Colleges and universities design second degree bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) programs for aspiring nurses who already possess a bachelor’s degree in another subject. These students often want to switch careers to nursing but don’t necessarily want to dedicate another four years to earning a bachelor’s degree. Therefore, second degree BSN programs allow students to transfer credit so they don’t need to repeat general education courses.
Individuals switch to nursing careers for many reasons. For one, registered nurses (RNs) earned an average salary of $73,300 in 2019, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS also projects that the number of RNs could increase by 7% from 2019-2029. Although individuals can become RNs with an associate or bachelor’s degree, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing encourages aspiring nurses to obtain a BSN.
Many learners prefer to pursue online programs, which allow for greater flexibility and independence in their study schedules. You can find the best online accelerated second degree BSN programs listed below.
View ranking methodology here.
Best Online Second Degree BSN Programs
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
Marian offers online accelerated second-degree BSN programs through both its campus in Indianapolis and its campus in Nashville. Although theory classes take place online, students must live in the areas surrounding the schools they choose. The university partners with local medical facilities for in-person components and does not allow learners to take these requirements elsewhere.
Full-time students can complete the program in just 16 months. This structured program includes four semesters of 16-weeks. Each semester contains online courses and in-person components, such as labs and clinical hours. The online classes offer asynchronous learning and cover subjects like pathophysiology, health assessments, statistical methods, and research informatics. During skills labs, degree candidates run simulations of patient scenarios. Clinical rotations give students first-hand experience with patients and the chance to learn from practicing registered nurses.
Applicants should hold non-nursing bachelor’s degrees from regionally accredited institutions and complete prerequisite courses, including abnormal psychology and human anatomy.
Roseman offers second-degree BSN nursing programs online through campuses in Henderson, Nevada and South Jordan, Utah. Students must live in or relocate to the Las Vegas or Salt Lake City areas to enroll in these programs. Learners apply on a rolling basis and start in February, July, or October. Applicants with bachelor’s degrees must hold a GPA of at least a 2.75 in the prerequisites and the last 60 hours of study.
Roseman breaks the curriculum into blocks rather than semesters. During each block, degree candidates learn the applicable theories, apply them in labs, and then master them in clinical hours. Blocks last between two and eight weeks each, depending on the subjects. Learners complete 15 blocks, including some in nursing fundamentals, pharmacology, maternal care, pediatric nursing, and mental health. Students complete their blocks in about 18 months.
Learners complete this second-degree BSN online from Utica College in just 16 months. Students must live in the Syracuse, New York area or relocate to complete the 225 hours of hands-on skills training and 588 clinical hours at facilities throughout central New York. Many of these labs and clinical hours go together. For example, students earn 45 lab hours and 84 clinical hours through their medical/surgical nursing courses.
The online portion of the program requires 62 credit hours in subjects like pathophysiology, leadership in nursing, and pharmacology. Students take these courses asynchronously through programs that help visual, aural, tactile, and social learners. Each year, at least 85% of candidates from Utica College pass the NCLEX licensing exam on the first try. Applicants need at least a 2.8 overall GPA and a 3.0 in the sciences, at least 60 hours of liberal art credits, and a “C” grade or better in all other prerequisites.
University of Texas at Arlington
UTA offers a 15-month BSN program for students with at least 70 credit hours, including prerequisites. Like many online second-degree BSN programs, UTA requires learners to live in the surrounding area. Students complete in-person components throughout the Dallas-Ft. Worth region, but they can choose the areas inside the metroplex they prefer.
Applicants must first earn admission into UTA and then apply to the accelerated BSN program. Candidates must also take the Test of Essential Academic Skills entrance exam, hold at least a 2.75 GPA, complete most of the prerequisites, and enroll in any remaining prerequisite classes.
Once admitted, learners follow a strict course schedule with their cohort peers. Throughout the 15 months, these cohorts help each other learn. UTA cautions against students working full time during the intensive program. Each term, learners complete clinical rotations and gather for skills labs at the end of each rotation. They also take asynchronous courses online with exams on campus.
Applying to an Online Second Degree BSN Program
Online second degree nursing programs mandate many of the same admission requirements as traditional on-campus programs.
All applicants should possess a bachelor’s degree. Although schools do not specify which undergraduate majors are allowed to apply, they often require applicants to have taken certain general education courses in topics like biology or anatomy. Programs also typically set a minimum undergraduate GPA requirement ranging from 3.0-3.5, although some schools may consider applicants with lower GPAs.
Other admission requirements often include recommendation letters, personal essays, and a virtual interview with faculty members. Prospective students don’t usually need to submit standardized test scores but requirements may differ depending on the school.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to complete a second degree BSN?
A second degree BSN follows an accelerated format, which means students can complete these programs much more quickly than a traditional four-year bachelor’s degree. Most programs last 1-2 years, even though students may take longer if they only enroll part time.
What is accreditation and why is it important?
Accreditation ensures that students receive a quality education. Accreditation agencies evaluate colleges and academic programs to determine whether they properly prepare students for their future careers. Therefore, if a program does not possess accreditation, this should register as a red flag. State licensure standards also require candidates to apply with an accredited degree. Two common nursing accreditation agencies include the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
What can I do with a BSN degree?
Many BSN graduates go on to become registered nurses and can specialize in areas like critical care, ER, geriatric, oncology, and orthopedic nursing. Some BSN-holders go into nursing education, training nurses at hospitals or other healthcare settings or instructing nurses at the college level.
How hard is it to complete a second degree BSN program?
Generally speaking, since second degree BSN programs enroll students who already possess bachelor’s degrees, BSN candidates don’t need to retake general education courses. Therefore, an accelerated BSN program does not include as many demanding requirements as a traditional BSN.