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.

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.

Choosing Your RN to BSN 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 Degrees


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.

Sample Courses
Human Anatomy and Physiology, Health Assessment and Promotion, Elemental Microbiology, Writing and Rhetoric, and Introduction to Chemistry
Common Majors
Potential Jobs
Registered Nurse, Critical Care Nurse, Rehabilitation Nurse, and Addiction Nurse
Average Income
Employment Prospects
16% growth

The Top 5 Online RN to BSN Degrees

Rank School Name School Logo City Cost

University of Delaware

  • in-state tuition: $12,112
  • out-of-state tuition: $29,932

University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire

Eau Claire
  • in-state tuition: $8,710
  • out-of-state tuition: $16,283

The University of Alabama

  • in-state tuition: $9,450
  • out-of-state tuition: $23,950

University of North Carolina at Charlotte

  • in-state tuition: $6,107
  • out-of-state tuition: $18,636

University of St. Francis

  • annually: $27,970

See full rankings

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?