Regardless of how long you’ve been working in healthcare, you’re likely aware that a major shift has occurred in nursing, namely the education required to enter and stay competitive in the field. As of April 2023, over 70% of nurses in the US, including over half the nurses entering the profession, hold a BSN or higher degree. This increase in education has been shown to improve the quality of care patients receive and the competency of the nurses who provide it. In fact, nurses who completed RN to BSN programs reported greater critical thinking and assessment skills than their ADN-prepared peers. And as motivating as that is, the thought of going back to school, especially for an extended period of time, while juggling a full-time job can be daunting.
That’s where fast-track RN to BSN online programs come in. Whether you are looking to move into a leadership position or simply earn a higher salary in your current role, getting your BSN can help you achieve your goals on your time. We’ve created this guide to help you explore examples of high quality fast-track RN to BSN online programs, identify common pitfalls and their solutions, and get answers to frequently asked questions about accelerated BSN programs.
Featured Fast-Track RN to BSN Online Programs
To help jumpstart your search for the right fast-track program for you, we’ve profiled three high-quality online, accelerated RN to BSN programs. From accreditation status to cost to unique program features, these will be a useful tool in determining what makes a fast-track RN to BSN program worth considering.
Franklin University’s online bridge program is one of the fastest RN to BSN programs available online, offering a streamlined path for AND-prepared nurses to level up their education and careers. Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), this fast-track program allows students to transfer up to 90 credit hours (75% of the 120 required for graduation) and can complete their degree in as few as 12 months. Students can expect to pay $298 per credit hour, a rate the university guarantees for as long as a student is actively enrolled. To further offset the price of the program, Franklin University automatically awards new RN to BSN students a $3,000 Smart Start scholarship upon acceptance.
The program’s unique, dynamic curriculum is delivered through e-books, videos, and outside research, all of which is provided at no additional cost to the student, and includes courses in nursing leadership and management; community and population health; health informatics; healthcare law and ethics; healthcare quality; and evidence-based practice. The degree also requires students to complete a capstone course and project. There is no clinical component to Franklin University’s fast-track RN to BSN program.
Purdue Global, Purdue’s Online University, provides a unique approach among the fastest RN to BSN programs available online. Purdue’s ExcelTrack RN-to-BSN program emphasizes moving nurses past content they have already mastered by allowing enrolled students tp take assessments to demonstrate prior knowledge. Alternatively, students can work quickly through familiar content in one-credit modules, maximizing the time they spend on new content. Students can enroll in as many courses as they want each term for a flat tuition rate of $4,062. Didactic instruction is delivered entirely online, but students in this fast-track BSN program must complete a clinical rotation in person in the health facility of their choice within their community.
This CCNE-accredited program requires between 90 and 130 credits to complete (with prior degree credits). Students can transfer up to 90 credits from their ADN and earn their BSN in as few as 12 months on the ExcelTrack. Enrollment windows open every couple months, so students can dive into their studies when they are ready.
The online Fast-Track RN to BSN program at SUNY Brockport is CCNE-accredited and designed for adult learners and working nurses. One unique feature of this accelerated program is the opportunity it provides students to complete clinical experiences abroad in either Costa Rica or Peru.
Brockport allows students to transfer up to 75 of the 120 credits they need to graduate from their ADN program. Students can expect to pay $353 per credit hour—or $4,240 per semester of full-time study. The university automatically considers students for transfer scholarships ranging from $1,000-1,500 upon application. Students must hold an unencumbered New York Registered Nurse license to be considered for admission to the program. Full-time students can graduate in as few as 12 months while part-time students graduate in an average of 18-24 months.
The university provides an Online Concierge service for remote students to request assistance in their degree programs and receive referrals to campus service offices. The program boasts that an impressive 50% of Fast-Track students move into nursing leadership positions within one year of graduation, making Brockport a quality choice for nurses eager to gain career mobility.
Solutions to Common Mistakes of Accelerated Online RN-BSN Students
You know that nursing school is hard work, you’ve done it once already, but that doesn’t mean you know what to expect from a fast-track RN to BSN program. That’s why we’ve outlined some of the most common mistakes students in these programs make, their causes and consequences, and solutions to help you avoid or recover from them.
FAQs About Fast-Track Online RN to BSN Programs
We’ve walked you through some of the best and fastest RN to BSN programs available online, and our best advice on how to succeed in them, but you likely still have lingering questions, and you’re not alone. Keep reading to see our answers to some of the most common questions prospective students have and get the information you need to determine if an accelerated online program is for you.
Are online accelerated RN to BSN programs as reputable as traditional on-campus ones?
They can be. Like a traditional program, you’ll want to look at an online program’s accreditation status, outcomes (including NCLEX pass rate), and curriculum offerings. The CCNE is the gold standard when it comes to accreditation—you’ll recognize it from the profiles of the schools we featured earlier. NCLEX success rates provide a general picture of how successfully a school is preparing its students. According to Rasmussen University, other quality indicators include the support services offered by the university and the school’s reputation with your state’s board of nursing. You can also utilize our rankings of the top RN to BSN programs online to find high quality, pre-vetted programs.
Can I continue working while enrolled in an accelerated RN to BSN program?
Many fast-track RN to BSN programs are specifically designed for working individuals. A variety of features, including self-paced, asynchronous courses, make it possible for RNs to continue working while advancing their education. Your employer will likely be supportive of you earning your BSN—after all, it will benefit them as well—but be sure to be open about your needs and availability while enrolled in your program. Honest communication will help your employer understand if you need to change your schedule or take time off work to focus on school.
How are clinicals arranged in fast-track RN to BSN programs?
Many online programs allow you to complete requisite clinical rotations in your own community under the supervision of an approved preceptor on site. It will likely be your responsibility to find both an appropriate site and preceptor. Some fast-track RN to BSN degree programs do not require clinical rotations, but instead require students to complete a capstone course or project.
Is a fast-track RN to BSN program for everyone?
Any student can apply for a student loan from a wide array of different sources. A student loan will grant you money to pay for tuition, housing, and any textbooks or equipment you need right away without having to save up for it. Government and private loans are the two different kinds of loans. However, because loans need to be repaid once your education is complete, and the interest rates can be high, it’s best to consider them as a last resort.
Is financial aid available for students in accelerated online RN to BSN programs?
Yes. You can receive financial aid in the form of scholarships, grants, and student loans regardless of the pace of your program. The first step in qualifying for many of these is to fill out the FAFSA. You can also reach out to your university’s financial aid office for information about available nursing-specific scholarships and grants. Believe it or not, there are also scholarships specifically for RNs looking to earn their BSN. For more help finding a program that fits your budget, check out our guide to the most affordable online RN to BSN programs.
What is the average length of fast-track RN to BSN programs?
You can generally expect an accelerated RN to BSN program to take anywhere from 12-24 months. Factors that affect this length include the number of credits you transfer, t he course load you can manage successfully, and your financial situation. Many programs can be completed within a calendar year of full-time enrollment. The fastest RN to BSN program available online is offered at the University of Texas at Arlington and can be completed in just 9 months.