2020 Best Campus BSN Programs

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What Are the Goals of a BSN Program?

All states require individuals who wish to practice as registered nurses to pass the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). The National Council of State Boards of Nursing maintains the integrity of the test and administers it through state nursing boards across the country.

Currently, nursing students with a two-year associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a four-year bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) from an accredited institution can sit for the NCLEX-RN. However, the nursing field shows a growing trend toward establishing the BSN as the minimum educational requirement to sit for the NCLEX-RN.

Nursing professionals cite several reasons for this trend, including the ability of BSN-trained nurses to provide more comprehensive patient care that often results in improved patient outcomes. New York recently adopted the “BSN-in-10” law that requires ADN-trained RNs to complete a BSN within 10 years of getting their initial RN license. A BSN also gives nurses who plan to continue on to a master of science in nursing (MSN) a solid educational foundation. Indeed, many MSN programs often require a BSN.

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Top Ten Campus BSN Programs for 2020

FAQ

How long does it take to earn a BSN?

Like most bachelor’s degrees, it takes four years to complete a BSN. Other factors, such as enrollment status and a student’s educational background, may impact the typical time frame.

What if I’m already a registered nurse?

Most ADN-trained RNs complete a BSN in two years. However, some schools and districts list additional requirements that affect the time it takes to earn a BSN.

Is a BSN required to become a nurse?

Currently, students do not need a BSN to work as an RN. Students only need to complete an accredited nursing program and pass the NCLEX-RN.

Do nurses with BSNs earn a better salary?

As a rule, earning a degree correlates to a higher income in most industries. However, the state and the specific nursing arena also impact RN salaries.

Accreditation for BSN Programs

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) oversee the process of higher education accreditation. The accrediting process is voluntary in the U.S. The ED and CHEA ensure that accrediting bodies conform to the highest recommended educational standards.

Accreditors evaluate an institution’s academic programs along with several other factors, including a school’s financial policies, student services, and campus facilities and operations. Importantly, the ED channels federal financial aid only through accredited institutions. Students may not qualify for scholarships and grants if they choose to enroll in an unaccredited school. Regional accreditors focus on both private and public degree-granting nonprofit institutions, while national accrediting bodies review career-oriented, sectarian, and vocational schools.

Relatedly, programmatic accreditors focus on specific programs rather than entire schools. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education serves as the main accrediting body for bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral nursing degrees.

Best Campus BSN Programs

Begin your search for the ideal BSN program by examining the following list of schools. Contact the school or department directly for any specific questions you may have regarding admission, transfer credits, or course availability in order to ensure the most accurate and current information.

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. New York University
    Location

    New York, NY

    A private institution in Manhattan, New York University dates back to 1831. NYU offers an RN-to-BSN program that strengthens professional expertise in assessment, case management, and patient advocacy. Graduates can assume leadership positions and increase their earning potential.

    Nursing students can develop an individualized program based on their prior coursework and experience. All students take courses on topics like health assessment, community health nursing, and pediatric nursing. NYU also offers an accelerated BSN program for applicants with a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field.

    Applicants must submit a letter of recommendation from a professor or current supervisor. New York University holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The Rory Meyers College of Nursing holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  2. Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University
    Location

    Tallahassee, FL

    A historically black institution, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University is a public institution located in Tallahassee. The 30-credit RN-to-BSN program prepares nurses for leadership positions and graduate study.

    During the three-semester program, students take courses on topics like patient assessment, population health, and evidence-based practice. The program incorporates clinical labs to build hands-on experience. Students also take directed individual study courses designed around their interests and career goals. Students culminate the degree with a professional transition practicum.

    Prospective students need a minimum 3.0 GPA. Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The School of Nursing holds accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

  3. The University of Texas at Austin
    Location

    Austin, TX

    A public research institution and the flagship campus of the UT system, the University of Texas at Austin dates back to 1883. UT Austin offers a bachelor's program in nursing that blends theoretical and practical coursework.

    The BSN curriculum builds critical thinking and clinical judgment skills through nursing core and liberal arts general education requirements. The program emphasizes evidence-based nursing practice and nursing leadership, preparing graduates for professional roles and advanced degrees in nursing. Students also gain clinical experience in a variety of hospital and community settings.

    The University of Texas at Austin holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education accredits the bachelor's degree in nursing.

  4. Good Samaritan College of Nursing and Health Science
    Location

    Cincinnati, OH

    A private college in Cincinnati, Ohio, Good Samaritan College of Nursing and Health Science specializes in healthcare education. The bachelor of science in nursing is a degree-completion program that blends on-site learning with guided independent study.

    The curriculum covers core topics like nursing research, holistic health concepts, and population healthcare. Students also complete practicums in population healthcare and nursing role exploration. During a culminating capstone experience, students develop a quality improvement project.

    Applicants need a minimum 2.5 GPA and a current RN license. Good Samaritan College of Nursing and Health Science holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing accredits the nursing program.

  5. Penn State Fayette-Eberly
    Location

    Lemont Furnace, PA

    Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Fayette-Eberly is a public institution that grants degrees from its 100-acre campus in southwestern Pennsylvania. The school offers an RN-to-BSN degree that comprises 28 credits.

    Students complete courses on topics like community health, health assessment, and nursing research. Students also complete clinical experiences based on their background and career goals. The program offers part-time and full-time enrollment options, and the College of Nursing supports students through advising and tutoring.

    Prospective students must hold an associate degree or diploma in nursing. Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Fayette-Eberly holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education accredits the BSN program.

  6. University of North Carolina at Greensboro
    Location

    Greensboro, NC

    A public research institution, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro dates back to 1891. UNCG offers a part-time RN-to-BSN program designed for working nurses.

    Nursing students complete general education, nursing, and elective requirements. The curriculum covers topics like health assessment, community health nursing, and nursing research. Nursing students also complete a leadership and management course designed to strengthen the skills needed for advanced roles in healthcare.

    Prospective students need a current RN license and a minimum 3.0 GPA. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The School of Nursing holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  7. Franciscan University of Steubenville
    Location

    Steubenville, OH

    A private Catholic institution in Ohio, Franciscan University of Steubenville offers a BSN program rooted in the Catholic faith. The program takes a holistic approach to nursing, preparing students to address ethical and moral dilemmas in healthcare.

    Nursing students use state-of-the-art human-patient simulator technology that helps them develop life-saving skills in a controlled environment. Students also complete clinical experiences in healthcare settings. Students enjoy the option to participate in a study abroad program in Austria to enhance their learning.

    In addition to a full BSN program, the school offers an accelerated RN-to-BSN program for registered nurses. Franciscan University of Steubenville holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission. The Department of Nursing holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  8. Penn State Mont Alto
    Location

    Mont Alto, PA

    A commonwealth campus of Pennsylvania's public system, Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Mont Alto offers an RN-to-BSN degree that prepares nurses for career advancement and nontraditional healthcare roles at Penn State Mont Alto.

    Incoming students create an individualized academic plan based on their prior experience and schedule. Learners take courses on topics like family and community health concepts, introduction to nursing research, and advanced health assessment for the registered nurse. Students also complete clinical requirements to gain hands-on experience.

    Prospective nursing students need an associate degree or diploma in nursing from an accredited program. Pennsylvania State University-Penn State Mont Alto holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The BSN program holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  9. Walla Walla University
    Location

    College Place, WA

    Founded in 1892 as a Seventh-Day Adventist institution, Walla Walla University offers nursing degrees that combine scientific knowledge with patient-centered care. The RN-to-BSN program integrates a faith-based perspective on nursing.

    BSN students complete 800-1,000 clinical hours, including global and cross-cultural nursing experience opportunities. Learners take classes on topics like nursing research, issues and trends in nursing, mental health nursing, and nursing of the family.

    Prospective RN-to-BSN students need a minimum 2.9 GPA and a current Oregon RN license. Walla Walla University holds regional accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education accredits the nursing program.

  10. Marywood University
    Location

    Scranton, PA

    Founded as a Catholic liberal arts institution in 1915, Marywood University offers a bachelor's degree in nursing that blends academic knowledge with clinical skills. The program prepares graduates for professional career development and advanced nursing education.

    The nursing program offers small class sizes that incorporate innovative nursing technology. Through real-world simulations and service-learning experiences, nursing students build the skills necessary for competitive career paths. Students also complete an internship experience in their final semester. In addition to a full BSN program, Marywood offers an RN-to-BSN degree designed for working registered nurses.

    Marywood University holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The BSN program holds accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Career and Salary Outlook for RNs

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 12% growth rate RN jobs between 2018 and 2028, much faster than the projected 5% growth rate for all other occupations during the same period. BLS data also shows medical and surgical hospitals as hiring the highest number of RNs (1,698,700), in fact, employing almost one-third of RNs in the country. The states hiring the highest number of RNs include the following: California (294,510), Texas (210,350), New York (182,490), Florida (177,600), and Pennsylvania (148,520).

RNs also earn a higher median annual salary than the average worker, $73,300 versus $39,810, respectively. The top paying states for RNs include: California ($106,950), Hawaii ($98,080), Massachusetts ($92,140), and Oregon ($91,080). Additionally, the table below shows that RNs earning salaries in the bottom 10% of the profession still earn a higher salary than the national median.

Bottom 10%Median Annual SalaryTop 10%
Less than $50,800$71,730More than $106,530

Source: BLS

Certifications and Licensure for Nurses

RN licensure usually requires applicants to meet two basic criteria: graduating from an accredited nursing program and passing the NCLEX-RN. The exam focuses on four practice areas: safe and effective care environment, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity. The last practice arena, which tests the ability of applicants to deliver proper nursing care, typically constitutes 43-67% of NCLEX-RN questions.

The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC) enables licensed nurses to practice in more than one state. States who join the NLC allow licensed nurses from member states to practice within their jurisdiction. To date, NLC counts 32 states as full members, with several more waiting for implementation.

Many states require RNs who hold postgraduate degrees or advanced practice training/certification to apply for an additional license in the specific nursing arena which they chose to pursue. Examples of additional nursing licenses include the certified registered nurse anesthetist and psychiatric nurse mental health clinical specialist.

Courses in BSN Programs

A four-year bachelor’s degree in nursing typically consists of 120 credits. Students with an ADN can often earn a BSN in two years, depending on their academic background and the school’s coursework requirements. Although BSN courses, especially at the junior and senior levels, often differ greatly among schools, many cover essential nursing topics, including anatomy and physiology, microbiology, and basic pharmacology.

Accredited BSN programs give students the opportunity to develop strong research, analytical, and communication skills that help them throughout their nursing career. The courses listed below represent a typical cluster of offerings by BSN programs.

Ethics in Nursing and Healthcare

Students learn about important healthcare issues that often raise ethical concerns in nursing practice, such as informed consent, advanced care planning, and disclosing medical conditions. The course also demonstrates how different factors influence ethical nursing practice, including cultural norms, economic constraints, and legislation.

Introduction of Basic Statistics for Evidence-Based Practice

Students learn about the principles and concepts of inferential and descriptive statistics commonly used in health science research. Learners can also perform statistical tests and evaluate, summarize, and present their findings.

Nursing Informatics

Students learn how to analyze different types of healthcare data and incorporate them into an effective treatment plan for patients. Learners examine current and emerging information technologies that enable them to better collect, interpret, and manage clinical information to support timely patient care.

Pharmacology and Therapeutics Across the Lifespan

In this foundational pharmacology course, students learn how to administer drug therapy to patients by studying and integrating concepts in chemistry, physiology, and pathophysiology. Additionally, the course covers topics relevant to the pharmacology field such as drug testing and approval, dosage calculations, and pharmacokinetics.

Transition into Professional Nursing Practice

Usually taken during a student’s senior year, this course helps students synthesize knowledge from previous coursework. Students explore how healthcare policies and nursing leadership shape current nursing practice and impact the direction of the nursing profession.

Scholarships for BSN Students

Begin your search for financial assistance by exploring the five scholarship opportunities presented below. Keep in mind that colleges and universities with BSN programs often offer scholarships for students that meet specific criteria. Additional funding sources include federal grants, local and national civic organizations, and private special-interest groups.

Barbara Rhomberg Excellence in Nursing Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The program accepts nontraditional nursing students pursuing an associate or bachelor of nursing degree on a full-time basis. The program defines nontraditional students as those having at least a three-year gap between graduating from high school and enrolling in a college or university.
Amount: $1,000

Behavioral Health Academic Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Administered by the American Addiction Centers, this scholarship accepts applications from undergraduate students enrolled in a program focused on substance abuse disorders and mental health treatment. Eligible programs include nursing, counseling, and social work.
Amount: up to $5,000

Geraldine “Polly” Bednash Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Applicants must have a minimum GPA of 3.2 and be pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree in nursing through an institution accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.
Amount: $5,000

Dr. Lauranne Sams Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This scholarship program only considers applications from members of the National Black Nurses Association. Applicants must currently be enrolled in a nursing program and have at least one year left in their studies at the time of application.
Amount: $5,000

National CPR Association Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Applicants must submit an essay (500-1,500 words) concerning their personal thoughts on or experience with administering CPR. The program accepts applications from students pursuing a degree in the medical or healthcare field, including nursing.
Amount: $3,000

Learn More…

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