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Top Online RN Programs & Nursing Schools for 2024

Explore program options, vet the best schools, and see what it takes to earn and pay for your online nursing degree. Take your first steps today.

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WRITTEN BY: Shannon Lee
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REVIEWED BY: Edumed Editing Staff

Last Updated: 09/06/2023

Editorial Values and Practices

Nurses are some of the most valuable professionals in a healthcare setting. Registered nurses (RNs) lead patient care plans and manage patient activities in both primary and urgent care settings. They work closely with other nurses, support staff, and physicians to maximize patient outcomes and ensure entire healthcare facilities run smoothly.

In May of 2020, registered nurses earned a median of $75,330, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Top RN salaries reached $116,230. Registered nursing continues to show tremendous opportunity for growth as well, with the BLS estimating a 7% increase in job openings from 2019 – 2029.

Aspiring registered nurses have a variety of degree options from which to choose. An associate degree in nursing tends to be the quickest path to the profession, although many RNs decide to begin with a bachelor’s. Many healthcare facilities often require RNs to hold a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in order to gain employment.

Online RN programs have become increasingly popular over the past decade, with schools across the country offering them. This includes online ADN programs (2 years) and online BSN programs (4 years). Accelerated programs for certain types of nurses may exist, as well.

Ready to learn more about online nursing programs for RNs? See EduMed’s list of the top schools for 2024.

or
About the ranking

X

Base Methodology for EduMed’s Best Online College Rankings for the ’23-’24 school year.

One: Create list of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on data pulled from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), which was self-reported by the schools themselves.

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least 1 online component in a program within the ranking-subject area.

Two: Assign Weighting

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of metrics, which were all self-reported by the schools themselves to the U.S. Department of Education and IPEDS. 

The metrics are listed below in order of most- to least-heavily weighted. 

Online Programs – Number of online programs in the relevant subject area.

Online Student % – Number of total students who are enrolled in at least 1 distance-learning course in the relevant subject area.

Tuition – The average in-state tuition for undergraduate students studying full-time, as self-reported by the school.

Institutional Aid – Percent of full-time undergraduate students who are awarded institutional grant aid, as self-reported by the school.

Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.

Career Placement Services – Existence of this service on campus or online.

Student/Faculty Ratio

About Our DataEduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2023

# School Name Type Tuition Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 University of Southern IndianaEvansville, IN Public $ 10

The University of Southern Indiana (USI) offers a variety of online nursing degrees at the undergraduate, master's, and doctoral level. These prgorams include a BSN program for registered nurses (RN to BSN), specialized MS programs in nursing fields including gerontology, family nurse practicioner, and psychiatric nursing, and, for those who already hold a BSN, a professional doctorate prgoram (DNP). Programs are 100% online, and generally begin in the fall semester. Program lengths and admissions requirements vary from degree to degree.

Program Highlights:

BS; BSN; DNP; MS

  • Credits: Varies
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $297/credit (BSN); $419.06/credit (graduate programs)
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
16/1
Online
Student %
63%
2 Ohio University-Main CampusAthens, OH Public $$ 8

Ohio University offers RN to BSN, MSN, and DNP programs, as well as five different postgraduate nursing ceritificate programs. While the admissions requirements, completion times, and total costs of these prgorams vary, all are offered fully online, with no standardized tests (SAT, ACT, GRE) required for admission. These programs pride themselves on offering flexibility, meaning you can study full-time, or part-time, as you see fit. You will also, depending on the prgoram, be able to choose specializations or, in the case of the postgraduate certificates, pick a specialty to prepare for your ceritfication exam. Ohio University has been recognized by multiple outlets as one of the best (and best value) online colleges in Ohio.

Program Highlights:

RN to BSN, MSN, DNP, Certificate Programs

  • Credits: Varies
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: Undergraduate: $308/credit (in-state); $327/credit (out-of-state) Graduate: $508/credit (in-state); $527/credit (out-of-state)
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
Online
Student %
78%
3 University of Cincinnati-Main CampusCincinnati, OH Public $$ 9

The University of Cincinnati offers an online RN to BSN program, five specialized online MSN programs, two online DNP programs, and three online postgraduate nursing certificate programs. MSN students can choose from specializations in primary care or family practice, midwifery, women's health, or nursing systems leadership, while certificate candidates can study nursing education, family nursing, or mental health and psychiatric nursing. Application requirements vary from program to program. The majority of UC's nursing programs are offered fully online, but the MSN in nurse midwifery will require you to travel to the Cincinnati campus for two skills intensives.

Program Highlights:

RN to BSN, MSN, BSN to DNP, DNP, Post-Master's Certificate

  • Credits: Varies
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $566-$581/credit (undergraduate); $892-$907/credit (graduate)
  • Mode: Online, Hybrid
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
19/1
Online
Student %
65%
4 Winona State UniversityWinona, MN Public $ 12 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
16/1
Online
Student %
56%
5 Kent State University at KentKent, OH Public $$ 5 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
19/1
Online
Student %
89%
6 Clarkson CollegeOmaha, NE Private not-for-profit $$ 6 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
18/1
Online
Student %
95%
7 East Carolina UniversityGreenville, NC Public $ 7 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
18/1
Online
Student %
74%
8 University of Southern MainePortland, ME Public $ 4 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
13/1
Online
Student %
68%
9 California University of PennsylvaniaCalifornia, PA Public $ 5 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
19/1
Online
Student %
80%
10 California State University-Dominguez HillsCarson, CA Public $ 4 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
25/1
Online
Student %
94%
11 Chamberlain University-IllinoisAddison, IL Private for-profit $$ 8 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
19/1
Online
Student %
96%
12 Fayetteville State UniversityFayetteville, NC Public $ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
15/1
Online
Student %
91%
13 University of ArizonaTucson, AZ Public $$ 5 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
Online
Student %
56%
14 The University of West FloridaPensacola, FL Public $ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
21/1
Online
Student %
88%
15 Northern Kentucky UniversityHighland Heights, KY Public $$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
Online
Student %
75%
16 University of North AlabamaFlorence, AL Public $ 4 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
Online
Student %
77%
17 Ohio State University-Main CampusColumbus, OH Public $$ 4 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
18/1
Online
Student %
77%
18 Purdue University GlobalWest Lafayette, IN Public $ 7 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
27/1
Online
Student %
100%
19 New Mexico Highlands UniversityLas Vegas, NM Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
11/1
Online
Student %
88%
20 Youngstown State UniversityYoungstown, OH Public $ 5 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
Online
Student %
56%
21 New Mexico State University-Main CampusLas Cruces, NM Public $ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
15/1
Online
Student %
76%
22 University of IowaIowa City, IA Public $ 5 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
15/1
Online
Student %
54%
23 The University of Texas Rio Grande ValleyEdinburg, TX Public $ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
20/1
Online
Student %
78%
24 West Texas A & M UniversityCanyon, TX Public $ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
Online
Student %
89%
25 The University of Texas Permian BasinOdessa, TX Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
13/1
Online
Student %
81%
26 CUNY Lehman CollegeBronx, NY Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
Online
Student %
96%
27 Delta State UniversityCleveland, MS Public $ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
10/1
Online
Student %
68%
28 Arkansas State UniversityJonesboro, AK Public $ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
14/1
Online
Student %
69%
29 Southern Illinois University-EdwardsvilleEdwardsville, IL Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
15/1
Online
Student %
81%
30 University of Massachusetts GlobalIrvine, CA Private not-for-profit $$ 4 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
22/1
Online
Student %
99%
31 Western Carolina UniversityCullowhee, NC Public $ 4 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
15/1
Online
Student %
54%
32 Texas A&M University-Central TexasKilleen, TX Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
16/1
Online
Student %
90%
33 Indiana Wesleyan University-National & GlobalMarion, IN Private not-for-profit $ 4 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
Online
Student %
93%
34 California State University-East BayHayward, CA Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
24/1
Online
Student %
85%
35 Western Illinois UniversityMacomb, IL Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
13/1
Online
Student %
79%
36 Old Dominion UniversityNorfolk, VA Public $$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
16/1
Online
Student %
76%
37 Norfolk State UniversityNorfolk, VA Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
15/1
Online
Student %
97%
38 McNeese State UniversityLake Charles, LA Public $ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
19/1
Online
Student %
86%
39 Davenport UniversityGrand Rapids, MI Private not-for-profit $$$$ 4 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
15/1
Online
Student %
81%
40 Northwestern State University of LouisianaNatchitoches, LA Public $ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
19/1
Online
Student %
88%
41 SUNY College of Technology at CantonCanton, NY Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
Online
Student %
81%
42 Radford UniversityRadford, VA Public $ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
13/1
Online
Student %
70%
43 California State University-StanislausTurlock, CA Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
20/1
Online
Student %
93%
44 Indiana State UniversityTerre Haute, IN Public $ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
16/1
Online
Student %
61%
45 South Dakota State UniversityBrookings, SD Public $ 4 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
Online
Student %
50%
46 Wheeling UniversityWheeling, WV Private not-for-profit $$$$ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
12/1
Online
Student %
96%
47 Auburn University at MontgomeryMontgomery, AL Public $ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
15/1
Online
Student %
60%
48 Southwestern Oklahoma State UniversityWeatherford, OK Public $ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
19/1
Online
Student %
70%
49 University of North FloridaJacksonville, FL Public $ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
19/1
Online
Student %
76%
50 Grantham UniversityLenexa, KS Private for-profit $ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
25/1
Online
Student %
100%
or
About the ranking

X

Base Methodology for EduMed’s Best Online College Rankings for the ’23-’24 school year.

One: Create list of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on data pulled from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), which was self-reported by the schools themselves.

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least 1 online component in a program within the ranking-subject area.

Two: Assign Weighting

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of metrics, which were all self-reported by the schools themselves to the U.S. Department of Education and IPEDS. 

The metrics are listed below in order of most- to least-heavily weighted. 

Online Programs – Number of online programs in the relevant subject area.

Online Student % – Number of total students who are enrolled in at least 1 distance-learning course in the relevant subject area.

Tuition – The average in-state tuition for undergraduate students studying full-time, as self-reported by the school.

Institutional Aid – Percent of full-time undergraduate students who are awarded institutional grant aid, as self-reported by the school.

Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.

Career Placement Services – Existence of this service on campus or online.

Student/Faculty Ratio

About Our DataEduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2023

# School Name Type Tuition Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 Panola CollegeCarthage, TX Public $ 2

Panola College offers an associate degree in nursing as well as a program specifically for LVN/LPNs to transition to an RN position. The ADN program is a closed program, meaning it requires additional application and acceptance into the program in addition to acceptance into the school. It involves in-person clinicals three to four days each week on weekdays either on campus or within 70 miles of Carthage, Texas. This program takes four semesters after all prerequisites are completed.

Program Highlights:

Associate Degree of Nursing

  • Credits: 60
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: About $95 per credit
  • Mode: On campus
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
14/1
Online
Student %
72%
2 CUNY LaGuardia Community CollegeLong Island City, NY Public $ 1

LaGuardia Community College-CUNY offers a nursing program that includes the LPN to RN Advanced Pathway and a traditional track. Students enrolled in the Associate of Applied Science (AAS) Nursing Program must complete 23 credit hours of common core courses and 43 credit hours of program core courses to earn their AAS degree. The program features a mix of classroom instruction and clinical courses, which are complemented by on-campus labs and clinical practice in healthcare facilities within the area.

Program Highlights:

Associate of Applied Science Nursing Program

  • Credits: 66
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $4,800/year (New York City resident), $9,600/year (nonresident)
  • Mode: Hybrid
  • Accreditation: ACEN
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
20/1
Online
Student %
96%
3 Central Community CollegeGrand Island, NE Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
15/1
Online
Student %
72%
4 CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community CollegeNew York, NY Public $ 1

The Borough of Manhattan Community College stands by its students with strong support services every step of the way. Nursing students have access to firsthand, topic-specific tutoring at the school's Nursing Skills Laboratory and Nursing Tutoring Lab. Flexible course schedules including online, evening, and weekend classes offer flexibility for students to balance their education with other responsibilities. There's also a shorter LPN program available for those who want to work in healthcare but aren't ready to pursue their RN.

Program Highlights:

Nursing (AAS)

  • Credits: 65
  • Length: About 2 years
  • Cost: $210/credit (resident) and $320/credit (nonresident)
  • Mode: Hybrid
  • Accreditation: ACEN

Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
19/1
Online
Student %
88%
5 Mesa Community CollegeMesa, AZ Public $ 2

Whether you are launching a new career or just expanding into new opportunities, Mesa Community College's Nursing Program can help you earn a certificate of completion or associate degree. The college's Registered Nurse Program is only four semesters and combines classroom and experiential learning. The program gives students access to the school's lab, as well as clinical sites. Graduates earn their Associate in Applied Science in Nursing and can apply for licensure as an RN.

Program Highlights:

Associate in Applied Science in Nursing

  • Credits: 62-75
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $97/credit (county resident), $531/credit (nonresident)
  • Mode: Hybrid
  • Accreditation: ACEN
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
15/1
Online
Student %
60%
6 CUNY Bronx Community CollegeBronx, NY Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
16/1
Online
Student %
92%
7 Northwood Technical CollegeShell Lake, WI Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
7/1
Online
Student %
73%
8 National Park CollegeHot Springs, AK Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
15/1
Online
Student %
68%
9 CUNY Queensborough Community CollegeBayside, NY Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
16/1
Online
Student %
81%
10 Holmes Community CollegeGoodman, MS Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
Online
Student %
63%
11 Lakeshore Technical CollegeCleveland, WI Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
11/1
Online
Student %
66%
12 Cerritos CollegeNorwalk, CA Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
26/1
Online
Student %
78%
13 Bossier Parish Community CollegeBossier City, LA Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
27/1
Online
Student %
76%
14 Mississippi Gulf Coast Community CollegePerkinston, MS Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
21/1
Online
Student %
59%
15 Eastern New Mexico University-Roswell CampusRoswell, NM Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
16/1
Online
Student %
71%
16 Missouri State University-West PlainsWest Plains, MO Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
13/1
Online
Student %
62%
17 Davidson-Davie Community CollegeThomasville, NC Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
Online
Student %
66%
18 Northwest Technical CollegeBemidji, MN Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
16/1
Online
Student %
74%
19 Allegany College of MarylandCumberland, MD Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
11/1
Online
Student %
50%
20 Amarillo CollegeAmarillo, TX Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
18/1
Online
Student %
55%
21 Kansas City Kansas Community CollegeKansas City, KS Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
12/1
Online
Student %
43%
22 Hinds Community CollegeRaymond, MS Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
Online
Student %
44%
23 Compton CollegeCompton, CA Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
15/1
Online
Student %
56%
24 Roane State Community CollegeHarriman, TN Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
16/1
Online
Student %
52%
25 Central Georgia Technical CollegeWarner Robins, GA Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
14/1
Online
Student %
45%
26 James A. Rhodes State CollegeLima, OH Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
16/1
Online
Student %
35%
27 John A Logan CollegeCarterville, IL Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
18/1
Online
Student %
45%
28 Mt Hood Community CollegeGresham, OR Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
Online
Student %
40%
29 Minnesota West Community and Technical CollegeGranite Falls, MN Public $ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Student/
Faculty Ratio
17/1
Online
Student %
48%

As nursing student needs diversify, schools are expanding how they deliver their higher education programs. While face-to-face remains the norm, more and more schools have incorporated online learning into their nursing curricula. It’s convenient, more affordable, and many students can use online RN programs to help balance school, work, and family responsibilities. This holds true for all nursing programs, including the ADN, RN bridge programs, and other higher education opportunities for current and future RNs. Want to learn more? Explore nursing programs online and find the educational path that’s right for you.

Find Online Nursing Programs in Your State

Q&A with an Online Nursing School Director

As you’re exploring online nursing programs, getting information directly from schools is extremely helpful. We reached out to universities with online nursing schools from across the nation to give them a chance to share what makes their programs stand out. Here’s a recent conversation we had with Rebecca H. Le, director for the School of Nursing at Regent University.

University name location School type online programs Get more info Program Description
Regent University location: Virginia Beach, VA School type: Private not-for-profit online programs: 2 Get more info
Laurus College Logo

Interview with Rebecca H. Le, Ph.D., MSN, RN, IBCLC

Director for the School of Nursing
RN-to-BSN and MSN Nursing Programs

What’s your involvement at Regent University with online learning?

I am currently serving as Director for the School of Nursing at Regent University. I have had the privilege of working collaboratively with other nurses to create the online nursing curriculum for the Master of Science in Nursing degree program at Regent University. This endeavor required utilizing the knowledge, skills and values that I obtained during my experience serving as nurse, educator, administrator, and mission worker.

All of this experience has brought me to the place of desiring to mentor nurses in their advanced careers as professional nurses, educators, administrators, and mission workers. Students can gain the same knowledge, skills, and values through Regent’s nursing program!

What makes your online nursing programs stand out from others?

The Regent University School of Nursing degree programs are Christ-centered. We offer professional excellence with holistic care. This includes the commitment to be a light to those hurting and to expand the Kingdom through the nurse’s healing touch.

Our programs are fully online in 8-week course sessions. Students have the ability to choose specialties and personal practicum locations for both the RN to BS in Nursing and the MSN program. Students may choose the Nurse Educator or Nurse Administrator track in the MSN program, which positions them to become a leader on the frontlines of nursing.

How do your online nursing programs prepare students for successful careers in the field?

Regent University nursing programs prepare students for successful careers by incorporating important topics within the curriculum to prepare graduates for the workforce. These topics are chosen by representatives from the nursing workforce, including professional organizations and employers who know what knowledge, skills, and values are needed to be successful. A few examples of these topics are aggregate research outcomes, resolve practice outcomes, healthcare informatics and emergent technologies, advocacy of policies, leadership, communication, collaboration, consultation skills, quality and safe care, culturally competent and ethical care, and advanced level of understanding of nursing.

Furthermore, students learn to effectively assess health systems and the forces that impact patient care, recommend evidence-based healthcare improvements, apply ethical and responsible leadership behaviors to social, psychological, and health-related situations, and expand nursing knowledge and career opportunities with the potential to advance as a nursing scholar.

What support services do you offer students enrolled in your online nursing programs?

The university’s student support services provide support for the nursing degree programs through advising, faculty support, library, and other academic services for tutoring and success coaching. Because the programs are fully online, students may access these services electronically or by phone. Local students may come to campus or may access resources remotely. The university also maintains all services and web-enabled services, which allow students to register for classes online, check financial accounts, access electronic information from the University Library, and engage in distance education. Blackboard provides technical support to students, faculty members, and staff.

Any other information you’d like prospective students to know about your nursing programs?

We are currently offering discounted cohort opportunities to maximize staff development and reduce costs. We are competitive in cost with other nursing programs and offer corporate partner discounts. Students may transfer up to 90 credit hours towards the RN to BS in Nursing program. There are no nursing prerequisite courses required, and students will receive prior learning assessment credit for Anatomy & Physiology. Learn more at regent.edu/nursing.

How Does an Online RN Program Work?

Online RN programs combine the flexibility of distance learning with classroom work and hands-on clinicals. Many of the more academically-oriented courses take place online, while group and/or patient-centered activities occur at medical facilities. This combination makes online RN programs “hybrid” or “blended” in nature. While some post-licensure programs can be taken fully online, nearly all pre-licensure nursing programs with an online component are partially online. Let’s see how these hybrid programs work, and if online learning could make sense for your registered nursing education.

Taking Nursing Classes Online

The online portion of nursing programs consists of classroom style instruction. Each program has its own way of delivering the course material, but most use a type of course management software or learning management system, such as Blackboard. Whatever a particular school uses will be compatible with most computer operating systems, such as Mac OS and Windows. Students also need to have specific computer applications to help view the course material, such as a PDF reader or a program to watch videos and play audio files.

The course management software also helps facilitate group learning by allowing students to interact with each other in real time or in a time delayed format. Depending on the class and program, communication might be through online chats, message board discussions, or video conferencing using software like Skype or Facetime.

Classes with hands-on learning elements will not be able to provide the necessary learning through online exclusive means. Therefore, nursing students have to gain their in-person instruction through the use of clinicals.

The In-Person Clinicals

Online nursing programs that prepare students to become registered nurses almost always require completion of various in-person clinicals or practicums. This is because much of what a registered nurse needs to know involves hands-on skills. How students decide to complete their clinical requirements depends on where they plan on taking them. Nursing schools have arrangements with medical facilities near the school’s physical location, but things are more complicated with online students who may be thousands of miles away.

To accommodate these students, many online nursing programs allow students to work with program administrators to choose a clinical facility close to the student’s location. But distance students can’t just choose any hospital or clinic; they’ll need to find one that can provide the educational and training opportunities that warrant a nursing program’s approval. Fortunately, program administrators are usually well-versed in helping students choose the medical setting that suits their clinical requirements.

Nursing Programs & Accreditation

Accreditation refers to the independent review of a school or program to ensure it meets certain educational standards. This is particularly important with online nursing programs, where it can be very tempting for schools to cut corners to make it easier for students to graduate. When researching campus or online nursing programs, make sure the schools on your shortlist have (1) regional accreditation and (2) programmatic accreditation specific to nursing. The following accrediting bodies are key:

  • Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN): The ACEN is a US Department of Education and Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) recognized accrediting body for nursing programs in the United States and its territories. The ACEN accredits the full spectrum of nursing programs at the certificate, undergraduate, and graduate level.
  • Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE): As the second major US Department of Education recognized accrediting body, the CCNE focuses on accrediting nurse residency programs as well as traditional academic programs at the undergraduate and graduate level.

Why NCLEX-RN Pass Rates Matter

Accreditation confirms a nursing program meets basic education standards, and it’s a sign that the program readies its students to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. Passing this exam is required to work as a registered nurse in all 50 states.

The NCLEX-RN exam is managed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) and administered by Pearson VUE. It uses computerized adaptive testing, which means the test taker completes the exam on a computer, with the computer deciding which questions to provide the test taker based on how they answered the prior question. This means the exam may be different for every person, including the number of questions they must answer. Most test questions are in multiple choice format.

Because there’s so much weight on passing the exam, NCLEX-RN pass rates should be a key component in your nursing program search. Higher pass rates mean that a program’s curriculum is complete and its educators are well-versed in the nursing profession and education standards.

To learn how to pass the NCLEX on your first try, check out our guide on acing the exam.

Can You Get into an Online RN Program?

Exact requirements to gain acceptance into an online nursing program depends largely on the type of program. For instance, for a post-licensure program, incoming students need to already have a registered nursing license. This requirement does not exist for students entering a pre-licensure program. In contrast, students entering a pre-licensure program do have certain academic prerequisites that registered nurses enrolled in a BSN completion program won’t need to complete. In addition to academic prerequisites, incoming students also need to meet other admission requirements.

  • Academic Prerequisites

    Before beginning their nursing education, pre-licensure students must first complete prerequisites, which help provide an educational foundation for more advanced nursing courses. These prerequisite courses may differ slightly between programs, but usually consist of the following:

    • Introduction to psychology
    • Anatomy and physiology
    • Microbiology
    • Introduction to sociology
    • Chemistry
    • English composition
    • Human development and growth
    • Communication and speech
    • One or more general education courses, such as humanities or US government

    Depending on how the nursing program is set up, students may be able to gain acceptance to a school before completing any of these prerequisites. But, these students must then complete them during their first year or two while they apply for admission into the actual nursing program.

  • Physical Prerequisites

    Nursing is a very physical field, so incoming students must demonstrate the ability to meet the physical requirements of the profession. These requirements usually consist of:

    • The ability to lift up to 50 pounds
    • Fine and gross motor abilities
    • Good balance and coordination
    • Visual ability that allows nurses to provide medical care to patients, such as distinguishing colors
    • Stand for extended periods of time
    • Perform lifesaving activities, such as CPR
    • Sufficient hearing to have full awareness of patient sounds and medical instruments
    • Reach above shoulders

    Additionally, students must provide evidence that they are healthy enough to work with patients. This includes proof that they are up-to-date on their immunizations and currently enrolled in a health insurance plan.

For a detailed review of what it takes to get in, check out our expert guide on getting into nursing school.

The Admissions Process

Prospective nursing students need to pay close attention to each program’s admissions requirements, as there are a wide number of variations between programs. In addition to admission to the school, there are also degree-specific admissions requirements. At the very least, students will submit an application and evidence that they meet the physical requirements for the program. Below is a list of other common admissions criteria.

1. Academic history

Most applicants will need to provide academic transcripts and meet minimum GPA requirements. This is one of the key elements of an admissions application, as it provides a relatively objective measure of a student’s academic ability.

How to stand out

Have the highest GPA possible. An average or sub-par GPA usually won’t keep a student out (except at the most prestigious programs), but a GPA that’s high can be one of the single best ways a student can stand out. It also helps to mention extracurricular activities, such as volunteering, to show that an applicant is well-rounded.

2. Work experience

This is important for entrance into post-licensure programs. However, it can be useful for pre-licensure students as it can demonstrate other skills that the applicant may possess.

How to stand out

For pre-licensure students, experience that’s relevant to nursing can serve as evidence of a student’s desire to work in the nursing field. For admission into a post-licensure program, diverse or long-term experience in nursing can help in that it adds to the diversity of the incoming nursing class.

3. Test scores

This includes admissions and entrance test scores. Like the GPA, test scores serve as an objective measure of a student’s academic ability. Schools want their students to do well academically, and excelling on tests provides some evidence that an applicant will be able to succeed.

How to stand out

Applicants shouldn’t just aim to pass the exam or get the minimum score, but to achieve the highest scores possible. Not only does this catch the attention of admissions officers, but high test scores, especially on standardized entrance exams like the ACT or SAT, can help earn merit-based scholarships.

4. Personal interview

An interview helps students provide a personal touch to their application and get more attention in competitive programs.

How to stand out

Acceptance offers aren’t usually given based on the personal interview, but many rejection letters are. The best thing the applicant can do is be themselves and come fully prepared. Applicants should be able to explain why they want to attend that particular school and have good questions ready to provide evidence that their interest in the program is authentic.

5. Personal statement

Personal statements are essays students write to show another side of themselves beyond what a transcript, test score, or resume might provide.

How to stand out

Personal statements are the most common opportunity for applicants to stand out, especially if they don’t have a stellar GPA or test score. If the applicant has a very unique story to explain why they want to become a nurse, the personal statement may be the only opportunity to show this. It’s important to start writing this essay as early in the admissions process as possible to have plenty of time for revisions.

6. Letters of recommendation

Not all applications ask for this and when they do, they’re not the most critical part of the application. This is because they’re always going to be positive. But, they can also reflect subtle reservations from the recommender.

How to stand out

Applicants should find someone who can write a strong letter. To do this, cultivate relationships with certain teachers or mentors well before asking for a letter of recommendation. Nothing tempers a positive letter or recommendation like feeling as though you are an afterthought. Provide plenty of time for the recommender to write the letter.

7. Current registered nursing license

This is usually only necessary for post-licensure nursing applicants, such as those interested in an RN to BSN or MSN program.

How to stand out

Have a current license in good standing. Being a registered nurse won’t help applicants stand out, but not having the necessary licensure will virtually guarantee rejection.

Inside Online RN Programs

One of the strengths of nurses as healthcare professionals is their broad level of knowledge. So it comes as no surprise that the nursing curriculum for training registered nurses covers a wide arrange of subjects and topics. While each program has the freedom to create its own curriculum, all registered nursing students will take courses in several key areas, including:

Evidence-Based-Practice

Evidence Based Practice: All pre-licensure nursing programs require students to complete several courses focused on understanding medical research and how it applies to improving medical outcomes. In these courses, students will learn basic concepts concerning statistical analysis, the research process, and how this information contributes to the creation of policies and procedures in the healthcare setting.

Ethics

Ethics: The general principles of ethics in the medical field are fairly straightforward. But when those ideas intersect with the real world, moral conundrums that can stump even the most seasoned medical professional can arise. Therefore, registered nurses must learn to put the overarching ethical principles within the context of society, legal statutes, regulations, and medical science.

Leadership-and-Management

Leadership and Management: Providing healthcare services is a team effort, with registered nurses being key players. It’s important for future registered nurses to understand how the managing of nurses takes place in a medical facility, such as a hospital. Nursing students will also learn about the financial aspect of providing healthcare services to patients and how economic considerations play a part in healthcare.

Critical-Care-and-Assessment

Critical Care and Assessment: In these courses, nursing students learn how to assess patients and provide necessary medical care, especially for serious or traumatic injuries. One of the key skills of any medical professional is being able to identify a medical issue as quickly as possible. Another equally important skill is being able to take that initial assessment and convert that into actionable behavior, such as a specific intervention or treatment.

Nursing students may develop additional hard and soft skills during their program, as well. This may happen during academic coursework, but likely will be put into practice via in-person clinicals.

Specialization & Career Growth

When it comes to career growth, nurses have a plethora of specializations available to them. Moving into a specific area of practice can increase career prospects due to a higher degree of skill required. Let’s take a look at some of the more popular specializations for registered nurses. For more ideas and to find the right specialization for you, take our Nursing Specialties Quiz.

  • Acute care
    When it comes to serious illness and trauma, acute care nursing is the place to be. Acute care nurses can be found in emergency rooms, intensive care units, or treating patients recovering from surgery. These nurses are usually involved when immediate or urgent medical care is required.
  • Midwifery
    Some registered nurses choose to enter midwifery, where they help expecting mothers stay healthy during pregnancy, labor, and birth. More and more nurses are seeking midwife certification via nurse midwife programs online.
  • Geriatric
    One of the most common types of long-term care nursing involves treating elderly patients. Many of these patients deal with health problems that take a long time to treat or are incurable and must be managed. Geriatric nurses aren’t exclusive to treating chronic conditions and may commonly practice acute care for their patients as well.
  • Neonatal
    For nurses who enjoy working with newborn babies, a neonatal specialization should be considered. Neonatal nurses can work with both fully healthy and extremely ill or premature newborns, or may choose to further specialize and work in just one area. For example, some neonatal nurses find themselves working primarily in the neonatal intensive care unit.
  • Oncology
    Cancer is one of the most common and serious diseases humanity faces. Whole teams of medical professionals focus on this healthcare issue, including registered nurses who specialize in treating it. Oncology nurses work with a wide range of patients, a variety of ages, and deal with many types of cancer.
  • Pediatric
    Pediatric registered nurses work in a variety of settings, but almost exclusively with young children and adolescents. Some pediatric nurses can be found in an acute care setting, such as an intensive care units at a hospital. Others may be found in doctor’s offices providing routine and preventative care.
  • Women’s health
    As its name implies, women’s health nursing focuses on health issues specific to women. Most of the time, these issues involve reproductive and gynecological issues. However, women’s health nursing can also involve diseases that primarily affect women, such as ovarian or breast cancer.

The Cost of an Online RN Program

One of the major decisions to make when choosing an online registered nursing program is how much it costs to complete it. The exact cost depends on a variety of factors, such as residency status, program type, and the availability of financial aid. However, to provide a general idea of tuition costs, we’ve chosen three sample schools.

1 1. University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Nursing, RN to BSN Program $4,900/year (in-state); $12,975 (out-of-state) or $448/credit (in-state); $1,122 (out-of-state).
2 2. Aspen University, Bachelor of Science in Nursing (pre-licensure) $37,069/year or $309/credit
3 3. Arkansas State University, RN to BSN Online $8,937/year or $248/credit

Paying for an RN Program

A nursing education isn’t cheap. Even though most nurses can expect to make a decent income after graduation, they must still figure out how to pay for the cost of education to get to that point. Like any other student, nurses are eligible for several forms of financial aid, such as scholarships, grants, and loans. But there are also some options tailored specifically to nursing students.

  • Financial aid
    Outside of the student’s own finances, financial aid is the primary method of help to pay for school. Some of the most popular sources of financial aid come from the federal government in the form of need-based grants and loans. To learn more about these options, check out the “Pay Less for Education: How to Take Charge of Your Financial Aid” page.
  • Military discount
    Many programs and schools provide special tuition rates (as much as a 30% discount) to current or former members of the armed forces. This can amount to thousands of dollars in savings over the course of a nursing program. Some schools offer these discounts to a service member’s spouse as well.
  • Scholarships & grants
    Scholarships and grants are the most desired form of financial aid because the money does not need to be paid back. Scholarships and grants can be awarded based on any number of characteristics or traits, including academic excellence, financial need, and membership in a particular group, such being a minority or pursing a specific academic field. Visit our dedicated scholarships and resources page for RN students to find awards you may be eligible for.
  • Transfer credits
    To help facilitate the goal of earning a degree as efficiently as possible, most schools allow students to gain transfer credit for academic work completed at another postsecondary institution. Exactly how the credits will transfer depends on each program’s specific policies. However, most programs allow students to transfer the equivalent of several courses, which can easily shave off a few months and a several thousand dollars from the time and financial cost of pursuing a nursing degree.
  • Prior work experience in healthcare
    In recognition of extensive work experience, some schools provide academic credit based on that work. Many online programs offer this potential, although programs differ on what experience counts toward what type of academic credit. For instance, earning general education credit for work experience is more common than earning academic credit for nursing courses.
  • Discounts for Nursing Students
    Paying for college may require scholarships, financial aid, and working while in school, but you have other ways to drive down the cost, too. Many of today’s nurses and nursing students can take advantage of discounts and freebies to save money, time, and energy. Check out this list of 50 dynamite discounts for nursing students and professionals.

Salaries for Registered Nurses

Great pay is a significant reason many decide to become registered nurses, but as you can imagine, how much a specific nurse makes depends on a variety of factors, including area of specialization, geographic location, and employer. The following is a list of what registered nurses can expect to make as a median salary based on where they work.

  • Ambulatory healthcare services $66,300
  • Government entities $75,900
  • Residential and nursing care facilities $62,320
  • State, local, and private hospitals $72,070
  • State, local, and private education institutions $60,300