Best Accredited Online RN-to-BSN Programs

By: NurseJournal.org Staff
Last Updated: March 2020

What Is an RN-to-BSN Degree?

Nurses provide patient care in hospitals, doctor's offices, and clinics. Registered nurses benefit from strong job growth projections and above-average salaries, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). On average, RNs earn over $71,000 per year, and the BLS projects above-average growth in the field between 2018 and 2028. 

Rank University Degree Program
1 Appalachian State University RN to BSN
2 California State University-San Marcos RN to BSN
3 Farmingdale State College RN to BSN
4 Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences RN to BSN
5 UNY Hunter College RN to BSN
6 Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis RN to BSN
7 Florida Atlantic University RN to BSN

In 2010, the Institute of Medicine recommended that 80% of practicing RNs hold at least a BSN by 2020. Since then, the number of RN-to-BSN graduates has more than doubled. With a BSN, nurses can pursue roles as nursing directors, nurse case managers, and nurse educators. 

Earning a BSN helps RNs stand out against their competition, increasing their earning potential and qualifying them to pursue leadership roles. A BSN also prepares nurses for graduate degrees in nursing. According to PayScale, the salary for nurses with BSN degrees ranks significantly higher than for those with associate degrees: ADN nurses earn $68,000 per year on average, while BSN nurses earn $82,000. 

Rasmussen reports that nurses with BSN degrees qualify for more jobs, too. In a survey of over 1 million nursing job postings, ADN nurses qualified for just 59% of available jobs, while BSN graduates qualified for 98%. 

Our list of the best online RN-to-BSN programs accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) helps RNs identify the right programs for their career goals and interests. This page introduces BSN career paths, outlines admission requirements for RN-to-BSN programs, and examines the benefits of choosing an online RN-to-BSN program.

What Can You Do with an Online RN-to-BSN Degree?

Career Paths

Nurses with BSNs can pursue opportunities in nursing administration, as nurse educators, and as clinical specialists. BSN degrees also open opportunities as school nurses, legal nurse consultants, and informatics nurse specialists. In addition to these alternative nursing careers, many BSN nurses pursue work in hospitals, physician's offices, and clinics.

  • Nursing Director

    Nursing directors oversee a department or clinic's nurses, setting procedures and supervising nursing staff. They also oversee patient care and set budgets.

  • Nurse Educator

    Nurse educators train nurses and nursing students in academic and clinical settings. They oversee training for newly hired nurses and teach clinical skills. Some positions require master's degrees.

  • Clinical Nurse Specialist

    Clinical nurse specialists hold specialty certification in a nursing field. Some roles require a graduate degree.

  • Clinical Nurse Manager

    Clinical nurse managers oversee a team of nurses in a hospital or clinic. They supervise nurses, set nursing care standards, and evaluate personnel.

  • Nurse Case Manager

    Nurse case managers evaluate patients through interviews and health assessments. They implement physicians' healthcare plans and ensure patients receive effective care.

  • Clinical Research Nurse

    Clinical research nurses evaluate treatments and medication to determine the most effective solutions to various medical problems. They work in hospitals, conducting medical research.

Common Employers for Graduates of RN-to-BSN Programs

  • Hospitals

    Nurses care for patients all around the hospital. Many hospitals now require RNs to earn BSNs, as studies show patient outcomes improve with more educated nursing staff. Nurses generally need BSNs to manage others or work in specialized departments such as intensive care, the emergency room, or labor and delivery.

  • Long-Term Care Clinics

    RNs care for elderly and disabled patients in nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, assisted living residences, and other long-term care facilities. They monitor patient health, administer medication, and assist patients with daily activities such as bathing and dressing. RNs also inform patients' family members about patients' conditions. RNs with BSN degrees may supervise other nurses performing these tasks.

  • Schools

    School nurses assess students' injuries and illnesses, administer first aid, and perform routine examinations of students' vision, hearing, or other conditions. BSN degrees allow RNs to meet standards set by the National Association of School Nurses, which recommends that school nurses hold bachelor's degrees at minimum. School nurses must sometimes make emergency medical decisions without a doctor's presence, and BSNs prepare RNs for this responsibility.

Salaries for Graduates of RN-to-BSN Programs
  Entry Level
0-12 Months
Early Career
1-4 Years
Mid Career
5-9 Years
Experienced
10-19 Years
Nursing Director $79,635 $81,265 $85,135 $92,863
Nurse Educator $69,989 $69,422 $71,830 $78,154
Clinical Nurse Specialist $80,672 $85,946 $88,893 $89,377
Clinical Nurse Manager $76,203 $76,035 $80,072 $84,736
Nurse Case Manager $64,866 $66,683 $70,544 $73,139
Clinical Research Nurse $64,074 $65,090 $74,803 $74,573

Find the Best Online RN-to-BSN Programs

Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University offers an online RN-to-BSN program, which ranks as one of the best CCNE-accredited online RN-to-BSN degrees. At App State, nursing students complete 30 credits of coursework in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. The program incorporates clinicals, such as class projects, and research to strengthen professional training. 

The part-time program at App State, designed for working nurses, offers a flexible route to career advancement. Nursing students earn their BSNs in a single year, preparing graduates for advanced roles in nursing or for graduate-level nursing programs. App State offers significant tuition discounts for North Carolina residents.

  • Campus: Boone, North Carolina
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $163 per credit for North Carolina residents; $664 per credit for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: Associate degree in nursing or a diploma in nursing from an accredited program; current RN license; minimum 2.5 GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On Campus Requirements: No
  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid

California State University-San Marcos

The RN-to-BSN program at California State University-San Marcos offers a flexible, accelerated degree option, ranking it as one of the best CCNE-accredited, online RN-to-BSN programs. The 16-month program trains graduates for general nursing practice or graduate nursing programs. Graduates work in leadership roles in healthcare organizations and clinics.

The curriculum at CSUSM emphasizes patient care, clinical experience, and nursing care management interventions, particularly for vulnerable populations and diverse communities. CSUSM reports that California nurses with BSNs earn more than $42,500 per year -- more than nurses with associate degrees.

  • Campus: San Marcos, California
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $299 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: Associate degree in nursing; RN license; minimum 60 transferable units; minimum 2.0 GPA overall with a minimum 2.75 GPA in pre-nursing core classes
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 16 months
  • On Campus Requirements: No
  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid

Farmingdale State College

The fully online RN-to-BSN program at Farmingdale State College enrolls recent graduates from associate nursing programs and experienced RNs seeking career advancement. The flexible curriculum, designed for working nurses, trains students in professional nursing skills, healthcare leadership, and supervision of nursing care. 

The 62-credit program incorporates classes about caring for populations in a community setting, promoting health, and working with healthcare organizations. Students also complete senior leadership practicums with local preceptors to strengthen their clinical skills. Nursing students with RNs complete their BSNs in four semesters at Farmingdale, which offers tuition discounts for New York state residents.

  • Campus: Farmingdale, New York
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $295 per credit for New York residents; $708 per credit for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: Accredited associate degree in nursing; minimum 3.0 GPA; current RN license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 4 semesters
  • On Campus Requirements: No
  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid

Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences

A specialized college dedicated to healthcare, Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences offers a fully online RN-to-BSN degree.

The program offers full- and part-time enrollment options to fit working nurses' schedules. Full-time nursing students can complete their degrees in one year.

The curriculum at Baptist College includes 30 credits of nursing coursework, with three start dates each year. Students can apply for prior learning credits and test out of pharmacology and health assessment requirements through competency-based exams. Baptist College also accepts CLEP exams for general education requirements. 

  • Campus: Memphis, Tennessee
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $453 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: Official transcripts; active RN license or eligibility to apply for a license; graduate from a regionally accredited nursing program; minimum 2.5 GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On Campus Requirements: No
  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid 

UNY Hunter College

The RN-to-BSN degree at CUNY Hunter College enrolls students who have associate degrees in nursing and New York state RN licenses. Students complete their coursework fully online, but must meet the program's 45-clinical hour requirement on campus at the Hunter-Bellevue School of Nursing.

Nursing students complete 30 credits in RN-to-BSN major courses, including nursing research, health assessment, promotion of wellness, and gerontological nursing. Admitted students attend two mandatory orientation sessions on campus. CUNY Hunter College admits new students for fall semester only and offers tuition discounts for New York residents.

  • Campus: New York, New York
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $305 per credit for New York residents; $620 per credit for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: Associate degree in nursing from a regionally accredited college; minimum 3.2 GPA; current New York RN license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On Campus Requirements: Yes
  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid

Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis

IUPUI offers one of the best CCNE-accredited online RN-to-BSN programs in coordination with Indiana's eight other state nursing schools. Designed for working nurses, students can complete their BSN degrees in as little as 12 months after meeting general education requirements. IUPUI also offers a part-time enrollment option, where nursing students graduate in 18-24 months.

Nursing students complete coursework such as health policy, comprehensive health assessment, nursing research, and informatics. IUPUI offers nursing courses in a condensed six- or eight-week term. Nursing students meet clinical requirements at their current workplaces.

  • Campus: Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $424 per credit for Indiana residents; $1,223 per credit for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: Associate of science in nursing or a nursing diploma; unencumbered RN license; minimum 2.5 GPA
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On Campus Requirements: No
  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing 
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid

Florida Atlantic University

The RN-to-BSN program at Florida Atlantic University offers a fully online BSN route for nurses with RN licensure. Students enroll for fall, spring, or summer start dates, choosing a plan of study to graduate in 3-6 semesters. The flexibility helps working nurses advance their careers with BSN degrees.

The curriculum for BSN students emphasizes evidence-based practice, nursing research, and practical projects that build nursing skills. At FAU, online nursing students meet clinical hour requirements at local sites under approved preceptors. 

  • Campus: Boca Raton, Florida
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $203 per credit for Florida residents; $722 per credit for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: Completion of 60 college credits from an accredited institution; associate degree in nursing; minimum 2.5 GPA; current RN license
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On Campus Requirements: No
  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
  • School site: Tuition | Financial aid

Is an Online RN-to-BSN Program the Right Choice for Me?

An online RN-to-BSN program helps nurses advance their careers through a flexible learning format. Successful online nursing students need self-motivation and organizational skills, which help keep them on track during online programs. Nursing students also benefit from comfort with computer technology.

Online Learning Benefits

Online learning formats appeal to working nurses who require accessible, flexible programs. Nurses can choose from the best CCNE-accredited online RN-to-BSN programs without relocating or quitting their jobs.

Online programs offer several benefits over traditional programs. Many online programs charge lower tuition rates, saving nursing students money. Programs offering asynchronous schedules let nurses arrange coursework around their work obligations with no required login times. As a result, many nurses prefer online programs.

Admissions Requirements for an Online RN-to-BSN Program

Applicants to RN-to-BSN programs must meet admission requirements. Programs generally require evidence of RN licensure and either an associate degree or a diploma in nursing. Some programs only admit students with an accredited degree or diploma. Applicants must also meet the program's GPA minimum (often a 3.0 GPA).

In addition to meeting the minimum education and licensure requirements, RN-to-BSN programs often request letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a resume. Most RN-to-BSN programs do not mandate test scores, though some accept test scores for candidates who do not meet minimum GPA requirements.

Accredited Online RN-to-BSN Programs

Prospective RN-to-BSN students should always check a program's accreditation status before applying. Accredited online RN-to-BSN programs meet high standards for nursing education. Independent accrediting agencies evaluate BSN programs, assessing their student learning outcomes, graduation requirements, and faculty qualifications. Accredited programs meet qualifications for professional certifications, including board certification and state nursing licenses. Many employers only hire nurses with accredited degrees.

Several accrediting agencies grant accreditation to RN-to-BSN programs. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education is the highest standard for nursing accreditation. The best CCNE-accredited online RN-to-BSN programs prepare graduate nurses for leading roles in the field. In addition to CCNE accreditation, the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing also accredits bachelor's nursing programs.

By choosing an accredited nursing program, RNs increase their chances of career advancement after graduation.

What to Expect from an Online RN-to-BSN Program

How Long Does It Take to Complete an RN-to-BSN Program?

RN-to-BSN programs take less time to complete than it would to complete a BSN program without RN licensure. Many programs offer a one-year pathway to a BSN for nurses who meet the general education prerequisites. RN-to-BSN program lengths vary depending on student enrollment status and specialty. Completing electives in a specialty area can add time to the degree, for example.

Many online programs offer full- and part-time enrollment options. Full-time RNs can complete the required nursing coursework -- typically 30 credits -- in 12 months. Part-time students take longer.

Other factors, such as program type, affect the length of an RN-to-BSN program. For example, some programs admit students on a cohort model, in which all nursing students complete their coursework as a group with a set graduation date. Other programs let students complete coursework on their own schedules, with the option to accelerate the degree by taking a heavier course load.

Typical Curriculum for an Online RN-to-BSN Program

During an online RN-to-BSN program, nursing students strengthen their clinical skills and leadership abilities. Curricula vary by program, and most programs include courses on nursing practice. Common classes include health assessment, evidence-based practice, and applied nursing research. Some institutions offer courses in organizational systems, nursing leadership, and information management to prepare nurses for leadership roles.

These courses build foundational skills that prepare graduates for career advancement. Many BSN programs offer specialized courses to train nurses in high-demand fields like surgical nursing, ICU nursing, or pediatric nursing.

BSN students also complete clinical hours to strengthen their patient care and clinical skills. Online students arrange to meet clinical hour requirements at local sites, working under program-approved preceptors. Clinical hour requirements vary by program. Working nurses can often complete the required hours at their current places of employment.