Fastest Online Bachelor's in Nursing

Updated January 6, 2023

Becoming a Registered Nurse — Many accredited colleges and universities throughout the country offer accelerated nursing programs, which require less time than traditional programs. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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The American Association of Colleges on Nursing projects a shortage of nursing professionals, which may lead to career opportunities for individuals with a bachelor's in nursing. Many accredited colleges and universities throughout the country offer accelerated nursing programs, which require less time than traditional programs. Students with an associate degree can enroll in accelerated RN-to-BSN programs, which generally take 1-2 years to complete.

Online RN-to-BSN programs require the same amount of effort and focus as on-campus programs. Online learners must apply discipline and time-management skills to their learning experience. Students can earn an online bachelor's in nursing at an accelerated pace to enter the workforce or qualify for promotions more quickly.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment for RNs to increase 7% from 2019-2029, a rate faster than the average for all occupations. This projected growth rate translates to more than 220,000 new nursing jobs. After earning the necessary credentials, graduates of online nursing programs often have plenty of opportunities for career advancement. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Can I study nursing online?

Many schools offer online nursing programs. However, all nursing degrees require some in-person training.

What degree do I need to become a registered nurse?

Aspiring registered nurses must pass the NCLEX-RN. To sit for the exam, candidates must hold at least an associate degree from an accredited school.

How does nursing school work?

Undergraduate nursing programs typically include both instruction and hands-on training. Graduate nursing students must complete clinical hours and a culminating activity such as a thesis, research project, or comprehensive exam.

How long does it take to earn a degree in nursing?

The length of a nursing program depends on the degree and the student's educational background. For example, learners without an RN license often need four years to earn a BSN, while registered nurses typically need only 1-2 years.

What is the fastest I can earn a nursing degree?

Online RN-to-BSN programs are some of the fastest nursing programs available. Many full-time students complete such a program in one year.

Fastest Online Bachelor's in Nursing Programs 2020

Many of the country's top nursing schools offer online undergraduate and graduate nursing programs that students can complete in 1-2 years. The following ranking can help learners choose a program that fits their academic and career goals.

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Registered Nurses


Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Accreditation for Fast Nursing Programs

Independent accreditors evaluate U.S. colleges and universities to determine the quality of their academic programs. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) oversee the voluntary accreditation process.

ED and CHEA recognize six regional accrediting agencies for postsecondary institutions. Regional accreditation is the oldest and most prestigious type of institutional accreditation in the United States. A degree from an accredited school demonstrates to prospective employers that the candidate is prepared for professional roles and responsibilities in their field.

In addition to ensuring that employers and other institutions recognize your degree, attending an accredited school is necessary to qualify for federal financial aid.

Along with institutional accreditation, prospective students can look for programmatic accreditation. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing evaluate nursing programs.

Licensing in Nursing

After completing an accredited program and required training hours, aspiring RNs can qualify to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nursing (NCLEX-RN). All states require registered nurses to hold a license, and the state nursing board typically oversees the licensure process.

Although all states require candidates for licensure to pass the NCLEX-RN, each state maintains additional requirements. For example, in Texas, a nursing graduate can work as a graduate nurse while waiting to take the NCLEX-RN or while waiting for their exam results. Texas candidates must also undergo a criminal background check. Applicants pay a licensure fee and an exam fee, and candidates must sit for the NCLEX-RN within 75 days of receiving notice of their eligibility

In the past, nurses who moved to another state had to obtain a license in the new state in order to practice. The Nurse Licensure Compact, enacted in 1997, is a reciprocity agreement that allows nurses to practice in participating states without obtaining a new license. More than 30 states currently participate in the compact, and several states are awaiting implementation or legislation.

Courses in an Accelerated Program

Many on-campus and online RN-to-BSN programs require similar courses. Nursing students must typically take research and academic writing classes, in addition to completing nursing courses and hands-on training. Some programs offer specialized classes in areas such as health administration, informatics, and healthcare across the lifespan. Although curricula vary by school, the courses below are common to many accredited RN-to-BSN programs.

Community-Focused Nursing
Students in this course examine the effect of healthcare policies and regulatory requirements on the delivery and quality of community-based health services. Coursework focuses on the promotion of population health and community healthcare planning. Students learn how nurses can leverage community-based agencies to prevent and contain disease outbreaks. Learners also explore resources they can use to promote effective long-term community health practices.
Evidence-Based Practice and Research in Nursing
The course provides an overview of evidence-based practice in the nursing field. Students learn about the proper assessment and application of research findings, and they prepare to apply research to improve patient care. Students explore the role of emerging technology in practical nursing, including its effects on treatment options and the patient experience.
Creativity and Innovation
Students dive deep into the process of creative thinking and innovation with a view to moving an organization more effectively into collective innovation.
Health Assessment Across the Lifespan
The course helps students hone skills in interviewing and physical assessment and covers techniques necessary to determine the health status of patients. Students develop diagnostic reasoning skills and explore culturally competent assessment strategies, and they prepare to create appropriate and implementable treatment plans for patients of all ages.
Informatics for Healthcare Professionals
Students in this class learn how to use technology to manage information and knowledge. Coursework prepares learners to deliver high-quality patient services and to improve health outcomes. Students become familiar with a variety of computer applications, such as medication administration systems and regulatory software.
Pharmacotherapy for Registered Nurses
Students develop a broad understanding of essential pharmacological principles as they relate to evidence-based nursing practice. Topics include legal, ethical, and economic issues related to drug therapy. Learners also explore characteristic drug groups and drug interactions. The course strengthens and expands on students' knowledge of pharmacology and pharmacotherapeutics.

Accelerated Online Programs

The fastest nursing programs available are typically online RN-to-BSN programs. Both online and on-campus nursing programs can meet state licensure and/or certification requirements. Online learners generally complete the same courses and program requirements as on-campus students.

Distance learners in accelerated programs need determination and strong organizational skills. They must also be able to focus on and retain large amounts of information in a relatively short amount of time. Many schools deliver accelerated programs online, since distance learning offers more scheduling flexibility than in-person classes. Additionally, online students often save on costs associated with transportation and housing, and some schools allow all online students to pay in-state tuition rates.

Financial Aid

Students should begin their financial aid search by completing the FAFSA form to determine their eligibility for federal financial aid. Schools and organizations also use information from the FAFSA to determine each student's eligibility for institutional and private financial aid packages. Students should download the FAFSA form as soon as it becomes available (historically on October 1) so they have time to gather the required financial data.

Scholarships and grants are ideal forms of funding since they do not require repayment. If these funding options do not cover the entire cost of tuition and expenses, students may consider taking out loans. Federal student loans typically offer lower interest rates than private loans. Federal loan options include subsidized and unsubsidized loans. Direct subsidized loans do not require students to pay interest while they are enrolled in school or while the loan is in deferment. Unsubsidized loans begin accruing interest the moment the loan is disbursed.

Scholarships for Nursing

Most colleges and universities offer financial assistance, generally in the form of scholarships and grants. However, nursing students can also pursue financial awards from nonprofit organizations in the field. Below are five scholarship programs available to nursing students.

The course familiarizes students with common cognitive testing tools such as the Stanford-Binet Development Achievement Scales and the Wechsler Intelligence Scales. Learners study different theories of human intelligence and various methods of measuring cognitive ability. The course examines the validity and significance of traditional assessment and testing methods. Students learn how to score tests and interpret results. They also explore how cultural and socioeconomic factors can sometimes impact exam results and relevance.

Commonly offered in an applied psychology program, this course explores how organizations behave and studies the reasons behind the behavior. Students examine how individual actions influence group behavior and decisions. The course covers leadership, organizational change and processes, rigid versus fluid hierarchy, and productivity. Students examine case studies to identify effective tools and techniques to successfully manage organizational change and growth.
A common requirement in a clinical psychology program, this course teaches enrollees how to conduct psychological assessments in a variety of settings. Students gain ample opportunities to hone their interviewing and listening skills. With interviewees' knowledge and permission, sessions are usually recorded and analyzed to help identify students' strengths and improvement areas. The course often allows students to engage interviewees from diverse backgrounds to improve their ability to communicate across ethnic and socioeconomic constraints.
The course teaches students about the different types of common pathologies. Learners explore the roots of these pathologies and examine possible treatment options. The course familiarizes students with the anatomy, physiology, and characteristics of the brain and the nervous system. Enrollees learn how to use various tools and techniques to diagnose, evaluate, and treat various psychological conditions with physiological origins. The course includes lectures, labwork, and field observations.
Many on-campus and online graduate degrees in psychology require students to enroll in at least two semesters of experimental methods and research design because it serves as a foundation for so much of graduate-level work. Even a practice-oriented graduate degree (such as a Psy.D.) requires students to understand quantitative and qualitative research methods, how to structure a questionnaire and evaluate responses, and how the experimental process itself can influence possible outcomes.

Popular Resources

Whether you’re looking to earn your online degree or you’re a parent looking for answers, you can find all of your questions covered here. Explore these resources to help you make informed decisions and prepare for whatever is thrown your way.

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