RN to BSN Programs in Tennessee: Explore Online & Campus Options

RNs looking to grow into a nursing leadership role will find plenty of flexible and convenient RN to BSN programs in Tennessee that are worth exploring.

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Linsey Knerl

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Linsey is a Midwest-based author, public speaker, and online education consultant. She has 15 years of experience creating content that helps students get more out of their educational journey.

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Nurses are a dedicated group, with many continuing their education through courses, seminars, conferences, and professional reading. If lifelong learning is one of your passions, an RN to BSN program in Tennessee could move your career forward and open new job opportunities. While pursuing your BSN takes time and financial investment, the rewards include a higher average salary and the chance to work in more challenging environments. RN to BSN programs in Tennessee are almost completely online, with coursework you can fit around your existing work schedule and family obligations. These classes are filled with dedicated, hardworking nurses like you, and the instructors are well-versed in teaching busy nurses with bright futures.

Nursing School Spotlights: Best RN to BSN Programs in Tennessee

The healthcare field needs experienced nurses more than ever. An RN to BSN program in Tennessee equips registered nurses and those in the process of getting their RN license with the additional knowledge and experience to be leaders in their field. We’ve identified the top accredited RN to BSN programs in Tennessee for nurses seeking flexible learning schedules and rigorous educational opportunities. We’ve also kept price and overall value in mind. We’re spotlighting three high-quality programs to help get you started on your school search.

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, offers a 100% online RN to BSN degree for students who have either an associate degree or a nursing diploma. The program offers both full- and part-time options with spring and fall start dates. You won’t have to travel to campus for labs and can do your clinicals close to your home.

If you graduated from a Tennessee Board of Regents institution, you’d have an advantage because you’ve already completed the general education requirements. With those credits out of the way, completion of the program (34 credit hours) takes just a year for full-time students. Classes are scheduled over five eight-week sessions, taken over three semesters. The program includes courses such as pathophysiology, pharmacotherapeutics, and nursing leadership.

This program has a 93% NCLEX pass rate—much higher than both the Tennessee and national average pass rates of 87.7% and 82.5%, respectively.

East Tennessee State

With its fully online RN to BSN program, East Tennessee State admits students for the fall, spring, or summer semesters. The program requires a total of nine courses (32 credit hours) along with a possible 60 leadership clinical hours. Students who need to complete any general education courses can do so during their nursing studies, as well as before or even after. Courses are asynchronous and can be taken at any time as long as homework and assessments are turned in by the deadline.

East Tennessee State had one of the largest nursing classes in 2021 and still managed an NCLEX pass rate of 84%. Students learn about health assessment, professional nursing practice, health promotion and research, and health care systems and informatics. Eligible students are offered membership in the Epsilon Sigma Chapter of the nursing honor society Sigma Theta Tau.

Admission to the program requires a 3.0 GPA (minimum of 2.6 for math and science), as well as a minimum TEAS score of 58%.

Bethel University

Bethel University is a small, private school with an NCLEX pass rate of 100%—an accomplishment achieved by fewer than 4% of nursing programs nationwide. This RN to BSN program in Tennessee is 100% online. You’ll do clinicals close to home and can Facetime with your instructors during your clinicals. Online tutoring is included in your tuition.

Full-time students take two classes every 10 weeks and complete the program in a year. Courses include Transition to Baccalaureate Nursing Practice, Introduction to Research for Evidence-Based Practice, and Clinical Reasoning Practicum, with a total of 32 credit hours designated for the RN to BSN program.

FAQs About RN to BSN Programs in Tennessee

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

The coursework common to many of these programs covers science-based courses such as physiology and pharmacology, as well as leadership classes. You’ll explore the needs of diverse communities and those in special health situations. Degree requirements include face-to-face clinicals, where you’ll encounter real-life scenarios common to a BSN nurse with your skills and experience. For example, courses you’ll find at East Tennessee State University include:

  • Pathophysiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Leadership and Professionalism

How long does it take to complete an RN to BSN program in Tennessee?

The timeline for finishing your RN to BSN program in Tennessee depends on your situation and the time commitment you can make to your education. A full-time student requiring no additional general education credits can complete the program in as little as one year at a school like The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Part-time students or those who don’t have an associate degree from a Tennessee school may need to fulfill additional general education requirements, which will stretch out the program.

How much does RN to BSN programs in Tennessee cost?

The cost of an online or hybrid RN to BSN program in Tennessee varies, depending on several factors. While the cost per credit may be similar among state colleges, a full-time student will pay more per semester than a part-time student taking just one or two classes—though, of course, the part-time student will take longer to complete the program. You’ll also have to budget for books, technology fees, equipment, and uniforms or scrubs.

Here are three programs and their tuition costs to give you some insight into what you may spend for your degree.

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

All of the schools mentioned here offer financial aid to students based on merit (past performance at college) and financial need for their RN to BSN program in Tennessee. To be considered for financial aid, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) starting Oct. 1 of each year. This will tell the institution what money you may be eligible for, including school-based scholarships designed just for nursing students.

If you’re looking for additional scholarships, check out our nursing scholarship guide and financial aid guide.

What are the admission requirements for RN to BSN programs in Tennessee?

RN to BSN programs in Tennessee have stricter admissions requirements than for a typical freshman pursuing a general degree. While the details vary by school, students need the following before gaining admission:

  • Passing NCLEX score (or working on it)
  • RN certification in the state of Tennessee (or working on it)
  • High marks in all science and math coursework from their associate degree program (C or higher)
  • General education courses were already taken or scheduled to take

East Tennessee State University also requires students have an overall 3.0 GPA (minimum of 2.6 in math and science) and a suitable Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) assessment score.

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

If you’re hoping for a rigorous education with all of the support resources needed to help you succeed, look for RN to BSN online programs in Tennessee that demonstrate the following characteristics:

  • Fully online or hybrid model
  • A variety of schedules to meet the needs of working RNs
  • Taught by practicing nurses or those with recent work experience
  • Has a high passing rate for the NCLEX-RN exam, meeting or exceeding the national average of 82.5%
  • Is recognized as an approved educational program by the Tennessee Board of Nursing

Inside Look at Online RN to BSN Programs in Tennessee

What’s it like being a student in any of these RN to BSN online programs in Tennessee? Each school has different methods of instruction, but most are designed to give even those students with employment and family obligations a flexible way to learn in their free time. Unlike on-campus, in-person coursework, these schools generally allow learning to happen when it works for you, anytime and anywhere. That said, some tests or clinicals may require you to be present on a specific day and time to earn credit. In-person clinicals may be scheduled close to where the student lives or works.

Classes in your RN to BSN online program in Tennessee include general education requirements. If you have an associate degree from a Tennessee school, you’ll find that you’ve probably already fulfilled these prerequisites. Courses in pharmacology, physiology, advanced nursing, leadership, and theory are typically required, as well. An emphasis on working with diverse populations in the healthcare environment is common in RN to BSN online programs in Tennessee.

How Do I Go from Being an RN to a BSN Nurse in Tennessee?

RN to BSN programs in Tennessee are bachelor’s programs: four-year degree programs available to those who already have an RN license (meaning you’ve completed an associate degree or nursing diploma program) and have passed the NCLEX. While some programs let those in the process of getting their RN licensure to apply, passing the NCLEX is necessary to advance through the program. If you hold an RN license from another state, you may not be eligible to apply. Check with the school to be certain.

Those starting an on-campus or online RN to BSN program in Tennessee and who have an in-state associate degree will have many of their general credits out of the way. If you’re from out of state or attended a Tennessee RN program that doesn’t meet all the requirements, expect to take additional courses to obtain those general credits.

Once you’ve got both your RN licensure and your BSN degree, you’ll qualify for BSN status. Each institution has a slightly different approach to timing and how to document these milestones.

In general, the demand for healthcare professionals is expected to grow, and this includes BSN nurses. Learn more about the hiring landscape and what your salary might look like after graduating from any of the on-campus or online RN to BSN programs in Tennessee.

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

Like other occupations, the annual salary for registered nurses in Tennessee varies widely. Earnings in Tennessee range from $48,190 to $81,950 annually. That’s significantly lower than the national average of $59,450 to $120,250. The good news is that you’ll significantly increase your salary by obtaining more experience and education, such as getting your BSN.

RNs without a BSN working in Tennessee make, on average, $68,537 per year; those with BSN degrees, however, make an average salary of $93,385 per year (as of August 2022). As the chart below shows, Tennessee nurses earn the most money in the Nashville/Davidson/Murfreesboro/Franklin area, as well as the Memphis and Jackson areas.

Location 10th Percentile Median 90th Percentile

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, May 2021

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

Over 62,000 nurses were employed in Tennessee in 2021, with the national job market projecting an increase of 6% over the next decade. Nationwide, around 203,200 nursing job openings are reported, including new jobs and jobs replacing retiring nurses. Tennessee projects 1.8% growth over the next 10 years in the healthcare industry, with some of these positions for BSN nurses. The future looks bright for those graduating from top RN to BSN online programs in Tennessee.