Healthcare workers are more in-demand now than ever. If you’re hoping to pursue a career as a registered nurse (RN), you’ll want to consider a BSN degree.
Many RNs begin their nursing careers after completing a two-year associate degree in nursing (ADN). Schools typically develop RN-to-BSN programs to meet the academic and training needs of ADN-trained RNs and graduates of non-nursing bachelor’s programs who wish to transition to a nursing career. An online RN nursing program can offer flexibility for you to continue developing clinical experience and balance other responsibilities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), BSN-trained RNs earned a median salary of $73,300 in 2019. Tuition for a RN-to-BSN program varies between $5,000 and $20,000. Nurses who complete an RN-to-BSN program enter a professional arena with plenty of financial and professional opportunities.
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Have Questions About RN-to-BSN Programs? We Have Answers.
How long does it take to go from RN to BSN?
Most RN-to-BSN programs take 18-24 months to complete. However, several factors affect the length of time it takes to complete an RN-to-BSN program, including enrollment status, program delivery mode, and course availability.
What classes are needed to go from RN-to-BSN?
The RN-to-BSN admissions requirements and curriculums vary among schools, but generally these programs focus on the more nuanced parts of managing nursing programs and patient care. Most programs include classes in leadership, research and writing, issues and trends, and interdisciplinary electives from fields like psychology and sociology
What is the yearly salary for an RN?
According to the BLS, BSN-trained RNs earned a median annual salary of $73,000 in 2019.
What does a BSN allow you to do?
A BSN typically qualifies degree-holders for leadership positions that often come with an increased salary. Most postgraduate nursing programs also require the degree.
Eligible applicants for an RN-to-BSN program must hold a valid and unencumbered RN license. Many programs also require the completion of general education courses and prerequisite coursework in microbiology, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, and introductory statistics. Furthermore, those eligible applicants with an ADN or a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field must hold their degree from an accredited institution. Typically a GPA of at least 2.5 is required as well.
Graduation requirements for RN-to-BSN programs will vary by the school and program you enroll in. However, most RN-to-BSN programs require degree candidates to complete a capstone project or pass a comprehensive exam to graduate. Schools also often require enrollees to maintain a minimum GPA throughout the RN-to-BSN program.
Courses in a RN-to-BSN Program
Courses for RN-to-BSN programs cover a variety of subjects. Each school follows a curriculum that supports specific academic goals. In addition, programs that offer concentrations often include specialized classes that other schools do not typically offer.
Most RN-to-BSN programs offer similar foundation classes that give students the chance to develop the skills and knowledge needed to begin their nursing practice. See below for five common classes in RN-to-BSN programs.
Career Path for a BSN Degree
Most ADN programs prepare graduates to sit for the NCLEX-RN. They focus on nursing skill acquisition and typically offer classes with direct practice applications. A BSN program also prepares graduates for the NCLEX-RN and includes practiced-focused coursework.
A BSN program also often provides a broader educational perspective by offering interdisciplinary classes, leadership courses, and research opportunities. Most BSN programs prepare graduates for nursing practice as well as postgraduate study. BSN graduates can expect to work in higher administrative positions that oversee nursing programs and patient relations.
As the complexity of the U.S. healthcare system continues to increase, nurses enjoy an expanded role in direct patient care and the delivery of services in a variety of medical settings. And, as healthcare increasingly emphasizes preventive and primary care, nurses need well-developed assessment and diagnostic skills. A well-crafted BSN program enables students to develop these critical skills in today’s healthcare environment.
Job Outlook & Salary
Jobs in nursing typically have an average annual wage between $70,000 and $90,000, according to the BLS. Registered nurses who work in general medical and surgical hospitals average about $81,680 per year. An RN at an outpatient care center makes $89,300. On the lower end, nurses employed at physicians offices average an annual salary of $71,660.
The RN field is expected to grow faster than average, with a 7% growth rate expected through 2029.
Certifications and Licensure for RN-to-BSN Students
All states require nurses to earn licensure before practicing. Certification indicates that the holder possesses specialized skills or knowledge in a specific nursing field. Certain nursing fields prefer candidates to earn certification in their specific practice arena. See below for three certifications nurses can pursue.
AIDS Certified Registered Nurse
The HIV/AIDS Nursing Certification Board administers the ACRN credential for RNs with at least two years of clinical experience in the HIV/AIDS nursing field. Before sitting for the exam, applicants first secure the board’s approval of their testing eligibility. The computer-based test consists of 250 multiple-choice questions covering topics such as epidemiology and prevention, ethical and legal issues, and psychosocial factors. The ACRN credential requires renewal every four years.
Certified Pediatric Nurse
The Pediatric Nursing Certification Board administers the CPN credential. Applicants need a minimum of 1,800 clinical hours in the pediatric nursing field completed within two years of applying for certification. The board also accepts applications from nurses with 3,000 hours of pediatric experience within five years from the date of application (with 1,000 hours completed within two years of applying for the exam). The test consists of 175 multiple-choice questions and requires renewal every four years.
Oncology Certified Nurse
Eligible applicants must have completed at least 2,000 hours in the adult oncology nursing practice field within four years of applying for certification. Eligible applicants also must have completed 10 contact hours or more of continuing education units in oncology. The multiple-choice exam covers topics such as treatment modalities, palliative care, and symptom management. The credential requires renewal every four years.
If you’re passionate about healthcare and helping others, there are a variety of other degrees you can pursue outside of an RN-to-BSN degree. While nursing is one of the most popular career choices, you can also specialize in other types of medicine and wellness.
This degree prepares you to practice medicine. With it, you can diagnose, treat, and prescribe for general healthcare. You’ll learn about anatomy, psychical diagnosis, pathophysiology, behavioral science, and medical ethics in this program.
If you prefer the idea of helping people in ways other than dealing with the actual nitty-gritty of human bodies, an administrative degree could be for you. In this program, you’ll take courses in communication, economic, marketing, finance, and strategic management — all with a healthcare lens. Generally, graduates will take leadership roles in healthcare organizations.
This degree will prepare students for careers in physical therapy. You’ll take courses like anatomy, clinical practice, movement science, exercise physiology, and therapy & rehabilitation.
Scholarships & Financial Aid for RN-to-BSN Students
Most colleges and universities with BSN programs offer scholarship opportunities to their students. However, many nursing enrollees find assistance from other sources as well, including private organizations and healthcare companies. Some scholarship programs target specific nursing student populations, such as male nurses or learners beginning a second career in the field. See below for five scholarships available for nursing students.
Who Can Apply: This program welcomes applicants enrolled in an accredited RN-to-BSN program with a 3.5 GPA or higher. Freshman applicants use their high school GPA. Applicants submit an essay (500-1,000 words) addressing the topic in the application. Amount: $500
Who Can Apply: This program accepts applications from BSN and MSN students. Eligible applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA and a declared academic focus in psychiatric nursing, addiction medicine, or mental and behavioral health. Eligible applicants with no college credits show a high school GPA of 3.5 or higher. Amount: $5,000
Who Can Apply: This funding opportunity accepts applications from students currently enrolled in an accredited nursing program (including an RN-to-BSN program). Eligible applicants show enrollment in at least six credits per semester. In addition, applicants show proof of financial need and involvement in nursing organizations or community health projects and activities. Amount: Up to $7,500
Who Can Apply: Administered by the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR), this program accepts applications from students pursuing a nursing degree at an accredited institution. Applicants show proof of DAR membership or relationship to a DAR member in good standing. Amount: $2,500
Who Can Apply: Eligible applicants show proof of enrollment in an accredited undergraduate nursing program with a 3.0 GPA or higher. High school graduates accepted to a nursing program can also apply. Applicants submit an essay (200-300 words) on the given topic at the time of application. Amount: $1,000
Lehman College is part of the 25-campus City University of New York system. Lehman offers a fully online RN-to-BSN degree that provides full-time and part-time enrollment options. Students must transfer a significant number of credits or an associate degree in nursing into the 37.5-credit program.
The program develops proficiencies in areas such as clinical decision-making, professional nursing practice, and professional nursing management. The curriculum also explores trends and issues in nursing and healthcare. Graduates can provide competent and compassionate care to patients. Lehman lauds one of the nation's most affordable RN-to-BSN programs.
Founded in 1890, OSU is a five-campus college with a main campus in Stillwater. The RN-to-BSN program enrolls nurses pursuing career advancement rooted in evidence-based nursing practice. Nurses can complete the fully online degree full time or part time. The curriculum explores concepts such as epidemiology, health issues in gerontology, global and public health, and leadership and management in nursing.
During a capstone, registered nurses (RNs) engage in community activities that promote health and wellness. Enrollees receive 30 credits for an associate degree or diploma in nursing and RN licensure. Students without enough credit must complete general education and other missing prerequisites on campus or online.
FGC offers affordable and rigorous programs such as the online RN-to-BSN program. The degree prepares nurses for administrative and leadership roles. The program features 10 upper-division courses, totaling 31 credits.
Coursework covers topics such as pharmacology, nursing in diverse cultures, nursing research and informatics, and healthcare policy and economics. Nursing assessment and community health courses require virtual simulations. Registered nurses (RNs) complete 90 hours of clinical and lab experience.
Located on a hilltop campus in North Dakota, DSU offers select online programs such as the degree-completion RN-to-BSN program. The program enrolls registered nurses (RNs) with an associate degree or diploma in nursing. Nurses without an associate degree may need to take additional courses.
The program explores topics such as health assessment, community health, and nursing role transition. One course focuses exclusively on the use of evidence-based research in professional nursing. RNs apply lessons learned during a clinical practicum focused on cultivating leadership experience. During a three-part capstone, RNs develop a portfolio of their accomplishments in areas such as quality improvement, safety, informatics, and evidence-based practice.
A&M—Central Texas ranks as the state's second most affordable public college. The fully online RN-to-BSN program comprises 30 credits and covers health assessment, professional role transitions, and pathophysiology for the registered nurse (RN). Enrollees learn to care for various populations, such as the elderly and individuals and families.
A course on community health explores the role of the RN in disease prevention, health promotion, and the management of chronic health problems. The school's guaranteed tuition, scholarships, and the bachelor's bonus tuition cap program make the program an affordable option.
Stan State offers multiple pathways to earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), including an online RN-to-BSN track. Students must complete 26 units of the program's 120 units at Stan State. The major explores concepts such as pathophysiology, advanced health assessment, transcultural nursing care, and community health nursing. Registered nurses (RNs) cultivate their roles as leaders as they explore leadership theories, management, and organizational decision-making.
Faculty teach RNs how to evaluate research findings and apply it in their nursing practice. An optional clinical practicum allows learners to design an experience that focuses on the professional nurse role in a variety of clinical settings. All enrollees complete a community health nursing practicum that focuses on population-based healthcare.
Graduation rate: 83%
School status: Public
Tuition cost: $19,422
Estimated years of completion: Two years
Credit requirements: 120 units
Admission requirements: RN licensure, 60 bachelor’s-level units
EFSC hosts about 15,000 students annually. The school's fully online RN-to-BSN program offers working nurses an affordable and accessible way to advance their education and careers. The nursing school builds on prior education by awarding registered nurses (RNs) 60 credits for an associate degree. The rest of the 120-credit curriculum consists of general education, major, and elective courses.
The major explores concepts such as advanced health assessment, leadership and management in healthcare, and applications in evidence-based practice. A course on gerontology and end-of-life care examines the impact of the aging process on individuals, families, and the community. RNs culminate the program with a community-centered project that integrates principles learned. Alternatively, they may complete a study-abroad experience that builds nursing expertise in a global context.
Graduation rate: 45%
School status: Public
Tuition cost: $9,739
Estimated years of completion: Two years
Credit requirements: 120 credits
Admission requirements: ADN, an unencumbered RN license
One of Indiana University's seven regional campuses, IU Northwest administers 70 programs. The flexible online RN-to-BSN program enrolls learners on a full- or part-time basis and offers three degree-completion timeframes: 12, 18, or 24 months. Registered nurses (RNs) acquire the advanced skills needed for professional nursing practice in diverse settings. They begin the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) major with coursework that explores health policy, data analysis, and communication for healthcare professionals.
Advanced coursework develops enrollees' proficiencies in areas such as nursing management and nursing research. Students can use elective credits to explore topics like genetics and genomics and new innovations in health and healthcare. RNs can also pursue a nursing specialty such as gerontological nursing.
Part of the prestigious Texas A&M system, TAMIU administers online programs in select fields, including nursing. The RN-to-BSN program offers nurses an accelerated and affordable degree plan that they can complete in 12 months. The fully online curriculum prepares students for diverse professional nursing roles. The number of credits needed to graduate varies depending on prior college credit.
All RN-to-BSN students complete 32 credits of upper-division nursing coursework that explores topics such as health assessment, nursing research, and community nursing. Didactic and clinical coursework develops nurses' leadership and managerial skills with an emphasis on the nurse leader role. All enrollees explore healthcare within a global context, delving into the factors that impact health and healthcare delivery. Registered nurses (RNs) also participate in a 126-hour embedded practicum that gives them hands-on experience in a healthcare setting.
A leader in online education in Florida, SPC offers an RN-to-BSN program that builds on nurses' education and experience. Full-time students can complete the degree in just three semesters. The bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program explores concepts such as pathophysiology, informatics and clinical reasoning, and health assessment and physical appraisal.
Nurses use eight elective credits to acquire specialized skills in areas such as end-of-life care and gerontological nursing. All participants complete a practicum. Registered nurses (RNs) can complete the practicums at an approved local agency. In addition to competitive tuition rates, SPC offers interest-free tuition payment plans.
FSCJ operates several campuses in Duval and Nassau counties. FSCJ's virtual campus offers a 30-credit online RN-to-BSN program. The degree facilitates continued employment with part-time enrollment. The program lauds a 99.3% job placement rate.
The bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) professional core explores topics like pathophysiology, health assessment, informatics, and nursing research. Registered nurses (RNs) also develop leadership and management skills to improve patient outcomes. One course focuses on the nurse's role in health promotion and disease prevention in the community. Enrollees culminate the program with a capstone project that applies their knowledge of evidence-based nursing practice.
SJR State delivers a comprehensive catalog of programs on several campuses in northeast Florida. The school's fully online RN-to-BSN program offers full- and part-time enrollment options. Registered nurses (RNs) complete 30 credits of nursing courses, but they may need to complete additional coursework to fulfill general education requirements depending on their educational background.
The curriculum explores topics such as pathophysiology; health assessment; informatics and evidence-based practice; and community, diversity, and population-based care. Learners culminate the degree with a capstone course that requires practicum hours in healthcare settings and a comprehensive exam.
A regional campus of Indiana University, IU East offers about 60 programs. The school's RN-to-BSN mobility option prepares nurses for practice in various settings, including home care and acute and long-term care. Enrollees begin the program with a course focused on the transition to bachelor's nursing practice.
The curriculum delves into advanced topics such as health policy, informatics, and comprehensive nursing health assessment. Registered nurses (RNs) develop skills in nursing research and evidence-based practice. They also explore community nursing health models, using their knowledge to plan and implement interventions for diverse populations. Learners can use elective credit to develop proficiencies in a specialty such as women's health or gerontological nursing.
Established in 1965, SFSC enrolls about 19,000 students annually. The online RN-to-BSN program requires 51 credits that include a limited number of general education courses. The major begins with an exploration of the dimensions of bachelor's nursing practice; inquiry and evidence in nursing practice; and health assessment, wellness, and prevention.
Specialized courses explore gerontology and complementary and alternative therapies in healthcare. All participants acquire hands-on experience when they engage in direct and indirect care experiences in healthcare settings. Nurses study in small classes that promote personal attention. The nursing school notes stellar program outcomes with a 100% job placement rate.
IRSC maintains a significant footprint in Florida's Treasure Coast with five campuses and several satellite locations. The school's online options include an RN-to-BSN program, which builds on an associate degree in nursing. Nurses can complete the degree in five semesters using asynchronous learning. All enrollees complete 28 credits of nursing courses covering topics such as nursing assessment, pathophysiology, pharmacology, and nursing theory.
Registered nurses (RNs) also explore ethical and legal issues in healthcare. Two courses require clinicals that nurses complete at healthcare facilities in IRSC's four-county service area. The program lauds a 99% job placement rate for graduates. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes IRSC as one of the nation's top three affordable colleges.
Founded to meet the needs of nontraditional learners, TESU offers a comprehensive catalog of online programs. The New Jersey college's RN-BSN/MSN program requires general education and other requirements that nurses can complete based on their prior education. The nursing program includes four graduate-level courses that students can apply to TESU's master of science in nursing (MSN).
Course topics include advanced nursing practice, public health nursing, advanced health assessment, and financial management in nursing practice. The capstone course requires an e-portfolio that highlights enrollees' professional development and clinical competence.
Part of the University of North Carolina system, FSU is a historically Black college. FSU's online RN-to-BSN program requires a minimum of 32 credits of upper-level nursing coursework. Nursing courses examine topics such as transcultural nursing, pathophysiology, and health assessment across the lifespan.
Registered nurses (RNs) explore their roles as leaders in healthcare delivery and community health nursing. Participants can use elective credit to specialize in gerontological nursing or women's health. RNs enhance their learning with service learning and project-based experiences. The practicum integrates nurses' clinical and theoretical learning.
CSUSB is part of a 23-campus system. The hybrid RN-to-BSN program provides online coursework and traditional classroom instruction on campus in Palm Desert. The degree requires 30 credits of upper-division courses that nurses can complete in three terms. Students may need to complete more credits depending on prior education.
Nurses explore advanced topics such as health assessment, pathophysiology and pharmacology, and nursing research and evidence-based practice. Students also complete a practicum focused on community/public health promotion. Registered nurses (RNs) complete 292.5 clinical hours. Graduates can assume leadership roles as part of a multidisciplinary team that can promote health and disease and injury prevention.
TCC consistently ranks among the nation's best community colleges. The online RN-to-BSN program explores concepts such as health assessment, pathophysiology, and health promotion. Learners also study leadership and management principles that they can apply in their professional nursing practice.
Additionally, nurses learn how to apply evidence-based practice to improve their nursing practice and patient outcomes. The capstone allows learners to design an evidence-based project that synthesizes lessons learned. Nurses must complete the RN-to-BSN program within four years of beginning the nursing core. The college offers affordable tuition and a tuition installment plan to help students pay for their education.
Farmingdale is part of the State University of New York system. The degree-completion RN-to-BSN program builds on initial nursing preparation with online learning and practical experiences in a variety of clinical settings. Nurses receive a well-rounded education that consists of general education and specialized nursing courses. Nurses may transfer the 120-credit program's general education requirements from prior college experience.
All enrollees complete 60 credits of nursing courses, 34 credits of which they may transfer from their nursing education. Upper-division coursework explores concepts such as modes of inquiry, the art of nursing, health promotion and patient education, and caring for populations in the community setting. Enrollees examine their roles as advocates and change agents. During a practicum, registered nurses (RNs) cultivate leadership skills under a preceptor's supervision.
At IU Kokomo, students receive access to 60 affordable programs. The nursing school offers a flexible RN-to-BSN program with hybrid and fully online tracks. Nurses can complete the hybrid option in 12 months. The fully online track allows learners to complete the program in 12, 18, or 24 months.
The RN-to-BSN program develops proficiencies in areas such as informatics, applied healthcare ethics, data analysis in clinical practice and research, and nursing research and evidence-based practice. During a capstone, RNs design a project and complete a clinical in a healthcare setting. Graduates leave the program with well-honed managerial and leadership skills. Out-of-state RNs pay modestly more than their in-state peers.
Founded in 1957, Daytona State enrolls 21,000 students annually. Daytona State developed the fully online RN-to-BSN program with working nurses in mind. RNs receive 72 credits for an associate degree. Nurses without an associate degree may need to complete additional courses.
All enrollees complete 48 credits of bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) courses exploring concepts such as pharmacology, pathophysiology, health assessment, and nursing in a multicultural society. A course on nursing research and evidence-based practice gives students an introduction to the research process as it pertains to their profession. The capstone includes a practicum experience that prepares registered nurses (RNs) to assume leadership roles in healthcare settings.
PHSC's six locations and online learning division give students access to training for 30 high-demand careers. Registered nurses (RNs) can build on their education and nursing experience with the school's fully online RN-to-BSN program.
The program immerses students in advanced nursing concepts while cultivating managerial and leadership skills. The bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) core requires 42 credits that examine topics such as nursing theoretical concepts, nursing research and informatics, and pathology/pharmacology principles for nursing.
Nurses focus on community health as they develop a needs assessment for a group in the community and complete a clinical under a preceptor's supervision. During the capstone course, RNs demonstrate their expertise in areas such as nursing administration and nursing education.
Located in Indiana, Bethel is a Christian liberal arts college that offers about 50 areas of study. The online RN-to-BSN program gives nurses an education steeped in Christian ethics. The program's accelerated seven-week classes allow learners to graduate in 12 months.
The curriculum requires 29 credits of upper-level nursing courses that examine topics such as health assessment, frameworks for nursing practice, global health, and ethics for nursing practice. Registered nurses (RNs) also complete clinicals for courses focused on leadership and management and community and population-based nursing.
The program lauds a 100% job placement rate for graduates. Students can save time and money by transferring up to 90 credits into the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program.
FIU is one of the nation's largest colleges and a state leader in distance education. FIU Online's RN-to-BSN program allows nurses to enhance their skills without career interruption. Students can complete the degree in just three semesters. Registered nurses (RNs) can earn 60 credits for an associate degree and an additional 30 credits after a clinical proficiency evaluation.
The bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) curriculum requires 30 credits that develop learners' proficiencies in areas such as health assessment and promotion, adult physiological nursing, professional nursing leadership, and evidence-based nursing and research. One course introduces RNs to global healthcare systems, healthcare delivery, and health disparities.
Danika Miller is a staff education reporter at Best Value Schools. She graduated from Western Washington University with a BA in creative writing. Danika has since specialized in education and finance writing as a reporter at Affordable Colleges Online, The Simple Dollar, Her Campus, CreditCards.com, Reviews.com, and elsewhere.
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