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Understanding Online RN to BSN Programs

The Institute of Medicine suggests that the number of nurses with bachelor’s degrees should reach 80 percent by 2020, a goal that is taken seriously by many in the field. An online RN to BSN program offers the potential of improved salaries and a greater range of employment opportunities. The following guide examines this bridge program in full detail, providing information on coursework, how to find a quality program, timeline, and also firsthand insight from a graduate. If you’re ready to learn how to enhance your skills and advance your nursing career, read on.

The Best Online Degrees in RN to BSN

With practicum experience taken care of, an online RN to BSN is attainable through many quality virtual programs. The program should hold national accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools to ensure it’s legitimate. Instructors should be industry professionals in current practice with published research. Online nursing programs should also assist students with support services and career counseling upon graduation. Through our methodology, we took a look at these and other valuable information to compile a list of the Best Online RN to BSN Programs in 2017. Discover which programs stood out above the rest.

RankUniversity Name Score Net Price Financial aid percent Online Programs Aavailable Student-Teacher RatioNCLEXValueUniversity Information Credit for Experience Placement Services Counseling Services
1University of Cincinnati-Main Campus Score99.79
Net Price
Financial aid %54%
#Online programs12
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value87%

Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the RN to BSN program at the University of Cincinnati gives students the freedom they need to complete a rigorous program while working a full-time job. To that end, the school allows students to take courses on a flexible schedule and create an adjustable academic plan that meets their individual needs. Requirements for this program include core classes in gerontology, nursing informatics, community health, and leadership. In addition, students are required to complete general education courses in subjects such as English, statistics, fine arts, anatomy, physiology, and psychology.

Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
2Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health Score99.59
Net Price
Financial aid %83%
#Online programs13
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value92%

Although an RN degree allows nurses to begin their careers, those who want to advance in the field will need to also advance in their education. In order to do this, professionals can enroll in the RN to BSN degree program at Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health. Whether they want to become advanced practitioners, educators, or administrators, this program gives students the knowledge and skills they need to achieve their goals. The curriculum is taught with a community focus in mind and includes coursework in nursing assessments, lifespan psychology, and health care ethics.

Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
3Nova Southeastern University Score99.32
Net Price
Financial aid %94%
#Online programs17
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value85%

As health care facilities are increasingly expecting their nurses to earn bachelor’s degrees, RN to BSN programs have become an important way for professionals to land a nursing job. Nova Southeastern University’s program gives students a comprehensive look at the nursing field, from patient care to public policy to business practices. Students in this program are expected to take courses in health assessments, nursing trends, ethics, pathophysiology, nursing theory, and the business of healthcare systems. In addition, there are general education requirements that include written communication, humanities, natural sciences, and mathematics.

Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
4East Carolina University Score98.86
Net Price
Financial aid %50%
#Online programs9
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value97%

The RN to BSN degree program at East Carolina University allows students to take advantage of online courses that they can fit around their professional and personal responsibilities. In addition, classes can be completed in seven-week sessions during the fall and spring semesters, and summer sessions that only last around five weeks. Courses that students can expect to take in this program include areas such as nursing leadership, community health, finance, clinical scholarship, and critical thinking. In addition, students are required to complete a capstone course that provides practical community nursing experience.

Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
5Saint Joseph's College of Maine Score98.51
Net Price
Financial aid %97%
#Online programs12
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value79%

Those with a nursing diploma or an associate’s degree can easily earn a bachelor’s in nursing through the RN to BSN degree program at Saint Joseph's College of Maine. The coursework is designed to help students increase their communication and critical thinking skills, while enhancing their patient care techniques and professionalism with colleagues. Students can expect to take core nursing classes in health care informatics, evidence-based practice, assessment techniques, quality care and safety, and health care policy. The program also has a clinical requirement to give students hands-on experience in the concepts they learn about in class.

Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
6Northern Arizona University Score98.18
Net Price
Financial aid %66%
#Online programs7
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value91%

The online RN to BSN program at Northern Arizona University stresses individualized learning, which allows students to set their own schedules so they can learn at the pace that best works for their needs and professional goals. As a result, students get the training they need to advance in their careers while still working at their full-time jobs. After completing this degree program, students are able to pursue careers as nurse anesthetists, practitioners, and midwives, as well as hospital administrators. The curriculum includes classes in subjects such as clinical practice and prevention, global health, clinical reasoning, and healthcare leadership.

Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
7University of Alabama at Birmingham Score98.00
Net Price
Financial aid %66%
#Online programs3
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value96%

The University of Alabama at Birmingham offers an RN to BSN program that helps current nursing professionals enhance their clinical competencies and knowledge about advanced nursing concepts. After completing this program, nurses will be able to use technology when caring for patients, incorporate evidence-based research into their practice, evaluate continuous quality improvement processes, and provide care based on ethical nursing standards. Classes that students can expect to take include pathophysiology, nursing informatics, health assessments, community health nursing, and leadership. Coursework can be completed entirely online so students can juggle their education with other responsibilities.

Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
8Allen College Score97.92
Net Price
Financial aid %100%
#Online programs7
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value96%

Allen College’s RN to BSN degree program combines online coursework with clinical opportunities, so students can get the theory and practical experience they need to advance their understanding of the field. Whether students choose to enroll in the program on a full- or part-time basis, they have flexibility to complete coursework at their own pace. The curriculum includes courses in nursing leadership, health care law and policy, chronic illness, professional writing, and health care communication techniques. Allen College also offers a program for LPNs who want to earn bachelor’s degrees.

Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
9Weber State University Score97.77
Net Price
Financial aid %50%
#Online programs8
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value89%

Working nurses who want to strengthen their critical thinking skills, learn management practices, and gain knowledge of advanced therapeutic concepts can accomplish these goals by enrolling in the RN to BSN degree at Weber State University. Offered through the Dr. Ezekiel R. Dumke College of Health Professions, the program combines online and on campus coursework, which allows students to benefit from the flexibility of working remotely and the connection they get with face-to-face interactions with professors and students. Those who want to continue their education after completing this degree can also take advantage of the school’s master’s degree in nursing.

Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
10University of Florida Score97.52
Net Price
Financial aid %29%
#Online programs8
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value93%

Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, the RN to BSN degree program at the University of Florida can prepare students to work in diverse settings with various patient populations, or to enroll in a nursing graduate degree program. To that end, the school offers courses in legal and ethical nursing issues, management and leadership, pharmacology, pathophysiology, genomics, and community health nursing. In addition, the University of Florida has an accelerated BSN program, which is designed for those who have degrees in fields outside of the nursing discipline. There are also certificate programs for students who want to specialize in nurse education, pediatric acute care, and psychiatric nursing.

Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
11Western Kentucky University Score97.47
Net Price
Financial aid %37%
#Online programs9
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value97%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
12Maryville University of Saint Louis Score97.46
Net Price
Financial aid %97%
#Online programs3
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value93%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
13Viterbo University Score97.34
Net Price
Financial aid %100%
#Online programs3
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value95%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
14Gardner-Webb University Score97.31
Net Price
Financial aid %96%
#Online programs10
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value100%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
15University of Toledo Score97.26
Net Price
Financial aid %85%
#Online programs5
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value81%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
16Indiana Wesleyan University Score97.13
Net Price
Financial aid %50%
#Online programs11
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value87%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
17Regis University Score97.12
Net Price
Financial aid %95%
#Online programs12
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value86%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
18Briar Cliff University Score97.01
Net Price
Financial aid %100%
#Online programs3
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value92%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
19University of Northern Colorado Score96.96
Net Price
Financial aid %79%
#Online programs4
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value88%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
20University of Iowa Score96.92
Net Price
Financial aid %59%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value96%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
21Rutgers University-New Brunswick Score96.89
Net Price
Financial aid %47%
#Online programs9
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value83%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
22University of Kansas Score96.81
Net Price
Financial aid %60%
#Online programs5
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value91%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
23University of Wyoming Score96.77
Net Price
Financial aid %65%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value93%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
24Colby-Sawyer College Score96.70
Net Price
Financial aid %97%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value93%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
25Washburn University Score96.68
Net Price
Financial aid %58%
#Online programs6
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value81%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
26Fort Hays State University Score96.66
Net Price
Financial aid %72%
#Online programs3
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value92%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
27Roberts Wesleyan College Score96.57
Net Price
Financial aid %97%
#Online programs4
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value82%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
28The Sage Colleges Score96.50
Net Price
Financial aid %99%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value87%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
29Duquesne University Score96.49
Net Price
Financial aid %100%
#Online programs7
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value92%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
30Morehead State University Score96.47
Net Price
Financial aid %70%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value100%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
31American International College Score96.46
Net Price
Financial aid %100%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value77%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
32Ohio University-Main Campus Score96.43
Net Price
Financial aid %68%
#Online programs4
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value87%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
33Southwestern Oklahoma State University Score96.40
Net Price
Financial aid %63%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value94%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
34Youngstown State University Score96.38
Net Price
Financial aid %45%
#Online programs5
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value88%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
35New Mexico State University-Main Campus Score96.32
Net Price
Financial aid %39%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value82%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
36Carlow University Score96.29
Net Price
Financial aid %100%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value96%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
37University of Saint Mary Score96.28
Net Price
Financial aid %99%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value91%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
38University of Alabama in Huntsville Score96.21
Net Price
Financial aid %66%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value90%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
39Simmons College Score96.13
Net Price
Financial aid %96%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value94%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
40University of Kentucky Score96.11
Net Price
Financial aid %59%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value99%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
41Iowa Wesleyan College Score96.10
Net Price
Financial aid %99%
#Online programs2
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value100%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
42Jacksonville State University Score96.08
Net Price
Financial aid %56%
#Online programs3
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value87%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
43Misericordia University Score96.05
Net Price
Financial aid %99%
#Online programs5
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value93%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
44Virginia Commonwealth University Score96.00
Net Price
Financial aid %41%
#Online programs7
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value93%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
45South Dakota State University Score95.98
Net Price
Financial aid %53%
#Online programs5
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value87%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
46Midwestern State University Score95.97
Net Price
Financial aid %65%
#Online programs4
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value83%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
47University of North Dakota Score95.96
Net Price
Financial aid %30%
#Online programs9
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value95%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
48Malone University Score95.92
Net Price
Financial aid %100%
#Online programs1
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value90%
Credit for ExperienceYes Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
49University of North Florida Score95.91
Net Price
Financial aid %54%
#Online programs3
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value94%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less
50Texas Woman's University Score95.87
Net Price
Financial aid %36%
#Online programs6
Student-Teacher Ratio
NCLEX Value93%
Credit for ExperienceNo Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Read More Read Less

Meet the Expert: Keith Carlson

Keith Carlson is a Board Certified Nurse Coach who works under the auspices of Nurse Keith Coaching, where he helps nurses create satisfying, healthy, and enriching careers. A nurse since 1996, Carlson also writes the award-winning nursing blog, “Digital Doorway”, and is the co-founder and co-host of RNFM Radio.

The Profile of an RN to BSN Student

If you are considering pursuing an RN to BSN online program, you may recognize aspects of yourself in one or more of the following scenarios, although your exact educational and professional background may differ.

RN with Some College Education

Sometimes, studying at a college or university doesn’t fit everyone’s style. A student may have begun studying the biological sciences, but during the course of the four-year degree program, that student realizes that college may not be right for him or her. Instead, a career in nursing–one that does not necessarily require the completion of a bachelor’s degree–seems to offer another potentially remunerative and satisfying career path. Instead of finishing college, this student decides to pursue his or her RN through an associate degree program.

After graduating, the RN accepts a job offer and begins his or her career. Over time, this RN may occasionally feel a lack of self-confidence in the context of various professional circumstances. The nurse now feels that perhaps a bachelor’s degree is indeed the best recourse, since it offers a deeper knowledge and understanding of nursing, medicine and healthcare and, thus, enabling the nurse to enhance his or her job performance and level of professionalism. This nurse decides to return to school in order to earn a bachelor’s degree, and finds that an online RN to BSN program fits his or her work schedule and lifestyle better than a traditional school setting.

RN Wanting to Advance His or Her Career

Though being a RN is one of many positions attainable without completing a degree from a four-year college, not having a bachelor’s degree may come with limitations. Even if an RN has achieved the highest level of seniority in a particular healthcare setting, that RN may eventually hit a ceiling in regards to vertical job mobility, salary, or even professional satisfaction.

Not having a bachelor’s degree in nursing could potentially mean an RN cannot advance into a certain position, such as a managerial or supervisory role. This could also result in the nurse not being able to hold the same level of responsibility at another facility, since that facility may require their nurse managers and supervisors to be baccalaureate-prepared.

At some point, this RN may tire of struggling to get ahead, and begins seeking a new way to break through that ceiling and advance his or her career. The RN begins researching degree programs, and realizes that an online RN to BSN program may be his or her best option. With a BSN, the RN could better qualify for positions such as head nurse, department chief, administrative manager, or clinical nurse manager.

RN with Children and/or Other Responsibilities

Whether an RN wants to learn more about the nursing field, a traditional classroom setting may not be practical. A bachelor’s degree takes many hours to complete both in and out of the classroom, and in a traditional learning setting, those class hours are fixed, regardless of a person’s schedule or obligations.

Many RNs work during the day, which would exclude them from daytime classes. Meanwhile, other nurses work night shift, which would equally exclude them from nighttime classes. Still others work two jobs or double shifts, which means there is little time for schoolwork. If the RN’s work schedule doesn’t fit in with the only available classroom schedules, that nurse could feel locked out of the opportunity to earn a BSN.

Further, many RNs have more than just a job to worry about; they may also have children or other family members to care for. Busy nurses may have responsibilities to other organizations or their community that may also conflict with strict academic classroom schedules.

Luckily, an RN in this position has another option: an online RN to BSN program. With this program, the student can often tailor his or her school schedule to blend relatively seamlessly with work, family, and other responsibilities. Through recorded lectures and homework assignments that can be completed and turned in at any time of day or night, online degree programs can allow the earnest RN to complete the BSN education he or she desires.

RN to BSN Tools

In a online RN to BSN program, students learn an array of valuable skills and concepts that contribute to becoming a more knowledgeable and effective nurse. These concepts and skills may include effective leadership, probability and statistics, evidence-based practice, nursing research techniques, community health, and population-based nursing. Below are some of the skills RN to BSN students gain:

skills gained
Knowledge
of the human body

A deeper understanding of the human body is a crucial tool in effectively collaborating with other healthcare providers, as well as explaining diagnoses and treatments to patients. It also provides a clear understanding of the procedures nurses perform and the information they gather from patients and providers.

Understanding generational differences in nursing care

Each age group requires a different set of concepts and skills for the sake of understanding age-related changes in physiology and pathophysiology, as well as treatment options and expectations regarding potential outcomes.

How to perform a more thorough health assessment

While RNs may already be skilled in performing a health assessment, an online RN to BSN program offers a more in-depth look at the many aspects of the process. From using the correct instruments to conducting an effective interview, a health assessment is an essential skill for a practicing nurse.

Electronic medical records and other information technology

More healthcare providers and facilities are shifting toward electronic medical records and IT-supported care. As a BSN student, the nurse may learn about the latest technological developments in healthcare, including online patient portals, telehealth, EMRs, or wearable devices.

Nursing theory

A nurse needs to understand his or her role within the healthcare setting, as nurses play a unique part in patient care and the operations of a medical facility or other practice setting. Nursing theories abound, and these models of learning and nursing care guide nurses in navigating the healthcare environment, interpersonal relationships, and the trajectory of 21st-century healthcare.

Professional development

Overall professional development is a critical aspect of being a more knowledgeable, engaged, and effective nurse. In an online RN to BSN program, students learn skills such as leadership, communication, and critical thinking, with a goal of building upon the nurse’s previously mastered competencies.

Other areas of focus

Nursing research, statistics, community health, and population-based nursing are other areas of study that the online RN to BSN student may encounter during the course of many programs.

Coursework

From science classes to professional classes that build the RN’s arsenal of tools and skills, the online RN to BSN program offers a well-rounded degree complete with several different types of courses. Take a look at some examples of classes:

General Education Components

As with any other bachelors degree program, RN to BSN online program students will complete several components common to many general degrees. These will likely include English Composition and Foundations in Mathematics, but general education courses can also include an introduction to humanities, survey of the government and Constitution, sociology, and psychology, to name a few. These courses offer a solid framework for any education path that teaches skills necessary for being a productive member of the workforce.

Anatomy and Physiology

This subject is so important to an RN to BSN degree program that students often take two sections, one concerning fundamentals and one focused on advanced concepts. In these courses, students explore the structures and functions of the body’s many interdependent systems.

Community Health

In this course, students explore the relationships between cultures and communities, particularly in regards to healthcare and wellness. The course’s main principles may include disease prevention, emergency preparedness, and health promotion within a community setting. Students learn about the effects of policies and resources on particular communities, as well as skills for fostering collaboration with the goal of solving community-wide health issues.

Professional Roles and Values

In this course, students examine and analyze the specific role of a nurse within the healthcare system. The course explores the relative and complementary roles of nurses, doctors, administrators, and other staff. Students also learn the values of nursing, such as cultural competency, professional conduct, leadership, advocacy for patient rights and social justice, legal and ethical standards of care, and the public image of nursing.

Health Assessment

For this course, a student builds upon his or her nursing knowledge while learning advanced assessment skills. This includes physical assessment techniques, interviewing skills, advanced history-taking, and assessments of social and physical environments.

Information Management and Technology

After performing a health assessment or updating a patient’s chart following a visit or appointment, RNs must handle vital patient records, which are increasingly electronic and cloud-based. This course teaches students the importance of current technologies used to document and coordinate patient care in a highly networked healthcare ecosystem. Students will also learn how workflow and patient care is impacted by changes and improvements in healthcare technology. Students may also study the growing role of nursing informatics as a discrete nursing specialty.

Population-Based Nursing

This course involves the understanding of population-based patient cohorts, all of whom require their own specific types of care. Appreciating the skills needed to approach and understand diverse populations is critical to the nurse’s well-rounded ability to successfully and sensitively assess entire populations or subsets of a population.

Broward College
  • Enrollment: 61,784
  • Tuition: $2,494
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Florida
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)
Ohio State University
  • Enrollment: 47,269
  • Tuition: $10,037
  • College Type: Public
  • State: Ohio
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)
Western Governors University
  • Enrollment: 43,356
  • Tuition: $6,070
  • College Type: Private
  • State: Utah
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)

Online RN to BSN Timeline

Once RNs understand the depth, breadth, and scope of online RN to BSN programs, they then need to acquire knowledge regarding what it takes to successfully complete such a program.

Year 0

Preparation for enrolling in an online RN to BSN program can be extensive, as RNs face several steps in order to begin pursuing the degree path.

Before being admitted into an accredited online RN to BSN program, nurses who hold an Associate’s Degree of Nursing or nursing diploma are required to pass the NCLEX-RN exam to receive a nursing license. Some programs require completion of another exam before admission, the Elsevier’s HESI Admission Assessment (A2), which consists of seven components, from basic math and English subjects to essential sciences.

From there, the RN must have a certain cumulative GPA, which can vary by institution, but may be about a 2.0 GPA or higher. A candidate needs a diploma in nursing or transcript that demonstrates that the RN successfully completed particular nursing-related courses. He or she may also need to include a personal essay along with the application. If the RN has earned an ADN or nursing diploma, he or she may be eligible for transfer credits, which would shorten the coursework and time needed to earn the BSN.

Year 1

The first of the program’s approximate two years of study includes many of the lower-division undergraduate courses, of which there are usually approximately 60 credits. These may include general education requirements such as English and mathematics, but may also require the more basic science classes needed for nursing, such as biology, chemistry, and the first anatomy and physiology section. A student may also begin to encounter some of the upper-division nursing courses during this year of study.

Year 2

The second year of the online RN to BSN program usually consists of the upper-division nursing courses. These include more specific coursework, such as Advanced Health Assessment and Nursing Informatics, while the student also completes remaining lower-division classes. At the end of approximately 120 hours of credits, the RN can graduate with a BSN.

What Makes an Online RN to BSN Program Great?

All online RN to BSN programs have many aspects of coursework in common, but not all are created equal. Some offer a very baseline education, while others are programs with characteristics that make them great choices for nurses in pursuit of professional and educational advancement. Here is an explanation of some of the most important elements prospective students should look for in an online RN to BSN program:

Accreditation

Online RN to BSN program scams do indeed exist, so it’s important to ensure a program has the right accreditation before applying. The two main accreditations include the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS). As part of the NCACS, an online program may also have accreditation from a newer system known as the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP). Local and regional associations may also accredit certain programs, giving you one more vote of confidence. It’s important to make sure that the organization or agency that accredits the school and/or nursing program is one that is recognized by the Department of Education.

Varied, But Relevant Coursework

Nursing students need to learn a wealth of information about many aspects of science and medicine, as well as professional skills and attributes. When exploring online RN to BSN programs, it’s important to understand the coursework involved to ensure the student takes all of the courses he or she needs to succeed in the profession. RNs want a foundation in general education and liberal arts, which they should receive with any bachelor’s degree, as well as a solid grounding in basic sciences. From there, they need more advanced nursing courses that touch on all aspects of nursing tasks and professionalism, from health assessments and interviewing skills, to population and global health courses.

Experienced Faculty and Professors

In order to prepare for any career and industry, students need to learn from the best faculty and professors. RNs should carefully research each potential school’s educators. Some things to look for include what type of degree does he or she hold? What kind of professional experience does he or she have and is it extensive and current? Have they conducted and published any research to advance the field of nursing? Professors in RN to BSN programs should not only have an academic background in the field, but also show that they have expertise in the professional medical world as well.

Self-Paced Coursework

Because these students are already RNs, many continue to work in healthcare settings while they earn their RN to BSN degree. One of the key benefits of an online degree program is the ability to have flexible and self-paced coursework requirements that make allowances for a student’s busy schedule and varied responsibilities. A RN can speak with currently enrolled students, program graduates, or prospective teachers in the pursuit of a clear notion of what a typical schedule might look like.

Inside Scoop: Q&A with a Graduate

For a glimpse inside the mind of a online RN to BSN program graduate, meet Sherry Shiveley, who graduated from the Indiana Wesleyan BSN online program in May 2010. Prior to beginning her online coursework, Shiveley worked as a nurse with an associate degree for about 18 years. She knew other nurses who were pursuing a BSN as well, so the group completed the program together. Shiveley is currently a travel nurse and has been traveling for two years.

Q&A with Sherry Shiveley

Why did you choose an online RN to BSN program over one in a traditional classroom setting?

My work schedule was chaotic, so I felt online would fit my needs better.

What do you think the online program offered that you might not have been able to get from a traditional classroom setting?

It was very easy to understand what was expected of me, and when the assignments were due. Being a phone call or email away, instructors were very good about answering questions, depending on time zone differences.

What were the easiest parts of the online learning process?

Online instructions were easy to understand, plus other classmates’ input was an asset.

What was the most difficult part of the online learning process?

Group work was the most difficult. Some of the team members were late in submitting assignments. Some had to even submit projects for other students.

What would you say to someone who is considering enrolling in an online RN to BSN program?

Don’t get too stressed out with the deadlines, but manage your time wisely. When answering your classmates’ questions or responding to posts, keep it concise–long posts can get too involved and become time-consuming.

Online RN to BSN Programs Degree Search Tool

As it becomes more common for nurses to hold at least a bachelor’s degree, many RNs will find online RN to BSN programs to be a perfect fit for their busy lives. As one of the more common online degrees available, prospective students have many choices available, allowing them to find a program not only meeting their academic requirements, but also providing key features such as flexibility, affordability, experienced faculty, and relevant coursework. The search tool below takes all of these factors into consideration to deliver a tailored list of schools for each student.