Accredited RN to BSN Programs Online

For registered nurses (RNs) looking to advance, a bachelor’s degree may be just the ticket. Learn about RN to BSN programs, and see if online and blended solutions make sense for you.

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Shana-Myers
Shana Myers

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Shana Myers is registered nurse with over 12 years of experience working in various areas of concentration including medical-surgical nursing, informatics, and nurse education. With a Master of Science in Nursing and a background in gynecology, colorectal, palliative medicine, neurology, orthopedics, urology, she uses her experience to work as a hospital educator helping new graduate nurses transition into RNs.

2020’s Best Online RN to BSN Programs

According to Nightingale College, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) will become the required degree for entering nursing occupations by 2020. This makes it critical for registered nurses without a bachelor’s (and who want to advance) to find a program that allows them to go to school while balancing their RN workload. Our goal is to help current RNs to find the best bridge program to suit their needs. Each RN-BSN program varies depending its the availability of online courses, advanced curriculum, college and departmental accreditations, program length, and tuition costs. Note that aside from online learning, many BSN students must take on-site clinical placements, as well. We’ve identified the schools that are top all-around candidates for a great education. See if one is right for you.

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About the ranking

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Methodology for EduMed’s 2020 Rankings

To be considered for this ranking, each school must have the following:

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Program(s) offered at least partially online.

School Metrics Explained

EduMed.org data scientists analyzed government higher education data and created a proprietary algorithm to rank each U.S. postsecondary institution and its online programs using 5 primary factors:

  • Cost: Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Online Program Availability: Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to Department of Education.
  • Academic Counseling: Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement: Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid: Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

About Our Data

EduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

Most recent data pull: February 2020

# School Name Type Cost Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 The University of Texas of the Permian BasinOdessa, TX Public $$ 1

There are no prerequisites for admission to University of Texas RN to BSN degree program. The online program is designed for working RNs who want to add management courses to advance their careers. The accelerated program can be completed in as few as 8 months. The BSN degree requires completion of 31 hours of coursework, or a total of 11 classes, adding up to a total of 120 credits when combined with transferred general education credits from an associate degree program. The program requires completion of clinical practicums, while all other courses can be completed entirely online. The one mandatory management-related elective is in Management Concepts and Original Theory, or in Business Communications.

Program Overview:

RN to BSN

  • Credits: 31
  • Length: As few as 8-9 months
  • Cost: $202.79 (Texas and New Mexico Residents); $287.79 (out-of-state resident)/credit
  • Mode: Partially Online (clinical practicum)
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC, CCNE
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
81%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
2 The University of West FloridaPensacola, FL Public $$ 1

At West Florida, the RN to BSN degree program requires 32 credits that can be completed in a year, including 16 credits of upper-division electives. The wholly online degree focuses on topics such as evidence-based nursing practice, fundamental leadership skills, health promotion, pharmacology, patient health assessments, and health education. Prior to admission to the program, all candidates must complete 21 credits of prerequisites of courses and labs in Anatomy and Physiology, Human Development Across the Lifespan, Nutrition, Statistics and Microbiology. Applicants must hold an associate degree and can transfer up to 16 credits. Candidates must hold a current RN license.

Program Overview:

RN to BSN

  • Credits: 32
  • Length: As few as 4 semesters
  • Cost: $9,028/total cost
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC, CCNE
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
83%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
3 University of Central FloridaOrlando, FL Public $$ 1

The 30-credit RN to BSN degree program at the University of Central Florida is offered online. The only on-site requirement is for a 4-credit practicum. The degree can be completed in three semesters on a full-time basis or students can attend on a part-time schedule. Coursework features online studies in pathophysiology, health assessment, nursing research, policy and economics, and management. The program offers fall, spring, and summer start dates. Post-licensure students can receive up to 29 credits in general education from their two-year college. Graduates planning to transfer to a University of Central Florida MSN or DNP degree program can transfer 9 credits toward those degrees. Online students are granted a partial tuition waver to eliminate customary on-campus fees.

Program Overview:

RN to BSN

  • Credits: 30
  • Length: As few as 3 semesters
  • Cost: $179.19 (in-state tuition and fees); $715.80 (out-of-state tuition and fees)/credit
  • Mode: Partially Online (practicum)
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC, CCNE
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
41%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
4 University of UtahSalt Lake City, UT Public $$ 1

The University of Utah’s RN to BSN degree program can be completed in 2-4 semesters based on whether you attend on a full- or part-time basis. Applicants must be Registered Nurses with a current endorsement. Coursework for the degree is completed entirely online. There are a total 113 hours of clinicals and a practicum that require on-site attendance. Nurses may choose an option of completing a Geriatric Nurse Leadership Specialty. The emphasis in Geriatric Nursing Leadership is designed for students planning to go on to earn a MS, DNP, or PhD. The degree offers Fall, Spring, or Summer start dates.

Program Overview:

RN to BSN

  • Credits: 30
  • Length: As few as 2 semesters
  • Cost: $260/credit
  • Mode: Partially Online (113 hours of clinicals/practicum)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU, CCNE
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
71%
AccreditationNorthwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
5 Southern Utah UniversityCedar City, UT Public $$ 1

To complete the RN to BSN degree at Southern Utah University, students must successfully undertake 10 core nursing courses online. The 30-credit program is open to RNs with an active, unencumbered endorsement and can be completed in as little as 10 months. Core courses include Health Assessment, Health Promotion and Education, Nursing for Wellness in Older Adults, Community Health Nursing, Management of the Complex Patient, Leadership and Management, and Essentials of Evidence-Based Practice. Applicants who have passed their a NCLEX exam will receive 20 hours credit toward their lower-, division requirements. They will also receive up to 10 additional credits in Upper Division coursework following a Prior Learning Assessment.

Program Overview:

RN to BSN

  • Credits: 30
  • Length: 10 months
  • Cost: $9,000/total cost
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC, CCNE
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
80%
AccreditationNorthwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
6 California State University-StanislausTurlock, CA Public $$ 1

Students in California State University-Stanislaus’ online RN to BSN program are able to integrate their advanced skills immediately in their current nursing workplace. The 26-unit curriculum deepens the nursing skills in critical thinking and creative problem solving. The degree can be completed in a year by full-time students through 10-week class sessions. Nine core courses make up the online curriculum, including studies in transcultural nursing, pathophysiology, leadership & management, and community health theory. In addition to online didactic studies, students must complete a face-to-face orientation session and a 90-hour clinical placement during the 10-week summer session. Prospective RNs can apply online.

Program Overview:

RN to BSN

  • Credits: 26-27
  • Length: One year
  • Cost: $17,622/per year
  • Mode: Partially online (90-hour internship)
  • Accreditation: WASC, CCNE
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
59%
Accreditation#N/A
7 Sentara College of Health SciencesChesapeake, VA Private, Not-for-Profit $ 1

Sentara College’s nursing program was established in 1892. The RN to BSN wholly online degree program was created in 2010 to serve working RNs. Ten online, self-paced classes fulfill the program’s 30 credit completion requirements. The program is delivered entirely online. Students attend on a part-time basis so they can continue working as RNs. There are no required clinicals. RNs who have earned an Associate of Applied Science or Associate of Occupational Science (or applicants without a previous degree), must complete 25 credits in general education courses to become eligible for admission. Sentara’s RN to BSN program has a 90% placement rate.

Program Overview:

RN to BSN

  • Credits: 30
  • Length: 5 semesters (part-time)
  • Cost: $13,095/total cost
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: ABHES, CCNE
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationAccrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools
8 West Virginia UniversityMorgantown, WV Public $$ 1

Registered nurses that have graduated from diploma and associate degree nursing programs will find that West Virginia University’s RN to BSN program is well-suited to fit around their work and family obligations. You can complete the requirements for a BSN in as few as three semesters. RN’s are awarded credit hours toward the degree, leaving them only 28 credits to complete the BSN. To earn the degree, students are required to deliver a Senior Thesis. Classes include Core Concepts in Gerontological Nursing, Community Health Nursing: Theory and Interventions, Leadership in Complex Systems, Applied Research and Evidence Based Practice, Generics/Genomics in Health, and Palliative Care Nursing. Applications are completed online.

Program Overview:

RN to BSN

  • Credits: 28
  • Length: As little as 3 semesters
  • Cost:  $514/credit
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: HLC, CCNE
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
68%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
9 University of ToledoToledo, OH Public $$ 1

Licensed nurses can complete their bachelor’s degree through the University of Toledo’s RN to BSN program. Online coursework is complemented by 30 hours of approved residency. Toledo’s unique Competency-Based Education (CBE) enables working nurses to save time and money by pursuing a self-paced curriculum in as few as two semesters, moving to the next class as soon as they complete their current one. They can also set their own schedule and choose their personal course load. A minimum 36 nursing major credits are required for graduation. Courses include Applied Health Assessment Across the Lifespan, Nursing Informatics, Population Focused Care, and Leadership and Professional Development.

Program Overview:

RN to BSN

  • Credits: 36
  • Length: As few as 2 semesters
  • Cost: $368.10 (in-state); $373.10 (out-of-state)/credit
  • Mode: Partially Online (30 hours of residency)
  • Accreditation: HLC, CCNE
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
92%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
10 University of New Mexico-Main CampusAlbuquerque, NM Public $$ 1

The 100 percent online RN to BSN degree completion program at the University of New Mexico requires 30 credits of courses. Classes are held in 8-week sessions. There are no practicum requirements. The completion-track curriculum is comprised of 9 courses for 24 hours and 6 credits of upper-division electives. The completion courses include Advancement of Professional Nursing, Nursing in the Community, Research and Evidence-Based Practice, Professional Communication, Leadership and Management, Care of Vulnerable Populations, Health Policy, Economics, and Systems, and Genetic Literacy Across the Lifespan. Applicants must have a current unencumbered license and completed a minimum of 26 credits in transferable coursework.

Program Overview:

RN to BSN

  • Credits: 30
  • Degree completion rate: 100%
  • Cost: $341/ credit
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: CCNE
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
77%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
11 Arizona State University-TempeTempe, AZ Public $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
86%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
12 University of North Carolina WilmingtonWilmington, NC Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
39%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
13 University of Missouri-ColumbiaColumbia, MO Public $$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
65%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
14 Texas A & M International UniversityLaredo, TX Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
37%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
15 North Carolina Central UniversityDurham, NC Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
83%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
16 Northeastern State UniversityTahlequah, OK Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
55%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
17 SUNY College at PlattsburghPlattsburgh, NY Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
84%
AccreditationMiddle States Commission on Higher Education
18 Ohio State University-Main CampusColumbus, OH Public $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
70%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
19 Old Dominion UniversityNorfolk, VA Public $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
70%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
20 Northwest Missouri State UniversityMaryville, MO Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
88%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
21 Wichita State UniversityWichita, KS Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
64%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
22 University of Southern MississippiHattiesburg, MS Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
73%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
23 Grantham UniversityLenexa, KS Private, For-Profit $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
17%
AccreditationDistance Education Accrediting Commission
24 Northwestern State University of LouisianaNatchitoches, LA Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
65%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
25 University of KansasLawrence, KS Public $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
67%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
26 University of ArkansasFayetteville, AR Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
41%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
27 Indiana University-BloomingtonBloomington, IN Public $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
58%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
28 Lewis-Clark State CollegeLewiston, ID Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
61%
AccreditationNorthwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
29 East Central UniversityAda, OK Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
58%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
30 Lamar UniversityBeaumont, TX Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
20%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
31 University of Southern IndianaEvansville, IN Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
62%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
32 Appalachian State UniversityBoone, NC Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
35%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
33 Marshall UniversityHuntington, WV Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
63%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
34 University of Alabama in HuntsvilleHuntsville, AL Public $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
75%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
35 Capella UniversityMinneapolis, MN Private, For-Profit $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
50%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
36 SUNY College of Technology at DelhiDelhi, NY Public $$ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
77%
AccreditationMiddle States Commission on Higher Education
37 University of North AlabamaFlorence, AL Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
71%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
38 University of Massachusetts-LowellLowell, MA Public $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
76%
AccreditationNew England Commission of Higher Education
39 Ohio University-Main CampusAthens, OH Public $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
83%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
40 Fitchburg State UniversityFitchburg, MA Public $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
59%
AccreditationNew England Commission of Higher Education
41 Clemson UniversityClemson, SC Public $$$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
77%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
42 University of Cincinnati-Main CampusCincinnati, OH Public $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
54%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
43 Indiana University-EastRichmond, IN Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
48%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
44 University of Louisiana at LafayetteLafayette, LA Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
57%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
45 University of Louisiana at MonroeMonroe, LA Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
58%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
46 Eastern Michigan UniversityYpsilanti, MI Public $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
92%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
47 Ferris State UniversityBig Rapids, MI Public $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
74%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
48 Bowling Green State University-Main CampusBowling Green, OH Public $$$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
66%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
49 Southwest Minnesota State UniversityMarshall, MN Public $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
64%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
50 Western Governors UniversitySalt Lake City, UT Private, Not-for-Profit $$ 1 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationDistance Education Accrediting Commission

Profiling Online RN to BSN Programs

The RN to BSN online is one of the most popular nursing bridge programs in the virtual format. Schools from across the country are helping RNs get their bachelor’s and take the necessary steps to boost their careers. However, when it’s time to pick a program, questions may linger. How long will it take? Can I even afford it right now? To help you answer those critical questions, we’ve collected key program details from some of today’s leading RN to BSN bridges online.

The School of Nursing, University of Wisconsin, Madison

University-of-Wisconsin

The University of Wisconsin’s BSN@Home program is designed expressly for working nurses and can be completed in as little as a year and a half. This program prepares nurses for advanced roles or professional specialized leadership. Wisconsin’s 33-credit bridge program accepts nursing transfer credits from a two-year college. Prerequisites include completion of an RN or a Diploma in Nursing from an accredited institution. Applicants must have also completed 24-transferable non-nursing credits from their community college program and high school coursework in algebra, plane geometry, and college-preparatory math. Students who have a bachelor’s degree in any field can complete the online accelerated BSN in 12 months. The first class requires a day of on-campus orientation. Online tuition is $10,555/year. Accreditations are from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the National Council of State Boards of Nursing NCLEX-RN. Applications are made through the UW System Application for Admission.

University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Washington State University College of Nursing

Interview with Online RN to BSN Leadership

Choosing the best online RN to BSN program for you can be challenging. It’s a big decision and there are a lot of options. We reached out to deans of nursing colleges to give them the opportunity to share why prospective students should pick their program over others.

University name location School type online programs Get more info Program Description
West Coast University location: Campuses in CA, FL, TX School type: Private for-profit online programs: 1 Get more info
Laurus College Logo

Q&A with Robyn M. Nelson,
PhD, MSN, RN

Dean, College of Nursing
RN to BSN Online

What’s your involvement at WCU with online learning?

I am the Chief Nursing Officer in the eyes of our professional accreditor, Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), for all nursing programs at WCU (BSN, MSN, and DNP) regardless of the modality (on-ground or online).

What makes your online RN to BSN program stand out from other programs?

The seamless transition from the associate degree or diploma nursing program—42 semester units for nursing regardless of the program completed; and we accept 42 semester units of general education, as long as they are transferrable units. We do not have specific GE categories or required upper division GE. Most RN-BSN students spent many years in college, and most RN-BSN students only have 36 units to complete—either as an accelerated schedule in as little as 12 months or a schedule designed for the working professional in as little as 24 months.

How does your online program in RN to BSN prepare students for successful careers in the field?

The graduate of our RN-BSN program is eligible for the CA Public Health Nursing Certificate and employment in a community-based setting, and they earn a Nurse Manager Certificate from Sigma, the international honor society of nursing. The RN-BSN curriculum focuses on preparing the RN for leadership positions, and being a consumer of research, using evidence-based practice to inform clinical decisions.

What support services do you offer students enrolled in your online RN to BSN program?

They are supported from their initial contact to WCU with an experience admissions advisor, followed by a Student Success advisor who is part of a dynamic Student Advising team that will assist each student in achieving their educational aspirations. We believe the WCU Online Student Advising support is the new gold standard for all universities to emulate. The ongoing assistance with professional and career development guidance enhances the prospect for securing employment and obtaining professional success. Our career services department offers career planning advice, assistance from resume writing, interview preparation to job leads and more! We can help you prepare make the most out of every career opportunity.

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

Nursing is one education with many career opportunities. Their goal should be to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing—whether through completion of an associate degree in nursing initially and then the Bachelor of Science degree—employers want BSN-prepared nurses and the patients we serve benefit when the RN has a BSN.

Online RN to BSN Programs in Detail

There are critical factors to weigh when researching and applying to RN to BSN degree programs — especially to the online bridge format. First consider the breakdown of each program’s curriculum, including nursing core requirements, general education classes, labs, and clinical placements, and then consider the program length. Bridge programs run from one to two years, depending on completed prerequisites, the number of two-year courses that the student can transfer, and whether the student attends on a full- or part-time basis. Then, there is the cost of the program, typically based on the number of semesters each student needs to complete. Here’s a breakdown of key attributes to consider when searching for the best program to suit your professional goals:

Inside the RN to BSN Curriculum

The curriculum within RN to BSN bridge programs is designed for RNs who want to advance their careers or prepare for graduate nursing programs. Bridge programs address key competencies needed for success in the profession. The curriculum consists of general education courses, nursing core classes, studies in nursing theory, leadership, labs, and clinical experiences.

General education

The general education requirements at online RN to BSN bridge programs are slanted toward improving and integrating fundamental nursing skills in professional practice. Depending on the program, students typically can complete these studies concurrently with their BSN coursework. Courses selected from a wide range of programs commonly include communication, mathematics, humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences. General education course credits range from 6 – 15 credit hours, depending on the number of required classes in each area of study. Here is a sample of some courses:

  • English Composition:
    This foundation course in college-level composition focuses on researching, writing, and revising persuasive papers.
  • Introduction to Psychology: 
    This general education course introduces students to the fundamental principles of psychology, psychology history, and applied research.
  • Applied Healthcare Statistics: 
    The course introduces students to mathematics, including introductory algebra, used to compile statistics and assessments of probability.

Nursing core

Each online RN to BSN program is built around courses that form the backbone of nursing practice. They address indispensable skills-development in patient care, community health, clinical theory, healthcare ethics, informatics, research and statistics, pathophysiology, evidence-based nursing, health assessment, and promotion. These three examples are among the common core requirements for bridge programs:

  • Professional Roles and Values:
    Nurses study the responsibilities, ethics, and accountability in professional nursing, including cultural competency, patient advocacy rights, conduct, and legal considerations.
  • Applied Healthcare Statistics:
    Examine the epidemiological concepts of research and analytic systems used to create a testable hypothesis, build a model, and interpret results.
  • Complex Patient Centered Nursing Care:
    This course provides an overview of the principles and best practices for using psychopharmacology to treat mental disorders across the lifespan.

Nursing theory

Courseworkcovers the history of theory, current theoretical and professional applications, and advanced research practice that addresses specific populations. Nursing theory courses build a framework for identifying and assessing the right kind of care strategies relevant to each patient. The following courses are common among online RN to BSN programs:

  • Introduction to Nursing Theory and Research:
    The course explores the development of nursing theory and research methods with an eye toward the practical use of evidence-based findings.
  • Models of Nursing Practice:
    The study of theory-based professional nursing practice as modeled by Jean Watson’s Theory of Human Caring.
  • Middle Range Theory for Nursing:
    Examine the nine middle range concepts that govern the ongoing use of theory generation, practice research, and disciplinary models.

Lab sciences

In an online program, students undertake clinicals on campus or at hospitals near their place of residence. Labs may also be arranged at facilities where the RN currently works. Unlike online didactic courses that may be self-paced, clinicals meet at specific times and locations. Some clinicals are offered on campus in the evenings. Here are some clinicals common to many bridge programs:

  • Microbiology:
    This course focuses on the importance of microbes in relation to the disinfection and equipment sterilization techniques that minimize infection and prevent the spread of disease.
  • Clinical Pharmacology:
    Learn the principles and intervention practices in pharmacology to treat mental disorders across the patient’s lifespan.
  • Nutrition Science:
    Study the factors of metabolism and dietary behaviors that affect patient health, along with key therapeutic applications in dietary change and psychology.

Organization & leadership

Leadership curriculum includes studies inresearch, statistics, and informatics that assist leaders in the nursing field in creating policy. Learn how to develop programs that enhance patient care and staff performance. There is typically a concentration on skills for critical thinking, communication, dispute resolution, and the delegation of responsibilities. Here are three current courses from online bridge programs:

  • Healthcare Systems and Policy:
    This comprehensive course provides insight into systems thinking, process-planning, regulatory requirements, and practical models for advocacy.
  • Transitioning to Nurse Leadership:
    This wide-ranging BSN course centers on leadership theory, healthcare policy, conflict management, interdisciplinary communication, and team collaboration.
  • The Role of Nurse Manager:
    Learn the responsibilities of nurse managers in patient care planning, the creation of performance goals, undertaking staff evaluations, and the incorporation of new policies to remedy issues in performance and patient care.

How Long Does an Online RN to BSN Program Take?

In general, students can complete their 60-credit RN to BSN program in as little as 24 months on a full-time basis. For nurses pursing a part-time program, the degree can take up to three years. Wholly online didactic studies may be self-paced, affecting time of completion. Online nursing students can complete their degrees faster than they would at brick and mortar colleges since they may finish their didactic courses ahead of deadlines. Other variables impacting time to graduation are whether their 60 course credits transfer from an ADN program and if the applicant has satisfied all lower-division prerequisites. RNs may also receive credit for work experience, shortening the total number of credits required for graduation.

Here is a sample timeline for completing an online RN to BSN program:

Term Courses # Credits
Semester 1 Legal and Ethical Perspectives of Caring; Foundations Nursing Research; Writing in the Academic Community; Clinical Microbiology. 15
Semester 2 Pharmacotherapeutics; Health Assessment; Nursing Research; Quantitative Reasoning; Data Analysis. 15
Summer College Algebra and Probability; Health Care Informatics. 6
Semester 3 Health Assessment for Nurses; Information Technology; General Pathophysiology; Aging and Health; Cultural Competence in Health Care; Family Centered Health Promotion. 15
Semester 4 Concepts in Leadership and Management; Complex Client Systems for Registered Nurses; Advanced Standing for RN License; Community Health and Population-Focused Field Experience; Organizational Systems and Quality Leadership. 15

How Does Earning an RN to BSN Work Online?

Bridge program students combine their online didactic studies with onsite clinicals and labs. Designed for working nurses, online RN to BSN programs offer remote accessibility and the flexibility to tailor your studies around existing commitments. Students access class materials through a digital portal that provides streaming lectures, direct messaging, course assignments, and email communications. Other features include reviewing the class syllabus online, and a place to tally your credits toward the degree. Online university forums, research libraries, and message boards facilitate collaboration between students. Some programs incorporate online tutorials, simulations, and virtual labs as well. Nursing peers can live miles apart from one another, but can engage in research projects on a mutual online platform. Communication with professors and mentors can conducted by telephone or video conferencing. The online model is well-suited for the completion of general education courses required throughout the university. It is also a convenient, timely way to complete prerequisites in math, chemistry, human anatomy and physiology. Online technical support is offered on a 24/7 basis.  

Admissions for RN to BSN Programs

Admission requirements for bridge programs may vary by institution, however the most-common ones call for completion of an RN degree or nursing diploma from an accredited school and possession of a current RN license. Some programs require an applicant interview or essay. Those with nursing experience must provide a verification of work from their employers and a resume. Applicants must also provide transcripts from their two-year nursing programs to demonstrate completion of the bridge program’s prerequisite coursework.

Current RN license

Online bridge program admission requirements begin with the applicant’s holding of a current, active, and unrestricted RN license under the terms of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. It’s the most-important criterion because without a license, you can’t enroll in the program.

How to stand out

Augment your licensing reporting based on meeting the Board of Nursing requirements for your state and the specialized competencies measured by the National Council Licensure Examination.

Resume and experience

RN experience may be a governing factor in supporting your application. You can improve your RN to BSN admission chances by demonstrating your professional areas of practice, your expertise, and accomplishments in nursing, your employment record, and training in digital medical record-keeping. The admissions team wants to see that you already have skills in communication, collaboration, clinical judgment, and critical thinking.

How to stand out

Cite your key accomplishments, awards, or recognitions. Demonstrate your continuous professional growth in the nursing profession.

Undergraduate transcripts

Transcripts from your ADN or diploma program demonstrate your scholarly aptitude, your GPA (typically a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.75), and your transferable undergraduate credits. Because the number of acceptable transfer credits vary bridge program, transcripts provide assurance that you’ve met prerequisites or general education requirements.

How to stand out

Order your transcripts to arrive before the application deadline. Community college transcripts should be sent whether you received college credit or audited the course.

Cost of an RN to BSN Online Program

RN to BSN programs require tuition and fees, just like any other educational program. Online bridge programs may accelerate learning, decreasing the number of courses or credits required for graduation and along with it, the total cost. In effect, they can be less expensive than on-campus programs. Online tuition may be based on the university’s annual undergraduate fees or by the number of college credits per course. Since didactic courses may be self-paced, online students must keep up or extend their program length and tuition depending on progress. Tuition may also vary by the institution’s prestige or specializations. Here’s a range of tuition (low to high) charged for online RN to BSN degree completion programs:

1 1. Oklahoma Panhandle State University, online RN-to-BSN program: $4,380/yr. or $146/credit.
2 2. IUPUI – Indiana University School of Nursing, online RN-to-BSN program: $6,300/yr. or $210/credit.
3 3. California State University at Fullerton, online RN to BSN: $7,170/yr. or $239/credit.
4 4. Chamberlain University, online RN to BSN option: BSN completion program: $17,700/yr. or $590/credit.

For information on how to pay for your online RN to BSN program, check out the following pages: