The Best Second-Degree BSN Programs

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Updated November 30, 2023

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

Nurse student studying on laptop Credit: NIKCOA / Doctor & medical health care / shuttershock

If you already hold a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field, second degree BSN programs, short for bachelor of science in nursing programs, offer a fast track to a nursing career.

Because you have already completed general education requirements for a bachelor's degree, you can finish a second degree BSN in about half the time it takes to earn a traditional BSN.

Also known as an accelerated BSN, these programs focus mainly on nursing coursework.

Just like a traditional four-year nursing degree, the second degree BSN prepares students for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses(NCLEX-RN) and employment in a variety of settings and specialties.

Our rankings of the best accelerated second degree BSN programs highlight what to look for in a nursing program, how to apply, and how to pay for your education.

We use a data-driven methodology to rank the best 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.

Popular Online RN-to-BSN Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Why Is Accreditation Important for a Second Degree BSN Program?

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

Learn More About the Best Second-Degree BSN Programs & Schools

See our methodology to learn more about how we create our rankings.

#1 The Best Second-Degree BSN Programs

University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • Madison, WI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) offers an accelerated bachelor of science nursing for prospective nurses who already hold bachelor's degrees in non-nursing subjects. The 49-credit program takes 12 months of full-time study through about 50 hours per week of in-class work, out-of-class work, and clinical assignments. It is not suitable for working professionals.

UW offers lower tuition for Wisconsin residents and provides students with assistance securing clinical placements close to home. Admission is competitive, with only 64 open seats in each cohort. New cohorts begin twice each year.

  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
  • Campus: Madison, Wisconsin
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $45,000/program (in state); $60,000/program (out of state)
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field, 2.75 cumulative GPA, completion of general education and science prerequisites, personal statement, resume, group interview 
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (2021/2022): 94.31% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $64,769 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$9,273
Out-of-state
$37,161
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$10,728
Out-of-state
$24,054
Retention Rate
95%
Acceptance Rate
57%
Students Enrolled
44,640
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
93% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#2 The Best Second-Degree BSN Programs

University of Rochester

  • Rochester, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

University of Rochester offers 12-month and 24-month accelerated bachelor of science in nursing programs that prepare aspiring nurses to provide high-quality care. Each enrollee completes 49 credits of coursework, 90 hours of laboratory time, and 700 hours of hands-on clinical training at the University of Rochester Medical Center in preparation for RN licensure. 

Rochester offers a competitive financial aid program with multiple scholarship opportunities. Students may even qualify for a full tuition scholarship through the university's Nursing Scholars Program. 

  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
  • Campus: Rochester, New York
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $26,550/semester 
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field, minimum 2.8 GPA, completion of prerequisites, two letters of recommendation, personal statement, interview
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 or 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (2021/2022): 84% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $68,194 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$57,188
Out-of-state
$57,188
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$49,792
Out-of-state
$49,792
Retention Rate
92%
Acceptance Rate
35%
Students Enrolled
11,741
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
82% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#3 The Best Second-Degree BSN Programs

Texas A & M University-College Station

  • College Station, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Texas A&M University offers an accelerated second-degree BSN program for students with bachelor's degrees in non-nursing fields. The 15-month program includes classroom instruction, video lectures, simulations, and hands-on clinical experience. 

Texas A&M assists students with clinical placement in various settings to complete their clinical rotations. Students also receive assistance in preparing for Texas RN licensure during the final semester of the program. 

  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
  • Campus: College Station, Texas
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $12,340/semester (in state), $39,750/semester (out of state).
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field, minimum 3.0 GPA, completion of prerequisites, HESI exam results, resume highlighting community service and extracurricular involvement, criminal background check, interview
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 15 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (2021/2022): 100% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $63,565 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$8,395
Out-of-state
$36,849
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$6,775
Out-of-state
$19,048
Retention Rate
94%
Acceptance Rate
63%
Students Enrolled
70,418
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
33% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 The Best Second-Degree BSN Programs

Clemson University

  • Clemson, SC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Clemson University offers an accelerated second-degree BSN program for students who have earned bachelor's degrees in other fields. The rigorous program includes four consecutive semesters of study and clinical experiences in and around Greenville, South Carolina.

Admission to Clemson's accelerated second-degree program is competitive. A cohort of up to 32 students begins the program each fall. Students may qualify for scholarships and other financial aid through various programs.

  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
  • Campus: Clemson, South Carolina
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $7,059/semester (in state); $19,031/semester (out of state)
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field, minimum 3.0 GPA, completion of prerequisites 
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 16 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (2021/2022): 90.61% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $57,874 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard 
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$14,118
Out-of-state
$37,110
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$10,600
Out-of-state
$22,050
Retention Rate
94%
Acceptance Rate
62%
Students Enrolled
26,406
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
85% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#5 The Best Second-Degree BSN Programs

California State University-San Marcos

  • San Marcos, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

California State University, San Marcos (CSUSM) prepares students with bachelor's degrees in non-nursing subjects to pursue RN licensure in California. Its 16-month accelerated bachelor of science in nursing program includes 67 units of classroom instruction and clinical rotations over five full-time semesters of study.

Veterans are encouraged to apply to the accelerated BSN program at CSUSM. Students can access several campus support services and programs geared toward military members. 

  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
  • Campus: San Marcos, CA
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $44,890/program 
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field, minimum 2.5 GPA, minimum 2.75 GPA in the pre-nursing core, completion of prerequisites, a minimum score of 71.0 on the TEAS, resume, personal statement, letters of recommendation
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (2021/2022): 91.87% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $88,074 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$5,742
Out-of-state
$17,622
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$7,176
Out-of-state
$16,680
Retention Rate
84%
Acceptance Rate
79%
Students Enrolled
16,367
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
100% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#6 The Best Second-Degree BSN Programs

University of Massachusetts-Amherst

  • Amherst, MA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

University of Massachusetts Amherst's Elaine Mrieb College of Nursing, one of the most respected nursing schools in the state, offers an accelerated BSN pathway for students with bachelor's degrees in non-nursing related fields.

The 17-month, 58-credit program includes classroom instruction and clinical rotations in community health nursing, maternal newborn nursing, pediatrics, and psychiatric mental health nursing. Accelerated BSN cohorts begin each fall semester. 

  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
  • Campus: Amherst, Massachusetts
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $695/credit 
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field, minimum 3.0 GPA in prerequisite courses, resume, personal statement, letters of recommendation
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 17 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (2021/2022): 90% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $68,647 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$15,791
Out-of-state
$35,779
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$14,014
Out-of-state
$30,120
Retention Rate
89%
Acceptance Rate
65%
Students Enrolled
31,642
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
96% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#7 The Best Second-Degree BSN Programs

Florida Atlantic University

  • Boca Raton, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Florida Atlantic University's (FAU) second-degree BSN suits working professionals through part-time enrollment. Students take one in-person class per week in addition to online coursework and complete lab work and clinical rotations on the weekends at Broward County healthcare facilities. 

FAU students who enroll for six consecutive semesters can complete the program and qualify to take the NCLEX exam for a Florida RN license in two years. Already one of the most affordable second-degree BSN programs, FAU also offers financial aid to qualified students. 

  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
  • Campus: Boca Raton, FL
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $105.07
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field, completion of prerequisites, minimum 3.0 GPA, interview
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (2021/2022): 78.57% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $64,415 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$2,522
Out-of-state
$14,374
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$5,467
Out-of-state
$16,695
Retention Rate
82%
Acceptance Rate
75%
Students Enrolled
30,805
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
97% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#8 The Best Second-Degree BSN Programs

University at Buffalo

  • Buffalo, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

University at Buffalo's (UB) accelerated second-degree option includes coursework and clinical experiences that prepare students for the NCLEX exam and RN licensure. Each enrollee begins the 59-credit, one-year program in the summer term before completing an intensive three-week preceptorship in a clinical setting. 

Students in UB's accelerated bachelor of science program can earn up to seven hours of graduate credit, giving them a head start on a nursing graduate degree. 

  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
  • Campus: Buffalo, NY
  • Type: Public
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $24,000/program
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field, completion of prerequisites, minimum 3.0 GPA, essay
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 12 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (2021/2022): 95.8% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $66,681 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$7,070
Out-of-state
$24,740
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$11,310
Out-of-state
$23,100
Retention Rate
87%
Acceptance Rate
67%
Students Enrolled
32,347
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
92% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#9 The Best Second-Degree BSN Programs

Blessing Rieman College of Nursing and Health Sciences

  • Quincy, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing and Health Sciences allows students with bachelor's degrees in other fields to earn BSNs through its second-degree option. This program includes traditional classroom instruction, hands-on experience in a state-of-the-art simulation lab, and over 700 hours of clinical rotation experience. 

This program typically takes two years to complete and prepares nurses for the NCLEX license exam. The college awards generous financial aid packages to qualified students, with more than $1 million offered in 2019. 

  • Program: Bachelor of science in nursing
  • Campus: Quincy, IL
  • Type: Private
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
  • Tuition: $942/credit
  • Admission Requirements: Bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field, completion of prerequisites, minimum 2.7 GPA,
  • Minimum Time Commitment: 24 months
  • On-Campus Requirements: Yes
  • School NCLEX-RN Pass Rate (2021/2022): 85% first-time pass rate
  • Median Earnings Two Years After Graduation: $57,149 for bachelor's graduates, according to College Scorecard
Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$26,400
Out-of-state
$26,400
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
Not provided
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
177
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

Using Our Rankings: What to Look For in a Second-Degree BSN Program

An accelerated second degree BSN program should fit your personal needs while helping you achieve your professional goals. As you compare schools, pay attention to these key metrics, which form the basis for our rankings of the top programs.

Admission Requirements

Admission criteria tell you what kind of academic preparation you need to succeed in the program. Make sure you have the necessary GPA, prerequisite courses, and other requirements to gain admission to a second degree BSN program.


Clinical Experience

All BSN programs include clinical requirements. Depending on the school, distance learners may have to travel to approved sites. Some online programs permit you to complete clinicals in your own community. Before enrolling, figure out how to fit clinical placements into your schedule.


Accreditation

Nursing licensure, certifications, and many jobs are available only to those who graduate from accredited programs.


Program Length

Accelerated second degree BSN programs take 12 - 24 months to complete, much shorter than other BSN degrees. You should prepare for the challenges of a fast-paced schedule and a heavy course load.


NCLEX Pass Rate

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.


School Graduation Rate

The graduation rate tells you how many students finished their nursing degree within the expected time frame. Higher graduation rates indicate a supportive learning environment that successfully prepares nurses for practice.


Online Learning Format and Requirements

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.

How Second-Degree BSN Programs Work

Designed specifically for students who have already earned a degree in another field, accelerated second degree BSN programs offer the quickest route to a nursing career and an expedited path to RN licensure.

Because students often complete all general education requirements and science prerequisites in their first bachelor's degree, the second degree program primarily covers nursing classes, labs, and clinical experiences in a more rapid-paced and rigorous format. Before applying, students should review program information to ensure their credits may still be transferrable.

The accelerated curriculum covers the same material as a four-year campus-based BSN, including courses in evidence-based practice, community health, population-focused health, and nursing ethics.

Applying to a Second-Degree BSN Program

Admission requirements vary by nursing program. Most schools admit candidates with a bachelor's degree in any subject, as long as they have the minimum GPA and prerequisites.

As you collect the necessary documents to apply, give yourself enough time to request official transcripts, contact your references, and prepare your personal statement.

  • Admission Requirements

    • BA or BS from an accredited institution
    • Official transcripts
    • Letters of recommendation
    • Minimum composite score on the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS)
    • ACT or SAT scores
  • Admission Materials

    • Completion of prerequisite courses in natural science, psychology, and statistics
    • Criminal background check
    • Immunization records
    • Physical health examination
  • GPA Requirement

    • A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale (Some programs consider academic progress and strong letters of reference to offset a lower GPA.)

Paying for Second-Degree BSN Programs

Many learners worry about paying for another degree. The total cost of an 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.

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.

What Can You Do With a Degree from a Second-Degree BSN?

If you want to move into a career as an RN, earning a second degree BSN provides the necessary credentials in an accelerated format. The degree prepares you for the NCLEX-RN exam, which you need for state licensure. A BSN also provides the academic background for graduate work leading to advanced practice nursing roles.

Although you can qualify for the NCLEX-RN exam with a two-year associate degree in nursing (ADN), the BSN curriculum covers more advanced nursing concepts and includes training in leadership and management. RNs with BSNs can expect more employment opportunities with greater responsibilities and higher salaries.

The U.S.Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the employment of RNs to grow by 6% between 2021 and 2031, adding over 203,000 openings each year.

An increasing number of healthcare providers view the BSN as the minimal educational requirement for nursing practice.

A second degree BSN program prepares you for a variety of nursing positions and specialties, working in hospitals, outpatient clinics, physician offices, and home healthcare, among other settings.

Earning a second degree BSN gets you ready for general RN roles providing direct patient care, as well as an array of specialties. Check out this list of popular nursing specialties and careers to help you understand the options available to you.


Frequently Asked Questions About Second-Degree BSN Programs


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

If you have already earned a bachelor’s in a non-nursing field and have completed all the necessary prerequisites, you should be able to earn your second degree BSN in two years or less if attending full-time.

Can I complete a second degree BSN while working?

The answer depends on your ability to manage your work commitments with your program's schedule and requirements. The accelerated pace and rigorous curriculum of second degree BSN programs may make it difficult to maintain outside employment while taking classes.

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?

Both degrees prepare you for the NCLEX-RN exams and careers as RNs; While the ADN requires less credits, a BSN provides higher-level training leading to nursing roles beyond the entry-level and greater earning potential. A BSN also provides the academic background for nursing graduate programs.


Page Last Reviewed: November 7, 2022. Note: The ranking list and school descriptions on this page were created and reviewed independently by our Rankings Team.


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