Deciding to earn your bachelor's in nursing requires examining classes, admission requirements, and potential career opportunities. In addition, you must consider what your future in nursing holds when it comes to your professional growth and advancement. This page offers insight into these and other questions that you may have as you explore RN to BSN online programs. Use this page as a resource as you make an informed decision about the school that can best help you obtain success in the field.
- Overview of RN-to-BSN Degrees
- What Can I Do with an Online Bachelor’s Degree
- Advancement Opportunities with an MSN
- Accreditation for RN-to-BSN Programs
- Nursing Professional Organizations
Top 10 Earning an Online RN-to-BSN Degree
|#1||Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL|
|#2||University of Cincinnati-Main Campus Cincinnati, OH|
|#3||Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health Omaha, NE|
|#4||Concordia University-Wisconsin Mequon, WI|
|#5||Saint Joseph's College of Maine Standish, ME|
|#6||Regis University Denver, CO|
|#7||Drexel University Philadelphia, PA|
|#8||East Carolina University Greenville, NC|
|#9||Gardner-Webb University Boiling Springs, NC|
|#10||Indiana Wesleyan University Marion, IN|
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Overview of RN-to-BSN Degrees
Becoming an RN requires completing either a nursing diploma program or an associate degree in nursing (ADN). While an RN position provides clinical experience, earning an online RN-to-BSN degree builds your knowledge and prepares you to assume a leadership role in the field. A BSN equips you to thoughtfully assess patients' health and administer necessary treatment and medications. In addition, this degree strengthens your ability and confidence to thoughtfully consult with other medical professionals about patients' well being. Most students in RN-to-BSN online programs are able to continue working while earning their degree.
RN-to-BSN programs typically deliver coursework fully online, however students can expect a hands-on learning requirement through an internship or practicum. This requires you work in a clinical setting to help further ensure your healthcare and cultural competency. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects a 15% growth in the number of nursing jobs by 2026, largely because of increased attention to preventative care and an increase in chronic conditions.
Best Colleges for an Online RN to BSN
Earning an online nursing degree can help a registered nurse move forward in their career and identify a specialty where they'd like to focus. Pursuing that degree online allows practicing RNs the ability to continue working while going to school on their own time. But finding the program that fits their individual needs can be a challenge. That's why we did the legwork to identify the best schools to earn an RN to BSN degree.
Registered nurses seeking a bachelor’s degree can earn one in four semesters at Nova Southeastern University. The school’s RN to BSN program is designed for working nurses with busy schedules, and students learn online from experienced faculty. Curriculum guides nurses in the areas of business, leadership, policy, and community service, preparing them to advance in the workplace. In addition to online courses, students complete face-to-face experiences in health promotion and education for the public. Graduates will finish the program with strong communication skills and professional values, as well as an understanding of technology and information management useful for the workplace.
At the University of Cincinnati, working nurses can complete their BSN in nine, 12, or 18 months of study. The RN to BSN program includes nine core nursing courses, and allows credit transfer from previous programs. Students progress through the degree with one advisor guiding them to support an on-time graduation. While classes are all online, learners also complete community or population-based projects local to them in lieu of clinical rotations. Curriculum centers on leadership, preparing nurses to accept increasing responsibilities as they progress in their careers. Academic advising, financial aid, and technology assistance are all available for the school’s online students.
The RN to BSN program at Nebraska Methodist College offers registered nurses the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree in seven semesters or less. Most courses follow a five week format, with one week breaks between the end of one course and the start of the next. The school is transfer-friendly, and students can choose part- or full-time study as their schedule permits. Curriculum guides students with a community-based approach that includes health promotion, self-care, collaboration, continuity of care, and prevention. Learners can also choose to minor in Spanish for healthcare professionals or healthcare sign language; however, these tracks do require on-campus coursework.
At Concordia University, registered nurses can enter completion programs to earn their bachelor’s or master’s degrees through online study. Students learn about trends in the nursing field, research strategies for RNs, and leadership in a healthcare setting. Programs also require courses in theology, ethics, communication, and statistics. Curriculum provides students with a foundation of understanding in the socio-economic, professional, and political issues surrounding healthcare, and prepares them to provide care that respects the needs and preferences of patients. For support, students can access career services, student success advisors, and online academic tools available through the school’s website.
Both diploma and associate degree registered nurses are accepted into Saint Joseph’s College’s online RN to BSN program, which provides nurses with increased knowledge and skills in health promotion, disease prevention, evidence-based care, and population-based care. Participants also study ethical practice and clinical decision making to inform their work in the classroom and on the job. The school has a generous transfer credit policy, and no on-campus residency is required. Instructors work one-on-one with students to promote learning and share their experiences in the field. Those interested in earning a postgraduate degree can pursue an RN to MSN Fast-Track option, available for students with a qualifying GPA.
Regis University offers registered nurses an RN to BSN completion program that can be completed online or on campus, accommodating busy work and personal schedules. With a lump sum transfer policy available for RNs with an associate degree, the program automatically grants eligible students transfer credits that reduce the amount of time it will take to earn a degree. Courses are eight weeks long, and delivered in an asynchronous format that has no set times for participation or online presence. No campus visits are required either, but online students are welcome to attend the on-campus graduation at the end of their program.
The curriculum in Drexel University’s RN to BSN program centers on action-based learning, preparing students with in-depth clinical skills that can be immediately utilized in the workplace. Students also gain experience through the school’s Health Assessment Simulation Lab, which offers the opportunity to work with virtual patients. Curriculum includes both traditional methods and new technologies, and students participate in direct patient interaction and community outreach activities. The program also has a study abroad option that brings its participants to Paraguay. Online students are supported by school services including 24/7 tech support, online library access, and a writing center.
Aspiring nurses in North Carolina can earn a bachelor’s degree at East Carolina University through the school’s articulation agreement with area community colleges. Students first follow a progression of lower level courses at a North Carolina community college to earn an associate degree and become registered nurses. They can then continue their schooling at East Carolina University and earn a bachelor’s degree with the completion of four semesters of upper level nursing coursework. Areas of study include nursing research, professional communication, and nursing in a global society, and learners complete their studies with a capstone experience. RNs who studied at schools outside of North Carolina are also eligible for the RN to BSN program.
Gardner-Webb University’s RN to BSN program offers an education centered on holistic healthcare. Students learn to care for patients with a focus on clinical competence and social awareness, and gain respect for the importance of therapeutic relationships. Professors provide instruction based on Christian values, and students discuss the ethical and legal standards of the profession with their peers and instructors. The program also involves service learning, as the school partners with local healthcare facilities where students learn to provide care and collaborate with other healthcare professionals. An RN to MSN program is also available for those who wish to accelerate the path to a postgraduate degree.
Registered nurses studying at Indiana Wesleyan University can earn a bachelor’s degree through online, on-campus, or blended online/on-campus study. Students join a small cohort of peers at the beginning of the program, and progress through their courses together. While most students take one class at a time and graduate in 15 months, an accelerated option is also available. There are five start dates per year. Practice experiences are built into the curriculum, and learners can complete these in their home or community. Students also learn about leadership and service in the profession, with instructors who practice in the field and can share their real-world experiences.
Online RN to BSN Colleges
Admission guidelines for online RN-to-BSN programs vary by school, but many require similar criteria. For example, most require either a nursing diploma or an ADN. Some schools require that the program you previously finished maintains accreditation by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission. There may also be a minimum GPA requirement. You should possess a current nursing license and on-the-job experience to qualify for acceptance.
You must complete an application and submit a fee. Supplementary materials include transcripts from high school and any institutions you previously attended. You should also inquire about submitting any test scores. Many of the top RN-to-BSN online programs want to understand why a nursing career interests you, so you may need to draft a personal statement that explains how earning your BSN can help you meet your goals. Polish your resume and remain prepared to submit reference letters that attest to your professional and academic acumen, commitment to a nursing career, and passion for the field.
What Will I Learn?
Online RN-to-BSN programs leverage the knowledge and experience you already possess. They deliver more in-depth instruction in community health, informatics, and health policy. You also examine topics in anatomy, genetics, aging, and global health. These programs provide real-world learning opportunities to sharpen your analytical abilities and problem-solving skills. You'll graduate with the confidence needed to meet many healthcare complexities. You can apply your knowledge in the workplace, which reinforces your lessons learned. RN-to-BSN online studies generally require 120 credits, but you can usually enter with transferable credits from your RN program. The 120 credits might include 57 general education and core credits, 30 RN-to-BSN credits, and 33 portfolio verification credits based on your work in the field.
Classes vary by school, but the list below provides examples of what you can expect to study.
In this course, students review the information systems and needs within the nursing practice. This allows learners to make connections between informatics and all areas of the field, including clinical practice, research, administration, and education. Students learn how to examine and organize information, which nurses must do well to properly meet patients' care needs.
Community Health Nursing
This class allows students to explore how nursing and public health intersect, helping them deliver comprehensive care. Students devise strategies that consider the ethical, cultural, and economic aspects that affect communities.
Nursing Care Delivery Programs
This class explores nurses' leadership and managerial roles as they participate in healthcare delivery. The course considers how nurse leaders serve as change agents by influencing organizational behavior and decision-making. Learners understand how they can effect change within the healthcare system.
Research Applications in Nursing
In this course, students develop the skills needed to analyze nursing issues through an applied research lens. They learn how to interpret and manage data and how to cite research using the American Psychological Association format. These competencies prepare individuals to write and publish scholarly papers.
Learners consider the moral challenges that nurses may face, often because of medical technology advancements. They discuss topics such as abortion, the right to die, in vitro fertilization, and genetic screening. The course helps students develop critical-thinking skills and a respect for multiple perspectives, which nurses need when working with medical professionals and patients.
In this class, students examine the intricacies of prescription drug management, building on their existing knowledge. Coursework explores concepts such as pharmacokinetics and pharmacotherapeutics through case-study assignments, seminar discussions, class readings, and online exercises. Lessons help students better manage patients' drug protocols with accuracy and diligence.
What Can I Do with an Online BSN Degree?
Your online BSN enhances the skills you already possess, allowing you to advance professionally. You may opt to specialize in a particular nursing area to pursue your passion, which can further demonstrate your expertise. The following highlights what you can anticipate learning in your studies, occupations that may interest you, and potential salaries.
RN-to-BSN online programs develop reasoning capabilities and problem-solving skills. These skills remain important since nurses often face life-and-death situations. In these instances, nurses must think and act quickly, relying on a combination of knowledge, experience, and outstanding judgment to make the right decision. You can draw on your critical thinking to evaluate circumstances and determine the best next steps, including those that require bold, out-of-the box strategies. This kind of leadership allows you to inspire others.
The communication skills you develop through your studies also allow you to interact with colleagues and patients and their families. You must demonstrate transparency in your speech and writing. You will also learn to think carefully about the ethics concerning patient care, including the consequences of unethical behavior. This helps you monitor your own actions and those of others to avoid potentially devastating circumstances.
Potential Careers and Salaries
Completing your RN-to-BSN degree online means you can choose to work in traditional medical settings, such as hospitals and physician offices. You may also work within the nonprofit sector to support humanitarian aid initiatives. In other instances, nurses may help draft local, state, and federal policy, especially if they help advocate on behalf of patients and their rights. Nurses remain in high demand across the globe due to their combination of medical know-how and modern skills.
Earning a bachelor of science in nutrition online does not guarantee any of the careers below. In most states, nutritionists and dieticians must apply for a license before they can practice. Additionally, many health-focused professions require certification.
BROWSE BACHELOR’S IN RN-TO-BSN CAREERS
This nurse works with patients addicted to alcohol, drugs, and other substances, and receives training in general medicine and mental health. Responsibilities include pain management and educating patients and their families about substance abuse.
$67,000 per year
A nurse with this specialty cares for patients with heart disease. They help treat and monitor conditions, and they may also work in cardiac rehabilitation. These nurses help patients make healthy choices to reduce their risk of complications.
$61,971 per year
Critical Care Nurse
This nurse generally works in the intensive care unit to deliver healthcare to patients with severe complications such as wounds, burns, and heart issues. Patients frequently experience rapidly worsening conditions, so a critical care nurse must work with extreme care.
$62,607 per year
This specialist supports the health and well-being of babies born prematurely or suffering from birth defects and infections. They may care for these children for months from birth to age two, depending on medical complications.
$60,889 per year
A rehabilitation nurse helps patients recover from disabling medical conditions due to illness and injury. This can include helping them learn to walk and talk again so they can enjoy independent living. This expertise requires patience and the ability to encourage people.
$78,000 per year
Advancement Opportunities With an MSN
Earning your RN-to-BSN degree online equips you to pursue a range of professional opportunities, but you can take your career even higher by earning an advanced degree. Completing studies for a master's in nursing qualifies you for mid-level, leadership, and specialized positions because of your in-depth knowledge in a specific area of the nursing field. Your studies allow you to more narrowly focus in an emphasis of your choice, such as public health and health systems management.
You can then pursue roles such as nurse supervisor, clinical manager, and chief nursing officer. Earning a graduate degree in nursing can certainly help your promotion possibilities. Employers also consider your experience, work ethic, and recommendations from respected medical professionals. These qualities may help you move forward in your career without needing to earn an advanced degree.
Accreditation for RN-to-BSN Programs
Your search for the right online RN-to-BSN program should focus on accredited programs. Accreditation verifies the program's quality and makes clear that enrolled students must perform to the highest level. Employers look to hire graduates of accredited nursing programs because they know these nurses can meet the field's intense demands. In the U.S., the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) typically accredit nursing programs. The ACEN accredits all types of nursing programs, but the CCNE only recognizes bachelor's and master's programs.
If your desired nursing program is not accredited, make sure the university boasts either regional or national accreditation. Most U.S. colleges are accredited by one of six regional accrediting agencies, such as the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Nationally accredited institutions may be accredited by an accrediting body such as the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Nursing Professional Organizations
Professionals and students alike can take advantage of the many benefits of joining a professional organization. These groups help members network, provide continuing education through seminars and conferences, and often showcase the field's latest research. In addition, many organizations host job boards that can help connect members to employment opportunities. By joining a professional organization and interacting with like-minded colleagues, individuals can significantly augment their knowledge.
This organization promotes the school nursing profession by offering training and continuing education to its members so that they can better ensure quality healthcare within the school community. The association identifies school nursing as a specialized practice that keeps young people healthy thanks to the expertise of school nurses who coordinate care and advocate for students.
This membership group supports, trains, and recognizes the important contributions of psychiatric-mental health nurses. Founded in 1986, the group champions continuing education, resource sharing, and dynamic collaboration among its members. The organization also advocates for mental healthcare by taking positions on several key issues.
Students seeking licensure and those enrolled in a bachelor's program can join this organization, which provides mentorship and helps members understand the field's ethics and standards. The group promotes evidence-based, high-quality healthcare, and contributes to nursing education to prepare future nurse leaders.