For nursing professionals, continuing education to the BSN level is essentially a requirement of the field. The Institute of Medicine has recommended that 80% of nurses in the U.S. attain a bachelor’s degree by 2020. Additionally, educational institutions are encouraging nurses who graduate with an associate degree or diploma to earn their BSN within five years.
One of the most challenging aspects of keeping up with these requirements is finding the time to complete the degree. Nurses have long hours and rotating schedules. With this in mind, a flexible online degree program is a great option.
Busy professionals can complete coursework on their own timetable, and the degree can be finished in an accelerated format. Nurses can remain marketable and competitive in the workforce by completing a BSN while continuing to maintain their jobs as RNs. With over 2.5 million registered nurses employed in the U.S. as of 2014, making this effort to stay ahead of the pack is well worth it.
As more and more nurses pursue a BSN, institutions are responding by offering more and better online programs to meet the demand. This has resulted in a new, wide array of choices for nursing students. To help narrow the search, we offer the following list of the top online RN to BSN degree programs.
|Rank||School Name||School Logo||City||Cost||Address & Contact Info||School Links||Acclaim for Online Programs||School Description|
University of Delaware
|Newark||104 Hullihen Hall|
Newark, DE 19716
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.
University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire
|Eau Claire||105 Garfield Avenue|
Eau Claire, WI 54702-4004
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.
The University of Alabama
|Tuscaloosa||739 University Blvd|
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0166
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.
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
|Charlotte||9201 University City Blvd|
Charlotte, NC 28223-0001
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.
University of St. Francis
|Joliet||500 N Wilcox St|
Joliet, IL 60435-6188
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.
University of North Florida
|Jacksonville||1 UNF Drive|
Jacksonville, FL 32224-7699
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.
University of Arkansas
|Fayetteville||Administration Building 425|
Fayetteville, AR 72701
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.
Appalachian State University
|Boone||Dougherty Administration Building|
Boone, NC 28608
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.
Ball State University
|Muncie||2000 University Ave|
Muncie, IN 47306
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.
SUNY College at Plattsburgh
|Plattsburgh||101 Broad Street|
Plattsburgh, NY 12901-2681
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.
|Hamden||Mt Carmel Ave|
Hamden, CT 06518
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.
|Rochester Hills||2200 North Squirrel Road|
Rochester Hills, MI 48309-4401
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.
|Philadelphia||3141 Chestnut St|
Philadelphia, PA 19104
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.
The University of Tennessee - Knoxville
|Knoxville||527 Andy Holt Tower|
Knoxville, TN 37996
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.
University College - Azusa Pacific University
|San Dimas||300 North Lone Hill Avenue, #200|
San Dimas, CA 91773
To complete the Azusa Pacific University RN to BSN program, students must accumulate 120 credits, as follows:
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.
Seton Hall University
|South Orange||400 S Orange Ave|
South Orange, NJ 07079-2697
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.
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.
La Salle University
|Philadelphia||1900 W Olney Ave|
Philadelphia, PA 19141-1199
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.
Mississippi University for Women
|Columbus||1100 College Street|
Columbus, MS 39701
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 Blackboard 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.
|Athens||020 Chubb Hall|
Athens, OH 45701-2979
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.
West Virginia University
|Morgantown||Stewart Hall, 1500 University Avenue|
Morgantown, WV 26506-6201
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.
Brigham Young University - Idaho
|Rexburg||525 S Center|
Rexburg, ID 83460-1690
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.
Southern Adventist University
|Collegedale||4881 Taylor Cir|
Collegedale, TN 37315-0370
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.
University of Massachusetts - Boston
|Boston||100 Morrissey Boulevard|
Boston, MA 02125-3393
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.
The University of West Florida
|Pensacola||11000 University Parkway|
Pensacola, FL 32514-5750
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.
|La Crosse||900 Viterbo Drive|
La Crosse, WI 54601-8804
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.
A BSN offers nursing professionals immense career advantages. Not only are they qualified for more positions, their clinical skills are strengthened, preparing them for a broader range of practice. Nurses with a BSN experience financial payoff as well. Payscale.com reports that the median RN salary is $39,100, while those with a BSN have a median salary of $69,000.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 19% growth in nursing jobs from 2012 to 2022. As the nursing industry continues to grow, completing a BSN will allow nurses to make the most of new opportunities. Many specialties require a bachelor’s degree, and an increasing number of healthcare settings require a BSN degree as the minimum educational level for employment.
The following is a sampling of jobs requiring advanced degrees in nursing, including the median salaries and expected job growth percentages.
- Nurse administrator/manager: $88,580 – 23%
- Nurse anesthetist: $148,160, – 25%
- Nurse practitioner: $89,960, – 34%
- Nurse midwife: $89,600 – 29%
Keys To Online Success
Leverage previous education. A majority of the credits needed to complete an RN to BSN program have already been attained in general education and basic nursing studies. Most programs offer credit for this coursework. Research any programs being considered to ensure the school accepts as many previous credits as possible. Don’t let any previous courses go to waste unnecessarily.
Leverage previous experience. Depending on the program, clinical requirements can also be fulfilled by either previous work experience or through current employment. Don’t work a second job to complete field experience hours if you don’t have to.
Use technology to your advantage. Online RN to BSN programs typically utilize virtual patients, simulations and other technology to provide instruction. Take advantage of these opportunities as often as you can. With the field of medicine making technological advances every day, the more exposure you can to it in the field, the better.
Consider continuing your education. While a BSN launches you into a new field of opportunity, a master’s degree can bring you to the next level. For continued career advancement, it may be wise to stay on the education track a bit longer.
Keep licensure current. It is important to keep your nursing license active. Requirements vary by state, so check with the board of nursing in your state for fulfillment obligations. Many states have one- or two-year renewal periods. Common requirements include a specified number of contact hours and a minimum number of continuing education credits.