RN to BSN Online Programs in 2021

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Online RN to BSN Programs

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Registered nurses (RNs) play a vital role in the healthcare field. They manage patient care under physicians’ guidance, dispense medications, and act as a point of contact with patients’ families. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that these professionals work primarily at hospitals, physicians’ offices, and home healthcare services companies.

The BLS projects the need for RNs to grow 7% between 2019-2029, significantly higher than the projected growth for all U.S. careers. Practicing nurses with an associate degree can advance in this growing field by enrolling in an online nursing program.

Typical admission requirements for RN-to-BSN programs include an active RN license, undergraduate transcripts, and employment in a hospital or other healthcare setting. Many schools also use an undergraduate GPA cutoff.

This guide ranks the best online RN-to-BSN programs. It also covers information on scholarships and professional organizations for BSN students.

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Online RN to BSN Questions


  • Q. How many years does it take to earn a BSN degree?

    RNs with an associate degree can typically complete an online BSN program in two years of full-time study. Students with many transfer credits may graduate faster.


  • Q. What jobs can you do with a BSN degree?

    Graduates with an online BSN degree can work in roles like clinical nurse specialist, nurse manager, and nursing director.


  • Q. Do you need an RN license to enter a BSN program?

    Many reputable colleges and universities offer four-year BSN degrees, which do not require an RN license.


  • Q.What does the average nurse make a year?

    The BLS reports that RNs make a median salary of $73,300 annually, almost double the median salary for all U.S. professions. Experienced RNs can earn more.


What Are the Goals of a BSN Degree?

Online RN-to-BSN degrees appeal to licensed RNs who plan to work throughout their studies. Four-year BSN programs admit students without a license or professional experience.

Most online BSN programs, regardless of type, cover topics like transitions in professional nursing, RN health assessment, and RN evidence-based practice. Some programs offer specializations in areas like pediatrics, surgery, and gynecology.

Why Get a BSN Degree?



An RN-to-BSN degree provides multiple benefits, several of which we cover in the following list.

Earn More
Although salaries vary, RNs with a BSN typically earn higher salaries than their peers without one.
Apply to MSN Programs
Graduates with a BSN degree can apply to MSN programs, which can prepare them for leadership roles in the field.
Provide Better Care
An online BSN program provides the knowledge and hands-on training RNs need to treat patients effectively. This expertise leads to improved patient outcomes.
Choose a Specialization
BSN programs often allow students to specialize in a particular area of nursing, such as pediatrics, leading to specialized roles for graduates.
Increase Employability
Employers typically prefer RNs with a BSN over those with only an associate degree.

What Are the Requirements for a BSN Degree?



Online RN-to-BSN programs usually require applicants to hold an associate degree and an active RN license. Applicants typically need to submit transcripts, reference letters, and standardized test scores. They may also need to meet a minimum GPA requirement.

Once admitted, students must maintain a satisfactory GPA to graduate. They also need to complete clinical requirements. Some schools require a senior-year capstone wherein degree-seekers complete a project involving original research.

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Professional Organizations for BSN Students



Professional organizations for nurses often offer continuing education opportunities, exclusive scholarships, and career planning resources. Many professional organizations offer networking opportunities and student discounts, as well. The following list outlines several professional organizations for nursing students and professionals.


  • American Nurses Association ANA members gain access to career webinars, discounts on independent study courses, and mentorship programs. Members can also access specialized resources based on their state of residence, such as local networking events and job opportunities. The ANA magazine, American Nurse, keeps members up to date on the latest nursing best practices.

  • Emergency Nurses Association ENA provides emergency room RNs with continuing education courses, scholarships, and discussion boards promoting collaboration. All members also receive a subscription to the Journal of Emergency Nursing, a publication containing the latest peer-reviewed research.

  • Sigma Theta Tau The International Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau accepts student nurses in the top third of their class. Membership benefits include discounts on professional development courses, a mentorship program, and free subscriptions to top nursing journals.

Scholarships for BSN Students



Many organizations support student nurses and offer scholarships one or more times each year. Unlike loans, scholarships do not require repayment, making them ideal forms of financial aid. The following list outlines several popular scholarship opportunities for students in online BSN programs.


  • The Foundation of the National Student Nurses' Association, Inc. Undergraduate Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Undergraduate students with financial need can apply for the scholarship. Applicants must submit FAFSA results and participate in at least one student nursing organization. FNSNA also requires an instructor recommendation.

    Amount: Varies

    Explore Here

  • Mildred Nutting Nursing Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: The Daughters of the American Revolution awards the Mildred Nutting Nursing Scholarship to two degree-seekers annually. Application materials include proof of enrollment and official transcripts. Applicants living in and around Lowell, Massachusetts, receive preference.

    Amount: $2,000

    Explore Here

  • National Black Nurses Association Scholarship Program

    Who Can Apply: Members of the National Black Nurses Association can apply for the scholarship. Applicants must submit official transcripts, a two-page essay, two recommendation letters, and a professional headshot.

    Amount: $1,000-$5,000

    Explore Here


The Best Online RN-to-BSN Programs 2021



See Our Rankings Methodology
  1. University of Central Florida
    Location

    Orlando, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Orlando, UCF offers an online registered nurse to bachelor of science in nursing completion program. Prerequisites for the 120-credit program include general psychology and human anatomy. 

    Students take 36 credits of general education coursework before advancing to nursing completion courses. The nursing-specific curriculum covers critical skills nurses need to advance their careers, including psychiatric mental health nursing, care of the adult, essentials of nursing practice, and nursing care of families. Students must also apply for a final capstone experience in public health. Students complete all fieldwork practicums at an approved location in their area.

    Students need an associate degree and current licensure as a registered nurse to apply. The school requires applicants to possess a minimum GPA of 2.8 in previous coursework to qualify for admission.

    UCF 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.

  2. Ohio State University
    Location

    Columbus, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Columbus, Ohio State offers an online registered nurse to bachelor of science in nursing. Students complete the degree in as little as 12 months full time or 15 months part time.

    Students take 15-19 credits of prerequisites, including microbiology and anatomy, before advancing to nursing curriculum courses. Nursing courses include at least 30 credits, including cultural competence in healthcare, concepts in community health nursing, and healthcare informatics. Approved electives further specialize the degree track, including management of school health services, health assessment across the lifespan, or care coordination and transition in care.

    Applicants need an associate degree and current licensure as a registered nurse to qualify for admission. The school also requires students to possess a minimum GPA of 2.0, and they must reside in an approved state for program eligibility.

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

  3. Florida International University
    Location

    Miami, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Miami, FIU offers an online registered nurse to bachelor of science in nursing degree completion program. 

    Students complete 24 credits of nursing core classes, including nursing in global healthcare systems, psychosocial nursing, and evidence-based nursing and research. At the end of the program, students complete a 120-hour practicum in an approved clinical setting in their area for four credits. Students can also earn 30 credits in clinical proficiency evaluations, bringing the total credits with clinical exams, practicum, nursing core, and transfer credits to 120 credits.

    The FIU nursing program requires an associate degree and current licensure as a registered nurse for eligibility. Students need a 2.75 minimum GPA with no prerequisites below a grade "C." Students may transfer up to six credits from previous registered nurse to bachelor of science in nursing programs.

    FIU 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.

  4. The University of Alabama
    Location

    Tuscaloosa, AL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Tuscaloosa, UA offers an online registered nurse to bachelor of science nursing completion program.

    The program totals 120 credits, including transfer credits, upper-division nursing courses, and fieldwork hours. Upper-division courses include nursing informatics for nurses, leadership and management roles, and community health for registered nurses, which includes 16 clinical hours. Students must apply for upper-division courses after completing prerequisites.

    Applicants must hold an associate degree from an accredited school and current registered nurse licensure for eligibility. Students must also possess a minimum GPA of 2.0 GPA on required science prerequisites and a minimum GPA of 2.5 on lower-division nursing prerequisites to promote to upper-division courses.

    UA 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.

  5. University of Louisiana at Monroe
    Location

    Monroe, LA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in the city of Monroe, ULM offers an online registered nurse to bachelor of science in nursing completion program. Students can complete the accelerated program in as few as 14 months.

    Students take 30 credits of upper-division nursing courses, including principles of pharmacology, gerontology and genomics, and public health nursing. Students also complete an eight-week public health practicum and a capstone project, where students develop a specialized plan of study to apply to their current practice.

    Applicants must hold an associate degree and up-to-date registered nurse licensure to apply for the program. Students also need a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0.

    ULM 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.

  6. Texas A & M International University
    Location

    Laredo, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in Laredo, TAMIU offers an online registered nurse to bachelor of science in nursing degree completion program. Students can complete the program in as few as 12 months.

    Students take 32 credits of nursing courses, including cultural determinants of health behavior, nursing leadership and management, and global health nursing. The program also includes two clinical practicums. Each seven-week practicum offers students the chance to apply skills and demonstrate mastery within their clinical setting. Courses prepare students to research and collaborate with local health groups to assess needs and provide care.

    Applicants must hold an associate degree and a current registered nurse license to apply to the program. Students must also possess a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5. The school reviews all potential transfer credits for eligibility as general education prerequisites.

    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.

  7. University of Louisville
    Location

    Louisville, KY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in Kentucky, UofL offers an online registered nurse to bachelor of science in nursing degree completion program. Students can complete the accelerated program in as few as 20 months. Students can also complete a professional nursing portfolio documenting prior education and experience for 30 credits tuition free.

    The 31-credit nursing division curriculum includes courses such as case management for individuals and families, nursing research for evidence-based practice, and global health disparities and social determinants. Students complete a community leadership practicum within their local community as well as a leadership project at an approved clinical location.

    UofL accepts students five times per year on a rolling basis. Applicants must hold an associate degree and current registered nurse licensure to qualify for admission. Students must also possess a minimum GPA of 2.0. The school allows students to transfer up to 60 credits toward their degree.

    UofL 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.

  8. Maryville University of Saint Louis
    Location

    Saint Louis, MO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Located in Saint Louis, Missouri, Maryville offers an online registered nurse to bachelor of science in nursing degree completion program. 

    The nursing curriculum includes courses such as the transition to professional nursing, leadership in contemporary healthcare, and individual assessment. Electives include nursing care at the end of life and genetics in nursing. At the end of the program, students complete a public health capstone to demonstrate skills mastery and gain further real-world experience at their local workplace or approved clinical setting.

    Applicants must hold an associate degree and current registered nurse licensure to qualify for admission. First-year applicants must possess a minimum GPA of 2.5, and transfer students must possess a minimum GPA of 2.0. The school allows students to transfer up to 68 community college credits or up to 98 credits from a four-year college toward their degree.

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

  9. The University of Tennessee-Knoxville
    Location

    Knoxville, TN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    UT-Knoxville offers an online registered nurse to bachelor of science in nursing degree completion program. Full-time students can complete the program in about one year.

    Courses occur in convenient eight-week sessions. Students complete 34 credits of coursework, including professional practice and role development, pathophysiology for the registered nurse, and healthcare informatics. Students also complete two clinical courses, either virtually or in an approved setting local to the student, as well as a portfolio development course to demonstrate skills mastery. 

    Applicants must hold an associate degree or diploma in nursing and current registered nurse licensure for program eligibility. Students must also possess a minimum of 63 transfer credits to qualify for full admission. Graduates of any Tennessee board of regents institution receive automatic full credit for general education requirements.

    UT-Knoxville 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.

  10. Texas A & M University-College Station
    Location

    College Station, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Based in College Station, Texas A&M offers an online registered nurse to bachelor of science in nursing degree completion program. Students can complete the majority of the program online, with one required two-day conference on campus at the start of the program. Students can complete the course curriculum in as few as three semesters.

    The 30-credit curriculum includes nursing dimensions and informatics for the registered nurse, health promotion across the lifespan, and professional practice issues. Students complete all clinical practicums locally at their place of work or other approved health settings.

    Students may transfer in up to 59 credits before starting the program but must possess at least 40 transfer credits to qualify for admission. Applicants must hold an associate degree and current licensure as a registered nurse. The school also recommends applicants possess a GPA above 3.0 for competitive admission.

    Texas A&M 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.

Portrait of Genevieve Carlton

Genevieve Carlton

Genevieve Carlton holds a Ph.D. in history from Northwestern University and earned tenure as a history professor at the University of Louisville. An award-winning historian and writer, Genevieve has published multiple scholarly articles and a book with the University of Chicago Press. She currently works as a freelance writer and consultant.

See more articles by Genevieve

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