Online & Campus RN to BSN Programs in North Carolina

Find out how to expand your nursing career for less so you can make more. Start your journey and apply to the right RN to BSN program in North Carolina.

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Marcella Ellsworth

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You have an RN license, and you’ll like to earn more and find better career opportunities while working to improve patients’ lives. If this describes you, now may be one of the best times to pursue your BSN.

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, universities nationwide are lowering tuition rates and expanding their RN to BSN programs to address the ongoing nursing shortage—a years-long crisis worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In North Carolina, hospitals struggle with high volumes of patients combined with high nursing turnover rates. Most of them spend an average of 3.6 hours in an emergency department, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. That’s about 18 minutes more than the national average.

Hospitals need nurses now more than ever, and most employers prefer nurses who hold BSN degrees. We’ve assembled a guide to help you on your journey to finding an RN to BSN program that’s right for you in North Carolina.

Nursing School Spotlights: Best RN to BSN Programs in North Carolina

North Carolina is among several states across the country where universities are expanding their RN to BSN programs and decreasing tuition rates to help address the national nursing shortage, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing.

Thanks to the North Carolina Promise Tuition Plan, tuition is a lot more affordable — meaning now may be a great time to go back to school.

We’ve spotlighted three online and campus RN to BSN programs based on affordability, accreditation and flexibility. Find out which programs stand out in 2023.

Western Carolina University (WCU)

This university offers low tuition costs, particularly to in-state students — which is why it’s listed as one of our top picks.

WCU is part of the NC Promise Tuition Plan, a state program established in 2016 to lower student debt and give more people access to university-level education.

As part of that initiative, in-state students can complete their BSN degree for about $3,500–textbooks included, according to the school’s website. This means that as an in-state student in North Carolina, you would only pay $500 each fall and spring semester to complete an RN to BSN program in North Carolina.

WCU’s RN to BSN program is also completely online, which gives working registered nurses the freedom to set their schedules. You must earn 60 hours of non-nursing credits and can complete the program in just four semesters, 24 hours of core RN to BSN courses and six hours of upper-division online electives. Through this, you’ll build on your basic nursing education, expand your knowledge of clinical practice and prepare for graduate school.

Visit the university’s website for more information on admission requirements and prerequisites.

University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC)

The RN to BSN Completion Program at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte is featured for its high NCLEX-RN pass rate. The university lists its NCLEX-RN pass rate at 94% — something you should look out for when researching the right RN to BSN program for you.

Additionally, you can earn the program’s required 31 credit hours entirely online, and you don’t have to visit the campus or attend any class meetings.

The admission requirements are also a little more relaxed, and you can apply in the fall or summer. All you need is an active RN license, an associate degree from an accredited university, and a 2.0 GPA with at least a “C” in all required nursing prerequisites.

For more information on what you need to apply for the RN to BSN Completion Program at UNCC, visit the university website.

Fayetteville State University

If you want to finish your RN to BSN program online and as quickly as possible, then this university might be the right choice. According to the university’s website, full-time students can complete the program within 2.5 semesters.

If you’re working and considering only taking part-time courses, you could graduate within five semesters.

You also can start classes in the spring or fall, and you can take any of the required general education courses at any other accredited college. That gives you more freedom to structure your schedule to fit your lifestyle.

And if you need to take non-nursing courses, you can still start this RN to BSN program in North Carolina as long as you don’t have more than four outside courses.

Fayetteville State University also has a Student Nursing Association. This can help you network, find mentors and connect to community services.

FAQs: RN to BSN Programs in North Carolina

What additional nursing skills and knowledge will I gain in an RN to BSN program in North Carolina?

According to the AACN, nurses with a BSN degree are more skilled in critical thinking, case management, and health promotion. They’re better suited for leadership roles and can practice across a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings.

Getting your BSN degree could be invaluable if you plan on pursuing a graduate program to specialize in a specific nursing field. An RN to BSN program in North Carolina could help prepare you for career advancement opportunities, particularly management, leadership roles, research or teaching roles.

In North Carolina, how long does completing an RN to BSN program take?

Completing an RN to BSN program can take anywhere from a year to four years, depending on the program, schedule, and if you meet the prerequisites.

The North Carolina Board of Nursing estimates it takes four years to earn your BSN degree.

However, several RN to BSN programs in North Carolina that are strictly online can be finished in a year—if you enroll as a full-time student. Others estimate it would take two years to complete an online program for part-time students. For example, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke offers accelerated online courses in eight-week-long sessions—meaning you can complete them in just 12 months. The program could take about two years to complete if you choose a self-paced, part-time learning option.

In North Carolina, how much do RN to BSN programs cost?

Generally, tuition is much more affordable for in-state residents because of the state’s NC Promise Tuition Plan.

Under this plan, students in participating schools pay $500 per semester for in-state tuition and $2,500 for out-of-state tuition.

Participating schools include Western Carolina University, Fayetteville State University, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke and Elizabeth City State University.

Here’s a look at a few other RN to BSN programs in North Carolina:

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

The Great 100 Nurses offers a scholarship to nursing students across the state. Each year, nursing schools statewide are randomly selected as scholarship recipients. The school then selects a student based on certain criteria.

The North Carolina Nurses Association also offers scholarships to ensure registered nurses are prepared to meet the healthcare challenges facing the state, according to the foundation’s website.

The state also has government programs to help students pay for their education. The Nurse Education Scholarship Loan Plan and the Nurse Scholars Program are options if you’re committed to working full-time in North Carolina.

If you want to start your search for financial aid, you can visit our nursing scholarship guide or our main financial aid guide. Also, check each RN to BSN program’s website to learn what student loan and scholarship opportunities are available for North Carolina nursing students.

In North Carolina, what are the admission requirements for RN to BSN programs?

Many programs require an Associate Degree in Nursing or a Registered Nurse Diploma and an active RN license. Some programs also list a GPA minimum and a certain amount of transferable credit hours for courses outside the nursing program, such as a college-level English or math class.

You’ll also have to submit a university application and an application for the program. Here’s an example of what your desired program may ask you to supply when you apply:

  • GPA of 2.5 or higher
  • Active RN License
  • Evidence of completed on-site practicum or preceptorship requirement for some of your senior nursing courses.
  • At least one letter of recommendation
  • A resume
  • Graduation from an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) Program
  • Eligibility to return to the previous higher education institution.

Check each program’s admissions requirements, as every school is different. At the RN to BSN program at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, applicants must submit official high school and college transcripts showing at least 24 credits of transferable college coursework with six credits in English. The program recommends three credits in college-level mathematics.

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

One way to find quality RN to BSN programs in North Carolina is to look for the program’s average NCLEX-RN pass rate. Some programs, such as Appalachian State University, list their pass rates on the website. The North Carolina Board of Nursing also publishes yearly reports listing a program’s average pass rate.

Accreditation is also important. Look to see if the nursing program is accredited by the ACEN or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

You might also want to check if the nursing program is approved by the state Board of Nursing. You can access a list of nursing programs on the board’s website.

Inside Look at Online RN to BSN Programs in North Carolina

Most new ADN graduates may want to enroll in more traditional programs to get the full campus experience. But that may not be the best option if you’re a working nurse. You might consider enrolling as a part-time student or attending night classes, particularly if you want one-on-one attention.

An online program can also give you the flexibility you need to manage your studies and your other commitments. Still, that does not mean all online programs are self-paced.

Some programs operate synchronously, requiring your presence during online lectures and discussions. Others may require you to complete a clinical course or practicum.

However, some programs may allow you to complete your clinical hours at your place of work.

Visit for information on RN to BSN programs to learn more about what you can expect in a North Carolina nursing program.

What is the Path to Becoming an RN with a BSN Degree in North Carolina?

According to the North Carolina Board of Nursing, you can earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from a university- or college-offered nursing program—which could take four years to complete if you don’t already have your RN license.

The program’s first two years are usually spent fulfilling general education requirements, while the last two are spent completing nursing courses.

The curriculum includes classroom and clinical experiences in hospitals and public health settings. Additionally, there’s a focus on community health, research and leadership skills.

To apply to an RN to BSN program, you need at least one of the following:

  • An associate degree in nursing.
  • An active Registered Nursing (RN) license.
  • To pass the NCLEX-RN exam right before applying.
  • A license with multistate practice privileges authorized by the Nurse Licensure Compact.

RN to BSN Career Outlook for North Carolina

Research shows that the job market for registered nurses, especially those with BSN degrees, is growing in North Carolina and the rest of the country, partially because of a worldwide nursing shortage.

Meanwhile, the annual salary for nurses varies depending on your location and specialization, but overall, it pays more to earn a BSN degree.

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

Nurses can earn annual salaries ranging from $59,450 to $120,250, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

In North Carolina, nurses earn anywhere from $51,420 to as much as $95,360, with nurses in bigger cities making even more.

As of August 2022, data shows that registered nurses earn an average annual salary of $58,988 in North Carolina. On the other hand, nurses with BSN degrees earn an average annual salary of $70,285—a difference of $11,297.

Location 10th Percentile Median 90th Percentile

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021

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

The Projections Managing Partnership website (funded by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) predicts 6,780 average annual openings for registered nurses in that state through 2030, with employment expected to grow by 11.5 percent.

Nationally, the average number of annual openings for registered nurses is 194,500. Additionally, employment is expected to grow by 9 percent in the next eight years.