Nursing has always been a dependable career choice, and it will continue to be so. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment rate for nurses will grow by 16 percent between 2014 and 2024. 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). 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.
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.
Fort Hays State University
Fort Hays State University, a public university in Fort Hays, Kansas, has a well earned reputation for affordable online degrees, so much so that six thousand of the school’s eleven thousand students are completing their degree online. Their 124 credit hour RN to BSN degree program has been accredited by the CCNE and is 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 health care policy. It 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 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, and evidence-based nursing practice. 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 and, if they decide to apply for the RN to BSN, can transfer those credits toward the completion of their degree.
University of Arkansas - Fort Smith
University of Arkansas-Fort Smith is a public university and a member school of the University of Arkansas System. 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 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 stated learning outcomes of the program are an ability to think critically, 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. 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 in Dahlonega GA that was created in 2013 when North Georgia College & State University and Gainesville State College merged and became a member school of the University System of Georgia. Though they offer an online RN to BSN program, 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, they offer a solid curriculum that can be completed within four semesters and which includes courses such as nursing information management, cultural assessment, pathophysiology, evidence-based practice, and health policy. 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 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, population-based health, and nursing informatics. 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 their 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. 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
Indiana University- South Bend (IUSB) is a public university and one of ten campuses that form the Indiana University System. The nursing faculty at all of the IU campuses collaborated in designing South Bend’s RN to BSN Completion Option. Like Washburn, 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.
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. IUSB’s program prepares nurses to work in such diverse healthcare settings as acute care, long-term care, community health, home care, and hospice. 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. Their 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. This focus on building relationships and teamwork is also evident in the schools 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 located in Bristol, TN. Their CCNE-approved RN to BSN degree program requires 124 units of coursework and can be completed in as little as 16 months. Classes are designed to prepare for work in the following nursing related areas: nurse management, nursing staff development, RN case management, registered nursing, clinical auditing management, hospice program management, and behavioral health program management.
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 is a public research university located in Brookings, South Dakota. Their online Upward Mobility RN to BSN program helps licensed nurses both broaden and specify their clinical expertise while pursuing their bachelor’s degree- focusing especially on providing integrative care, reducing healthcare disparities, promoting individual as well as community health, and training in healthcare management. It also provides a foundation for those hoping to continue on to a master’s or doctoral degree in nursing, programs which SDSU also provides. The program, which is comprised of 120 credit hours, has been accredited by the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
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.