Online RN to BSN Programs

RN to BSN online programs have surged in popularity in recent years, for two reasons. First, the field is expanding due to longer life expectancies and a greater need for healthcare providers. Second, hospitals are requiring current and future nurses to obtain a higher level of education than in years past.

Online RN to BSN programs were created with the non-traditional student in mind. They provide a flexible curriculum that can be completed full-time or part-time, and they are ideal for RNs who want to work while they complete their degree, or students who have other obligations.

To be eligible for an RN to BSN online program, applicants must hold either an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a nursing diploma. Depending on what their previous program covered, they may also be required to take a few prerequisite courses. Students should also have passed the NCLEX-RN examination and have a current, active RN license.

Before applying to any online RN to BSN program, prospective students need to fully research the state-by-state restrictions at their target schools. Because RNs are licensed on a state level, some schools in states outside of a student’s residence aren’t qualified to confer degrees outside their purview. If a student plans to apply to an online RN to BSN program offered by a college in a different part of the country, they must check with the admissions office to see if the degree will transfer.

To learn more about RN to BSN online programs in general, interested individuals can visit our comprehensive RN to BSN page.

Why Should I Get an RN to BSN Online?

Advantages to an Online RN to BSN Program

  • Asynchronous class format allows students to complete assignments at their own pace
  • Students can complete work from anywhere, provided they have a computer and internet connection
  • Many of the top online RN to BSN classes are taught by the same renowned professors leading on-campus classes
  • Tuition fees are typically lower

Disadvantages of an Online RN to BSN Program

  • There are numerous online RN to BSN programs that aren’t properly accredited, so students must do their research
  • Students may need to arrange their own site for completing required clinical hours
  • Online learning requires a great deal of self-discipline and the ability to be an independent learner

How Do Online RN to BSN Programs Work?

Will There Be Clinicals in My RN to BSN Online Program?

Most online RN to BSN programs require a clinical component — also known as a practicum — that can be completed at an approved healthcare facility near the student’s home. Although clinical requirements vary by institution, many students take two courses that require between 50-70 clinical hours per course. A majority of these hours must be completed on-site.

There are also several programs that don’t require practicum hours and instead incorporate clinical learning into a student’s current job. These still incorporate on-the-job learning, but it may not look like a traditional clinical rotation.

What Are "Fast Track" RN to BSN Online Programs?

While all programs differ based on the institution offering them, most fast track RN to BSN online programs can be completed in two or three semesters of full-time study (part-time programs typically take four or five semesters). The fast track program is a great option for distance learners who can take time off from work, or for those who aren’t working full-time. Individuals working 40 or more hours per week with other personal and professional obligations outside of school may struggle to accommodate the necessary 20-25 hour time investment.

Are RN to BSN Online Programs Legitimate and/or Accredited?

There are a large number of properly accredited online RN to BSN degrees available today, but students must be vigilant when they research schools. They need to make sure that any target program they choose has gone through the proper channels to gain — and maintain — accreditation. The official body for accrediting RN to BSN programs online is the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, which functions as part of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

What Are Some Accredited, Nonprofit RN to BSN Online Programs?

What Are Some of the Cheapest RN to BSN Online Programs?

Students looking for affordable RN to BSN programs often turn to online programs, as they are often less expensive than brick-and-mortar classes. On top of a lower tuition rate, online students are able to save money on costs associated with housing, transportation, on-campus fees, meal plans, and traditional textbooks.

In order to help students learn more about tuition prices at various institutions, the following table highlights the cost for each of the accredited nonprofit schools listed above. Because costs for online RN to BSN degrees often change each academic year, prospective students should reach out to any schools they’re interested in to confirm its exact price.

How Will An Online RN to BSN Help My Career?

There are several advantages of applying for RN jobs with a BSN rather than an ADN or nursing diploma. Perhaps the most notable benefit is the immediate rise in salary. Payscale found that nurses with a BSN earn approximately $8,000 more annually on average than those with ADNs or diplomas, and the gap only widens with more experience. It’s not just higher pay that makes an online RN to BSN program attractive, though. While ADN and diploma curriculums expose students to more clinical learning, BSN programs teach them how to take on managerial roles requiring more responsibility and a higher level of education.

As noted in our 2016 report, The State of Nursing, an online RN to BSN is also a smart choice, given that hospitals and healthcare facilities are now requiring more educated nurses. While nurses with an ADN or diploma aren’t necessarily at risk of losing their jobs, an increasing number of healthcare organizations now require new RNs to hold a BSN to meet minimum qualifications for open jobs.