The Best Online Nursing Schools

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Updated February 14, 2023

As an in-demand field, nursing provides opportunities for job growth with above-average salaries. Many prospective nurses rely on online nursing schools to earn their degrees and advance their careers.
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Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Credit: SDI Productions / iStock / Getty Images Plus

As technology continues to play an important role in the medical field, online nursing programs have become more mainstream. These programs allow prospective nurses to earn a degree while maintaining a flexible schedule and taking advantage of lower tuition costs.

Learn about some of the top online nursing programs in this guide.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best online nursing schools, making it easier for you to find a program that works for you. Our methodology is based on metrics that we believe matter most to students, including academic quality, affordability, reputation, and program offerings.

At a Glance: The Top 15 Online Nursing Schools

  1. The University of Texas at Austin
  2. Brigham Young University-Provo
  3. Ohio State University-Main Campus
  4. University of California-Davis
  5. University of Florida
  6. University of Washington-Seattle Campus
  7. California State University-Long Beach
  8. University of Florida-Online
  1. Auburn University
  2. San Diego State University
  3. University of Wisconsin-Madison
  4. University of Connecticut
  5. Northeastern University
  6. University of Central Florida
  7. San Jose State University

Featured Online RN-to-BSN in Nursing Programs

How Does Online Nursing School Work?

Many online nursing programs can be completed with little to no campus visits, providing students with more flexibility in their schedule.

Courses in an online program take place synchronously, asynchronously, or a combination of the two. Synchronous learning occurs in real time with students and instructors connecting live. Asynchronous learning happens on the student's own time, usually through recorded lectures, podcasts, and other online tools.

Some schools may require online students to visit the campus a few times throughout their program. These visits could include orientation, lab work, special lectures, or to gain hands-on experience. Regardless of the program, students must complete clinical experiences in person. This may require you to find clinical opportunities within your own community, pending program approval.

Applying to an Online Nursing School

When applying to an online nursing school, make sure you meet all requirements necessary for acceptance, which varies by program and degree level. Check that the format of the online program best suits your learning style and schedule.

The associate degree in nursing (ADN), bachelor of science in nursing (BSN), master of science in nursing (MSN), and doctorate of nursing practice (DNP) are all offered online. While specific prerequisites vary, most schools look for similar general requirements.

  • Admission Materials:
    • ADN/BSN: High school or GED diploma and transcripts; completion of academic prerequisites, such as algebra, biology, chemistry; writing sample; letters of recommendation
    • MSN: BSN from an accredited institution; active registered nurse (RN) license; transcripts from previous academic programs; a writing sample; letters of recommendation/references
    • DNP: BSN; active RN license; transcripts from previous academic programs; completion of undergraduate courses in research and statistics; resume; personal statement; letters of recommendation
  • GPA Requirement: 3.0 or higher

Why Is Online Nursing School Accreditation Important?

Choosing an accredited online RN-to-MSN program provides benefits for both students and their future employers. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing only provide accreditation to programs that appropriately prepare students for their nursing roles.

Benefits of choosing an accredited nursing program include:

  • Accreditation verifies that the program meets academic standards, guaranteeing students learn the best nursing practices.
  • If a student wants to transfer from one school to another, most nursing programs do not accept transfer credits from institutions that are not accredited.
  • For students who want to continue their education, degrees earned from an unaccredited program may not meet the institution's prerequisites.
  • Accredited degrees give nurses more employment opportunities and a higher earning potential.

Learn More About the Best Online Nursing Schools

See our methodology to learn more about how we create our rankings.
  1. The University of Texas at Austin
    Location

    Austin, TX

    Tuition

    $14156

    U.S. News & World Report ranks UT Austin's School of Nursing 13th among all public schools of nursing and 22nd among all schools of nursing, based on academic quality. The university's MSN program is open to trained, licensed RNs. Applicants with a baccalaureate or graduate degree in non-nursing disciplines may choose the program's alternative entry option, which leads to RN licensure and an MSN.

    Designed for candidates seeking careers in the most in-demand advanced nursing practice specialties, the MSN offers five concentration areas: adult-gerontology clinical nurse specialist, family nurse practitioner, primary care pediatric nurse practitioner, psychiatric/mental health nurse practitioner, and leadership in diverse settings.

    • Program(s): Master of science in nursing (MSN)
    • Campus: Austin, Texas
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation(s): Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
    • Tuition: $1,418 per credit hour for Texas residents; $2,035 for out-of-state students
    • Admission Requirements: ADN or nursing diploma, BSN, or BA/BS; minimum 3.0 GPA; GRE; RN license
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 18 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94.8%
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
  2. Brigham Young University-Provo
    Location

    Provo, UT

    Operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, BYU enrolls approximately 33,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Established in 1952, the university's College of Nursing offers a master of science with a family nurse practitioner concentration. The FNP program emphasizes evidence-based practice by integrating nursing theory and concepts with clinical experience.

    The curriculum requires a minimum of 54-57 credits plus six additional credits devoted to an original clinical project or research-based thesis. Students travel to fulfill clinical experiences and internship requirements in urban and rural sites throughout the state. The program proudly reports a 100% employment rate among graduates.

    • Program: Family nurse practitioner - master of science
    • Campus: Provo, Utah
    • Type: Private
    • Accreditations: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
    • Tuition: $442 per credit hour for Latter-Day Saints students; $884 for non-Latter-Day Saints students
    • Admission Requirements: BSN; minimum 3.0 GPA; RN license
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 96.7%
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
  3. Ohio State University-Main Campus
    Location

    Columbus, OH

    Tuition

    $18694

    Ohio State serves over 65,000 students at its main campus in Columbus, regional locations, and online. The university's School of Nursing offers a variety of graduate- and undergraduate-level nursing programs, including an online RN-to-BSN program for RNs who have completed an associate degree or diploma in nursing.

    Total tuition costs and completion times depend on the number of transferable general education credits and enrollment status. Ohio State is committed to providing affordable education, and students benefit from open access and university-provided resources like online textbooks at no cost. Out-of-state students pay the same tuition rate as Ohio residents.

    • Program: Online registered nurse to bachelor science in nursing (RN-to-BSN
    • Campus: Columbus, Ohio
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
    • Tuition: $13,269 per year
    • Admission Requirements: ADN or nursing diploma, RN license, Minimum 2.0 GPA, completion of prerequisite course credits
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 18 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: No
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 95%
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
  4. University of California-Davis
    Location

    Davis, CA

    Tuition

    $15724

    The Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing is part of UC Davis Health, an integrated healthcare system that encompasses the university's school of medicine, a 619-bed medical center, and a medical group.

    The MS in nursing science and healthcare leadership - family nurse practitioner curriculum focuses on the healthcare needs of rural and underserved communities. The program typically takes 24 months to complete and requires first-year students to attend day classes four days a week. In their second year, degree-seekers attend on-campus classes for one week every month and participate in assigned clinical settings for the duration of each term. The nursing school also offers a master's entry program designed for non-nursing degree-holders.

    • Program: Master of science in nursing science and healthcare leadership - family nurse practitioner
    • Campus: Davis, California
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
    • Tuition: $ 17,584 per year for California residents; $32,686 per year for out-of-state students
    • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree; minimum 3.0 GPA; RN license
    • MinimumTime Commitment: 24 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 84.09%
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
  5. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Tuition

    $11313

    The University of Florida is a nationally ranked public research institution located in Gainesville. Established in 1956, UF's college of nursing offers degree programs at the bachelor's and doctoral levels. Over 700 undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds enroll in the university's bachelor of science in nursing program each year. The curriculum combines foundational classes with hands-on learning experiences in a variety of different clinical settings, including hospitals, community health agencies, clinics, and private homes.

    The traditional BSN trains nurses to assist patients across the lifespan and in a variety of care settings, or to enroll in graduate-level nursing studies. The accelerated BSN track allows non-nursing degree-holders interested in nursing careers to build on prior coursework.

    • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
    • Campus: Gainesville, Florida
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
    • Tuition: $213 per credit for Florida residents; $707 per credit for out-of-state residents
    • Admission Requirements: Prerequisite coursework; minimum GPA; degree requirements vary by track
    • MinimumTime Commitment: 24 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 95.9%
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
  6. University of Washington-Seattle Campus
    Location

    Seattle, WA

    Tuition

    $9765

    The UW is the flagship institution in a six-member public university system in Washington state. The school is home to the West Coast's first university-affiliated nursing school and the second in the nation to offer a bachelor of science in nursing degree.

    The two-year program consists of 91 total credits, building foundational nursing skills through coursework, simulations, and clinical work. Students officially enter the BSN program after completing 90 quarter credits in general education, humanities, and science courses, or after earning a non-nursing bachelor's degree.

    The school's learning lab lets students acquire nursing skills in a safe environment before participating in clinical placements. The BSN curriculum includes at least 1,000 hours of patient care experience in one of more than 700 community partner sites, including the UW Medical Center and the Seattle Children's Hospital.

    • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
    • Campus: Seattle, Washington
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
    • Tuition: $3,915 per quarter for Washington residents; $13,038 per quarter for out-of-state students
    • Admission Requirements: 90 undergraduate quarter credits; minimum 2.0 GPA, minimum 3.0 GPA in prerequisite courses; 100 hours healthcare experience
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94.04%
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
  7. California State University-Long Beach
    Location

    Long Beach, CA

    Tuition

    $9477

    CSULB is a comprehensive public university and Hispanic Serving Institution with a student body of approximately 40,000. The school's College of Health and Human Services offers a master of science in nursing that prepares nurse practitioners to take the national certification examination in one of the following specialty areas:

    • Adult-gerontology nurse practitioner specialty (acute care)
    • Adult-gerontology nurse practitioner specialty (primary care)
    • Family nurse practitioner specialty
    • Pediatric primary care nurse practitioner specialty
    • Psychiatric-mental health nurse practitioner (across the lifespan) specialty

    Depending on the specialty, the MSN requires 30-48 credits. Students may choose a directed research project, a literature review and comprehensive exam, or a thesis as their culminating research experience.

    • Program: Master of science in nursing
    • Campus: Long Beach, California
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
    • Tuition: $4,142 per semester for California residents; additional $396 per credit for out-of-state students
    • Admission Requirements: BSN; minimum 3.0 GPA; RN license
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 99.2%
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
  8. University of Florida-Online
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Tuition

    $10287

    UF Online delivers over 200 degree and certificate programs entirely online to more than 4,000 undergraduates across 12 schools. One of the nation's top nursing schools, the College of Nursing offers an online RN-to-BSN degree designed for working RNs who find it impractical to enroll in a campus-based program.

    This 60-credit, part-time BSN allows students to take 2-3 online courses each semester. Students take the same classes included in the traditional BSN curriculum while benefiting from an array of resources for distance learners, including access to library services, career planning and placement, and one-on-one advising.

    • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing - RN-to-BSN online
    • Campus: Gainesville, Florida
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
    • Tuition: $129 per credit for Florida residents; $212 per credit hour for out-of-state residents
    • Admission Requirements: ADN; minimum 2.8 GPA; minimum 2.0 GPA in prerequisite courses; RN license
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: No
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: Above 90%
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
  9. Auburn University
    Location

    Auburn, AL

    Tuition

    $23205

    Alabama's Auburn University serves over 30,737 students through 15 schools and colleges. Established in 1970, the institution's School of Nursing administers a bachelor of science in nursing that features on-campus tracks for pre-nursing and transfer students and an online track for ADN-holders.

    Pre-nursing and transfer students generally apply for admission to the upper-division BSN track in the fall of their sophomore year. The professional nursing curriculum requires five terms of academic study, laboratory training, and clinical experiences. This option prepares graduates for the NCLEX-RN examination.

    ADN-holders with valid RN licenses may select the three-semester RN-to-BSN online option. This curriculum, which takes as few as 12 months to complete, comprises 31 credits and at least 76 clinical hours.

    • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
    • Campus: Auburn, Alabama
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
    • Tuition: $5,898 per semester for Alabama residents; $15,978 for out-of-state students (in-state flat rate for RN-to-BSN program)
    • Admission Requirements: Requirements vary by track
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes, excluding RN-to-BSN track
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
  10. San Diego State University
    Location

    San Diego, CA

    Tuition

    $14568

    One of 23 institutions in the California State University system, SDSU enrolls nearly 34,000 students in 197 different programs. The School of Nursing was established in 1903 and began offering an MS in nursing in 1982. Designed for full- or part-time study, the 36-unit program includes two- or three-year study plans.

    The degree prepares graduates for advanced practice nursing roles in two concentrations. The advanced practice nursing of adults and the elderly track trains students for gerontology primary care nurse practitioner or adult gerontology acute/critical care clinical nurse specialist (CNS) certifications. The nursing leadership in healthcare systems option is ideal for candidates seeking administrative roles in healthcare organizations.

    • Program: Master of science in nursing
    • Campus: San Diego, California
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
    • Tuition: $4,577 per semester for California residents; additional $396 per credit for out-of-state students
    • Admission Requirements: BSN; minimum 3.0 GPA; statistics course with a grade of "C" or above; GRE; RN license
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 93.9%
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Nursing School

Are online nursing degrees worth it?

Earning an online nursing degree provides scheduling flexibility that an on-site program does not. In addition, students pay less tuition costs without fees associated with living on campus.

Is online nursing school harder or easier?

The difficulty of online courses compares to those completed in person. The difficulty lies in planning. Students who can organize their time effectively and keep a strict schedule may find it easier to succeed in an online program.

How much can I make after going to an online nursing college?

Graduates from an online nursing college make the same amount as those who attend on-site programs. According to 2021 data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, RNs earn an average salary of $77,600 per year, while nurse practitioners make $120,680. Salaries can vary based on education, location, and employer.

How long does it take to complete online nursing school?

The time it takes to complete an online nursing program depends on the degree level. For full-time students, an ADN takes two years, a BSN takes four years, an MSN takes two years, and a DNP takes 3-4 years. Program lengths can double for part-time students.


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