Best Online BSN Degrees 2021

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An online bachelor of science in nursing builds high-level skills in nursing practice and theory. The degree prepares graduates for various advanced roles with leadership potential. While an RN prepares nurses for many positions in the field, a BSN expands on general nursing knowledge while also allowing nurses to specialize in areas such as pediatric care or emergency care.

Online BSN programs serve both practicing RNs and students looking to enter the nursing field. Regardless of professional experience, nurses need strong skills in communication, critical thinking, organization, and empathy. This guide offers an overview of online BSN programs, including top schools, common courses, career and salary outlook, and scholarships for nursing students.

FAQ


  • What is a BSN?

    A BSN builds broad, high-level nursing skills. The degree prepares both RNs and new nurses for advanced nursing roles with greater responsibilities and leadership potential.


  • Can I earn a BSN online?

    Many schools offer BSN programs online. However, nearly all programs include in-person clinical requirements, which candidates usually complete in their own community.


  • Do I need a BSN to become an RN?

    You do not need a BSN to become an RN, and many BSN programs only accept applicants who already hold an RN. However, some BSN programs do lead to initial RN licensure.


  • How long does it take to complete an online BSN?

    Completion times vary depending on program format and student experience, but a BSN typically takes between 2-4 years to complete. RNs usually earn the degree in two years.


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Top 10 Best Online BSN Degrees

Best Online BSN Degrees 2021



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Best Online BSN Degrees

  1. The University of Texas at Tyler
    Location

    Tyler, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    This Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing degree at the University of Texas at Tyler can take as few as twelve months to complete, though students are allowed to take as long as they like to finish the degree; graduation dates are flexible. UT Tyler requires its students to already have an associate’s degree in nursing in place before admission, but then students are able to do the coursework fully online, with clinical experiences taking place in the students’ local communities. At UT Tyler you can anticipate foundational classes in pathophysiology, leadership, and health assessment, then upper-level classes in community nursing, professional issues, gerontology, and more.

    This BSN degree is fully accredited by the Texas Board of Nursing as well as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The University of Texas at Tyler as a whole is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. UT at Tyler is a mid-size school with approximately 8,000 undergraduates. It is a public institution and a member of the greater University of Texas System. Life at Tyler is marked by an active student body involved in organizations, athletics, Greek life, and student government.

  2. University of South Carolina
    Location

    Columbia, SC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The online BSN from the University of South Carolina strives to provide three objectives to its students: to cultivate leadership, critical thinking skills, and professionalism; to master the skills needed to provide nursing services in an array of settings; and to gain a comprehensive, interdisciplinary foundation in nursing education. This program is for those who already have an associate’s degree in nursing and it takes only twelve months to complete, if classes are taken full-time. In addition to its competitive credit hour tuition rates and its high average annual salary of its recent graduates, the University of South Carolina’s online programs are rated as the best in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

    The flagship institution of the University of South Carolina System, the University of South Carolina is a large school with nearly 400 different programs of study. It is a top-ranked school, listed as among the 100 best nationally by ARWU, U.S. News & World Report, and Washington Monthly. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the University of South Carolina’s nursing school is also specifically accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing.

  3. University of Illinois at Chicago
    Location

    Chicago, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    This 100 percent online Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing degree from the renowned University of Illinois in Chicago (UIC) pairs its students with nationally recognized leaders in healthcare. Specifically designed for RNs looking to complete their undergraduate degree, this program covers health assessment and communication, research and statistics, leadership and management in healthcare, care of populations, and nursing informatics. Students in the UIC College of Nursing’s online program have the advantage, not only of learning from a distance, from wherever they choose, but they learn from the same renowned faculty who teaches the on-campus classes, making this online degree nearly identical to the “traditional” degree.

    Graduates with a BSN degree from the University of Illinois Chicago make, on average, $53,000 annually in the early years of their career. UIC is further noted for its research contributions and for being consistently ranked among the top national universities, by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes, Washington Monthly, Times Higher Education, and more. UIC is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools and the nursing school is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  4. University of Cincinnati
    Location

    Cincinnati, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The College of Nursing at the University of Cincinnati is not only ranked among the top 10 percent of nursing schools in the country, it has a long history and legacy, going all the way back to its founding in 1889. Their online RN to BSN degree can be completed in as little as nine months, but students can adjust the academic plan of this flexible program to better align with work-life events. Unique to the University of Cincinnati’s online nursing program is its emphasis on mentorship, connecting students with one advisor whom they will work closely with throughout the program. Furthermore, Cincinnati stresses the important role of leadership, as seen by the character of the curriculum. Though this is a completion degree, students are eligible for admission even if they have not completed all the required general education courses. And, as a student, you should be prepared to line up a community or population-focused project to complete the degree.

    The University of Cincinnati is a large, public research university with many nationally ranked departments, including nursing, education, pediatrics, pharmacy, environmental science, medicine, criminal justice, and neurology, among others. It is accredited by the North Central Association and the College of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  5. West Texas A&M University
    Location

    Canyon, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    By getting your online Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing degree through West Texas A&M University’s school of nursing you are offered the opportunity to advance into management positions, to earn more money, to work in more diverse environments (such as risk management or quality assurance), and to earn a Master of Science in Nursing, if you so choose. Courses at West Texas cover everything from research to cultural competence, ethics, and pharmacotherapeutics. West Texas’ tuition rates are already competitive, but they offer additional special tuition rebates to those who qualify, making this both an affordable and convenient option for registered nurses looking to earn an online BSN.

    A mid-sized, public university located in Canyon, Texas, West Texas A&M University has approximately 8,000 undergraduates and is known for its research initiatives, especially in environmental health and safety, occupational health, energy, and computer information systems. West Texas is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Its nursing school is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  6. The University of Alabama
    Location

    Tuscaloosa, AL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    At the University of Alabama’s online college you can earn a degree in nursing that can be fully achieved from a distance. UA offers two options for those students who are already registered nurses but looking to advance their careers: the RN to BSN track or the RN to BSN/MSN track. The former consists of twenty-five credits that can be taken either full or part-time and includes courses covering community health, client systems, informatics, leadership and management, and role transition in baccalaureate nursing. The latter is an accelerated degree program for students who plan to study full-time, complete all fifty credit hours, and graduate with a masters in nursing with a concentration in either clinical nurse leadership or case management.

    Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the University of Alabama is ranked among the top fifty best public universities in the country, by U.S. News & World Report. A larger school, with over 30,000 undergraduates and grad students, UA is comprised of over a dozen colleges and schools, including its Capstone College of Nursing, accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  7. Ohio State University
    Location

    Columbus, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    As an Ohio State University online nursing student you will take classes on community health, leadership and management, professional issues in contemporary nursing, and a practicum that applies the learned leadership and management skills to a hands-on experience. Graduates from the OSU online RN to BSN program go on to work in a diverse array of healthcare settings; and many students choose to earn a master of science in nursing degree, having been fully prepared by the OSU nursing program and its elite board of faculty members, who are leading practicing clinicians, physicians, and nurses. This nursing degree is 100 percent online and requires no visits to the Columbus campus.

    Located in Columbus, Ohio, Ohio State University is a huge school of nearly 60,000 students (though there are over 100,000 if you include all campus locations). Known for its business, science, medicine, education, and politics departments, OSU is nationally and globally ranked by Forbes, ARWU, U.S. News & World Report, Washington Monthly, and more. OSU is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and its College of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing.

  8. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    The University of Florida’s online RN to BSN degree is specifically designed for working adults who are eager to go back and finish their undergraduate degree. This program emphasizes flexibility and leadership while preparing students to apply information management and technology to healthcare practice; to analyze, implement, and alter healthcare policies; and to efficiently strategize wellness promotion and illness prevention. As a UF online student in nursing you will take classes in pathophysiology and pharmacology, genetics and genomics, finances in regulatory environments, principles of leadership, health assessment, and public health, the last two requiring clinical experience in your local community.

    The University of Florida, based in Gainesville, is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and is known for having one of the best online colleges in the country. The university is highly active in research projects that span from sustainability initiatives to major contributions to health and medicine. In fact, the university is home to many important health clinics and research centers, including its UF Health Cancer Center. The College of Nursing at UF is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

  9. Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
    Location

    State College, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Not only does Pennsylvania State University offer an online BSN program, they offer an accelerated degree program that allows students to combine online classes with on-campus coursework, expediting that graduation date. This program is consistently recognized as one of the best online nursing programs in the country, and it uniquely offers its students the opportunity to earn a specialized certificate in nursing management, nursing informatics, or nursing forensics.

    In addition to clinical work, graduates from this program have gone on to work in education, research, consulting, community and public health centers, social work, pharmaceutical sales, and insurance. Though this degree is 100 percent online, four courses require clinical hours: health assessment (45 clinical hours required), family and community health concepts (45 clinical hours required), health concepts for adults with complex health care needs (45 clinical hours required), and integrated concepts in nursing practice (90 clinical hours required).

    Penn State is a globally renowned university, earning a spot on the best national and global universities rankings from Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, Washington Monthly, QS World University Rankings, and more. It is also one of the largest universities in the country with over 100,000 students. Penn State is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and the College of Nursing is accredited by the Commission for Education in Nursing.

  10. Arizona State University-Tempe
    Location

    Tempe, AZ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Innovation in nursing, the synthesis of professional nursing, the art of nursing, health promotion across the lifespan, nursing theory, and writing for health care management are just some of the unique courses offered by Arizona State University’s online nursing program. ASU also sets itself apart from some of the other programs on our list in that it pairs students with an enrollment coach, students learn through a variety of online instructional delivery methods, and the curriculum is designed to present a holistic, populations-based education. Students tend to complete this degree in fifteen to eighteen months, and they graduate prepared to be critical thinkers, client advocates, and effective communicators.

    With nearly 15,000 online students, Arizona State University boasts a huge distance learning program that has been in place for many years. Distance learners are privileged to learn from the same renowned faculty as “traditional” students, and they have access to the research centers and initiatives that make ASU a top-ranked university. ASU is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, and their College of Nursing and Health Innovation is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Career and Salary Outlook for Nursing

In general, nurses provide patient care and promote health among patient populations through education and coordinated care plans. In practice, nurses’ work may vary depending on the patient populations they serve. However, many duties remain the same: assessing patient conditions, recording medical history and symptoms, administering medicine and other treatments, and operating medical equipment.

An aging U.S. population, combined with increased life expectancy and a greater emphasis on preventative care, has fueled strong growth in the nursing profession. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects nursing jobs to grow 7% from 2019-2029, a rate about twice the national average.

While an RN typically serves as the minimum education requirement in the nursing field, a BSN can help nurses move into higher positions, taking on leadership roles with greater professional responsibility.

CareerBottom 10%Median Annual SalaryTop 10%
Registared Nurses$52,080$73,300$111,220

Accreditation

Accreditation evaluates and regulates colleges and their programs, ensuring that schools adhere to recognized academic and administrative standards. Any college offering a BSN program should hold regional accreditation from one of the six major accrediting agencies. Learn more about accreditation and why it matters from our accreditation guide.

Given the specialized work nurses perform, all nursing programs must also hold programmatic accreditation from either the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

Courses in a BSN Program

Nurses perform rigorous clinical work, and a BSN program builds comprehensive skills to prepare graduates for nursing practice. Students also explore supplementary topics such as nursing ethics and the use of nursing research. Nearly all nursing programs include a significant clinical component that builds professional experience through supervised work in a healthcare setting.

This list highlights five courses typically found in online BSN programs. While course titles may vary among colleges, these classes represent key topics found in most accredited nursing programs.


  • Foundations of Nursing Practice

    For students without previous RN training, most BSN programs include multiple foundation courses that introduce key concepts in nursing practice. Typically occurring during the first or second year of a program, this course highlights topics such as nursing assessment, therapeutic intervention, communication, and decision-making.


  • Nursing Ethics

    Nurses face assorted ethical issues during their general duties. Most programs feature a course focusing on clinical ethics and ethical expertise. This course explores professional and ethical concerns such as diversity and cultural differences, economic constraints, political and religious factors, and current nursing legislation.


  • Nursing Research

    Modern nursing uses evidence-based practice to offer the highest possible standard of care. This course highlights the role of research in nursing, giving students the tools to identify, assess, and evaluate various forms of research and their application to nursing practice. The course may also highlight research processes and methodologies.


  • Nutrition for Clinical Practice

    Nurses promote health among patient populations, and nutrition plays a key role. This course emphasizes the role of nutrition both in health promotion and in medical nutrition therapy. Nurses gain the skills to perform nutrition assessments and interventions based on current dietary guidelines.


  • Clinical Placement

    With very few exceptions, all online BSN programs include a significant clinical component. These components place students in a professional nursing environment for both observation and supervised clinical practice. Placements typically occur over multiple semesters, enabling students to gain hands-on experience in real-life healthcare settings, such as clinics, hospitals, and private practices.


Scholarships for Nursing


Nursing students can choose from many options to fund their education, including various scholarships. Offering financial assistance that never needs repayment, scholarships may serve students of a particular background or those planning to enter a particular field of nursing upon graduation. This list highlights three popular scholarships available to nursing students enrolled in online BSN programs.


  • Bachelor's in Nursing Degree Scholarships

    Who Can Apply: The Oncology Nursing Foundation awards this scholarship to students enrolled in their senior year of a BSN program. Applicants can choose from scholarship options for both RNs and pre-licensure students.

    Amount: $3,000-$5,000



  • Geraldine Polly Bednash Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: The American Association of College of Nursing (AACN) offers this scholarship to any nursing student admitted to or enrolled in an AACN member institution affiliated with CastleBranch. Applicants must maintain a 3.2 GPA.

    Amount: $5,000



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