Best Online Second Degree BSN Programs

Every day, nurses care for patients in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and clinics across the country. They earn above-average salaries, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reporting that registered nurses (RNs) earn a median salary of $70,000 a year. Nurses are also in high demand, with the BLS projecting 15% employment growth for RNs between 2016 and 2026. In addition, nurses who hold a BSN qualify for leadership positions, such as nursing supervisor. Attending an online accelerated second degree BSN program can help professionals change careers and pursue job opportunities in this in-demand field.

Because online second degree BSN programs admit students who already hold a bachelor’s degree, incoming BSN students can earn their degree in as little as one year. This article describes how to apply to second degree BSN programs, valuable certifications to increase graduates’ competitiveness on the job market, and scholarship opportunities for nursing students.

Best Online Second Degree BSN Programs

1. Marian University

Marian offers online accelerated second-degree BSN programs through both its campus in Indianapolis and its campus in Nashville. Although theory classes take place online, students must live in the areas surrounding the schools they choose. The university partners with local medical facilities for in-person components and does not allow learners to take these requirements elsewhere.

Full-time students can complete the program in just 16 months. This structured program includes four semesters of 16-weeks. Each semester contains online courses and in-person components, such as labs and clinical hours. The online classes offer asynchronous learning and cover subjects like pathophysiology, health assessments, statistical methods, and research informatics. During skills labs, degree candidates run simulations of patient scenarios. Clinical rotations give students first-hand experience with patients and the chance to learn from practicing registered nurses.

Applicants should hold non-nursing bachelor’s degrees from regionally accredited institutions and complete prerequisite courses, including abnormal psychology and human anatomy.

2. Roseman University

Roseman offers second-degree BSN nursing programs online through campuses in Henderson, Nevada and South Jordan, Utah. Students must live in or relocate to the Las Vegas or Salt Lake City areas to enroll in these programs. Learners apply on a rolling basis and start in February, July, or October. Applicants with bachelor’s degrees must hold a GPA of at least a 2.75 in the prerequisites and the last 60 hours of study.

Roseman breaks the curriculum into blocks rather than semesters. During each block, degree candidates learn the applicable theories, apply them in labs, and then master them in clinical hours. Blocks last between two and eight weeks each, depending on the subjects. Learners complete 15 blocks, including some in nursing fundamentals, pharmacology, maternal care, pediatric nursing, and mental health. Students complete their blocks in about 18 months.

3. Utica College

Learners complete this second-degree BSN online from Utica College in just 16 months. Students must live in the Syracuse, New York area or relocate to complete the 225 hours of hands-on skills training and 588 clinical hours at facilities throughout central New York. Many of these labs and clinical hours go together. For example, students earn 45 lab hours and 84 clinical hours through their medical/surgical nursing courses.

The online portion of the program requires 62 credit hours in subjects like pathophysiology, leadership in nursing, and pharmacology. Students take these courses asynchronously through programs that help visual, aural, tactile, and social learners. Each year, at least 85% of candidates from Utica College pass the NCLEX licensing exam on the first try. Applicants need at least a 2.8 overall GPA and a 3.0 in the sciences, at least 60 hours of liberal art credits, and a “C” grade or better in all other prerequisites.

4. University of Texas at Arlington

UTA offers a 15-month BSN program for students with at least 70 credit hours, including prerequisites. Like many online second-degree BSN programs, UTA requires learners to live in the surrounding area. Students complete in-person components throughout the Dallas-Ft. Worth region, but they can choose the areas inside the metroplex they prefer.

Applicants must first earn admission into UTA and then apply to the accelerated BSN program. Candidates must also take the Test of Essential Academic Skills entrance exam, hold at least a 2.75 GPA, complete most of the prerequisites, and enroll in any remaining prerequisite classes.

Once admitted, learners follow a strict course schedule with their cohort peers. Throughout the 15 months, these cohorts help each other learn. UTA cautions against students working full time during the intensive program. Each term, learners complete clinical rotations and gather for skills labs at the end of each rotation. They also take asynchronous courses online with exams on campus.


Online Accelerated Second Degree BSN Programs: An Overview

What is a Second Degree BSN Program?

In a second degree BSN program, incoming students already hold a bachelor’s degree in a subject other than nursing before they enroll. Because they have already completed the general education requirements for a bachelor’s degree, second degree BSN candidates focus only on nursing classes, making their BSN more like a second major than a completely new degree. Also known as accelerated BSN programs, students complete these degrees in as little as one year. Many professionals with a bachelor’s degree find that second degree BSN nursing programs online offer a convenient way to pursue a career in the medical field.

Admission Requirements for an Online Second Degree BSN Program

Admission requirements for online accelerated second degree BSN programs vary from school to school, and often include prerequisite courses and a minimum GPA. Most programs admit candidates with a bachelor’s degree in any subject, as long as they attain the minimum required grades on prerequisite coursework. These courses may include chemistry, microbiology, and statistics. Some programs require applicants to complete the courses no more than ten years before applying. In addition to strong performance in prerequisite courses, applicants may need to achieve an overall minimum GPA. Certain schools may also require or recommend that applicants hold some healthcare-related work experience.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Second Degree BSN Program?

Students enrolled in second degree BSN nursing programs online typically complete their degrees in around one year. Depending on scheduling formats, some programs may require 15-18 months of study. Second degree BSN programs admit individuals who have already obtained a bachelor’s degree and completed their general education coursework, allowing students to focus on nursing-related classes.

Candidates pursuing an accelerated BSN complete bachelor’s-level nursing classes, practice hands-on skills in clinical settings, and gain patient care experience. In addition to prerequisite courses, the length of a degree often depends largely on clinical practice requirements and program structure. At many schools, incoming students must complete biology and chemistry prerequisites before they enroll in nursing courses, which may add time to a degree. Cohort-based programs, in which nursing students move through course material together, typically take longer to complete than those which allow students to complete coursework at their own pace.

Concentrations Offered for an Online BSN Degree

Emergency Care
Emergency care nurses provide triage care in emergency rooms and other time-sensitive settings. Students pursuing an emergency care specialization learn to assess patients, design care plans, and coordinate with physicians to provide appropriate treatments. Emergency care nurses also monitor patient conditions and maintain health records.

Careers this concentration prepares for: Emergency Care Nurse

Primary Care
Nurses who specialize in primary care work in hospitals, doctor’s offices, and clinics that provide routine medical care. Primary care nurses assist children, adults, and elderly patients, as well as patients who suffer from chronic conditions. One of the most versatile concentrations, a primary care specialization can also lead to careers in pediatrics, acute care, or other nursing subfields.

Careers this concentration prepares for: Primary Care Nurse

Pediatrics
Students who select a pediatric specialization learn to care for children from birth through young adulthood. Pediatric nurses find employment in hospitals, pediatric care centers, and doctor’s offices, and may also provide emergency or acute pediatric care. This concentration also emphasizes the communication skills needed to work with young patients.

Careers this concentration prepares for: Pediatric Nurse

Example Courses for Online Second Degree BSN Students

  • Evidence-Based Practice: Many BSN programs include classes on evidence-based practice, which introduce candidates to effective nursing and healthcare standards and practices. Students examine research related to patient care, critically evaluate data, and learn to apply research results in clinical practice. This course may also address how medical practices have changed over time.
  • Acute Care Nursing: This specialized course builds acute care skills, strengthens complex judgement, and introduces best practices in medical intervention. Students learn to adapt acute care methodologies to different settings and may also complete clinical hours to gain additional hands-on experience.
  • Health Assessment: In this course, nursing students explore context-based health assessment methodologies, strengthening their ability to assess children, adults, and elderly patients. Coursework covers patient data collection, care plan development and initiation, and decision-making in nursing practice.
  • Primary Care Nursing: Candidates interested in primary care nursing careers explore contemporary evidence-based practices used in nonemergency settings. Students may fulfill a clinical component as they learn to care for diverse client bases in primary care facilities.
  • Nursing Leadership: This course emphasizes the competencies needed to take on leadership positions in the nursing field. Along with methods for promoting teamwork and communication, coursework introduces procedures to improve patient outcomes and management strategies for healthcare settings.

Internship Component

Online accelerated second degree BSN program curricula often include an internship component. Internships allow BSN students to gain clinical experience in their field and explore their concentration in greater depth. Most require a minimum number of clinical experience hours, which working nurses may be able to complete at their place of employment. Online second degree BSN programs typically work with distance learners to arrange internships at facilities near the student’s home, where a local preceptor can monitor their progress. Internship requirements vary by program, and some clinical experiences can add time to accelerated programs. Prospective BSN students should closely examine a program’s in-person requirements before applying.

Certifications and Licenses This Program Prepares For

  • Board Certified Registered Nurse: Offered by the American Nurses Credentialing Center, board certification is available to RNs who pass a clinical knowledge assessment. Candidates may also sit for specialized examinations in different nursing subfields. To maintain the credential, board certified RNs must periodically complete continuing education coursework.
  • Certified Emergency Nurse: The Board of Certification for Emergency Nursing offers this credential to RNs with at least two years of emergency nursing experience. Candidates must take a 3 hour, 175-question examination on emergency nursing to earn the certification, and recertify every four years thereafter.
  • Pediatric Nursing Certification: Awarded by the Pediatric Nursing Credentialing Board, this certification recognizes RNs who have completed at least 1,800 hours of professional pediatric nursing experience over the past two years. After passing a 175-question exam, recipients must maintain their certification by completing 15 contact hours or the equivalent every year.

Accreditation for Online Second Degree BSN Programs

Regionally and nationally accredited programs follow the best educational and ethical practices. Regionally accredited colleges and universities qualify for federal funding, and their credits are more likely to transfer to other institutions. Prospective students can research a school’s accreditation status through the Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. In addition to institutional accreditation, all quality nursing programs hold accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). These independent, nonprofit organizations assess nursing programs on their graduation requirements, student learning outcomes, and faculty qualifications.

Attending an accredited BSN program is crucial to obtaining licensure, and some employers prefer to hire nurses with degrees from accredited programs. As you research second degree BSN nursing programs online, pay close attention to each program’s accreditation type. Most programs list their ACEN or CCNE accreditation status on their websites.

Job and Salary Outlook

What Can You Do With a BSN Degree?

RNs who earn a second degree BSN online work in many specialized fields, including acute care, emergency care, pediatrics, and neonatal care, as well as advanced, high-paying supervisory positions. Nurses pursue these and other career paths in diverse settings, from hospitals and doctor’s offices to community clinics and other medical facilities. With a projected 15% job growth rate, qualified nurses are in high demand.

Registered Nurse

 

Median Annual Salary: $70,000

RNs work in many different subfields and settings, providing care to patients at hospitals, physicians’ offices, and other medical facilities.


 

Emergency Nurse

 

Median Annual Salary: $63,777

Emergency departments and similar facilities hire emergency nurses to provide direct patient care, take patient histories, and perform triage and intake duties. They work with doctors to monitor patient progress.


 

Neonatal Nurse

 

Median Annual Salary: $61,162

Neonatal nurses care for mothers during and after childbirth. They perform routine tests on newborn babies, address new mothers’ concerns, and monitor patients’ conditions. Neonatal nurses typically work in hospitals’ labor and delivery departments.


 

Pediatric Nurse

 

Median Annual Salary: $58,140

Pediatric nurses care for children from birth through adolescence. They work in hospitals, clinics, and doctor’s offices, and many specialize in a particular area of pediatric care.


 

Nurse Supervisor

 

Median Annual Salary: $71,614

Nurse supervisors oversee teams of RNs, ensuring that the facility runs smoothly and that nurses provide quality patient care. They may also schedule shifts and perform other administrative duties.


Source: BLS, PayScale

How Much Do BSN Graduates Make?

RNs who earn a bachelor’s degree earn higher salaries than those with only an associate degree. According to the BLS, RNs draw median salaries of $70,000 a year. Salaries, however, tend to vary by region, specialization, career level, and degree level. For example, nurses in California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Washington, D.C. out-earn their counterparts in other states. The following table lists the median salary for five nursing professions by career level.

Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years) Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years) Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)
Registered Nurse $70,000 $55,000 $63,000 $71,000
Emergency Nurse $63,733 $57,000 $64,000 $77,000
Neonatal Nurse $61,048 $56,000 $65,000 $64,000
Pediatric Nurse $58,117 $52,000 $59,000 $70,000
Nurse Supervisor $71,531 $63,000 $67,000 $73,000

Source: Payscale

Professional Organizations

Professional organizations can provide nursing students with a host of resources and benefits. Many organizations focus on a particular subfield or specialization and offer career-focused support. For example, one association represents emergency nurses, while another advocates for critical care nurses. Along with exclusive networking opportunities, such as conferences and events, professional organizations sponsor continuing education and professional development initiatives, career services, and members-only job boards. Many graduates with a second degree BSN rely on professional organizations to expand their skills and find nursing jobs.

American Nurses Association: Founded in 1896, ANA represents more nurses than any other professional organization in the country. Members enjoy access to research and publications, continuing education opportunities, and certifications.


Emergency Nurses Association: ENA offers educational resources, clinical practice information, and scholarships for nursing students. The association also promotes policies to improve emergency healthcare.


American Association of Critical-Care Nurses: AACN hosts annual conferences, organizes networking events, and offers certification opportunities. Members qualify to receive discounts, awards, and access to continuing education programs.

Financing Your Online Second Degree BSN Program

Students pay for online accelerated second degree BSN programs in many ways, including savings, income, loans, and scholarships. Many nursing students obtain federal funding opportunities, such as loans, grants, and work study programs, by submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The federal government uses the FAFSA to calculate students’ expected contribution and expenses to determine their financial aid eligibility. Some candidates choose to pursue scholarships and grants like the opportunities listed below. Professional organizations, companies, churches, and many other associations offer scholarships for BSN nursing students.

Scholarships for Second Degree BSN Students

Advanced Cardiovascular Life Support Certification Institute Medical School Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Current nursing students or those who have been accepted into a nursing program can apply. Applicants must create a 30-45 second video detailing a proposal for improving mental health awareness and submit it along with their application.

Amount: $2,500


Emergency Nurses Association Foundation Endowed Undergraduate Scholarship

Who Can Apply: ENA offers five annual scholarships for current emergency nurses who hold a valid RN license and are pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing to advance their careers.

Amount: $3,000


AfterCollege/AACN Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Students currently enrolled in an AACN-accredited BSN program are eligible to apply. Nursing students enrolled in accelerated programs are given special consideration. The fund offers four scholarships a year, with deadlines every quarter.

Amount: $2,500


Healthcare Leaders Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Nursing students entering or currently enrolled in a BSN program who demonstrate a minimum 3.0 GPA can apply. Applicants should submit an essay explaining how winning a scholarship would help them reach their career goals.

Amount: $1,000


Jane Delano Student Nurse Scholarship

Who Can Apply: This award is open to BSN candidates who have volunteered with the American Red Cross or work for an American Red Cross Unit. Recipients may apply scholarship funds toward tuition, books, and academic fees.

Amount: $3,000


National Black Nurses Association Scholarships

Who Can Apply: NBNA provides multiple scholarships every year. Applicants must be NBNA members and current nursing students with at least one full year of school remaining. To apply, candidates must submit official transcripts, an essay, a headshot, and two letters of recommendation.

Amount: $1,000-$6,000


Elizabeth B. Moore Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Offered through the Emergency Nurses Association, the scholarship recognizes a BSN student who plans to work in emergency nursing. Applicants do not need to be ENA members, but they must submit a letter of reference from a current member. The award takes financial need into account.

Amount: $5,000


National Association of Hispanic Nurses Scholarships

Who Can Apply: NAHN sponsors several different scholarships for its members. Applicants are judged by a committee and selected based on financial need, academic standing, course of study, and supporting documentation.

Amount: $1,000-$5,000