The leaders in the field of nursing have been encouraging nurses holding Diplomas and Associate’s degree to pursue a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree for decades.
Research has demonstrated that nurses with an advanced degree improved their job satisfaction as well as patient outcomes, reduced medication errors and mortality rates.
Recently, the hiring rates of educated registered nurses holding a Bachelor’s degree have increased.
It’s clear that in the future the Bachelor’s degree will become the minimal educational requirement for RNs.
Table of Contents
- 1 2021 – Best Online RN to BSN Programs
- 2 Popular Programs
- 2.1 #1 Purdue University Northwest
- 2.2 #2 University of Michigan-Flint
- 2.3 #3 Winston-Salem State University
- 2.4 #4 Arizona State University
- 2.5 #5 Ramapo College of New Jersey
- 2.6 #6 The Mississippi University for Women
- 2.7 #7 Nicholls State University
- 2.8 #8 California State University, San Marcos
- 2.9 #9 University of South Carolina Upstate
- 2.10 #10 Lehman College
- 2.11 #11 University of Massachusetts-Boston
- 2.12 #12 Arkansas State University
- 2.13 #13 Ohio University
- 2.14 #14 Eastern Kentucky University
- 2.15 #15 Plattsburgh State University of New York
- 2.16 #16 SUNY Delhi
- 2.17 #17 Chamberlain College of Nursing
- 2.18 #18 Auburn University at Montgomery
- 2.19 #19 University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
- 2.20 #20 University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
- 2.21 #21 Francis Marion University
- 2.22 #22 James Madison University
- 2.23 #23 Fort Hays State University
- 2.24 #24 Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing
- 2.25 #25 University of Texas-Tyler
- 3 How Long Are RN to BSN Programs
- 4 RN to BSN Program Requirements
- 5 Classes Required for an RN to BSN Program
- 6 Online RN to BSN Programs
- 6.1 Advantages of Online RN to BSN Programs
- 6.2 What Should I Consider When Choosing an Online RN to BSN Program?
- 7 Are Clinical Hours Required for the RN to BSN Program?
- 8 Is an RN to BSN Bridge Program Right for Me?
2021 – Best Online RN to BSN Programs
Since hospitals and other healthcare facilities seek more nurses with the BSN, more RNs are returning to schools to pursue advanced education.
With online RN to BSN programs, this process becomes quicker and easier.
Besides, while taking these programs, RNs can continue working until they complete the course.
Finding the right online RN to BSN program can get overwhelming, so we have ranked the best programs available across the country.
#1 Purdue University Northwest
Purdue University Northwest in Indiana earned top honors for its 16-month online RN to BSN program.
Students can benefit from a flexible 5-week format guided by the experienced and committed faculty.
The program includes highly interactive coursework, which allows students to engage and connect with their classmates and instructors.
#2 University of Michigan-Flint
At the University of Michigan-Flint, you can find a completely online RN to BSN program.
It can be completed within 3-4 semesters in the full-time format, or about 2 years studying part-time.
The program is designed for working RNs, so students can enroll in the Summer, Fall, Winter, or Spring semesters.
The length of the semester can vary from 7 to 14 weeks.
#3 Winston-Salem State University
At Winston-Salem State University, students can complete an online RN to BSN program within just one year to earn their degree.
The program is flexible and affordable.
It is meant for those who wish to keep working while pursuing their higher education.
With the innovative curriculum, students will be well-prepared for greater responsibility in the field.
#4 Arizona State University
The online 36 credit-hour RN to BSN program at Arizona State University allows students to complete their bachelor’s degree in 14-24 months.
Students can succeed in the program with the acclaimed faculty, cutting edge curriculum, and engaging online delivery methods provided by ASU.
#5 Ramapo College of New Jersey
The online RN to BSN program at Ramapo College of New Jersey is designed with maximum flexibility.
Students can study at their own pace, or in an 18-month organized completion plan format.
While studying full-time, students can complete the program within 2 years.
Although required nursing courses are delivered online, there are some electives that may have to be taken on-campus.
#6 The Mississippi University for Women
At the Mississippi University for Women, you can find a nationally-recognized Advanced Placement RN to BSN program.
Students can study online with a recommended orientation on-campus every semester.
Otherwise, they can take a mixture of distance/classroom learning.
This program features high-quality nursing education and affordable tuition.
#7 Nicholls State University
Nicholls State University in Louisiana offers an online RN to BSN Articulation program.
It will prepare nurses for advancement in their careers.
Per year, students can complete 8-week sessions, which allows them to move through the program at their own pace with ease.
The program doesn’t imply any set times to log in to finish the course.
Students can always get help from skilled and responsive instructors.
#8 California State University, San Marcos
With the accelerated online RN to BSN program at California State University, San Marcos students can gain knowledge and skills required for bachelor-level nursing positions.
Also, they can eventually advance to post-graduate programs.
Students can take CSUSM’s online courses to achieve a work-life-student balance.
They will earn their degrees in only 16 months of study.
#9 University of South Carolina Upstate
There are numerous advantages for students enrolled in the online RN to BSN program at the University of South California Upstate.
They include virtual clinicals, experienced faculty, as well as options to study full-time or part-time.
The program comprises 32 semester hours of instruction.
It can be completed within one or two years with a full- or part-time form of study respectively.
#10 Lehman College
Fully online RN to BSN program at Lehman College is prestigious, flexible, and affordable.
Students can study either full-time or part-time, but the program should be completed in five years.
After graduation, students are well-versed for the work in more advanced positions in the nursing field.
#11 University of Massachusetts-Boston
At the University of Massachusetts-Boston, AND and diploma-educated RNs can find a completely online RN to BSN program.
The curriculum is designed to be convenient for busy students.
They can even find options for synchronized online classes where students can meet with classmates and faculty virtually.
The program doesn’t require any clinicals, instead, students prepare a service-learning project in their community.
#12 Arkansas State University
The 36 credit-hour online RN to BSN program at Arkansas State University can be completed in only 12 months of devoted study.
Students will enhance and strengthen their nursing aptitude with the school’s quality curriculum directed by the dedicated faculty.
This program is very attractive and beneficial for students with affordable tuition and discount opportunities.
#13 Ohio University
The online RN to BNS program at Ohio University has 8 start dates per year and is highly flexible.
Students can apply their previous nursing experience while taking core nursing courses together with science, human behavior, and humanities courses.
The program focuses on leadership, clinical reasoning, and evidence-based practice.
#14 Eastern Kentucky University
Eastern Kentucky University offers both traditional and accelerated online RN to BSN program options.
It takes two years to complete the traditional path while the accelerated one can be finished within only 18 months.
RNs can earn their BSN efficiently and quickly with no campus visits or cohorts to join required.
#15 Plattsburgh State University of New York
The online RN to BSN program at the Plattsburgh State University of New York is trusted and consistently receiving high ratings.
RNs with an ADN or nursing diploma can enroll in the program.
The curriculum is based on the previous knowledge and experience of students.
If you are looking for an affordable and quality RN to BSN program, this option can be a great fit.
#16 SUNY Delhi
The online RN to BSN program offered by SUNY Delhi is fully online and helps nurses expand their employment opportunities.
Students will learn the leadership and clinical skills required to succeed in the field of nursing.
The curriculum includes such concepts as health literacy, ethics, information management, technology, and more.
#17 Chamberlain College of Nursing
Chamberlain College of Nursing in Chicago holds a flexible online RN to BSN program.
It requires only 3 semesters of study.
There are no required times to log in, so students can work at their own pace.
They can choose to study full-time or part-time.
They can expand their nursing roles through an innovative curriculum under the guidance of experienced and highly responsive faculty.
#18 Auburn University at Montgomery
Auburn University at Montgomery offers a fully online Educational Advancement for Registered Nurses (EARN) program for the RN to earn a BSN.
With the full-time educational format, students can complete the program in three semesters.
If you choose to continue working while studying, you can benefit from the part-time study option.
The program is a feasible choice for many students, as the out-of-state tuition is only $19 higher per credit than in-state.
#19 University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
The flexible online RN to BSN program at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay allows students to study at their own pace.
They will learn to apply various methods of evidence-based practice to advance their careers in nursing.
To complete the program, students should finish 8 core courses and 2 nursing electives overall.
#20 University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences
The online RN to BSN program at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences includes an accelerated curriculum.
It required only 12-18 months of devoted study to complete.
The coursework is offered online, but students will have to attend a one-day orientation on campus at the beginning of the program.
Courses last for 7.5 weeks.
#21 Francis Marion University
The online RN to BSN program offered by South Carolina’s Francis Marion University includes 30 semester credit hours.
With the full-time study, the program can be completed within 11 months.
The curriculum is designed with a focus on the knowledge and experience of nurses to help them gain advanced nursing and leadership skills.
#22 James Madison University
James Madison University of Virginia holds an online RN to BSN program for employed RNs to enroll in.
The curriculum includes the development role with the emphasis on the care of rural and underserved populations.
Students can build relations and share experiences with their classmates through the cohort model.
#23 Fort Hays State University
A 100% online RN to BSN program at Fort Hays State University can be completed in 3 semesters.
The curriculum teaches students to apply critical thinking skills and expands their knowledge to advance their nursing education.
Students also receive clinical practicum experience arranged in their local area.
#24 Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing
The online RN to BSN program at Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing is highly flexible and doesn’t require class meetings.
All courses are offered each semester, so students can set their own schedules and even continue working.
Often, students complete the program within only three semesters.
#25 University of Texas-Tyler
The RN to BSN online program at the University of Texas-Tyler can be completed through both full- and part-time study formats.
Working RNs can receive quality online education, with access to flexible clinical experiences and caring faculty.
To complete the program, 30 credit hours are required.
How Long Are RN to BSN Programs
Generally, 120 credit hours are required, including undergraduate hours you complete during the program for the Associate’s degree.
Therefore, most students have to take only 30 upper-level courses.
Typically, the breakdown is as follows:
- 60 undergraduate credit hours (which is the Associate’s degree you already have).
- 30 practical or clinical hours, or equivalency exams (most schools consider full-time RN employment as satisfying the required hours).
- 30 upper-level BSN courses.
RN to BSN Program Requirements
The basic requirements for the program includes are listed below.
However, they can vary by school.
- General admission criteria.
- Criminal background check.
- Full-time RN employment or equivalency exams.
General Admission Criteria
Many schools require a minimum of 2.0 GPA and required undergraduate courses.
Mostly, students meet the general admission requirements since they are also required to pass the program for the Associate’s degree.
For the RN to BSN program, students should be registered nurses in good standing.
It means no disciplinary actions without a follow-up and explanation.
Ensure to check the school’s policy on the disciplinary actions against the licenses if you had such issues before.
Criminal Background Check
Similar to the Associate’s degree program, the RN to BSN program calls for a clean criminal record background.
Additionally, some schools may require a physical or drug test.
Full-Time RN Employment or Equivalency Exams
Many RN to BSN programs requires about 30 clinical/practical hours or equivalency exams.
Students working full-time as RNs throughout the program meet the requirement at most schools.
The RNs that aren’t employed during the program can take exams offered by a school to meet the 30-hour requirement.
It’s best to discuss this with the school’s advisor.
Classes Required for an RN to BSN Program
The curriculum for the Bachelor’s degree doesn’t address clinical components in the same way as the Associate’s degree program.
A lot of those were already mastered by candidates while obtaining a license.
However, general requirements for the RN to BSN program include those listed below.
Undergraduate requirements are usually about 60 credit hours and can vary by program:
- Anatomy and Physiology.
- Foreign Language.
- And electives.
The curriculum of the RN to BSN program can also vary by school but usually include:
- Evidence-Based Practice.
- Community Health Nursing.
- RN Collaborative Healthcare.
- Nursing Ethics.
- Statistics for Nurses.
- Healthcare Informatics.
- Nursing Management.
- Nursing Leadership.
Online learning includes electronic textbooks, discussion boards, emailing, and chat rooms.
In most schools, students can acquire additional help through private email or phone calls with the instructor.
During classes, you can usually find help quickly and easily.
Schools are interested in your success and are motivated to provide you with additional resources or answers to any questions.
At some platforms, you can use online chat while logged in.
Online RN to BSN Programs
You can find numerous online RN to BSN programs advertised.
There are multiple options, and you need to select what’s the best fit for you.
Consider various factors about these programs to pick the most suitable for you, including pros and cons, learning styles and formats, etc.
Advantages of Online RN to BSN Programs
Online learning has multiple advantages to it, including:
- Learning from the comfort of your living room.
- Having a virtual location allowing for prestigious schools out-of-state.
- The information previously discussed is still available for review later.
- It eliminates language barriers.
You can attend classes from the comfort of your living room and complete them around your work schedule.
During school, you can usually work full-time.
Many nurses find this level of flexibility to be one of the main reasons to take online education.
With the flexible online program, you can still maintain your social and work life as well as spend time with your family.
In some schools, you will have to maintain the full-time employment status as an RN throughout the program.
However, online education isn’t that easy.
Most schools require you to log hours for class participation either daily or 3-4 days a week.
This can be hard after a long working day of a bedside nurse.
Usually, you will also have to participate in weekly group projects.
It can be done as a Powerpoint presentation, research paper, essay, etc.
You will have to dedicate quite a bit amount of hours to schoolwork.
Reading and proving comprehension in some way is also a part of online learning.
The RN to BSN program doesn’t require any clinical hours.
You aren’t required by the state to take an exam like NCLEX-RN or become a newly licensed BSN educated RN.
Once you’ve obtained a state license as an RN, you don’t need any clinical hours.
You may need them only if you are pursuing a Master’s degree in Nursing.
Since the RN to BSN programs are usually available online, students can live anywhere in the world while attending classes.
The State doesn’t require clinicals for an RN to BSN program.
However, for some programs, you may be required to be a full-time employed RN.
This gives you a chance to attend competitive universities outside of your state.
Some of them have great reputations in the nursing field.
When it comes to the cost of these schools compared to others, consider the end-goal and if it matters to have a degree from a well-known and expensive university or if a less well-known school meets your needs.
If your ultimate goal is to enroll in a graduate school, a more prestigious Bachelor’s degree is an advantage.
Also, some employers like schools or research facilities may only hire nurses with prestigious degrees.
Eliminates Language Barriers
International students may have a harder time understanding the course and following lectures in a traditional English-language classroom.
With the online program, international students can get a translation of the programs or enroll in a program in their native language if available.
The best advantage is that students can learn more efficiently because they can understand the course material perfectly.
Information Previously Discussed is Still Available for Review Later
All information covered during the class is available after.
Compared to a traditional classroom, the chalkboard isn’t erased, and it matters how fast a student can write.
Everything is communicated through the E-classroom and is typed.
The information is stored until the end of a class or longer.
It can also be printed out.
What Should I Consider When Choosing an Online RN to BSN Program?
The primary things to consider include:
- Length of program.
- Tuition cost.
- Program model.
Length of Program
Programs vary in length, but most of them require about 30 credit hours of upper-level BSN courses.
It doesn’t include the prerequisite classes, which can also vary depending on the school.
Most of these courses are completed with the ADN.
Many RN to BSN programs feature courses that last for 5 to 7 weeks and are taken one at a time.
However, every curriculum varies by school and depends on the motivation of the student to complete the program on time.
The reason is that most online programs are self-paced and can be taken one at a time.
You can also take more than one at a time and take breaks between courses.
This format makes the program highly flexible, but students need to stay motivated with it.
Ensuring that the program is properly accredited is essential.
Enrolling in a graduate school may be impossible if the school isn’t accredited by the right educational and nursing bodies.
The best way to avoid frustration later is to locate an ideal graduate school or a few and check their accreditation requirements for eligibility.
When planning your budget for the school, you need to consider the end goal as well.
Will you get a raise in pay and tuition assistance after graduation?
Also, consider what kind of increase and tuition assistance is worth the money spent.
In many hospitals, you can get a 5% raise with approximately $2000 per semester in tuition reimbursement.
This can also vary depending on the company.
You should consider the interest rates and financial aid payments regarding the increase in pay.
Are Clinical Hours Required for the RN to BSN Program?
The RN to BSN program doesn’t require clinical hours to meet the state requirements.
They are required for the Associate’s degree though.
The Bachelor’s educated nurses work clinically in the same capacity as nurses with the Associate’s degree but without additional clinical hours required by the state.
Clinical hours can be required only when you need to qualify for state licensure.
That means you need to qualify for the NCLEX-RN exam to become a registered nurse.
The BSN program doesn’t list it as a requirement since RNs are already licensed.
However, most programs require 30 clinical/practical hours or an equivalency examination.
This requirement can usually be met with full-time RN employment during the RN to BSN program.
If the student isn’t employed throughout the program as an RN, they will have to pass the equivalency exam.
On the other hand, in the Associate’s degree program, the requirement for clinical hours is about 300.
Is an RN to BSN Bridge Program Right for Me?
The answer is “absolutely” if you are a registered nurse who enjoys working in the field and wishes to:
- Learn more about how to be a great nurse and help people;
- Stay competitive in the field;
- Switch to a non-clinical position.