Online Nursing Programs
and Schools in Florida

Online RN programs in Florida can help you become an in-demand nurse
through flexible, remote classwork. Explore your degree options, find
accredited schools, and get key licensing and salary info in this guide.

Last Updated: 10/27/2020
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Covid-19 has helped shine a spotlight on the incredible kindness and dedication of nurses across the nation – and it has also revealed the need for additional qualified nurses, including in Florida. Home to a sizeable number of older adults, coupled with a growing population, over 27,000 new registered nursing jobs are expected to be created between 2019 and 2027 according to the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, the second most among all professions.

As Florida requires more RNs and other nursing professionals, colleges and universities across the state are offering affordable, convenient online nursing programs to meet that need. From associate to doctoral programs, these flexible online programs offer students the join the nursing field through remote education.

If you’re looking to start (or advance) your RN career in Florida and are interested in earning your degree online, this guide is for you. You’ll get all of the information you need, including spotlights of top accredited online nursing programs in Florida, an overview of what it’s like to earn your nursing degree online, licensing and salary details for RNs in Florida, and much more.

How Do Online Nursing Programs in Florida Work?

Online coursework structure can vary from school to school in Florida, with some engaging you in coursework almost entirely online and others implementing a hybrid style of learning with both online and in-person classes. Programs may differ in structure, but in-person clinical work will always be an essential part of a nursing degree. Hands-on learning traditionally takes place in a pre-approved professional medical environment.

Online nursing programs may employ both synchronous and asynchronous learning—essentially live at a scheduled time (synchronous) or material that you can engage with at your own pace (asynchronous). Science-based courses commonly require the lab element of a class be completed in person.

The number of credits required for graduation varies depending on the level of degree. For example, Central Florida University’s RN-to-BSN program requires 120 credits for graduation. ADN programs similar to the one offered by Chipola College are completed with approximately 72 credits. While structured nursing curricula looks similar from school-to-school, the flexibility of online learning allows many professionals the option to work and attend classes simultaneously.

What Kinds of Online RN Programs in Florida Are There?

There are a variety of hybrid and online RN programs in Florida geared towards students at different points in their nursing education – from those looking to begin their careers via an associate degree to learners with a bachelor’s degree striving towards an advanced education. Below you can find some of the most popular online academic paths for a nursing career in Florida.

Online RN Bridge Programs in Florida

LPN to RN Programs

LPN (licensed practical nurse) degrees are typically obtained through a technical college and can take as little as one year to complete. Bridge programs offered at schools like Broward College and College of Central Florida opens a clear academic path towards securing RN licensure. LPN-to-RN bridge programs support those working in the field who want to take advantage of the professional opportunities that come with RN certification.

RN to BSN

Designed for working RNs interested in expanding career options, these programs provide accelerated learning pathways by incorporating prerequisites already taken. Some online RN-to-BSN programs take as few as 12 months. In addition to the relatively quick degree turnaround, the University of Florida offers online RN-to-BSN programs, intentionally supporting working RNs by providing online and hybrid learning options.

RN to MSN

Designed as a path for RNs to earn their master’s and jump to more advanced nursing roles, these academic tracks exist at various schools throughout Florida. Often structured with the working nurse in mind, RN-to-MSN programs offer the flexibility to balance responsibilities at both work and home. For example, Jacksonville University offers an RN-to-MSN program that allows learners to complete both BSN and MSN degrees concurrently and 100% online. Through accelerated BSN coursework and rigorous MSN studies, graduates find careers in specialized environments spanning from management to advanced nursing practice.

Graduate Online Nursing Programs in Florida

MSN Programs

Online MSN programs provide the next academic step for students with a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Students at schools such as the University of Central Florida can tighten their academic lens, focusing on more specialized coursework. These programs typically require 30 credits and take two years to complete.

DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice)

The highest degree level of nursing practice, an online doctor of nursing practice program allows you to focus on coursework and research in your chosen specialization. Upon graduation, you will possess the skills and knowledge needed to bring the highest level of evidence-based clinical expertise to your patients. These online doctoral programs can be completed relatively quickly, with students at Florida International University graduating in just two years.

PhD in Nursing

Regarded as the most prestigious degree in the nursing field, Ph.D. in nursing programs are geared towards students looking to teach in academia. Many graduates also work toward providing new research to the field. Ph.D. candidates complete residencies and specialize in areas spanning from healthcare administration to nursing leadership. While a highly specialized degree, schools like Barry University structure online coursework to accommodate working professionals.

Post-Graduate Certificate

Available to students who already obtained a master’s degree, these certificate programs give learners the opportunity to gain specialized knowledge in a certain area of nursing. Requiring less time and money than full degree programs, Florida Southern College and other institutions provide an alternative route to learn about topics such as adult gerontology and nurse education.

More Online Nursing Programs in Florida Worth Checking Out

Florida Online Nursing School Spotlights

Nursing schools in Florida provide a wide variety of online degree programs, but it’s important to remember that not all are created equally. Recognizing that many students are busy with other commitments, EduMed rounded up a list of some of the best online nursing programs in Florida offering flexible online education, accreditation, and affordable prices. The three online nursing programs highlighted below have a consistently high percentage of nursing graduates who pass the NCLEX-RN exam. See which online RN programs in Florida stand out in 2020.

University of Central Florida

UCF-logo-dark

Orlando’s University of Central Florida strives to better the healthcare system by training the next generation of healthcare professionals. The university hosts a diverse group of online nursing students preparing to enter careers in clinical and leadership roles.

Along with a traditional four-year bachelor’s degree, UCF offers both RN-to-BSN and ASN-to-BSN programs in an online format. The RN-to-BSN track supports working RNs by validating up to 29 credits of previous coursework and is available online and on-campus. The program comprises 30 credits and typically takes three semesters to graduate. The ASN-to-BSN program allows for concurrent enrollment in both programs and takes approximately six semesters.

UCF also offers several post-graduate degree options. The online master’s program provides three academic tracks: nursing leadership and management, nurse educator, and nursing and healthcare simulation. Online doctorates include a nursing Ph.D. program and two DNP tracks. Licensed RNs interested in advanced degrees can apply to MSN or DNP programs with prerequisite coursework.

University of West Florida

UWF

Established as a member of the State University System of Florida in 1963, the University of West Florida educates nearly 13,000 students annually. Located in Pensacola, UWF offers a flexible, CCNE-accredited education that can be completed 100% online. UWF boasts a 97% NCLEX-RN pass rate and dedicates itself to advancing careers while promoting high-quality care.

UWF’s RN-to-BSN program can be completed entirely online, with students tackling topics such as nursing strategies, pharmacology principles, and the legal concepts affecting nursing practice. Typically completed in 12 months, this online degree requires 32 credits and supports working nurses who hold a current RN license.

In addition to undergraduate work, UWF offers three MSN tracks: family nurse practitioner, nurse executive, and nursing education. RNs seeking to continue their training with an advanced degree can take advantage of an RN-to-MSN accelerated program. The curriculum incorporates professional skill development alongside hands-on clinical experience in the community.

Rasmussen College-Ocala

rasmussen-college-logos

Rasmussen College’s Ocala campus offers comprehensive nursing courses via campus-based and online programming. It focuses on providing fast, affordable graduation options for busy students. The college touts its “Flex Choice” option for general education courses, combining traditional online coursework with self-directed assessments. This nursing program maintains CCNE accreditation.

Rasmussen offers three options for degree seekers. The standard BSN degree supports learners who don’t hold a degree and possess no prior education within the field. The BSN Second Degree track appeals to students who already earned a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated subject, while the RN-to-BSN option caters to working RNs looking to complete a four-year degree. The standard BSN degree lasts as few as 33 months while the Second Degree track takes 18 months.

Students tackle coursework like genetics and genomics, emerging healthcare technologies, and transition to practice. All nursing students must undertake 25 required core nursing courses.

FAQs About Online Nursing Programs in Florida

Can I earn my nursing degree in Florida completely online?

Traditional coursework for accredited online nursing programs in Florida can often be completed entirely online – but almost always require in-person clinical work. Many programs also offer hybrid learning, coupling online and in-person coursework. Some schools provide accelerated degrees, allowing you to complete the program more quickly than a traditional in-person program.

Will my online Florida nursing degree be considered less valuable by employers?

Receiving your degree from an accredited online nursing school in Florida ensures your degree holds the same value as a program completed in person. Online and campus-based programs alike must meet the same standards set by accrediting institutions. The classes you take and the practicums you complete will look nearly identical to that of your campus-based peers. Your degree will also mirror those given to in-person learners. Regardless of how you complete your nursing education, what matters most is your NCLEX-RN exam score.

How long does it take to go through an online RN program in Florida?

The duration of an online nursing program depends on several variables. Students who already hold an associate degree in nursing can typically earn a BSN relatively quickly. Many online programs offer accelerated RN-to-BSN programs, allowing you to complete requirements in as few as two years.  Traditional BSN degrees take approximately four to six years, depending on whether you enroll on a full- or part-time basis

Some institutions also offer “4+1” RN-to-MSN programs. These academic tracks allow students to complete a master’s degree in nursing in relatively short order. Otherwise, most MSN programs take about two years to complete.

RN Licensing Information and Requirements in Florida

Before starting your academic journey towards a career in nursing, it’s important to understand the RN licensing requirements specific to the state of Florida. The Florida Board of Nursing outlines a clear set of prerequisites that you must meet before receiving licensure.

Requirement

1

Get Your Degree

Prior to obtaining RN licensure in Florida, you must complete a degree from an institution accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). These commissions ensure the education you receive provides the necessary training to become a competent nursing professional. Recognized programs include associate to master’s degrees and also include military nursing education.

Requirement

2

Application, Fees, and Fingerprints

The Florida Board of Nursing offers an online application, with the required application fee of $110 due at the time of submission. In addition to your completed application, you must also submit fingerprints through a service provider approved by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. This meets the state’s required background screening for professionals that provide service to children, the elderly, and disabled individuals.

Requirement

3

Prepare for the NCLEX-RN Exam

Prior to taking the NCLEX-RN licensure exam, adequate preparation is critical. Imagine completing all required coursework, graduating from your nursing program, and then failing to secure your RN license.  Coursework can play a big role in preparing you for this exam, but you also need time to prepare. Myriad free online resources exist for this exam—take advantage of them.

Requirement

4

Register and Pass the NCLEX-RN Exam

Once you complete your nursing program and supply the Florida Board of Nursing with all necessary application materials, the board will notify you of your eligibility to take the exam. Along with your eligibility letter, the board provides instructions regarding test registration—the fee for registration is $200. After registering, Pearson Vue contacts you via email with an authorization to test (ATT). This authorization key is only viable for a specific number of days. After receiving a passing score, the Florida Board of Nursing issues your RN license in about a week.

Requirement

5

Continuing Education and License Renewal

Barring any disciplinary actions, maintaining your RN license depends on renewing your license and completing the required number of continuing education credits. The renewal process can be completed online, with fees paid online or by mail. Florida requires RNs to renew their licenses every two years. During those two years, RNs must complete one hour of continuing education per month, resulting in 24 credits per licensure period. In addition to 16 hours of general continuing education courses, RNs cover subject areas such as prevention of medical errors, domestic violence, and human trafficking.

Salary and Job Outlook for RNs in Florida

As one of the most populous states in the U.S., combined with an especially large older demographic, Florida perpetually needs qualified nursing professionals. As of 2020, Florida employs the third highest number of RNs in the country. We highlight the Florida job market and average RN salaries below.

What’s the job market like for RNs in Florida?

Like many large states, Florida has a growing need for competent registered nurses. Florida employs nearly 200,000 RNs currently, but that number will continue to grow. The next decade is expected to produce a 16% job growth rate for nurses, resulting in more than 30,000 new jobs, according to official state figures from Projections Central. In addition to new jobs being created, the state should see about 14,000 roles open each year due to retirement or nurses seeking employment elsewhere. When compared to a national job growth rate of 12%, it’s evident that Florida offers ample career opportunities for RNs new to field.

Job Outlook for Registered Nurses in Florida

Employment (2018) New Jobs (2018-2028) Job Growth Rate (2018-2028) Average Annual Openings (2018-2028)
Florida 189,820 30,530 16.10% 14,000
United States 3,059,800 371,500 12.1% 210,400

Source: Projections Central

How much can I make working as an RN in Florida?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, RNs earned average salaries of $67,000 per year in 2019. While other large states such as California and New York offer higher annual mean wages, it’s important to recognize key factors such as cost of living and Florida’s lack of state income tax. Review the earnings table below to see how much RNs earn in a few of Florida’s largest cities compared to the entire state and nation.

Annual Earnings for Registered Nurses in Florida

Median Hourly Wage Mean Hourly Wage Annual Mean Wage
Florida $31.65 $32.50 $67,610
Jacksonville, FL $30.04 $31.78 $66,100
Miami, FL $32.96 $33.61 $69,920
Orlando, FL $31.47 $31.25 $64,990
United States $35.24 $37.24 $77,460

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2019

Online Resources for Florida Nursing Students and Professionals

  • Florida Board of Nursing The FBN supports students and practitioners alike by providing RN licensure, training, and education. It also works to ensure every nurse employed in the state of Florida meets the requirements for safe practice.
  • Florida Nurses Association Dedicated to advancing the profession of nursing in the state, the FNA represents all Florida nurses, regardless of specialty or practice area. As an advocate for nurses, this group provides professional development and scholarship opportunities for those in the field.
  • Florida Association of Nurse Practitioners Florida’s leading professional organization for nurse practitioners, FANP advocates for patient-centered healthcare. The association also works to educate the public on the advanced practice of nursing and advocates for access to effective healthcare for all Floridians.
  • Florida Nursing Students Association This student-led group prepares nursing students for their careers in the field by offering education, training, and networking. The group also dedicates itself to expanding healthcare to people in all walks of life.
  • Florida Health Care Association Founded in 1954, this organization of nursing professionals and medical centers seeks to improve healthcare for elder Floridians through public policy. The group advocates for quality of service, professional development, and expanded access to high-quality, long-term care.
  • Scholarships & Online Resources for RN Students This helpful EduMed guide lays out financial, academic, and career resources RN students may find helpful when pursuing a nursing career. You can find a detailed list of nursing scholarships alongside links to academic resources and student/professional organizations.