Top 7 Illinois RN to BSN Degree Programs

Registered nurses serve a vital purpose in modern medicine by assessing and assisting patients through the complex medical system. Nurses work across healthcare, from one-on-one patient interactions to administration and education. A bachelor of science in nursing program qualifies RNs for leadership positions and specialized areas of nursing. With increased training in anatomy, physiology, nutrition, and human development, plus supplemental coursework in English composition and mathematics, the degree covers core elements to prepare well-rounded nursing professionals.

Depending on your academic training and professional and personal schedule, RN-to-BSN programs in Illinois can take 2-4 years to complete. This page covers RN-to-BSN degrees in state, including a ranked list, state RN requirements, and professional community resources. RNs in Illinois enjoy a positive employment outlook, demonstrating strong growth potential for entry-level professionals seeking more responsibilities and higher earning potentials.


1. Aurora University

Aurora University’s BSN degree program delivers an excellent foundation in the art of nursing through clinical experiences and professional training. The faculty to student ratio is 1:32, which means there is the advantage that classes are quite small. During practicum experiences, the ratio is 1:8, which is even better. This means that the faculty, who are truly dedicated, will give you all the personal attention you need. Indeed, students often take part in regional and national conferences with faculty staff. Students also take part in various real-life practice situations where they will work alongside various highly experienced professionals.

  • Campus: Aurora, IL
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Tuition: $10,560 per semester
  • Minimum time commitment: 123 semester hours
  • Online availability: No
  • Degree requirements: TEAS, GPA of 2.75 minimum, interview, TOEFL if applicable
  • Programs: BSN
  • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

2. Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing

The Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing offers a program in conjunction with two other schools. As such, a BSN graduate is educated not just by Blessing-Rieman, but also by Quincy University and/or Culver Stockton College. The college is responsible for the educational aspect of the degree, whereas Quincy provides liberal arts and general education. The BSN degree itself is achieved through Blessing-Rieman.

  • Campus: Quincy, IL
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Tuition: $20,772
  • Minimum time commitment: 124 semester hours
  • Online availability: No
  • Degree requirements: High school or GED, health check, criminal background check
  • Programs: BSN
  • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

3. Bradley University

Bradley University is fully committed to ensuring each nursing student is able to get the best BSN education available. This includes clinical nursing and theoretical nursing. Students are mentored as they go through the entire process, rather than having to take additional exams to be accepted to the second part of the degree program. Additionally, students are given all the flexibility they need to complete their degree. Each student is treated as an individual and the curriculum is adapted to meet the needs of each student and of the health care professional in general.

  • Campus: Peoria, IL
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation: ACEN
  • Tuition: $810 per semester hour
  • Minimum time commitment: 124 credit hours
  • Online availability: No
  • Degree requirements: High school or GED, visit, meeting with admission representative
  • Programs: BSN
  • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

5. Chicago State University

When the Affordable Care Act was implemented, a significant additional demand for nurses was created. Also, a substantial percentage of the nursing workforce is starting to retire, which means that the demand has grown even more. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there is a demand for some 525,000 nurses in the country right now, which will increase to 1.05 million nurses in some 8 years time.

However, although demand is high, gaining a job as a nurse is highly competitive. Only those with the best education will get those coveted jobs and Chicago State University is committed to delivering that high quality. They will assist every student to achieve their goals on both a professional and personal level, so that they can start their career in nursing.

  • Campus: Chicago, IL
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: ACEN
  • Tuition: $223 per credit hour
  • Minimum time commitment: Four years
  • Online availability: No
  • Degree requirements: Placement examination, GPA of 2.75 minimum, medical and dental exam, personal statement, prerequisite courses
  • Programs: BSN
  • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

6. Elmhurst College

Elmhurst College has always been at the forefront of the nursing careers. They understand how trusted nurses are and how important it is that they can lead and communicate in a scientific field. Nursing is about helping others and more. Indeed, today, nurses have to have a strong involvement in all areas of patient care and management, from advocating for community health to dealing with an individual patient at their bedside.

At Elmhurst, students are mentored with a 1:8 faculty ratio. This means they actually build up a relationship with their fellow students and instructors, who become true mentors. Additionally, the school gives access to all the new theoretical and clinical developments in the field of nursing. Students are given a solid foundation in liberal arts, which allows them to take on various important positions in the field of health care. This is something that have been doing since 1975. Almost all of the graduates managed to find employment within a year from graduation and many also continued on their educational pathway, gaining master’s or even doctorate degrees.

  • Campus: Elmhurst, IL
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Tuition: $21,543 per term
  • Minimum time commitment: Four years
  • Online availability: No
  • Degree requirements: High school or GED
  • Programs: BSN
  • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

7. Lakeview College of Nursing

Lakeview College of Nursing offers a four-year, comprehensive BSN degree program. It offers liberal arts foundations and then adds a background of sciences. Graduates are able to take the NCLEX-RN examination to start their career as registered nurses. Due to the quality of the program, graduates are highly sought after, particularly because they are ready to study on towards achieving their master’s or even doctorate degree.

  • Campus: Charleston and Danville, IL
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation: CCNE, ACEN
  • Tuition: Varies depending on residency
  • Minimum time commitment: 4 years
  • Online availability: No
  • Degree requirements: GPA of 2.5, HESI A, prerequisite courses, transcripts, health check, criminal background chec
  • Programs: BSN
  • School Site: Tuition and Financial Aid

Requirements for RNs in Illinois

RN licensure in Illinois does not require a bachelor’s degree, but professionals with this added training may stand out from other entry-level nurses. To sit for the national council licensure examination (NCLEX), you need a degree from a program certified by a national nursing accreditation board, such as the National League for Nursing (NLN) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Continental Testing Services hosts these exams in Illinois, and charges $98 for registration and processing. Licensure depends on a criminal background check.

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) produces the NCLEX-exam for RNs, which covers a broad spectrum of professional knowledge. Topics include psychological and physiological assessment and therapies, healthcare education, and office or department safety. The exam comprises multiple-choice questions and 75-265 questions (depending on applicant performance), with a time limit of 5 hours. The NCSBN charges a $200 exam fee in addition to the state registration and processing fee.

To maintain and renew your RN licensure every two years, candidates must complete 20 ongoing education credits. Nurses can earn credits by completing association-sponsored courses, as listed on the Illinois Nursing Workforce Center (INWC) website, presenting a paper at a professional conference, or completing certification courses. Renewal costs $80. According to 2018 data from the INWC, the pass rate for NCLEX-RN exams in Illinois matches the national average of 88%.

Employment Outlook For RNs in Illinois

RNs enjoy a strong national job outlook, the BLS projects a job growth rate of 15% for RNs over the next decade — much faster than the national average employment growth rate. Illinois RNs have a median annual wage of $70,890 — moderately higher than their national median salary of $70,000. RNs work in a variety of environments and specializations, including general medical and surgical hospitals, psychiatric and substance abuse treatment centers, and outpatient or home care assistance. The highest-paid RNs work in various specializations, including pharmaceuticals, institutional accounting, and private business.

RNs in all industries offer consultation and direct assistance to patients throughout the state of Illinois. The following table lists the top-paying areas for RNs in Illinois, according to the BLS. All five areas serve the greater Chicago area, due to its high population and resource density. Consider these metrics as you plan your professional aspirations.

The Top-Paying Metropolitan Areas for RNs in Illinois

Location Employment Mean Annual Salary
Chicago-Naperville-Arlington Heights, IL Metropolitan Division 75,320 $76,640
Chicago-Naperville-Elgin, IL-IN-WI 93,710 $75,570
Lake County-Kenosha County, IL-WI Metropolitan Division 6,510 $74,710
Elgin, IL Metropolitan Division 4,650 $72,370
Kankakee, IL 1,490 $70,290

Source: BLS>

Nursing Resources in Illinois

  • Illinois Nursing Workforce Center: This government resource devotes itself to increasing nurse employment and retention. Use this website to access RN registration reports, ongoing education resources, and in-state professional nursing organizations.
  • Illinois Association of School Nurses: With a focus on children and adolescent development, the IASN increases communication between school nurses and spreads information about healthcare initiatives. This association is a branch of the National Association of School Nurses (NASN).
  • Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation: This website acts as a useful resource for in-state licensing details. The IDFPR provides fundamental information on the latest fiscal regulations related to modern healthcare and nursing administration acts and guidelines.
  • American Psychiatric Nurses Association, Illinois Chapter: The largest professional community for psychiatric health in the U.S., this association offers ongoing education opportunities to members, along with subscriptions to peer-reviewed medical journals and an annual psychiatric conference.
  • Illinois Nurses Association: The Illinois nurses’ union promotes community empowerment. Members benefit from union negotiations; meeting like-minded, dedicated professionals; and advocacy for local healthcare initiatives.