Best Online Nursing Programs 2021

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Integral to any healthcare system, nurses focus on health promotion and disease prevention. These professionals care for individuals of all ages, including those with physical and mental illnesses. Many nurses work in hospitals, but they can also find positions in settings such as community centers, physicians' offices, and schools.

Nursing professionals need specialized training to provide comprehensive and appropriate care. Nurses must also apply a caring and compassionate approach and should be committed to patient advocacy. Students earning an on-campus or online degree in nursing develop the professional and communication skills necessary to succeed in healthcare roles.

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Top Online Programs

Explore programs of your interests with the high-quality standards and flexibility you need to take your career to the next level.

Top 5 Best Online Nursing Programs

#1 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
#2 Florida International University Miami, FL
#3 Texas A&M International University Laredo, TX
#4 New Mexico State University Las Cruces, NM
#5 The Ohio State University Columbus, OH

FAQ

What is nursing?

Nursing is a healthcare profession that focuses on the care of individuals, families, and communities. Individuals in the field promote health and prevent illnesses.

How long does it take to earn a nursing degree?

Full-time students typically complete a bachelor's degree in nursing in four years. Part-time learners may need longer.

What kind of nursing degree can I get?

Institutions offer on-campus and online college nursing programs at the associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels.

Can I earn a nursing degree online?

Many colleges and universities offer online nursing programs. When choosing the best nursing degree, online learners can select from distance programs at all levels.

Nursing Degree Programs 2021



The following list ranks nursing programs based on factors including cost of attendance, available specializations, accreditation, and faculty credentials. Prospective students can use this ranking as a starting point when researching online college nursing programs. Learners should consider their individual academic and career goals when evaluating program curricula.

University of Central Florida View School Profile $$ Orlando, FL 73% 39% 57% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Located in Orlando, UCF offers an online bachelor of science in nursing through their RN-to-BSN program. Students can complete the 30-credit post-licensure program online with minimal residency requirements.

Course topics include public and community nursing programs, health promotion across the lifespan, dimensions of professional practice, and pathophysiology for nursing practice. Students complete courses in 3-5 semesters, in addition to any required general education core coursework. Required clinicals take place at an approved location near the student and provide an opportunity to practice direct patient care.

Applicants must possess a minimum GPA of 2.8 and must complete seven of the eight prerequisites before applying to the program. All applicants must reside in a nurse licensure compact state to participate in the online program.

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

Florida International University View School Profile $ Miami, FL 58% 34% 65% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Located in Miami, FIU offers an online bachelor of science in nursing through its RN-to-BSN program. Students can complete courses online with minimal on-campus requirements.

Students take courses such as professional nursing leadership concepts and issues, adult physiological nursing, nursing in a global healthcare system, and care of communities in community health. Students can take courses in any order and can transfer up to six credits from another BSN program. The 30-credit program takes place over 2-3 semesters. Students must also complete general education requirements. Required clinical rotations occur at an approved location near the student.

Applicants need a current registered nurse license with a minimum GPA of 2.75 from an accredited associate of nursing or nursing diploma program and a minimum of 60 lower-division transfer credits.

FIU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Texas A&M International University View School Profile Laredo, TX 46% 34% 47% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Based in Laredo, TAMIU offers an online bachelor of science in nursing program for licensed registered nurses. Nurses who live in Texas can complete the RN-to-BSN program with minimal in-person requirements.

Course topics include transition to professional nursing, cultural determinants of health behavior, community nursing, and global health nursing. A 35-credit embedded practicum totaling 126 hours provides hands-on experience from mentors in the field. Students must complete general university core requirements and electives to complete the bachelor's program. They can finish nursing requirements in one year.

Applicants must hold an unencumbered registered nurse license in the state of Texas to qualify for admission. They also need a minimum GPA of 2.5. The school accepts only Texas residents.

TAMIU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

New Mexico State University View School Profile $ Las Cruces, NM 46% 33% 43% Higher Learning Commission

Located in Las Cruces, NMSU offers an online bachelor of science in nursing. Students complete clinical requirements at a location near them.

The curriculum includes human anatomy and physiology for health sciences, principles of nursing practice, human pathophysiology foundation for nursing, and care of patients with chronic conditions. Students receive training in anatomy and physiology as well as microbiology. They take clinical intensives at an approved location, providing direct care to patients under the mentorship.

Applicants must possess a minimum GPA of 2.75 in all nursing prerequisite courses and should complete the HESI-A2 admission exam in biology, chemistry, math, and all English sections before applying to the program. The department places a priority on these two components for admission consideration.

NMSU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

The Ohio State University View School Profile $$$ Columbus, OH 84% 38% 33% Higher Learning Commission

Located in Columbus, Ohio State offers an online bachelor of science in nursing through its RN-to-BSN program. The program uses open resources and university-provided resources, resulting in no textbook costs for the duration of the program.

Students must complete five prerequisite courses before beginning the nursing curriculum. Notable nursing courses include foundations and contemporary issues for registered nurses, cultural competence in healthcare in U.S. and global contexts, and healthcare informatics. From there, students choose approved nursing elective courses and complete clinical requirements at an approved location near them or at their own workplace.

Applicants must hold an associate degree in nursing or a nursing diploma and an active and unencumbered registered nurse license. Students must also possess a minimum GPA of 2.0 for program eligibility. Students must complete all prerequisites before the program begins.

Ohio State is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school also boasts programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Career and Salary Outlook for Nursing



The nursing field encompasses several practice areas, including geriatrics, mental health, oncology, and pediatrics. Specialized nursing roles often require a postgraduate degree and advanced training. Graduates of online college nursing programs can also pursue professional opportunities in non-practice areas such as nurse education, hospital administration, and research.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment in the healthcare sector to grow 15% from 2019-2029, much faster than the average growth rate of 4% for all occupations. Additionally, the BLS reports that healthcare practitioners earn a median salary of $68,190 per year, compared to a median annual salary of $39,810 for all occupations.

Registered Nurses

Registered nurses' duties include administering medication, performing health assessments, and educating patients about health conditions and medical procedures. Registered nurses usually work with a team of medical practitioners. They also often play a major role in coordinating patient care and delivering timely services.

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

The responsibilities of these professionals vary by state. Most licensed practical and vocational nurses work under the supervision of registered nurses and doctors. These nurses provide basic care, including monitoring patient health, assisting with bathing and dressing, and keeping accurate records of patient progress.

Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners

Depending on their qualifications and state regulations, advanced practice registered nurses can typically perform physical exams, diagnose patients, prescribe medications, order diagnostic tests, and create patient treatment plans. Some states allow these professionals to practice independently, without the supervision of a medical doctor.

Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029)
Registered Nurses $73,300 7%
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses $47,480 9%
Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners $115,800 45%

Source: BLS

Colleges and universities obtain accreditation to demonstrate the quality and rigor of their programs. Third-party accrediting agencies evaluate a school's educational offerings to ensure they meet established standards. Nonprofit, degree-focused institutions typically seek regional accreditation, while for-profit and vocational schools often receive national accreditation.

The U.S. Department of Education and the Commission for Higher Education Accreditation oversee both regional and national accrediting agencies in the United States. Learners should choose an accredited school to ensure they can qualify for federal financial aid. Many private organizations also require applicants to attend an accredited school to receive scholarships and grants.

In addition to institutional accreditation, nursing students can look for programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

Courses in a Nursing Program



Students earning an online degree in nursing typically follow the same curriculum as their on-campus counterparts. Nursing programs usually begin with basic science coursework, such as biology, anatomy, and chemistry. These classes provide a foundation for advanced and specialized coursework. Most nursing curricula also feature classes in research methods and oral communication.

Nursing students typically complete an internship, during which they observe and experience the demands of the nursing profession. Online nursing students usually fulfill internship requirements at a local site. Although curricula vary by program, many nursing programs include the courses below.

Students in this class explore the structure and parts of the body, and they learn how each part functions in relation to the whole. The course includes an overview of the causes, diagnosis, and treatment of various diseases. Degree-seekers examine how diseases develop and spread, and they explore treatment and prevention methods. Coursework often incorporates emerging topics such as genetic engineering, cell cloning, and bioinformatics.

The field of gerontology involves the study of aging and older adults. This class explores topics including geriatric syndromes, safety protocols for elderly patients, and disease prevention. Students examine the implications of the aging American population and its impacts on society and healthcare. Degree-seekers also learn about transitional care environments and end-of-life issues.

Students in this course prepare to conduct health assessments by properly collecting subjective and objective data. Learners develop interviewing skills and improve their cultural competence. Students also learn how to elicit accurate and relevant information from clients of all ages. Coursework explores strategies for discussing issues such as tobacco use, cancer risks, and stroke prevention with patients.

This course introduces students to single-cell and multicellular organisms and covers topics including bacteriology, virology, and parasitology. Nurses need a solid understanding of microbiology to create and maintain sterile environments. Professionals also use this knowledge to properly collect specimens and safely dispose of biomedical waste.

Learners in this course study various classes of drugs and examine how drugs affect the human body. Students become familiar with side effects drugs can cause, and they learn how to avoid potentially fatal drug interactions. Nurses need a solid grasp of fundamental pharmacological concepts to administer medications safely, especially to patients with multiple comorbidities.

Students pursuing an on-campus or online degree in nursing can often qualify for institutional scholarships. Learners can also apply for awards from professional associations and nonprofits. With the high demand for trained nurses nationwide, many organizations offer financial assistance for students pursuing a career in the field. Learners can also qualify for scholarships based on factors such as financial need and identity.

ARN Scholarships

Who Can Apply: The Association of Rehabilitation Nurses offers scholarships for undergraduate and graduate nursing students. Applicants must demonstrate membership and involvement with the association. Candidates must have successfully completed at least one course in their nursing program.
Amount: $1,500

DiversityNursing.com Education Award

Who Can Apply: DiversityNursing.com offers the scholarship to full-time or part-time students enrolled in an accredited nursing program. Applicants must be U.S. citizens and fill out a registration form to apply.
Amount: $5,000

Geraldine "Polly" Bednash Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The American Association of Colleges of Nursing administers the scholarship to two recipients four times each year. Applicants must hold a minimum 3.2 GPA and must attend a qualifying nursing program at the bachelor's level or higher.
Amount: $5,000

Recommended Reading

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AccreditedSchoolsOnline.org 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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