Nursing occupations are expected to grow 16% through 2024, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics - or nearly 2 and a half-million jobs, significantly faster than the national average. As healthcare continues to expand, the industry will look to recruit the brightest and most qualified professionals available; and the RN to BSN track, then, will be a popular route, both for its practical skill-building and accelerated degree completion time. Though the degree technically includes a number of prerequisite and general education courses, RNs can transfer out of these through previous academic credits. Nearly all degrees take less than two years, and several can be completed in less than 12 months, keeping costs down and allowing for a quick return to work. Taking into consideration the typical RN to BSN student - adult learners - online degree tracks are becoming increasingly popular for their flexibility and convenience. Below, we’ve ranked the top 5 such programs.
Here at BestCollegeReviews, we pride ourselves on creating quality alternative rankings geared towards working, non-traditional, or continuing education students. We know that for many students looking at online study, it’s because they have work, family, or life obligations, or otherwise, want or need the flexibility not granted by traditional degree programs. Due to this need, we’ve incorporated metrics we feel are valuable to this type of students into our ranking compilation process.
Interested in more general information about online learning? Visit our ranking of online colleges to learn more.
- Affordability (1/3): the average out-of-state tuition per credit hour
- Flexibility (1/3): if the program offers additional specializations and/or an accelerated track
- Academic Reputation (1/3): the rank of the school’s parent institution according to US News
Featured Online Schools
The University of Texas – Arlington is a public research university, founded in 1895 as part of the Texas A&M University System until joining The University of Texas System in 1965. Categorized as an R1 Doctoral University by the Carnegie Foundation, The Chronicle of Higher Education has ranked the university one of the fastest-growing public research universities in the nation, and the New America Foundation has named it among its “Next Generation University” class. The school has also been recognized byForbes,Washington Monthly, and thePrinceton Review, which categorizes the school under its “Best of the West” banner. UTA offers a wide range of offerings, including 81 bachelor’s, 71 master’s, and 31 doctoral degrees, with notable programs in engineering, social work, nursing, business, education, and interdisciplinary studies.
UT Arlington’s online BSN consists of 54 total credits (14 classes), plus 67 credits of prerequisite courses. Major requirements include Holistic Health Assessment, Nursing Research, Health Promotion & Illness Prevention Across the Lifespan, Nursing of Adults, Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing, Clinical Nursing Foundations, Professional Nursing Trends, Nursing Leadership & Management, and Community Health Nursing, among others. All students also complete a capstone practicum in order to gain valuable experience. Courses deliver in accelerated 5-week and 14-week blocks and follow a blended model of dynamic online work and clinical sessions at partner hospitals throughout Texas. The degree is designed for maximum flexibility, allowing students to begin their studies at a date convenient to their schedule rather than enforcing strict, traditional semester entry dates. (Average degree completion time is just 15 months). For those interested, an RN to BSN is also available. The degree is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
- Tuition per credit is $141.
Colorado Technical University, founded in 1965, is located in Colorado Springs (with a satellite campus in Denver). Offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees, in addition to professional programs, the school has a student enrollment of approximately 20,000 (many of whom are online) and over 70,000 alumni worldwide. Among its areas of study include Business & Management, Engineering & Computer Science, Healthcare, Information Systems & Technology, Nursing, Project Management, and Security Studies. Through its distance learning technology, M.U.S.E. (My Unique Student Experience), CTU allows students to choose how they learn, whether by watching, viewing, reading or hearing. Further, CTU offers their trademark Fast Track for bachelor students, which allows students to place out course work through prior-learning assessments, accelerating graduation time up to 30%. This highly flexible and tailored approach has earned CTU the praise of many publications, and the online program is widely considered among the most innovative available, recognized as the “Best of the Best” in the Education and Academia category of the Computerworld Honors Program.
Colorado Tech offers an online BSN that consists of 48 major credits, including Challenges and Trends in Contemporary Nursing, Nursing Informatics, Population-Based Nursing, Alternative and Complementary Interventions, Safety and Quality Improvement in Nursing Practice, Health and Wellness Assessment, Leadership and Nursing Systems Management, and Innovation in Nursing, among others. In addition, all students must complete a nursing capstone course and four elective courses. While CTU does not offer RN to BSN work, RN students may transfer in all 28.5 credits into the program. To accommodate students’ schedules, CTU has created a highly flexible program, with eight entry dates available throughout the year and an accelerated track which may be completed in as little as 9 months. For those interested in pursuing in healthcare administration and leadership, the school also offers a BS in Business Administration with a concentration in Healthcare Management and BS in Healthcare Management (Health Informatics concentration available). Note that this degree is accredited by the CCNE.
- Tuition per credit is $260
Founded in 1865, Indiana State University is located in Terre Haute and has a student body of approximately 13,500. The school is classified as a Doctoral University by the Carnegie Foundation, and both thePrinceton ReviewandUS Newsrank it among the best schools in the Midwest region. Six colleges – Arts and Sciences, Business, Education, Professional Studies, Health and Human Services, Technology – offer more than 100 undergraduate majors, and there are bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees offered, plus an education specialist track. With nearly 65% of classes at 30 students or less, courses are intimate and collaborative, allowing for a tight-knit educational community and learning experience. ISU has a strong alumni network of 100,000, with graduates in business, politics, the arts, and more.
Indiana State offers an online RN to BSN that consists of 35 credits in the major. Requires courses include Transition to Professional Nursing Practice, Comprehensive Health Assessment for Nursing Practice, Healthcare Informatics, Research/Theoretical Basis for Nursing Practice, Community Health Nursing, Nursing Leadership, Reflective Nursing Practice, and Professional Nursing Synthesis. From there, students have the opportunity to tailor the degree through elective support courses such as Health Biostatistics, Applied Psychological Statistics, and Pathophysiology. ISU also offers the ability to earn 10 credits through professional portfolio evaluation, in which students demonstrate their nursing skills and applied knowledge in a clinical setting. For those interested, the school also offers an LPN/LVN track, as well. Note that the degree is approved by the Indiana State Board of Nursing and accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
- Tuition per credit is $391
Ashland University is a private university in Ashland, Ohio, with a total enrollment of approximately 6,000. (Additional campuses are located throughout the state, including Cleveland, Columbus, Elyria, Massillon, Mansfield, and elsewhere.) Founded in 1878, the school offers nearly 70 bachelor’s degrees, 9 pre-professional programs, and graduate degrees, such as an MBA, MFA, MEd, and EdD. The school consists of 5 colleges – in arts and sciences, business, education, nursing and health, and continuing education – which offer a wide range of majors, from traditional liberal arts degrees to more specialized studies in actuarial science, toxicology, and entrepreneurship. Notable alumni have gone on to successful careers in business, academia, media, and professional athletics.
Ashland’s online RN to BSN consists of 27 credits in the major, plus 9 credits in a concentration. Required course work includes International/Transcultural Perspectives in Healthcare, Theoretical Bases, Informatics in Healthcare, Individual Assessment, Genetics and Healthcare, Research & Evidence-Based Practice, Community & Public Health, Health Care Systems, and Legal, Ethical & Political Perspectives, among others. From there, students tailor the degree through a concentration track in School Nurse Licensure Prep, Gerontology, Business Administration, or self-designed concentration. For maximum flexibility, Ashland offers an unlimited amount of transferred credits, and students can complete the accelerated track within as little as 15 months. (Part-time enrollment is available, as well, and all course work is self-paced.) All clinical experience requirements can be completed through a current employer or through special arrangements made with the faculty of the specific nursing course.
- Tuition per credit is $350
Northwestern College is a private Christian liberal arts school in Orange City, Iowa. Established in 1882, Northwestern IA, as it’s commonly called, is considered one of the top colleges in the region, and made the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll in 2014, having served in areas across the globe, including Japan, the Netherlands, Bolivia, South Africa, India, Kazakhstan, Uganda, Ukraine, Zimbabwe, and numerous other countries. The school is affiliated with the Reformed Church in America and incorporates a Christian worldview throughout its core curriculum. In addition to its traditional campus courses, Northwestern has also developed a robust online program, tailored especially to adult learner and working professionals.
Northwestern’s RN to BSN is designed for RNs who graduated from an associate degree or hospital diploma nursing programs. Consisting of 21 major credits and 20 required cognates, courses include Lifespan Health Assessment, Promoting Shalom with Cross Cultural Populations, Nursing Science and Informatics, Nursing Leadership and Clinical Scholarship, Pathophysiology, Shalom and Nursing Science, Living Shalom, and Pathophysiology, among others. All students are also required to complete 240 hours of clinical experience in order to demonstrate mastery of nursing skills. Courses deliver in accelerated 8-week blocks, and students are able to complete the degree in under two years, even while taking only one course per semester. The school also offers a generous transfer policy, only requiring 30 hours of course material to be completed at Northwestern. The degree is accredited by the CCNE and approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing.
- Tuition per credit is $390