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Online RN-to-BSN programs help registered nurses advance their careers.

These bridge programs build off of the knowledge and skills gained during a nursing associate or diploma program, allowing students to graduate with a bachelor's degree in just two years.

RNs enjoy strong job prospects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs for nurses are projected to grow 12% between 2018 and 2028. These professionals made median annual salaries of $71,730 in 2018, with the top 10% of earners making more than $100,000 during that period.

Earning an RN-to-BSN online gives students the flexibility to balance their studies with professional and personal obligations. Online learning also allows students to attend the top RN-to-BSN programs in the country without relocating. This guide ranks the best online RN-to-BSN programs to help students find the right programs for their needs.

Top 10 Online RN to BSN Programs 2020

#1 University of Wisconsin Madison, WI
#2 University of Iowa Iowa City, IA
#3 Ohio State University Columbus, OH
#4 Michigan State University East Lansing, MI
#5 University of Utah Salt Lake City, UT
#6 University of Missouri Columbia, MO
#7 University of Kansas Lawrence, KS
#8 University of Massachusetts Amherst, MA
#9 University of Rochester Rochester, NY
#10 University of Cincinnati Cincinnati, OH

The Best Online RN-to-BSN Programs

1
University of Wisconsin
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4

Michigan State University 

East Lansing, MI

About this school

A public research institution, Michigan State University dates back to 1855. MSU's College of Nursing allows students to earn an RN-to-BSN online. The flexible, fully online program facilitates professional growth through an accessible learning environment.

Learners study topics like evidence-based practice, population health, and healthcare policy. The curriculum also includes a scholarly project seminar that synthesizes degree knowledge and skills. In addition to online coursework, the program includes clinical requirements that students can complete in their local areas.

MSU offers scholarship opportunities exclusively for RN-to-BSN students. Prospective students need an associate degree or diploma in nursing with a minimum 2.75 GPA and a current RN license. Applicants must also submit two references and a resume. Students earning an associate degree in nursing at a partner community college can enroll in BSN courses at MSU while completing their degrees.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
80%
Percent Receiving Loans
41%
5

University of Utah 

Salt Lake City, UT

About this school

Founded in 1850, the University of Utah is the state's flagship institution of higher learning. The school's College of Nursing offers a fully online RN-to-BSN degree with an optional geriatric nurse leadership specialty.

Students earning the nursing degree online complete 30 credits. Courses cover topics like physical assessment, health promotion, and evidence-based practice. In addition to coursework, students complete two clinical requirements: a 45-hour clinical practicum on nurse leadership and a 68-hour practicum focused on a quality improvement project. Working nurses can meet clinical requirements in their current workplaces.

Prospective students need an associate degree from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also hold a current RN license within two months of starting the program. The program admits students on a full- or part-time basis, but recommends that full-time students work no more than 20 hours per week.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
70%
Percent Receiving Loans
30%
6

University of Missouri 

Columbia, MO

About this school

Founded in 1839 as the first public university west of the Mississippi River, the University of Missouri grants degrees from its campus in Columbia and through an online division. The Sinclair School of Nursing offers a fully online RN-to-BSN degree.

The 30-credit nursing curriculum covers health assessment, nursing ethics, and nursing theory. Learners also study leadership and management in nursing. In addition to 26 credits of coursework, students complete a four-credit, 45-hour clinical requirement at a local community agency.

The program prepares graduates for clinical management roles. Students benefit from a personal academic advisor and opportunities to travel abroad during the program. The Sinclair School of Nursing also offers a dual-enrollment program for nursing students in an associate degree program.

Prospective nursing students must hold a current RN license or provide evidence of eligibility to sit for the NCLEX exam. Applicants also need a nursing associate degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Students can begin in the spring, summer, or fall. Community college graduates, veterans, and military service members quality for a 10% tuition discount.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
69%
Percent Receiving Loans
44%
7

University of Kansas 

Lawrence, KS

About this school

Based in Lawrence, the University of Kansas offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate degrees. The School of Nursing, which dates back to 1905, offers a fully online RN-to-BSN degree that focuses on leadership and critical thinking skills.

Online nursing students complete 30-35 credits, with some courses operating on a compressed eight-week schedule. Learners study population-based healthcare, quality improvement, and the healthcare macro environment. The curriculum also includes innovative courses, like using technology to enhance client safety. Learners culminate the degree with a senior project that synthesizes degree knowledge and skills.

Prospective students need a nursing associate degree or diploma with a minimum 2.5 GPA and a current RN license. Graduates from ACEN-accredited nursing programs receive 25-31 transfer credits.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
65%
Percent Receiving Loans
47%
8

University of Massachusetts 

Amherst, MA

About this school

The flagship campus of the state's public university system, the University of Massachusetts Amherst dates back to 1863. The school's College of Nursing offers an online RN-to-BSN program that encourages collaboration, professional values, and a spirit of inquiry.

Online nursing students participate in an interactive classroom environment designed to foster peer networking and idea sharing. The curriculum covers topics like community health nursing, nursing research, and cultural diversity in health. Students also take practicum courses on health assessment and vulnerable and underserved populations, building practical experience in the field. Online learners benefit from technical support, online training, and 24-hour access to nursing coursework.

Prospective students need a grade of C or better in seven nursing prerequisites and at least 52 non-nursing credits for admission. They also need a current RN license before the second semester of the program. Students can begin in the spring or summer. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
80%
Percent Receiving Loans
57%
9

University of Rochester 

Rochester, NY

About this school

Founded in 1850, the University of Rochester is a private institution that enrolls over 12,000 students each year. Rochester's School of Nursing offers an online RN-to-BSN degree that students can complete in 16 months.

The online BSN degree comprises 32 credits and covers topics like evidence-based practice, genetics, and nutrition. Eight courses are fully online, while several other courses incorporate field hours. For example, the nursing leadership and management course includes 56 field hours, while the population health class includes 84 field hours. Students take one course at a time, typically completing two courses during a semester. Learners culminate the degree with a capstone course.

Prospective students need an associate degree or diploma in nursing and a current RN license. They must also submit a resume, one letter of recommendation, and official transcripts. Rochester prefers candidates to hold a minimum 3.0 GPA. The School of Nursing works with incoming students to develop an individualized degree plan based on prior coursework and experience.

Graduation Rate
86%
Percent Receiving Loans
40%
10

University of Cincinnati 

Cincinnati, OH

About this school

The University of Cincinnati is a public research institution that enrolls over 46,000 students each year. In 1916, UC became one of the first colleges in the U.S. to offer a BSN degree. Today, the College of Nursing offers an online RN-to-BSN degree that features six start dates per year and an adjustable schedule designed for working nurses.

The curriculum covers key areas like evidence-based practice, health issues in marginalized populations, and community nursing. Students also take a course on nurses as professional leaders and managers, building the management skills necessary for advanced roles. In addition to coursework, students complete clinical experiences focused on community and population health.

Students can choose from three degree-completion timelines: a full-time, two-semester option; a part-time, three-semester option; and a part-time, five-semester option. Prospective students need an associate degree or diploma in nursing with a minimum 2.5 GPA and a current RN license.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
68%
Percent Receiving Loans
52%
11

The University of Tennessee 

Knoxville, TN

About this school

The University of Tennessee, Knoxville's College of Nursing promotes innovative solutions and nurse-led care to improve health outcomes. The online RN-to-BSN program ranks among the best online nursing programs in the country. Nursing students benefit from academic advisors, flexible start dates, and both full- and part-time enrollment options.

The 34-credit program divides each semester into two eight-week terms, allowing students to complete four courses each semester. Students take courses on topics like transcultural nursing, health assessment, and healthcare informatics. The program also includes clinical requirements that students can complete in their local areas. Learners can graduate in just one year. Incoming RNs receive 27 credits for their training and experience.

Prospective nursing students must hold an associate degree or diploma in nursing and at least 63 credits that meet the university's transfer requirements. Applicants must also hold a current RN license or be in the progress of earning an RN license.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
73%
Percent Receiving Loans
45%
12

Texas A & M University 

College Station, TX

About this school

The first public institution in Texas, Texas A&M University dates back to 1876. The school's College of Nursing focuses on caring for historically underserved and rural populations. The online RN-to-BSN program emphasizes core skills in areas like health assessment, patient care, and evidence-based practice.

Learners study topics such as health promotion, pathophysiology, and community health. The program also incorporates coursework on leadership and management to train nurses for advanced roles. In addition to coursework, students complete clinical hours in their local communities to gain practical experience in the field.

Students can begin in the spring or summer. Texas A&M evaluates nursing applicants on their academic and professional preparation, including factors such as community service, professional activities, and evidence of leadership when making admission decisions. The College of Nursing recommends applicants hold a minimum 3.0 GPA. All applicants must provide a personal statement, a professional resume, and references.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
82%
Percent Receiving Loans
32%
13

University of Kentucky 

Lexington, KY

About this school

Founded in 1865, the University of Kentucky is a public institution that offers an online RN-to-BSN degree designed to enhance the expertise of registered nurses. The flexible program emphasizes patient-centered care and takes one year to complete.

Nursing students learn to apply clinical reasoning skills to make patient-centered decisions. The curriculum covers topics like population health, interprofessional collaboration, and evidence-based practice. During clinical requirements, students complete quality improvement projects and leadership experiences. The College of Nursing provides clinical opportunities in settings like hospitals and community agencies.

Prospective students need an accredited associate degree or diploma in nursing with a minimum 2.5 GPA and must submit two professional recommendations and a goals statement. UK also requires students to hold a current RN license before beginning the program's clinical practice requirements.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
66%
Percent Receiving Loans
49%
14

George Mason University 

Fairfax, VA

About this school

George Mason University is a public research institution that offers a flexible, online RN-to-BSN degree. The program includes accelerated, seven-week courses that let registered nurses graduate in as little as two semesters.

The curriculum emphasizes key areas like research, health assessment, and leadership and management. Students also take classes on community health, nursing informatics, and vulnerable populations. The program offers project-based courses designed to enhance professional skills in each clinical area.

In addition to the RN-to-BSN program, Mason offers a co-enrollment BSN program for students earning a nursing associate degree at partner community colleges in Virginia. The program lets nurses earn a BSN one semester after completing an ASN. Prospective students must hold an associate degree or diploma in nursing with at least a C grade on all nursing prerequisite courses. Students can begin in the fall or spring.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
70%
Percent Receiving Loans
53%
15

Indiana University 

Bloomington, IN

About this school

Founded in 1820, Indiana University Bloomington is the flagship campus of the state's public university system. IU offers a variety of online undergraduate and graduate degrees, including an RN-to-BSN program. The collaborative degree-completion program prepares students for career advancement or a graduate degree in nursing.

The 120-credit program includes 36 credits of core nursing courses on topics like health policy, nursing informatics, and data analysis in clinical practice. Online learners can customize the program with elective options in areas like gerontological nursing, emergency preparedness, and complementary health. In addition to coursework, nursing students complete practicums and clinical experiences to gain experience in the field.

IU supports online learners through personalized application support, an interactive orientation, and career coaching. Students can choose from degree paths that span 12 months, 18 months, or 24 months, depending on their scheduling needs. Prospective IU nursing students need an associate degree or diploma in nursing with a minimum 2.5 GPA and a current RN license in the state where they plan to complete their clinical hours.

Graduation Rate
78%
Percent Receiving Loans
35%
16

The University of Alabama 

Tuscaloosa, AL

About this school

The flagship university of the state's public system, the University of Alabama grants degrees from its campus in Tuscaloosa and through its online division, Bama by Distance. The online RN-to-BSN program, offered through the College of Nursing, provides a flexible learning environment designed to meet the needs of working nurses.

Students complete coursework online and clinical requirements in their local areas. Nursing classes cover topics like nursing informatics, evidence-based practice, and community health. Learners also study complex client systems and leadership for RNs.

Students can choose from part- and full-time enrollment options. In addition to the RN-to-BSN program, UA offers an RN-to-MSN track for nurses seeking advanced practice roles. Applicants need a diploma or associate degree in nursing with a minimum 2.5 GPA in lower-division courses and a minimum 2.0 GPA in science courses. They also need a current RN license. The program offers fall, spring, and summer start dates.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
72%
Percent Receiving Loans
43%
17

Auburn University 

Auburn, AL

About this school

Founded in 1856, Auburn University is a public research institution that hosts over 30,000 students each year. Auburn's School of Nursing offers an online RN-to-BSN program that builds leadership, critical thinking, and evidence-based practice skills.

Learners study topics like nursing informatics, evidence-based practice, and clinical prevention. The curriculum also includes coursework on leadership and management in professional nursing, preparing graduates for advanced roles in healthcare. Throughout the program, nursing students complete professional practice project hours to build clinical skills.

Auburn also offers a concurrent BSN option for students earning an associate degree in nursing from a partner community college. This option lets students earn a BSN one semester after completing an associate degree in nursing.

Prospective students need an associate degree in nursing with a minimum 2.5 GPA in all prerequisite courses and a current RN license in the state where they plan to complete professional practice hours.

Graduation Rate
78%
Percent Receiving Loans
32%
18

University of New Mexico 

Albuquerque, NM

About this school

Founded in 1889, the University of New Mexico is a public institution that offers both online and on-campus programs. The College of Nursing offers a fully online RN-to-BSN degree that emphasizes nursing practice, patient-centered care, and leadership principles.

The 30-credit program blends evidence-based practice with cutting-edge technology. Learners study topics like nursing research, professional communication, and health policy. Students learn how to incorporate technological advances into their nursing practice. They also learn to collaborate with healthcare providers to improve patient outcomes. Learners culminate the degree with a clinical quality improvement project. Graduates can develop, implement, and evaluate professional nursing practice standards.

Prospective students need at least 26 transfer credits with a minimum 2.5 GPA. UNM admits students with a current RN license and recent graduates who can complete their RN licenses within 14 weeks of acceptance into the program. UNM offers multiple start dates throughout the year.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
50%
Percent Receiving Loans
57%
19

Ohio University 

Athens, OH

About this school

Founded in 1804 as Ohio's first university, Ohio University offers an online RN-to-BSN program that gives students knowledge and skills in leadership, management, and evidence-based practice. Students also strengthen clinical reasoning skills.

Learners study topics like health assessment, gerontologic nursing care, and community health nursing. The program concludes with a synthesis course that requires students to examine the relationship between healthcare policy and professional nursing. During the course, students address issues related to vulnerable populations and client advocacy.

Prospective nursing students need an accredited associate degree or diploma in nursing with a minimum 2.0 GPA and a current RN license. The program only admits students licensed to practice nursing in certain states. Students currently enrolled in an associate program in nursing can earn four credits toward a BSN degree at Ohio.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
64%
Percent Receiving Loans
66%
20

University of South Carolina 

Columbia, SC

About this school

The flagship campus of South Carolina's public university system, the University of South Carolina dates back to 1801. UofSC's College of Nursing offered the state's first accredited BSN program in 1957. Today, the college offers an online RN-to-BSN program that offers a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to patient care.

The fully online degree emphasizes professionalism, leadership, and critical thinking skills. Students complete asynchronous courses in seven-week blocks, studying topics like health assessment, evidence-based practice, and emerging issues in healthcare. In addition to online coursework, students complete a 56-hour practicum in their local communities, gaining practical experience in the field. Learners can graduate in as little as one year.

UofSC supports online nursing students through academic coaching, a student success center, a career center, and peer tutoring. Prospective students need an accredited associate degree or diploma in nursing with a minimum 3.0 GPA and a current RN license.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
77%
Percent Receiving Loans
49%
21

University of Illinois at Chicago 

Chicago, IL

About this school

The University of Illinois at Chicago is a public institution that offers a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs. The school's College of Nursing offers an online RN-to-BSN degree that prepares RNs for career advancement. The college reports a 94% graduation rate for this program.

The curriculum covers topics like health assessment, nursing informatics, and nursing leadership and management. Learners also study nursing processes and evidence-based practice. Rather than traditional clinical placements, the program incorporates clinical skills into its online coursework.

The fully online nursing program offers fall, spring, and summer start dates. Prospective students need a nursing associate degree or diploma with a minimum 2.5 GPA. UIC admits candidates with a current RN license and those waiting to take the NCLEX-RN exam. Online nursing students pay a flat tuition rate throughout the 16-month program.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
59%
Percent Receiving Loans
34%
22

Saint Louis University 

Saint Louis, MO

About this school

A private, Catholic institution, Saint Louis University dates back to 1818. Its Trudy Busch Valentine School of Nursing, founded in 1928, offers a flexible, online RN-to-BSN program that offers full- and part-time enrollment options. Full-time students can graduate in two semesters.

BSN students can create individualized curriculum plans based on their prior education and professional interests. Learners study topics like health policy, finance, and regulation. Nursing students also plan and execute a quality improvement strategy project to strengthen their leadership and clinical skills.

SLU grants 38 credits for passing scores on the NCLEX-RN exam. Students must complete at least 30 credits of the 120-credit BSN program through SLU. Prospective students need a regionally accredited associate degree or diploma from a hospital nursing program and a current RN license. Students working at partner healthcare providers in the St. Louis area qualify for discounted tuition rates.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
77%
Percent Receiving Loans
53%
23

Drexel University 

Philadelphia, PA

About this school

Founded in 1891, Drexel University is a private research institution in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The school's College of Nursing and Health Professions prioritizes cooperative education, innovation, and civic engagement and offers an online RN-to-BSN degree.

One of the top online nursing programs in the country, the program emphasizes evidence-based and experiential learning. The curriculum includes nine courses, covering topics like nursing research, health assessment, and population health. Online learners also complete a senior capstone course.

Drexel offers a three-year tuition guarantee, locking in tuition rates for that time period. BSN students can graduate in just one year. American Nurses Association members and employees at partner health systems and community colleges receive a tuition discount.

Prospective students need an associate degree or diploma in nursing with a minimum 2.0 GPA and a current RN license. Students can transfer up to 135 quarter credits toward the 180-credit degree.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
74%
Percent Receiving Loans
61%
24

University of Delaware 

Newark, DE

About this school

The University of Delaware, the state's largest university, is a public research institution located in Newark, Delaware. UD's School of Nursing offers career-oriented programs that prepare nurses for roles as population health experts. The online RN-to-BSN degree builds healthcare knowledge, clinical reasoning abilities, and technical expertise.

Students earning the RN-to-BSN online must complete 31 credits, including an 84-hour practicum. Faculty deliver coursework through video lectures, asynchronous discussion groups, and real-time discussions. Learners study evidence-based practice, critical issues in healthcare, and health assessment. Students gain leadership, writing, and research skills.

Online learners enjoy access to all campus resources in addition to an online library with retrievable, full-text articles. Students take classes year-round. Prospective students need a nursing associate degree or diploma with a minimum 2.5 GPA and a current RN license.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
81%
Percent Receiving Loans
53%
25

University of Arkansas 

Fayetteville, AR

About this school

A public research institution located in Fayetteville, Arkansas, the University of Arkansas has a students-first philosophy. The Eleanor Mann School of Nursing offers an online RN-to-BSN program that prepares nurses for career advancement.

Nursing students in this program complete 11 eight-week courses and a clinical immersion in their local communities, gaining practical experience in the field. Students culminate the degree with a quality improvement project designed to strengthen evidence-based practice skills. Learners also strengthen analytical and critical reasoning skills.

The program offers full- and part-time enrollment options. Full-time students can graduate in three semesters, while part-time enrollment requires five semesters. UA supports online nursing students by offering program advisors, who promote student-centered learning.

Prospective students need an associate degree or diploma in nursing with a minimum 2.8 GPA and at least 1,000 hours of work experience in the past two years or passing scores on a clinical proficiency exam. They also need a current RN license.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
66%
Percent Receiving Loans
42%
👏

End of list, bravo!

Ranking Methodology
Best Online Programs

Online RN to BSN Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is an RN-to-BSN Program?

These bridge programs help RNs with a diploma or associate degree earn a bachelor's degree with two years of additional study.

What is the Difference Between RN vs. BSN?

RNs can receive licensure without earning a bachelor's degree, but a bachelor's degree typically gives RNs more career opportunities and higher earning potential.

How Long Are RN-to-BSN Programs?

RN-to-BSN programs typically take two years to complete, though some programs also offer accelerated timelines.

Do RN-to-BSN Programs Require Clinicals?

Many RN-to-BSN programs do not require clinicals, but they may require students to maintain employment as an RN while enrolled.

What Prerequisites Do I Need for an RN-to-BSN Program?

Applicants typically need an active, unencumbered RN license, an accredited nursing associate degree or diploma, and professional experience.

What Is an RN-to-BSN Program?

Online RN-to-BSN programs allow students with a nursing associate degree or diploma to earn a bachelor's degree in 1-2 years of additional study. Students in these programs commonly possess several years of nursing experience. They frequently continue working while enrolled, and many programs accommodate working students through flexible learning formats and schedules.

RN-to-BSN students gain leadership and management skills, advanced research competencies, and knowledge of best practices and emerging trends in nursing.

Choosing an Online RN-to-BSN Program

When researching RN-to-BSN programs, students should consider factors like cost, transfer policies, and on-campus requirements. We cover several important considerations for prospective students below.

  • Program Cost: Public schools typically cost less than private schools, and in-state students often receive a tuition discount. However, some programs allow all online students to pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency.
  • Transfer Policies: Many programs offer transfer credit for prior academic work, professional experience, and military training. Programs with generous transfer policies can help students save time and money on a degree.
  • School Size and Type: A school's size and type can affect the learning experience. For instance, small schools often offer more individualized attention than larger schools, while large schools provide more program options than small schools.
  • Program Length: Most RN-to-BSN programs take around two years to complete, but some programs offer accelerated timelines.
  • On-Campus Requirements: Some online RN-to-BSN programs have on-campus requirements. Students should ensure they can meet these requirements before committing to a program.
  • Thesis, Fellowship, and Work Requirements: Programs may require a thesis or internship, both of which require a significant time investment. Students should choose a program that has requirements aligned with their career goals.

What Else Can I Expect From an Online RN-to-BSN Program?

Many RN-to-BSN programs offer electives and concentrations that allow students to specialize their knowledge and tailor the degree to their career goals. The following sections cover common courses and concentrations found in these programs and explore the importance of attending an accredited program.

Online RN-to-BSN Program Curriculum

Anatomy and Physiology

This course examines the structures and functions of the human body. Students learn how different bodily systems -- such as the digestive, cardiovascular, muscular, and skeletal systems -- work together. Learners also study how abnormal functions can help nurses identify health issues.

Applied Healthcare Statistics

This course teaches students how to analyze and apply patient data to improve health outcomes. Students gain knowledge and skills in analyzing and synthesizing raw data, identifying how data informs nursing policy, and conducting statistical research.

Human Growth and Development

This foundational course examines how humans develop throughout the lifespan. Learners study research on human growth with respect to biological, emotional, intellectual, and social development.

Clinical Microbiology

his class covers how microorganisms function and contribute to disease, using epidemiological, immunological, and pathological lenses to examine how disease progress. Through lab requirements, students build knowledge and skills in areas like aseptic techniques, antibiotic susceptibility, and characteristics of bacteria.

Health Assessment

In this course, students learn how to detect illnesses and improve the overall delivery of healthcare and nursing services. Learners review a variety of health assessment models and gain skills and knowledge in physical assessments and evidence-based wellness frameworks.

Nursing Concentrations

Students earning an RN-to-BSN online can often pursue concentrations that allow them to specialize their skills. We cover several common nursing concentrations below.

Gerontology: Gerontology focuses on delivering care for elderly patients. Common class topics include coordinated care of the elderly, theoretical foundations of geriatric care, advanced health assessments for aging populations, and gerontology healthcare policy.

Orthopedics: Orthopedic RNs provide care to patients with musculoskeletal diseases and injuries, including osteoporosis, arthritis, and fractured and broken bones. Topics include musculoskeletal specialty synthesis, clotting disorders, and orthopedics pain management.

Acute Care: Acute care nurses deliver emergency and ambulatory care to patients. Learners in these courses gain knowledge and skills in areas like health assessments and clinical diagnoses, psychological and physiological impacts, and short-term care management.

Primary Care: Primary care nurses deliver care to patients throughout the lifespan, focusing on overall patient health and wellness. They typically do not treat acute or emergency issues. Common courses include health promotion, clinical practice in ambulatory care, and perspectives on aging.

Pediatrics: Pediatric nurses provide care to patients from birth through early adulthood. Common classes include pediatric pharmacology, acute and chronic pediatric care, and health promotion within pediatric patients.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online RN-to-BSN Program?

Most online RN-to-BSN programs take two years to complete, but students can often pursue accelerated or part-time options as well. Students with abundant personal and professional obligations may benefit from the lower course load of a part-time program, while learners seeking to complete the degree as quickly as possible benefit from accelerated programs.

An online RN-to-BSN program's delivery format can also impact the length of a degree. For example, programs with asynchronous courses allow students to access course materials and lectures on their own schedule, while synchronous programs require students to log in at specific times.

Accreditation for Online RN-to-BSN Programs

When researching prospective programs, students should look for accreditation status. Accreditation indicates that a school meets high standards with respect to faculty qualifications, academic rigor, and student learning outcomes. Only students at accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid, and many schools only accept degrees and credits from accredited institutions. Additionally, nurses need an accredited degree to qualify for professional credentials.

Schools may receive regional or national accreditation, with regional accreditation generally considered the more prestigious of the two. Programs within a school may also receive accreditation. For example, the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing accredit nursing programs.

Students can verify a school's accreditation status through the Database of Postsecondary Institutions and Programs provided by the U.S. Department of Education.

Nursing Certifications

Certifications allow nurses to demonstrate specialized expertise and compete for advanced roles. We cover several common nursing certifications below.

  • Oncology Certified Nurse Candidates for this credential need at least two years of RN experience, at least 2,000 hours of oncology nursing practice, and a minimum of 10 hours of oncology nursing continuing education. They must also pass a three-hour, 165-question exam.
  • Certified Emergency Nurse Candidates for this credential need at least two years of relevant experience. They must also pass the certification exam, which comprises 175 peer-reviewed questions and must be taken at an approved Pearson Professional Center.
  • Psychiatric-Mental Health Nursing Certification Candidates need two years of full-time RN experience, 2,000 hours of psychiatric-mental health clinical practice, and 30 hours of psychiatric-mental health continuing education credits. They must also pass a three-hour, 150-question exam.
  • Critical Care Registered Nurse RNs and APRNs with at least 1,750 hours of acute/critical care nursing practice can apply for this credential. Candidates can use the CCRN exam handbook to prepare for the qualifying exam.
  • Pediatric Nursing Certification Candidates for this credential need at least two years of full-time RN experience, 2,000 hours of clinical pediatric nursing practice, and 30 continuing education credits in pediatric nursing. The exam comprises 50 questions and takes three hours to complete.

Nursing Careers

Graduates with a BSN qualify for a variety of fulfilling careers. We cover several common careers for graduates below; however, some positions may require additional education or certification.

Registered Nurses

Registered nurses work on the frontlines of patient care. They assess patient conditions, record medical histories, observe symptoms, and report their findings. They also complete care plans, collaborate with doctors, teach patients and families how to manage an illness or injury, and perform diagnostic tests. All RNs need at least a nursing diploma and a state license to practice.

Median Annual Salary

$71,730

Projected Growth Rate

12%

Medical and Health Services Managers

These professionals work in healthcare administration. They oversee healthcare facilities or departments, which involves setting departmental goals, managing staff, overseeing budgets, and creating staff schedules. Medical and health services managers typically need at least a bachelor's degree. They do not need licensure unless they are working at a nursing home.

Median Annual Salary

$99,730

Projected Growth Rate

18%

Nurse Practitioners

Nurse practitioners, also known as advanced practice registered nurses, provide advanced nursing services. They may diagnose health problems, analyze test results, prescribe medications and treatments, and conduct research. These professionals also often oversee staff. NPs need at least a master's degree and an active, unencumbered RN license.

Median Annual Salary

$113,930

Projected Growth Rate

26%

Nursing Professional Organizations

Nursing students and professionals can take advantage of professional organizations to support their careers. The following organizations offer benefits such as networking, professional development, and continuing education opportunities.

National Student Nurses Association

NSNA supports nursing students as they complete degree requirements and work toward initial licensure. The group provides advocacy services, mid-year and annual conferences, and an active career center stocked with NCLEX-RN tools, student resource guides, and career planning tools.

American Nurses Association

ANA represents 4 million nurses throughout the country. The organization provides professional development resources, practice and advocacy support, certification opportunities, and educational services. The group also organizes several events throughout the year.

Society of Pediatric Nurses

Representing over 3,600 pediatric nurses, this society hosts networking opportunities, grants and awards, podcasts and webinars, and regularly updated clinical practice guidelines.

Society of Nurses in Advanced Practice

This group supports advanced practice nurses working in Northwest Indiana. Members gain access to an annual conference, continuing education programs, employment listings, and scholarship opportunities.

Emergency Nurses Association

Members of ENA have access to online courses and continuing education programming, practice resources, local and national events, and the Journal of Emergency Nursing. The group also offers government relations services and member discounts for professional services.

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