Currently, the minimum education required to be licensed as a registered nurse (RN) is an associate’s degree in nursing or a nursing diploma from an accredited program.
However, many RNs without a bachelor’s degree are wanting to return to school to earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN). With some many great options, and affordable online education, the harvest is ripe!
What kind of RN to BSN degree should you get?
Some of these RN’s are hoping to go on for graduate study in the field of nursing, some are hoping to enter management or leadership positions in their medical institutions, and others are simply interested in personal or professional development.
Whatever the reason, an online RN to BSN program allows for a great degree of flexibility, which is especially important for nurses hoping to earn their BSN while working full or part-time.
How much money do you make with a RN to BSN degree?
By earning a full bachelor’s degree in nursing you are setting yourself apart from the crowd and ensuring yourself a more lucrative future.
Registered nurses make, on average, upwards of $70,000 a year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, these programs below ensure you graduate ready for an elite career. You will can even go on to earn advanced degrees or specialize. As PayScale shows, these nurses can make nearly $90,000 a year.
What can you do with a RN to BSN degree?
These ten programs ensure you graduate ready for careers in an range of fields and settings. Whether you want to work in an emergency room, overseeing triage and taking care of clients in a fast-paced setting, or you want to work in patients’ homes during hospice. These programs will help you get there.
But don’t just take it from us! Look at the placement rates of graduates from these programs. And take note of where they ended up. They have acquired rewarding careers in a variety of settings:
- Large, metropolitan hospitals
- Small, private-run clinics
- Graduate and medical school
- And more
What are the requirements for a RN to BSN degree?
We’ve been sure to note all the requirements for these programs below. But generally speaking, to earn a bachelor’s degree you will need more than 160 credits to graduate. Whether you have some of these credits already or you’re starting fresh, the programs below can help you get there.
In addition to coursework you may be expected to take part in a practicum or clinical. This includes hours spent working directly with patients, other nurses, and doctors. If you’re currently working in a healthcare setting, take heart! Your job may, in fact, cover this requirement.
What are the most affordable RN-to-BSN degrees?
The following ten programs stand out from the rest because of their affordability. When considering a RN to BSN program it is important to consider whether an online program is available in your state, whether it meets your state’s licensure requirements, and whether it is completely online or requires an occasional trip to campus.
See our rankings methodology page.
Fort Hays State University
Fort Hays State University is a public university in Fort Hays, Kansas. IT has a well earned reputation for affordable online degrees, and is considered a leader in alternative, distance education. In fact, nearly half of the school’s 11,000 students are completing their degree online.
Fort Hays’ 124 credit hour RN to BSN degree program has been accredited by the CCNE. It is, hands down, the most affordable RN to BSN program we could find. Its core curriculum offers a excellent foundation with classes covering topics such as:
- Population-focused nursing care
- The legal dimensions of nursing
- Health care ethics
- Pathophysiology, and much more
Fort Hays also offers a number of electives and advanced standing credits that allow students to tailor programs to their education needs with classes such as math calculations for medication administration, nursing in family medicine, and gerontology. Fort Hays State University has been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Delta State University
Delta State University is one of eight public universities in the state of Mississippi and is located in the town of Cleveland. It offers a CCNE-accredited online RN to BSN program through its Robert E. Smith School of Nursing. Besides being a pathway to further graduate study in the field of nursing, Delta State’s program is also focused on educating nurses who are seeking advancement into management level positions.
The program is designed to allow full time students to fulfill all of their nursing requirements within two semesters. But it also offers less intensive plans for those who choose to be part-time students. Courses cover topics such as:
- Comprehensive health assessment
- Community health nursing
- Medical ethics in nursing
- Evidence-based nursing practice, and more
Students who are hesitant about signing up for the full program may choose from four basic nursing courses to take as non-degree seeking students. This is an ideal way to dip your toes in and test the waters. If you decide to apply for the RN to BSN, you can just transfer those credits toward the completion of the degree.
University of Arkansas - Fort Smith
University of Arkansas-Fort Smith (UASF) is a public university and a member school of the University of Arkansas System. It is known for its excellence and research in an array of areas, including in the health sciences. More than 7,500 students attend UASF.
Their ACEN-accredited (Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing) online RN-BSN Completion Track is offered through the university’s Carolyn McKelvey Moore School of Nursing. The stated learning outcomes of the program are an ability to think critically, and to evaluate and apply evidence-based research, to communicate well, to promote effective leadership, to individualize health promotion strategies in culturally appropriate ways, and to encourage lifelong professional development. Nurses have graduated from UAFS and gone on to work in a variety of settings, including:
- Hospitals and clinics
- Patients’ homes
- Rehabilitation clinics
- And much more
The program is competency based and focused on individual learning as opposed to programs focused more on learning within a cohort of fellow students. This allows UAFS’s program to be especially flexible to the individual needs of each student. The University of Arkansas-Fort Smith is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
University of North Georgia
The University of North Georgia is a public university located in Dahlonega, Georgia. It is a fairly new school, created in 2013 when North Georgia College & State University and Gainesville State College merged. Today it is a shining member of the University System of Georgia.
The University of North Georgia offers an online RN to BSN program that is affordable and flexible. However, it requires students to travel to campus once or twice a semester, limiting its appeal to those who reside within traveling distance of the campus. However, this is a solid curriculum that can be completed within four semesters and which includes courses such as:
- Nursing information management
- Cultural assessment
- Evidence-based practice, and more
Students also have access to UNG’s Nursing Resources Center which can help with job placement after the completion of their BSN degree. University of North Georgia has been regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
American Public University
American Public University is an online, private, for-profit university. It is headquartered in Charles Town, West Virginia. Together with American Military University it forms the American Public University System, which last year registered as many as 90,000 students in its online programs.
APU’s 120 credit hour RN to BSN program is accredited by the Commission of Collegiate Nurse Education (CCNE) and was designed in consultation with industry leaders to be maximally relevant to the needs of today’s healthcare marketplace. Course topics include
- Nursing leadership
- Nursing assessment
- Nursing best practices
- Healthcare ethics, and more
Some of the learning outcomes expected of students enrolled in the program are improved leadership, improved communication skills, more effective collaboration with other members of the treatment team, and an increase in socioeconomic and cultural literacy in order to better care and advocate for vulnerable populations. American Public University has been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Southwestern Oklahoma State University
Southwestern Oklahoma State University (SOSU) is a public university in Weatherford and one of six member schools that make up the Regional University System of Oklahoma. Online degrees from SOSU are offered through their Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning.
Among the SOSU degree options is an RN to BSN degree designed for registered nurses who have completed an associate’s degree in nursing or a nursing diploma accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).The main aims of the program are to foster professional growth and leadership ability among its students and to offer an educational foundation for students hoping to go on for further graduate study in the field of nursing. Students have gone on to work in:
- Children’s and pediatric nursing
- Women’s and gynecological nursing
- Emergency nursing, and more
Instructional resources utilized in SOSU’s online programs include lectures, seminars, small group discussions, online instruction, laboratory practice, and clinical experiences catered to the needs of each student. Southwestern Oklahoma State University has been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Indiana University- South Bend
The South Bend campus within the wider Indiana University System (IUSB) is a public university. It is one of ten campuses that form the highly prestigious Indiana University System. The nursing faculty at all of the IU campuses collaborated in designing South Bend’s RN to BSN Completion Option.
IUSB’s program is set to a fixed schedule and offers three different plans for degree completion: a full time program that can be finished in 12 months after the completion of general ed requirements, and two part time programs that can be finished in 18 or 24 months after the completion of general ed courses. IUSB’s program prepares nurses to work in such diverse healthcare settings as:
- Acute care
- Long-term care
- Community health
- Home care and hospice, and more
A potential benefit of IUSB’s program is that it allows nurses to test out of courses the content of which they are already familiar with from their nursing practice. They can test of out 6 of the 36 nursing credits required for completion of the degree, potentially saving them $1850 in out of pocket tuition. The member campuses of the Indiana University System of have been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Washburn University is a public university located in Topeka, Kansas. It is home to more than 6,000 students and a diverse array of academic and professional degree programs. However, Washburn is best known for its law, business, health, and nursing degrees.
Washburn’s online RN to BSN program offers two different curriculum plans. The first is a full time plan which is broken into five eight-week sessions and allows students to graduate within 40 weeks. The second is a part time plan that allows students to graduate after 8 eight-week sessions in a total of 64 weeks. Both curriculum plans begin at fixed dates, providing the opportunity to finish the entire program with the same cohort of students, and both include classes such as:
- Applied Pathology
- Introduction to Nursing Informatics
- Leadership and Health Policy
- Clinical Prevention and Population Health, and more
A focus on building relationships and teamwork is evident in the school’s utilization of the TeamSTEPPS program, a training curriculum that instructs students in the principles of teamwork in healthcare settings. Instructional tools available in Washburn’s online programs include case studies, one-on-one learning with instructors, simulation software, and online presentations. Washburn University has been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
King University is a small, not-for-profit, private university. It is located in Bristol, Tennessee and offers a range of traditional as well as online programs. King University is a Christian school that promotes “faith-based” values throughout its curriculum.
King’s CCNE-approved RN to BSN degree program requires 124 units of coursework and can be completed in as little as 16 months. Both the flexibility and affordability make King a great option, especially if you’re looking for a Christian education. Classes are designed to prepare for work in the following nursing related areas:
- Nurse management
- Nursing staff development
- RN case management
- Clinical auditing management, and much more
GI Jobs, a magazine devoted to active duty education and veteran employment, has named King University a ‘military-friendly school’ for their excellent efforts in outreach and assistance to military personnel, making King an attractive option for those transitioning from military service. King University has been regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
South Dakota State University
South Dakota State University (SDSU) is a public research university located in Brookings, South Dakota. SDSU offers a RN to BSN completion program that not only prepares students for licensure, but it offers the opportunity for graduate or doctoral work in nursing. SDSU provides those programs as well, each of which is accredited by the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
This online Upward Mobility RN to BSN program helps licensed nurses both broaden and specify their clinical expertise. While at South Dakota State University you will focus on everything from reducing healthcare disparities to integrative care. Indeed, this broad-based program covers:
- Promoting individual as well as community health
- Training in healthcare management
- Ethics and the US healthcare system
- And much more
In addition to broadening their education through general education requirements, students in the Upward Mobility program attend classes in topics such as cultural awareness, public health, health assessment, community health, and clinical leadership. South Dakota State University has been regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.