Fastest Online Bachelor's in Nursing Programs 2020

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.

FAQ

Question Answer
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.
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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.

Rank Logo School Tuition # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate Graduation Rate Financial Aid Credit For Experience Placement Service Counseling Services Description & Additional Information Toggle
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1 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL Tuition $13,016 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

The 30-credit online bachelor's in nursing at UCF allows diploma- and associate-trained RNs to earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) in just three semesters. Applicants must show completion of all prerequisite coursework with a GPA of 2.0 or higher. One of the fastest nursing programs to complete, the degree allows students to transfer up to six upper-division nursing courses from another accredited school toward the BSN.

Students who plan to enroll in graduate school after completing the BSN can take up to nine credits of graduate-level coursework while enrolled in the RN-to-BSN program. Core nursing courses cover subjects like health promotion across the lifespan; healthcare issues, policy, and economics; pathophysiology for nursing practice; and nursing leadership, management, and role transition.

The BSN requires students to complete a four-credit practicum on community and public health nursing prior to graduation. Online enrollees can meet this requirement in their home community with the approval of the program coordinator.

University of Central Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

2 Indiana University-Bloomington Bloomington, IN Tuition $11,931 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

Indiana University offers an online bachelor's in nursing as a degree-completion program. Applicants can transfer up to 64 credits from a regionally accredited two-year college toward the degree. RNs who completed their program from a regionally accredited four-year institution can transfer up to 90 credits toward the degree. All applicants must hold a valid RN license.

Many full-time students graduate after 12 months of continuous enrollment. Courses follow an accelerated delivery schedule, with each class lasting seven or eight weeks. The curriculum includes coursework in applied healthcare ethics, data analysis in clinical practice and healthcare research, and informatics. Each course includes clinical experience components that online students can complete within their geographical area. BSN candidates must complete a capstone course to graduate from the program.

Indiana University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

3 Florida International University Miami, FL Tuition $9,180 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

Florida International University offers an online bachelor's in nursing through the Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences. The bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program welcomes applications from associate-trained RNs with an unencumbered license. Students enrolling in the 30-credit RN-to-BSN program need 60 transferable lower-division credits and 30 credits earned by clinical proficiency evaluation or challenge exams.

The degree comprises 24 nursing credits and six upper-division elective credits. The curriculum includes coursework in psychiatric/mental health nursing, health assessment and promotion, concepts and issues in professional nursing leadership, and nursing in global healthcare systems. BSN candidates must complete a clinical practicum to graduate from the program.

Florida International University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

4 Mount Carmel College of Nursing Columbus, OH Tuition $16,293 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

The online bachelor's in nursing at Mount Carmel College of Nursing accepts applications from diploma- and associate-trained RNs with a valid state license. Applicants need at least 90 transferable credits from an accredited institution, including 38 credits of nursing courses. MCCN prioritizes applicants who completed a program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

Courses follow six-week delivery schedules. Full-time enrollees usually complete the program in two semesters. Students enroll in courses covering subjects such as nursing informatics, transcultural nursing, research and evidence-based practice, and caring health practices within the community. The program requires BSN candidates to complete a capstone experience prior to graduation.

Mount Carmel College of Nursing is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

5 University of South Florida-Main Campus Tampa, FL Tuition $10,460 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

Most students complete USF's online bachelor's in nursing in three full-time semesters. The RN-to-BSN program comprises 30 credits and offers four focus areas: ambulatory care nursing, leadership and management, patient/staff education, and clinical excellence.

An associate degree from an accredited institution with nursing prerequisites usually satisfies UCF's educational requirements for admission. Applicants without an associate degree and fewer than 60 transferable credits must meet the university's admission requirements for freshmen.

The core nursing curriculum covers population health, essentials of healthcare leadership and management, evidence-based practice for baccalaureate-trained nurses, educational role of the nurse in healthcare, and nursing as a profession. The program also includes an experiential learning component that working students can complete at their workplace.

University of South Florida is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

6 Drexel University Philadelphia, PA Tuition $18,899 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

Students admitted to Drexel University's online bachelor's in nursing program can transfer up to 135 quarter credits (90 semester credits) toward the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree. BSN students take courses on topics like transformational leadership, methods and critical appraisal for evidence-based practice, complex issues of care, and issues in aging and longevity.

The BSN follows an accelerated schedule that allows students to graduate in just 12 months. Four 10-week quarters make up each academic year. Drexel gives enrollees up to three years to earn the degree, during which time it imposes a tuition-lock.

BSN candidates complete a capstone project as the culminating experience of the program. The project must demonstrate the student's ability to integrate the instructional and practical components of the program.

Drexel University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

7 Texas A & M University-College Station College Station, TX Tuition $36,727 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

Texas A&M University offers an online bachelor's in nursing for RNs with an associate degree from an accredited institution. Although all courses for the 30-credit bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree are available online, enrollees must attend a two-day onsite conference at the start of the program.

Students can choose a three-, four-, or five-semester track. However, two terms of the five-semester track may not qualify for federal financial aid because they do not meet the minimum six-credit enrollment requirement. Pre-licensure graduates with an associate degree in nursing can still apply to the program, but they must obtain their RN license by the end of the first term.

The curriculum includes coursework in pathophysiology and pharmacology for the RN, health promotion across the lifespan, leadership and management, and application of evidence-based practice. Students also complete a practicum in their local community.

Texas A&M University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

8 James Madison University Harrisonburg, VA Tuition $19,118 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

The College of Health and Behavioral Studies at James Madison University offers an online bachelor's in nursing for RNs who completed a diploma or associate nursing program from an accredited institution. Full-time students can complete the program in three semesters.

Applicants must show a GPA of 2.5 or higher during their most recent program of study for consideration. All admitted students must attend an online orientation prior to enrolling in their first class.

The bachelor of science in nursing program features asynchronous courses. The program adheres to a cohort model of education and emphasizes the care of rural and underserved populations in culturally diverse communities. Students examine topics like healthcare informatics, health assessment, nursing research, and leadership and management in healthcare.

James Madison University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

9 University of Iowa Iowa City, IA Tuition $17,753 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

The online bachelor's in nursing program at UI is a degree-completion program for diploma- and associate-trained RNs. Full-time students graduate from the program after just three semesters. It usually takes part-time enrollees five semesters to complete their studies. The BSN does not offer a summer term.

Applicants must show a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher during their most recent academic program. The curriculum includes courses in healthcare finance, professionalism and patient safety, community and public health nursing, and pathology.

Students must complete a practicum experience, which online students can carry out within their home region over the course of a 16-week semester. Alternately, students can complete a two-week immersion experience in Swaziland, Africa, as their practicum.

University of Iowa is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

10 Appalachian State University Boone, NC Tuition $15,817 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

Appalachian State University's online bachelor's in nursing comprises 30 credits and gives RNs a flexible way to earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree. Applicants need a diploma or associate degree in nursing with a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA.

The curriculum includes courses in nursing informatics, health assessment, nursing care of communities and older adults, and nursing research. Enrollees must maintain a minimum 2.0 GPA in all classes to remain in the program.

BSN candidates complete a capstone course that includes 120 clinical hours of hands-on training and patient care. Online students can meet this requirement within their geographical area with the approval of the program coordinator.

Appalachian State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

11 University at Buffalo Buffalo, NY Tuition $10,491 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

The online bachelor's in nursing at the University of Buffalo welcomes applications from RNs with a diploma or an associate degree in nursing and a valid state license. The bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program requires students to be employed as RNs at least part time throughout their enrollment period.

After an introductory class in nursing research and evidence-based practice, students take courses in public health nursing for population health, informatics in the healthcare environment, promoting health outcomes and a culture of safety, and patient and family centered care. Students can choose to follow a one-year or two-year cohort program.

BSN candidates may complete the clinical practice requirement at their workplace with approval from the department head. Students culminate the degree with a capstone project.

The University of Buffalo is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

12 Rutgers University-Camden Camden, NJ Tuition $15,895 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

The online bachelor's in nursing at Rutgers University accepts applications from RNs with an associate degree in nursing from an accredited school and a current state license. The program reviews applications on a rolling basis. Students can begin their studies in the fall, spring, or summer. Full-time enrollees usually earn the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree after one year.

Students can transfer up to 60 credits from an accredited associate program toward the BSN. The program grants another 33 credits for previous nursing coursework taken by applicants who passed the NCLEX-RN. Students must complete the remaining 30 credits at Rutgers.

Associate degree-holders waiting to take the NCLEX-RN or waiting for the results of the exam can also apply to the BSN program. However, they can only enroll in two courses until they pass the NCLEX-RN. The curriculum includes coursework in national and global health policies, nursing management and leadership, integrated pathophysiology and pharmacology for nurses, and biomedical ethics.

Rutgers University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

13 Loyola University Chicago Chicago, IL Tuition $12,279 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

Loyola University Chicago offers an online bachelor's in nursing through the Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing. Applicants must hold a valid RN license. Students can transfer up to 60 general education and 30 lower-division nursing credits toward the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree. Students must complete at least 33 additional credits at the university.

Courses span 6-8 weeks and feature an asynchronous format. The school accepts full-time and part-time enrollees, with the former typically graduating from the program after three semesters. The curriculum includes courses in community health, nursing informatics, research for evidence-based practice, and health assessment.

BSN candidates earn credits through a Professional Nursing ePortfolio, which includes work experience, continuing education units, community service, certification credits, and RN-to-BSN coursework. Students also complete a practicum experience prior to graduating from the program.

Loyola University Chicago is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

14 West Virginia University Morgantown, WV Tuition $35,033 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

A degree-completion program, the online bachelor's in nursing at West Virginia University comprises 28 credits. Applicants must hold an unencumbered RN license to be considered for the program.

The School of Nursing accepts full-time and part-time enrollees. Full-time students usually graduate from the program after three semesters, while part-time enrollees can take as many as six semesters to graduate. The curriculum includes courses in safety, quality, and informatics; theory and interventions in community health practice; foundations of research and evidence-based practice; and clinical health promotion. All online students pay in-state tuition regardless of where they live.

The university requires all students enrolled in a health sciences program to complete 25 hours of community service. BSN candidates finish this requirement in addition to the clinical practicum component of the program.

West Virginia University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

15 Clemson University Clemson, SC Tuition $12,181 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

Associate-trained RNs typically complete the online bachelor's in nursing at Clemson University after just 12 months of continuous full-time enrollment. Applicants need a minimum 2.75 GPA. The bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program accepts up to 60 general education credits from an accredited school or program. It grants another 31 credits toward the BSN after students complete the course on issues in professionalism with a grade of B or higher. BSN candidates must complete the remaining 32 credits at the university.

The BSN curriculum includes courses in community health nursing, pathophysiology for healthcare professionals, leadership and management for RNs, and healthcare genetics. Although students can access all required BSN courses online, the program requires enrollees to attend a one-day on-campus orientation prior to the start of classes. Online students complete the experiential components of the program, such as the clinical practicum, in their home region.

Clemson University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

16 Missouri State University-Springfield Springfield, MO Tuition $19,508 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

Missouri State University offers a 33-credit online bachelor's in nursing that students can complete in three full-time semesters. A degree-completion program, the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) welcomes applications from RNs with an associate degree from an accredited institution and a current state nursing license. In addition to general education coursework, applicants must show completion of prerequisite courses in microbiology, statistics, and psychology, among others.

Applicants need a 2.0 GPA or higher in their most recent program of study. Additionally, they must pass a drug screen and background check before beginning the program. The curriculum includes courses in community health nursing, evidence-based nursing practice, advanced leadership and management for RNs, and health assessment.

Courses follow eight-week delivery schedules. BSN candidates complete a clinical experience prior to graduating from the program. Online enrollees can complete this requirement at their place of work with approval from the program director.

Missouri State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

17 Northwest Nazarene University Nampa, ID Tuition $10,235 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

Most students complete the online bachelor's in nursing at Northwest Nazarene University in just four semesters. The program accepts applications from RNs with an associate degree in nursing and a valid state license. Students can transfer up to 62 credits from an accredited institution. The university gives applicants additional credits for successful completion of the NCLEX-RN.

Students must show completion of prerequisite courses in comparative statistics, microbiology, and pathophysiology, among others. The program follows an asynchronous cohort model of education. Students take classes on topics like pharmacology, nursing of diverse populations in a community, acute and chronic health needs, and mental health. Students must not receive a grade below C to continue in the program. BSN candidates must complete a capstone project to graduate.

Northwest Nazarene University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

18 Ohio State University-Main Campus Columbus, OH Tuition $18,786 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

Ohio State University offers an online bachelor's in nursing for RNs with a diploma or associate degree in nursing and a current state license. Applicants can transfer up to 90 credits toward the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree from an accredited school or program. Additionally, students must show the completion of prerequisite coursework in anatomy, microbiology, and chemistry, among others. Online students pay in-state tuition no matter where they live.

The RN-to-BSN program requires 21 credits of core nursing coursework and a three-credit nursing elective. The curriculum includes classes in healthcare informatics, community health nursing, and cultural competence in healthcare in a U.S. and global context.

Students must enroll in two additional courses to fulfill the residency requirements of the university. Many students pursue an undergraduate certificate to comply with the additional coursework required for residency, such as the primary care academic certificate or the nursing in school health services certificate.

Ohio State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

19 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL Tuition $18,694 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

The University of Alabama welcomes applications from diploma- and associate-trained RNs to its online bachelor's in nursing. Applicants need 52-58 transferable credits from an accredited institution or program. The program grants an additional 40 credits for applicants who successfully complete the NCLEX-RN. Students take the remaining 25 credits at the university.

Prior to enrolling in core RN-to-BSN classes, students must show completion of prerequisite coursework in microbiology, chemistry, and psychology, among others. The core nursing curriculum includes courses in nursing informatics, community health, leadership and management roles for RNs, and complex client systems. BSN candidates enrolled in courses with onsite clinical components are responsible for securing appropriate field placements within their home region.

University of Alabama is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

20 California State University-Chico Chico, CA Tuition $20,465 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

California State University Chico offers an online bachelor's in nursing that accepts applications from practicing RNs and students still completing their associate degree in nursing (ADN). The 15-month bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) begins in June and ends in August of the following year.

Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA in their most recent program of study and 70 transferable credits, including at least 16 credits from nursing-related subjects. RNs receive another 20 credits after passing the NCLEX-RN. The remaining 30 credits consist of RN-to-BSN core coursework. The curriculum includes courses in nursing research; leadership, management, and professional issues in nursing; public health theory; and professional values and ethics in nursing.

California residents enrolled in an ADN program in specific schools can take up to six credits of non-nursing core requirements as part of their ADN. A feature of the Jump Start Program, this benefit can shorten the length of their RN-to-BSN enrollment. A practicum course in community health nursing requires onsite participation that students can complete in their home region.

California State University Chico is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

21 Mercer University Macon, GA Tuition $14,156 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

Mercer University's online bachelor's in nursing accepts applications from RNs with an accredited diploma or associate associate degree in nursing. Applicants also need a valid state nursing license. Full-time students can complete the program in three semesters, while part-time enrollees can take up to five semesters to graduate.

Courses follow an asynchronous delivery format. However, students must attend an on-campus two-day orientation at the start of the program. The curriculum includes classes in population and global health, nursing concepts and theories in health and illness, informatics for quality and safety, and methods and critical appraisal of evidence-based practice. Students also complete a practicum.

Mercer University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

22 California State University-San Bernardino San Bernardino, CA Tuition $21,202 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

California State University San Bernardino offers an online bachelor's in nursing for associate- and diploma-trained RNs. Recent graduates waiting for the results of the NCLEX-RN may apply to the program. However, they must show proof of RN licensure before the start of the second term.

The core RN-to-BSN curriculum comprises 31 upper-division nursing credits. The remaining credit requirements for the BSN come from general education courses and pre-nursing or science classes. Students must complete prerequisite courses prior to enrolling in core coursework.

BSN candidates take courses on topics such as nursing leadership; strategies for patient education, health promotion, and care coordination; nursing research and evidence-based practice; and pathophysiology and pharmacology. The program also includes clinical rotations at pre-arranged agencies or community sites. Distance enrollees can meet this requirement within their geographical area with approval from the program director.

California State University San Bernardino is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

23 University of Massachusetts-Amherst Amherst, MA Tuition $8,586 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

Applicants to the online bachelor's in nursing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst need a valid RN license and a minimum 2.5 GPA. Pre-licensure applicants must obtain their RN license prior to beginning their second term in the program.

Applicants also need a grade of C or better in seven prerequisite nursing courses, including nutrition, human anatomy, and abnormal psychology. All online students pay in-state tuition regardless of residency.

The curriculum includes coursework in cultural diversity in health and illness, community health nursing, vulnerable and underserved populations, and health and physical assessment. BSN candidates can complete clinical requirements at an approved local site.

The University of Massachusetts Amherst is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

24 Goshen College Goshen, IN Tuition $21,740 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

The online bachelor's in nursing at Goshen College caters to licensed RNs with a diploma or associate degree in nursing. The core curriculum consists of 26 credits of nursing courses and 12 credits of required non-nursing classes. Once admitted, students can transfer general education and prerequisite coursework credits to complete the 120-credit requirement for the BSN.

Courses follow an asynchronous delivery schedule. Students take classes on topics like healthcare statistics, holistic client assessment, nursing research, and community health nursing. The required non-nursing courses include communication skills for professional nurses, disparities in healthcare, and faith in life and work. Students must maintain an average GPA of 2.7 or higher throughout the program to qualify for graduation. In most cases, BSN candidates can complete clinical hours in their place of employment.

Goshen College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

25 Illinois State University Normal, IL Tuition $9,462 # of Online Programs Acceptance Rate - Graduation Rate - Financial Aid - Credit For Experience - Placement Service - Counseling Services -

Illinois State University offers an online bachelor's in nursing for diploma- and associate-trained RNs. The core curriculum comprises 31 upper-division nursing credits and takes one year of full-time study to complete. The remainder of required credits comes from general education and lower-division nursing or science courses. The program does not require any prerequisite coursework.

Students must submit to a drug screen and criminal background check before starting the bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program. They must also submit the results of a recent physical examination and an up-to-date immunization record.

The curriculum includes courses in health assessment across the lifespan, public health nursing, cultural and spiritual dimensions in healthcare, and pathophysiology and pharmacotherapeutics for nursing. Students must maintain a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA throughout the program to graduate. BSN candidates can complete clinical requirements in their home community.

Illinois State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Career and Salary Outlook for Nursing

Nurses can work in a variety of settings. According to BLS data, the general medical and surgical hospitals industry employs the highest number of nursing professionals: about one-third of the total number of RNs in the country. Nurses can also work in physicians' offices, home health care service agencies, nursing care facilities, and outpatient care centers.

Earning potential varies by industry and workplace. For example, RNs who work in outpatient care centers earn a higher annual mean salary than those in hospitals or home healthcare agencies. A nurse's state can also impact salary potential. The top-paying locations for RNs include California, Hawaii, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, and Oregon.

Registered Nurses
Bottom 10% Median Annual Salary Top 10%
$52,080 $73,300 $111,220

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Accreditation for 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 a Nursing 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.

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.

Caroline E. Holt Nursing Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Daughters of the American Revolution offers this scholarship to students who are currently enrolled in or have been recently accepted to an accredited nursing program. Applicants must demonstrate financial need.

Amount: $2,500

More Information
Foundation of the National Student Nurses' Association Career Mobility Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This scholarship supports nursing students who are pursuing an accredited nursing degree at any level. Applicants must be enrolled in an RN-to-BSN program and must hold a current unencumbered RN license.

Amount: $7,500

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Hope for Healing Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Learners pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree related to mental health or psychiatric nursing can apply for this scholarship from FHE Health (formerly Florida House Experience).

Amount: $5,000

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National Association of Hispanic Nurses Scholarships

Who Can Apply: NAHN welcomes applications from nursing students of Hispanic or Latino descent who are enrolled in an accredited nursing program at any level. The association offers scholarships for minority students, male nurses, and nurse educators.

Amount: Varies

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National Black Nurses Association Scholarships

Who Can Apply: NBNA offers several scholarship opportunities for African American nursing students. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited nursing program at any level, must have at least one year remaining in their program, and must exhibit committed involvement in the African American community.

Amount: Varies

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