The Best Online Second Degree BSN Programs of 2022

March 4, 2022 · 5 Min Read

Accelerated online second degree nursing programs make it easy to complete a BSN program in under two years. Explore your options here.

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The Best Online Second Degree BSN Programs of 2022
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Nursing is a lucrative and rewarding field that offers many opportunities for professional growth. If you are interested in changing careers and becoming a nurse, you can earn a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) through an on-campus, hybrid, or online second degree nursing program.

Second degree BSN online programs are intended for distance learners who already hold a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field. This guide advises you on what to look for in an online second degree nursing program, how to apply, and how to pay for your degree.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best online second degree 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, and program offerings.

Keep reading to learn more about second degree BSN programs, or go straight to our list of the best online second degree BSN programs.

What Can You Do With an Online Second Degree BSN?

A BSN degree prepares you to become a registered nurse (RN) or to attend graduate school and become an advanced practice nurse. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), RNs earn a median annual wage of $75,330 and enjoy a positive employment outlook. The BLS projects an 8% job growth rate for RNs from 2020-30.

Nursing degrees are extremely versatile. Nurses can provide direct care in family practice or a variety of specialties. They can also become nurse practitioners, nurse midwives, or nurse anesthetists.

Some popular specialties include:

Labor and Delivery Nurse

Labor and delivery nurses assist a nurse midwife or obstetrician. They provide emotional support and monitor the mothers' and infants' health. According to Payscale, the average annual salary was $68,330 as of December 2021.

  • Salary: $68,330

Learn more about Labor and Delivery Nurses


Operating Room Nurse

Operating room nurses help maintain a sanitary operating room environment, assist surgeons, monitor patient health, and provide education and support before, during, and after surgery. In December 2021, the average annual salary was $74,900.

  • Salary: $74,900

Learn more about Operating Room Nurses


Critical Care Nurse

Critical care nurses assist patients with serious illnesses or injuries. They provide wound care, monitor vital signs, and administer medications, tests, and other treatment under a physician's supervision. They enjoyed an average annual salary of $71,470, as of December 2021.

  • Salary: $71,470

Learn more about Critical Care Nurses


Featured Online RN to BSN Programs

What to Look for in an Online Second Degree BSN Program

The right online second degree nursing program for you depends on your educational background, professional experience, and career goals. You should also consider the following variables as you explore your options.

Admission requirements provide insight into a successful student's typical academic background. They also suggest how likely you are to gain admission to an online second degree nursing program. A good online accelerated second degree BSN program with a strong curriculum prepares you to succeed in your desired specialty or workplace. The curriculum also indicates a program's emphasis. Students pursuing a second degree BSN online must still fulfill clinical requirements. Ensure that a program's clinical components fit your schedule and budget. Can you complete clinicals in your own community, or would you need to travel? Earning a BSN from an accredited program is an excellent investment. Nursing licensure, certifications, and many jobs are available only to those who graduate from accredited programs. While online accelerated second degree BSN programs make it easy to graduate quickly, you should be able to keep up with your coursework while maintaining your graduation timeline. A program's National Council Licensure Examination-RN (NCLEX-RN) pass rate tells you how well the curriculum prepares students to become nurses. A high pass rate plus a high graduation rate is a good sign, while low rates may indicate that a program is ineffective or admits unprepared students. A school's overall graduation rate can also indicate how successful and satisfied candidates are with the institution. Does the program's format fit your schedule and learning style? Some online second degree nursing programs offer structured formats with set class meeting times and strong faculty support, while others feature self-paced coursework.

Applying to an Online Second Degree BSN Program

Give yourself plenty of time to prepare your application materials and have someone review your essay or personal statement before you submit it. Be sure to alert your professional references so they'll be ready to vouch for you.

Admission Materials

Most institutions expect applicants to submit their undergraduate transcripts, a resume/CV, any required standardized test scores, a completed application, and an essay explaining why they want to change careers.

GPA Requirements

Online second degree nursing programs typically require at least a 3.0 GPA. However, excellent references or a record of achievement in your career may offset a borderline GPA.

Other Requirements

State nurse licensing boards require applicants to undergo a background check, even if your school does not. Check with your state board if you have any previous criminal convictions.

Why is Accreditation Important for a Second Degree BSN Program?

Earning a second degree BSN online requires time, money, and effort. Unaccredited programs waste all three.

  • Accreditation means that independent organizations have assessed a program's academic quality. Accreditation ensures that a curriculum prepares students to become nurses.
  • State nursing boards and specialty certification boards require candidates to hold a degree from an accredited program.
  • Accredited programs rarely accept transfer credits earned from non-accredited programs.
  • Most employers prefer to hire candidates who complete accredited programs.

Paying for Online Second Degree BSN Programs

Many learners worry about paying for another degree. The total cost of an online accelerated second degree BSN program includes tuition, any travel expenses for on-campus requirements or clinicals, books and equipment, and how many hours you expect to work while studying. While some charge the same rate for all online students, others maintain higher tuition rates for out-of-state students.

Fortunately, there are many financial aid opportunities for nursing students. Many associations, companies, nonprofit groups, and government and private organizations offer grants and scholarships. Some federal funding opportunities provide free or discounted tuition, or loan forgiveness, for candidates who agree to work in underserved areas after graduation.

Learn More About the Top Online Second Degree BSN Programs & Schools

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Second Degree BSN Programs


How long does it take to complete a second degree BSN?

Full-time students can typically complete an online second degree nursing program in 1-2 years, or up to four years for part-time learners. An ABSN program may be a better option for those who have already completed science and health prerequisite coursework.

Can I complete an online second degree BSN while working?

While it is possible to earn a second degree BSN online and remain employed, this ultimately depends on how flexible your work schedule is and on your BSN program's schedule.

Are there any in-person requirements for an online second degree BSN?

Some second degree BSN online programs do include on-campus requirements, such as orientation sessions or labs. You must complete your clinicals in person, although many programs can help you find placements in your community.

What is the difference between an ADN and a BSN?

An associate degree in nursing (ADN) is a two-year degree that focuses on practical nursing skills, while a BSN takes two years to complete and covers more advanced concepts. Many employers require or strongly prefer a BSN for higher-level positions. However, many nurses earn an ADN and gain work experience before pursuing a BSN.

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