Best RN to BSN Programs in Illinois – 2023

With more than 30 schools in Illinois offering an RN to BSN program, getting a bachelor’s degree in nursing can reap great rewards for nurses. Get started with our guide that features school highlights, job outlooks, tuition costs, financial aid and specialized programs.

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Kyra Sutherland

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Kyra Sutherland has been a freelance writer since 2017 and enjoys infusing her work with her passion for education. When she isn’t writing she can be found building her backyard garden, experimenting in the kitchen, or chasing her two energetic boys and their feisty cat. You can find out more about Kyra on her blog No Nightlights.

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If you’re a registered nurse in Illinois looking to further your education with a bachelor’s degree, you probably know that graduating from an RN to BSN degree program can help you qualify for leadership roles and even a higher salary. With more than 30 schools offering an RN to BSN program in Illinois, you may not be sure where and how to start your school search, but we’re here to help.

As you learn about RN to BSN programs, you’ll want to compare tuition rates, accreditations, course formats, curricula, and length of programs. You’ll also want to see what salary you can earn down the road, depending on where you work in Illinois. To help you compare programs and find the best school for you, we’ve compiled all the details you’ll need to get started.

Nursing School Spotlights: Best RN to BSN Programs in Illinois

Researching the best possible RN to BSN program in Illinois takes time, particularly if you’re already working full-time as a registered nurse. We’ve highlighted three RN to BSN programs that we have researched and found to offer affordable and quality education designed to help expand your nursing career. Use these schools as a starting point for your nursing school search in Illinois.

University of Illinois Chicago

The RN to BSN program from the University of Illinois Chicago is available 100% online and is one of the top-rated online bachelor’s programs in the nation by both students and faculty. There are multiple start dates throughout the year, and the school promises that the tuition won’t increase while students attend the 12- to 16-month program. In fall 2022, the entire program cost was $9,900, or $330 per credit hour.

This Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredited program requires a minimum of 30 credits. Once you’re enrolled in this online RN to BSN in Illinois program, the school will conduct a transcript review that will determine the transfer of your previous educational credits where applicable. You’ll then be given a tailored list of what general education and core nursing classes you’ll still need to complete. As a student in this program, you can expect to attend several nursing courses, including health assessment and communication, caring theory in professional nursing practice, population-focused nursing care, and leadership and management in nursing.

Eastern Illinois University

Eastern Illinois University is one of Illinois top online RN to BSN programs. The program consists of 32 credits, can be completed in as few as 14 months, and is CCNE-accredited. As a student of this program, you can expect to develop your clinical decision-making skills, participate as a collaborative member of the healthcare team, and help advance the development of an ethical values system for informed nursing practice. Both full- and part-time study options exist. Courses you will take include pharmacogenomics, research in professional nursing, advanced nursing health assessment, and public health nursing.

EIU partners with multiple healthcare facilities to offer nurses a discounted tuition rate. EIU’s regular tuition is the same for resident or non-resident students pursuing the online program, and that tuition is frozen for four years or 12 semesters. This allows students to complete their education without a tuition increase.

Illinois College

Illinois College’s online RN to BSN degree-completion program is comprised of accelerated eight-week courses and is designed around the working professional. It’s estimated that you can earn your degree in 12-18 months, and the program even allows you to take an eight-week term off and return without having to reapply. The college accepts up to 88 transfer credits, leaving 42 college credits that you’d need to complete before graduation. Example courses include bioethics, pathophysiology in disease management and health promotion, and ethical management and leadership in nursing.

Though no clinicals are required in the online RN to BSN program, you will participate in several projects to improve patient care through online asynchronous classes. Admission to the CCNE-accredited program requires a current unencumbered nursing license, a 2.5 GPA, and all previous college transcripts. Tuition is $375 per credit hour.

FAQs About RN to BSN Programs in Illinois

What will I learn in an RN to BSN program in Illinois?

The BSN curriculum will cover many different topics designed to enhance the knowledge and experience you already have as a nurse. For example, a pharmacogenomics class is required in Eastern Illinois University’s curriculum to help students better understand human genetics and genomics, which is needed to enhance the management of illness and disease.

Other topics covered will include research, leadership and management, public health, influencing others through evidence-based healthcare, and effective communication. You will also learn how to use ethical decision-making frameworks and the Code of Ethics for Nurses to anticipate issues, guide your nursing practice, and resolve conflicts related to health care.

How long is an RN to BSN program in Illinois?

The length of time it takes to complete your program will depend on a variety of circumstances, including if you’re working while attending school, whether you’re attending full-time or part-time, and if you’re in an accelerated program. If you attend full-time, you can complete most RN to BSN programs in as few as 12 months. However, it’s not uncommon to see other RN to BSN programs in Illinois take closer to 18 months to complete.

How much do RN to BSN programs in Illinois cost?

Each university or college has different tuition prices, so the cost will depend on where you go. Tuition for RN to BSN programs typically costs between $10,000-$20,000. As long as you choose a program that is accredited and approved by the board of nursing, you won’t need to break the bank. Most nursing programs go by cost per credit or set program cost, so there is no set semester cost. Be sure to research tuition before you choose a school. To give you an idea of tuition costs, we’ve made a short list you can check out below.

Can I get financial aid in Illinois to help pay for my RN to BSN program?

There are a lot of options for receiving financial aid for your education. Try researching Illinois-specific financial aid and look up available scholarships your university may offer. Federal Pell Grant Program and subsidized or unsubsidized Stafford loans are available upon completion of the FAFSA application and competitive scholarships. If you are currently working as a nurse, you may even be able to work with your employer to have them pay for part or all of your education. For more ideas, you can check out our nursing scholarship guide and main financial aid guide to help you get started.

What requirements do I need to apply for admission to RN to BSN programs in Illinois?

Each program will have slightly different admission requirements, so be sure to check their websites. However, there are a few common requirements that almost every program has. They are:

  • Minimum GPA of 2.5
  • Current, unencumbered RN license
  • Transcripts from prior educational institutions

Some schools have special admission requirements or stipulations about their requirements. You may be required to pay admission fees, be employed as a nurse, have earned a specific GPA in previous work, or have taken specific classes before applying. Nursing programs can be competitive, so make sure you prepare everything you need so as not to delay your admission or education.

What should I look for in a quality RN to BSN program in Illinois?

To ensure you’re receiving a quality education, research the school you are considering to ensure that its RN to BSN program is approved by the Illinois Board of Nursing and accredited by the CCNE or ACEN. Reading up on faculty members also will help you get an idea of the experience your teachers will bring to the table. Student reviews and graduation rates are also indicators of a quality program that can take students from start to finish.

Inside Look at RN to BSN Online Programs in Illinois

Illinois offers both online and hybrid RN to BSN programs. Hybrid classes are typically organized, with the coursework done completely online and any lab or clinical work completed in person. If you are attending a program completely online, you may be required to visit campus occasionally or complete your clinical or practicum training at a specific local location.

Many universities work with their students and allow them to pick a clinical location near them without coming to campus. If you are considering an RN to BSN online program in Illinois, discuss your options with an academic counselor to know what is expected so you won’t have to travel unexpectedly. Knowing what to expect from online RN to BSN programs can help you decide which type of program is right for you.

In Illinois, How Do I Become an RN with a BSN?

Nurses need to be licensed to practice by the board of nursing in the state they want to work. Each state has different licensing requirements, and the licensing requirements needed to work as an RN in Illinois include the following:

  • Enrollment in at least two years of study in an approved program
  • Passing the NCLEX-RN exam within three years of applying to the board

Once you have completed your education at an approved program, you must submit proof of graduation before you can sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. Once you have received word that you have passed the exam, you may practice under supervision as a “pending license” nurse.

If you are from out of state and wish to become licensed as a nurse in Illinois, you will need to provide license verification from any state you have previously worked in as a nurse in the past five years. NCLEX-RN exam results can be provided by the state of licensure or the testing company. If you are endorsed, you may be issued a temporary license so you can work before all the paperwork is processed.

If you want to obtain your BSN degree to earn more money, it’s important to know if the effort will be worth it. To give you an idea of how your salary will change with a BSN degree, we’ve prepared some tables and salary facts to help you compare and contrast the pros and cons of obtaining a BSN degree.

How much more can I make going from an RN to BSN in Illinois?

As of September 2022, the average RN salary in Illinois was $65,406 per year, while nurses with BSN degrees earned $77,443 per year. RNs who are paid hourly make, on average, $25.58 per hour, while BSN nurses make $37.61. Salaries vary depending on where you work in Illinois, as seen in the table below. RNs in Illinois get paid roughly the same as RNs in other states, depending on whether the area is considered a metropolitan.

Location 10th Percentile Median 90th Percentile

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021

What’s the job market like for BSN nurses in Illinois?

The job market for nurses is projected to grow 6% from 2021 to 2031, which is about average compared to all other occupations. There are about 200,000 job openings for registered nurses annually in the United States. Of the nearly 130,000 RNs in Illinois, 52% work in acute-care settings such as hospitals, while 11% are employed in ambulatory care settings.