Online RN to BSN Programs Guide

What is an Online RN to BSN?

Online RN to BSN programs are common in the nursing industry, and are designed specifically for current Registered Nurses that are employed now, but want to get their BSN for career advancement opportunities and other benefits.

Benefits of Online Degrees

RN to BSN programs were brought online so RN’s could work while taking classes on the way to earning their BSN. RN-BSN programs were some of the first programs being brought online. They allow you to work while taking classes, study from home, and study at night and on the weekend.

Tips to Keep in Mind

There are many benefits of the Online RN to BSN program, but online learning is not for everyone. People that succeed with online learning are self-motivated, ambitious, and eager to earn their RN to BSN degree.

The Online RN to BSN

There are many things to take into consideration when looking for an online RN-BSN program: program length, accreditation, employer partnerships, online learning environment, and tuition costs are a few of the most common characteristics to review and compare for any program.

There are a lot of nursing schools in the U.S. that now offer RN-BSN programs online. Our goal is to gather all of them, along with the above information and other facts that you can use when figuring out which program to choose from, so the only place you need to make a decision on where to go to school is

We hand-edit our database and have actual people scour the web to find Online RN to BSN programs – not many websites can state that. According to our research, there are around 100 entirely online RN to BSN programs. Don’t be fooled – some programs are halfway online, or hybrid programs. This means at least a few classes must be taken on campus.

After practicing as an RN for awhile many people later decide they want more out of their career. Maybe they only earned an associate’s degree in nursing and they are looking at their options. There are many, some including earning another degree. One of the quickest ways to help you advance your career is to complete an accelerated nursing degree program. If you are currently working as an RN there are a couple degrees you may wish to consider depending on your career goals.

If you are planning to work then the online option does become more attractive since it should give you more flexibility in your schedule. If your job schedule changes then having some of the freedom associated with an online school nursing program may also be a deciding factor.

Look for Accredited Nursing Schools

The top accrediting bodies specifically for nursing are the CCNE and the ACEN. These two accrediting boards are the basis of our research when looking for programs. There are other forms of accreditation, however. Generally, regional accreditation is the best (outside of the CCNE or ACEN), and there are plenty of schools that have only regional accreditation that have quality programs.

Why Should RN’s Consider an Online RN to BSN Program?

With the “BSN in 10” recommendation by the American Nurses Association (recommending that RNs who graduate from an ADN- or diploma-program be required to obtain a BSN within 10 years of licensure by the year 2020), it is extremely important for current RNs to get their BSN. Because RNs are in the unique situation of being currently employed in a stable area like healthcare, online RN to BSN programs are extremely popular the help them study for their BSN while continuing to work as an RN.

A lot of nurses dream more of having an advanced practice, a licensure other than what has been held, a certification, and a continued education. Assisting clients towards recovery and optimum wealth is not an easy job. The level of difficulty in caring a patient also depends on the level of knowledge and skill the nurse has.

The Key Reasons for a BSN Degree

Besides the recommendation by the reputable American Nurses Association, which many hospitals and healthcare employers use as a guideline when hiring nurses, there are many other reasons for registered nurses to get their Bachelor of Science in Nursing. A specialized education as well as a basic liberal foundation is vital. What we do sometimes reflects the patient’s understanding and the patient’s recovery. It is also the same as getting an RN to BSN degree.

Those who are aspiring to become a registered nurse can earn a 2-year associate’s degree while students earn a BSN at a 4-year university or college, so the time it takes to finish is much longer. Here are the advantages of studying a BSN degree:

  • The “BSN in 10” recommendation will leave RNs with an ADN in a difficult situation where they may get surpassed by up and coming BSN degree holders.
  • Some nursing careers are open only to BSN holders.
  • The Medical Care Journal stated that hospitals that have a higher proportion of BSN-prepared nurses decreased the odds of patient death by 10% – source.
  • For the highest paying nursing jobs such as a nurse anesthetist, it is required for you to have a BSN degree. If you also want to become an administrator which you plan bring up your position over time or an instructor, then you would need to have this degree.
  • Hospitals and institutions want higher educated nurses.
  • The education level of nurses working in an institution is one of the most important factors. The ANA requires 48% of nurses to have a BSN or higher.
  • BSN teaches leadership and critical skills.
  • Critical thinking and leadership skills are essential to moving into a higher paying jobs accompanied by the difficulty of responsibilities.

Who Should Study Online?

Registered nurses that are currently employed and want to enhance their skillset in the nursing field should study online. Additionally, registered nurses who are interested in a specific nursing field or who want to have an advanced practice or a specialization such as a nurse midwife, nurse anesthetist, geriatric nurse, or pediatric nurse. Each of these fields demand a BSN degree and in most cases an advanced degree.

There are many RN to BSN programs that are offered online, and the number of nurses enrolling for an online system is increasing as technology expands. Making nurse education more accessible is vital to contribute to nursing shortage. Time is essential and nurses are busy working.

Consider a sponsored online RN to BSN program:

View Online RN-BSN Programs

The comfort of staying at home while studying has an edge especially for those who are working. Nothing beats studying at the same time earning as a nurse. Totally, a productive time for a nurse. Studying online is different from one person to another because the environment is distinctive. Maximizing student engagement is critical to achieving clinical learning outcomes considered to the clinical curriculum in the nursing education.

What is an Online Learning Environment Like for an Online BSN?

In a RN to BSN online learning environment, student can log on and review their courses whenever they want. Always remember that everything solely depends on the internet so be sure you can access that every minute.

Students who are uncomfortable asking in class with bunch of people can communicate comfortably in an online setting. The facilitator will give you an ample time to finish your assignments and also, he or she will design your learning module.

Typical Courses for an Online RN to BSN Degree

For clinical purposes, your facilitator may share a video to you especially for nursing procedures and the sterility rule. Audio and videoconferencing are also used for lectures and shared ideas of students. The curriculum of an RN-BSN online class generally includes dealing with Physics, Biology, Chemistry, and for the specific nursing classes, it includes:

  • Primary healthcare
  • Clinical nursing practice
  • Healthcare Informatics
  • Caring for Families
  • Community Health Nursing
  • Evidence-Based Nursing
  • Ethics in Nursing
  • Nursing Leadership
  • Different careers for BSN graduates

In addition to this, AACN notes that these programs should also manifest hands-on learning experience. It means they should also get the chance to practice what they learned online in an institution, a hospital facility, or a rehabilitative facility. It should also consist of mock laboratory procedures for direct and indirect care.

Career Opportunities for BSN Graduates

After graduation, you are more likely to land a job. However, jobs don’t easily fall on your lap, it is important to get certifications to be more competitive compared to other nurses applying for the same institution you are applying for.

According to a survey conducted by the AACN, nurses’ average job offer rate is 57% after graduation. This practically means that you are ensured of your future if and only if you work hard to get it. It also showed that nurses with a BSN degree linked to patient’s lower mortality and better patient outcomes. This is because of their enhanced knowledge and skills. Critical thinking ability and nursing independence are several areas that are important as a registered nurse.

All BSNs are RNs if you pass the board, but not all RNs are BSNs. A RN is a registered nurse, and you can get an RN degree through a diploma program, an associate of science in nursing (ASN), or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

View Online RN-BSN Programs

Online RN to BSN Courses and Curriculum

Although there are many benefits to earning your RN to BSN degree online, you may be apprehensive about spending the money to get an online degree. There is some uncertainty with online learning, especially for those that have been working in the field as a Registered Nurse for years.

We have gathered a few sample online video courses below. You can view these to get a better idea of what the online learning environment might look like.

Online Nursing Courses

This video is an example of an online lecture from the University of Texas Extension Office for N. 309 (a course in Global Health), which is very common for lecture-based courses.

E-Learning Sample Critical Care Nursing Course Online

RN to BSN Curriculum

Typical online RN to BSN programs are actually degree completion degrees, since it is a requirement that the student has their RN license already. As a result, the course is typically less than 2 years long, and can even be measured at a span of 15-18 months.

Credit hours vary by program, so be sure to check with the nursing schools you are most interested in getting your BSN degree from online. But in our research, we find that most online RN-BSN programs range from 30 to 40 credit hours, depending on your previous degree. It seems that the most common number of credit hours is 34, on a 15-18 month length of program.

Most programs are online, but follow traditional semester schedules. There are several programs that are trying to get more flexible with start date of enrollment.

Typical Core Nursing Courses

The following is by no means a sample curriculum, but we’ve gathered a few course names (most are 2-3 credits each) from different universities that have RN to BSN programs online.

It should at least give you an idea of what courses to expect, but be sure to chat with your admissions representative at whichever nursing schools you are talking with.

  • Conceptual Nursing Theory: Covers the philosophical basics of the science of nursing, and gives students a foundational understanding of nursing as a profession. Consider this to be “Nursing 101”.
  • Nursing Professional Ethics: In a role of taking care of other people, it is important to have extremely high levels of integrity and focus. There are specific standards to adhere to – professionally and ethically.
  • Research Based Nursing: Review of factual, evidence-based research in the nursing profession. With many, many patients over many years, there is a ton of data and research that can help you make better decisions as a care taker.
  • Family Nursing: Most nurses work in hospital facilities or something similar. Understanding family needs for all age groups is extremely important.
  • Safety and Quality Control in Nursing: Safety is of the utmost importance for patients and the facility.
  • Leadership / Management in Nursing: Usually a course for later on in your degree, this course helps with different leadership learning and management methodology. You may not be managing other nurses per say in your next job, but having the qualities and skills to be able to manage schedules, patients, and families is extremely helpful.

Non Nursing Courses

Some degrees require non-nursing courses, or general education courses. These are pretty basic yet still related to how you will work in the field. Here are a few examples of courses you may take:

  • Anatomy & Physiology
  • Communications
  • Business Administration
  • Philosophy or Sociology

Online RN to BSN Programs List

Online RN to BSN Programs

We have hand-gathered nearly 100 online RN to BSN programs. Unlike some websites that use basic data, our hand-editing allows us to gather the below list, which consists ONLY of programs that are 100% online (or nearly 100%, minus any clinical requirements).

List of Accredited Online RN to BSN Programs

The following featured schools have online RN to BSN Programs and are accepting applicants.

Review Accredited RN to BSN Programs Online

Why Pursue a RN-BSN Program?

RN to BSN completion programs enable a registered nurse who does not hold Bachelors in nursing degree to complete their BSN. As many RNs completed an associate’s degree or a diploma program they do not have a BS in nursing degree. Therefore if these RNs wish to advance their career, they may need to continue their education and earn the Bachelor of Science in nursing degree.

Most RN to BSN completion programs are designed for current working Registered Nurses. These programs are usually specifically tailored for a professional nurse who is either working full-time or part-time, and therefore will be designed to be as flexible as possible.

It is important to keep in mind some of the characteristics you are looking for in a RN to BSN completion track program. Every program varies between tuition cost, acceptance rates, and more, so you may need to contact several schools, but here are a few points to keep in mind:

  • Does the RN-BSN program accept recent graduates from ADN programs?
  • Does the program allow diploma and Associate Degree prepared RNs to complete their BSN degree?
  • How does the program cater to Adult/Working Students?
  • Are there options for Fast Track or Accelerated Courses

You may consider asking the schools that you contact about their specific program. Here are a few questions we recommend asking at the absolute minimum:

  1. Are there any requirements for campus residency?
  2. Can you attend class anytime you want – Day, Night Weekends?
  3. Can you earn your BSN degree online while working full time?
  4. How fast will the accelerated courses allow you to complete your degree? 18 months, two years, more?

What to Know About the Online RN to BSN

Online RN to BSN:

  • RN to BSN programs generally take about two years to complete.
  • Some schools allow students to transfer credits from the associate degree program to help them earn the BSN even faster.
  • As part of the educational requirements, BSN students must complete didactic studies and clinical internships and rotations in various areas of nursing.
  • Expect a mix of academic lectures and study-on-your-own homework.

BSN Specialization Tracks

  • RNs may pursue additional education in specialized areas of nursing such as pediatrics, emergency room, trauma, cardiac care, neonatology, geriatrics, and dermatology, among others.
  • If pursuing areas of specialization, the student will complete additional internships in those areas.
  • Although certification may not be required, a BSN degree can enhance the resume and improve employment options.

Nursing Careers

  • The BLS predicts that RNs should see a job growth of 19 percent between 2012 and 2022.
  • As of May 2014, registered nurses nationwide earned an average annual wage of $66,640.
  • Certifications, years of training, employer and geographic location are all factors for income.
  • The BLS reports that medical and surgical hospitals are the industry that employs the largest number of RNs.

Top BSN Nursing Resources

  • National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN)
  • Bureau of Labor Statistics – Registered Nurse
  • American Association of Colleges of Nursing (CCNE)
  • American Council for Education in Nursing(ACEN)

What is the NCLEX?

The National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) is a national examination for licensing for nurses in the United States and Canada. There are two exams – one for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN), and one for professional nurses (NCLEX-PN), and they must be taken upon graduation from nursing school in order to become and practice as a nurse in the healthcare field.

If you are currently an RN looking for a BSN program, you should have passed the NCLEX-RN already. All RN-BSN specific programs require that you have an RN license, as it is a bridge program catered specifically toward RN’s that have their RN license.

According to the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN), in 2012, the average number of questions for each candidate was approximately 119 on the NCLEX-RN specifically, with the exam lasting around 2.5 hours, on average.

The exam uses computer adaptive testing (CAT) to measure core competencies needed for newly licensed nurses. Each of the questions will fall into one of the five steps: assessment, analysis, planning, intervention and implementation, and evaluation.

CAT testing methodologies generally involved providing questions based on your previous answers. The more answers you get correct (or incorrect), the quicker you may finish the exam with less questions. The test will also give you tougher questions if you answered the previous question correctly, getting progressively more difficult as the exam goes on. Likewise, you’ll get easier questions if you get an answer wrong.

The CAT method of testing is adaptive to different answers from different people. More information can be found in the below video.

What Does a Registered Nurse Do?

Nurses play important roles in the healthcare sector. They promote good health, prevent illness and suffering and give a better life to a person. Nurses can work in many industries, including: clinics, hospitals, hospice facilities or homes, schools, retirement homes, and more.

Day to Day Activities Can Include:

  • Providing required medications and intravenous drugs to help patients and prevent patients from further risks
  • Observing and taking records of patients’ conditions and briefing doctors and other members of the health care team about patient’s condition
  • Giving pre and post-operation care
  • Giving emotional support to patients and their families
  • Guiding patients about how to administer medications and physical therapy on their own
  • Counsel patients and public on the disease management, nutritional plans etc
  • Administering junior staffs
  • Teaching student nurses

he most common classifications of nurses are Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), Registered Nurses (RNs), and Advanced Practice Nurses (APRNs).

Typical Qualities of All Nurses:

  1. Caring and sympathetic by nature
  2. Should have excellent teamwork and interpersonal skills
  3. Must have observational skills
  4. Ability to work under pressured situations
  5. Should have verbal and written communication skills
  6. Resilience and Endurance
  7. Ability to convey information properly
  8. Must be an active listener
  9. Service oriented attitude
  10. Ability to think logically and rationally and find out alternative solutions

Tips When Considering an RN-BSN Degree

When searching for the best option for you there are many things to consider. The questions and tips below may help you make a more informed decision.

  • Are you looking for an innovative RN-BSN track that is progressive in nature? Or are you searching for something more traditional?
  • What are you most interested in finding? More specifically do you want something which will lead to a Bachelor of Science in nursing or a Masters in nursing degree?
  • Is speed an issue? Do you want to complete everything as quick as possible? If so make sure to ask each institution how long it will take for completion from beginning to end. Also ask about how much flexibility you have with your classes.
  • Everyone is different, what is best for you may not be best for someone else
  • Use a spreadsheet (or at least a piece of paper or notepad) to prepare questions in advance before you talk with school recruiters/advisors. Indicate on your list which things are most important to you.
  • Do not rule out an online option, check with at least one or two online schools to help you compare both campus based and online degrees. Also check with at least one or two campus based schools for a total minimum of 3-4 different ones.
  • What are your short-term and long-term career goals? Do you want to end up in a management position? Do you want to always work on the patient care side or do you have other aspirations? Now is the time to brain storm to create your list of questions. Do not leave off any question you can think of as you are considering a major investment of money and time which may greatly impact your future career.
  • Do you want to stay in-state or travel out of state? Use our listing on the left to get started with gathering info of which school to contact for more specific information.
  • The benefits of going from RN > BSN > MSN vs RN > MSN may vary. As each person has a different set of circumstances and each persons goals differ there may not really be any best choice in general for everyone which is why it is important for you to find out what will work for you based on your career goals which will ultimately help you make a decision of which option would benefit you more.
  • Do you plan to continue working full-time?
  • Will you need financial aid to help you pay for your education?
  • Are you looking for a convenient and shorter choice or something more traditional?
  • Asking yourself some of the above is a good start, but you should spend at least some time coming up with more questions for your specific goals prior to talking with a school representative.
  • Also consider talking with other students or graduates to find out what to expect and what the difference is between your choices.