Best Online Bachelor’s In Nursing

Individuals seeking a rewarding healthcare career with a competitive salary might consider pursuing a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). As a four-year degree, a BSN provides comprehensive preparation for many nursing careers.

Updated September 9, 2022

Best Online Bachelor’s In Nursing

Are you ready to find your fit?

Individuals seeking a rewarding healthcare career with a competitive salary might consider pursuing a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). As a four-year degree, a BSN provides comprehensive preparation for many nursing careers.

An increasing number of organizations prefer to hire nurses with a BSN degree.

BSN programs attract thousands of students thanks to growing demand for bachelor's-educated nurses. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects 7% job growth for registered nurses (RNs) between 2019-2029. An increasing number of organizations prefer to hire nurses with a BSN degree.

Numerous institutions nationwide offer bachelor’s in nursing programs. Our list of the best online BSN programs can help aspiring nurses narrow down their options. We also provide details about admissions, expectations, and cost.

What Is Nursing?

The earliest known reference to professional nursing dates back to 300 AD, when the Roman Empire needed to staff the numerous hospitals spread across its territory. However, modern nursing did not emerge until the mid-19th century when Florence Nightingale challenged social norms for women and became a nurse during the Crimean War. Today, public opinion polls have consistently ranked nursing as the most honest and ethical medical profession.

As of 2019, almost 4.1 million people worked as registered nurses in the United States. Nonetheless, researchers project that the national nursing shortage will continue to increase. To accommodate this growing need, pursuing a nursing career — particularly a BSN — becomes even more relevant.

The nursing field offers job opportunities in hospitals, doctors’ offices, nursing care centers, schools, prisons, and even remote settings. RNs work in direct patient care and as researchers, directors, and teachers.

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Why Get a BSN Degree?

Prospective nurses can choose among several educational paths. Learners planning to start work right away may opt for a licensed vocational nurse (LVN) or licensed practical nurse (LPN) program, which usually takes about a year to complete. An associate degree in nursing (ADN) typically requires two years of study and prepares degree-seekers to practice as RNs after passing the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX).

These options allow students to join the nursing workforce quickly, but earning a BSN may offer more benefits in the long run. The comprehensive BSN education covers clinical care, leadership skills, and communication, preparing nurses to better care for their patients.

Earn Higher Pay
In May 2021, Payscale reported that BSN-trained nurses earn an average annual salary of $86,520, compared to $70,700 for those with an ADN. Even for the same position, BSN degree-holders typically earn more.
Choose Between More Opportunities
According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, in 2019, 43.2% of employers required nursing applicants to hold a BSN while 82.1% strongly preferred bachelor’s-educated candidates. A BSN also allows nurses to advance to a master’s degree program.
Become a Better Nurse
According to studies conducted in 2019 and 2020, a higher percentage of BSN nurses on staff contributes to reduced hospital mortality and improved patient care.

What to Expect From Nursing Schools Online

An online bachelor’s in nursing closely compares to its in-person counterpart. No matter the classroom setting, these programs center ethics, caring, and integrity, providing a well-rounded education to aspiring nurses. Since the nursing field covers diverse specializations, students can expect varied coursework and many opportunities to explore career interests.

Most BSN programs last about 4 years and require 120 credits. However, many online nursing programs offer an RN-to-BSN curriculum for students who already hold RN licensure. These programs typically take 1-2 years to complete.

Admission Requirements

Most nursing schools expect BSN applicants to complete a pre-nursing program before beginning their course of study. Pre-nursing applicants typically need at least one year each of high school biology and chemistry, two years of math, and a competitive GPA. Other required admission materials may include SAT scores, recommendation letters, transcripts, application fees, and essays.

Pre-nursing students may need to maintain a minimum GPA, usually ranging from 2.5-3.0, in order to begin nursing coursework. Some schools may count AP classes towards general education credits. After completing pre-nursing courses, students may need to apply to the nursing college at their school or another institution. Additionally, some nursing schools require the Assessment Technologies Institute Test of Essential Academic Skills.

Learn more about the application process

Concentration Options

As you explore various schools, consider what courses and specializations each one offers. A nursing concentration can provide the in-depth knowledge to work in a particular area and may lead to increased earning potential. Deciding on a specialization fairly early in your BSN program helps ensure that you choose the right school and classes. Below, we describe a few popular nursing concentrations and how they may affect your course of study.

Pediatric Care

With a concentration in pediatric care, nurses can work in doctor’s offices, schools, or pediatric wards. To prepare for this work, consider taking classes in child development, psychology, and communication.

Entrepreneurship

Students with a knack for business, management, and research might prefer an entrepreneurial specialization. Enrollees may pursue a minor in technology or business to foster nursing innovation.

Case Management

Working closely with patients, families, and insurance companies, case management nurses coordinate patient care. Applicable courses may include leadership, management, and healthcare policy.

Popular Nursing Courses

BSN programs prepare students for the NCLEX-RN and teach the skills needed to become successful nurses. Courses usually include pre-nursing credits, core BSN classes, electives, and senior projects. However, specific expectations vary by school. Most institutions also require internships or clinicals, providing enrollees with necessary hands-on training.

For a glimpse of a BSN curriculum, explore the three courses below:

General Biology and Lab
Most BSN programs require about 40-60 credits of pre-nursing classes such as general biology before entering the core program. This course provides students with a solid understanding of the human body. General biology courses cover subjects such as biological systems and gene theory.
Integrity in Practice
In this core course, nursing students learn about ethical and legal considerations in nursing. Since nurses may face life-or-death decisions, students must understand the Code of Ethics for Nurses, Nurse Practice Acts, and standards of care.
Senior Practicum
Before graduating with a BSN degree, most programs require a practicum combining seminars and clinical practice. This course provides students with the chance to apply everything they have learned and prepare for a nursing position.

How Much Will an Online BSN Program Cost?

Like the curriculum, the cost of an online BSN program varies by school. Some institutions offer classes online and in-person for the same price, while others lower the tuition for online students.

Prestigious schools may charge higher tuition rates, with some programs costing around $25,000 per year. More affordable institutions with online programs may cost $10,000-$15,000 annually. Program type may also affect cost. Traditional BSN programs may cost more than RN-to-BSN bridge programs since students must complete more requirements. In addition to tuition, learners may incur additional fees for books and exams.

To help fund your BSN degree, consider applying for financial aid, starting with the FAFSA. Additional options include loans, scholarships, grants, and work-study programs. For more information on how to choose and apply for financial aid, follow the links below.

Read about finances

Most Affordable Online BSN Degrees

Most Affordable Online BSN Degrees

Choosing the Right Bachelor's Nursing Program

While a rankings list can provide a great starting point in your BSN program search, consider other determining factors such as the following:

  • Accreditation: Third-party accrediting bodies ensure a school meets high academic standards. Plus, future employers may consider only applicants who graduated from accredited programs. The two main accrediting organizations for nursing schools are the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Aspiring nurses should also look for programs housed within a regionally accredited college or university.
  • Future Education Opportunities: Some higher-paying positions, such as nurse practitioners, require at least a master’s degree. Students who plan to pursue these jobs should investigate whether their chosen institution offers master’s degrees or combined programs that grant both a BSN and an MSN.

Why You Should Get Your BSN Online

Online learning began in the 1980s with schools like the Electronic University Network and the University of Phoenix. Since then, distance learning has increased in popularity, with the National Center for Education Statistics reporting that 35.3% of postsecondary students took some or all of their classes online in 2018.

Earning a nursing degree online allows learners to study at their own pace and convenience. Current LPNs and RNs may especially benefit from an online BSN program, since they can continue working while pursuing further education in their field.

Online education requires focus, motivation, and time-management skills. However, for students with a quiet place to study and a schedule that can accommodate additional deadlines, an online BSN may provide the ideal educational path.

Review online pathways

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a BSN degree?

BSN stands for bachelor of science in nursing. This four-year program prepares enrollees to practice as registered nurses after taking licensure exams. Nurses planning to earn a master's degree and become advanced practice registered nurses typically need a BSN degree.

Are nursing schools online legit?

Accredited online nursing schools deliver quality education that can lead to ample opportunities after graduation. Check for nursing-specific accreditation from bodies like CCNE and ACEN.

How long does it take to get an online BSN degree?

Most bachelor’s degrees, including online programs, take about four years to complete. Some schools offer shorter BSN programs for students who already hold RN, LPN, or LVN certification.

What is the difference between an RN and a BSN?

A BSN is a bachelor’s degree in nursing, while an RN refers to a registered nurse. Students can pursue RN licensure with either an associate or bachelor’s degree.

Is nursing a good career for the future?

Nurses enjoy an extremely positive job outlook. Between 2019-2029, the BLS projects 7% job growth for registered nurses and 45% job growth for nurse anesthetists, nurse practitioners, and nurse midwives.

Best Online BSN Degrees 2022

#1 Best Online Bachelor’s In Nursing

University of Central Florida

  • Orlando, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

For individuals seeking a flexible education to prepare them for the nursing field, the RN-to-BSN program at the University of Central Florida is a great choice. The public college offers 19 premier virtual bachelor's programs for its 41,097 remote learners.

The RN-to-BSN program prepares students for a fulfilling nursing career by giving them the tools needed for success. The broad curriculum includes different types of classes that cover both foundational concepts and advanced knowledge in the nursing field. Hands-on learning experiences let degree-seekers deepen their knowledge of the industry to help their career aspirations. Learners gain valuable knowledge from internships, externships, and applied research projects. Throughout the degree, students can get guidance from their academic advisor and career counselor.

To lower degree expenses, qualified applicants can pursue funding opportunities, like scholarships and fellowships, from internal and external sources. A leader in online education, the college connects students with financial aid to support their learning endeavors, reporting that 92% of all enrollees receive aid.

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,478
Out-of-state
$19,810
Retention Rate
91%
Admission Rate
44%
Students Enrolled
69,402
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 Best Online Bachelor’s In Nursing

Western Carolina University

  • Cullowhee, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

A public institution, Western Carolina University provides flexible learning opportunities to degree-seekers from all walks of life. The school offers its 5,000 distance learners eight remote bachelor's programs from its campus in Cullowhee, North Carolina. Many individuals planning for a career in nursing or a related field find the top-ranking RN-to-BSN program makes a great choice.

After enrolling, nursing students connect with top faculty and supportive members of the student community. Through a virtual learning environment, degree-seekers complete coursework and pursue projects relevant to their personal and professional goals.

Learners can get involved in internships, externships, or research projects led by faculty. Enrollees work with advisors to tailor the program to their needs and interests with individualized coursework and hand-picked electives.

Since the cost of an education can be expensive, the college offers many different internal and external funding opportunities. Students who meet the eligibility requirements may benefit from fellowships, scholarships, and other types of financial assistance. At the college, 85% of enrollees receive some form of aid to help bring down the price of their education.

Average Tuition
In-state
$1,000
Out-of-state
$5,000
Retention Rate
78%
Admission Rate
69%
Students Enrolled
12,167
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
41% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#3 Best Online Bachelor’s In Nursing

Florida International University

  • Miami, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Florida International University's bachelor of science in nursing is a great choice for individuals seeking a flexible education to prepare them for the nursing field. The public college connects 39,863 distance learners with a top online education, offering 36 bachelor's programs remotely.

The RN-to-BSN program equips students with the tools to succeed in the nursing field. Enrollees benefit from many different types of classes, covering both foundational and advanced nursing topics. Degree-seekers increase their industry knowledge with hands-on learning experiences, helping their career aspirations. Internships, externships, and industry-specific give valuable knowledge to learners. Over the course of their studies, students can seek guidance from academic advising and career services.

Scholarships, fellowships, and other internal and external funding opportunities let applicants decrease their educational expenses. A total of 90% of enrollees at the college receive financial aid from the leader in distance learning.

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,721
Out-of-state
$16,529
Retention Rate
89%
Admission Rate
58%
Students Enrolled
58,711
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 Best Online Bachelor’s In Nursing

University of Florida

  • Gainesville, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online

People wanting a flexible remote education in nursing should check out the RN-to-BSN program at the University of Florida. A supportive virtual community and other institutional resources benefit distance learners at the Gainesville, Florida, college.

Students in the nursing program gain industry knowledge through interactive classes. Classes on general education and advanced topics comprise the nursing curriculum, which also allows for customization through electives. Experiential learning opportunities supplement enrollees' academic experiences. Degree-seekers who complete research, internships, or externships get first-hand experience of working in the nursing field.

The admissions office can let prospective students know more about the criteria for enrollment. Learners can also meet with the financial aid office to explore eligibility requirements for funding opportunities, as 90% of all students receive some form of financial aid. Qualified learners can offset the cost of their degree through aid opportunities like internships and fellowships.

Average Tuition
In-state
$3,358
Out-of-state
$15,000
Retention Rate
63%
Admission Rate
32%
Students Enrolled
3,926
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

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