This article is about the best affordable online RN BSN programs in the U.S.
The healthcare industry is a burgeoning field that will demand the assistance of thousands of additional workers in the coming years. In fact, the need for registered nurses is expected to grow by 16% by 2024, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This is much faster than the industry average! The BLS also reports increased competition for healthcare jobs in recent years, so nurses with a BSN and some work experience will have the best prospects. If this isn’t reason enough to earn your bachelor’s degree, we don’t know what is!
If you’re a registered nurse and are looking for ways to make yourself more marketable to employers or want a promotion at your current job, consider earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing. This is very easy to do through an RN-BSN bridge program, which incorporates all your prior learning through transfer credits and usually takes about a year to complete. And because the vast majority of students returning to school to earn a BSN already have full-time jobs, many schools offer these degrees online.
The 30 Best Cheap Online RN-BSN Programs Ranking Methodology
Only public and private non-profit colleges were eligible for consideration in this ranking. Because this article emphasizes affordable online programs, we also only considered schools with average tuition and fees of less than $20,000 a year.
For a school’s nursing program to qualify for consideration, it must:
- have a baccalaureate program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
- be designed specifically for current registered nurses who want to earn their BSN
- be available through distance education (hybrid/blended programs do not count)
- have graduated an average of at least 10 students/year over the past five years
- not have had a significant (greater than 20%) decrease in the number of degrees it conferred/year from 2012 to 2016
These requirements ensured that we only considered popular and consistently active, affordable, accredited online RN-BSN programs for this ranking. We then compared the nearly 150 remaining colleges and universities by looking more closely at some of the conditions mentioned above.
*We took into account both in-state and out-of-state rates/fees for public colleges
First, we looked again at the average number of nursing students that the programs graduate each year. Schools with an average from 16-20 earned 1 point, 21-25 earned 1.5 points, 26-30 earned 2 points, etc. This metric helps to assess the college’s continued popularity with nursing students as well as its capacity (and resources) for maintaining a robust nursing program. However, this starts to lose some significance for extensive programs (any school that graduates well over 100 nursing students/year has successfully proven its popularity). Therefore, we instituted an upper limit and gave any program that graduates more than 155 students/year the maximum possible 15 points.
Second, we looked at the change in the size of the nursing programs from 2012 to 2016. Programs that graduated 0-9% more students in 2016 compared to 2012 earned 1 point, 11-15% earned 1.5 points, 16-20% earned 2 points, etc. For reasons similar to those already mentioned, we put an upper limit on this metric as well. Any program that increased the number of degrees it conferred by more than 150% earned the maximum possible 15 points.
Lastly, we awarded points based on each college’s average annual tuition and fees. We did this by subtracting this cost from $20,000 (the cutoff for this ranking) and dividing the result by $1000. So a school with tuition and fees of $13,600/year would earn 6.4 points. The cheapest college that we considered has annual costs very close to $5,000 and earned the maximum possible 15 points.
The 30 schools with the highest total point values, aka the best affordable online RN-to-BSN degree programs, are listed below.
30. University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
Online BSN-LINC Professional Program in Nursing
The University of Wisconsin at Green Bay offers a “Professional Program in Nursing” that is designed specifically for nurses who want to advance their careers. This program is based on the understanding that “employers want nurses prepared at the highest levels” and that earning a BSN “can open doors to new professional opportunities.” To make sure that as many students as possible can benefit from this program, the University has created three tracks, each of which caters to a different learning population. BSN-LINC is a flexible online RN to BSN for those living outside the state. However, Wisconsin residents can also study online through BSN@Home, although they also have the option to attend classes through the Campus Track.
Average Tuition & Fees: $11,611/yr
29. University of Toledo
Online RN to BSN Program for Registered Nurses
At the University of Toledo, you’ll enjoy a supremely flexible learning environment that makes earning your nursing degree online both quick and convenient. One particularly unique feature of UT’s nursing program is its partnership with Bowling Green State University. Because of this partnership, students can choose to complete their general education and liberal arts credits through either school. And although you must complete all online nursing classes through UT, the university offers several different study plans. You might take five classes at once and graduate in two semesters, or one course at a time and graduate in eight.
Average Tuition & Fees: $14,216/yr
28. Appalachian State University
Online Nursing RN-BSN Program
The purpose of Appalachian State’s RN-BSN program is clear: to provide “a flexible, affordable, and practical pathway for working RNs to complete 100 percent of their coursework online in one year.” Indeed, this objective is evident in every aspect of the university’s online BSN completion program curriculum. Coursework is neatly divided between fall, spring, and summer semesters, helping you keep up a consistent pace as you knock out all 30 required credit hours. In addition, ASU offers “non-traditional clinicals” that utilize research-based assignments and class projects. This approach makes it easy for you to accumulate hands-on experience without the need to travel to a brick-and-mortar site.
Average Tuition & Fees: $13,765/yr
27. Mount Carmel College of Nursing
Online RN-BSN Completion Program
Unlike most of the schools on this list, Mount Carmel College of Nursing is an institution wholly dedicated to nursing education. And there’s a lot to be said for a college that is willing to put 100% of its time and resources into a single career field. From the self-paced curriculum to the courses based on evidence-based best practices, MCCN offers a truly student-centered experience. To maintain its reputation as one of the top bachelor of nursing online degree programs, the college even requires all online nursing faculty to complete training in teaching methods and strategies for distance education.
Average Tuition & Fees: $12,180/yr
26. Florida International University
Online BS in Nursing RN to BSN Program
If you’re looking for a challenging curriculum that will test your nursing knowledge – and clearly demonstrate your expertise – check out Florida International University. In addition to the standard 30 credits of upper division coursework that most schools require, FIU’s program grants another 30 credits through “clinical proficiency evaluations.” Also known as Challenge Exams, these evaluations will test your professional aptitude in three topics: Adult Physiological Nursing, Psychosocial Nursing, and Childrearing/Childbearing. But that’s not all. To complete this affordable online BSN program, students must also take part in a Senior Clinical Practicum, which requires that they log 120 hours of experience at a professional healthcare site.
Average Tuition & Fees: $12,755/yr
25. Fort Hays State University
Online RN to BSN Program
Fort Hays State University’s cheap online RN to BSN program is versatile enough to accommodate students from many different backgrounds. Of course, the quickest way through the program is to qualify for “Advanced Standing Credit.” These credits, which count for a total of 36 hours, are awarded to registered nurses who successfully complete the NCLEX-RN exam. This means that – assuming you also have plenty of transfer credits – you could earn your BSN from FHSU in just three semesters. But that doesn’t mean graduating will be easy. In fact, all students, regardless of experience or schedule, must devote their final semester to an intensive, two-part “Integration + Internship” clinical practicum course.
Average Tuition & Fees: $9,156/yr
24. South Dakota State University
Online RN to BSN
On average, South Dakota State University graduates more than 300 students from its undergraduate nursing degree program each year. But why do so many registered and aspiring nurses choose – and stay at – SDSU? Undoubtedly, part of the credit goes to its affordable online RN-BSN program, which goes to such great lengths to meet the needs of working adults. Not only are all courses self-paced, but you can choose whichever study plan (three or five semesters) best fits your schedule. And while some colleges have strict requirements about the number of classes you take at a four-year institution, SDSU awards up to 90 credits for community college courses.
Average Tuition & Fees: $9,613/yr
23. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Online RN to BSN Undergraduate Program
For at least one group, the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center has the best nursing degree online. That is, if you’re a registered nurse who lives in Texas and completed your associate’s degree at a local community college, this is the school for you. TTUHSC’s articulation agreements with nearly a dozen two-year institutions provide a truly seamless transition for associate’s degree holders who want to earn their BSN. Of course, the online nature of the program means that even once you transfer to Texas Tech, you may never set foot on campus!
Average Tuition & Fees: $14,894/yr
22. Western Carolina University
Online RN to BSN Program
Through its RN BSN program, Western Carolina University offers a clear cut path to a rewarding career. And though it lacks the scheduling flexibility of some other web-based programs, this accredited online RN to BSN degree claims plenty of other benefits. In fact, if you’re looking for a steady and predictable pace, you may prefer WCU’s approach. The part-time curriculum takes two years to complete and includes 24 hours of nursing courses, eight hours of electives, and a set of “Leadership and Community Health practicums.” In these two practicums, students accrue 120 “contact hours” while acquiring valuable experience in crucial areas of healthcare.
Average Tuition & Fees: $11,820/yr
21. University of Michigan-Flint
Online RN to BSN Completion Program
Registered nurses who have completed fewer than 80 credits toward their bachelor’s degree are well-suited to the RN-BSN program at the University of Michigan – Flint. Indeed, undergrad nursing students must acquire at least 45 of their credits from UM-Flint before earning their degree. Although this may seem like a rigid requirement, this accredited online BSN is extremely flexible in other ways. Almost all courses are available online and onsite, the university offers “credit by examination” (CBE) for students who wish to test out of certain classes, and you can even start before officially earning your RN license!
Average Tuition & Fees: $14,664/yr
20. Davenport University
Online Nursing (BSN Completion) Degree
Like nearly all the schools on this cheap online BSN completion degrees ranking, Davenport University emphasizes the convenience and flexibility of its coursework. But beyond self-paced classes and 24/7 online access, this program provides extra versatility by letting you choose your semester length. Both seven-week and 10-week sessions are available, so you can select the pace and style that best fits your learning preferences. Along the way, you’ll benefit from a didactic philosophy that aims to comprehensively prepare nurses for the professional world of healthcare. Key concepts include communication skills, management, provision of care, and scope of practice.
Average Tuition & Fees: $15,952/yr
19. University of Central Florida
Online Post-Licensure RN-BSN Completion Program
The University of Central Florida boasts a well-rounded nursing program that serves students around the country. (Due to state regulations, this does not include residents of Michigan, Minnesota, and Oregon.) Not only does UCF make our list of the top cheap nursing degrees online, but it also earned the #6 spot on RNtoBSN.org’s selection of the best campus-based programs. And while distance learners do have the option to take certain classes on campus or at a regional site, they may not see a need. After all, U.S. News ranks UCF as one of the all-around best schools for online learning in the country!
Average Tuition & Fees: $14,418/yr
18. Columbus State University
Online RN to BSN
Go from RN to BSN in just 12 months at Columbus State University. An accelerated format enables you to complete one course every seven weeks and all 28 credits (nine courses) in just over a year. It all starts with “Professional Clinical Nursing,” a synthesis-based course that brings together a variety of nursing concepts and builds on previously mastered material. At the other end of this online RN BSN program is a required “Senior Project” course. As the final stop on your journey to a BSN, this class will challenge you to select a specific clinical topic and provide a full report on the evidence-based principles and practices related to it.
Average Tuition & Fees: $11,298/yr
17. University of Texas at El Paso
Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing: RN to BSN Option
Clearly, the nursing program administrators at the University of Texas – El Paso weren’t satisfied with creating just another flexible online degree. Rather, they went a step further to design a curriculum that makes learning more convenient than ever. Every aspect of the program caters to the needs of working nurses, from the 100% online format to the fast-paced timeline. Another reason that this is one of the best online BSN degrees for busy professionals? The 12-month program format lets you take just one course at a time. So instead of splitting your attention in six different directions, you’ll be able to maintain focus on your day job while still succeeding in school.
Average Tuition & Fees: $13,209/yr
16. Northern Arizona University
Online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program
Due to state regulations and national accreditation standards, most RN-to-BSN programs share very similar course requirements. So it’s rare for any school to surprise us with a truly unique curriculum. And yet, by pioneering its innovative Personalized Learning Program, Northern Arizona University has done just that. With no set schedules and no deadlines, this program provides a completely hands-off learning environment that is ideal for self-starters. It’s also one of the best online RN BSN programs for adult nurses with several years of work experience, as the competency-based curriculum allows them to leverage their professional knowledge and accelerate their path to graduation.
Average Tuition & Fees: $16,853/yr
15. Linfield College
Online RN to BSN Degree Completion Program
Most nursing programs are career-oriented and emphasize practical skills that easily translate to real-world working environments. But how often do they update their coursework to reflect current trends? At Linfield College, RNs benefit from an accredited online BSN curriculum that sits squarely in the 21st century. While learning about patient care and treatment, you’ll also develop a cultural sensitivity that will help you thrive as a leader and practitioner in diverse global communities. And you won’t just learn from professors; Linfield also highlights its “multi-generational classrooms,” which enable students to benefit from their classmates varied personal and professional experiences.
Average Tuition & Fees: $14,320/yr
14. New Mexico Highlands University
Online RN-to-BSN Program
Graduates of New Mexico Highland’s online RN-BSN program are prepared not just to provide patient care, but also for positions in “leadership and community health” as well as “for advanced work in nursing at the master’s level.” NMHU ensures that you’re ready to take your career to the next level through a comprehensive curriculum that is packed with advanced coursework. Although the core requirements only include 32 credit hours, you’ll make efficient use of your time with classes like “Health Care Law and Policy” and “Intro to Nursing Informatics.” You’ll also participate in a seminar on “Professional Nursing Leadership” and complete a practicum that is also leadership-oriented.
Average Tuition & Fees: $6,167/yr
13. Fayetteville State University
Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing – RN-BSN Track
Regarding the average number of students who graduate each year, Fayetteville’s program on the small end. This is particularly the case when you compare its size to that of other schools on this best bachelor of nursing online ranking. But it’s not in size that FSU shines. Rather, it is the nursing program’s incredible growth rate that is most impressive. It wasn’t that long ago that the department’s graduating class counted fewer than a dozen students. But today, that number is closer to 150! Of course, there are probably numerous explanations for this recent explosion in popularity. Among them are likely the affordable tuition rate and the nursing department’s strong commitment to improving student performance.
Average Tuition & Fees: $10,689/yr
12. University of West Florida
Online RN to BSN
If you’re interested in earning one of the top nursing degrees online but don’t think you’ll have the time, UWF may convince you otherwise. First, this RN to BSN online offers five start dates throughout the year to make applying as convenient as possible. Program coordinators have even “streamlined the admission process” to be faster and more efficient. Other convenient features include seven-week courses, a one-year completion schedule, and the opportunity to get hands-on experience by completing “practice activities” in your local community. You’ll even work with an “individual student coordinator” who will provide academic guidance and support throughout the program.
Average Tuition & Fees: $12,801/yr
11. University of Arkansas
Online RN to BSN Program
The University of Arkansas’ bachelor’s degree in nursing is a top choice for RNs of all backgrounds and career goals. And it’s not just the affordable online BSN tuition costs or the flexible format that make UA stand out. To be sure, the university offers plenty of perks for those who put a premium on flexibility. These include full-time and part-time enrollment options, year-round courses, and a three-semester completion schedule. But what is more impressive is how UA’s nursing department is able to balance these conveniences with a challenging, career-oriented curriculum. For example, although you will have to complete a practicum, you can do so through a project-based activity in your local area.
Average Tuition & Fees: $15,174/yr
10. Brigham Young University-Idaho
Online BS in Nursing RN to BSN
While many schools offer accelerated BSN programs for registered nurses, BYU-Idaho recognizes that this fast-paced approach isn’t ideal for everyone. Instead, Brigham Young University has created a curriculum – and a set of delivery options – that can accommodate a variety of preferences. First, you can take anywhere from three to six consecutive semesters to complete your degree. You can even take a semester off if you need a break. Next, you can choose how to study: online, on campus, through other types of distance education, or a combination of all three! And to top it all off, BYU-Idaho’s unbeatably cheap online RN to BSN degree program offers one of the lowest tuition rates in the entire country.
Average Tuition & Fees: $3,830/yr
9. University of Central Missouri
Online Registered Nurse to Baccalaureate
We’re not the only ones who think the University of Central Missouri belongs on this ranking of top cheap online BSN degrees. GetEducated, another reputable academic review site, has recently named the university a “best buy” in online undergraduate nursing education. Of course, UCM earns this reputation partially because of its affordable tuition rate. But the best programs out there combine low costs with high value experiences, and UCM is no exception. Indeed, its RN-BSN curriculum is comprehensive, robust, and directly applicable to real-world environments. You’ll even complete a pair of two-part lecture/practicum courses that will help you integrate conceptual topics with applied practice.
Average Tuition & Fees: $10,545/yr
8. Ohio University
Online RN to BSN
On average< Ohio University graduates well over 1500 undergraduate nursing students each year. And in 2015 alone, it conferred nearly 2500 degrees! Clearly, OU is a popular choice for aspiring nurses. But why? Well for starters, the university maintains an extensive list of partnerships with local community colleges, assuring a smooth transition for associate's degree holders who want to make that jump to a BSN. But that alone doesn't explain the popularity of this top online RN-BSN program. Of course, OU offers many other benefits as well, such as eight annual start dates, an efficient admissions process that takes just six to eight weeks, and a transfer policy that accepts any general education credit – with no age restrictions! Average Tuition & Fees: $16,030/yr
7. University of Southern Indiana
Online RN to BSN
The drive to offer programs that are flexible and convenient can lead some colleges to forget about the quality of education that they deliver. After all, it’s not enough to simply have a BSN degree – you need to have the knowledge that an employer would expect from a BSN, too! Fortunately, the University of Southern Indiana’s online RN to BSN degree program maintains a shortlist of priorities that emphasize evidence-based learning. Classes focus on critical thinking, communication skills, creative problem-solving, and current topics in the field. Finally, you’ll synthesize everything you’ve learned with an eight-week, “concentrated clinical experience.”
Average Tuition & Fees: $12,069/yr
6. University of Louisiana-Lafayette
Online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) Program
The nursing program at the University of Louisiana – Lafayette seeks to capitalize on the current working environment, in which opportunities to for healthcare professionals are at an all-time high. For nurses, in particular, merely earning an advanced credential could be enough to secure a promotion or pay raise. And ULL will maximize your chances with its carefully-crafted, 30-credit curriculum. One of the best online BSN programs for ambitious RNs, this curriculum imparts the “professional, research, leadership, and collaboration skills” that they’ll need to stand out from their peers. Plus, the university’s five annual start dates mean you won’t have to wait long to begin making progress toward your goals.
Average Tuition & Fees: $15,120/yr
5. University of Texas-Arlington
Online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing
One of the five top affordable online RN to BSN degrees, UT-Arlington’s nursing program sets a high standard for value. For a reasonable tuition rate, it delivers a comprehensive curriculum that will improve your decision-making, leadership, and critical thinking skills. The 35-credit program provides all the classes you’ll need – including general (prerequisite) courses – to meet the degree requirements for a BSN. Plus, you’ll get to choose your term length; classes are available in both five-week and 10-week formats. If you select the shorter of the two and plan your schedule appropriately, you may even be able to graduate in as few as nine months!
Average Tuition & Fees: $14,156/yr
4. University of South Florida
Online RN to Bachelor’s Sequence
According to TheBestSchools.org, the University of South Florida is home to the #1 RN-to-BSN online degree in the state! Of course, USF also makes the top of our ranking of the best cheap online RN BSN programs. And it’s not hard to see why USF is so deserving of these accolades. The web-based curriculum offers two plans of study: a part-time, five semester track and a full-time, three semester track (the latter requires approval from the program director). In addition, students can fulfill the practicum component by completing a “service learning” project at their current workplace.
Average Tuition & Fees: $11,867/yr
3. Mississippi University for Women
Online RN-to-BSN Advanced Placement Option
The Mississippi University for Women is another college whose RN-BSN program has received high rankings from multiple sources. Most recently, RNtoBSN.org named MUW’s hybrid nursing degree one of the top five nationally. This hybrid, or “partial distance” option, combines online and traditional classes and gives students the option to meet one-on-one with professors on campus. But MUW also offers a 100% online BSN program that is perfect for working RNs. You won’t even have to complete separate clinical courses. Instead, MUW builds them into a set of required “Professional Perspectives” classes that focus on topics like “Community Nursing Practice” and “Threats to Health.”
Average Tuition & Fees: $10,814/yr
2. Western Governors University
Online Bachelor of Science Nursing (RN to BSN)
Recent reports show that Western Governors University graduates an average of more than 1,800 nursing students per year. And since WGU exclusively offers distance learning degrees, this makes it the largest program on our list – by far! Its accredited online RN-BSN program has also enjoyed considerable growth in recent years. Undoubtedly, students are attracted to its rock-bottom tuition rates and “competency-based” curriculum. The latter feature is a unique way of awarding credits that focus on demonstrated knowledge rather than time spent in class. This approach is especially beneficial for experienced nurses who are already familiar with many of the subjects covered in the curriculum.
Average Tuition & Fees: $6,070/yr
1. Central Methodist University
Online Nursing – RN to BSN
Why does Central Methodist University have the best online RN to BSN degree program? First and foremost, its annual tuition rate is nearly unbeatable. Second, it offers a rock-solid curriculum that covers relevant topics like data analysis, case management, and end-of-life care. In addition, you’ll complete a hands-on practicum that will not only boost your leadership abilities, but also impart technical skills that are much-needed in the modern work environment. And we’re not the only ones who have noticed the value of a CMU degree. In fact, its nursing program – which averages roughly 170 graduates a year – has more than tripled in size since 2011.
Average Tuition & Fees: $5,280/yr
Thanks for reading our ranking of the 30 best cheap RN-BSN nursing degrees online!