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.


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.


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.


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.


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 Graduation Rate Location Description
1Chamberlain College of Nursing – Florida 3/5N/AJacksonville, FL

The Program

Earning a BSN at Chamberlain College is simple thanks to the 100% online learning format. Students with an RN can earn this degree in just one academic year, including a summer semester. In this asynchronous curriculum, students complete 129 credit hours in two eight-week sessions per semester; requirements include 60 credits worth of liberal arts and sciences and 69 nursing credits.

Experiential learning is an important part of the RN to BSN program. Students can earn up to 82 college credits for previous experience, making this an ideal program for working healthcare professionals who have already earned an RN license. Mandatory practical experience in Chamberlain's BSN program exposes students to new direct and indirect care experiences.

The Platform

Seventy-one % of Chamberlain's student body is enrolled in some form of distance learning, so the college provides a strong platform for didactic and theoretical learning. Chamberlain uses Pearson eCollege's learning management system. This program is offered online, but every effort is made to make students feel connected to their instructors.

Student Latoya explains, "Although I attend Chamberlain online, whenever I need help or have any questions or concerns, they are only a phone call away. Chamberlain has made my return to school a very smooth transition."

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2Cabarrus College of Health Sciences 3/537.5%Concord, NC

The Program

Cabarrus College's RN to BSN program places emphasis on holistic nursing practice. Students who study in this online program learn about community health, health policy, informatics, leadership and administration. Every course is available online, except for NUR 301 which requires three on-campus meetings in North Carolina.

With start dates in the spring and fall semesters, Cabarrus College's BSN completion program can be concluded full-time in as few as six semesters. Part-time coursework is also available. Students with an associate of nursing degree or Registered Nurse certification can transfer 61 credits of an ADN or a diploma in nursing towards this program. The program can be completed in as few as two years.

The Platform

Over 50% of the students at Cabarrus College take some or all of their courses online. For nursing students, the clinical service learning portion will be completed in his or her local community and is composed of one activity.

The College uses Canvas learning management system. This is one of the largest and most comprehensive course management tools available today, and Cabarrus students can take full advantage of its collaboration and instruction tools. Education modules online are virtually indistinguishable between face-to-face learning.

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3Pennsylvania College of Health Sciences 4/574.51%Lancaster, PA

The Program

Pennsylvania College's accelerated RN to BSN degree can be completed in under two years. Offered online or in a hybrid format, students can study at a distance or at one of two campus locations: Lancaster or Lehigh Valley.

Classes in the accelerated BSN program convene once a week for five-week courses; each session is four hours long. Students accepted into this program must work at least eight hours a week in a nursing position.

Community service is a keystone of this program, and the curriculum makes every effort to engender values like compassion and thoughtfulness alongside generalist nursing competencies. Students who graduate from this fast-track program leave prepared to take on leadership roles in a variety of nursing capacities.

The Platform

PC makes use of Blackboard Learn for delivering course materials to their students. Those enrolled in the program study theoretical nursing through interactive media and activities online. Assignments and assessments are available, as are collaborative tools like discussion boards and chat resources.

The college also uses online simulations to augment textbook learning, and it gives students access to online library and journal resources. For services like remote application access, desktop sharing and video chat, students have access to Citrix. Students looking to host a quality ePortfolio can make use of Pennsylvania's Chalk & Wire software.

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4Allen College 3/575%Waterloo, IA

The Program

The BSN and RN to BSN programs are offered online to students in select states at Allen College. These programs build on a liberal arts foundation and aim to emphasize the value of hands-on learning, community service and lifelong learning to graduates.

Allen College recognizes that nursing is both an art and a science. Whether students choose to enroll in the traditional BSN or the accelerated program, they will be in good company: 83 % of the graduates at Allen studied nursing in 2013.

For the RN to BSN program, students must be able to provide nursing credentials, as well as meet other standard requirements.

The Platform

Class sizes at Allen are modest with an average student-teacher ratio of 12:1, and 87 % of the college's undergraduates participate in some form of online learning.

Supported and delivered by the University of Northern Iowa, eLearning is the learning management system associated with Allen College. The school also offers online library and catalog information/check-out online.

Students should be aware that, because clinical placement cannot be guaranteed to students outside of Iowa, courses and programs may not be available in select states. Prospective students are advised to contact a counselor for an eligibility review prior to beginning the admissions process.

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5Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health 3/566.07%Omaha, NE

The Program

The online RN to BSN program at Nebraska Methodist College is ideal for students who need a high degree of flexibility. This distance program, available across the U.S., can be completed in less than seven semesters, or 18 months, full-time. Students with time restrictions can also choose to pursue their degree part-time.

The program has start dates in January, May and August. Students in Alabama, Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, New Mexico and Wyoming are ineligible for the program at this time. Other limitations exist for states outside of the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (SARA), and more information about these restrictions is available online.

The Platform

Courses in this curriculum, for the most part, are five weeks in length. Between each course is a one-week break. MyMethodist is the online portal for nursing students online, powered by Jenzabar. Here, students can login to a secure learning management system where they will have access to presentations, discussion boards, quiz prep, assessments and coursework.

Learning is asynchronous in this curriculum, meaning that students can log on and learn at their convenience without tight deadlines for tests and assignments.

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6Mount Carmel College of Nursing 3/564.47%Columbus, OH

The Program

Students at Mount Carmel College of Nursing can complete their BSN in just four semesters if they have already earned an RN. Extending a flexible curriculum to students is the hallmark of this degree program. This BSN offers start dates three times a year — spring, summer and fall — and students have the choice of studying full or part-time. Fall and spring semesters are 16 weeks in length at MCCN and are composed of two eight-week terms.

Small class sizes are important in receiving personalized instruction, so Mount Carmel aims to teach no more than 25-30 students at a time online. The program is no stranger to nontraditional learning practices, either; 40 % of MCCN students are working students aged 25 and older.

MCC's nursing program is one of the largest in the country and has a partnership with the second largest Catholic healthcare system in the U.S., CHE Trinity Health. 10 hours or more of community service is required for successful completion of this 128 credit-hour program.

The Platform

Students at Mount Carmel have access to the Google productivity suite via MCCN's student email portal, Nightingmail. Via CARMELink, the college's learning management portal, students have all the same tools and resources as on-campus learners. This includes access to online databases and libraries, anti-plagiarism tools like Turnitin and all standard course materials and assessments.

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7The Ohio State University 3/583.5%Columbus, OH

The Program

The BSN is the most awarded degree at Ohio's College of Nursing, and the RN to BSN program was the third most popular program at the college in 2013-14. Building on a liberal arts and sciences foundation, this one-year online degree is designed with the working nurse in mind. The curriculum is so flexible that students can even complete required courses online at Ohio State University if prerequisites are lacking at the time of enrollment.

The RN to BSN option requires the completion of 120 semester hours. At minimum, 30 of these semester hours must be completed at OSU in order for a degree to be awarded. It is important to note that credits which were earned pursuant to another OSU degree will not count towards those 30 required credits.

This program follows a cohort model, and a mandatory spring orientation is required for OSU's students to foster a supportive classroom environment among their peers.

The Platform

Courses are delivered in a fixed sequence, and there is a clinical component to this program that can be completed near a student's home location.

The learning management system at OSU is called Carmen, through which students can access all of their course materials, connect with peers and instructors and complete all weekly, asynchronous modules and discussion board assignments.

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8Baptist College of Health Sciences 3/543.14%Memphis, TN

The Program

In the Christian tradition, Baptist Memorial College offers students a holistic and ethical nursing career. Ideal for licensed, professional nurses, this program awards up to 41 credits for prior learning. Course offerings are both online and hybrid; students are only required to spend limited amounts of time on-campus.

For nurses with life experience, the college also offers experiential credit. Interested nurse leaders, case managers and public/community health nurses can create a portfolio in order to transform experience into credit.

Admission into nursing programs are selective, and are based upon the number of available clinical positions. Students can earn the 122 credit hours they will need to graduate either full-time in four trimesters or part-time in seven trimesters.

The Platform

All Baptist College students have access to Office365; here, students will find their college email and word processing and productivity applications. The Moodle-based online learning management system provides students with access to online course materials for this nursing program.

Rhonda from Bartlett, Tennessee said of her experience earning a BSN at BCHS, "The small classrooms, attentive faculty, numerous student resources, and faith-based environment make Baptist College exceptional."

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9University of Central Florida 1/569.7%Orlando, FL

The Program

Available 100% online, the flexible BSN offerings at the University of Central Florida are robust. Students can begin the RN to BSN, the ASN to BSN or the RN to MSN degrees in the spring or fall, and each of these program can be taken online, face-to-face or in a hybrid format.

The RN to BSN program can be completed in three to ten semesters. The rate of completion is dependent on the number of classes that students take per term. Students can transfer as many as 27 credit hours towards their BSN, and the program is offered on both a full and a part-time basis.

General admission requirements include two years of a foreign language in high school, general education coursework and the condition that students completed prior coursework outside of or in the state of Florida prior to December 2000.

The College of Nursing offers several scholarships for nursing undergraduates, such as the Carson Alan Swingle Helping Heart Endowed Scholarship and the Helene Fuld Health Trust Scholarship Fund for Baccalaureate Students.

The Platform

Students in Maryland and Massachusetts are currently ineligible to study online at the UCF.

Distance learners at UCF take advantage of Blackboard Learn to access course materials, complete assessments and communicate with peers and faculty. This is the portal where online students will interact and collaborate at the University of Central Florida.

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10Bryan College of Health Sciences 3/580%Lincoln, NE

The Program

The RN to BSN Hybrid Completion Option is a hybrid program that is currently available to students in Nebraska. There are only three on-campus meetings required over the course of each term, making this program 75% online and 25% on-campus. Students with clinical practice experience in the workplace can apply for portfolio validation towards the clinical portion of this curriculum.

Prospective students who are already Registered Nurses will be happy to learn that they automatically earn 36 credit hours towards the 64 nursing credit hours required to earn this BSN. Life experience may also account for as many as 28 hours of credit in this major. Students can simply apply for portfolio-style validation for this clinical portion of the program.

Students are required to complete 1,300 to 1,600 clinical hours prior to graduation.

The Platform

Students at Bryan Health can expect to train using state-of-the-art equipment like Human/Patient Simulators. Skills labs are completed under the supervision of faculty and healthcare professionals at the Bryan Health Medical Center. Clinical requirements begin during a student's sophomore year.

Students use SONIS, CampusVue and Canvas technology to access course materials, student information and keep in touch with instructors online.

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11University of North Georgia 1/5N/AGA

The Program

This hybrid program gives students across the U.S. the opportunity to study in a combination of face-to-face and online formats. The program offers three- or four-semester study plans for its BSN curriculum.

This degree focuses on educating students for a career in professional nursing practice in primary, secondary and tertiary settings. The program can be completed entirely online, on-campus or a combination of the two.

There are a variety of health care agencies available for clinical experience, and these contacts are provided to students by BSN advisors.

The Platform

UNG does not currently offer distance learning courses to students in either Indiana or Minnesota. Students who are not Georgia residents should email the school to check program availability in their state of residence.

Furthermore, students who choose to attend online are not exempt from attending face-to-face learning. Typically, there are no more than two in-person sessions required per course; however, this is not a hard and fast rule.

Students use Blackboard and its peripheral services to connect, collaborate, and learn online at UNG.

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12Oral Roberts University 4/553.44%Tulsa, OK

The Program

The BSN degree for RNs at Oral Roberts University is a 131 credit program. Up to 90 of these credits are transferable. In order to enroll, students must have completed 25 required credits in prerequisite courses. General education requirements for the program are clearly outlined online.

The courses are designed with the working RN in mind and were created to accommodate the flexible needs of adult students. Classes are delivered in seven-week sessions, two per spring, fall and summer semesters. Students are able to take one or two courses at a time.

Goal-oriented service to individuals and communities is a vital component of Oral Robert's nursing program. ORU's BSN curriculum provides a number of opportunities to gain practical experience in Oklahoma and abroad. The college offers a comprehensive student services portal, which helps students identify opportunities to gain experience near their location.

The Platform

Classes are taught online using D2L, a learning management system that is highly accessible and offers discussion boards, chat capacity, communications portal, access to course modules, assessments and other learning tools. The college also has an online library, career search tools and Office365 for its students.

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13Pennsylvania State University 3/586.11%University Park, PA

The Program

Penn State World Campus has a long history of providing quality distance education. The college offered its earliest correspondence courses in 1892, becoming one of the first in the U.S. to do so. In 1998, Penn became one of the first major universities to offer education online.

Today, students can earn their RN to BS without ever setting foot in a classroom. Even clinical requirements can be completed in close proximity to the student's home location. Those in proximity to the Penn State campus, however, are always welcome to take part in hybrid learning.

For students seeking even more flexibility, the Accelerated RN to B.S. program offers courses in seven-and-a-half-week sessions. Typical online courses are 12 to 15 weeks in length, and most are asynchronous.

Students can also earn certificates concurrent to their BSN degree, including: Nursing Management (12 credits), Nursing Informatics (9 credits) and Nursing Forensics (12 credits).

The Platform

For students seeking a relevant and nationally recognized program, the Penn State World Campus online is a convenient option. World Campus students are eligible for scholarship opportunities, which is a unique feature for any university or college program to extend to its distance students.

Online, students will use Blackboard, Skype, and other collaborative tools to keep in touch and ensure that each online course is dynamic, interactive, rigorous, and fully online. Students in Alabama are currently ineligible to enroll in this Penn State Program.


"Every bit of information that I have gained from Penn State World Campus is used every day on the job." Michael Bach RN to BSN student

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14University of Wisconsin – Madison 3/583.68%Madison, WI

The Program:

This hybrid program is available to students in Wisconsin only. Registered nurses who study through the University of Wisconsin's BSN@Home program build on their knowledge of nursing theory and practicum. Whether they choose to learn full-time or part-time, students can rest easy knowing that this curriculum is available largely online.

This Collaborative Program requires students to take at least one course on-campus. Fortunately, during semesters where students are involved in on-campus learning, they become eligible for a scholarship from the School of Nursing.

The UW–Madison School of Nursing is one of five UW campuses providing the BSN@Home Program. Students can also choose to study at: Eau Claire, Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee and Oshkosh.

Students will complete 720 hours of clinical hours towards their degree over the course of their two-year study, and can expect to study 13 to 16 credit hours and 180 hours of clinical work each semester.

Online Environment:

The learning management system at UWM, D2L, allows online students to access vital course materials. In addition to enjoying all the collaborative and exploratory tools that distance learners have at their disposal, BSN students at UWM can also take advantage of the school's newly remodeled, state-of-the-art nursing facilities.

Signe Skott Cooper Hall, the School of Nursing's newest facility, opened in spring 2014. Here, students have access to simulation labs, research facilities and meeting spaces.

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16Clemson University 3/582.31%Clemson, SC

The Program

Clemson University's RN to BSN program is perfect for registered nurses in South Carolina looking to earn their bachelor's degree in nursing. This web-enhanced, hybrid program is held on campus two Tuesdays each month, and students are admitted in the spring and fall semesters. The program takes three to four semesters to complete, and is held on Blackboard and at the University Center of the Greenville campus.

Clemson's School of Nursing has been recognized as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education by the National League for Nursing since 2004. The college is nationally ranked in part because of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement, which has initiated an "open school." Students in this open school can study online and build a network of connections made up of other students, professionals and educators in the Clemson campus chapter.

The Platform

Graduates of this BSN boast a nearly 100% job placement rate within three months of graduation. Clinical practicums can be completed at a variety of sites, thanks to Clemson's partnership with four major hospital systems.

The Blackboard Learn classroom provides students with access to course materials, research tools and discussion forums. Also called myCLE, these courses can be accessed on tablets and smartphones via Blackboard Mobile, as well.

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17University of North Carolina at Wilmington 2/570.52%Wilmington, NC

The Program

Flexibility is tantamount to the University of North Carolina's nursing program. Available online, students can select one of six start dates for this RN to BSN program: two in the spring, two in the summer and two in the fall semesters.

Classes are just over seven weeks in length. Each learning module is self-paced, and coursework is due on the last day of the week. Full-time students, enrolled in 6 credits a session or more, can earn their degree in as little as 12 months. There are six sessions a year, or two per semester.

Clinical work is required for the BSN online. However, no set number of hours is required, and students are able to complete these activities at their current place of employment.

The Platform

Coursework and class access is asynchronous, and all assignments must be completed and turned in for credit on the Blackboard LMS by the end of each week. Students can access their course syllabus, learning objectives, reading assignments, presentations, discussion boards, case studies and assessments via Blackboard.

Technology is an important part of the healthcare professions, so students at Wilmington have an education supplemented by the most relevant teaching and conferencing software. Skype, Google's productivity suite and other telepresence and streaming media are an integral part of the online classroom for nursing students at UNC.

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18West Chester University 2/567.07%West Chester, PA

The Program

The RN to BSN at West Chester University is an accelerated hybrid program, open to registered nurses residing in Pennsylvania. Students can earn credit for life experience and transfer any applicable nursing education credits. The program requires 120 credits to graduate; 30 of those credits must be earned in residence at WCU. The program does not accept Excelsior/Correspondence credit.

This fast-track program meets on campus once weekly in the evening. Classes are usually five to six hours in length.

Clinical experience is a requirement for nursing students, and they are responsible for coordinating their own placement in most cases. Group practicum experiences are a possible option, with the guidance of an instructor. For those interested in clinical experience abroad, West Chester provides credit-bearing summer opportunities to study in England and South Africa.

The Platform

Courses online are accessible on the Desire2Learn LMS. D2L and student services via myWCU have been optimized for display on mobile devices for added convenience. Students also have access to school-sanctioned email and a student services portal to help facilitate communications and hassle-free registration online.

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19Clarkson College 3/559.09%Omaha, NE

The Program

The RN to BSN program at Clarkson College places emphasis on real-world scenarios and applications, so students are sure to grow from the theoretical learning that takes place in online classrooms. This program does not require formal clinical hours to graduate.

With three start dates in January, May and August, this 130 credit-hour program can be completed in three or six semesters. 43 hours of nursing credits may be transferred to students; still other credits or courses maybe be challenged on a case-by-case basis.

The Platform

Students access course materials via Pearson's LearningStudio. Android and iOS users can access course materials via the free LearningStudio app. Class sizes online are small, and there are usually no more than 25 students per course in Clarkson College's distance learning. Ninety percent of students at Clarkson value the reliable and flexible course offerings online, and take at least one distance class each semester.

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20University of Alabama 2/565.66%Tuscaloosa, AL

The Program

There is no out-of-state tuition fee for students pursuing their nursing degree online at the University of Alabama. The RN to BSN is one of two nursing programs offered entirely online through the Capstone College of Nursing.

This degree can be completed in just three semesters for full-time students, although part-time coursework is available, also.

Lab science courses cannot be completed online. They can, however, be conducted at participating colleges across the U.S., and these credits may be transferred to the Capstone College of Nursing at U of A. Students should complete the core curriculum before beginning nursing coursework.

There are several scholarships available to mobile RN students.

The Platform

Currently, this online program cannot accept students who reside in: Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota, New Mexico, some areas of New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming.

"Bama by Distance" is the online initiative at Alabama, and there are several scholarships available exclusively to distance learners. Coursework, discussion boards and assessments can all be accessed via myBama's Blackboard learning management system. Distance learners also have access to student email, university-wide announcements and other vital campus services from this student services portal.

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21Appalachian State University 2/569.73%Boone, NC

The Program

This part-time, online RN to BSN program at Appalachian State is cohort-based, which means that students work in one single group from start to finish, all according to a set schedule. Lasting just 12 months, cohorts spend the fall, spring and summer terms earning the 124 credits of core, nursing, elective and transfer course credits needed to complete this program.

Students who complete two terms will automatically receive 30 semester hours of credit for prior learning.

Clinical credit hours are also required by this online program; students complete 30 during their second term, and 120 in the third. These practical experiences can be accumulated in a student's place of work and in a variety of class projects. All clinical hours are completed in North Carolina.

The Platform

This program is currently unavailable to students Alabama, Maryland and Massachusetts. Students who reside in a state outside of North Carolina should contact an advisor prior to enrollment.

Students use appalnet and myASU to access email, course calendar tools and contact lists, course content, test and quizzes and all the multimedia elements and materials of their online classes. Students also have access to online video tutorials and learning through Lynda while enrolled at Appalachian State University.

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22Villanova University 5/589.37%Villanova, PA

The Program

The National Nursing League designated Villanova University's College of Nursing as a Center of Excellence in Nursing Education. It is one of only three in the nation.

The 60-credit RN to BSN program places emphasis on educating well-rounded and competent nursing professionals. Theoretical learning takes place online, and students take part in experiential learning on their own time.

Clinical experience at Villanova University is completed at a healthcare facility near a student's home. Students are also eligible to complete clinical practicum at their place of employment for added convenience.

The Platform

Programs at Villanova work hard to mimic traditional classroom learning. The video-based courses offer students a unique blend of recorded lectures with presentations and Powerpoint slides that help drive lessons home.

In a sample course online, students can get a good idea of the ways that this program delivers didactic material. Students have access to both video and mp3 lectures, and will communicate with peers via group chat and discussion boards.

This program is not available to students residing in Maryland, North Carolina and Massachusetts. Additionally, credits at this private institution are not guaranteed to transfer to all other schools. Students should check with advisors to determine if this program is right for their particular needs.

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23Michigan State University 3/578.86%East Lansing, MI

The Program

The RN to BSN program is offered part-time at Michigan State University online. Over the course of five semesters, students will study six to eight credits of coursework per semester. The entire program takes 18 months to complete, including summer semesters.

There are 117 hours of clinical practicum required for this program. Clinical practice deals with community health and leadership, and students will be guided by nursing faculty and supported by preceptors at sites convenient to their locations.

The Platform

The college uses Desire2Learn to distribute course materials to students, as well as to present assessments. Students also have access to ePortfolio tools, mobile learning apps and dropbox tools for turning in their assignments.

Students use Blackboard Collaborate to communicate to their classmates, connecting within secure discussion boards that are only accessible to students enrolled in any given class.

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24William Carey University 3/558.46%Hattiesburg, MS

The Program

Twelve months is all that stands between a registered nurse and a BSN at William Carey University. These online courses are open to students residing in Mississippi, and require at least three on-campus Saturday class meetings per term.

Over the course of a year, students complete 30 hours of upper-division coursework across the fall, winter, spring and summer terms. Students with legitimate RN licensure earn 24 credits, and up to 66 credits of prerequisites are accepted towards this program. Students who have failed two or more courses with a nursing component in another RN to BSN program are not eligible to apply to this program for three years.

The Platform

Students can access course materials for this asynchronous program through Desire2Learn, the university's distance learning portal. Assignments, assessments, course materials and references are all located here and accessed with a school-sanctioned email address.

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25University of South Florida 2/567.19%Tampa, FL

The Program

Electives in this online curriculum allow students at the University of South Florida to place an emphasis on leadership roles in healthcare, patient/staff education or clinical best-practices. Full-time, students can complete their degree in just three semesters. Part-time students can finish this degree in as little as five semesters.

Students are encouraged, whenever possible, to complete clinical practice at their place of employment. Students are also tasked to complete 15 service learning practicum hours at an appropriate facility. These hours are not hands-on clinical experience, and they do not require direct patient contact.

This program has four start dates, one in each major term as well as the summer session. The program welcomes students from other states to apply, but it notes that the decision regarding out-of-state students can take several weeks to be reached.

The Platform

The University of South Florida use Blackboard and Elluminate to disseminate information to students. By logging in to myUSF, students can access asynchronous course materials, tests, quizzes, student email and secure discussion boards. Elluminate allows students to interact with faculty in live, synchronous office hours and virtual classrooms. There are also pre-recorded, collaborative tools and resources always available through this software, making distance and on-campus learning virtually indistinguishable.

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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
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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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