If you’re a working nurse without a bachelor’s degree, an RN-to-BSN degree will help bridge your education to a bachelor’s in nursing degree. This opens up a wider range of employment and advancement opportunities, should you choose to pursue them. Plus, you can complete that accelerated degree online while continuing to collect work experience and balance other life obligations.
The payoffs for pursuing an RN-to-BSN degree can be worth the costs and time investment, too. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), registered nurses made, on average, about$75,330 per year as of 2020, and the field had a projected job growth of about 7% through 2029, which is faster than the national average. But by completing your BSN degree, you can optimize your earning potential and advance in your career by getting a graduate degree in your field, which isn’t possible with an associate’s degree in nursing.
Take nurse practitioners and nurse anesthetists, for example. These two career fields require an advanced degree in nursing, which you’ll need a BSN to pursue. In these fields, you’ll typically earn an average of $118,000 per year. These fields are also projected to grow by about 45% over the next 10 years — an exponential amount compared to the 4% average growth rate for all occupations.
Featured Online Programs
Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.
The 25 Most Affordable Online RN-to-BSN Programs for 2021
A public research university located in Miami, Florida, FIU serves nearly 60,000 graduate and undergraduate students. The university offers more than 190 programs, including an RN-to-BSN degree program online.
This 120-credit affordable BSN program prepares licensed registered nurses to advance their careers by completing a bachelor's degree through a flexible online format. In the program, students take 30 upper-level nursing credits and another 30 credits through clinical proficiency evaluation. Along with the 60 credits earned in an associate program, these credits allow learners to complete a 120-credit curriculum.
Courses include nursing in global healthcare systems, health assessment and promotion, and professional nursing leadership. Students can finish FIU's program in three semesters.
FIU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and the RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Florida State Board of Nursing.
Program Name: Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Average Tuition Cost: $229-$346 per credit
Graduation Rate: 58%
Program Length: 2 years
Admission Requirements: 2.75 from an ACEN, ASN or Diploma Nursing program, unencumbered RN license
Located in Gainesville, Florida, UF serves about 56,000 online and on-campus students, making it the eighth largest university by student population in the U.S. The school offers 25 online bachelor's programs, including the RN-to-BSN degree program online.
Designed for working registered nurses, this program welcomes applications from prospective students who hold an active, unencumbered Florida RN license or enhanced licensure through the Nurse Licensure Compact.
Once enrolled, students complete 60 credits at UF, including courses such as genetics and genomics in healthcare, legal and ethical issues in nursing, and inquiry and evidence in professional nursing practice.
UF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and the RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Florida State Board of Nursing.
One of three regional campuses of Rutgers University, New Jersey's public higher education institution, Rutgers-Camden enrolls more than 6,000 students. The school provides nursing education at the undergraduate, specialist, and doctoral levels.
Full-time students can complete Rutgers-Camden's RN-to-BSN online in one year. New learners receive 33 credits for passing the NCLEX and can transfer in up to 60 additional credits for classes taken at other institutions. Courses at Rutgers-Camden include wellness and health assessment, community health nursing and global health, and conceptual foundations of professional practice. Applicants need a valid RN license and a passing score on the NCLEX exam. The program accepts applications throughout the year.
Rutgers-Camden is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the New Jersey Board of Nursing.
Program Name: RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Average Tuition Cost: $550 per credit, $300 online program fee per course
A member of the North Dakota University System, DSU serves nearly 1,500 students from its campus in Dickinson, North Dakota. The school offers bachelor's degrees in more than 75 subjects, including an RN-to-BSN degree program online.
This program requires 126 credits, 32 of which students take at DSU. Courses include transcultural nursing, nursing leadership and management, pathophysiology, and nursing research. Students take 1-3 courses per semester and finish in two years. To graduate, learners must hold a GPA of 2.5 or better both cumulatively and in nursing courses. DSU welcomes applicants who hold an associate degree in nursing and a current nursing license.
DSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the North Dakota Board of Nursing.
A public university in Trenton, New Jersey, TESU serves most of its 11,000 students online. The school offers graduate and undergraduate academic degrees in about 100 fields, including an RN-to-BSN online.
The program welcomes applications from current nurses who hold an associate degree in nursing. New students may begin the self-paced course of study on any day of the year and can take as long as they need to complete the 120 required credits. Core courses include public health nursing, financial management in nursing practice, and leadership and management in nursing. The curriculum includes 12 graduate credits that students may transfer directly into a master of science in nursing.
TESU is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and the RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the New Jersey Board of Nursing.
Program Name: Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Average Tuition Cost: $450-$550 per credit
Graduation Rate: 54%
Program Length: 2 years
Admission Requirements: ADM or RN diploma, RN license
IU enrolls about 110,000 students on two core campuses, seven extension sites, and an online program. The university offers 142 online programs, including an RN-to-BSN degree program online. This flexible, 120-credit degree allows full-time students to earn their bachelor's in nursing within 12 months.
IU's curriculum includes 27 credits of required courses such as applied healthcare ethics, a multisystem approach to the health of the community, and data analysis in clinical practice and healthcare research. All students also complete a capstone course. The university accepts applications from prospective students who hold an associate degree or diploma in nursing, a GPA of 2.5 or better, and an unencumbered nursing license. Students may transfer in up to 65 credits from a two-year college and 90 credits from a four-year school.
IU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and the RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
A public land-grant research institution located in Stillwater, OSU serves more than 25,000 students and offers about 200 undergraduate degrees, including an RN-to-BSN online.
Students can pursue this flexible degree full time or part time and can finish it in two semesters. Courses include theoretical and conceptual foundations of nursing, cultural considerations in healthcare, and nursing research and evidence-based practice. Applicants need an associate degree or a diploma in nursing from an accredited school with a GPA of 2.5. Prospective students also need an unrestricted license as a registered nurse from Oklahoma or another state. New students can begin in the summer, spring, or fall semester.
OSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Program Name: Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Average Tuition Cost: $410-$930 per credit
Graduation Rate: 61%
Program Length: 2 years
Format: online, in-person, or hybrid
Admission Requirements: ADM or RN diploma, 2.5 GPA, RN license
Part of the public University of Louisiana System, ULM enrolls nearly 9,000 students in a variety of academic disciplines. The university maintains a robust online education platform through which it offers the RN-to-BSN degree program online.
This accelerated program allows current nurses to earn their bachelor's degrees in 14 months. ULM learners complete a minimum of 30 credits through the university and may transfer in up to 90 credits. Courses include principles of pharmacology, computing for nurses, and gerontology and genomics. Learners also complete a public health internship and a final capstone. Each course lasts eight weeks, and new students can enter the program at any one of seven annual start dates.
ULM is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
A private college in Memphis, Tennessee operated by Baptist Memorial Health Care, Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences offers degrees in 13 different areas of health education, including nursing. The school makes its RN-to-BSN online available to qualified nurses who want to improve their earning potential and advance their careers.
This program requires 30 credits through Baptist College, and students can graduate in one year. Courses include perspectives of healthy aging, transitions to professional nursing, and nursing research in evidence-based practice. Distance learners also complete a practicum at an approved site in their communities. Applicants must have graduated from an accredited nursing program with a GPA of 2.5. They must hold an active, unencumbered nursing license or qualify to apply for a nursing license.
Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
A public college in Lake City, Florida and part of the Florida College System, FGC enrolls about 5,000 students in bachelor's degrees, associate degrees, and certificates. FGC helps registered nurses continue their education through the RN-to-BSN degree program online.
The program requires that students complete a minimum of 31 credits, or 10 upper-division nursing courses, through FGC. Courses include cultural diversity in healthcare, ethical and legal aspects of care, and healthcare policy and economics. Full-time students can finish their degrees in three semesters.
Applicants need an associate in nursing from a regionally accredited college, a GPA of 2.5 or higher in all prerequisite courses, and a current and unencumbered nursing license. New students can begin at one of two start dates during the year.
FGC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
A public research university in St. Louis County, Missouri, UMSL is one of four institutions in the University of Missouri System. UMSL enrolls more than 16,000 students in on-campus and distance learning programs, including the RN-to-BSN degree program online.
Registered nurses can complete this flexible degree in five back-to-back semesters. Students generally complete 30 credits or more at UMSL and transfer in up to 90 credits to graduate. Required courses include health assessment for the professional nurse, community and population health synthesis, and nursing research and evidence-based practice for the professional nurse.
Applicants must hold a diploma or associate degree in nursing from an accredited school, earn a 2.5 or better GPA on at least 30 transferable credits, and either have licensure as a registered nurse or qualify for licensure.
UMSL is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and the RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Missouri State Board of Nursing.
Program Name: Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Average Tuition Cost: $450 per credit
Graduation Rate: 52%
Program Length: 2 years
Admission Requirements: ADN or RN diploma, 2.5 GPA, RN license
A public college located in Brevard County and a member of the state college system, EFSC enrolls more than 15,000 students annually in over 100 academic programs, including its RN-to-BSN online.
This degree allows Florida's registered nurses to expand their knowledge and skills beyond the clinical aspects of nursing. Nursing students must complete 120 credits, including those earned in their associate degree, to finish their bachelor's in nursing. Courses in the program include healthcare automation and technology, management of long-term care facilities, ethics in healthcare, and healthcare risk management.
Applicants must hold an associate degree in nursing or be in their final semester of an associate program. They also need an active, clear, and unencumbered Florida nursing license or to be scheduled to take the NCLEX-RN.
EFSC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and the RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Part of the 12-campus State University System of Florida, FAU serves the south Florida region from its main campus in Boca Raton, at its satellite campuses, and through its online programs. Students can complete an RN-to-BSN degree program online by earning 32 credits through FAU.
Courses include foundations of caring in nursing situations, health assessment in nursing situations, and creating healing environments. Students also complete a 180-hour laboratory experience. FAU welcomes applications from registered nurses with an associate degree in nursing from a school accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. While students can transfer in many credits from an associate degree, they may also receive credit for prior learning through exams, assessments, or industry certifications.
FAU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Located in Tampa, USF serves more than 50,000 students, making it the fourth-largest public university in the Sunshine State. The school offers more than 80 undergraduate programs, including an RN-to-BSN online.
The curriculum includes 15 credits of core nursing courses, six credits of nursing cluster courses, and nine credits of electives. Core courses include nursing as a profession, the educational role of the nurse in healthcare, and essentials of healthcare leadership and management. Students can choose one of the following clusters: leadership/management, patient/staff education, or clinical excellence.
Registered nurses can complete this program in five part-time semesters or three full-time semesters. Admission requires an associate degree and a 2.5 GPA.
USF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and the RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Florida Board of Nursing.
A public research university located in Orlando, UCF enrolls more on-campus students than any other institution of higher learning in the country. The school also maintains a robust online campus, which offers an RN-to-BSN degree program online.
The program prepares students to advance into clinical and leadership roles. The curriculum requires at least 30 credits through UCF, including courses such as health promotion across the lifespan, pathophysiology for nursing practice, and public and community health nursing. Students also complete a practicum. Applicants must hold a current nursing license and must have graduated from an approved or accredited associate-level nursing program with a 2.8 GPA.
UCF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and the RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
SPC enrolls about 50,000 students, mainly in associate and bachelor's programs. The school does not have any residential students, and many learners pursue distance learning degrees such as the RN-to-BSN online.
The RN-to-BSN program requires 121 credits, including 40 credits of upper-division nursing courses. Students take health assessment and physical appraisal, nursing in a multicultural society, evidence-based research utilization, and informatics and clinical reasoning. In addition, students must complete a four-credit practicum in community health nursing and a two-credit practicum in leadership.
SPC applicants need a clear and active nursing license and a transcript that shows completion of all general education requirements and an associate degree in nursing from an accredited school.
SPC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Florida Board of Nursing.
Program Name: Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Average Tuition Cost: $112-$387 per credit
Graduation Rate: 73%
Program Length: 2 years
Admission Requirements: ADN or Nursing Diploma, unencumbered RN license
A public university serving northeast Florida, SJR State educates more than 10,000 students on four campuses and online. Distance learners can pursue SJR State's RN-to-BSN degree program online.
To earn their bachelor's degrees, nursing students must complete 10 upper-level nursing courses worth 30 credits at SJR State. These courses include teaching and learning in nursing practice; informatics and evidence-based practice; legal and ethical issues in nursing; and community, diversity, and population based care.
Applicants must hold an associate degree in nursing with a GPA of 2.0 or higher and an active and unencumbered nursing license. Students waiting to take the NCLEX-RN may receive provisional admission.
SJR State is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and the RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
A historically black public regional university in Fayetteville, North Carolina, FSU serves more than 6,000 students. The school offers several distance learning programs, including the RN-to-BSN online.
Students in the program must complete a 32-credit core curriculum. Core courses include transcultural nursing, nursing research and theory, and nursing leadership perspectives and trends in contemporary nursing practice. Students can complete the program in 2.5 full-time semesters or five part-time semesters.
Applicants must hold an active and unencumbered nursing license and an associate degree in nursing or a hospital diploma in nursing from an accredited program.
FSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and the RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the North Carolina Board of Nursing.
A private university focused on adult education, BU is based in Bellevue, Nebraska. The school enrolls more than 10,000 students in both graduate and undergraduate programs, including the RN-to-BSN degree program online.
Registered nurses in the program can develop their decision-making, management, and health promotion skills to prepare for leadership roles. The curriculum consists of 127 credits. Courses include professional collaborative strategy for nurses, nursing research and evidence-based practice, and population health-based promotion. All BU students also complete a unique series of courses: tradition and change, freedom and responsibility, and American vision and values.
Applicants need an associate degree or 60 credits, a grade of "C" or above in prerequisite courses, and a nursing license. Prospective students also need nursing work experience.
BU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and the RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
A public university in Richmond, Indiana, IU East enrolls more than 4,000 students in over 60 academic programs. The school offers several programs through distance learning, including an RN-to-BSN online.
This program equips current nurses with the knowledge and the problem-solving skills to provide care in acute, community, home, and nontraditional settings. Once enrolled in the program, students take 10 courses, including nursing ethics, nursing management, comprehensive nursing health assessment, and multi-system approach to health of a community. The program concludes with a capstone.
Prospective students should have completed at least 55 credits of general education and nursing prerequisites before applying to this degree completion program. Tuition rates for this affordable BSN program differ from other IU East nursing degrees because in-state and out-of-state requirements are more flexible. Students should contact the admissions office for more information.
IU East is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
Part of the Florida College System, FSCJ educates more than 50,000 students from its primary campus in Jacksonville. The school maintains several satellite campuses and centers in addition to an online learning initiative, which offers an RN-to-BSN degree program online.
Through the program, current and active registered nurses learn to design, provide, manage, and coordinate healthcare services. Students take courses such as professional ethics and diversity, nursing theory and philosophy, health assessment, and applications in evidence-based practice.
Applicants need an associate degree in nursing with at least 60 credits and a GPA of 2.0 or better. They must also hold a current, state-issued nursing license. FSCJ accepts new learners for the fall, spring, and summer terms.
FSCJ is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and the RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
A public university in Turlock, Stanislaus State educates more than 10,000 students in about 60 programs. The school has earned recognition for its social, economic, and racial diversity.
Stanislaus State offers registered nurses an opportunity to pursue an RN-to-BSN online. The program requires 120 credits, most of which students have already earned as part of their RN training. Courses include advanced health assessment, professional nursing RN-BSN, and transcultural nursing care. Students also complete a practicum in community health and an optional clinical practicum.
Prospective students must hold a nursing license in California, a diploma or degree in nursing with a "C" or better grade in each nursing course, and at least 60 transferable credits with a GPA of 2.75 or higher.
Stanislaus State is regionally accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission, and the RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the California Board of Registered Nursing.
Program Name: Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Average Tuition Cost: $160 per credit
Graduation Rate: 38%
Program Length: 2 years
Admission Requirements: ADN or Nursing Diploma, 2.75 GPA
A public university in Boone, North Carolina and part of the University of North Carolina System, Appalachian enrolls nearly 20,000 students in more than 220 graduate and undergraduate programs, including the RN-to-BSN degree program online.
Registered nurses need about one year to complete the program's 30-credit curriculum. Students take courses in the spring, summer, and fall semesters and participate in research clinicals and class projects. Courses include nursing informatics, concepts of professional nursing, nursing care of older adults, and nursing research. The curriculum also includes a five-credit capstone.
Admission to the program requires an associate degree or a diploma in nursing with a 2.5 cumulative GPA from an accredited program. Applicants also need a current, unencumbered nursing license.
Appalachian is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and the RN-to-BSN is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Enrolling nearly 35,000 students, UIC is the largest university in the Chicago area. At UIC, students can pursue the RN-to-BSN online as a degree completion program.
Courses in the RN-to-BSN curriculum include health assessment and communication, concepts and processes in contemporary nursing, nursing leadership and management in healthcare, and introduction to nursing research and statistics for evidence-based practice. Applicants must hold a state-approved associate degree in nursing with a GPA of 2.5 and a current nursing license. Incoming learners receive 33 proficiency credits for having completed an associate degree and NCLEX-RN successfully.
UIC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and approved by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.
The oldest and second-largest university in the Hawkeye State, UI opened in 1847 and now serves nearly 35,000 learners. The school offers a large selection of online and hybrid programs, including the RN-to-BSN degree program online.
Students in this program can pursue five-semester or three-semester tracks. In both tracks, learners enroll in courses such as improving health systems, community and public health nursing, and professionalism and patient safety. The curriculum also includes a practicum, which students can complete over 16 weeks in Iowa or over two intensive weeks in Swaziland.
Applicants need to meet all prerequisite and general education requirements, hold a minimum GPA of 3.0 in all previous coursework, and have a current nursing license.
UI is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and the RN-to-BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.
Program Name: Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Average Tuition Cost: $14,528 total
Graduation Rate: 46%
Program Length: 2 years
Admission Requirements: 3.0 GPA, current nursing license
Methodology: Here's How We Rank Schools
At Best Value Schools, we help students of all ages get the best possible value for their education. When choosing the best schools and programs, we prioritize tuition rates, student debt, financial aid opportunities, graduation rates, and the availability of online programs.
We source unbiased data from government and educational databases like the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 6,374 schools across the U.S. We organize that data into five weighted categories to compile our school rankings.
Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates
Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid
Admission and enrollment rates
Number of program options
Online Enrollment Score
Portion of learners taking at least one online course
You can read more about our comprehensive evaluation process on our methodology page.
Here Are the Most Frequently Asked Questions About RN-to-BSN Programs.
What prerequisite courses are required for admission acceptance?
The prereqs you’re required to have before admission will vary from program to program. That said, there are some typical prerequisites you’ll see from program to program. The class requirements for your program may include some or all of the following:
Adult, pediatric, and geriatric nursing
Nutrition and diet
How many years does it take to earn a BSN degree?
It all depends on the program and the amount of education you already have under your belt. A typical BSN program takes about four years from start to finish, just like any other bachelor’s degree program, but an RN-to-BSN is different. You presumably already have at least an associate degree if you’re an RN, which means you likely have at least two years of college courses out of the way.
If you want to do a fast-track RN-to-BSN program, it will take about 12 months on average to complete. This kind of fast-track program is primarily for working RNs, and it lets you earn course credit based on your experience as an RN, which cuts down on the time it takes to graduate.
If you’re enrolling in a regular RN-to-BSN program, you’ll be required to have a total of 120-semester credits for graduation. If you’ve already received your associate degree, that means you’ll have about two more years of schooling to complete before you receive your BSN, provided you enroll in the program full-time.
Why is it important to choose an accredited and credentialed program?
When looking at RN-to-BSN programs, it’s extremely important to choose an accredited and credentialed program to enroll in. Here’s why:
Meets minimum education standards: An accredited program means that the program meets the minimum standards set by a U.S. Department of Education-approved agency for quality education.
Access to federal financial aid: Accreditation also makes it possible to take advantage of the federal financial aid you qualify for. Enrolling in a non-accredited program can make it a lot more difficult to fund your education.
NCLEX and licensing restrictions: Students who graduate from a program that is not accredited cannot sit for the NCLEX, which is the exam that you obtain licensure through. That means you cannot become a registered nurse by taking this route.
Employment opportunities: Students who graduate from an accredited program are more competitive job candidates because employers know the education they received was in line with the national standards. In fact, graduating from an accredited program is often a condition of employment.
Certain nursing career paths, including roles like nurse manager, typically require a bachelor’s degree. In these positions, nurses supervise teams of nurses and staff. They set policies to improve patient care and help healthcare organizations run efficiently. A BSN also prepares nurses for graduate study.
During an RN-to-BSN online program, registered nurses may interact with fellow nursing students in discussion forums, watch pre-recorded lectures, and complete virtual clinical assignments. Most programs use an asynchronous learning format, which does not require set meeting times.
RN-to-BSN programs also incorporate practicum requirements to build professional skills. During practicums, nurses build skills in areas like population health nursing, community nursing, and nurse leadership. Many programs also include a capstone course that synthesizes degree knowledge and skills.
Why Choose an Online RN-to-BSN?
Nurses with a BSN benefit from higher salaries and more job opportunities compared to nurses with associates degrees or diplomas. For example, some roles, like head nurse and nurse leader, require a BSN, and many employers prefer nursing job candidates with a BSN. If you’re looking for a way to earn your BSN as an RN, an RN-to-BSN degree program online can help you advance your career in a flexible format. Most programs will allow you to continue working, with coursework designed for the variable schedule of working RNs.
Common Online RN-to-BSN Courses
Comprehensive Health Assessment
During this class, students learn about the role of health assessments in preventing disease and early detection of diseases. The course emphasizes health assessment across the lifespan. Students learn about the role of inspection and observation and the tools needed to complete a comprehensive health assessment. The class may also cover abnormal findings and the next steps after a health assessment.
Courses in evidence-based practice examine nursing research and its application in practice. Students learn how to identify and evaluate research to determine the best sources for clinical problems. They also study the research process. After exploring the theoretical side of research, students learn how to apply research to improve patient care and healthcare policies.
Global Health Issues
This class explores core global health issues, including infectious diseases, global health disparities, and public health policy in a global context. Students also learn about healthcare delivery systems around the world. Learners may examine the economics of healthcare in different countries, health equity challenges, and the role of technology in examining global health problems. Some programs let students participate in international clinical opportunities.
Classes prepare BSN students for leadership responsibilities within healthcare organizations. Students learn about the role of nurse leaders in managing staff and improving patient outcomes while developing case management, conflict resolution, and delegation skills. The course also examines organizational concepts in healthcare, such as delivery systems, healthcare organizational structures, and resource allocation.
In community nursing courses, students examine healthcare delivery in a community setting, including the nurse’s role and responsibilities. Nurses learn to promote individual, family, and community wellness using evidence-based strategies. Many community nursing courses also cover public health and population-based health methods. The course may also include a practicum requirement in a community setting.
Online RN-to-BSN Program Concentrations
During a concentration, BSN students complete specialized courses that prepare them for specific career paths. For example, a pediatric concentration leads to pediatric nursing roles, while a concentration in nurse leadership prepares graduates for supervisory roles. Some RN-to-BSN programs offer formal concentrations, while others let students design their own concentration through electives. The following list outlines several common BSN concentrations.
A global health concentration educates nurses about global health issues, including treatments and community-based service in different countries. Some programs include international field experiences during the concentration.
BSN nurses often take on leadership roles in healthcare organizations. This concentration covers leadership topics like schedule management, team leadership, and enhancing patient care. Graduates may pursue titles like head nurse, nurse leader, or nurse manager.
This concentration prepares nurses for primary care roles, focusing on nursing care throughout the lifespan and family nursing. The concentration also provides a solid foundation for further training as a nurse practitioner.
A pediatrics concentration trains nurses to care for infants, young children, and adolescents. Nursing students take courses on topics like child development, pediatric nursing in a primary care setting, and pediatric nursing in an acute-care setting.
Occupational Health Nursing
A concentration in occupational health nursing trains nurses to treat on-the-job injuries and illnesses. In addition to clinical careers, occupational health nurses may work for organizations to promote workers’ health and decrease illnesses.
RN-to-BSN Online Program Requirements
Each RN-to-BSN program sets its own admission requirements. That said, there are some relatively common admissions requirements that you can expect to encounter when applying for programs. These include:
A current RN license: Most programs require applicants to hold a current RN license in the state where they plan to complete their clinical hours.
An RN license in the same state as the school: A small number of online RN-to-BSN programs only admit students with an RN license in the same state as the college or university.
In some cases, an in-process RN license: Some programs also admit students in the process of completing their RN license. For example, current RN students planning to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and apply for an RN license may meet the requirements for some schools. In these cases, the student must hold an RN license before enrolling in any practicum courses.
Transcripts from colleges or programs you’ve attended and other school documents: Programs also require transcripts showing an associate degree or a diploma in nursing from an accredited nursing program.
A minimum GPA and/or nursing experience: Many programs also set a minimum GPA or require nursing experience for admission.
After gaining admission at an RN-to-BSN online program, students typically complete 26-30 credits of nursing coursework, including practicum hours. Students may also need to meet the general education requirements for a bachelor’s degree.
Because admission requirements and processes vary by school, prospective BSN students must carefully research potential programs to make sure they can meet all requirements.
Career Path for an RN-to-BSN Degree
An RN to BSN degree is a degree for students who already have associate’s degrees in nursing and are working as RNs. RNs who qualify to enroll in an RN-to-BSN program can earn their BSN by taking an additional two years of courses to complete their bachelor’s degrees.
If you are already an RN, you may want to consider taking a BSN program to help advance your career. A BSN degree can help open more opportunities in the nursing field, including managerial opportunities, and can open up a wider range of salaries compared to what you can earn with an associate’s degree.
Having a BSN as an RN can lead to specialties within the field, too, whether that’s a role as a critical care nurse, a case management nurse, pediatric nurse, psychiatric nurse, emergency room nurse, or some other specialty.
Job Outlook & Salary
The average salary for RNs was about $75,330 per year as of 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The nursing field is expected to grow faster than average, with a projected growth in jobs of about 7% through 2029. That growth should add about 221,900 jobs to the field during that time.
How Much Do RN-to-BSN Programs Cost?
An affordable BSN program lets registered nurses increase their earning potential without taking on too much debt. When researching the cost of RN-to-BSN programs, prospective students should consider tuition, online learning discounts, and any additional fees. For example, some online programs offer in-state tuition rates to out-of-state students.
Most of the programs we ranked ranged in tuition costs between $100 and $500 per credit, with credit requirements varying between 30 and 120, depending on the program. The total tuition costs for completing an RN-to-BSN program typically range between $11,000 and $15,000.
How Can You Pay for Online BSN Programs?
Stressing about the idea of paying for an RN-to-BSN program? Don’t panic. There are plenty of ways you can cover the costs of tuition and books, including:
Scholarships: There are tons of different scholarships available for nursing school. Some schools offer nursing-specific scholarships and there are nursing and other organizations that offer financial help, too. Don’t discount scholarships simply because you’re a working nurse; according to nurse.org, one student recently received about $48,000 in scholarship money for a nursing program, which would pay for the majority of most online nursing programs.
Employer assistance: If you’re a working RN at a hospital or another large clinic or program, you should inquire about tuition assistance through your employer. Many of the large hospital systems offer financial aid to RNs who want to pursue a BSN degree, so make sure you look into that before taking out loans or other types of financing.
Nursing student loans or federal loans: You also have the option to use student loans to cover any part of your nursing degree. If you take this route, you’re going to want to use any federal loans you qualify for. These types of loans generally carry the lowest interest rates. Private student loans are also an option, though they tend to come with slightly higher interest rates on the money you borrow.
Government assistance for nurses: There are also government assistance programs that can help you pay for your nursing degree or get reimbursed after graduating from the program you enroll in. This includes:
The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) sets quality standards for nursing education and promotes the nursing profession. AACN runs the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), which accredits nursing programs. AACN also offers scholarships to support professional nursing education, such as the Geraldine “Polly” Bednash Scholarship, which provides $5,000 to a nursing student attending a member institution. The AfterCollege/AACN Nursing Scholarship Program also supports students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing with a preference for students interested in becoming nurse educators.
Offered by the American Association of Post-Acute Care Nursing, these scholarships support long-term and post-acute care nurses pursuing an RN-to-BSN degree. The scholarships provide $3,000-$5,000 toward a nursing degree. Applicants must demonstrate an interest in long-term care. The Cheryl M. Thomas Scholarship provides $5,000 for a registered nurse pursuing a BSN degree or higher, while the Elevating Healthcare Scholarship provides $3,000 toward a BSN program. The LIghting the Way for Nursing Scholarship provides $5,000 for an LPN or LVN pursuing a BSN or higher, while the Sparking the Future in Healthcare Scholarship offers $4,000 to a CNA pursuing a BSN degree.
The Emergency Nurses Association (ENA) supports emergency nurses and students through its educational scholarships. Eligibility requirements include current ENA membership, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and attendance at an ACEN- or CCNE-accredited institution. Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation, including at least one from a current ENA member. Undergraduate nursing scholarships include the ENA Foundation Endowed Undergraduate Scholarship, the BCEN Undergraduate Scholarship, the Charles Kunz Memorial Scholarship, the Elizabeth B. Moore Memorial Scholarship, and the ENA Foundation State Challenge Scholarship. Recipients of an ENA scholarship can apply for other ENA scholarships in future years.
The Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) dates back to 1949. AORN offers multiple scholarships through its foundations to support nurses earning a BSN degree. Applicants must be attending an accredited nursing program and demonstrate a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants must also provide a personal statement demonstrating their interest or experience in perioperative or surgical nursing. The committee selects winners based on their academic record, personal statement, and financial need.
Although nursing roles are in demand and the profession is promising, there are other degree options you can consider that are similar to nursing degrees. These include:
Biology consists of studying life on earth, individual organisms, each organism’s communities and the systems and cells that make up all living things. It is similar to nursing as nursing students must also study biology as a prerequisite to be accepted into many programs. Biologist graduates can also apply for a doctor or physician program.
Pre-medical studies is a course that enables students to prepare for admission into a medical school to become a doctor or dentist. It is the first step to becoming a doctor. This is similar to a nursing degree, as nurses usually assist doctors in patient care. That said, the end goals of the two types of degrees are different, which means that courses and programs between the two degrees will be different.
The Top 10 Most Affordable Online RN-to-BSN Programs for 2021
Grace Kim is a freelance writer who has written for a number of education-related sites, including Best Value Schools and Criminal Justice Degrees.
Angelica Leicht is the schools editor at Best Value Schools who oversees our college rankings, school profiles, and other higher education coverage. She previously served as an education reporter at Kearney Hub, and an editor at the Dallas Observer and Houston Press. Her writing has appeared in Affordable Colleges Online, Bankrate, The Simple Dollar, and elsewhere.
Mental health counseling jobs exist across many settings — from hospitals and government agencies to schools and private practices, and they’re projected to grow. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)...
Discover a program that is right for you.
Explore different options for you based on your degree interests.