The Best Online RN-to-BSN Programs in 2021

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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.

Registered nurse-to-bachelor of science in nursing (RN-to-BSN) online programs offer the fastest pathway to a four-year degree and a better paycheck for working RNs. Ninety-four percent of BSN graduates received jobs within 4-6 months after graduating, according to a 2020 survey by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. BSN-holders also earn about $15,000 a year more than nurses who only hold an associate. Find out in this guide what you can do with a BSN degree and how you can get into the best RN-to-BSN online programs.

Online RN-to-BSN Program Overview

We use our data-driven methodology to rank the best online RN-to-BSN programs, 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, program offerings, and online flexibility.

Read About Our Ranking Methodology

Top 10 Online RN-to-BSN Programs in 2021

Rank School Location
1 University of Florida Gainesville, FL
2 University of Central Florida Orlando, FL
3 Ohio State University Columbus, OH
4 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL
5 Florida International University Miami, FL
6 Appalachian State University Boone, NC
7 Texas A&M University College Station, TX
8 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus University Park, PA
9 University of Massachusetts Amherst Amherst, MA
10 Farmingdale State College Farmingdale, NY

Keep reading to find out more about job opportunities and information on how to apply to an online RN-to-BSN program, or click here to learn more about the best online RN-to-BSN programs on our list.

Advertisement NurseJournal.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Featured Online Programs

What Can You Do With a BSN?

With a BSN degree, RNs secure healthcare positions in management, education, and administration. BSN-holders have the skills to manage large caseloads and lead healthcare teams in residential facilities and specialty clinics. Some employers, graduate schools, and states such as New York, also require nurses to have BSN degrees.

Earning a BSN offers training in specializations including intensive and emergency care, hospice, palliative care, and neurology. BSN-holders also make $86,340 on average a year, compared to ADN-holders who earn $70,540, according to PayScale.

Some examples of roles for BSN-holders include the following:

adn or bsn Required

Pediatric Nurse

Nurses with a BSN provide preventative healthcare to children, offer health education and counseling, work with families, and handle case management.
Salary $62,600*
Job Outlook 7% increase from 2019-2029

adn or bsn Required

Obstetric and Gynecological Nurse

Nurses with a BSN assist obstetricians and gynecologists, carry out prenatal and obstetrical exams, collect samples, and complete screenings.
Salary $60,000*
Job Outlook 7% increase from 2019-2029
Learn More About Obstetric and Gynecological Nurses

adn or bsn Required

Hospice Nurse

Nurses with a BSN provide physical and psychosocial assessments in hospitals or homes, perform community outreach, and supervise home health aides and licenced practical nurses.
Salary $67,520*
Job Outlook 7% increase from 2019-2029
Learn More About Hospice Nurses

*SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, PayScale

What to Look For in an Online RN-to-BSN Program

Not every online RN-to-BSN program offers the same quality of education. Where you go to school for your BSN degree affects your nursing care training and your career prospects. To make sure you earn the best education, look out for these key features when picking an RN-to-BSN program.

Admission Requirements
Reviewing a BSN program’s admission requirements helps you to understand the standards schools set for its students. Schools with “easy” admission standards, such as low GPA requirements, may not seek the best candidates.
Program Curriculum
The curriculum in an RN-to-BSN program should encourage students to pursue areas of nursing that challenge them and complement their interests and strengths. Programs let students steer their education when they can choose courses and specialties such as pediatric, cardiac, or emergency care.
Clinical Experience
Every RN-to-BSN program requires clinical components. Online learners may complete simulations, practice experiences, or assignments incorporated into the classes. These clinical requirements make it easier for students with other commitments to finish a program. If an online program requires clinical hours, students often can complete the requirements at their workplace.
Accreditation
Accreditation matters because independent agencies such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) ensure that RN-to-BSN programs adhere to curriculum standards and include appropriate clinical experiences that challenge students to integrate new skills and knowledge.
School NCLEX Pass Rate
Though applicants may already hold an RN license, the pass rates for the National Council Licensure Exam for RNs (NCLEX-RN) serve as a measurement of a program’s overall quality. When looking at a school’s pass rates, consider the national NCLEX pass rates for first-time test takers which was close to 87% as of 2020.
Online Learning Format and Requirements
Working adults prefer online learning that allows them to study on their own time. Self-paced online programs offer the opportunity for students to complete an RN-to-BSN program as fast as nine months, ultimately saving time and money.

Applying to an Online RN-to-BSN Program

Applicants come to RN-to-BSN programs with nursing experience, a current license, and an associate in nursing (ADN) degree. However, RN-to-BSN programs also require additional admission requirements and supplemental materials such as those listed below and outlined in this guide. The exact requirements depend on the RN-to-BSN program.

Admission Requirements
An ADN from an accredited college and a current RN license
Program Length
12-24 months
Clinical Requirements
45-50 hours; some online RN-to-BSN programs may require a capstone project
GPA Requirement
2.5-3.0
Other Requirements
RN-to-BSN programs also often require a CV or resume, personal essay, volunteer experience, and completed prerequisites such as anatomy and chemistry.

Why Is Online RN-to-BSN Program Accreditation Important?

When an RN-to-BSN program has accreditation, it means an independent agency has attested to the quality of education. If the CCNE or ACEN accredits an RN-to-BSN program, this means the curriculum, including the clinical practice experiences, serve the students’ best interests.

Attending an accredited RN-to-BSN program ensures your investment and broadens your career prospects. Employers prefer students from accredited nursing schools and programs because these graduates provide safe and professional nursing care as met by recognized standards. Unaccredited schools not only do not always meet industry standards, but students may not transfer credits toward a graduate degree. Attending an unaccredited school also prevents students from receiving federal financial aid.

Who Accredits Online RN-to-BSN Programs?

How Do I Know an Online RN-to-BSN Program Is Accredited?

An RN-to-BSN program can claim to be accredited, but how do you verify this? The accrediting agencies listed above maintain public directories on their websites that show all accredited RN-to-BSN programs. The accrediting process works the same for online and traditional on-campus programs, which must meet the same standards. Students can verify accreditation of a program by accessing this published data. This guide and NurseJournal.org only featured accredited schools.

Paying for Online RN-to-BSN Programs

How much a student needs to borrow depends on the cost of an RN-to-BSN program. Different factors impact a program’s affordability. Attending an online RN-to-BSN program as an out-of-state student costs more than in-state tuition. Flexible RN-to-BSN programs that allow nurses to continue working may enable students to pay up front and rely less on financial aid. Some 86% of full-time students earning a four-year degree received financial aid in the 2017-2018 academic years.

Academic scholarships and need-based grants can help students afford an RN-to-BSN program. Students can also find financial aid such as federal and private loans to pay for their tuition and expenses. Federal loan amounts depend on a student’s need, while private loans often hinge on a borrower’s credit score.

Learn More About the Top Online RN-to-BSN Programs and Schools

  1. University of Florida
    Location

    Gainesville, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    With no in-person coursework, UF offers one of the most convenient RN-to-BSN programs for working registered nurses.

    At UF, students must complete required clinical components in health assessment and public health classes. They can satisfy course requirements through online activities or by working in their local community.

    Part-time students complete this 120-credit RN-to-BSN online degree within about five semesters. The degree requires 60 junior and senior credits in classes, such as policy and change, leadership and innovation, and pathophysiology and pharmacology. A valid RN license grants students 30 upper-level credits.

    Each candidate needs to complete a nursing application and a UF application.

    • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
    • Campus: Gainesville, Florida
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
    • Tuition: $129 per credit for Florida residents; $552 per credit for out-of-state students
    • Admission Requirements: An associate degree in nursing from an ACEN-accredited program; valid Florida RN license; at least a 2.8 GPA
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: No
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 95.93% first-time pass rate
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
  2. University of Central Florida
    Location

    Orlando, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    UCF's RN-to-BSN online degree opens its virtual classes to learners across the nation.

    The curriculum focuses on the sciences with lessons in health promotion across the lifespan, public and community health nursing, pathophysiology, and health assessments.

    Registered nurses can complete 30 nursing credits, or 10 classes, in as few as three semesters. Some online learners take up to 10 semesters to graduate. The school accepts 28 credits from community colleges. Prerequisite courses include chemistry, microbiology, anatomy, and physiology.

    Students can apply up to nine credits toward a graduate degree. Enrollees can also pursue a hybrid RN-to-BSN degree through Health First.

    • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
    • Campus: Orlando, Florida
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
    • Tuition: $105 per credit
    • Admission Requirements: Associate degree in nursing from a Florida institution or a bachelor's degree; RN license
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: No
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 96.64% first-time pass rate
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
  3. Ohio State University
    Location

    Columbus, OH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    OSU's affordable RN-to-BSN online degree empowers registered nurses for leadership roles in healthcare within 12-15 months.

    This degree requires five prerequisite courses and about 30 core nursing credits. Required courses include evidence-based practice: transforming healthcare, concepts in community health nursing, interprofessional concepts, and healthcare informatics. Online learners at OSU can complete clinical work at nearby locations.

    The nursing school reduces costs by using open educational resources instead of textbooks. The program provides in-state tuition to students living anywhere in the country, although out-of-state students pay an additional $200 fee per semester.

    • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
    • Campus: Columbus, Ohio
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
    • Tuition: $13,268 per year; out-of-state students pay additional $200 per semester
    • Admission Requirements: Associate degree in nursing or diploma; current RN license
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 Months
    • On-Campus Requirements: No
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 80% first-time pass rate
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
  4. The University of Alabama
    Location

    Tuscaloosa, AL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    UA sets aspiring professionals on track to earn a nursing degree with a top online RN-to-BSN program.

    The RN-to-BSN degree takes about three semesters to complete, with classes available online and at local community colleges. Nursing students at UA must complete 52-58 lower-division credits and 25 upper-division credits. Courses like leadership and management roles require a research project that satisfies the clinical requirements.

    Full-time online learners can graduate in 12 months, including a summer session. Students who excel academically can apply for the RN-to-BSN/MSN program.

    • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
    • Campus: Tuscaloosa, Alabama
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
    • Tuition: $10,780 per year for Alabama residents; $30,250 per year for out-of-state students
    • Admission Requirements: Associate degree in nursing or diploma from an ACEN or CNEA-accredited program; at least 2.5 GPA for lower-division courses; current RN license
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: No
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 96.1% first-time pass rate
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
  5. Florida International University
    Location

    Miami, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    FIU's 120-credit online RN-to-BSN program offers a pathway for registered nurses and nursing students to expand their education beyond undergraduate degrees.

    Nursing students earn 60 credits, including 24 credits in core courses. They also take 30 credits by equivalency exams in adult nursing, psychiatric/mental health nursing, and maternal and child nursing.

    Enrollees gain practical skills through a senior practicum and the community nursing course, which requires work in a multicultural setting.

    Flexible formats allow degree-seekers to start in any semester on a full-time or part-time basis. Many graduates later enroll in FIU's master's in nursing or Ph.D. in nursing programs.

    • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
    • Campus: Miami, Florida
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
    • Tuition: $228 per credit for Florida residents; $345 per credit for out-of-state students
    • Admission Requirements: An associate degree in nursing; at least a 2.75 GPA from an ACEN-accredited school; RN licensure or pending NCLEX results.
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: No
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 92.74% first-time pass rate
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
  6. Appalachian State University
    Location

    Boone, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Appalachian's part-time 120-credit RN-to-BSN online program offers convenient remote learning and flexible clinical requirements.

    Students take classes completely online, but they gain experience working in their local communities through a nursing care of communities course requiring 30 clinical hours on a service project.

    Degree-seekers complete research projects and classwork, rather than traditional clinical work. The program requires that students earn a minimum "C" grade in courses, such as informatics, health assessment, nursing research, and leadership and management.

    Enrollees typically take three semesters to complete this nursing degree.

    • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
    • Campus: Boone, North Carolina
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
    • Tuition: $163 per credit for Florida residents; $663 per credit for out-of-state students
    • Admission Requirements: An associate degree in nursing or diploma; a minimum 2.5 GPA; a current RN license
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: No
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 100% first-time pass rate
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
  7. Texas A&M University
    Location

    College Station, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Texas A&M's RN-to-BSN program allows students to choose from three flexible tracks, each leading to a degree in 1-2 years.

    This 30-credit program offers fully online classes, aside from a mandatory two-day orientation at the Bryan-College Station campus. Depending on a student's work schedule, they can earn their degree in 3-5 semesters, completing practicum work in their local area.

    Students perform clinical hours at partner sites, such as St. Joseph Regional Medical Center, Baylor Scott & White Clinic, Texas Children's Hospital, and HCA Gulf Coast Division. New students begin classes in the spring and summer.

    • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
    • Campus: College Station, Texas
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
    • Tuition: $2,503 per year for Texas residents; $5,390 per year for out-of-state students
    • Admission Requirements: An associate degree in nursing or diploma; a current RN license
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 99.28% first-time pass rate
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
  8. Pennsylvania State University-World Campus
    Location

    University Park, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Penn State offers a 120-credit RN-to-BSN program that allows students to customize their education plan with hybrid classes and an accelerated format.

    Online learners can earn their degree more quickly by taking sessions lasting 7.5 weeks. The program requires 42 core credits in subjects, such as nursing research, advanced health assessment, informatics, and family and community health concepts. They can take in-person and online classes.

    Each enrollee completes a capstone course, which requires 45 clinical hours. Students may satisfy this requirement through a project or healthcare activity, such as performing blood pressure screening or creating a weight management program for seniors.

    • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
    • Campus: University Park, Pennsylvania
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
    • Tuition: $576 per credit for students with 59 or fewer credits; $617 per credit for students with 60 or more credits
    • Admission Requirements: An associate degree in nursing or diploma; a current RN license
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: No
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 93.27% first-time pass rate
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
  9. University of Massachusetts Amherst
    Location

    Amherst, MA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    UMass Amherst's RN-to-BSN online degree features a community-based curriculum that allows full-time nurses to graduate in one year.

    Coursework emphasizes community nursing care, with students studying cultural diversity in health and illness, health and physician assessments, and vulnerable and underserved populations. The practicum also focuses on serving vulnerable and underserved communities.

    UMass Amherst offers start times in the spring and summer. Online learners can also walk in the graduation ceremony and participate in the College of Nursing pinning event. Part-time students take about two years to graduate.

    Out-of-state and in-state students pay the same tuition.

    • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
    • Campus: Amherst, Massachusetts
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
    • Tuition: $585 per credit
    • Admission Requirements: Pass the NCLEX-RN; current RN license; minimum 2.5 GPA
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: No
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 89% first-time pass rate
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid
  10. Farmingdale State College
    Location

    Farmingdale, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Farmingdale's RN-to-BSN online degree equips nurses with the leadership skills to advance their career in public and community healthcare.

    Online classwork, clinical assignments, and service programs train students to deliver care to individuals, groups, or families in various settings. Along with 60 liberal arts credits, online learners also complete 60 nursing credits.

    Classes include developing nurses' ways of knowing, caring for populations in community settings, modes of inquiry, and the nurse as an advocate and change agent. Each enrollee finishes the program with a senior leadership practicum, working alongside a registered nurse in a leadership position.

    • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
    • Campus: Farmingdale, New York
    • Type: Public
    • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
    • Tuition: $295 per credit for New York residents; $708 per credit for out-of-state students
    • Admission Requirements: Associate degree in nursing with a minimum 3.0 GPA; RN license
    • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
    • On-Campus Requirements: No
    • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 96.3% first-time pass rate
    • School Site: Tuition | Financial aid

Online RN-to-BSN Program FAQs


How long does it take to get an RN-to-BSN online?

Students can complete an RN-to-BSN program in as few as 12 months. Otherwise RN-to-BSN programs may take up to 32 months, or longer. When students can only attend classes part time, or if they have not completed all of their general education credits, they may take longer to graduate.

What is the fastest way to get a BSN?

Earning an RN-to-BSN degree serves the fastest pathway for experienced nurses to get a four-year degree. Because incoming students have completed their general education credits in an ADN program, they can graduate faster than incoming first-year students. RN-to-BSN students can also earn credits for having a current RN license.

Is an RN-to-BSN easy?

Nursing school may have challenging courses and requirements, but students enrolled in an RN-to-BSN degree may already possess a background in science and nursing from earning their ADN, which can make the class work easier.

Is a BSN and an RN the same thing?

No. “RN” designates a licence and job title, while “BSN” designates a degree. Individuals can earn an RN license after they complete either a diploma, associate, or bachelor degree program, pass the NCLEX-RN, and apply for licensure through their state board. Learn more about the differences between these degrees and titles with this guide.

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