This article is about the best affordable online RN BSN programs in the U.S.
If you work as a registered nurse and have considered furthering your education, several schools offer RN to BSN programs that you can complete entirely online while working full time. These schools typically allow students to transfer credit from their previous undergraduate coursework, which means learners often finish their degrees much quicker than the traditional four-year route. Some online BSN programs even offer credit for your National Council Licensure Exam. In addition, many of these schools offer their RN to BSN programs at a relatively low tuition cost, or they provide scholarships. The nursing industry already sees a bright future, as the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) expects it to grow by 15% — much faster than average — from 2016 to 2026. A bachelor’s degree can open up even more job possibilities. When it comes to administrative, research, consulting, or teaching positions, employers often look for candidates who have earned their BSN.
Best Cheap Online RN-BSN Programs
|Ranking||Institution||Tuition & Fees|
|1||Central Methodist University||$7,950|
|2||Western Governors University||$6,070|
|3||Mississippi University for Women||$10,814|
|4||University of South Florida||$11,867|
|5||University of Texas-Arlington||$14,156|
|6||University of Louisiana-Lafayette||$15,120|
|7||University of Southern Indiana||$12,069|
|9||University of Central Missouri||$10,545|
|10||Brigham Young University-Idaho||$3,830|
|11||University of Arkansas||$15,174|
|12||University of West Florida||$12,801|
|13||Fayetteville State University||$10,689|
|14||New Mexico Highlands University||$6,167|
|16||Northern Arizona University||$16,853|
|17||University of Texas at El Paso||$13,209|
|18||Columbus State University||$11,298|
|19||University of Central Florida||$14,418|
|21||University of Michigan-Flint||$14,664|
|22||Western Carolina University||$11,820|
|23||Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center||$14,894|
|24||South Dakota State University||$9,613|
|25||Fort Hays State University||$9,156|
The 25 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.
25. Fort Hays State University
Online RN to BSN Program
Fort Hays University, one of the largest public universities in Kansas, gives registered nurses “advanced standing credit” that they can apply to the school’s online BSN program. Fort Hays allows students to transfer in 45 credits from their associate degrees and 36 advanced standing credits from the National Council Licensure Examination for nurses. Students learn about management, health care policy, and health promotion to build on the nursing skills they already know. Toward the end of their degrees, they must also complete a quality improvement practicum. The nursing program, which holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education offers several scholarship opportunities to help curb tuition costs.
24. South Dakota State University
Online RN to BSN
The University of South Dakota offers its RN to BSN program through two different pathways: a five-semester program, or a three-semester program for nurses who work full-time and need more flexibility. Applicants must have earned their associate degrees, and they can transfer in up to 90 credits from community college coursework. Nursing courses in South Dakota’s program go over topics such as health assessment, clinical decision making, and nursing intervention. Leadership and management courses may also help students move up in their careers. This online BSN program requires candidates to apply with a minimum 2.5 GPA from previous coursework and an active nursing license.
23. Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
Online RN to BSN Undergraduate Program
The Texas Tech University Health Science Center administers an online BSN program for people who already work as registered nurses. Students typically complete the program within two to three semesters — no matter if they enroll full-time or part-time — and they must take 30 credits of coursework at Texas Tech. Learners gather knowledge and skills from courses like concepts of community and public health nursing, or management and leadership from the bedside to the boardroom. A final integration course culminates everything students learn before they graduate. Each student may transfer in other credits from his or her associate degree, a requirement for admission.
22. Western Carolina University
Online RN to BSN Program
At Western Carolina University, students can finish the RN to BSN program in four semesters. This program, meant for professionals with active nursing licensure, also allows students to work while they study. Those entering the program should hold an associate degree; indeed, this online BSN program builds upon students’ previous degrees. Overall, students must complete 24 credits in six different “blocks”: professional transitions into nursing, community health, leadership, research, and two different elective blocks. Before they can graduate, learners need to participate in a practicum. They can choose to focus on either community health or leadership in this culminating course.
21. University of Michigan-Flint
Online RN to BSN Completion Program
The University of Michigan at Flint allows professionals with registered nursing licensure to continue their education and complete their bachelor’s degrees entirely through distance learning. The online BSN program includes experiential learning techniques in senior-level classes, which requires students to perform 16 hours service work in their local communities. Although students can transfer in credit, they must complete 45 credits of coursework at the University of Michigan. Applicants should hold at least a 2.75 GPA from previous coursework. If applicants fall below this threshold, the school may admit them on the condition that they complete nine prerequisite credits of coursework at the University of Michigan.
20. Davenport University
Online Nursing (BSN Completion) Degree
Davenport University operates as a private institution in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The school’s RN to BSN program gives registered nurses with associate degrees to further their education and advance in their careers. Students can transfer in up to 60 credits from already-completed coursework. In addition, Davenport offers 30 credits for successfully passing the National Council Licensure Examination for nurses. Therefore, learners sometimes need only 31 credits to meet the 121-credit requirement and graduate from the online BSN program. Students may choose to pursue the medical case management emphasis area, where they learn job responsibilities and reporting techniques of case managers.
19. University of Central Florida
Online Post-Licensure RN-BSN Completion Program
Based in Orlando, the public University of Central Florida allows students to enroll in its RN to BSN degree either part-time or full-time. Many students work as nurses while taking classes, and the part-time online BSN program helps them keep their schedules flexible. UCF also gives distance learning students the option of face-to-face courses as well. Plus, online nursing students can participate in the honors nursing program, in which they can conduct independent research. Cost-conscious students may meet eligibility requirements for reduced tuition costs or entire tuition waivers. Applicants should hold at least a 2.8 GPA in previous coursework and an active nursing license.
18. Columbus State University
Online RN to BSN
Registered nurses can continue their education at Columbus State University in Ohio, where they can receive their bachelor’s degrees through the web. The online BSN program at Columbus State runs seven-week terms, and new students may begin at any semester throughout the year. With enough transfer credits, working nurses may complete the program in one year. While students enroll in classes entirely online, they must participate in clinical practice within their communities. The school also assigns each student an RN students faculty advisor. In order to apply, candidates must possess a nursing license, at least a 2.5 GPA in previous nursing coursework, and a minimum C grade in all prior science classes.
17. University of Texas at El Paso
Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing: RN to BSN Option
The University of Texas at El Paso offers an RN to BSN degree that students can complete in two and a half semesters, or one year. The online BSN program requires students to complete 30 credits at UTEP. Learners must earn 21 credits through distance learning coursework, with classes like nursing informatics and technology and nursing in the community. Some courses also train nurses with the skills to succeed in higher education, such as a RN to BSN role transition class. Students can complete the other nine credits through general education courses. UTEP’s nursing school holds accreditation from the Collegiate Commission on Nursing Education.
16. Northern Arizona University
Online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program
Students at Northern Arizona University may earn their RN to BSN degree online. The program, designed for registered nurses of good standing, consists of 120 credits. Students must complete at least 30 of these credits at Northern Arizona. The program aims to equip nurses with professional skills that will help them advance in their careers. They learn about critical reasoning, communication, and leadership. In addition to online courses, students must complete clinical projects in their local communities. The school does not set a minimum GPA in previous coursework for admission, but students must maintain a 2.0 GPA while pursuing the online BSN program at Northern Arizona.
15. Linfield College
Online RN to BSN Degree Completion Program
Located in McMinnville, Oregon, Linfield College enrolls only about 2,000 students. However, its RN to BSN degree accepts nurses from many different backgrounds. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education-accredited online BSN program runs a policy where transfer credit never expires, no matter how long ago students completed their coursework. Students can also choose to specialize in training and education, public and community health, leadership and management, hospice and home health, or RN case management. Linfield offers several scholarships to help students with the burden of tuition. In addition, Linfield holds co-admission partnerships with 12 Oregon community college RN programs, so that students can seamlessly take courses at two different institutions.
14. New Mexico Highlands University
Online RN-to-BSN Program
Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, New Mexico Highlands University RN to BSN program allows registered nurses with associate degrees to take the next step in their education. The online BSN program begins with an RN to BSN bridge course, which teaches professionals the skills they need to succeed in higher education. Learners also enroll in both a leadership practicum and seminar before they graduate. While students need 120 credits to graduate, 32 of those credits must come from New Mexico Highlands’ nursing courses. Applicants must hold valid nursing licensure and a minimum 2.5 GPA in previous coursework.
13. Fayetteville State University
Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing – RN-BSN Track
North Carolina-based Fayetteville State University allows online RN to BSN students to enroll either part-time or full-time. While part-time students may finish the program in five semesters, full-time students typically earn their degrees in 2.5 semesters. Interested individuals should hold an active nursing license and an associate degree; once admitted, they can transfer in all of their general education requirements from previous higher education coursework. However, students must complete at least 32 credits at Fayetteville State. Nursing classes cover topics like health assessment, pathophysiology, leadership, and transcultural nursing. Students of the online BSN program must also complete a practicum in order to graduate.
12. University of West Florida
Online RN to BSN
At the University of West Florida in Pensacola, the online RN to BSN program gives working adults the flexibility to choose their own study schedules. Students enrolled in the RN to BSN program may begin the program at six different dates throughout the year, and they can complete the program as quickly as one year. Courses like academic writing in nursing help learners become accustomed to studying their profession in higher education. Students also enroll in courses like nursing systems management and health education in the community. Candidates should hold at least an associate degree and an unencumbered nursing license. They should also have earned at least a 2.75 GPA in previous coursework.
11. University of Arkansas
Online RN to BSN Program
The University of Arkansas administers an online RN to BSN degree for registered nurses who have completed at least 1,000 hours of work experience in the past two years. Students may transfer in credit from previous coursework, allowing them to complete the program in anywhere from 12 to 24 months. The online BSN program expects learners to take classes surveying health promotion, informatics, community health, research, and healthcare policy. Plus, the program also includes 75 clinical hours of practical experience. In addition to an associate degree and work experience, applicants must submit transcripts with a GPA of at least 2.8.
10. Brigham Young University-Idaho
Online BS in Nursing RN to BSN
Brigham Young University Idaho campus runs a nursing RN to BSN degree that requires learners to complete in-person clinical rotations in addition to online classes. Students must complete several courses that cover advanced topics in nursing, like nursing research, leadership, and a professional seminar. Many students may complete the program in six semesters, bringing in the credits they learned through their associate degrees. BYU Idaho — a school associated with the Church of Latter Day Saints — also requires students to take courses in religion. Candidates who wish to apply to the online BSN program should already hold an active nursing license.
9. University of Central Missouri
Online Registered Nurse to Baccalaureate
With enough prior education, nurses pursuing the online BSN program at the University of Central Missouri can graduate with their bachelor’s degree in two semesters. The school’s RN to BSN program dictates that students need to complete only 30 credits of coursework at UCM, as long as those students previously finished their general education requirements. The required classes at UCM include community health nursing, socioeconomic factors impacting health, and a couple of practicums. In addition to an associate degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA, candidates for the program must either possess a nursing license in Missouri or hold eligibility for licensure in Missouri.
8. Ohio University
Online RN to BSN
Athens-based Ohio University offers an RN to BSN program accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Although the online BSN program includes 120 credits of coursework in total, students only need to complete 30 credits at Ohio University. They may transfer the rest of the credits from previous courses. Students need to enroll in microbiology, chemistry, developmental psychology, and statistic courses in addition to the core nursing classes. The online nursing courses last only five weeks. Those interested may apply if they earned at least a 2.0 GPA in previous coursework. Applicants should also possess associate degrees and an active nursing license.
7. University of Southern Indiana
Online RN to BSN
Nurses enrolled in the RN to BSN program at the University of Southern Indiana take online courses that last eight weeks. The entire degree, which holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, consists of 120 credits. However, the university does not limit the number of credits students may transfer in. This means students with previous education may graduate much quicker than the traditional four years. Toward the end of their degree, learners must complete a “clinical synthesis” course — or real-world practice. Applicants to the online BSN program must possess an associate degree, a 2.3 GPA in previous college coursework, and an active nursing license.
6. University of Louisiana-Lafayette
Online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) Program
At the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, RN to BSN students may complete their bachelor’s degrees in as few as 12 months. The entire online BSN program consists of 30 credits of coursework covering topics like nursing in a disaster, health and physical assessment, and trends in genetics and genomics. Students may also take a course in management and leadership. The university requires RN-to-BSN learners to complete a capstone as well, which integrates the theories they learned throughout the degree. Applicants must submit proof of a valid nursing license and an associate degree from an accredited institution with a GPA of at least 2.5.
5. University of Texas-Arlington
Online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing
The University of Texas at Arlington’s College of Nursing and Health Innovation runs a RN to BSN program for nurses who want to go into management or leadership. The degree operates at an accelerated speed, while still allowing students the flexibility to learn at their own pace. Learners may either take on class at a time, or they can overlap their courses to complete the program more quickly. Students can also transfer in as many as 28 credits from their associate degrees; the online BSN program consists of 120 credits in total. Interested individuals must have earned at least a 2.25 GPA in previous coursework and possess a valid nursing license.
4. University of South Florida
Online RN to Bachelor’s Sequence
Students enrolled in the University of South Florida’s RN to BSN program can complete the degree either through five part-time semesters or three full-time semesters. Designed for registered nurses in Florida, the online BSN program requires 30 credits of coursework. On top of basic nursing skills, students learn information technology skills needed for their profession, the educational role of nurses in healthcare, and leadership and management within the nursing industry. Students must also complete a service learning practicum in order to graduate, which they may potentially complete with their employers. Applicants must hold an associate degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5.
3. Mississippi University for Women
Online RN-to-BSN Advanced Placement Option
The online BSN program at the Mississippi University for Women gives students two options. They may pursue the total distance track, in which students enroll entirely online. Or they can choose the partial distance option, which allows students to arrange on-campus classes with each instructor on an individual basis. RN to BSN students take advanced courses like nursing theory and research, leadership and management in the healthcare system, and pathophysiology for nursing. The university looks for candidates who earned at least a 2.0 GPA in their associate degrees. Applicants should also hold valid nursing licensure in Mississippi or a Nurse Licensure Compact state.
2. Western Governors University
Online Bachelor of Science Nursing (RN to BSN)
Western Governors University administers an online RN to BSN program that most students finish in two years. The program requires students to complete 24 courses, and it allows working nurses to take one course at a time while studying at their own pace. Unlike more traditional programs, once students finish one course, they can move onto the next one. The required curriculum focuses on health sciences, chemistry, and nursing theory and practice. Students with enough experience can transfer in up to 90 credits of coursework, with the average student bringing in 81 credits. Each applicant should hold an associate degree and a valid nursing license.
1. Central Methodist University
Online Nursing – RN to BSN
At Central Methodist University in Fayette, Missouri, students who already work as registered nurses can boost their careers by earning their BSN. Through this online BSN program, learners enroll in courses through the web and participate in hands-on clinical practices. Students build upon their nursing knowledge to learn more advanced skills: data analysis, business concepts, gerontology, management, or rural healthcare, for instance. Central Methodist holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. In order to apply, candidates should already possess an associate degree, a valid nursing license, and at least one year of nursing experience in the past three years.
Thanks for reading our ranking of the 25 best cheap RN-BSN nursing degrees online!