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The Top 25 Affordable Online RN-to-BSN Programs of 2021

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Affordable Online RN-to-BSN Programs

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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The Top 10 Affordable Online RN-to-BSN Programs


  • 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.































    Metric Data Used Percentage
    Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 25%
    Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 35%
    Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 15%
    Program Offerings Number of program options 10%
    Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 15%

    You can read more about our comprehensive evaluation process on our methodology page.

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.


Degree Requirements

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.

Related Degrees

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. 

Physician assistant

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. 

Healthcare administration

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.

Physical therapy

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.

Bridge Your Career: RN-to-BSN Scholarship

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

FHE Health “Hope for Healing” Scholarship

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

The Foundation of the National Student Nurses’ Association Career Mobility Scholarship

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

Madeline Pickett (Halbert) Cogswell Scholarship

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

Nurses Make a Difference Scholarship

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

The Top 25 RN-to-BSN Programs of 2021



  1. CUNY Lehman College
    Location

    Bronx, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  2. Oklahoma State University
    Location

    Stillwater, OK

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  3. Florida Gateway College
    Location

    Lake City, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  4. Dickinson State University
    Location

    Dickinson, ND

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  5. Texas A & M University-Central Texas
    Location

    Killeen, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  6. California State University-Stanislaus
    Location

    Turlock, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  7. Eastern Florida State College
    Location

    Cocoa, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  8. Indiana University-Northwest
    Location

    Gary, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  9. Texas A & M International University
    Location

    Laredo, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

    • Graduation rate: 47%
    • School status: Public
    • Tuition cost: $8,995
    • Estimated years of completion: One year
    • Credit requirements: 32 credit hours
    • Admission requirements: 2.5 GPA, unencumbered RN license
    • Contact:844-872-8712
    • Website: https://online.tamiu.edu/programs/rn-to-bsn.aspx
  10. St Petersburg College
    Location

    Clearwater, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

Danika Miller picture

Danika Miller

EDUCATION REPORTER

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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