Nurses Association offers scholarships to students/nurses who are members of the association. Augsburg offers other aid and grant opportunities to its students, as well; these are outlined on the school’s scholarship page, and may be of interest to American Indians, military students, or those pursuing their BSN as a new student to Augsburg (the Grand Scholarship).

The Platform

Based on the principles of transcultural nursing and holism, local and global practicum is an important part of a nursing degree at Augsburg. For this reason, students who are unable to complete the immersion practicum are ineligible to enroll in this distance program. Currently, the hybrid RN to BSN program at Augsburg is available in the following cities: Minneapolis, Nicaragua, Pine Ridge, Rochester.Online, students use a Moodle-based learning management system to access course content. At their convenience, working nurses can review quiz materials, access lectures, and interact with classmates all from the comfort of their home.

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Arizona State University

 2/563.43%Tempe, AZ


The Program

ASU’s RN to BSN online program (45 credits) is offered completely online. The curriculum consists of 45 credits (38 of those being upper-division), and can be completed is as little as 15 months. The program offers four convenient start dates to accommodate busy, working students.More than 40% of ASU’s nursing students receive scholarship or financial aid to offset the cost of attendance. There are many options for nursing and healthcare students to apply for merit and needs-based scholarship.

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Marian University

 4/553.99%Indianapolis, IN

The Program

Students who hold a bachelor’s degree and live in the Indianapolis area may be interested in this accelerated nursing program in Indianapolis. This full-time hybrid curriculum can be completed in just 16 months, and has synchronous and asynchronous learning components.

Marian University’s faith-based nursing program is offered as part of a collaboration with St. Vincent Health. Students can choose from three annual start dates: January, May, or August.Didactic coursework is completed online, but students of this accelerated program will receive hands-on experience in a simulated hospital environment. Experiential learning in a clinical setting is vital to nursing success; that’s why students are able to practice core nursing skills concurrently with classroom learning.

The Platform

As an added convenience, students can earn all of their necessary pre-requisites online in accelerated formats. These five or eight week classes begin six times a year.The courses for this program are online, but all tests and exams will be administered and proctored on-site at St. Vincent Health.Via the Canvas online learning platform, students can review classroom material day or night, as well as communicate with peers and instructors, see course grades, and access lessons and notes to supplement the day’s clinical lessons.

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University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh

 2/554.34%Oshkosh, WI

The Program

The accelerated 12 month program at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh is unlike any other. Rigorous and competitive, the UWO admits two cohorts (one in May and one in October) of 30 students each annually.The program is not self-paced. Coursework for this program can take up to ten hours a day, and the required reading for the accelerated program is around 80-100 pages daily. Time commitments are so steep for this UWO curriculum that students are required to forgo full-time employment for the duration of their studies.Before students can be admitted into the accelerated program, they must complete the Test of Essential Academic Skills published by ATI Inc. This requirement is in addition to successfully completing the standard interview and application process that nursing students can expect from any accredited nursing college.

The Platform

The UWO program is currently available to students in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. As part of the experiential learning that takes place at UWO’s College of Nursing, students will learn online in Second Life at a facility exclusive to faculty and students.Even though this program is available online (barring clinical experience, which takes place over 728 clinical hours and six rotations), the classes are synchronous. Some meetings are held online at specified times, occasionally at the Second Life campus.

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Wayland Baptist University

 3/531.98%Plainview, TX

With more than 75% of students enrolled as part-time learners, Wayland specializes in catering to non-traditional learners like working professionals and parents. The online nursing program offers a standard nursing curriculum that is administered entirely online for RN to BSN students, and largely online for students interested in earning their standardized BSN.At 11:1, student teacher ratios at Wayland are low. Online and campus-based students receive a high level support from faculty and staff; scholarships are available to nursing students in both the hybrid and online programs. The generic BSN requires 21 months to complete; the RN to BSN program will require 12 months.For the online BSN, clinical practice must be completed in the San Antonio, Houston or Port Arthur area once a month. There are no clinical requirements for the accelerated RN to BSN program. Both curriculums have similar admission requirements.

Quick Facts

  • Wayland nursing students should be comfortable with technology, and are expected to use Blackboard as a learning management tool. Through Blackboard, students will have access to proctored tests, school Intranet, school email, electronic coursework and assignment portals. Lecture classes online are asynchronous for this program.
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Methodist College

 3/5N/APeoria, IL

The RN to BSN can be completed in as few as 12 months. However, students can take as long as five years to complete this program at Methodist College. New cohorts are accepted each January and August.Students are able to transfer up to 82 of the total 122 credits required to complete this bachelor of science degree, and only 23 required credits are required in order to begin learning online. (Some prerequisite courses, such as Statistics, need to be completed prior to enrollment.)Students seeking a second degree might be interested in the Accelerated BSN. This hybrid program, which can be completed in just five consecutive semesters (including summer sessions), schedules clinical and required coursework on evenings and weekends to accommodate working professionals. This program has a cap of 30 students per semester, all of whom are admitted once in the spring and again in the fall. The remainder of the class is taught online.

Quick Facts

  • All online classes are accessed through Sakai, Methodist College’s learning management system. For students who have never used the platform, tutorials are available online. Like most collegiate content systems, students can access course modules, multimedia learning tools, their school email, dropboxes for assignments, and much more 24/7. RN-BSN students pay a $100 technology fee each semester.
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It’s estimated that health care represents about 17.9% of the national GDP, and nurses play a key role in making sure the system runs smoothly. Unfortunately, as widely reported, the United States is facing a nursing shortage. This shortfall of qualified nursing professionals spells opportunity for students considering careers in healthcare. As the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates, nursing will see above average growth of 16% over the next ten years.

BSN degree holders enjoy some of the highest starting salaries for recent graduates. With the skills to step into leadership roles such as clinical nurse manager and nurse practitioner, starting salaries can exceed $65,000 annually. A wide variety of choices await nurses in every aspect of employment, including location, facility, specialty, hours and shift length.

Where Are the Nursing Jobs?

The following map reflects the average number of bachelor-level, registered nursing jobs available per 1,000 total jobs.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Salary Estimates by Degree Level and Experience

Despite the relative affordability of online programs, the need for financial aid is still a reality for most students. But rest assured, loans aren’t your only option. Explore our collection of financial aid resources or dig into one of the following guides to read more about financing your education.

Scholarships for Nursing Students

We’ve curated a list of 40 scholarships and grants specifically for nursing students. With over $125,000 in available rewards, take the time to learn how you can access free money for your online BSN degree.

An Overview of Financial Aid

Approximately two-thirds of today’s college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options savvy students can use to reduce the total costs of their education.

Understanding the FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first and most crucial step for any student seeking financial aid. Follow our step-by-step guide for answers to frequently asked questions.

Financial Aid for Online College Students

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you’ll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn’t always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place and funding opportunities for online students.

Scholarships for Women

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for women trying to balance the demands of work, family, and earning their degree. We’ve curated a list of valuable scholarships specifically for women.

Scholarships for Single Parents

Online programs can provide an affordable and flexible option for single parents looking for a more secure financial future for their children. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships for these hard-working parents.

Financial Aid for Veterans and Active Military

Millions in education benefits are available for veterans and active members of the military. Unfortunately, much of this goes unused. Find out if you’re entitled to help with college and start planning for your future.