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HBCU RN to BSN Online Programs: Explore Your Options

A guide to pursuing an HBCU RN to BSN online program—what quality programs look like, answers to FAQs, and the benefits of going back to school.

A young female doctor with curly hair, wearing a stethoscope, smiles while looking at her laptop in a modern office setting.

Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have helped people of color expand their education and expertise in the allied health field and beyond for decades. Having a diverse healthcare workforce that reflects an increasingly diverse patient population creates a competent and culturally sensitive treatment that can help eliminate disparities in healthcare. HBCU online RN to BSN programs can also help redress the lack of diversity in nursing leadership. As of 2023, nurses of color represented fewer than 20% of leadership roles in professional organizations, roles that require a minimum of a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree. HBCU RN to BSN online programs lower the barriers to entry for nurses like you ready looking to go back to school. These online programs are as flexible as they come, with classes offered entirely online, clinicals available in your local area, and full and part-time study options.

We’ve created this guide to help you learn all you need to know about HBCU RN to BSN online programs so you can get ready to dive back into the fray. Let’s get started by taking a look at some of the top programs you can apply to right now.

School Spotlights: HBCU Online RN to BSN Programs

Getting started is often the hardest part of going back to school, which is why we’ve researched and highlighted some of the best HBCU RN to BSN online programs for you. Use the profiles we’ve written below as a starting point to think about what kind of program best fits your needs.

Claflin University

Claflin University provides an streamlined course of study for students with a current RN license to earn their BSN. This HBCU RN to BSN online program can be completed in as few as three semesters of full-time study. Each semester is broken up into two 8-week sessions, with the summer semester consisting of a single 8-week session. Students who need more time or have other time commitments to work around can follow a part-time study schedule.

All 30 credits of the required upper-division nursing courses must be completed at Claflin University. These courses include Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice, Issues in Professional Practice, Nursing Practice in a Multicultural Society, and Nursing Leadership. These provide students with critical and analytic thinking, independent research, and communication skills critical to advancing their careers and facing healthcare challenges on the local, national, and global levels. At the end of their studies, students also take a capstone course. To apply, students must have a minimum 2.5 GPA; turn in all other official transcripts; provide a professional resume; have a current, unencumbered RN license; and provide a statement of goals and objectives.

Florida A&M University

Florida A&M University, the #1 public HBCU in the country offers a 30-credit accelerated RN to BSN online, among other online, ACEN-accredited nursing programs. All academic coursework can be completed remotely over the course of three to five semesters. All required hands-on clinical hours can be completed at a facility of the student’s choosing under the guidance of a faculty member. Students can transfer up to 90 credits toward their undergraduate degree.

Upon completion of the program, students will know how to apply leadership skills when providing healthcare to individuals throughout the lifespan. They’ll also explore cultural diversity within the healthcare field and build exceptional skills in healthcare policy, quality improvement, and nursing informatics. The curriculum includes courses such as Promoting the Health of Populations; Evidence-Based Practice and Quality Care; Healthcare Policy, and Leadership and Management in Nursing.

Howard University

Howard University, widely regarded as one of the country’s top HBCUs, offers an online RN to BSN program designed for nurses who have already earned their Associate of Science in Nursing (ADN) and have a current, unencumbered RN license in the United States. The program can be completed entirely online in just 12 months of full-time study, or students can follow a part-time study plan. In addition to the standard application, prospective students must complete 58 semester hours of prerequisite courses and have a cumulative GPA of 2.8 or higher to be considered for admission. The RN to BSN program begins each fall semester.

Students can expect to take classes like Pathophysiology; Intro to Pharmacology; Nursing of the Childbearing Family; Ethics for Health Professions; Nursing Research; Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing; and Nursing Leadership & Management. Upon graduation, students will know how to synthesize knowledge and use it to implement, manage, and evaluate safe, holistic care for individuals, families, and communities.

Southern University and A&M College

Southern University and A&M College is dedicated to filling the current demand for qualified nurses with a BSN degree. BSN-prepared nurses are needed to fill critical leadership positions in healthcare throughout Louisiana and beyond, and Southern University offers an entirely remote, CCNE-accredited HBCU RN to BSN degree to prepare students to do just that. The program is for nurses who have graduated from accredited ADN programs only. Students must complete 36 credits of prerequisite courses before applying. Most, if not all, of these courses can be transferred from a student’s associate degree.

Online classes are offered in 8-week sessions; students typically complete two or three nursing classes per semester. In order to graduate the program with the necessary 120 semester credits, students must take an additional 22 other credits in subjects of their choice. Students can transfer up to 80 semester credits to put toward their BSN.

Winston-Salem State University

Winston-Salem State University thinks a college education should fit into your life, not the other way around, which is why it offers two online tracks for students looking to complete an RN to BSN online degree at the #1 historically black nursing school in the US. Students can choose to study full-time and complete the program in three semesters, or part-time and complete the degree in five semesters. All classes are available 100% online and use state-of-the-art technology, such as virtual hospital environments, to prepare students for the workplace.

WSSU’s RN to BSN program is extremely affordable compared to similar programs, with distance learning tuition listed at just $115 per credit hour. In addition to inexpensive tuition, students attending the WSSU RN to BSN program who are willing to commit to working in North Carolina for a few years after graduation may qualify for Forgivable Education Loans for Service (FELS), which allow students to receive state-funded loans that can be forgiven after working for a specified amount of time in critical shortage areas.

FAQs for RN to BSN Online Programs at HBCUs

Now that you have an idea of what an HBCU online RN to BSN program looks like, you likely have some follow-up questions. Below we’ve tackled some of the top FAQs prospective students like you have to help you feel comfortable taking this next step in your educational career.

How will an RN-to-BSN program prepare me for more opportunities?

Going back to school to complete a rigorous BSN program shows employers that you are capable of handling high-pressure situations and taking on additional responsibility. Deepening your understanding of healthcare will qualify you for leadership and specialty positions in nursing. Earning your BSN also opens the door to future graduate studies in nursing—Southern University, for example, requires that students receive their BSN before moving on to the MSN program to become Family Nurse Practitioners.

How is an RN to BSN program from an HBCU different from other programs?

In a purely academic sense, HBCU RN to BSN online programs are the same as other programs. However, HBCU colleges place special emphasis on diversity and inclusion and position their graduates to address health inequities in minority communities. A study published in Nursing Outlook, the official journal of the American Academy of Nursing and the Council for the Advancement of Nursing Science, found that Black nurse graduates of HBCU programs endeavor not only to understand but transform the factors that contribute to the health inequities experienced by members of their communities.

How long is an RN to BSN program?

HBCU RN to BSN online programs like that at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, can be completed in as few as three semesters of full-time study (assuming you are able to transfer the necessary prerequisites), while those studying part-time can typically graduate in 5 semesters or more.

How much do RN to BSN programs from HBCUs cost?

HBCURN to BSN online program costs vary widely— tuition per credit costs range from $41 to $1,100 and everywhere in between—but are generally less expensive than non-HBCU schools. Keep in mind that if you attend a program online, you’ll likely pay in-state resident tuition rates, which are more affordable than out-of-state rates. Take a look at a few examples below:

Is there financial aid available to RN to BSN HBCU students?

Absolutely. Like other undergraduate programs, students enrolled in online RN to BSN degrees at HBCUs are encouraged to apply for FAFSA, the government’s financial aid program. These federal grants or loan options are awarded based on your demonstrated financial need. Other forms of financial aid include independent scholarships (including scholarships specifically for Black students), employee tuition assistance programs, or student loans. Nurses also have the unique opportunity to take out Forgivable Education Loans for Service (FELS).

What requirements do I need to meet to apply for admission to RN to BSN programs at HBCUs?

Though admission requirements can vary from school to school, there are a few items that are the same across colleges. To be considered for acceptance into an HBCU online RN to BSN program, you must have earned a diploma or associate degree in nursing and passed the NCLEX-RN certification exam to earn your license. Many schools also require a minimum GPA, college transcripts, work experience as an RN, and sometimes a letter of intent.

What should I look for in an HBCU RN to BSN degree program?

As with any online RN to BSN degree program, the first thing you should look for is accreditation. This means that an accrediting body, such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) has determined that the program has met certain educational standards. Most employers only accept nurses who graduate from accredited programs. Reasonable tuition costs, financial aid opportunities, and notable faculty members are worth noting, but you should prioritize programs that you feel would suit your needs, interests, and goals above all else.

From RN to BSN: Benefits of Going Back to School

Some people may have told you that going back to school seems like overkill—you might even have thought this yourself at some point—but there are many benefits to pursuing your nursing education at an HBCU that are worth considering. Let’s talk about each of the benefits attending one of these RN to BSN programs.

Advance Your Career

Going beyond a basic RN license to a BSN online at an HBCU opens you up not only to opportunities to work in other locations but in more specialized career tracks and positions of leadership such as that of nurse manager. Earning your BSN also prepares you to apply to a graduate degree program and become a nurse practitioner.

Enhanced Clinical Skills

Additional education means additional opportunities, including simulations and in-person practicums, to hone the clinical skills that are essential in the medical field. BSN-trained nurses have more opportunities to learn about and implement cutting edge techniques and refine their communication and project management skills.

Expanded Knowledge Base

Since BSN programs take longer and are more comprehensive than both ADN and RN certificates, BSN-prepared nurses have broader educational bases. They learn more about the nuanced subjects and skills nurses need to interact with and lead other allied healthcare professionals, from communication to adaptability, collaboration, and project management. Completing an HBCU online RN to BSN program also prepares nurses with the knowledge they need to apply to and succeed in a graduate nursing program.

Higher Earning Potential

Typically, the more education you have the higher you can expect your earnings to be. The same is true for nurses with RN licenses versus nurses with BSNs. Nurses with BSNs can work in leadership positions as nurse managers or clinical nurse leaders, jobs that tend to pay $5,00-$10,000 more per year than those held by their registered nurse counterparts.

Improve Patient Outcomes

The more experience and knowledge nurses have, the better they can care for their patients. When you choose to go back to school to earn your RN to BSN online at an HBCU, you’re offering your future patients a chance at better care—and better outcomes. The better you can help patients follow their plan of care, the more effective their plan will be, and the more lives you will change for the better.

Personal Growth and Satisfaction

Choosing to obtain a higher level of education can bring you a sense of satisfaction and happiness. Just the thought of graduating with your BSN should be absolutely thrilling since it represents all your hard work and dedication to helping others.