Online RN Programs: 2016-2017

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The Professional Standard
for Nurses

Those interested in a nursing career but with limited availability may benefit from enrolling in an online RN program. Accredited online schools prepare students to take the NCLEX-RN licensure exam and enter the workforce with this in-demand career. This guide provides detailed information about career paths for registered nurses and accredited online programs of all degree levels.

Online Program Options for RNs

Many accredited schools and universities offer several options for online programs where aspiring RNs can gain a quality education. Shorter, accelerated programs may be more suitable for those who wish to pursue an entry-level job as soon as possible. Two- and four-year online nursing degree programs are most suitable for those who are prepared to invest in their education and career for the long-term.

Even though it is possible to obtain a nursing license without a degree, many employers now prefer graduates with degrees from accredited schools and goals to further their education. Working towards a bachelor’s or a master’s degree right away can open up career opportunities shortly after graduation and for the long-term. Still, there are options available for those who wish to make a smaller time investment and monetary investment before entering the workforce.

  • Diploma/Certificate
  • Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
  • Entry-Level Master’s (EL-MSN)

Students looking for a fast track to entering the workforce can work towards an RN diploma or certificate that covers basic nursing courses and provides students with hands-on training to excel in their career. Certification programs give students a chance to obtain licensure so that they can practice in their state; a diploma program offered by a hospital or other healthcare organization prepares students to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. A diploma or certificate program may be a good match for those who seek an entry-level job or are still exploring career and educational paths in the nursing and healthcare field. While much of the training can be completed online, students will need to attend a lab or go to a healthcare setting to complete their hands-on training.

These two-year programs include both the theory component and clinical training for a well-rounded education in preparation for the NCLEX-RN examination. An associate degree prepares students for the option to work towards a bachelor’s degree. These programs are typically offered at vocational schools or community colleges and include more nursing and clinical training than a diploma or certificate program. They include both online training and a clinical component.

Four-year degree programs from an accredited online school provide comprehensive training and education in the field of nursing, covering everything from science, nursing care practices, statistics, research studies, and specialized subjects. Students who graduate with a BSN may have more advancement opportunities throughout their career and opportunities to specialize in a certain area, such as pediatrics or geriatric care. Having a bachelor’s degree also gives the student the option to pursue a master’s degree at a later date. Online BSN programs include both virtual classroom-based instruction and a clinical component.

Students who have already earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing or in a non-nursing field can become a professional RN by completing graduate level studies through an online master’s program. Some schools offer programs that are divided into three core sections: RN/pre-licensure, Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP), and Case Management (CM). Students take the NCLEX-RN licensing exam during their fifth semester and can also take specialty classes at that time. The program may be divided into both virtual classroom training and clinical to fulfill all educational requirements.

Best Online RN Degree Programs: 2016-2017

Enrolling in an online RN degree program can help students enter a fulfilling career in a fast-growing field. Many schools have adapted to this increasing demand by offering fully online programs for prospective RN students. To narrow down the long list of schools that offer this degree, we have ranked every school with an RN program in the country by analyzing factors such as tuition, financial aid provided by the school and class size. Learn more about the top online RN degree programs for 2016-2017 here.

Rank School Name Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % #ONLINE PROGRAMS Student-teacher RatioNCLEX Pass Rate
1 New Mexico Junior College 99.83 34% 2 18:1 96%
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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2 Amarillo College 99.77 17% 2 22:1 95%
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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3 West Kentucky Community and Technical College 99.55 1% 2 14:1 93%
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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4 Hopkinsville Community College 97.58 10% 2 19:1 90%
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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5 Kansas City Kansas Community College 96.07 22% 1 13:1 71%
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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6 Henderson Community College 93.14 22% 1 10:1 94%
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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7 Madisonville Community College 92.13 22% 1 14:1 92%
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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8 Ashland Community and Technical College 91.40 7% 1 14:1 92%
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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9 Somerset Community College 91.17 8% 1 18:1 95%
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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10 Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College 91.12 6% 1 15:1 100%
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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11 Bluegrass Community and Technical College 90.30 2% 1 16:1 90%
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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12 Columbus State Community College 89.57 20% 1 19:1 83%
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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13 Jefferson Community and Technical College 89.29 1% 1 16:1 91%
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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14 San Antonio College 88.28 9% 1 19:1 81%
  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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15 Community College of Philadelphia 87.05 N/A 1 16:1 83%
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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16 Minnesota West Community and Technical College 86.00 1% 1 20:1 76%
  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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Rank School Name Score Tuition & Fees Financial Aid % #ONLINE PROGRAMS Student-teacher RatioNCLEX Pass Rate
1 East Carolina University 99.82 50% 3 18:1 97%

A traditional track and an accelerated track option are available with East Carolina University's RN to BSN program. Nursing principles, industry techniques and liberal arts, behavioral sciences and natural sciences learning concepts are built into the training. Takeaways include the ability to provide professional nursing assistance to physicians and patients and use local and global healthcare strategies to educate and care for patients. To get admitted into the program, students must have an associate nursing degree and a North Carolina nursing license. They must also pass a background investigation. Advanced nursing degrees at the university are the Master of Science in Nursing, the Doctor of Nursing Practice and the Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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2 Allen College 99.04 100% 2 9:1 96%

Diverse clinical experiences are offered during the training provided in Allen College's registered nursing program. The program is built on concepts derived from the Iowa Articulation Plan. Students taking online classes may be required to complete the clinical portion of the training at an accepted medical facility. Blackboard Learn is the system that nursing majors log into register for classes and to access course materials. Electives, 54 credits of general education classes and 70 credits of nursing classes are part of the curriculum. Nursing classes focus on nursing leadership, health policy, nursing research, nutrition and anatomy and physiology. There is also a licensed practical nurse four-year degree training program at the college.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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3 Seton Hall University 98.81 97% 3 14:1 75%

Seton Hall University's nursing program is conducted in a collaborative learning environment. The RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) option is designed for nurses who have an associate nursing degree or a nursing diploma. Adults must have earned at least a 2.5 GPA in their associate nursing program. It's possible to take most of the RN to BSN classes from home via distance learning. In addition to getting advanced training on topics like health assessments, nursing research and health promotion, program graduates gain skills to step into leadership and management roles. Instructors have real life nursing experience. Instructors also continue to perform nursing research at the school.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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4 University of Alabama in Huntsville 98.68 66% 3 16:1 90%

The nursing program at the University of Alabama in Huntsville provides adults who already possess an associate degree or diploma level nursing background with broader training that prepares nurses for career growth. Outcomes of the program include the ability to conduct nursing research, work in diverse environments as a nursing generalist and fulfill healthcare leadership responsibilities. New students schedule an appointment with an advisor to map out their first semester of classes. The online program accepts all eligible students except for students who reside in the state of New York. All parts of the training are online, minus student orientation. A graduate certificate, master's degree and doctorate are other online nursing options at the university.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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5 West Virginia University 98.54 57% 3 21:1 93%

Before qualifying students are accepted into the West Virginia University Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program they must be licensed and have a nursing diploma or associate degree. West Virginia University's nursing bachelor's degree is fully online. Applications are accepted during all three semesters. It takes 128 credits to graduate from the bachelor's program which is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. As many as three information sessions are offered at the beginning of each semester. Online nursing students receive academic training through the WVU portal, eCampus and official campus email. Some classes can be access using mobile devices.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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6 Ball State University 98.54 47% 3 15:1 93%

Flexibility, blended academic instruction and rolling admissions are components of Ball State University's online RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program. Although some of the classes can be downloaded using a smartphone, wired computer access is recommended. Credits from another accredited college or university are accepted. Clinical training is completed offline alongside a mentor or preceptor. Emphasis of the program prepares nurses to identify and help fill the needs of women, children and adults living in at risk areas. The school has an assimilated training center, student ambassadors and advisors to help online nursing majors stay on track and graduate on time.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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7 New Mexico State University-Main Campus 98.47 39% 2 17:1 82%

Nursing classes at New Mexico State University-Main Campus are taught at the school's traditional and online campuses. Adults new to the nursing profession and adults who have completed a diploma or associate degree registered nurse program can apply for the bachelor's degree. The bachelor's degree is taught in partnership with the university's Grants Community College and Alamogordo school. A simulation lab, interactive television programs and video conferences are used to teach online classes. Graduates of the four-year training should meet eligibility requirements to sit for the National Council of State Boards of Nursing Exam.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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8 Northern Arizona University 98.22 66% 3 18:1 91%

Nursing majors learn in real life care environments at Northern Arizona University. Generally, students who have a nursing diploma or associate degree and passing academic scores can be admitted into Northern Arizona University's RN to BSN program. The nursing school does not accept students who reside in Washington, Tennessee, Kentucky or Alabama into the RN to BSN program. A total of 120 credits are needed to graduate. Breakdown of the credits include 35 liberal arts credits, 30 professional credits and 34 pre-professional credits. NAU Online and Blackboard Learn are resources that virtual nursing classes are taught through.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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9 Graceland University-Lamoni 98.07 100% 2 13:1 87%

Pathways to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree at Graceland University-Lamoni are through the RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing's (BSN) online and campus programs. It takes 18 months to graduate from the RN to BSN program. Students pursuing the online degree option receive instruction using virtual classrooms, simulated laboratories, discussion forums and streamed videos. Both options require students to complete clinical trainings in the community that the student lives in. At least one focus session at the school's campus in Independence, Missouri is also required to graduate. Focus sessions last for two to four days.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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10 East Tennessee State University 98.03 15% 4 18:1 88%

Personalized training is offered in East Tennessee State University RN to BSN degree program. The school also offers master's and doctorate nursing degrees. All of the programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Classes are in subjects like healthcare systems, pharmacology, health promotion and research. Eligibility for the RN to BSN program includes registered nurse licensing or training that prepares adults for licensing within six months of the start of classes. Adults who want to receive their training through the online platform may also get admitted if they have a hospital certificate. Application deadlines apply.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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11 University of Central Florida 97.93 44% 3 31:1 97%

The University of Central Florida's College of Nursing RN to BSN degree track is primarily for registered nurses who earned their two-year nursing degree from an accredited public college or university in Florida before 2000. Nurses who earned an associate's nursing degree from a private postsecondary institution outside of Florida can also apply. An online and an on campus option are available. The university's RN to BSN degree consist of 30 credits. Pace of the learning is set by the student. It's possible to earn the degree in three semesters. Students can also learn at a slower pace and take up to 10 semesters to earn the BSN. Applications can be submitted online.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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12 Indiana State University 97.78 75% 4 20:1 87%

Full-time and part-time online RN to BSN classes are offered at Indiana State University. All classes are taught online. The program which rolls up to the school's College of Health and Human Services has a rolling admissions process. Out-of-state admissions adhere to state regulated approval policies. 27 of the 36 required credits are in nursing. Students learn about pertinent topics impacting the field like healthcare informatics, nursing leadership, research as it applies to the nursing practice and nursing health assessment. Minimum cumulative GPA that is allowed is a 2.25.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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13 Concordia University-Wisconsin 97.76 98% 2 13:1 89%

Concordia University-Wisconsin's online RN to BSN degree is built to allow graduates of the program to start earning their master's in nursing as seamlessly as possible. The program combines curriculum required for a bachelor's and a master's degree, shortening the time that it takes nurses to earn advanced academic credentials. Training is geared toward practicing nurses and nurse educators. Three areas that are emphasized during the training are family nursing, gerontology and nurse educator. A background check, CPR certification and at least a 3.0 GPA are required to enroll.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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14 University of Southern Indiana 97.66 41% 3 17:1 98%

Nurses who have a diploma or an associate in nursing degree can enroll in the University of Southern Indiana's RN to BSN program and take as few as one class per semester. Full-time coursework is another option open to enrollees. Except for clinical training, the entire program can be completed online. It's possible to earn some credits by passing exams or based on work experience. The combination of credits earned during a diploma or associate degree program and the RN to BSN courses at the University of Southern Indiana must total at least 120 credits. A minimum of 30 of the 120 credits must be earned through the University of Southern Indiana training.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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15 University of Massachusetts-Amherst 97.49 60% 3 17:1 83%

Opportunity to gain advanced knowledge about real life medical practices like developing and monitoring health assessments, global health initiatives, leading in healthcare organizations and evidence based nursing practice are offered at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. There are three tracks that students can choose from. The RN to BSN track provides academic training that takes licensed nurses from a two-year to a four-year degree. A traditional and an accelerated track are the other two options. Students can finish the RN to BSN program online or on campus. Transfer credits are reviewed to ensure that students have completed all necessary prerequisites before they start classes.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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16 University of Arkansas 97.37 38% 3 19:1 81%

Purpose of the online RN to BSN degree at the University of Arkansas is to give students advanced skills and training that position them for nursing leadership roles and that provide them greater understanding of governmental, personal and cultural factors impacting healthcare. Instructors are full-time faculty members of the university's Eleanor Mann School of Nursing. One practicum is included in the 29 credit program. Full-time students can finish the degree in three semesters. Continuing education options open to graduates of the nursing program are a master's and a doctorate in nursing. The graduate training can also be completed online.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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17 University of Northern Colorado 97.24 79% 2 17:1 88%

The University of Northern Colorado's RN to BSN program is partly online and takes 20 months to finish. Layout of the program allows nursing students to work full-time in the field while they earn the degree. The RN to BSN is taught through the school's extended campus. Experience using live video conferencing, downloading streamed videos and completing electronic coursework is helpful when taking courses via the extended campus. Additionally, qualifying students who are enrolled in an associate degree nursing program can earn a nursing bachelor's degree at the University of Northern Colorado via the school's dual degree option.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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18 Gannon University 97.24 93% 2 13:1 92%

Gannon University's Villa Maria School of Nursing confers a 32 credit associate degree. Graduates can go on to enroll in the school's RN to BSN program, a degree that is taught fully online. Both programs are approved by the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing. The RN to BSN program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Classes in the online RN to BSN option extend across 12 weeks. Similar to core courses, electives have a nursing focus. Students learn how to transition into professional nursing, promote healthy lifestyles at the community level and how to manage the delivery of healthcare services.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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19 La Salle University 97.11 94% 2 12:1 83%

Study areas in the La Salle University online RN to BSN degree curriculum provide robust clinical experiences. Student centered classroom training focuses on areas like pharmacology, research, nursing leadership and health assessment and promotion. Working knowledge to pass the National Council Licensure Examination, ability to understand and adhere to legal and ethical nursing guidelines and regulations and skills to provide physicians and patients with holistic nursing knowledge and skills are outcomes of the undergraduate program. Each semester, students must earn at least a 2.7 GPA. Clinical experiences are completed at local facilities that include nursing homes, adult day care centers, hospitals and medical centers. An accelerated and a traditional RN to BSN track are offered.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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20 University of the Incarnate Word 97.08 99% 2 14:1 93%

The University of the Incarnate encourages lifelong learning in nursing practice, community healthcare and nursing leadership. Toward this end, the university offers a RN to BSN degree. A prerequisite to qualify for the RN to BSN program is a diploma or associate's degree in nursing. Thirty credits in courses like anatomy, physiology, community health nursing and nursing leadership are required with the RN to BSN program. Students gain a broader education by taking courses such as psychology, world literature and public speaking. A total of 126 credits are required to graduate.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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21 Barry University 96.90 96% 2 12:1 82%

The RN to BSN degree plan at Barry University takes 15 months to complete via a distance education platform. Classes start during the Spring and Fall. The accelerated nursing bachelor's degree at Barry University also runs for 15 months. But, the accelerated program only starts during the Spring. Students should already have a diploma or an associate degree in nursing. Twenty-seven additional credits are required through the RN to BSN at Barry University. In addition to maintaining a 2.5 GPA or higher, students also need professional liability insurance and a registered nurse license.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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22 Loyola University Chicago 96.26 93% 2 14:1 92%

The RN to BSN program is one of several online nursing degree options offered at Loyola University Chicago. There is the Master of Science in Health Systems Management, the Doctor of Nursing Practice and the RN to BSN. Depending on their schedule, students can earn the RN to BSN online degree in a shortened amount of time, but this requires a full-time commitment. Typically, classes extend for six to eight weeks. After finishing all required classes, students will have earned 30 nursing credits and 36 general education credits in subjects like physical assessment, nursing ethics and community health. Class schedules are viewed within Locus. It's possible to register for the program online.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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23 Villanova University 96.05 53% 2 12:1 85%

Lectures, clinical practice, general electives and core nursing classes make up the rigorous training in Villanova University's online RN to BSN degree program. Class schedules are flexible, but require a solid commitment to keep pace with the overall curriculum. Students are not permitted to have their grades drop below a 2.75 GPA. The only time that students need to leave home to complete the training is during their two clinical practicums. MyNova is the portal that the school uses to store class schedules, connect students and instructors via email and house public and private school folders. Blackboard Learn is also accessed through MyNova. e- learning requires a login and secure password.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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24 Fitchburg State University 95.98 43% 2 15:1 97%

At Fitchburg State University, the online RN to BSN training integrates community, individual and global health initiatives and nursing practices into a 120 credit academic program. Approval to teach the program is granted through the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Nursing. Instructors derive from diverse backgrounds and have specialized teaching experience in areas like surgical nursing, mental health nursing, maternal-newborn nursing and community health nursing. Although classes are delivered via a virtual campus, students have the chance to receive clinical training on campus in a simulated lab, a health assessment clinic and a home care lab.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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25 Georgia College and State University 95.89 8% 3 18:1 95%

Individualized learning is at the core of the online RN to BSN program at Georgia College and State University. The program is offered through the College of Health Sciences. In addition to nursing classes, students enrolled in the program receive a liberal arts education. Classes align with licensing requirements set forth by the Georgia Board of Nursing. The quickest that the degree can be completed is three semesters. Outcomes are advanced professional nursing skills, solid clinical reasoning abilities and training to work in a variety of intense medical environments. Although classes are fully online, students may have to conduct presentations, engage in class discussions and attend recorded lectures using video, conference calls and discussion forums.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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26 University of Cincinnati-Main Campus 95.77 54% 2 18:1 87%

Strong communication skills, critical thinking and project management skills are needed to excel in the online RN to BSN program at the University of Cincinnati-Main Campus. Upon graduating from the program, students should be able to apply critical judgment when making clinical decisions. They should also be able to use their nursing research, health assessment and communication skills to educate patients on treatment and care strategies. The program is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Full-time students can complete the online RN to BSN program within 12 months. Part-time students need 18 months to graduate. Technical support and an online library are resources available to students enrolled in the online program.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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27 Drexel University 95.43 93% 4 10:1 94%

Real world learning is offered during Drexel University's online RN to BSN curriculum. An accelerated and a co-op design are available within the program. Co-op students can take courses while they work. During the co-op program, students learn alongside actual clinicians, researchers and instructors. Students enrolled in the accelerated program can earn a BSN in 11 months. These students must have a bachelor or graduate degree in another major. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education accredits the online RN to BSN program. Student to instructor ratio is about 25 to 1. Virtual discussion groups, access to a virtual health sciences library and simulated clinical learning are components of the online RN to BSN program.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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28 University of Massachusetts-Lowell 95.41 59% 2 18:1 63%

Training experiences provided through the University of Massachusetts' online RN to BSN degree program are tailored to community and individual nursing care needs. The online training is also tailored to the nursing student's personal nursing career and leadership goals. Students have the chance to gain hands-on clinical experience at one of more than 250 clinical agencies. Blackboard is a primary resource that online nursing students use to get class assignments from instructors and to check the progress of their work. On campus, blended and fully online classes are offered. Classes that focus solely on nursing are equal to 27 credits and give students in-depth information on items like project dissemination, health assessments and health policy.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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29 Gardner-Webb University 95.34 96% 5 13:1 100%

Opportunities to prepare for nursing leadership responsibilities are provided through the Hunt School of Nursing at Gardner-Webb University. Graduates of the school's online RN to BSN program can take on more strategic nursing assignments even as they continue to work as a registered nurse. During the training, students learn how to manage small and large patient and medical groups. Students learn at clinical agencies, in laboratories and via a virtual classroom. There is about an equal split between the general education and core nursing that are required in the RN to BSN program. Core nursing classes equal 63 credits.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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30 University of Massachusetts-Boston 95.32 58% 2 16:1 75%

Holistic nursing, public awareness of health issues and actions to address those issues are at the heart of the University of Massachusetts-Boston online RN to BSN program. Students can select a program delivery option that best suits their learning and lifestyle needs. If students learn more effective in a face-to-face setting, they can take classes at the Cape Cod Community College. The online courses have a full-time and a self-paced option. Each delivery option allows for close interaction with students, instructors and other faculty. Orientation is the first time that many students and faculty connect, particularly during question and answer sessions. An 84 hour clinical internship is required, as are at least 123 credit hours.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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31 University of Hawaii at Manoa 95.09 61% 3 13:1 90%

University of Hawaii at Manoa's associate or diploma nursing graduates are generally eligible to enroll in the school's online RN to BSN degree program. Thirty-four of the online RN to BSN credits are upper division classes. Academic advising, technical and career counseling support is available to students whether they are taking courses fully online or on campus. Program graduates should have the skills to supervise and direct a team of healthcare professionals. The upper division nursing courses are complemented with 44 credits of pre-requisites in classes like social science, pharmacology, physical science, statistics and symbolic reasoning.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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32 University of Colorado Colorado Springs 94.17 28% 3 15:1 98%

The University of Colorado - Colorado Springs online RN to BSN degree can be earned in 16 months. This rigorous program follows an accelerated learning track. The accelerated track is for students who have a bachelor's degree in another field. For students who want to finish their associate's nursing degree while they pursue a bachelor's nursing degree, there is the dual enrollment option. Both programs are taught online. Registered nurses must enroll in the program within three years of graduating from an accredited associate's nursing program. Statistics, research, community health, leadership in nursing and communications are key areas that instructors deliver content in during the program.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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33 University of North Florida 93.93 54% 2 20:1 94%

The online RN to BSN curriculum at the University of North Florida focuses on community healthcare. It's necessary for students to already have a registered nurse license to enroll in the RN to BSN program. Students who don't possess a license can follow the pre-license BSN track to earn a four-year nursing degree at the school. By logging into MyWings, students download class assignments, review upcoming events and monitor the status of their program requirement completion. Students may be required to take the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) exam before they are allowed to start classes.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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34 Western Kentucky University 93.72 37% 3 18:1 97%

Framework for the Western Kentucky University online RN to BSN bridge degree program is built upon a combination of electives, general education and core nursing courses. Admittance is competitive and limited. Only two cohorts of students are allowed into the online RN to BSN annually. One of the cohorts consists of part-time licensed registered nurses. The other class consists of licensed registered nurses who are seeking the degree on a full-time basis. All students must have at least a 2.5 GPA. RNs can expect to review concepts in areas such as pharmacology, transcultural nursing, public health nursing and nursing informatics. Videos, discussion groups, official campus email and myWKU are tools used to deliver online classes.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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35 University of Memphis 93.60 40% 2 14:1 100%

One of the easiest ways to complete undergraduate nursing training at the University of Memphis is by earning an associate in nursing degree, then enrolling in the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. Licensed registered nurses who earned their two-year degree from another accredited institution, can earn a BSN via the online RN to BSN track. All undergraduate and graduate degrees at the university are taught through the school's Loewenberg College of Nursing. Class materials are housed in Courseware. It is through Courseware that students can access and upload assignments at any time during the day or night. The school uses the instructional program to deliver classes like pharmacology, research, assessments and nursing leadership.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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36 Columbus State University 93.57 13% 2 17:1 84%

Transition from a licensed registered nurse to a registered nurse with an active license and an advanced nursing degree is offered via Columbus State University's RN to BSN online degree program. Instructors have real nursing experiences. In addition to be accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the online RN to BSN program is approved by the Georgia Board of Nursing. The program spans across 12 months. Individual classes start and end within a seven week timeframe. All classes are fully online. Students do need to complete clinical training at a local medical facility. Admission is on a rolling basis, meaning that students can apply throughout the year.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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37 The College of Saint Scholastica 93.46 100% 2 14:1 91%

At the College of Saint Scholastica, licensed registered nurses can forego traffic during a campus commute while they earn a four-year degree through the college's online RN to BSN program. Individualized academic plans are created for each student with the help of academic advisors. Focused, full-time students can finish all of the courses in the 46 credit program within one year. Because the program is online, students gain flexibility and work-study balance. Goals as it regards student learning include training to better support at risk populations with skilled nursing care, improved patient outcomes and increased nursing career opportunities. CSS Luminis is the platform that host the virtual classroom materials.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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38 Aurora University 93.36 100% 2 16:1 94%

The chance to meet faculty members and tour the Aurora University campus is extended during open house and visit days. Courses in the online RN to BSN curriculum build upon existing knowledge that licensed registered nurse have. Program requirements are made up of 42 semester hours. Nearly all of those semester hours are in nursing. With credits that they earned in a diploma or associate degree, students need at least 123 semester hours to meet all BSN graduation requirements. Registered nurses must be licensed in Wisconsin or Illinois to get admitted into the online RN to BSN program at Aurora University.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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39 University of North Alabama 93.16 51% 2 17:1 91%

Both a BSN and a MSN option are available at the University of North Alabama. The RN to BSN program is a completely online program that use video, conference calls and recordings to teach students about advanced nursing techniques and topics. At the end of the online RN to BSN program, unlicensed nurses should expect to have the skills and the knowledge to pass the national licensing exam. Statistics, nursing management, leadership and informatics are types of nursing topics that instructors ensure students have a firm grasp on. A major must have to enter the program is an active registered nurse license.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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40 Clayton State University 93.12 8% 2 18:1 84%

Students need a basic nursing foundation to start taking classes a Clayton State University that lead to an online RN to BSN degree. Fully online, the program includes courses in leadership, communication, research, health assessment and personal issues. The program also includes a 90-hour clinical practicum. Although the learning is completely online, students grow academically alongside their classmates and an experienced faculty. Nurses who let their license lapse could sign up for the bachelor in nursing RN re-entry program to finish their degree. To apply for the distance education programs and to schedule a school visit online, registered nurses log into Virtual View.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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41 University of Delaware 93.08 54% 2 15:1 85%

The undergraduate nursing program offered at The University of Delaware is broken down into three program models: the traditional undergraduate program, geared towards beginning and change-of-major students; the accelerated degree program, which is designed for students who have received a prior bachelor's degree; and the nursing education for the registered nurse program, which accommodates previously licensed nurses. The University of Delaware has been educating young minds since 1743, making it one of the country's oldest institutions of higher education. In the last few decades, UDEL has provided the finest online education for its students, giving distance learners the same educational opportunities provided to traditional students.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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42 South Dakota State University 92.98 53% 2 17:1 87%

Students attending South Dakota State University will be provided with the crucial educational resources required to gain an accomplished career in nursing. Because SD State offers numerous levels of education in nursing, students will be able to pursue their education for as long as they need to reach their goals. South Dakota State University is the largest higher education institution in the state, and gives its students 180 different degree options to choose from. Upon completion of a SD State degree, 95 percent of graduates proceed to successful careers or further education programs.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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43 University of North Dakota 92.96 30% 3 19:1 95%

A practical education in nursing is offered as a bachelor program at the University of North Dakota. Unlike many nursing programs, UND allows its students to complete their nursing degree part-time, permitting them to continue focusing on their families and careers while completing their education. If students wish, they can complete a good portion of their course work without ever being present at the UND campus. The fields of study afforded at UND exceeds 225, ranging from certificate programs to graduate programs. Most often, classes at UND will occupy approximately 24 students, allowing faculty members to narrow their focus on each of their students.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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44 Missouri State University-Springfield 92.95 51% 2 20:1 96%

The school of nursing at Missouri State University, Springfield offers an accredited undergraduate program that will prepare alumni to thrive in the health care field. In-class learning is supplemented with 624 clinical training hours, divided between acute hospital training and collaborative community partnership. Missouri State University has four campuses, one of which is located in China, giving students the chance to extend their academic work to other parts of the world. Residence halls at Missouri State University are equipped with all the modern amenities required for a pleasant and beneficial college undertaking.

  • Credit for ExperienceNo
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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45 Wayland Baptist University 92.94 33% 2 10:1 86%

Located on Wayland Baptist University's San Antonio campus, the school of nursing guides students through the crucial steps of achieving a career in the nursing field. Because nursing students progress through their program in cohorts, they can be sure they will create close bonds with their fellow students, providing fundamental social and scholastic support. Wayland Baptists University is selective of the students it admits; while competitive, this also ensures that all accepted students will attend small classes, on average occupied by 16 students. These small groups will allow for the establishment of close teacher-student relationships.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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46 Olivet Nazarene University 92.84 100% 2 16:1 87%

In the span of 16.5 months, students attending Olivet Nazarene University will be able to complete a bachelor of science degree in nursing. This accelerated program is based on a cohort model, providing a structured path to graduation. Olivet Nazarene University has been guiding students for over 100 years through more than 100 educational paths. Greater than 14,000 Olivet Nazarene alumni have gone on to receive higher education and successful careers. Olivet Nazarene University is a diverse community and is home to over 90 student clubs. Campus events include guest speakers, performing arts, and a number of sporting events.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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47 University of Toledo 92.76 85% 2 20:1 84%

A diverse background in healthcare starts with enrolling in an undergraduate nursing program. At the University of Toledo, associate degree graduates will be able to progress into a baccalaureate program for nursing, solidifying their path into the medical field. Many of the educational programs available at the University of Toledo can be completed part-time; when paired with online study options, students will be able to craft a flexible schedule that won't interfere with their prior commitments. Evening, summer, and winter classes are also an option for students who wish to complete their degree in the quickest possible manner.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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48 North Carolina Central University 92.55 81% 1 15:1 65%

College-bound students face the tough decision of deciding which major best suits their interests. Students who wish to provide physical and emotional aid to others may wish to consider the nursing program at North Carolina Central University. This course of study can be completed in either a full-time format, lasting two semesters, or a part-time format, lasting two years. Students in their first few years at NCCU are welcomed into a comfortable and diverse community, resulting in an 80 percent retention rate for freshman. Successful students may be awarded one or more scholarships, as well as possible acceptance into one of NCCU's 8 honor societies.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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49 Sacred Heart University 92.43 99% 2 15:1 94%

Sacred Heart University believes in enriching standard education with real world experience; that's why the bachelor of nursing program consists of hands-on clinical experience as well as in-class study. Sacred Heart University resides on over 250 acres of land dedicated to facilitating academic and extracurricular needs. Campus living provides students with the chance to assimilate into their community, as well as a spacious and constructive work space; 90 percent of Sacred Heart University freshman enjoy these provided amenities. As the student-to-faculty ratio at Sacred Heart University is 15:1, the faculty is capable of diligently attending to the needs of all students.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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50 Minot State University 92.23 70% 1 13:1 93%

Earning a bachelor's degree in nursing is an achievable ambition at Minot State University. The nursing curriculum will typically be completed between 15 and 18 months, depending on the amount of general education the student has completed upon being accepted into the program. Exploring career possibilities is a big step of the college process; the career service center at Minot State University provides guidance for students in terms of resume construction, practice interviews, and goal planning. First year students have the option to receive guidance from a peer mentor who will assist in efficient assimilation in college life.

  • Credit for ExperienceYes
  • Placement ServicesYes
  • Counseling ServicesYes
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Registered Nurses: Milestone Map

Becoming a registered nurse can be a rewarding career for those who enjoy working directly with patients and want to provide nursing care to patients of all ages. After obtaining licensure, RNs can explore several different career paths and job opportunities, as well as increase their education with an advanced degree program or research-based study. Below is a map that illustrates key milestones an RN may work towards throughout their career:

High school

Excelled in science and math courses; volunteered at a nursing home, hospital, or clinic over the summer.

LPN program

Completed a one- or two-year LPN program and obtained a state license (optional).

RN program

completed a diploma program, associate’s degree, or a bachelor’s degree program at an accredited school.

NCLEX-RN
examination

passed the NCLEX-RN exam and obtained license to practice.

Additional
certification

obtained certification(s) in a specialty area to increase career options.

Master of Science
in Nursing (MSN)

completed one to two-year degree program to pursue managerial roles in a healthcare setting.

RN Degrees in Online Format

All registered nursing programs include a theory component and clinical components since it is critical that students obtain a significant amount of hands-on training before obtaining licensure. Many nursing program courses can be taught in an online format where students log in to a dashboard to watch lectures, review materials, download assignments, and interact with class members and instructors via an online forum or chat room. Students who have good time management skills and want some flexibility with their schedule can benefit most from an online RN program.

In order to complete the clinical rotations component of an RN program, the student will need to work in a laboratory or go to another medical setting to complete their clinical hours under direct supervision.

Online RN: Sample Coursework

Coursework for online registered nurse programs varies by degree level and a student’s prior experience. Certification and diploma programs, for example, encompass very basic and core concepts of nursing care to train students for the workforce. Bachelor’s and master’s degree programs include more comprehensive courses and may include courses in a certain specialty area. Examples of courses offered typically offered in online RN programs include:

History and Introduction to Nursing

An introductory course that includes an overview of the history of nursing practice, and the nursing profession in relation to ethics, cultural and social issues, and professional values.

Mathematics for Health Sciences

A core course that covers key computations, formulas, and measurements used in the health science field. Students learn units and measurements, ratios, dosages, solutions, and other applied mathematical concepts.

Fundamentals of Patient Care

A foundational course of all nursing programs, this course introduces students to social and cultural factors that play a role in patient care and concepts related to the application of the nursing process. A part of this course may include clinical experience in a hospital, nursing home, or similar healthcare facility.

Human Physiology

May be an upper level course for bachelor’s degree and master’s degree programs, this course focuses on a correlative approach to human anatomy and physiology of the body.

Pathophysiology

Provides students with a basic understanding of pathophysiological changes that occur in the body and how these may affect nursing care and practices. Students learn about different variations and factors affecting patients of all ages and life stages.

Finding the Online RN Program for You

Choosing the right online RN program can feel overwhelming with so many options available and a variety of factors to consider before enrolling. Here are some things to consider that may make it easier to find the perfect fit:

  • Choose an online school that caters to your short-term and long-term educational needs in the nursing field
  • Learn about enrollment requirements, such as high school GPA, work experience, or educational background.
  • Determine whether the school is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or other national accrediting party.
  • Visit the campus to decide whether the location is convenient for your hands-on training requirements
  • Review options for completing your clinical training (e.g. locations of hospitals and medical centers)
  • Talk to an admission representative about your educational and career goals.
  • Determine whether support service are available for online students.
  • Review financial aid and scholarship options.
  • Review tuition costs and make arrangements for handling the financial side of your education.
  • Learn about professional and networking organizations in the nursing field.

Online RN Program Accreditation

Participating in an accredited online program allows students to attend other accredited nursing schools when they are ready to further their career. Hospitals, clinics, physician’s offices, and other healthcare organizations hiring registered nurses typically prefer candidates that have completed training at an accredited school, whether on campus or online. Accreditation requires the school to maintain educational standards in line with nationally established guidelines.

For more detailed information about accreditation for online schools, visit our comprehensive guide to accreditation.

Pathway to Becoming an RN

There are a variety of paths that lead to becoming a licensed RN, with different educational options along the way. The following is an example timeline of an academic track towards earning licensure and starting a career:

Time to Complete
Step 1

Obtain High School Diploma or GED

4 years
Step 2

Complete diploma program, certification program, or associate’s degree program

1 to 2 years
Step 3

Gain practical experience working as an LPN

1+ years
Step 4

Complete Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing and pass NCLEX-RN licensure exam

2 to 4 years (depending on educational track)

Step 5

Complete Master’s Degree in Nursing

1 to 2 years

Individuals committed to their careers can round out their educational experience beyond clinical training and classwork by pursuing a specialty certification with advanced courses, volunteering in between semesters, or working part-time in a related field. Obtaining as much work experience as possible throughout the educational journey can help graduates secure a more attractive job or explore alternative career paths.

Registered Nurse: Career Concentrations

Completing a nursing program with a high GPA and strong educational record can open up a number of attractive job options upon graduation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median pay for registered nurses in 2014 at $66,640, with an expected job growth of 16% through 2024. Here are just a few career options a registered nurse may be interested in:

Labor and Delivery Staff Nurse

These nurses work exclusively with women and newborns during the early life stages. They are responsible for developing individualized care plans for mothers and babies, and teaching patients about women’s health and newborn care issues. These nurses may choose a specialty track such as high risk obstetrics during their educational career.

Emergency Nurse

Those who like to work in fast-paced environments and work well under pressure can explore careers in the emergency room. Emergency nurses are needed to treat illnesses and injuries in emergency care units at a hospital, urgent care center, or similar environment. Most require specialty certification in areas of trauma nursing, injury prevention, and pediatric care.

Nurse Anesthetist

This is a specialized area of nursing and requires a graduate degree plus additional certification. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists (CRNAs) provide anesthesia during surgeries and for trauma care patients. They work with surgeons, dentists, and other qualified health professionals.

Nurse Educator

These professionals are leaders in the industry and responsible for creating an educational framework and training programs for nurses. They may serve in administrative or managerial roles to design curriculum, implement various types of programs and course of study, and evaluate the learning process.

School Nurse

Registered nurses may be on staff at a public or private school to provide basic nursing care for students. They work to promote student and staff health and safety, and may provide everything from nutritional service to counseling.

Specialization/Career National Job Growth
(2012-2022)
National Median Annual Salary Minimum Education
Labor and Delivery Staff Nurse 31% $67,000 Diploma or Nursing Degree
Emergency Nurse 16% $68,546 Nursing Degree and Specialty Certification(s)
Nurse Anesthetist 31% $137,052 Master’s Degree
Nurse Educator 35% $69,569 Master’s Degree
School Nurse 16% $39,318 Nursing Degree and Specialty Certification(s)

Sources: Occupational Outlook Handbook, Bureau of Labor Statistics (2014)
PayScale.com

Final Step: RN Licensure & Certifications

All registered nurses must be licensed by their state’s Board of Nursing before they can practice. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing provides contact information for state boards across the country, as well as additional resources and tools for nurses.

Nclex-rn

Also known as the National Council Licensure Examination, this standardized exam determines whether the candidate is prepared for an entry-level job as an RN. Individuals must submit an application for registration to the board of nursing regulatory body where they want to be licensed. They can then register for the NCLEX. More details about the application and registration process can be found at the National Council of State Boards of Nursing website.

Specialty Certifications

Completing a specialty certification program can provide additional job skills and increase credibility in the eyes of an employer. Some positions, such as emergency care nurses and school nurses, require certain types of certifications as a minimum requirement.

  • Ambulatory Care Nursing

    This certification is designed for RNs who wish to work in emergency care.

  • Pediatric Nursing

    For RNs who want to work only with newborns, children, and younger patients, this certification is recommended.

  • Home Health Nursing

    Nurses who want to serve as a home health care aide or in similar roles often earn this certification.

  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing

    This certification is designed for nurses who want to work in mental health clinics, psychiatric care departments, or similar environments.

  • School Nursing

    Nurses who wish to work in a public or private school setting to provide care to young patients and educators can earn a certification in school nursing.

Similar Online Nursing Programs

After reviewing the requirements for a nursing degree in this guide, some students may be wondering whether this is the right career and educational track for them. Training to become a registered nurse can open up a number of rewarding career opportunities but there are a few similar training programs available for those who want to consider other career paths in the healthcare and nursing field. These include:

Online CNA Programs

Certified nursing assistant programs are designed for those who want to provide support to a registered nurse and other nursing professionals. These programs include both virtual classroom and clinical components so that students can learn the practical and social skills needed to excel in this field. In addition, students need to complete CPR/AED or the Healthcare Provider training, and First Aid Training.

Online LPN Programs

Becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN) can be a rewarding career and serve as a gateway career to becoming a registered nurse or advancing in the nursing field. LPN programs provide basic training to serve as a practical nurse under the supervision of a medical team. These programs prepare students to sit for the NCLEX-PN to obtain their state license.

Online LPN-to-BSN Programs

Licensed practical nurses looking to advance in their career with a bachelor’s degree may fare well with a bridge program that allows them to use existing work experience and training towards a formal degree. Some of the training can be completed online and students may be required to log a certain number of hours of clinical training or work experience in order to complete their degree. Having a bachelor’s degree gives students the option to pursue a master’s degree in nursing at a later date.

Additional Resources