In the nursing profession, current initiatives to raise the general level of college education means a number of things, including more demand for Registered Nurses (RNs), possibly higher average pay, and updated nursing school programs and learning technologies, amongst other positive results.

Most Affordable Nursing Degrees in Wisconsin

The state of Wisconsin currently has about 55,410 active RNs, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These RNs earn a mean hourly wage of $32.66 ($67,930). The BLS also predicts that the RN profession will undergo a 16% growth in job opportunities for RNs across the country, from 2014 to 2024. With great traditional four-year programs and affordable online options, now is a great time to jump into this career.

The initiative to raise the education level of professional RNs comes from the Institute of Medicine (IOM). Their recommendation is that, by 2020, 80% of American RNs have at least a BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) degree, a doubling from the starting point of 40%.

So those nursing schools who are aligning with this initiative are often offering a traditional four-year BSN program for new nursing students, as well as catering to transfer students, second-degree / second-career students and currently licensed RNs who hold a diploma or associate’s degree in nursing.

What Are the Cheapest Nursing Degrees in Wisconsin?

According to data from the NCES (National Center for Education Statistics), 20 nursing schools in Wisconsin were offering BSN programs in the past academic year. We’ve taken that list and removed programs/ schools that are inactive or even defunct. The result is the 10 most affordable BSN programs in Wisconsin, sorted by in-state tuition. The programs listed in this article have been verified as still active at time of publication.

1

University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

Average Tuition: $7,487

Program Website

University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh (UWO) is part of the public University of Wisconsin System, receiving institutional accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Undergraduate nursing programs are offered by UWO’s College of Nursing (CON) and are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Recognition for UWO includes ranking spots in college review lists by U.S. News & World Report, Princeton Review (top Green Colleges), Sierra Club (Coolest Schools). Other achievements include the distinction of being the first Fair Trade University in the U.S. (2008) and one of the first to monitor and analyze the campus carbon footprint, which resulted in earning an AASHE/ STARS Gold rating for sustainability.

UWO offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with three entry/ completion paths. First-time undergraduates apply for the Traditional track. New nursing students holding a non-nursing bachelor’s degree and a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) certificate in their home state can apply for the Accelerated track. The third track is for current Registered Nurses with an associate’s degree or diploma in nursing.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing – Traditional
  • Accelerated Online Bachelor’s to BSN
  • ADN or Diploma to BSN (RN track)

The CON has been recognized by the state of Wisconsin for having the highest first-time NCLEX-RN exam pass rate of at least 90% over a 20-year span (and most recently 96%). It also produces more BSN graduates than any nursing school in the state. The college was designated a Best School/ College in Nursing by the AAMN (American Association for Men in Nursing). Several other awards recognize the CON’s graduate nursing programs. A recently renovated building housing the CON offers four simulation labs, a practice lab and nursing technology suite and more. Access to these resources helps students develop practice skills to supplement classroom learning. Learning is rounded out with clinical rotations at local and regional healthcare settings each semester. These experiences are supervised by CON instructors. Students in the pre-licensure tracks will be eligible to write the NCLEX-RN exam after they graduate.

UWO’s BSN degree requires 120 credits for graduation. The Traditional track is a five-semester option taken after completing 30 credits of prerequisite courses. It has primarily on-campus classes, with some being online or hybrid. A year-round study plan is available; contact an academic advisor for details. The ABSN is an online track requiring 52 credits of nursing courses and is designed to be completed in 12 months. Transfer credit is given for some prior coursework. (The CON claims this program is the only one of its kind in the U.S., partly due to technology used.) Students must live in an approved state and will conduct clinicals local/ regional to them. Some on-campus residencies are required, however. The RN track is mostly online and consists of 30 credits of nursing courses plus outstanding general education courses. A “Soar Ahead” option exists that allows students to complete this track as part of a dual degree partnership with Blackhawk Technical College. Students earn an ADN first at Blackhawk and finish with a BSN through UWO.

Sample courses include:

  • Adult Health
  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Pharmacology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Legal and Ethical Nursing Care Practice

Campus or HQ: Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

2

University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point

Average Tuition: $7,672

Program Website

University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) is a member of the public University of Wisconsin System. Institutional accreditation is provided by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Undergraduate nursing programs are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and are delivered by the School of Health Care Professions (SHCP), which is housed in the College of Professional Studies (COPS). Recognition for the university includes ranking spots on general and topical college review lists – in some cases for multiple years. Some of these include lists published by Princeton Review (2015 guide to Green Colleges) and Victory Media (Military Friendly (r) Schools). The campus, which is surrounded by woodlands and marshlands, earned a Gold rating in in both 2012 and 2015 from AASHE/ STARS for sustainability.

UWSP offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with one entry/ completion path. This is a post-licensure track, designed for currently licensed Registered Nurses (RNs) who have a diploma or associate’s degree in nursing (ADN). USWP does not have a traditional 4-year BSN. However, it does have a pre-nursing program in which students complete prerequisite courses necessary for both an ADN and BSN in University of Wisconsin System nursing schools as well as other institutions. UWSP recommends that students in the pre-nursing program complete a Nursing Assistant course and get CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant) certification.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Pre-licensure BSN
  • RN to BSN degree completion

Graduates of this BSN program may find careers in various nursing roles in healthcare environments such as clinics, doctor’s offices, government agencies, home care, hospices, hospitals, schools and more.

RN track students have a choice of on-campus, online or combined delivery of courses. The online delivery is part of the [email protected] program, which is a collaboration of six UW System nursing schools, all of which participate in the teaching of classes. The curriculum for this track consists of 31 credits of upper division nursing courses, including a capstone. Pre-nursing track students spend 3-5 semesters to complete prerequisite courses. After completion, they can apply to any BSN program, including the one at University of Wisconsin Eau Claire (UWEC; see elsewhere in this list).

Sample courses include:

  • Professional Essentials
  • Foundations of Professional Nursing Practice
  • Chronic Care Management
  • Research and Evidence-Based Practice
  • Leadership and Management.

Campus or HQ: Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

3

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

Average Tuition: $7,824

Program Website

University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB) is part of the public University of Wisconsin System. Institutional accreditation is granted by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Undergraduate nursing programs are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and offered by the Department of Nursing and Health Studies (NHS), which resides within UWGB’s College of Health, Education and Social Welfare (CHESW). Recognition for UWGB includes being listed in a number of college rankings, include those published by Sierra Club (Cool Schools, sustainability), Princeton Review (Green Colleges, sustainability), U.S. News & World Report (America’s Best Colleges: public regional – Midwest), Reuters (Top 100: World’s Most Innovative Universities – top 10 and top 15 spots in 2015 and 2016, respectively), and others.

UWGB offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with three entry/ completion paths. All three tracks are completion programs for current Registered Nurses holding a diploma or associate’s degree in nursing (ADN). One track takes place on campus, and the other two are online, divided between in-state and out-of-state students. (A fourth option, a NURSE 1-2-1 track, was not accepting applications at time of writing.)

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • RN to BSN, Campus Track
  • RN to BSN, BSN-LINC Track (online
  • out-of-state)
  • RN to BSN, [email protected] Track (online, in-state)

This BSN program provides degree completion options for a range of students, providing study flexibility for a greater number of working nurses. Online tracks offer asynchronous delivery of course materials, allowing students to access content at any time. The on-campus track usually offers classes as a block one day a week.

UWGB’s BSN degree requires 120 credits for graduation. Students in all three RN tracks will need to complete 30 credits of upper division nursing courses, plus up to 30 credits of general education/ support courses, as necessary. The remaining 60 credits are granted as transfer credits from prior coursework (ADN or diploma). Eligible students with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree are also accepted, and will receive a maximum of 90 transfer credits.

Sample courses include:

  • Foundations of Professional Nursing Practice
  • Chronic Care Management
  • Research and Evidence-Based Practice
  • Leadership and Management
  • Information Management Healthcare Technology

Campus or HQ: Green Bay, Wisconsin.

4

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Average Tuition: $8,822

Program Website

University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire (UWEC) is a member of the public University of Wisconsin System, and receives institutional accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Undergraduate nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and are offered by the Department of Nursing (DON), within UWEC’s College of Nursing and Health Sciences (CNHS). UWEC has received a number of honors on college review lists. This includes lists by Princeton Review (Green Colleges), Victory Media (Military Friendly (r) Schools), Military Times (Best for Vets: Colleges), U.S. News & World Report (Best Colleges for Veterans; Best Colleges: public Midwest), Payscale.com (best return on investment) and several more — all for several years in a row.

UWEC offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with two entry/ completion paths – one for new nursing students, the other for licensed Registered Nurses with an associate’s degree in nursing.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN, traditional)
  • BSN completion

For the traditional track, students have a choice between the main campus and the Marshfield location (see website for details for Marshfield). Eau Claire offers nursing students a Learning Resource Centers and 12 full-body simulators and six clinical simulation rooms, complete with adult and child mannequins, for developing their practical skills. As well, there are partnerships with over 300 clinical sites for students’ clinical experiences. Around 99% of Eau Claire site BSN grads are employed or have continued on to graduate studies. This track leads to the NCLEX-RN professional licensing exam after graduation. The RN track is a collaborative effort amongst six University of Wisconsin System universities. While it has on-campus and some online courses, it is designed with the working nurse in mind.

UWEC’s BSN degree requires 120 credits for graduation. Traditional students first complete prerequisite courses, and after completing 30 credits (one year), apply for admission to the BSN major. Nursing courses start in the fourth semester, for a total of eight semesters to earn the BSN. The RN track has a 1.5 year (average) timeline and consists of 60 total nursing credits, including 30 credits prior learning and 30 credits upper division nursing. Transfer credits are granted after completion of certain courses.

Sample courses include:

  • Adults and Older Adults
  • Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing
  • Community and Public Health Nursing
  • Women, Infants and Families
  • Chronically Ill Patients and Families

Campus or HQ: Eau Claire, Wisconsin.

5

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Average Tuition: $9,429

Program Website

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) is a member of the public University of Wisconsin System, with institutional accreditation granted by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Undergraduate nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), and are offered by UWM’s College of Nursing (CON). UWM enjoys some recognition for its overall offering in the form college ranking lists (general and topical). Some of these are lists include those published by Victory Media (Military Friendly (r) Schools), Princeton Review (Guide to Green Colleges), League of American Bicyclists (Gold Bicycle Friendly University), Campus Pride (Top 50 LGBT+ Friendly University). The university also achieved a Silver ranking for sustainability from AASHE/ STARS.

UWM offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with two entry/ completion paths. One is a traditional track for new undergraduates, the other for post-licensure Registered Nurses with an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN). Alternately, RN students might consider applying for the CON’s RN to MSN program.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (Traditional)
  • RN to BS

This BSN program prepares graduates for roles as generalists and nurse leaders. (It has a 95% job placement rate.) In addition to classroom learning, students gain clinical experience at some of over 160 clinical agencies. For post-licensure students, as with the other five University of Wisconsin System nursing schools, UWM offers the award-winning [email protected] option, a mostly online version of the RN track in which courses are taught by faculty from all participating nursing schools. Note: some schools require on-campus presence for one or more classes. [email protected] won the “2016 Celebration of Excellence Award for Mature Program” from UPCEA (University Professional and Continuing Education Association). This program was created to increase opportunities for students to become nurses.

UWM’s BSN degree requires 124-127 credits for graduation, depending on track. While some nursing courses are taken starting the first semester, Traditional track students complete two years of prerequisite courses as a prenursing student before eligibility to the nursing major. This is followed with 62 credits of upper division nursing courses, for a total 8-semester/ 4-year timeline. (Ask an academic advisor about direct-admit options. Transfer students may also be eligible.) The RN track is full- or part-time, and courses are delivered on-campus, online or through a UW-FLEX option. Some transfer credits are awarded for prior coursework. This track requires 30 credits of upper division nursing and any outstanding prerequisites.

Sample courses include:

  • Professional Role I: Foundations of Professional Practice
  • Concepts of Pathophysiology and Pharmacotherapeutics
  • Health and Illness Concepts
  • Health Assessment and Promotion in Nursing Practice
  • Nursing Informatics and Technology

Campus or HQ: Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

6

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Average Tuition: $10,415

Program Website

University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) is part of the public University of Wisconsin System. It receives institutional accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Undergraduate nursing programs are offered through the School of Nursing (SON), and are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). UW has earned ranking spots on college review lists for its programs and overall offering. Some examples: Forbes magazine (top 10 public colleges; best value school), U.S. News & World Report (top global universities; best graduate schools; best public colleges), Washington Monthly (best public colleges), Center for World University Rankings, Fiske Guide to Colleges (Best Value Flagship Universities), Princeton Review (Best Colleges) and several more. Livability.com denoted Madison, Wisconsin, as a top 10 (#8) town to live in, and Lumosity declared Madison the 8th smartest town in the country.

UW offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with two entry/ completion paths. One is a traditional pre-licensure but upper division track preceded with a pre-nursing program. (Eligible transfer and second-degree students accepted.) The other is a post-licensure track for Registered Nurses who have an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN).

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

Graduates of this program work in many professional nursing roles, in hospitals, relief efforts, health education, military service, research and more. Study abroad opportunities exist for the traditional track, along with other special interest options and some certificates. (See website or contact the school for details.) UW’s SON is one of six nursing schools in the University of Wisconsin System, all of which participate in the [email protected] option for RN track students. This is a primarily online track, with courses taught by faculty from all six schools, which can lead to advanced nursing roles including teaching, management or a specialization.

UW’s BSN degree requires a minimum 124 credits for graduation. Students in the traditional track start as pre-nursing majors and complete two years of prerequisites (applying for the major in 2nd year). Once admitted, two years of upper division courses follow, totaling a minimum of 53 credits. The RN track consists of 33 credits of nursing courses, plus any outstanding requirements, and takes 1.5-2.5 years. Some on-campus presence may be necessary for certain courses. Clinicals are part of both tracks.

Sample courses include:

  • Foundations of Professional Nursing Practice
  • Chronic Care Management
  • Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice
  • Community Health Nursing
  • Gerontology

Campus or HQ: Madison, Wisconsin.

7

Maranatha Baptist University

Average Tuition: $13,940

Program Website

Maranatha Baptist University (MBU) is affiliated with the Baptist Church. Institutional accreditation is provided by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Undergraduate nursing programs are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and are offered by the School of Nursing (SON). The university has received recognition for its programs in the form of ranking spots on various college review lists. U.S. News & World Report placed MBU in the top 3% in the country for online bachelor’s programs in their 2016 edition. Also in 2016, Victory Media designated the university a Military Friendly (r) School.

MBU offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with one entry/ completion path – a traditional track for new nursing students.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

Graduates of this BSN program have found a variety of careers, including home health care provider, hospice care facility nurse, medical-surgical nurse, nursing instructor, rehab nurse and more, in a variety of settings such as hospitals, home health centers and even village clinics in remote locations. The curriculum includes more than 1,000 hours of clinical experience. Students will be eligible and prepared to write the NCLEX-RN professional licensing exam once they graduate. (Program graduates in 2014 had a first-time NCLEX-RN exam pass rate of 95% compared to national average of 68%.)

MBU’s BSN degree requires a minimum of 134 credits for graduation. Courses in the Nursing Major account for 62 credits, Bible Studies takes 24 credits, Science and Mathematics 22 credits, and Liberal Arts Core 26 credits. Some non-nursing courses are available only online.

Sample courses include:

  • Introduction to the Nursing Profession
  • Medical Terminology and Calculations
  • Pathophysiology
  • Fundamentals of Medical-Surgical Nursing
  • Health Assessment

Campus or HQ: Watertown, Wisconsin.

8

Bellin College

Average Tuition: $21,640

Program Website

Bellin College (BC) receives its institutional accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Undergraduate nursing programs are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The college has delivered over 100 years of nursing education, and has since expanded to educate students in other healthcare professions as well.

BC offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with four entry/ completion paths. The options are based on a given student’s academic status, in terms of how many general education credits a student has completed. All four options are pre-licensure tracks.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • BSN Traditional Option
  • BSN Sophomore Transfer Option
  • BSN Junior Transfer Option
  • BSN 15-Month Option

This BSN program combines the concepts of nursing with the arts, sciences and humanities to produce nurses who can provide care, promote health as well disease prevention, function in leadership roles, and be lifelong learners. Upon graduation, students are eligible to write the NCLEX-RN professional licensing exam, which certifies them as a Registered Nurse. Bellin graduates achieved a first-time NCLEX test pass rate of 95%.

BC’s BSN degree requires 120-128 credits for graduation, depending on track selected. There are 56 credits of General Education/ pre-nursing courses to be completed in total. Track selection simply identifies how many of those credits have been completed. New undergrads take the traditional track, preceding admission with a pre-nursing program to complete prerequisites (28 credits) over two years, during which time they apply for the major. Upon admission, they complete the final two years (upper division nursing). The Sophomore track is for students who have completed 29+ credits of prerequisites. The junior track is for those who have completed nearly all 58 credits. The 15-month option is for students who have completed all 56 general education credits. Some tracks require taking one or more online courses in a summer session, before completing the remainder of the curriculum on-campus.

Sample courses include:

  • Adult Health and Illness
  • Nursing Research
  • Gerontological Nursing
  • Pediatric Nursing Theory
  • Nursing Leadership
  • Community and Public Health Nursing

Campus or HQ: Green Bay, Wisconsin.

9

Viterbo University

Average Tuition: $25,050

Program Website

Viterbo University (VU) is affiliated with the Roman Catholic and gets its institutional accreditation from the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission. Undergraduate nursing programs are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and are delivered by the School of Nursing (SON), which is part of VU’s College of Nursing, Health, and Human Behavior (CNHHB). The university has a mission of preparing students for “faithful service and ethical leadership,” and incorporates Franciscan values into its programs. The campus is located in La Crosse, Wisconsin, which earned a spot in U.S. News & World Report’s “10 Best Places to Live” list. Victory Media also designated Viterbo a Military Friendly (r) School. As well, the university received a spot on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll list. Around 98% of undergraduate students receive some form of financial aid.

VU offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with two entry/ completion paths. One is a traditional track for students new to nursing. The other is a post-licensure completion track for currently licensed Registered Nurses who have an associate’s degree or diploma in nursing.

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN, traditional)
  • RN to BSN Completion

The programs at the SON focus on nursing from a perspective of family, culture and community. The traditional track actually has two options – direct admission or a pre-nursing major that precedes the nursing major. Study trips are available for some electives, along with summer research opportunities. Clinical opportunities are conducted at partnered healthcare facilities, and students can develop skills in the simulation learning center. The SON’s BSN graduates of pre-licensure tracks have a first-time NCLEX pass rate of 96%, compared to the national average of 83%. Job placement rate for all tracks is 100%. Depending on level of experience, possible careers include clinical nurse specialist, family advocate, health educator, nurse administrator, nurse educator, nurse midwife and others. Places of employment may include hospitals (critical care, emergency/ trauma units, etc.), home care services, private industry, military units and Peace Corps.

VU’s BSN degree requires a minimum of 120 credits for graduation. Traditional/ direct admit tracks can be completed within either 4 or 4.5 years, depending on the study plan selected. Traditional track students need to complete certain prerequisites before they will be admitted to the nursing major. See website for specifics. RN track students have a choice of either fully online (except for one clinical) or blended classroom delivery. The latter can be taken at the main campus or three other sites, as available, with classes meeting one morning per week (four hour session). The RN track consists of 26 credits in upper division nursing and 18 credits of General Education (including three religious studies courses), plus any other outstanding requirements.

Sample courses include:

  • Pathophysiology
  • Gerontology
  • Pharmacology
  • Maternal Newborn
  • Child Health

Campus or HQ: La Crosse, Wisconsin.

10

Silver Lake College of the Holy Family

Average Tuition: $25,320

Program Website

Silver Lake College of the Holy Family (SLC) is affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. Institutional accreditation for SLC is provided by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission . Undergraduate nursing programs are additionally accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). SLC has a student-faculty ratio of about 7-to-1, with an average class size of eight. All full-time, first-time students receive some form of financial aid.

SLC offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) with two entry/ completion paths – one for new nursing students (or transfer students), and the other for current Registered Nurses (or who will be within six months of application) with an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN).

Degrees and concentrations offered at this school include:

  • Traditional BSN
  • BSN Completion

SLC incorporates Franciscan Catholic values into all of its programs, including nursing. The nursing department recently remodeled its nursing facility, with redesigned classrooms, two simulation labs and life-like manikins for patient-care simulations. Students will also have practical experiences at partnered healthcare settings in the region. Additional partnerships with the University of Wisconsin Colleges and the Wisconsin Technical College System ease the process for their associate’s degree graduates to complete a BSN at SLC. Students in the Traditional track will be eligible for taking the NCLEX-RN licensing exam once they graduate. Potential careers include client advocate, clinician, educator, nurse administrator, nurse leader/ manager and more. Note: there is no waiting list for SLC’s 4-year BSN.

SLC’s BSN degree requires 122 credits for graduation. Traditional track students complete four semesters of primarily general education and science courses, followed by two years of primarily upper division nursing courses. RN track students will receive a full 70 transfer credits for ADN coursework, towards the 122 credits required. This track’s courses are each eight weeks in length and are offered both on-campus and online.

Sample courses include:

  • Professional Nursing Concepts
  • Foundations of Nursing Practice
  • Nursing Care of the Older Adult
  • Psychosocial Concepts for Nursing
  • Nursing Research for Evidence Based Practice

Campus or HQ: Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

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