Online RN to BSN Degrees

RN to BSN programs are a popular option for registered nurses who wish to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Candidates typically have an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN) and are seeking an advanced degree to broaden their skillset and expand their career opportunities. Though RNs have already earned their state-issued license and “registered” status, completing an online BSN program opens the door to potential employment in administrative areas of nursing, including consulting, teaching, and research.

Students in online RN to BSN programs will gain clinical experience through a supervised practicum or internship experience, and will be prepared to provide nursing care in non-hospital settings such as home healthcare and community centers. The ideal candidate for an online RN to BSN program is compassionate, organized and detail-oriented, with advanced communication and critical-thinking skills. Graduates of online BSN programs are also emotionally stable with enduring physical stamina for long and potentially challenging shifts.

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Online RN to BSN Degree Overview

Degree Avg Degree Cost Avg Loan Default Rate Time Commitment Early Career Pay Mid-Career Pay Unemployment Rate
Bachelor's $16,167 9.42% 4 years $57,700 $70,600 2.2%
Whether you are new to the field, or looking to advance in your current career, you should weigh the costs and time of getting a new degree against its benefits. There is no one-size-fits-all degree. The best choice for you will depend on your current educational background, financial standing, employment history, and area of interest. For instance, those with no experience may want to consider an associate degree, due to its shorter time commitment and lower cost. If finances are tight for you, then you should prioritize the student loan debt and default categories, as you will want to choose a degree that offers you the best chance of improving your financial standing with minimal risk. If your employer or someone else is paying for your education, then you might want to consider the degree that will offer you the highest salary. All salary information is sourced from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and/or PayScale

While completing an RN program alone provides credentials needed for employment as a staff nurse, many workers choose to pursue an online BSN program to advance in the field. Online RN to BSN programs typically take four years to complete and cost an average of $16,000. Students are able to continue working as an RN while finishing the degree, and some employers will cover the cost of tuition for qualifying employees pursuing the online RN to BSN. Grads who complete their RN to BSN online show potential for significant ROI, including salary increase and career advancement. Graduates of RN to BSN online programs also enjoy low unemployment and low loan default rates. The majority of the top jobs in nursing, including those listed below, require a bachelor’s degree or higher for qualification.

Online RN to BSN Degrees


Online Bachelor’s Degree in RN to BSN

RN to BSN online programs provide the minimum education requirement for several nursing positions in hospitals and healthcare facilities, and can prepare the student for a graduate-level nursing or specialty program. Though online BSN programs require a four-year commitment, candidates must be pre-qualified with RN credentials. However, they are able to pursue work in an entry-level position while obtaining their degree. Graduates of an online RN to BSN program are eligible for an annual average income of $66,640, nearly double the national average for all occupations. RN to BSN online program graduates will also benefit from a steadily growing job market and low default rates for student loans.


    Human Anatomy and Physiology, Health Assessment and Promotion, Elemental Microbiology, Writing and Rhetoric, and Introduction to Chemistry




    Registered Nurse, Critical Care Nurse, Rehabilitation Nurse, and Addiction Nurse




    16% growth

Online RN to BSN Degrees
For the 2016 rankings, has greatly refined its approach to evaluating schools and their respective programs. Our innovative method of assessing schools is what makes our rankings so distinctly authoritative. On the surface, every ranking we produce employs a basic formula: Academic Quality + Online Offerings + Cost and Student Aid = Final Score. This final score determines where a school ends up in our rankings. Of course, there's a lot more than meets the eye. Visit our methodology page to discover the data points that shape our formula and to learn more about our process.

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RN to BSN Bachelor’s Degree Rankings

Rank School Name School Logo City Cost Address & Contact Info School Links Acclaim for Online Programs School Description
1University of DelawareNewark$$$$$104 Hullihen Hall
Newark, DE 19716
(302) 831-2000

The University of Delaware School of Nursing offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree entirely online. Program completion requires 120 credits, consisting of 59 transferable non-nursing credits, 31 credits of bachelor’s level nursing courses and 30 credits awarded for successful completion of the RN licensure exam. The curriculum also requires an 84-hour practicum, and students can gain the field experience requirement locally.

Topics covered by coursework include research concepts, health care issues, pathophysiology and community health nursing. All classes are presented through the Sakai learning management system, which offers support and training, IT assistance and access to all coursework. Students must have a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA for admission to the program.

2University of Wisconsin - Eau ClaireEau Claire$$$$$105 Garfield Avenue
Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004
(715) 836-2637

UW offers a unique collaborative program for nursing students aiming to complete their BSN. It involves a partnership between all six University of Wisconsin System nursing programs: Eau-Claire, Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, Oshkosh and Stevens Point. All campuses offer the six core nursing courses as well as all upper division nursing elective courses online. Students select one of the participating locations as their “home base” school, where they can attend any other classes on-campus. Only residents of Wisconsin are eligible for this program.

The RN to BSN online takes 1.5 years to complete. Courses consist of general education and the nursing major, for a total of 120 credits. All online courses are accessed through UW’s Desire2Learn portal. There, students can access course content, take quizzes assigned by their professors, review their calendars and reply to discussion threads. The final class is a four-credit capstone course with a clinical component.

3The University of AlabamaTuscaloosa$$$$$739 University Blvd
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0166
(205) 348-6010

The University of Alabama offers an RN to BSN online. Coursework is provided through ACCESS (Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators & Students Statewide) via a Desire2Learn portal. ACCESS provides a student orientation for those unaccustomed to distance learning. Students can fulfill the practicum experience requirement at facilities close to home.

Admission to the program requires RN licensure, 2.5 GPA in lower-division courses and 2.0 GPA in science courses. Upon admission, students are awarded 41 credit hours of nursing courses as an RN to BSN student. A total of 126 credits are needed to graduate. Nursing courses cover topics such as community health, leadership and management, client systems and role transition.

4University of North Carolina at CharlotteCharlotte$$$$$9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte, NC 28223-0001
(704) 687-2000

UNC offers RN professionals the opportunity to complete their BSN entirely online, with no campus visits required. Students may start the program in fall or spring and can complete it in 12 months. The curriculum is part-time and consists of 31 credit hours that cover broad topics including cultural health, aging, information technology, leadership and research. All classes are accessed through a Moodle online platform. Students can submit assignments, take quizzes, manage discussions and schedule appointments using Moodle.

UNC's program is designed for registered nurses who have completed an associate degree or diploma program. To be admitted, students must have a Registered Nurse license, a GPA of 2.0 or higher and liability insurance.

5University of St. FrancisJoliet$$$$$500 N Wilcox St
Joliet, IL 60435-6188
(815) 740-3360

The RN to BSN Completion Program at USF emphasizes current nursing topics such as Health Policy and Informatics and environment. The curriculum also addresses managed care, public health and hospice. While earning the required 32 credit hours, students will take courses such as leadership and management, community health, research and physical assessment. Elective options include aging, pain management and additional coursework chosen from the fields of psychology, philosophy and education. All classes can be accessed online through the Canvas learning management system.

In addition to nursing courses, students must complete Writing for Professionals and Christianity in the Modern World through USF. Admission to the program requires transferring 60-64 credits from a prior Associate Degree in Nursing or diploma program. Students must also have a minimum of 15 credits of transfer coursework in general education requirements. When applying, students must submit completed health records, two employer references, CPR certification, HIPAA documentation and OSHA documentation.

6University of North FloridaJacksonville$$$$$1 UNF Drive
Jacksonville, FL 32224-7699
(904) 620-1000

The University of North Florida RN to BSN program requires 30 credit hours and can be completed in as few as 12 months. Examples of classes available include health assessment, nursing ethics, leadership and management and community partnerships. The final eight hours of courses include nursing practice and nursing integration, which both hands-on experience. These practicum requirements can be completed in the student’s hometown. Each student will partner with a local community agency to complete a project that promotes health within a specific population.

Admission to the program requires a minimum 2.9 cumulative GPA. After validating completion of licensure examination, 30 hours of Nursing Validation Credits are awarded in the student’s last semester of the BSN program. All other coursework is completed online via a Blackboard learning management system. Students can email professors and peers, reply to group discussions, turn in assignments and check their grades using Blackboard.

7University of ArkansasFayetteville$$$$$Administration Building 425
Fayetteville, AR 72701
(479) 575-2000

Registered Nurses interested in completing their BSN can do so through the University of Arkansas entirely online. Eight-week courses are offered in an asynchronous format year-round, through the Blackboard online platform. Program completion requires 29 credit hours and can be accomplished in as little as three semesters.

Core nursing classes cover a broad range of relevant healthcare topics including research, policy, pathophysiology, communities and leadership in healthcare environments. Coursework includes one project-based practicum, which students can complete locally. After finishing the program, credits held in escrow for previously completed nursing courses are awarded, bringing the total credits acquired for the BSN to 120 hours.

8Appalachian State UniversityBoone$$$$$Dougherty Administration Building
Boone, NC 28608
(828) 262-2000

ASU’s RN-BSN program is 100% online and can be completed in 12 months. Coursework is delivered through the ASULearn online portal, which gives students access to their grades, assignments, discussion boards, registration and other services. Program completion requires a total of 124 credits, made up of 30 credits in nursing courses, 30 credits awarded for prior learning and 64 credits of lower division courses transferred to the degree. If needed, general elective courses can be taken to finish the total required credits.

The program’s nursing courses provide a solid foundation of skills for advancing in the field of nursing. Topics covered include health assessment, care of older adults, communities and research. Students may use their current work setting to complete their clinical experience requirements. To be admitted to the program, students must hold an RN license and have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher.

9Ball State UniversityMuncie$$$$$2000 University Ave
Muncie, IN 47306
(765) 289-1241

The Ball State University RN-BSN program emphasizes community-based primary health care, knowledge of disease prevention and health promotion and education. Admission to the program requires RN licensure, a minimum 2.75 GPA and a criminal background check.

Completion of the program involves 120 credit hours, including transfer hours from a previous RN degree. These include 36-39 core courses, 39 nursing prerequisites and 20 credits of nursing courses, plus clinical hours. Classes cover such topics as research, community health and leadership. These may be completed in a three- or six-semester sequence. Courses are offered in an asynchronous format and accessed through the Blackboard online learning management system.

10SUNY College at PlattsburghPlattsburgh$$$$$101 Broad Street
Plattsburgh, NY 12901-2681
(518) 564-2000

Students seeking to complete their BSN through the online program at SUNY College must be graduates of a nursing program, have RN licensure and have a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA from all schools attended. The program can be completed in four semesters; however, students are allowed up to six years to complete the degree.

Online classes are accessed through a Moodle learning management system and taught by on-campus Plattsburgh faculty. All clinical experiences are conducted at regional institutions. Online nursing courses cover core competencies including nursing informatics, public health, social justice and management and leadership.

11Quinnipiac UniversityHamden$$$$$Mt Carmel Ave
Hamden, CT 06518
(203) 582-8200

Quinnipiac University’s online RN to BSN program emphasizes modern global issues, ethics and the development of research skills. Completion of the program requires 120 credits.

Students can transfer 60-68 credits from advanced placement courses. Core curriculum consists of five advanced courses and 13 additional core, required courses, as well as practical experiences. Students design their own field experiences, made up of three single credit courses. Online coursework is accessed through the school's Blackboard learning management system. Admission to the program requires that students have an RN licensure and complete a criminal background check.

12Oakland UniversityRochester Hills$$$$$2200 North Squirrel Road
Rochester Hills, MI 48309-4401
(248) 370-2100

The Oakland University RN to BSN program allows nursing professionals to attain their BSN in two to four years after earning a total of 125 credits, including 32 nursing credits from Oakland. The program requires only one clinical course. Curriculum emphasizes critical thinking, evidence-based practice and clinical decision-making skills. To qualify for the program, students must have completed a diploma or associate degree in nursing program, have a minimum 2.5 GPA and have a valid RN license.

All students are granted up to 19 nursing credits based on successful completion of the NCLEX-RN exam and evidence of a valid RN license. Additionally, graduates of an accredited associate degree nursing program may transfer up to 13 nursing credits and 50 non-nursing credits; students can also earn 32 nursing credits based on completion of the NCLEX-RN exam with evidence of a valid RN license. The remaining required credits are attained by completion of a core curriculum that includes classes like Nursing Synthesis, Community Nursing and Research Basis of Nursing, as well as a four-credit capstone experience. All online courses are accessed through the school’s Moodle platform.

13Drexel UniversityPhiladelphia$$$$$3141 Chestnut St
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 895-2000

The online RN to BSN program at Drexel University focuses on action-based learning and in-depth clinical skills. Completion of the program requires 180 quarter credits. Students may transfer up to 135 quarter credits, or 90 semester credits, from any accredited institution, for coursework that earned a grade C or higher. Credit is also awarded for completed RN licensure coursework. To be admitted, students must have an associates degree or diploma in nursing, a GPA of 2.0 or better and a current RN license.

Students have access to innovative learning technologies, including virtual patients through a simulation lab, web-based learning, direct patient interaction and community outreach. All online courses are accessed through a Blackboard learning management system. Students complete the program with a three-credit capstone course for which they plan a project, develop objectives, critique the literature and present a plan for implementation.

14The University of Tennessee - KnoxvilleKnoxville$$$$$527 Andy Holt Tower
Knoxville, TN 37996
(865) 974-1000

UT Knoxville offers a flexible RN to BSN program entirely online; no campus visits are required. All online courses are completed through a Blackboard platform, and clinical components are completed virtually or in the student’s local area. Students can complete upper-division curriculum in three semesters or enroll on a part-time basis. Coursework is delivered in eight-week format and can be started in the fall or spring.

Curriculum focuses on research, professional practice, leadership and transcultural nursing. The program consists of 34 credit hours of online classes and 26 credit hours of proficiency credits. For admission to the program, students must be a licensed RN and have a minimum of 60 hours of transferable credit.

15University College - Azusa Pacific UniversitySan Dimas$$$$$300 North Lone Hill Avenue, #200
San Dimas, CA 91773
(855) 276-8669

To complete the Azusa Pacific University RN to BSN program, students must accumulate 120 credits, as follows:

  • 60 transfer credits
  • Up to 30 credits earned through portfolio assessment
  • 40 credits through the RN to BSN program

Any additional credits needed may be attained through proficiency exams or courses from Azusa or other accredited institutions. Admission to the program requires 60 transferable credits, RN licensure and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Program curriculum emphasizes policy, research, practice and theory and all online coursework is delivered through Sakai learning management system. Students also complete clinical experiences, which take place at facilities local to each student. The program takes 15 months to complete.

16Seton Hall UniversitySouth Orange$$$$$400 S Orange Ave
South Orange, NJ 07079-2697
(973) 761-9000

Seton Hall University offers a flexible RN to BSN program students can complete at their own pace. The program is designed for registered nurses currently employed in the healthcare field.
At total of 122 credits are required for graduation. These include:

  • 44-48 Credits Liberal Arts/Science
  • 32 Credits for NCLEX-RN Licensure
  • 35 Credits Nursing Courses through SHU

Curriculum covers a broad base of core nursing skills acquired through courses in group dynamics, culture and health, the business of healthcare, research in nursing and more. Courses also include a six-credit clinical experience. All online work is accessed through the Blackboard platform.

17La Salle UniversityPhiladelphia$$$$$1900 W Olney Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19141-1199
(215) 951-1000

Nursing professionals seeking to attain a BSN can take advantage of La Salle University’s accelerated RN to BSN program. For admission, students must have RN licensure, 60 credits in liberal arts and sciences and a minimum GPA of 2.75. The RN-BSN program consists of 52 credits. Students may earn up to 31 credits through prior learning experiences, validated by placement exams.

Courses are offered online, with cohorts beginning in January and June. Coursework is accessed through the school’s Blackboard learning management system. Upon completion of the program, graduates will have mastered ten essentials, which form the basis for all coursework. Examples of these include the implementation of culturally appropriate strategies, managing and coordinating care in various environments and evaluation of health care services.

18Mississippi University for WomenColumbus$$$$$1100 College Street
Columbus, MS 39701
(662) 329-4750

The RN to BSN advanced placement option at the Mississippi University for Women offers two flexible online options. Students who prefer some face-to-face interaction in their coursework may choose the partial distance option, which involves attending class one day every other week the first semester and one day every three weeks the second and third semesters. For those who prefer 100% online coursework, MU offers a total distance option. For either track, students access all online courses through the school’s Canvas platform.

Curriculum emphasizes community, leadership and research. Core classes cover topics such as research, leadership and management and pathophysiology. If students have fulfilled all prerequisites, the program can be completed in three semesters.

19Ohio UniversityAthens$$$$$020 Chubb Hall
Athens, OH 45701-2979
(740) 593-1000

The Ohio University RN to BSN program requires a total of 120 credit hours for completion. Many of these credits can be previously attained through general studies and an RN program. A total of 31 credits must be earned at OU through core nursing classes. These cover topics including family nursing, health assessment and diversity.

Courses are delivered in 5-week formats, with eight start dates per year. All coursework is accessed online through a Blackboard learning management system. Potential students must hold an active nursing license, a cumulative GPA of 2.0 or higher and be residents of Ohio, California, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania or West Virginia.

20West Virginia UniversityMorgantown$$$$$Stewart Hall, 1500 University Avenue
Morgantown, WV 26506-6201
(304) 293-0111

WVU offers a flexible online RN to BSN program. Students may begin the program in fall, spring or summer semesters. Online coursework is delivered in an asynchronous format through a Blackboard learning management system, allowing students to access and complete work on their own schedule. The program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Completion of the program requires 128 total credits. Students who are Registered Nurses are given 50 credit hours toward completion of the degree. Additionally, 28 credit hours of additional nursing courses are required. These can be completed in three to six semesters. Each student’s transcript will be evaluated to determine if all general education requirements have also been met. If not, additional courses may be required.

21Brigham Young University - IdahoRexburg$$$$$525 S Center
Rexburg, ID 83460-1690
(208) 496-1411

The RN to BSN at BYU is designed for nursing professionals who wish to further their education through earning a faith-based degree. In addition to the required nursing coursework, students must complete several general education religion classes including doctrines of the Book of Mormon.

Courses specifically for the BSN degree can be completed in three to six semesters. These are offered online through the school’s Pathway portal. Nursing coursework emphasizes stewardship, knowledge, professionalism and caring.

Degree completion requires a total of 120 credits, including previous RN courses. Graduates must also complete 284 project or face-to-face clinical hours.

22Southern Adventist UniversityCollegedale$$$$$4881 Taylor Cir
Collegedale, TN 37315-0370
(423) 236-2000

The RN to BSN program at Southern Adventist University offers nursing coursework in a Christian learning environment. Registered Nurses seeking to complete their BSN can do so in a flexible online program that requires four semesters to complete. Core nursing classes cover a broad range of topics including applied statistics, nursing pharmacology, pathophysiology and research methods.

Several classes require practical experience hours, including Population and Community Health, Leadership & Management, Transcultural Nursing and Health Assessment. These are scheduled at local facilities. All online coursework is accessed through SAU’s eClass portal.

23University of Massachusetts - BostonBoston$$$$$100 Morrissey Boulevard
Boston, MA 02125-3393
(617) 287-5000

Admission to the University of Massachusetts RN to BSN program requires completion of an accredited nursing associate degree, a current RN license and the ability to complete an 84-hour, in-person clinical internship in Massachusetts during the program’s fourth semester. Students enrolled in the program remain in the same cohort for five semesters. The program also requires five nursing courses, totaling 30 credits taken at UMass, a writing proficiency requirement and the aforementioned internship.

Including previous coursework, the degree is comprised of a total of 123 credits. A sampling of the broad range of courses available includes: nursing care of children, pharmacology, research, stress management and nursing in the community. Distance learners access these courses through a Blackboard learning management system.

24The University of West FloridaPensacola$$$$$11000 University Parkway
Pensacola, FL 32514-5750
(850) 474-2000

The University of West Florida offers nursing students a flexible RN to BSN degree option. Courses are offered in a seven-week format, with six start dates per year. The program can be completed in just 12 months. Courses are completely online, with practice experiences fulfilled in the student’s local area. Online coursework is accessed through a Blackboard learning management system.

A thorough core curriculum includes classes such as gerontological nursing, pharmacology, law and ethics in nursing and nursing systems management. Students complete a total of 32 BSN nursing credits for degree completion. Admission to the program requires an associate degree in nursing, a minimum GPA of 2.75 and a current RN license.

25Viterbo UniversityLa Crosse$$$$$900 Viterbo Drive
La Crosse, WI 54601-8804
(608) 796-3000

Admission to the Viterbo University online RN to BSN program requires completion of an associate degree or diploma nursing program as well as RN licensure. Upon enrollment, student transcripts are reviewed to determine how many of the total 120 credit hours required for the degree have been previously completed.

Forty of the total credits completed must be at the 300/400 level. Major nursing requirements from VU total 23 credits. This core curriculum includes coursework in qualitative research, nursing leadership, organizational management and theory. The final three credits involve a portfolio synthesis. All online courses completed for the BSN are accessed through a Moodle platform.

Online RN to BSN Choose Your Career

Average RN to BSN Salaries


Nursing Instructor / Teacher

Salary: $68,640
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
35% 57,390 Masters CNE credential

Nursing instructors and teachers receive complete training as nurse practitioners, and may focus on a specialty area of medicine or demographic in order to educate others about this field. Depending on their area of expertise and place of work, nursing instructors are often responsible for training fellow RNs and NPs according to standard procedures in their facility. These professionals may also become teachers for university programs offering RN to BSN programs online or on-campus, though such positions generally require a doctoral degree in the field. Nursing instructors must obtain the Certification for Nurse Educators (CNE) credential. While pursuing a terminal degree requires additional time and tuition costs, doctorate candidates with CNE certification can expect a moderate-high salary and steady job growth for their specialty skills.

Nurse Midwife

Salary: $91,070
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
31% 170,400 Masters RN license, CNM credentialing exam

Nurse midwives are nurse practitioners with specialty clinical training in prenatal and postnatal medical care, health and wellness for new and expectant mothers, and family planning services. They are qualified to deliver babies, address any birthing complications, and may also assist obstetricians with cesarean births. Nurse midwives must be certified by the American Midwifery Certification Board. They also need a master’s degree with their CNM credentials, and pursuing an RN to BSN online is the first step toward gaining the education and experience necessary for this. In addition to high average salary earnings in this field, the job outlook for this specialty is projected to grow considerably.

Nurse Anesthetist

Salary: $154,390
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
31% 170,400 Masters RN license, CRNA credentialing exam

Nurse anesthetists are trained as nurse practitioners, with additional clinical training and certification as required by the National Board of Certification and Recertification for Nurse Anesthetists (NBCRNA). These professionals are responsible for administering anesthesia to patients and monitoring vital signs during the anesthesia period to adjust if necessary. Nurse anesthetists may also provide post-procedure care, pain management, and/or other emergency services as required. Because a master’s degree is required to become a nurse anesthetist, online RN to BSN programs are an option for registered nurses on the path toward this career. Although earning all necessary credentials for this profession may be a lengthy process, qualified specialists in this field stand to earn one of the highest salaries among nursing professionals, with equally significant job growth through 2024.

Registered Nurse

Salary: $66,640
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
16% 2,751,000 Bachelor's RN license, NP credentialing exam

Registered nurses provide patient care such as preparing medical records, performing diagnostic tests, and advising patients on recovery procedures. Most RNs function as part of a team with physicians and other healthcare professionals. All nurses seeking employment in this field must earn their RN license and Nurse Practitioner (NP) credentials. Though RNs may work in non-hospital settings including home healthcare and nursing homes, hospital RNs are required to hold a bachelor’s degree for entry-level positions in this field. Online BSN programs attract candidates looking to expand their career options and potentially increase their salary in a hospital or commercial medical facility.

Nurse Practitioner

Salary: $96,460
Growth Rate 2014-2024 Number of Jobs: 2014 Degree Certifications
31% 170,400 Masters RN license, NP credentialing exam

Nurse practitioners, also known as advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), coordinate patient care and services in a healthcare setting. Nurse practitioners may also provide healthcare or specialty care to patients. They can work in collaboration with a resident physician or operate independently. Skills required of nurse practitioners are among the broadest and most diverse in the healthcare industry. These professionals are trained to perform the same functions as a physician in many cases, but often with added specialty experience in administering anesthesia or providing midwifery care. Students should consider RN to BSN online programs before moving on to an advanced degree in this discipline. A master’s degree is typically the minimum education requirement for nurse practitioners, ensuring a high salary that is commensurate with advanced skills. A high growth rate for jobs in this industry is projected through 2024.

Online RN to BSN Professional Requirements

State Board Certification

All states and U.S. territories require nurses to be certified through the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN). Students looking to pursue a BSN program or higher must first obtain RN credentials. Nurses may also be required to obtain individual state-issued certification, depending on their profession and/or area of expertise. Each state board follows the rules and regulations of its own Nurse Practice Act, enacted to secure the ethical practice of nursing in the state and protect nursing practitioners and patients who are receiving care.

Licensure compacts, such as the APRN and Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), allow nurses to practice in multiple states through a single multistate license. Search for individual state-issued licensure requirements on the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website.

Is it required?

All states require some form of state certification

How long will it take?


National Certification

While not required for all nursing professions, some national certifications are beneficial to RNs practicing in a particular specialty. The following are among the most common nationally recognized specialty nursing certifications:

  • CMCN (Certified Managed Care Nurse): This certification is open to all RNs and is intended to benefit students considering a career in providing direct care, as opposed to practicing in a hospital environment. Candidates do not need to declare a specialty area of clinical study.
  • CPHQ (Certified Professional in Healthcare Quality): The CPHQ credential is intended for candidates interested in healthcare quality control and, ultimately, administration in the nursing field. This certification requires experience in outcome measurement, data management, quality improvement, and leadership skills.
  • CCM (Certified Case Manager): This certification incorporates elements of patient advocacy and tests the candidate’s experience in addressing health and human service needs of each patient. Those pursuing CCM credentials are encouraged to consider a holistic view of each patient. The CCM also aims to maintain an efficient system of wellness care for both physicians and patients.
  • CHPN (Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Nurse): CHPN certification covers assessing and supporting the needs of patients with life-limiting conditions. The CHPN credential demonstrates not only physical care, but also spiritual, emotional, and psychological support for terminally ill patients. CHPNs often work within a collaborative team of specialists in this area.
  • CMCN (Certified Managed Care Nurse): The CMCN comprises some elements of the CCM certification; those who are CMCN-certified are trained in intensive case management of patients in a managed-care setting. CMCNs are responsible for addressing the medical and social needs of each client in an efficient manner, ideally avoiding the need for hospitalization or critical care by coordinating wellness care effectively.

Is it required?

Some professions require national certification and some do not

How long will it take?