2016 Top Online RN to BSN Programs

2016 Top Online RN to BSN Programs

In order to expand their career options, many registered nurses (RNs) pursue a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing Degree (BSN). Earning this degree not only expands their career options and provides their future with more potential, but it also enhances and adds to their professional skill set. As the BSN is becoming more common among nurses, more and more healthcare facilities are requiring that candidates for new positions have this degree in order to be considered for a job.

Registered nurses that earn a BSN will have gone through more intensive coursework than RNs who have an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN). The BSN provides students with coursework like public health, management, research, science, and the humanities. This allows them more exposure to pertinent information concerning patients, hospitals, and the healthcare field as a whole.

For RNs to earn their BSN online one of the best options is to enroll in an online RN to BSN program. These programs allow working professionals to continue their career and gain more experience in the field while also enhancing their career options and expanding their knowledge base.

If you are an RN that is considering going back to school for a BSN to help advance your career, our website can be a valuable resource for you. We’ve researched over 800 RN to BSN programs so you can have information about the best options at your disposal. Below is a thorough compilation of information that will help you get started. With information on clinical requirements, how online programs can be advantageous, how online RN programs are accredited, and more, you’ll be able to understand all that is required to get an RN to BSN degree, and it’s value to your future. You can then use our directory to choose the online program that best fits your needs. Our tools will help jump start your career path without having to leave this website.

Top Accredited Online RN to BSN Degree Programs of 2016

To start, click on any of our top sponsored online schools to get more information now. *Note: These are affiliate links.

Top 10 Online RN to BSN Programs (Unaffiliated):

  1. Indiana University - Bloomington

Rating: A

Degree Name: RN to BSN Degree

Program Overview: Strong emphasis on leadership in the nursing field. Students have the option to graduate in 12, 18, or 24 months, and in that time they will earn 36 nursing credits in additional to clinical work.

Tuition: The hourly tuition rate is $273.40 for in state students, and $973.75 for out of state students.

Reputation: Ranked #75 by US News, #112 by Forbes, and #157 by Money.

  1. University of California - Chico

Rating: A

Degree Name: RN to BSN Degree

Program Overview: Dedicated to excellence and very flexible. This is a 15 month program that includes two summer semesters and a January intersession. Students are able to transfer applicable credits to help lighten the load of coursework while in the program.

Tuition: The entire program typically costs $14,000, so approximately $280-300 per credit hour.

Reputation: Ranked #42 by US News, #399 by Forbes, and #154 by Money.

  1. East Carolina University

Rating: A

Degree Name: RN to BSN Degree

Program Overview: Extremely appealing to RNs. If you are an RN that attended a community college acceptance into the program is simple if you meet the university’s requirements. To earn the BSN degree students must complete 33 credit hours.

Tuition: Per credit hour this degree costs $140.44 for North Carolina residents and $666.59 for out of state students, making the final cost about $4,634.52 and $21,997.47 respectively.

Reputation: Ranked #519 by Forbes and #194 by US News, while Money calls it one of the best schools for veterans.

  1. University of South Dakota

Rating: A

Degree Name: RN to BSN Degree

Program Overview: Flexible and transparent. Prospective students who have already earned their RN degree are encouraged to speak with a nursing advisor before they start the program, and while attending the university. All students must start the BSN program in the fall, and there are three options for completing the program:

  • Fast Track: 2 semester option (Full time)
  • Traditional Track: 4 semester option (Part time)
  • Progressive Track: 1 course a semester option (Part time)

The clinical part of the program can be completed in a location near where the student lives, and the part time options are available so students can work full time while earning the degree.

Tuition: The cost per credit hour is $325.25 for all online students.

Reputation: Ranked #411 by Forbes, and #180 by US News.

  1. Florida International University

Rating: A

Degree Name:RN to BSN Degree

Program Overview: Strong emphasis on experience in the field of nursing. To complete the degree students will take 30 credits of classes relevant to their field, including community health, wellness and care across cultures, nursing leadership in global healthcare, and a general health class. On top of this students are required to complete 30 clinical credits to finish the program.

Tuition: Florida residents pay $215.94 per credit hour. Non-residents pay $333.

Reputation: Ranked #487 by Forbes, and #598 by Money, making it one of the best nursing schools in the state.

  1. Georgia Southern University

Rating: A

Degree Name: RN to BSN Degree

Program Overview: Dedicated to professionalism. Students are only accepted if they achieved outstanding marks while earning their RN degree, have been actively using their degree, and kept up with various certifications since graduation. All online students must be Georgia residents, and a minimum of 29 credits must be completed to earn the degree.

Tuition: $204.00 per credit hour

Reputation: Ranked #588 with Forbes, and #656 with Money.

  1. Ball State University

Rating: A-

Degree Name: RN to BSN Degree

Program Overview: Very committed to the RN to BSN degree - Ball State University has offered an RN to BSN degree track since 1986. Students have the option of doing a three or six semester option. Students in the RN to BSN program will take 39 nursing prerequisite credits, and then 20 credits with their clinical work.

Tuition: Indiana residents pay $296 per credit hour, and out of state students pay $492, but this can vary depending on how many credits you’re taking per semester.

Reputation: Ranked #168 by US News, #569 by Forbes, and #483 by Money.

  1. DeSales University

Rating: A-

Degree Name:RN to BSN Degree

Program Overview: Strong dedication to the student body. All clinical hours are project based, so students won’t have to work in hospitals and can focus more on what is relevant to their education. Students have to take a minimum of 40 classes to receive their BSN, including the 7 classes that are required for the degree.

Tuition: All nursing students pay $515 per credit, and clinical experience can help reduce the cost of tuition.

Reputation: Ranked  #71 with US News, and #458 with Money.

  1. University of Arkansas

Rating: A-

Degree Name: RN to BSN Degree

Program Overview: Extremely flexible and useful in the nursing industry. Students can complete the degree in three semesters, and all of the classes are asynchronous, so you can take them at your leisure. A total of 29 credit hours are needed for the degree, and a student’s advisor at the University of Arkansas is also a full time faculty member, so they are all committed to the success of their advisees.

Tuition:$276.92 per credit hour.

Reputation: Ranked # 129 with US News, #272 with Forbes, and #451 with Money.

  1. Western Carolina University

Rating: A-

Degree Name: RN to BSN Degree

Program Overview: Strong reputation in academics. Students complete 24 hours of online core classes, and then 8 hours of upper division electives within two years. The program starts twice a year, so students begin in either January or August.

Tuition: In state students will pay about $5,500 to complete the degree.

Reputation: Ranked #32 with US News, and #556 with Money.

How we determined our top 10 rankings:

After performing our own research we then created formulas to help us calculate a list of universities by rank. We researched over 800 RN to BSN programs, and then filtered through the degrees to only include those that are offered online. From here we used the following criteria to determine the rank of each program:

  • 25% Academic performance - We generated a score for each program based on graduation and retention rates. The higher the rates the better the score.
  • 25% Reputation - Scores for this category were generated based on a program’s placement in US News college rankings, Forbes college rankings, and Money college rankings. The programs with more placements earned the better score.
  • 50% Tuition and value - The more affordable the program the better it scored in this category.

Using the Directory

To help you find the nursing program that best suits your career goals we researched over 7,000 programs, including over 800 RN to BSN programs, at nearly 1,800 schools. Our directory below allows you quick and easy access to information about these programs. After consulting the directory read our exhaustive guide, designed specifically for students considering a BSN degree, to get started on furthering your education and advancing your nursing career.

What is the RN to BSN degree?

There are three ways to receive training to become a registered nurse:

  1. Complete a three-year diploma program.
  2. Earn an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) at a community college; or
  3. Earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing Degree (BSN) from a four-year college or university.

In all cases, you need to pass the NCLEX-RN examination to become fully licensed.

The RN to BSN degree is appropriate for those RNs who have the diploma or ADN. It requires additional coursework and typically includes a hands-on clinical portion to increase awareness of patient care and community/public health concerns.

RN to BSN programs are usually one or two years in length. Many are available either through online programs or healthcare facilities, allowing nurses to continue their careers while completing their advanced studies.

Why would someone get a BSN when they are already a RN?

The RN to BSN program includes an in-depth study of science and nursing, but also includes coursework to enhance a nurse’s professional development, including studies in social issues, culture, and economics. The coursework in a RN to BSN program helps to expand a nurse’s understanding of the healthcare profession and patient care.

Studies show that when registered nurses hold a BSN there are significant improvements in patient safety, lower mortality rates, and enhancements to overall patient care. As a result, more hospitals and other healthcare facilities are making the BSN a required degree as they hire new staff.

Because of their advanced coursework, BSN nurses also have strong communication, analytical, leadership, and problem-solving skills.

Are there online RN to BSN programs?

There are several online RN to BSN programs. Quite a few of such programs are accredited by regional and state accreditation bodies; however, very few of these online programs are accredited by national entities; specifically, The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

Do I need to attend a program that includes clinical work?

Clinical work is not required to receive your BSN. However, many employers and graduate programs look favorably on programs that included clinical hours as part of the degree. Clinical hours will enhance your own skills and professional development.

  1. You receive hands-on experience that supplements the theoretical coursework.
  2. Clinical time provides an opportunity to demonstrate practical knowledge.
  3. Some clinical experiences allow students to qualify for extra certifications. For example, completion of California State University, Fullerton’s Community Health course qualifies students for a Public Health Nursing certification.
  4. Most accredited programs include clinical hours to allow students to demonstrate competence within the nursing field.
  5. Some programs may assist you with clinical placement and help you find a placement that can work in your existing schedule.
  6. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing strongly recommends all RN to BSN programs include clinical hours as part of the degree.

What type of accreditation is important for RN to BSN programs?

There are two accrediting bodies, the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Both are recognized and respected accreditation agencies, and there is no consensus within the nursing profession that one is better than the other. Both the ACEN and CCNE list accredited programs on their websites.

There are also accreditation entities for specific advanced fields, such as the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME) for midwifery programs.

What are the differences between CCNE and ACEN?

Why an Accredited Program is Important

You will need to apply to an accredited RN to BSN program if you plan to seek federal financial aid. A program needs state and/or regional accreditation to qualify for federal financial aid; however some scholarship programs may expect ACEN or CCNE accreditation as well. You may also need to be enrolled in an accredited program if you plan to seek tuition reimbursement from your employer. Having a degree from an accredited program is also important if you plan to seek a graduate degree in the future.

Keep in mind that to qualify for financial aid, attending a college accredited by state or regional higher education accreditation bodies may be sufficient; however some employers will only hire graduates of an ACEN or CCNE accredited program.

Am I eligible to attend a BSN program with a diploma or ADN?

Your BSN eligibility depends on whether or not the program you plan to attend will accept the course credit you earned during your RN training. If you haven’t yet earned your diploma or ADN, you should do your research to make sure your coursework is transferrable to a BSN program later.

What type of licensing is important for these programs?

All nursing programs, including RN to BSN, should carry licensing from the State Board of Nursing in the state in which it operates.

What are the basic requirements to apply to a BSN program?

For a RN to BSN program, you will need to first acquire your RN licensing and then apply to the program. If you do not yet possess your RN, you can apply to a BSN program as a freshman or transfer student.

Basic RN requirements

  • Graduate from an ADP/Diploma/BSN program that is approved by the State Board of Nursing

  • Passing score on state licensing NCLEX exam

Basic RN to BSN requirements

  • Current RN license in your state with your ADN/Diploma

  • Transfer completed coursework

  • Complete additional coursework and clinical work

What will I learn in a RN to BSN program?

The RN to BSN program will include coursework in research, ethics, leadership, teaching, community/public health, and advanced medical/science coursework, such as epidemiology. You will also need to complete additional non-nursing courses in science or liberal arts. You will also complete coursework in a clinical setting such as a hospital, clinic, or public health facility, where you will be guided by a preceptor (specialist) who oversees your training and evaluation.

How do I compare RN to BSN programs?

For your best chance of future career success, look for programs that have CCNE or ACEN accreditation, and that also include a clinical component. You should also ensure the program has been licensed and approved by the appropriate State Board of Nursing.

You can search for RN to BSN programs on the American Association of Colleges of Nursing’s website.

You might also consider RN to BSN programs that provide any or all of the following:

  • financial assistance

  • assistance with placement for clinical work and careers

  • part-time or flexible hours (if you have a full-time job)

  • graduate degrees

  • flexible start/end dates

  • statistics on graduation and placement rates

RN to BSN Online