The Best Online Nursing Schools in 2021 icon

The Best Online Nursing Schools in 2021

| Katy McWhirter

Are you ready to earn your online nursing degree?

Whether you’re looking to get your pre-licensure degree or taking the next step in your career, the education you need could be more affordable than you think. Find the right nursing program for you.

Nurses provide critical care in hospitals, doctor's offices, and other medical facilities around the country. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing reports a nursing shortage, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 7% growth in registered nurse positions between 2019 and 2019 — a rate much faster than the average growth rate of the economy as a whole. 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.

With a nursing shortage, the future for online nursing school graduates appears strong. This article introduces you to the best online nursing schools and everything you need to know as a prospective online nursing student.

Read about our ranking methodology

Featured Online Programs

Online Nursing Schools: An Overview

An online nursing school differs from an in-person program in several important ways, but both provide the training necessary to become a registered nurse, nurse practitioner, or other nursing professional. While the specifics vary depending on the school and program, this section introduces the structure and format for online nursing schools.

How Do Online Nursing Schools Work?

Accredited online nursing schools offer a more flexible format than their brick-and-mortar counterparts. Online programs provide coursework in either a synchronous or asynchronous format, meaning that you can attend class at a set time each week or complete the material at your own pace, working individually. Programs offer students either cohort-based classes, which move through the material with the same start date and end date, or individually-paced online classes, where students complete the program at their own rate. As an online nursing student, you will complete clinical hours just like in-person students; online programs arrange local clinical preceptors to monitor your training.

Why Pursue Nursing School Online?

When it comes to employment opportunities, the future for online nursing school graduates looks strong. AACN nursing data demonstrates the high demand for nurses across the country. Between 2019 and 2029, the BLS projects over 200,000 job openings for registered nurses due to demand and the need for replacement nurses. The current nursing shortage affects patient care and the quality of care patients receive, leaving many employers eager to hire more nurses. As a high number of working nurses reach retirement age, nursing school enrollment simply cannot keep up with demand.

Online nursing programs help nurses advance their career prospects and lower the barriers for professionals to join the medical field. By offering flexibility and accessibility, online nursing schools help you quickly and seamlessly enter a growing, lucrative field in high demand.

Accredited Online Nursing Schools

Accredited online nursing schools follow the best practices for educating nurses. The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education accredit nursing programs. In addition to programmatic accreditation, colleges and universities hold institutional accreditation, either regionally or nationally. Accredited degrees meet more licensing and certification requirements, qualify students for federal funding, and meet the requirements for more employers. As a result, nursing students should always choose an accredited program and institution.

The Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation provide lists of institutionally accredited schools.

Types of Online Nursing Degrees

The most common online nursing degrees include an associate, bachelor's, master's, or doctorate in nursing. The specific curriculum and graduation requirements vary depending on the school.

Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
During an ADN program, you will gain the skills and knowledge required to become a registered nurse. Community colleges and vocational schools offer ADN programs, which typically take two years. ADN students study the basics of nursing practice, evidence-based nursing, and follow a curriculum that may incorporate courses on anatomy, biology, and nutrition. ADN programs incorporate clinical hours to gain hands-on skills. As an associate degree, the ADN program includes liberal arts requirements, which vary depending on the institution. Graduates typically take the NCLEX-RN exam and apply for an RN license through their state nursing board.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
BSN programs provide another route to earning an RN license if you want to earn a bachelor's degree rather than an associate degree. Most BSN programs, offered by colleges and universities, require four years of full-time study. During that time, students take classes on nursing practice, physiology, health assessment, and emergency care. Students complete clinical hours to gain valuable experience working with patients. BSN students also complete general education requirements, such as humanities and social science courses. Incoming students with an RN license can enroll in RN-to-BSN bridge programs, which take two years and typically do not require general education courses. While an ADN and BSN both prepare graduates to become RNs, nurses with a BSN may find more job opportunities.
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
Nurses who choose to earn an MSN typically specialize in a subfield within nursing. For example, MSN programs train nurse educators, nurse administrators, and nurse practitioners, depending on the program. Most MSN programs require two years of study, and many require a BSN before enrolling. RN-to-MSN bridge programs let RNs earn a master's degree without a bachelor's degree. MSN students take advanced courses in their speciality, such as oncology nursing, neonatal nursing, or pediatric nursing. During the program, MSN students complete clinical hours under a preceptor's supervision. Graduates often take specialized exams in their field to earn licenses or certifications, and nurses with an MSN benefit from higher salaries and increased responsibilities.
Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
DNP programs offer the terminal degree for nursing students. These programs build advanced clinical skills and offer leadership training for nurses pursuing the highest-level positions in their field. Some doctoral programs offer specialized training, such as a doctorate for nurse practitioners. While DNP programs emphasize clinical skills, a Ph.D. in nursing program trains researchers and future professors in nursing programs. Depending on the type of program and the focus area, a doctorate may require clinical hours or a dissertation. By earning the highest degree in the field, graduates qualify for advanced positions in nursing.

Accelerated Nursing Degrees and Bridge Programs

Accelerated nursing degrees and bridge programs help licensed or registered nurses advance their educational level quickly. AACN reports that accelerated nursing and bridge programs enroll a growing number of nurses, which includes online options. For many nurses, the future for online nursing school graduates includes these programs.

LPN-to-RN: Registered nurses earn higher salaries than LPNs and benefit from career advancement opportunities. LPN-to-RN programs allow licensed registered nurses to complete the requirements to become an RN. In most programs, graduates complete an associate degree in nursing. Typically, LPN-to-RN programs require 12 to 18 months, with accelerated options that require less time. LPNs can also choose to enter an LPN-to-BSN program if they want a bachelor's degree. Learn more about the top online LPN-to-RN programs.


LPN-to-BSN: Licensed practice nurses who want to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing for career advancement benefit from LPN-to-BSN programs. Designed for graduates from LPN programs, these programs provide the training that registered nurses and BSN students receive. Most LPN-to-BSN programs require two to three years of study, and some encourage students to work while earning their degree. Learn more about the top online LPN-to-BSN programs.


RN-to-MSN: Registered nurses who enter RN-to-MSN programs can complete a master's degree without first earning a bachelor's degree. Most RN-to-MSN programs take two years, while some accelerated programs take even less time. During an RN-to-MSN program, nursing students gain advanced training. RNs who want to advance their career with a graduate degree benefit from these programs. Learn more about the top online RN-to-MSN programs.


Second Degree BSN: Students who already hold a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field can enroll in a second degree BSN and complete their nursing training in as little as one year. Because second degree BSN students already met the requirements for a bachelor's degree, they typically complete 30 to 45 credits of nursing training, making it one of the fastest options to a BSN for career change professionals. Learn more about the top online second degree BSN programs.

Explore the Best Online Nursing Schools in 2021

The University of Texas at Austin View School Profile $$ Austin, TX 83% 36% 24% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

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
Brigham Young University-Provo View School Profile Provo, UT 86% 15% 20% Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

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
Ohio State University-Main Campus View School Profile $$$ Columbus, OH 84% 38% 33% Higher Learning Commission

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
University of California-Davis View School Profile $$$ Davis, CA 86% 34% 4% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

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
University of Florida View School Profile $$ Gainesville, FL 88% 24% 50% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

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
University of Washington-Seattle Campus View School Profile $ Seattle, WA 84% 26% 9% Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

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
California State University-Long Beach View School Profile $ Long Beach, CA 69% 32% 29% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

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
University of Florida-Online View School Profile $$ Gainesville, FL 88% 27% 100% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

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
Auburn University View School Profile $$$$ Auburn, AL 78% 32% 23% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

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
San Diego State University View School Profile $$ San Diego, CA 74% 28% 47% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

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
University of Wisconsin-Madison View School Profile $$ Madison, WI 87% 32% 17% Higher Learning Commission

Founded in 1849, UW-Madison has grown into one of the nation's largest research institutions, offering over 230 undergraduate majors and certificates and more than 250 graduate degrees. Part of the state's only academic health center, the School of Nursing focuses on integrated research and practice, preparing graduates to serve vulnerable and at-risk populations.

The School of Nursing offers a BSN that features traditional, accelerated, and RN-to-BSN tracks, a DNP, a Ph.D. in nursing, and three postgraduate certifications. Degree-seekers receive considerable academic support, including focused advising for students interested in specific healthcare careers and tutoring services.

  • Programs: Bachelor of science in nursing; doctor of nursing practice; doctor of philosophy in nursing
  • Campus: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $405 per credit for Wisconsin residents; $1,657 per credit out-of-state residents (undergraduate); graduate tuition varies by program
  • Admission Requirements: Requirements vary by degree and track
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 98%-99%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
University of Connecticut View School Profile $$$ Storrs, CT 85% 45% 12% New England Commission on Higher Education

In 1942, UConn became the first public institution in the state to offer a BSN. Today, the university's school of nursing offers undergraduate, master's and doctoral degrees at its main campus in Storrs and select offerings at regional sites and online.

The BSN features two pre-licensure tracks: a four-year traditional baccalaureate program and the second-degree certificate-entry program. The online master of science includes seven concentrations that lead to national certification in advanced practice nursing roles.

The school also offers a doctor of nursing practice degree for those interested in advanced nursing leadership positions and a Ph.D. in nursing that emphasizes scientific knowledge and research.

  • Programs: Bachelor of science in nursing; master of science in nursing; Ph.D. in nursing; doctor of nursing practice
  • Campus: Storrs, Connecticut
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $601 per credit for Connecticut residents; $1,545 for out-of-state residents (undergraduate); $925 per credit for graduate nursing degrees
  • Admission Requirements: Requirements vary by degree and track
  • MinimumTime Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 94%-100%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
Northeastern University View School Profile Boston, MA 88% 36% 9% New England Commission on Higher Education

Northeastern University is a private, research-based institution that operates a main campus in Boston, multiple regional locations, and an online learning division. Established over a century ago, the Bouvé College of Health Sciences encompasses the Schools of Health Professions, Pharmacy and Nursing.

The School of Nursing offers a family nurse practitioner master of science degree that prepares graduates to provide evidence-based healthcare for individuals, families, and communities across diverse cultural and practice settings. Available on a full- or part-time basis, this hybrid program features mostly-online coursework with some live web-based sessions. Students should expect to attend two on-campus sessions each semester. Degree requirements consist of 47 credits and 720 clinical hours.

  • Program: Family nurse practitioner master of science
  • Campus: Boston, Massachusetts
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $1,622 per credit
  • Admission Requirements: BSN; minimum 3.0 GPA; RN license; at least one year of full-time nursing experience
  • MinimumTime Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
University of Central Florida View School Profile $$ Orlando, FL 73% 39% 57% Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

Established in 1970, the UCF School of Nursing offers programs from the baccalaureate level to doctoral degrees. The university's bachelor of science in nursing features traditional and accelerated paths to a nursing degree, in both online and campus-based formats.

The five-semester traditional BSN degree is a limited-access, upper-division program that prepares students for RN licensure and entry-level nursing roles. The accelerated second degree BSN, designed for bachelor degree-holders from non-nursing fields, takes four semesters, depending on the number of courses accepted in transfer. The online RN-to-BSN degree provides a flexible and convenient path for working RNs to complete their bachelor's degree while attending full or part time.

  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
  • Campus: Orlando, Florida
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $212 per credit for Florida residents; $749 per credit for out-of-state students
  • Admission Requirements: Freshman or sophomore standing at UCF for the traditional BSN; bachelor's in a non-nursing discipline for the second-degree BSN; RN license and associate or bachelor's degree for the RN-to-BSN
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes, excluding the RN-to-BSN track
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 96.6%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
San Jose State University View School Profile $$ San Jose, CA 65% 30% 30% Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

Located in California's Silicon Valley, SJSU offers programs in 250 fields and serves over 36,000 students. The Valley Foundation School of Nursing within the university's College of Health and Human Services provides nursing education from the undergraduate to graduate levels. The MS in nursing/nurse practitioner concentration emphasizes theoretical and conceptual foundations, evidence-based practice, leadership, policy, and advocacy issues in professional nursing.

The program's hybrid delivery format combines in-person meetings with online coursework. Students take classes together in cohorts and typically complete all requirements in five semesters. The full-time program offers classes one evening a week, with additional scheduled meetings for clinical practicum experiences. The program requires a total of 540 clinical hours and includes a culminating master's project.

  • Program: Master of science, family nurse practitioner
  • Campus: San Jose, California
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Tuition: $4,643 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: 86.7%
  • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid

Licensing and Exams

Licensing

Every state requires that nurses hold a license in order to practice. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) licenses nurses and offers the exams required to become an RN, LPN, or licensed vocational nurse (LVN). In most states, nurses must graduate from a state-approved nursing education program, which includes accredited online nursing schools. Nursing candidates must pass the required exam, either the NCLEX-RN or NCLEX-PN, discussed below. Some states also require a criminal background check.

Exams

After completing their degree, most nurses must pass an examination before gaining their license. Nurses who become registered nurses or licensed practical nurses take an NCLEX exam, depending on the license. The NCLEX-RN tests prospective registered nurses on their clinical skills and knowledge, while the NCLEX-PN evaluates LPN candidates. The NCSBN designs and administers the exams, and state boards of nursing use the results to grant nursing licenses. Accredited online nursing schools prepare graduates for the exams using the same rigorous standards as in-person programs. In addition to the exams required to become a licensed or registered nurse, nurse practitioners and other specialized nursing graduates may need to take additional exams to practice.

Careers in Nursing

Nurses pursue a variety of career paths, depending on their degree level, specializations, and interests. With so many options, prospective nurses can find a career path that fits their interests and training. Home health aides need a high school diploma, while many registered nurse positions prefer candidates with a bachelor's degree. Nurses with a master's degree qualify for the highest-paying positions, including as nurse practitioners.

 

Licensed Practical Nurse

 

 

 

  • Degree Required: Nursing diploma or associate degree
  • Median Salary: $48,820 per year
  • Job Growth: 9%

LPNs, along with licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), offer basic nursing care under the direction of registered nurses and doctors. They care for patients in hospitals, nursing homes, and other facilities. LPNs must pass an examination and earn a license in order to practice.


Certified Nursing Assistant

  • Degree Required: State-approved training program plus competency exam
  • Median Salary: $30,830
  • Job Growth: 8%

Certified nursing assistants, also known as nursing aides, provide basic care in hospitals, long-term care facilities, and residential care facilities. They help patients with daily care needs, including feeding, dressing, and bathing. Certified nursing assistants may work under the supervision of a registered nurse.


Registered Nurse

  • Degree Required: Bachelor's degree, associate degree in nursing, or nursing diploma
  • Median Salary: $75,330
  • Job Growth: 7%

Registered nurses offer patient care, educate people about health conditions, and coordinate with physicians to help patients. They work in hospitals, doctor's offices, and other medical facilities. RNs must pass an exam and hold a state-issued license in order to practice.


Home Health Aide

  • Degree Required: High school diploma
  • Median Salary: $27,080
  • Job Growth: 34%

Home health aides assist people with disabilities, chronic illnesses, or cognitive impairments. They offer support for their patients' daily living activities. Home health aides may also help older adults. They work in clients' homes, nursing homes, and day services settings.


Nurse Anesthetist

  • Degree Required: Master's degree
  • Median Salary: $117,670
  • Job Growth: 45%

Nurse anesthetists give patients anesthesia, watch their vital signs, and monitor patient recovery from anesthesia. They often work with anesthesiologists and surgeons in hospitals or other medical facilities. Nurse anesthetists must complete a specialized graduate program to become an advanced practice registered nurse.


Nurse Midwife

  • Degree Required: Master's degree
  • Median Salary: $117,670
  • Job Growth: 45%

Nurse midwives care for women throughout the birthing process. They diagnose maternal medical conditions, provide gynecological care, and coordinate labor and delivery. Nurse midwives are considered advanced practice RNs, and must complete a specialized graduate program.


Nurse Practitioner

  • Degree Required: Master's degree
  • Median Salary: $117,670
  • Job Growth: 45%

Nurse practitioners diagnose and treat patients. They may prescribe medicine, interpret diagnostic tests, and offer disease prevention guidance. In some states, they can act independently without a physician's supervision. Nurse practitioners must complete a specialized graduate program.


Pediatric Nurse

  • Degree Required: Bachelor's degree or registered nurse license
  • Median Salary: $117,670
  • Job Growth: 45%

Pediatric nurses care for the medical needs of children from birth through adolescence. They may work in hospitals, pediatrician's offices, and clinics. Pediatric nurses may also specialize in types of pediatric care, such as trauma, neonatal care, or cardiology. Pediatric nurses must hold an RN license.


Nursing Home Nurse

  • Degree Required: High school diploma to bachelor's degree
  • Median Salary: $27,080-$75,330
  • Job Growth: Varies

Nurses hold several different titles in nursing homes, including nursing aides and attendants, licensed practical nurses, and registered nurses. In these roles, nursing home nurses provide medical assistance for elderly patients, which can include help with daily living needs, taking medication, or checking vital signs. Salaries and responsibilities increase with higher degrees.


Nurse Educator

  • Degree Required: Master's degree
  • Median Salary: $74,470
  • Job Growth: 9%

Nurse educators work in nursing programs, colleges, and universities, training students to become nurses. They demonstrate patient care in lectures, classrooms, and in clinical settings. Some nurse educators may also conduct research or practice at a university hospital or clinic.


School Nurse

  • Degree Required: Bachelor's degree
  • Median Salary: $48,330
  • Job Growth: 7%

School nurses care for students, including educating students about health problems and designing programs to improve health. They administer medication to students, care for minor injuries and basic illnesses, and attend to students' other medical needs. Most school nurses hold a bachelor's degree and an RN license, and some states require a license through the department of education.


Travel Nurse

  • Degree Required: Bachelor's degree or RN license
  • Median Salary: $76,730
  • Job Growth: 7%

Travel nurses work on a temporary basis to fill a shortage in a specific area. They may also work in remote areas that lack medical facilities. Travel nurses deliver care to patients, including evaluating and assessing conditions. Because they often work outside of professional medical facilities, travel nurses often bring their own instruments and must ensure that their workspaces are sterile.


Professional Organizations

Nursing students benefit from joining professional organizations while pursuing their degree. Membership in these organizations offers access to educational resources, qualifies members for scholarship opportunities, and lets members pursue certifications at a discounted rate. Many professional organizations also offer conferences and events where nurses can network and run career services centers that help nurses find jobs. Many also provide continuing education programs so that nurses can keep their licenses current.

American Nurses Association (ANA): ANA represents millions of nurses around the country. Dating back to 1896, the organization offers professional development resources, current research and publications, and continuing education courses for nurses.


Emergency Nurses Association (ENA): A specialized professional organization, ENA represents emergency nurses and supports policies to improve emergency care. The association provides clinical practice information, training resources, and scholarships.


American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN): Nurses in critical care benefit from the conferences and events hosted by AACN, which offer networking opportunities. The association also provides certifications and continuing education resources for nurses.

Financing Your Online Nursing Degree

Students pursuing a nursing degree finance their degree through a mix of savings, loans, and scholarships. Many work while completing a degree and use their income to pay for tuition and related expenses. Nursing students at all levels qualify for federal financial aid opportunities by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. These opportunities include loans, grants, and the federal work-study program. You may also qualify for state financial aid programs or funding opportunities through your online nursing school.

Scholarships for Online Nursing School Students

ENA Foundation Endowed Undergraduate Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Offered by the Emergency Nurses Association, these five annual scholarships support current emergency nurses with an RN license who enroll in a BSN program or accredited online nursing schools.

Amount: $3,000


AfterCollege/AACN Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Students currently enrolled in an accredited nursing program at any level qualify. Applicants receive special consideration if they plan to complete a graduate degree to become a nurse educator, earn an RN-to-BSN or RN-to-MSN degree, or enroll in an accelerated program.

Amount: $2,500


ACLS Medical School Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The award funds current nursing students, including those attending an online nursing school. Applicants should create and upload a 30-45 second video explaining their ideas to improve mental health awareness.

Amount: $2,500


Jane Delano Student Nurse Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Undergraduate and graduate nursing students with a record of volunteering for the American Red Cross or current employees of American Red Cross Units can apply for the scholarship. Nursing students can use the funds for tuition, books, and academic fees.

Amount: $3,000


Healthcare Leaders Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The scholarship funds current and incoming nursing students at all levels, including students in online programs. Applicants write a 600-1,000 word essay on their career goals in nursing and how the scholarship would help fulfill their goals. Students must also show a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Amount: $1,000


NBNA Scholarships

Who Can Apply: Nursing students at the undergraduate and graduate levels may qualify for several scholarships offered by the National Black Nurses Association. Applicants must be current NBNA members enrolled in a nursing program, and the application process requires official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, an essay, and a headshot.

Amount: $1,000-$6,000


Elizabeth B. Moore Memorial Undergraduate Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Emergency Nurses Association awards an undergraduate scholarship to a nursing student who plans to work as an emergency nurse. The evaluation process considers financial need, and although non-ENA members can apply, they must provide a letter of reference from a member.

Amount: $5,000


NAHN Scholarships

Who Can Apply: The National Association of Hispanic Nurses offers multiple scholarships for NAHN members, including students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. The evaluation process considers financial need, course of study, academic standing, and supporting documentation.

Amount: $1,000-$5,000

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