Best Online RN to BSN Programs

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Registered nurses (or RNs for short) provide medical care to sick and injured people at hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities. While other nursing personnel usually specialize in different aspects of medical care, RNs are trained to handle a wide range of tasks related to patient diagnostics, testing, treatment and counseling. RNs make up one of the largest job sectors in the U.S.; according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), roughly 2.75 million RNs are currently employed nationwide and the sector is expected to grow by nearly 500,000 jobs between 2014 and 2024.

A bachelor’s degree is not required to launch a successful RN career; the BLS notes that many RNs enter the workforce with an associate degree or a nursing diploma. However, a bachelor’s can help nursing candidates boost their career standing and compete in the crowded job market. Colleges and universities across the country offer Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs geared toward students who are licensed RNs; these pathways are known as ‘RN to BSN’ degrees. The RN to BSN curriculum covers different foundational areas of patient care and treatment; students must also complete at least one clinical internship or residency, which allows them to receive supervised, hands-on training from experienced professionals at real-world healthcare facilities. Many of today’s students are choosing to earn their RN to BSN online. The curricula of online RSN to BSN programs are often condensed into mini-sessions lasting four to eight weeks; this accelerated schedule enables students to complete their program in as little as one to two years of full-time enrollment. The flexible format of most online nursing degree programs is also ideal for students with part-time jobs, childcare duties and other responsibilities that may interfere with campus-based college attendance.

Please note that RN to BSN programs are different from standard BSN degrees. The RN to BSN is designed to be an educational alternative for RNs who wish to earn a four-year degree, while BSNs target students with no nursing experience. For more information on BSN options, please visit our Guide to Online BSN Degree Programs.

Learn more about what you can do with an RN to BSN and what kind of career opportunities you can look forward to with this comprehensive guide.

WILL AN ONLINE RN TO BSN PROGRAM PROVIDE ME WITH THE SKILLS I NEED TO ADVANCE MY CAREER?

Most RN to BSN programs are reserved for students who are licensed to work as registered nurses. The curriculum has experienced students in mind; coursework will focus on topics like advanced anatomy and physiology, microbiology, healthcare administration and patient recordkeeping. Students will also get the chance to apply the skills and knowledge they gain during the onsite clinical components of their program.

WILL AN ONLINE RN TO BSN WORK WITH MY SCHEDULE?

Online RN to BSN degree programs offer a flexible alternative to traditional, classroom-based learning. Students are able to access course readings and lectures, participate in virtual discussions with other students and faculty, submit written assignments, take exams and communicate with their professors from the comfort of their desktop computer. Current technology also allows them to study away from home using a laptop, tablet, smartphone and other portable devices with Wi-Fi capabilities. For added convenience, online RN to BSN students can usually coordinate clinical trainings at healthcare facilities located reasonably close to their current residence.

WHAT JOBS CAN I GET WITH MY RN TO BSN?

An RN to BSN degree is designed for registered nurses who plan to remain in their current field. Some bachelor’s programs allow students to specialize in niche areas of nursing, such as critical care, pediatrics or physical rehabilitation. These concentrations may allow degree-holding graduates to advance to more specialized roles at hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities. The RN to BSN pathway also prepares students who plan to continue their education by earning a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN); this degree is required for certain positions in the field, such as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) who work as anesthetists, midwives or nurse practitioners.

WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE RN TO BSN PROGRAMS?

Choosing a program is an incredibly personal decision, and only you can properly evaluate whether a target school’s strengths match your educational needs. The following ranked list of schools should serve as a helpful starting point in your search for the best online RN to BSN programs in the United States. Our ranking is based on the courses schools offer, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence. If you are considering an online RN to BSN program, be sure to contact admissions specialists at different colleges and universities to learn more their about specific bachelor’s degree requirements and offerings.

Rank School Name Ranking Score Relative Cost Location Description
1 Allen College 84.54 2/5 Waterloo, IA

Allen College, located in Waterloo, Iowa, started as the Allen Memorial Hospital School of Nursing in 1925. Today, the college offers degree programs in a variety of health care disciplines, including radiography, occupational therapy, and nursing. Allen’s 124-credit RN to BSN online program offers exclusively BSN classes, as students must take their general education courses at another accredited institution prior to admissions. The curriculum includes courses in nursing leadership, chronic illness, nursing research, and professional writing. The program is offered entirely online, with the exception of clinical experiences that can be completed in a student's area of residence. The program has one start date per year in the fall, and full- and part-time study options are available. All applicants must have already fulfilled the program’s general education requirements, and transfer students must have a GPA of at least a 2.5 to be considered.

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2 University of Central Florida 82.40 3/5 Orlando, FL

Located in Orlando, Florida, the University of Central Florida is a major research institution serving more than 60,000 students each year. UCF has one of the best online RN to BSN programs in the country and is committed to offering innovative online coursework. The curriculum includes classes in nursing leadership, management and role transition or public and community health nursing. All courses are available online, and students also have the option to take certain courses on-campus if they desire a hybrid learning experience. Students are expected to maintain a GPA of at least 2.5 while in the program. Nursing students at UCF are encouraged to join discipline-specific student organizations like the Student Nurses Association. Applicants must have an associate degree, professional experience in nursing, a current R.N. license, and a GPA of at least 2.8 to be considered.

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3 University of South Florida-Main Campus 74.70 3/5 Tampa, FL

The University of South Florida, located in St. Petersburg, serves nearly 40,000 undergraduate students each year. The university offers several distance learning programs in a number of health care fields, including public health and nursing. USF has one of the country’s most innovative RN to BSN online programs, which allows students to create a degree that is customized to help them meet their future career goals. Students can focus on one of three specializations: leadership/management, clinical excellence, or patient/staff education. The program can be completed in five semesters part-time, or in three semesters full-time. This program prepares students for careers as nurses as well as for study in graduate-level nursing programs. While all coursework can be completed entirely online, students must complete service learning requirements at their place of work. Applicants must reside in Florida or Pennsylvania, hold a current state RN license, and have an associate degree in nursing with a GPA of at least 2.5 to be considered.

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4 Clemson University 73.02 3/5 Clemson, SC

Clemson University, located in Clemson, South Carolina, offers more than 80 majors and 70 minors to 16,000 undergraduates each year. Clemson has one of the best RN to BSN online programs, with a strong emphasis on community service and hands-on learning experiences. Coursework can be completed entirely online, but students must regularly participate in monthly learning activities with both their professors and classmates. Students also gain practical experience with community partners at one of Clemson’s four clinical hospital sites. Clemson boasts that graduates from its nursing school have an almost 100% job placement rate within three months of graduation. While there is not a specified transfer credit limit, all transfer credits must be a "C" grade or better and must be approved by the Office of Admissions. Applicants must already be registered nurses and provide current SAT or ACT scores to be considered.

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5 University of Nebraska Medical Center 72.38 2/5 Omaha, NE

The University of Nebraska Medical Center serves almost 4,000 students every year in Omaha, Nebraska. The center offers several prestigious healthcare programs across its six colleges and two institutes, as well as online. The school’s RN to BSN online program is mostly delivered asynchronously, though some courses require real-time participation. Students must also complete a clinical requirement at one of 100 health care institutions in Nebraska. The curriculum includes classes in nursing interventions, healthcare outcomes, and community health nursing. Students must complete at least 20 nursing credits at the Nebraska Medical Center. As long as this requirement is met, the school is willing to accept any quantity of transfer credits from an accredited institution. Work experience as a nurse can also count for as many as 31 credits in the program. Through the school's RN to BSN Early Admission Program, students transferring from select community colleges can receive guaranteed, early admission.

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6 University of Arkansas 72.30 3/5 Fayetteville, AR

The University of Arkansas is located on a picturesque Fayetteville campus at the feet of the Ozark Mountains. The university offers nearly 80 undergraduate degree programs, including an online RN to BSN. Arkansas’ nursing program aims to improve students’ understandings of the social, economic, political, and cultural impacts on health care. The 29-credit program is designed for working adults, and can be completed in three semesters. There are two application deadlines each year, in the fall and spring, and students study at a part- or full-time pace. All coursework in the program can be completed asynchronously online, with the exception of one project-based practicum that can be done in a student's geographic area. Graduates leave the program prepared for careers in nursing or to pursue graduate-level study. Arkansas' RN to BSN program has been accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education since 2002.

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7 The University of Texas Medical Branch 71.85 2/5 Galveston, TX

The University of Texas Medical Branch has provided exceptional healthcare education in Galveston, Texas since 1891. The university offers a variety of degree programs through the schools of nursing, medicine, graduate biomedical sciences, and health professions. The University of Texas’ RN to BSN online is an accelerated program that can be completed in as few as eight months. All prerequisite courses must have been completed at another community college or university before applying. The program encourages students to complete a variety of volunteer experiences in addition to the standard clinical requirements in the Galveston/Houston area. Applicants must complete a variety of prerequisites before they are eligible for admission. Students must complete all prerequisite courses with a minimum GPA of 2.5. The University of Texas is a Military Friendly School and offers extra social, financial, and psychological support to veterans and active duty students.

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8 East Carolina University 71.69 3/5 Greenville, NC

East Carolina University is known for offering high-quality health care and STEM degrees, with nearly half of the study body studying these disciplines. The school’s online RN to BSN program prepares students to pursue leadership roles in a variety of health care settings. Students must pass all courses each semester in order to advance in the program. The program can be completed in just four semesters, including summer terms. All courses can be completed online, although some, like professional communication in nursing, require limited in-person practice experiences. The curriculum includes courses in professional communication, nursing leadership and finance, community health nursing, and more. Applicants must have completed all prerequisite courses with a minimum GPA of 2.5, and hold a current nursing license in North Carolina or a North Carolina State Board of Nursing compact state to be considered.

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9 The University of Alabama 71.28 4/5 Tuscaloosa, AL

Founded in Tuscaloosa in the 1831, the University of Alabama was Alabama’s first public college. The school offers a number of undergraduate degrees for distance learners in the arts and sciences, business, nursing, and more. Alabama’s RN to BSN online programs allow students to either pursue an RN-BSN degree or an RN-BSN/MSN degree. The RN-BSN/MSN degree is an accelerated full-time program and allows students to focus on either clinical nurse leadership or case management leadership. The RN-BSN degree can be completed in 25 credit hours, either part- or full-time, and includes classes like complex client systems for registered nurses. Applicants must have a 2.5 GPA in lower-division courses and at least a 2.0 GPA in science courses to be considered. All distance learners will pay the same tuition rates, regardless of residency.

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10 Texas A & M University-College Station 70.62 3/5 College Station, TX

Founded in 1876 in College Station, Texas A&M University was the state’s first public college. Today, the university serves over 64,000 students and offers more than 100 undergraduate degree programs in a wide range of disciplines, including aerospace engineering, food science and technology, and nursing. Texas A&M’s nursing program is among the most flexible RN to BSN programs online, and can be completed in one or two years. The 30-credit curriculum includes classes such as care of the older adult and pathophysiology, pharmacology for the RN, and community health for the RN, and more. Students can design an individualized practicum experience that can be completed anywhere in the U.S., but common locations include Bryan-College Station, Round Rock, and Temple/Waco. Texas A&M’s nursing school will not accept transfer credits from other RN-BSN programs. Applicants must be registered RNs in the state of Texas, and must have completed prerequisite coursework to be considered.

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11 University of Wisconsin-Madison 70.24 3/5 Madison, WI

Founded in 1848, the University of Wisconsin-Madison is a top-tier institution for higher education that serves nearly 30,000 undergraduates each year across more than 10 campuses. The university spends about $1 billion on research each year and has graduated numerous famous alumni, including more than 30 Pulitzer Prize winners. Wisconsin’s RN to BSN online program is designed specifically for nurses in the state of Wisconsin, although students from select regions of Minnesota, Iowa, Michigan, and Illinois are also eligible to apply. Distance learners will choose to complete their program in affiliation with one of six home campus locations: Stevens Point, Green Bay, Eau Claire, Oshkosh, Madison, or Milwaukee. The program can be completed in one to three years and is offered almost entirely online, although some home campuses will require limited in-person participation. The curriculum includes courses in chronic care management, cross cultural health, and community health nursing.

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12 University of Oklahoma-Health Sciences Center 69.85 1/5 Oklahoma City, OK

The University of Oklahoma-Health Sciences Center serves about 4,000 students through its Oklahoma City and Tulsa campuses. The school offers over 70 undergraduate and graduate programs, as well as innovative clinical opportunities through its Children’s Hospital and Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Oklahoma's 60-credit nursing program is one of the most thorough online RN to BSN programs, consisting of 30 hours of advanced standing credits and 30 hours completed in the program. The program is designed for RNs and LPNs registered in Oklahoma who are seeking career advancement options. Students can earn their degree in one to two years. The curriculum includes classes in the human experience of disability and contemporary professional nursing. Applicants must have at a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 and a 2.5 GPA in their final 60 hours to be considered. LPNs will also need to pass entrance exams.

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13 Michigan State University 69.62 3/5 East Lansing, MI

Founded in East Lansing in 1855, Michigan State University was the nation’s first land grant institution. Today, the university serves more than 50,000 students each year and offers over 200 programs in its colleges of education, arts and letters, and nursing. MSU’s nursing degree is among the most hands-on RN to BSN online programs in the country. The curriculum requires students to complete 117 clinical hours through the leadership immersion and community and population health nursing classes. Clinical requirements can be completed at the student’s place of employment, but not in the unit in which they normally practice. The program was designed as a part-time degree for working nurses, and can be completed in just 18 months. Students can transfer as many as 60 credits from a community college, and will be granted 30 credits for passing the NCLEX-RN test. Applicants must have a GPA of at least 2.75 from their associate degree program to be considered.

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14 Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center 69.32 2/5 Lubbock, TX

The Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center provides health care services to more than two million people in Texas and New Mexico. The school has prepared over 10,000 professionals for careers in healthcare over the past 40 years. Texas Tech’s offers an online RN to BSN program that serves the emphasizes professional nursing practices and holistic health care concepts. The 30-credit program does not incorporate traditional clinical experiences, and students will need to complete field experiences with a mentor. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.5, and additional qualifications like relevant work experience and bilingual fluency will be considered by the admission committee. Texas Tech fosters partnerships with local colleges, such as Alamo and Collin community colleges, to make transition to the RN-BSN program easier for students. All transferred prerequisite courses must have earned at least a "C" grade.

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14 Mount Carmel College of Nursing 69.12 3/5 Columbus, OH

The Mount Carmel College of Nursing was established in Columbus, Ohio, in early 1903. The college began offering bachelor’s degrees in 1990, and today offers bachelor's of science, master's of science, and doctor of nursing degrees, along with a number of graduate certificate programs. Mount Carmel’s RN to BSN online degree is perfect for working RNs who want to advance their career. The program boasts a small student-to-faculty ratio of 8-to-1, and caps most online courses at 25-30 students. The curriculum includes classes in transcultural concepts, and provides a pointed analysis of different factors in health care, like multiculturalism and ethics. All distance learners pay the same tuition rates and fees, regardless of residency. Applicants must have completed 32 prerequisite nursing credits, 52 general education credits, and have at least a 2.0 GPA to be considered. Priority consideration is given to applicants from ACEN accredited pre-licensure nursing programs.

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16 Clarkson College 69.01 4/5 Omaha, NE

Based in Omaha, Nebraska, Clarkson College was the first school of nursing in the state. Clarkson is a leader in online education, and the school estimates that about 90% of its students take at least one distance learning course. The school offers a wide range of health care programs in education and leadership, nursing, and more. Clarkson's 130-credit RN to BSN online program offers an accelerated option and small class sizes. Students are automatically granted 43 transfer credits on admission, allowing most students to earn their degree in about three to six semesters. Unlike other RN to BSN programs, Clarkson doesn’t require clinical hours. Instead, all students are expected to complete service classes and civic service activities. Graduates leave the program prepared to pursue careers as clinical nurses, lead nurses, or to work in government agencies, nursing homes, and other non-hospital settings. Applicants must provide a copy of a current nursing license to be considered.

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17 Ball State University 68.40 3/5 Muncie, IN

Ball State University was founded in 1918 in Muncie, Indiana. The school offers roughly 200 undergraduate majors and professional programs in disciplines like botany, athletic training, nursing, and more. Ball State has one of the country’s oldest RN to BSN online programs, which has been offering distance education to nursing students since the 1980s. Ball State’s nursing program prepares students to specifically care for children, women, and vulnerable populations. The 120-credit curriculum includes 32–33 credits of science and nursing prerequisites, 41–42 liberal arts requirements, and 20 core clinical nursing courses. The core nursing courses cover topics like community health, applied nursing concepts, research in nursing, and health assessment. Students must also complete clinical hours. All online courses are offered asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework at their own pace. Applicants must have graduated from a nursing program accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission with a minimum GPA of 2.75 to be considered.

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18 Liberty University 68.18 4/5 Lynchburg, VA

Located in Lynchburg, Liberty University is the largest university in Virginia and the largest Christian university in the world. The school supports an online enrollment of nearly 100,000 distance learners and offers almost 300 undergraduate and graduate programs. Liberty's RN to BSN programs online prepares students for a variety of nursing careers, including medical mission work. The program is offered in a blended format, where students can complete some classes online and some on-campus. Only 30 of the program's 120 credits must be taken at Liberty, which makes the school friendly to transfer students. Graduates leave the program prepared for careers in education, staff nursing, independent practices, and more. Liberty University is a Military Friendly School, and makes it easy for veterans to translate military experience into college credit. Applicants must have graduated from a National League for Nursing accredited program and possess an active RN license to be considered.

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19 The University of West Florida 68.11 3/5 Pensacola, FL

The University of West Florida was founded in 1963 in Pensacola. Today, the university offers more than 70 undergraduate and graduate degrees to its 13,000 students. The school is also a leader when it comes to distance learning, supporting 40 undergraduate and graduate online degrees. West Florida’s 124-credit RN to BSN online program can be completed entirely online and only requires that 31 credits must be at the university, making it friendly to transfer students. The program prepares students to treat chronic illnesses and work with at-risk communities and populations. The curriculum includes courses in health assessment and promotion, nursing management systems, law & ethics in nursing, and gerontological nursing. Applicants must have earned at least a "C" grade in all nursing prerequisites to be considered. All out-of-state distance learners can apply for tuition waivers that dramatically reduce the program's costs.

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20 Arizona State University-Skysong 68.08 3/5 Scottsdale, AZ

With a main campus in Tempe, ASU educates almost 100,000 students through its many affiliate campuses, including about 26,000 students at the Skysong location. Unlike other online RN to BSN programs, ASU’s nursing program prepares students to care specifically for aging populations. Classes in the program include the art of nursing, health promotion across the lifespan, and writing for health care management, as well as a culminating capstone course. The program can be completed in as few as 15–18 months. Students can transfer as many as 64 credits from a community college, while Arizona pathway students and those transferring from a university can transfer even more. Students are expected to maintain a GPA of 2.0 throughout the program. Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 2.5 on any previous college coursework to be considered.

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21 University of St Francis 68.02 3/5 Joliet, IL

The University of St. Francis in Joliet, Illinois is a Catholic university in the Franciscan tradition. The school offers more than 80 undergraduate majors and minors, including three undergraduate nursing programs. The curriculum for St. Francis’ RN to BSN online program emphasizes nursing’s changing landscape, and covers topics such as public health, hospice care, home health, and more. St. Francis supports a number of bridge programs with community colleges, including Joliet Junior College, Moraine Valley, Parkland College, and more. These bridge programs make it easier for students to transfer credits from another school to St. Francis. Additionally, all students in these bridge programs will benefit from reduced tuition rates and accelerated RN-BSN completion. Applicants should check St Francis' online course availability page to determine whether or not the online nursing program is offered in their state before applying.

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22 Brigham Young University-Idaho 67.70 2/5 Rexburg, ID

Brigham Young University-Idaho is a Church of Latter Day Saints institution located in a scenic region close to both Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks. The school offers 100 bachelor’s degrees, as well as 11 online bachelor’s degrees and 300 online classes. BYU’s online RN to BSN program has start dates every semester and can be completed in about three to six consecutive semesters. The program's nursing philosophy emphasizes stewardship, knowledge, professionalism, and caring. The curriculum includes courses in health/wellness in aging adults, pathophysiology, and community nursing. Though the program charges the same tuition as on-campus programs, Pathway alumni can benefit from reduced tuition rates, and all distance learners benefit from resources like the Online Support Center and online tutoring. Applicants to online programs at BYU must have at least a 2.5 GPA to be considered.

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23 Appalachian State University 67.53 3/5 Boone, NC

Appalachian State University serves almost 20,000 students through over 150 undergraduate and graduate degrees, and the school estimates that more than 1,000 students are distance learners. Although the school's Nursing Department wasn’t established until the mid 2000s, it already has one of the country’s top online RN to BSN programs. The department emphasizes that all good nurses should have technical savvy, sound decision-making skills, and the ability to clearly communicate. Appalachian State’s nursing courses are offered completely online, both synchronously and asynchronously. The 30-credit program can be completed in only one year and has three start dates each year. Applicants must have completed all required lower division coursework while maintaining a minimum GPA of 2.5 before being admitted. They must also hold a current nursing license in North Carolina or a North Carolina State Board of Nursing compact state to be considered.

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24 University of Maryland Baltimore 67.48 3/5 Baltimore, MD

The University of Maryland-Baltimore is the only school for public health, human services, and law in the state. The majority of the school's undergraduate students study nursing, and the university offers high-quality nursing programs to distance learners. The University of Maryland’s RN to BSN online program offers a specialization in care coordination with health IT. The program begins with an RN to BSN transition course, and the curriculum includes classes on health informatics, research and evidence-based care, and nurse leadership and management. Students can also choose the university’s RN-MSN degree to earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree at once. Students with valid nursing licenses can transfer up to 30 credits toward their degree, and most full-time students finish the program in just two semesters. Applicants must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0, with at least a 2.75 GPA in all prior science classes, to be considered.

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25 Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion 67.25 4/5 Marion, IN

Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion is known for its dedication to educating working adults, with roughly 10,000 adult students studying at the school’s centers in Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, and online. Indiana Wesleyan’s RN to BSN online program can be completed on-campus, online, or in a hybrid format. The curriculum includes courses in nursing leadership and management, ethics, perspectives of poverty and health, and transcultural health care. Students generally take one class at a time, allowing them to earn a degree in just 15 months. There is also an accelerated option available. The school caps class sizes at 20 students in an effort to maximize student support. Applicants must have an associate degree in nursing or diploma from an approved school of nursing, proof of a valid RN license, and a minimum GPA of 2.0 in all previous college studies to be considered. Students with a GPA lower than 2.0 may still be admitted on a probationary basis.

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Timeline
1 to 2 years
Program Costs
$8,000 to $20,000 for full tuition
Popular Minors and Dual Areas of Study
Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Administration, Healthcare Administration, Health Services Management, Medical Informatics
Leadership
Accreditation
The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
Additional Considerations
RNs must be licensed in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Licensing requirements vary by state.

Job Placement

The need for RNs has risen significantly in recent years. Millions of previously uninsured Americans now receive medical insurance coverage thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and an aging baby boomer population has also fueled the demand for qualified nursing personnel. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimates that 2.75 million RNs are currently employed in the U.S., and projects that the number of RN jobs will rise 16% between 2014 and 2024; this growth will result in roughly 439,300 new jobs.

The table below looks at the unemployment rates of RNs and four other healthcare-related occupations. All five entries were featured in the ‘Best Healthcare Jobs’ of 2017 ranking published by U.S. News & World Report.

Occupation Unemployment Rate (2017)
Physician Assistant 0.6%
Nurse Practitioner 0.7%
Nurse Anesthetist 0.7%
Nurse Midwife 0.7%
Registered Nurse 1.5%

Source: ‘Best Healthcare Jobs’ by U.S. News & World Report

Earning a Living

Students who earn an RN to BSN will enjoy higher earning potential than their counterparts who complete their education with an associate degree or a nursing diploma. Using data from PayScale, the table below examines salary expectations for bachelor’s-, associate- and diploma-holding nurses at four career benchmarks.

Degree Median Annual Salary (1 year or less) Median Annual Salary (1-4 Years) Median Annual Salary (5-9 Years) Median Annual Salary (10-20 Years) Median Annual Salary (20+ Years)
Nursing Diploma $38,400 $43,000 $57,391 $64,709 $69,703
Associate Degree in Nursing $59,279 $60,638 $65,756 $68,777 $71,953
BSN $58,690 $69,301 $73,758 $79,273 $82,360

Source: PayScale

According to the data listed above, BSN-holders experience 40.3% salary growth after more than 20 years in the workforce. By comparison, those with a nursing diploma report 81.5% growth while associate in nursing recipients report 21.4% growth.

However, specific job title and professional experience will also impact earning potential for BSN students. The next table looks at the 20-year salary growth projections for RNs and four other popular nursing career pathways.

Occupation Median Annual Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 Years) Median Annual Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 Years) Median Annual Salary for Experienced Employees (10-20 Years) Median Annual Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ Years)
Registered Nurse $54,865 $62,114 $66,065 $69,533
Nurse Case Manager $64,854 $69,067 $71,933 $73,561
Registered Nurse Supervisor $65,836 $68,483 $71,231 $73,800
Clinical Nurse Manager $74,147 $77,980 $82,983 $85,607
Nursing Director $74,611 $80,078 $85,089 $86,728

Source: PayScale

Of all five occupations listed on the table, RNs reported the lowest salaries at all four benchmarks. However, RNs also experience the highest rate of salary growth: a 26.7% increase between the entry-level and late-career stages. Nursing directors ranked second with 16.2% earnings growth after 20 years on the job, followed by clinical nurse managers with 15.5% growth.

Career and Further Education Opportunities

Students who graduate from an RN to BSN program will be qualified for hundreds of nursing positions, although it’s important to note that re-licensure is required whenever the license-holder moves to a different state. Let’s look at the two most common career tracks for people who complete an RN to BSN online program.

Registered nurses (RNs) can be subdivided into several different categories, including:

  • Addiction Nurses: These RNs care for patients undergoing treatment for alcoholism, drug dependency and other forms of addiction and substance abuse.
  • Cardiovascular Nurses: These RNs specialize in patients with heart diseases and conditions, including those who are undergoing or in recovery for surgical procedures.
  • Critical Care Nurses: These RNs provide round-the-clock care for patients who are severely injured or seriously ill.
  • Genetics Nurses: These RNs specialize in patients with genetically-inherited conditions, such as hemophilia, cystic fibrosis, Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Neonatal Nurses: These RNs monitor and evaluate newborn babies, and also care for mothers who have recently given birth.
  • Nephrology Nurses: These RNs specialize in patients with kidney diseases, conditions and injuries.
  • Rehabilitation Nurses: These RNs offer care and assistance for patients with permanent disabilities that require constant monitoring and evaluation.

RNs must receive full licensure in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. A universal requirement for RN licensure is a passing score on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Other licensing requirements vary by state, but often include a set number of post-college training hours, as well as continuing education coursework on an annual basis after licensure is awarded.

Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) are licensed RNs who are trained in specialized areas of nursing. Most APRNs have received an MSN in addition to a bachelor’s degree. The three most common APRN titles are:

  • Nurse Anesthetists: These APRNs (also known as CRNAs) deliver anesthesia to patients who are about to undergo a surgical procedure or operation. They also provide pre- and post-operative care and support to these patients.
  • Nurse Midwives: These APRNs (also known as CNMs) support women who are pregnant or in childbirth. They may also perform gynecological exams and provide post-natal (post-birth) care.
  • Nurse Practitioners: These APRNs (also known as NPs) care for patients with critical or acute conditions that require constant monitoring, evaluation and support. They often provide counseling to patients and their families, as well.
Occupation Median Annual Salary Projected Industry Growth (2014-24)
Registered Nurses $67,490 16% (+493,000 jobs)
Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives and Nurse Practitioners $104,730 31% (+53,400 jobs)

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Professional Organizations

Making professional connections and learning about different approaches to nursing is crucial to your success. Professional organizations offer a great entry point for students who want to learn more about their chosen career path. Below you’ll find three of the country’s most prominent organizations established for registered nurses. These organizations host networking events, provide online trainings, maintain active job boards, and offer other services for career-ready college graduates.

  • American Nurses Association: The ANA was founded in 1896 to improve the working standards and conditions for professional nurses, and the organization has continued this work to the present day. Members receive access to a vast online resource library, discounted certification and recertification rates, access to five ANA publications and an invitation to the organization’s annual conference.
  • American Academy of Nursing: The AAN follows a mission of “advancing health policy and practice through the generation, synthesis, and dissemination of nursing knowledge.” The organization today represents more than 2,400 members.
  • Emergency Nurses Association: Established in 1968, the ENA was created to represent nurses who serve patients in emergency rooms, critical care units and other highly demanding settings. The organization today advocates for patient safety, as well as optimal emergency nursing practices.

Despite the relative affordability of online programs, most students still need financial assistance. Students should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form to learn more about loans, grants, and other opportunities offered through the U.S. government. Additionally, private grants and scholarships are widely available through nonprofit organizations, companies, and other sources. Check out our collection of resources below to learn more about financial aid options.

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 you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several 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, as well as the different funding opportunities available to 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 college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family’s financial future. We’ve compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.

Best Online RN to BSN Programs of 2016
Rank School Location
1 Chamberlain College of Nursing - Florida Jacksonville, FL
2 Cabarrus College of Health Sciences Concord, NC
3 Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences Lancaster, PA
4 Allen College Waterloo, IA
5 Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health Omaha, NE
6 Mount Carmel College of Nursing Columbus, OH
7 Ohio State University Columbus, OH
8 Baptist College of Health Sciences Memphis, TN
9 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
10 Bryan College of Health Sciences Lincoln, NE
11 University of North Georgia Dehlonega, GA
12 Oral Roberts University Tulsa, OK
13 Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA
14 University of Wisconsin - Madison Madison, WI
15 Stanbridge College Irvine, CA
16 Clemson University Clemson, SC
17 University of North Carolina at Wilmington Wilmington, NC
18 West Chester University West Chester, PA
19 Clarkson College Omaha, NE
20 University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, FL
21 Appalachian State University Boone, NC
22 Willanova University Villanova, PA
23 Michigan State University East Landsing, MI
24 William Carey Univeristy Hattiesburg, MS
25 University of South Florida Tampa, FL