The Best Online Accelerated RN-to-BSN Programs

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Published on July 17, 2020

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The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that demand for registered nurses will increase by 12% from 2018-2028 — a rate much faster than the average growth for all occupations. If you enjoy helping others and possess strong math and science skills, this field may be an ideal fit. This page provides an overview of online accelerated RN-to-BSN programs, including common courses and admission requirements. We also break down a few of the top programs and common careers you can consider after graduating.

Pursuing an accelerated RN-to-BSN degree can help you advance a career in the field of nursing. A bachelor's is becoming an increasingly common requirement for nursing positions, and earning this degree can allow students to take more specialized classes that match their area of interest.

What Are the Best Accelerated RN-to-BSN Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top Ten:

#1 University of South Florida Tampa, FL
#2 University of West Florida Pensacola, FL
#3 University of North Florida Jacksonville, FL
#4 Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences Memphis, TN
#5 Appalachian State University Boone, NC
#6 Western Carolina University Cullowhee, NC
#7 University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT
#8 University of Louisiana at Lafayette Lafayette, LA
#9 University of North Carolina Wilmington Wilmington, NC
#10 Mercy College of Ohio Toledo, OH

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), RNs earn a median salary of about $73,000 annually. RNs may work in hospitals, medical clinics, nursing home facilities, and schools. The job can be physically demanding, and successful nurses possess strong communication, organizational, and critical thinking skills.

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2020 Best Accredited Online Accelerated RN-to-BSN Programs

University of South Florida View School Profile Tampa, FL

USF — located in Tampa — offers one of the nation's best accelerated RN-to-BSN degrees. Practicing RNs complete 30 credits of online nursing classes to secure a bachelor's degree. Students may also focus their studies in areas such as leadership and management, patient and staff education, clinical excellence, and ambulatory care.

In addition to coursework, students must complete experiential learning, which is typically accomplished at their current workplace. Most students finish the RN-to-BSN program within five semesters.

To qualify for admission, prospective students must possess an unencumbered Florida RN license and an associate degree from a regionally accredited postsecondary institution. Applicants also must hold a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA and maintain residency in Florida.

University of West Florida View School Profile Pensacola, FL

Located in Pensacola, UWF offers an RN-to-BSN degree online that helps practicing nurses find new career opportunities. Students may continue to work full time while they complete their degree.

Eligible applicants must complete 21 credits of prerequisite courses. Within the program, students take 32 core credits and 16 elective credits. They explore subjects like gerontological nursing, public health nursing, health education, healthcare management, and health assessment and promotion.

Prospective students must hold an associate degree in nursing and an unencumbered RN license in the United States. They also must possess a minimum 2.75 GPA across all previous college-level coursework and have passed a statistics course. UWF's accelerated RN-to-BSN degree program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

University of North Florida View School Profile Jacksonville, FL

Based in Jacksonville, UNF offers online and on-campus accelerated RN-to-BSN degree programs. The online track serves practicing RNs across the country, while the on-campus option welcomes students who hold an RN license in Florida. Students in either track usually graduate within 12 months.

Both programs focus on the effects of healthcare technology, population-based care management, and healthcare politics and economics in the nursing field. Students can also receive credit for experience gained at their current nursing jobs.

The online track features accelerated eight-week terms, with students taking two classes each term. Most courses in the on-campus track use a hybrid model that combines in-person classes with distance learning. UNF's nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences View School Profile Memphis, TN

Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences offers an accelerated RN-to-BSN degree for practicing nurses. Students can secure a bachelor's degree and prepare for new career opportunities while learning at their own pace and continuing to serve in their current roles.

The 30-credit curriculum features courses on health assessment, pharmacology, population health nursing, and quality care and patient safety. Students can complete their degree in just one year.

Eligible applicants must hold an associate degree in nursing from an accredited institution and a minimum 2.5 GPA. They also must possess an unencumbered RN license in the United States. Students may begin the program in the fall, spring, or summer. This accelerated RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Appalachian State University View School Profile Boone, NC

App State Online offers one of the top accelerated RN-to-BSN degrees in the nation. Most participants earn their bachelor's degree in one year. Students take classes on health assessment, caring for older adults, leadership and management, and nursing informatics. All learning takes place online and most courses follow an asynchronous structure.

Incoming students must hold either an associate degree in nursing from a regionally accredited college or university or a diploma in nursing from an accredited hospital program. They also must hold an unencumbered North Carolina RN license and have a minimum 2.5 GPA across all previous college-level coursework.

App State is located in Boone, North Carolina. Its RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Western Carolina University View School Profile Cullowhee, NC

Located in Cullowhee, North Carolina, WCU delivers an accelerated RN-to-BSN degree online. Students typically complete the program within four semesters, and graduates have the opportunity to seamlessly transition into a master's program.

This online program features courses on community health, nursing leadership, professional transitions, and research. Learning takes place asynchronously, allowing students to continue working full time while pursuing a bachelor's degree.

Eligible applicants must hold an unencumbered RN license in the United States or pass the NCLEX before starting the program. Prospective students also must possess an associate degree in nursing from a regionally accredited institution and a minimum 2.5 GPA. This online RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

University of Utah View School Profile Salt Lake City, UT

The U offers an accelerated RN-to-BSN degree that covers subjects like health promotion, global health, and enhanced professional nursing. Students also complete at least 45 clinical hours working with a nurse leader, along with 68 clinical practicum hours. Most students graduate in three or four semesters.

Eligible applicants must possess an associate degree in nursing from an accredited postsecondary institution and a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. Prospective students also need to hold an unencumbered RN license and complete all general education requirements before starting the program.

The 30-credit curriculum features online classes and is delivered asynchronously. All distance students in this RN-to-BSN program pay the same tuition, regardless of their residency. The U is located in Salt Lake City.

University of Louisiana at Lafayette View School Profile Lafayette, LA

Students looking to earn one of the fastest RN-to-BSN degrees online can enroll at UL Lafayette. This program teaches students to make key healthcare decisions, implement and evaluate nursing care, and collaborate with other medical professionals to improve patient outcomes.

The curriculum of this accelerated RN-to-BSN degree includes courses on health and physical assessment, community health nursing with diverse populations, and nursing leadership and management. All learning takes place online using an asynchronous format, and full-time students can graduate in 12 months.

Prospective students must hold an associate degree in nursing from a regionally accredited institution, earned with a minimum 2.4 GPA. UL Lafayette also accepts graduates of accredited nursing diploma programs. All applicants must possess an unencumbered RN license in the United States. This RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

University of North Carolina Wilmington View School Profile Wilmington, NC

UNCW's accelerated RN-to-BSN program allows students to secure a bachelor's degree in just 12 months while continuing to work full time. Students learn to serve vulnerable and aging populations while exploring nurse-led research.

The 29-credit program features courses on end-of-life care, health policy, health assessment, and community health nursing. Students take a seven-week capstone course, but they do not need to complete any clinical hours.

Incoming students must possess an associate degree in nursing or a nursing diploma from an accredited program, as well as a minimum 2.5 GPA. They also must hold an unencumbered RN license in the United States and have earned a "C" or better in all prerequisite courses. This RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Mercy College of Ohio View School Profile Toledo, OH

Overseeing campuses in Toledo and Youngstown, Ohio, Mercy offers an accelerated RN-to-BSN program that covers subjects like nursing informatics, global focused nursing care, population health assessment, and nursing leadership. Students also learn how to serve as leaders in the nursing field.

All learning takes place online using an asynchronous course structure. The program offers every course in the curriculum every semester, which allows most full-time students to graduate within 12 months.

The program accepts practicing RNs who hold an associate degree in nursing from an accredited institution and a minimum 2.0 GPA. Eligible students must possess an unencumbered nursing license. This accelerated RN-to-BSN degree program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Online Accelerated RN-to-BSN Program Overview

Online accelerated RN-to-BSN programs build on the coursework covered during an associate or diploma program. The curriculum develops students' research, clinical, communication, and leadership skills. The overall goal of an RN-to-BSN program is to develop skillful and compassionate nurses with a strong commitment to ethical practices.

Earning this degree qualifies you for several rewarding careers, including registered nurses, care coordinators, school nurses, case managers, nurse managers, and health educators. Because these roles typically require at least a bachelor's degree they may not always be classified as entry-level positions.

A higher degree is not necessarily a requirement to qualify for advancement. However, furthering your education may increase your earning potential and qualify you for positions in administration or academia. Read on for more details about common courses and admission requirements for online accelerated RN-to-BSN programs.

Common RN-to-BSN Degree Courses

Nursing Research

This course typically builds on what students learn in prior statistics and introductory nursing courses. Coursework emphasizes the integration of nursing theory, practice, and research. Students explore the role of technology in the research process and learn to navigate key databases to find solutions. The course also outlines ethical research practices.

Health Assessment

This course introduces learners to basic nursing skills and principles. Students learn to assess the health of culturally diverse patients throughout their lifespan. Assignments require students to elicit, record, and document a patient's complete physical examination. Coursework typically uses case studies or role-playing exercises to develop and refine a student's clinical skills.

Nursing Informatics

This course introduces learners to healthcare information systems and basic informatics concepts. Students learn to manage information safely and use technology to accurately document patient information to aid in the diagnosis and treatment process. The goal of this course is to develop strong communication and decision-making skills in order to encourage efficient nursing practices.

Leadership

This course focuses on developing strong leadership and communication skills. A few key topics include conflict management, budgeting, organizational structure, staffing, evaluations, and quality control. The course uses scenarios and simulations to challenge students to develop effective management solutions for a variety of potential nursing situations.

Pharmacology

Students learn about the safe administration of medications and the basic principles of pharmacology. The course explores pathophysiology and helps students develop an understanding of various diseases and conditions that may impact patients throughout the human lifespan. Students also learn how drugs impact the human body at various life stages. The course typically uses assessments and lab work to teach concepts.

Online Accelerated RN-to-BSN Admission Requirements

Minimum GPA requirement may vary by school, but many programs prefer candidates with at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA (on a 4.0 scale). Some schools may require a higher minimum in certain subjects, such as math or science, as these skills play a vital role in nursing.

Many institutions ask students to submit a personal statement or essay. Some schools may provide a prompt, but it is common for schools to ask you to write about your life experiences and explain why you want to pursue an accelerated RN-to-BSN degree.

Each school's exact licensing requirements may vary, but students must provide proof of a current, unencumbered nursing license for the state in which they reside.

Acceptance into an RN-to-BSN program requires you to possess an associate degree or diploma in nursing from an accredited institution. This ensures students possess the introductory knowledge and skills they need to succeed. Most schools require applicants to submit official transcripts for review.

This requirement varies widely by program, but it is common for schools to prefer candidates with at least one year of clinical experience. Applicants must typically submit their resume and a cover letter detailing the location and details of their experience. Some schools may also require professional references.


Online Accelerated RN-to-BSN Career Paths

An accelerated RN-to-BSN program prepares graduates to work in a variety of roles, including registered nurse, care coordinator, school nurse, case manager, nurse manager, and health educator. Higher-level positions, such as healthcare administrators and nurse practitioners, usually require further education at the graduate level.

To work as a nurse, you must hold a valid and unencumbered nursing license in your home state. Additional licensing requirements may also apply, depending on your specific field. Also, adding credentials or certifications to your license may open up new opportunities and increase your earning potential.

Related Careers

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does an accelerated RN-to-BSN program take?

Program length can vary by school, but these programs typically take 2-3 years to complete. Factors that may impact a program's length include a student's enrollment status and their transfer credits.

Are accelerated RN-to-BSN programs hard?

The curriculum and requirements for an online accelerated RN-to-BSN program are identical to traditional programs. Professors expect a high level of commitment from students, and online learners should anticipate a challenging and rewarding experience.

How much does an accelerated RN-to-BSN program cost?

The cost of an accelerated RN-to-BSN program varies but may cost anywhere from $8,000-$40,000. Tuition rates can be impacted by a school's status (public or private) and a student's state of residency.

What should I look for in an accelerated RN-to-BSN program?

Prospective students should consider going to a regionally accredited school that offers an accelerated RN-to-BSN program that holds specialized accreditation; this ensures that a program meets stringent academic standards.

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