Search Programs

2023 Best Online Nursing Degrees

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 8/28/2023

ON THIS PAGE

Overview Types Licensure FAQs
2023 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Nursing Badge

Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare industry. They provide critical care and support to patients in hospitals and medical treatment facilities. There are a variety of specializations to choose from, with a growing number of new jobs expected in the next decade. Online nursing degree programs offer a path for existing Registered Nurses (RNs) to achieve a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). This is a great way to advance your career after you've received your nursing license and generate upward mobility in the healthcare industry. First you'll need to find an RN to BSN online nursing degree that fits your budget, schedule, and career goals.  Some require in-person residencies, while others are accelerated to speed up the learning process. 

View our methodology for more details about rankings or learn more about OnlineU.

2023 Best Online Bachelor's Degrees in Nursing Badge
Find an Online Degree:

Online Nursing Bachelor's Degrees You May Be Interested In


2023 Best Online Nursing Degrees

RankSchool Salary Score Median Starting Salary
# 1 #1 Mercy University 100 100 $115,215
# 2 #2 California State University - Dominguez Hills 95 $102,298
# 3 #3 University of Providence 93 $99,225
# 4 #4 Bay Path University 92 $97,800
# 5 #5 Bushnell University 90 $93,757
# 6 #6 Farmingdale State College 90 $93,684
# 7 #7 California State University - San Marcos 88 $90,827
# 8 #8 University of Phoenix 85 $86,805
# 9 #9 Aspen University 84 $86,104
# 10 #10 National University 84 $85,563

#1 Mercy University

  • Locations: Dobbs Ferry (NY)
  • Annual Tuition: $19,594
  • Acceptance Rate: 79%

Mercy College is a medium-sized nonprofit that offers an online Nursing RN to BS requiring 120 credit hours. The curriculum aims to prepare students for leadership roles in nursing. Some core classes in this major include Leadership and Management and Nursing Informatics. To graduate, students must complete all program requirements including upper level nursing courses and 135 hours of clinical health work, which can take up to two years with a full-time schedule. Graduates of the program may go on to explore careers in research and leadership in the healthcare industry.

At Mercy, students use Blackboard to access their coursework, which is fully online. Online students have access to faculty and advisors.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 96%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $14,228
  • Repayment Rate: 95%
  • Salary Score: 100
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $115,215
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 44%
  • Retention Rate: 77%
  • Recommend Rate: 67%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 486 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 673 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 28 enrolled

#2 California State University - Dominguez Hills

  • Locations: Carson (CA)
  • Annual Tuition: $18,826
  • Acceptance Rate: 54%

California State University - Dominguez Hills (CSUDH) is a large, public institution that offers an online RN to BSN program requiring 120 credit hours. The curriculum delves into professional nursing practices, including core classes that range from Cultural Diversity in Healthcare and Nursing Research Utilization to Community-Based Nursing. Students must complete a two-day health assessment seminar via Zoom and 90 clinical hours. All in all, the degree can be completed in 30 weeks with a full-time schedule. Alumni may enter careers in professional nursing and healthcare leadership roles.

At CSUDH, students use Blackboard to access their online coursework, which is completed asynchronously except some required clinical time. Online students have access to the You CSUDH app, which offers a variety of mental health, community, and academic services.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 92%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $10,198
  • Repayment Rate: N/A
  • Salary Score: 95
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $102,298
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 44%
  • Retention Rate: 77%
  • Recommend Rate: 100%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Public)
  • Undergraduate Online: 701 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 760 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 9 enrolled

#3 University of Providence

  • Locations: Great Falls (MT)
  • Annual Tuition: $26,242
  • Acceptance Rate: 62%

University of Providence (UP) is a small, non-profit institution that offers an online Nursing RN to BSN program requiring 120 credit hours. The curriculum covers a variety of professional skills in nursing. Some core classes include Research Methods and Statistics, Evidence-Based Practice, and Organizational Leadership in Quality and Safety. To graduate, students must complete all program requirements, such as upper-level nursing courses and a mandatory face-to-face program immersion day. Overall, the program can take one year at a full-time pace.

At UP, students use Moodle to access their coursework, which is fully online. Distance learning students have access to digital libraries and career services.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 99%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $16,164
  • Repayment Rate: 91%
  • Salary Score: 93
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $99,225
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 38%
  • Retention Rate: 58%
  • Recommend Rate: N/A
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 336 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 213 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 4 enrolled

#4 Bay Path University

  • Locations: Longmeadow (MA) (and 1 other)
  • Annual Tuition: $35,081
  • Acceptance Rate: 63%

Bay Path University (BPU) is a small nonprofit that offers an online RN to BSN program requiring 120 credit hours. The curriculum teaches the latest skill requirements and technologies in the nursing field. Some core classes include Nursing and Global Diversity and Research for the Nursing Profession. To graduate, students must complete all core nursing course requirements, including an investigative capstone project, which can take 18 to 24 months with a full-time schedule. Graduates typically enter careers as nurse generalists.

At BPU, students use Canvas to access their coursework, which is fully online. Online students have access to learning support services from advisors, professors, and staff.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 95%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $23,904
  • Repayment Rate: 93%
  • Salary Score: 92
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $97,800
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 54%
  • Retention Rate: 68%
  • Recommend Rate: 100%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 870 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 523 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 106 enrolled

#5 Bushnell University

  • Locations: Eugene (OR)
  • Annual Tuition: $31,410
  • Acceptance Rate: 69%

Bushnell University (BU) is a small nonprofit that offers an online RN to BSN program requiring 120 credit hours. The curriculum goes into detail about nursing research, practices, and ethics, with core classes such as Ethics in Nursing, Leadership in Nursing Practice, and Foundations for Lifelong Learning in Nursing. Students must complete all 30 major credits, which includes a nursing capstone project. This degree can take 12 months to finish with a full-time schedule or 20 months with a part-time schedule.

At BU, students use BeaconLearning to access their coursework, which is fully online. Online students have access to career development services.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 100%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $19,633
  • Repayment Rate: N/A
  • Salary Score: 90
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $93,757
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 52%
  • Retention Rate: 70%
  • Recommend Rate: N/A
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 208 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 56 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 24 enrolled

#6 Farmingdale State College

  • Locations: Farmingdale (NY)
  • Annual Tuition: $18,448
  • Acceptance Rate: 59%

Farmingdale State College (FSD) is a medium-sized, public institution that offers an online Nursing RN to BS requiring 120 credit hours. The curriculum equips students with professional nursing skills for a variety of healthcare settings. Some core classes include Art of Nursing in Professional Practice and Health Promotion, and Patient Education. To graduate, students must complete all program requirements, such as applied learning courses and writing intensives, which can take two years with a full-time schedule. Alumni may go on to enter leadership careers in nursing.

At FSD, students use Blackboard to access their coursework, which is fully online. Students have access to an online career center for advice and guidance.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 74%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $8,536
  • Repayment Rate: 92%
  • Salary Score: 90
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $93,684
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 52%
  • Retention Rate: 80%
  • Recommend Rate: N/A
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Public)
  • Undergraduate Online: 308 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 2 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 367 enrolled

#7 California State University - San Marcos

  • Locations: San Marcos (CA)
  • Annual Tuition: $19,597
  • Acceptance Rate: 57%

California State University - San Marcos (CSUSM) is a public university offering an online RN to BSN that requires 120 credit hours. Distance learners can complete this full-time program in 14 months, but it may take longer for some. The university’s acceptance rate is 93%, with 66% graduating on average.

CSUSM facilitates asynchronous and synchronous online learning on Moodle, the learning management system. The accelerated RN to BSN program is designed for registered nurses. Sample online courses are Nursing Care of the Childbearing Family, Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, and Community Health Nursing. Graduates may go on to pursue careers like health policy nurses, case management nurses, and public health nurses.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 81%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $9,138
  • Repayment Rate: 94%
  • Salary Score: 88
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $90,827
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 54%
  • Retention Rate: 79%
  • Recommend Rate: N/A
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Public)
  • Undergraduate Online: 446 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 122 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 24 enrolled

#8 University of Phoenix

  • Locations: Nationwide
  • Annual Tuition: $9,552
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A

The University of Phoenix is a private, for-profit institution that offers an online RN to BSN totaling 120 credit hours. It takes full-time students approximately 14 months, or sometimes more, to complete the program. Phoenix’s acceptance rate is 100% due to its open admissions policy, and it has a graduation rate of 27%.

At Phoenix, online students complete coursework asynchronously on the platform Blackboard. The online nursing program provides the flexibility to balance family, work, and school. Some of the program’s courses include Promoting Healthy Communities, Health Information Technology for Nursing, and Influencing Quality within Healthcare. Students are also required to complete a senior leadership practicum. Prospective careers include charge nurses, travel nurses, and nurse supervisors.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 81%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $5,697
  • Repayment Rate: N/A
  • Salary Score: 85
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $86,805
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 15%
  • Retention Rate: 38%
  • Recommend Rate: 60%
  • School Type: For Profit
  • Undergraduate Online: 72,096 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 21,942 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 3,113 enrolled

#9 Aspen University

  • Locations: Denver (CO)
  • Annual Tuition: $3,920
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A

Aspen University is a private, for-profit institution that provides an online RN to BSN, equaling 120 credit hours. Prospective students can expect to complete this program in around 12 months if they maintain a full class schedule. Aspen accepts 100% of applicants, with 46% graduating.

Aspen’s remote students complete coursework available in asynchronous formats on D2L Brightspace. This program is for students wanting to advance their nursing careers. Example courses include Informatics in Healthcare, Nursing Leadership and Management, and Healthcare Policy and Economics. Potential career options for graduates are legal nurse consultants, pharmaceutical nurses, and hospice nurses.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: N/A
  • Avg. Aid Package: $2,784
  • Repayment Rate: 97%
  • Salary Score: 84
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $86,104
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 0%
  • Retention Rate: 80%
  • Recommend Rate: 80%
  • School Type: For Profit
  • Undergraduate Online: 4,413 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 2,356 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 26 enrolled

#10 National University

  • Locations: Multiple Locations
  • Annual Tuition: $13,320
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A

At National University (NU) — a private nonprofit university — future students can pursue an online RN to BSN, totaling 180 quarter units. Students can complete this program within 11 months. Even though NU’s acceptance rate is somewhat competitive at 55%, it still has a rather low graduation rate of 36%.

NU facilitates asynchronous and synchronous online learning on Blackboard. An RN to BSN program prepares students to perform more tasks and hold more career autonomy. The program’s courses are Healthy Aging, Health Education & Promotion, and Cross-Cultural Communication. Students must take practicums to graduate. Alums may pursue careers like nurse case managers, pediatric nurses, and nurse educators.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 33%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $1,666
  • Repayment Rate: 93%
  • Salary Score: 84
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $85,563
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 29%
  • Retention Rate: 50%
  • Recommend Rate: 47%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 1,849 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 4,165 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 164 enrolled

#11 Kean University

  • Locations: Union (NJ)
  • Annual Tuition: $19,771
  • Acceptance Rate: 82%

Kean University is a public institution offering an online RN to BSN that requires 120 credit hours. It can take between one to four years to complete this program. Kean’s acceptance rate is 79%, and it currently holds a 59% graduation rate.

Kean’s distance learners complete coursework on Canvas, which is delivered in asynchronous formats. This means that students can learn at their own pace. The online RN to BSN degree program gives registered nurses the skills and knowledge to pursue more advanced nursing careers after taking courses, such as Issues in Professional Nursing Practice, Health Assessment, and Population-Focused Nursing in the Community. Graduates may go on to become nurse supervisors, forensic nurses, and nurse health coaches, to name a few options.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 92%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $8,181
  • Repayment Rate: 90%
  • Salary Score: 82
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $83,745
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 47%
  • Retention Rate: 74%
  • Recommend Rate: 33%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Public)
  • Undergraduate Online: 552 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 90 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 6 enrolled

#12 Linfield University - Online and Continuing Education

  • Locations: McMinnville (OR)
  • Annual Tuition: $13,365
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A

Linfield University - Online and Continuing Education is a private, nonprofit institution that offers an online RN to BSN equaling 125 credit hours. This part-time program can be finished within one to four years. The university has a 72% graduation rate.

Linfield facilitates asynchronous and synchronous online learning via Blackboard. The program includes a community-centered curriculum to help registered nurses become community leaders. Sample courses include Evidence-Based Nursing, Transition to Professional Practice, and Nursing Care of Communities and Populations. Integrated experiential learning is required to complete this program. Prospective careers include nurse educators, nurse informaticists, and charge nurses.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: N/A
  • Avg. Aid Package: N/A
  • Repayment Rate: N/A
  • Salary Score: 81
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $83,056
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: N/A
  • Retention Rate: N/A
  • Recommend Rate: N/A
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 215 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 23 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 1 enrolled

#13 Thomas Edison State University

  • Locations: Trenton (NJ)
  • Annual Tuition: $9,856
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A

Thomas Edison State University (TESU) is a public institution offering an online RN to BSN totaling 120 credit hours. The program can be completed in as little as 15 months. TESU’s acceptance rate is 100%, with a graduation rate of 45%.

At TESU, online students complete coursework delivered asynchronously and synchronously on Moodle. This program gives students the education needed to pursue advanced nursing careers or an MSN. The program’s courses include Health Policy, Nursing Informatics: Concepts and Issues, and Financial Management for Nursing Practice. Potential career options for graduates include nurse supervisors, public health nurses, and health policy nurses.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: N/A
  • Avg. Aid Package: N/A
  • Repayment Rate: 95%
  • Salary Score: 81
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $82,105
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: N/A
  • Retention Rate: N/A
  • Recommend Rate: 57%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Public)
  • Undergraduate Online: 9,475 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 655 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 219 enrolled

#14 California State University - Bakersfield

  • Locations: Bakersfield (CA)
  • Annual Tuition: $19,299
  • Acceptance Rate: 61%

California State University - Bakersfield (CSUB) is a public institution that has an online RN to BSN totaling 120 credit hours. Full-time students can expect to spend at least four years completing this program. The university accepts 85% of applicants, with 58% graduating.

CSUB’s online students complete coursework on Canvas, with classes available in asynchronous and synchronous formats. An RN to BSN gives students the skills and knowledge to pursue leadership roles in the field of nursing. Sample courses include Pathophysiology, Healthcare Ethics, and Community & Public Health Nursing. In addition to online classwork, an on-campus orientation day, 135 hours of onsite clinical in Community Health, a capstone project, and a special leadership are required. Graduates may go on to careers like nurse educators, chief nursing officers, and nurse administrators.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 90%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $10,599
  • Repayment Rate: N/A
  • Salary Score: 80
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $81,247
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 43%
  • Retention Rate: 77%
  • Recommend Rate: 100%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Public)
  • Undergraduate Online: 376 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 249 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 23 enrolled

#15 California Baptist University

  • Locations: Riverside (CA)
  • Annual Tuition: $34,882
  • Acceptance Rate: 77%

At California Baptist University (CBU) — a Christian, private, and nonprofit university — prospective students can pursue an online RN to BSN, equaling 124 credit hours. Future students can expect to spend 12 months or more finishing this nursing program online. CBU’s acceptance rate is 64%, with a graduation rate of 61%.

CBU facilitates synchronous online learning on Blackboard. This program offers two pathways: (1) Bridge (Licensed RN) and (2) Accelerated (Current ADN Students). Some of the program’s courses include Health Assessment and Promotion, Christian Leadership in Nursing, and Community and Public Health Nursing. Students must complete a practicum to graduate. Prospective careers include travel nurses, emergency room nurses, and legal nurse consultants.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 98%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $23,267
  • Repayment Rate: N/A
  • Salary Score: 78
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $79,565
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 63%
  • Retention Rate: 78%
  • Recommend Rate: 80%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 1,643 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 692 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 7 enrolled

#16 SUNY Empire State University

  • Locations: Saratoga Springs (NY)
  • Annual Tuition: $17,515
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A

SUNY Empire State University is a public institution that offers an online RN to BSN requiring 124 credit hours. It can take 10 months or more to complete this program, depending on transferable credits. The university has an open admissions policy and accepts 100% of applicants, with 47% of its students graduating.

At SUNY Empire, online students complete coursework available asynchronously and synchronously on D2L Brightspace. This program is designed for registered nurses seeking leadership positions. Example courses include Health Assessment, Pharmacology, and Nursing Informatics. A supervised practice experience in community health and leadership is required. Potential careers for graduates include nurse informaticists, charge nurses, and nurse case managers.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 89%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $8,227
  • Repayment Rate: N/A
  • Salary Score: 77
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $78,762
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 24%
  • Retention Rate: 52%
  • Recommend Rate: 62%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Public)
  • Undergraduate Online: 3,754 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 1,145 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 669 enrolled

#17 University of Maryland Global Campus

  • Locations: Adelphi (MD)
  • Annual Tuition: $12,336
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A

The University of Maryland Global Campus (UMGC) is a public institution offering an online RN to BSN, which equals 120 credit hours. Prospective students can expect to spend around four years completing this program. UMGC’s acceptance rate is 100%, and it maintains a 30% graduation rate.

UMGC’s online students complete coursework delivered asynchronously on D2L Brightspace. The program’s curriculum is a combination of real-world applications and nursing theories. The program’s courses include Global Health Issues, Advocacy and Politics in Nursing, and Informatics and Technology in Nursing Practice. Graduates may go on to careers like nurse supervisors, pharmaceutical nurses, and nursing directors.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 46%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $4,663
  • Repayment Rate: 91%
  • Salary Score: 77
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $78,682
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 15%
  • Retention Rate: 52%
  • Recommend Rate: 58%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Public)
  • Undergraduate Online: 35,971 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 10,876 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 1,539 enrolled

#18 Excelsior University

  • Locations: Albany (NY)
  • Annual Tuition: $0
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A

Excelsior University is a private, nonprofit university with an online RN to BSN totaling 121 credit hours. Full-time students can finish this program in approximately four years. The university’s acceptance rate is 100%, with a graduation rate of 33%.

Excelsior's online students complete courses asynchronously and synchronously through the learning management system Canvas. The online nursing bachelor's program builds on students’ prior knowledge to prepare them for graduate school or advanced nursing careers. Some of the program’s courses are Leadership and Management in Nursing, Teaching and Learning in a Diverse Society, and Research in Nursing. A nursing capstone is required for graduation. Potential career options for graduates include school nurses, bedside registered nurses, and emergency room nurses.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: N/A
  • Avg. Aid Package: N/A
  • Repayment Rate: 96%
  • Salary Score: 76
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $77,505
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: N/A
  • Retention Rate: N/A
  • Recommend Rate: 63%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 22,674 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 2,571 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: N/A

#19 Rowan University

  • Locations: Glassboro (NJ)
  • Annual Tuition: $22,832
  • Acceptance Rate: 69%

At Rowan University, a public institution, prospective students can pursue an online RN to BSN, which requires 120 credit hours. Students can complete this program within four years. The university’s acceptance rate is 84%, with a 76% graduation rate.

Rowan facilitates asynchronous and synchronous online learning on Canvas. The program allows students to acquire a BSN while continuing their careers. Online nursing students can take the following courses: Pharmacology of Nursing, Nursing Care Delivery Systems, and Community Health Nursing. A mandatory nursing exit survey is also required for graduation. Prospective careers for graduates include nurse supervisors, public health nurses, and charge nurses.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 86%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $9,952
  • Repayment Rate: 95%
  • Salary Score: 76
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $77,478
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 73%
  • Retention Rate: 83%
  • Recommend Rate: 100%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Public)
  • Undergraduate Online: 570 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 1,083 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 25 enrolled

#20 American Sentinel College of Nursing & Health Sciences at Post University

  • Locations: Aurora (CO)
  • Annual Tuition: $6,840
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A

American Sentinel College of Nursing & Health Sciences at Post University is a private, for-profit institution that offers two online RN to BSN programs: (1) an RN to BSN (Competency-Based) and (2) an RN to BSN (Term-Based). Both degree programs are online and total 120 credit hours each. It can take four years to finish either RN to BSN program, and the university has a graduation rate of 66%.

Post’s online students complete courses asynchronously and synchronously on Blackboard. These RN to BSN programs help professional nurses advance their careers. Sample courses include Developing Nursing Practice, Case Management, and Leadership and Strategic Planning. Students must also complete a capstone project to graduate. Potential career options for graduates include public health nurses, case management nurses, and charge nurses.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: N/A
  • Avg. Aid Package: N/A
  • Repayment Rate: 100%
  • Salary Score: 76
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $77,305
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 0%
  • Retention Rate: N/A
  • Recommend Rate: 68%
  • School Type: For Profit
  • Undergraduate Online: 1,420 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 1,304 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: N/A

#21 SUNY College of Technology at Delhi

  • Locations: Delhi (NY)
  • Annual Tuition: $12,330
  • Acceptance Rate: 62%

At SUNY College of Technology at Delhi (SUNY Delhi), a public university, prospective students can pursue an online RN to BSN, equaling 122 credit hours. Full-time students can complete this program within four years. SUNY Delhi’s acceptance rate is 88%, and it has a graduation rate of 54%.

SUNY Delhi facilitates asynchronous online learning on D2L Brightspace. This program’s curriculum focuses on critical thinking to help students develop leadership skills, with courses that include Health Promotion, Ethics in Healthcare, and Epidemiology. Additionally, a senior practicum is required to complete this program. Then, graduates may go on to enter careers like forensic nurses, staff nurses, and nurse case managers.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 91%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $9,271
  • Repayment Rate: N/A
  • Salary Score: 75
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $77,244
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 48%
  • Retention Rate: 73%
  • Recommend Rate: 67%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Public)
  • Undergraduate Online: 721 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 87 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 13 enrolled

#22 American Public University System

  • Locations: Charles Town (WV)
  • Annual Tuition: $7,324
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A

American Public University System (APUS) is a private, for-profit university offering an online RN to BSN totaling 120 credit hours. Prospective students can complete this program in four years, but some take longer. APUS’s acceptance rate is 100%, with a lower-than-average graduation rate of 18%.

Online students at APUS complete coursework asynchronously and synchronously via D2L Brightspace. An RN to BSN at APUS prepares students to assume nurse leadership roles. Example courses include Caring for Today’s Veterans, Emerging Scholarship and Trends in Healthcare, and Pathophysiology and Clinical Pharmacology. Students must take a senior seminar in nursing studies. Prospective careers for graduates are staff nurses, nurse case managers, and public health nurses.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 100%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $5,493
  • Repayment Rate: 87%
  • Salary Score: 72
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $74,655
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 40%
  • Retention Rate: 87%
  • Recommend Rate: 69%
  • School Type: For Profit
  • Undergraduate Online: 37,335 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 7,914 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 1,816 enrolled

#23 Western Governors University

  • Locations: Salt Lake City (UT)
  • Annual Tuition: $6,670
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A

Western Governors University (WGU) is a private, nonprofit institution with an online RN to BSN requiring 23 courses. Students can finish this program in approximately 24 months, but some may take longer if they do not maintain a full-time schedule throughout the program. The university accepts all who apply, and over half (54%) of enrolled students earn degrees.

WGU facilitates asynchronous and synchronous online learning. This program provides the flexibility nurses need to balance work and school. The program’s courses are Global and Population Health, Information Technology in Nursing, and Emerging Professional Practice. A capstone course and fieldwork experience is required for graduation. Graduates may pursue careers like case management nurses, home health nurses, and school nurses.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 72%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $5,369
  • Repayment Rate: 93%
  • Salary Score: 72
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $74,342
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 21%
  • Retention Rate: 73%
  • Recommend Rate: 70%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 98,630 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 37,509 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: N/A

#24 Capella University

  • Locations: Minneapolis (MN)
  • Annual Tuition: $14,540
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A

Capella University is a private, for-profit institution where future students can pursue an online RN to BSN requiring 180 quarter credits. Prospective students can expect to spend four years finishing this program. The acceptance rate at Capella is 100%, and the graduation rate is fairly low at 21%.

At Capella, online students complete coursework asynchronously and synchronously on the platform Blackboard. This program is designed for working nurses seeking an accredited nursing degree online. Some of the program’s courses include Improving Quality of Care and Patient Safety, Making Evidence-Based Decisions, and Managing Health Information and Technology. Students must also complete a capstone project before they can graduate. Potential career options for alumni include staff nurses, charge nurses, and nurse supervisors.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 100%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $3,760
  • Repayment Rate: 87%
  • Salary Score: 72
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $74,251
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 0%
  • Retention Rate: 40%
  • Recommend Rate: 62%
  • School Type: For Profit
  • Undergraduate Online: 10,503 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 27,356 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 8 enrolled

#25 University of Hawaii at Manoa

  • Locations: Honolulu (HI)
  • Annual Tuition: $34,218
  • Acceptance Rate: 83%

The University of Hawaii at Manoa (UH Manoa) is a public university offering an online RN to BSN, which equals 120 credit hours. It can take four years to complete this program with a full class schedule. UH Manoa’s acceptance rate is 70%, and it has a 63% graduation rate.

UH Manoa facilitates asynchronous and synchronous online learning on Laulima. This degree gives students the knowledge and skills to advance their nursing careers, with courses like the following examples: Population Health Nursing, Complex Nursing and Leadership, and Principles of Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice. In addition to finishing coursework online, a lab, portfolio, or previous RN work experience is required for graduation. Prospective careers include nurse case managers, public health nurses, and forensic nurses.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 77%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $7,373
  • Repayment Rate: N/A
  • Salary Score: 71
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $73,721
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 61%
  • Retention Rate: 81%
  • Recommend Rate: N/A
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Public)
  • Undergraduate Online: 370 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 453 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 119 enrolled

#26 Miami Dade College

  • Locations: Miami (FL) (and 1 other)
  • Annual Tuition: $9,661
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A

Miami Dade College (MDC) is a public institution that offers an online RN to BSN totaling 125 credit hours. This program can be finished online in around 18 months, but it can take some students longer to finish. The college accepts all applicants who turn in required materials, with 36% of enrolled students graduating.

At MDC, online students complete coursework available on Canvas in asynchronous and synchronous formats. This program offers three tracks, which include (1) Pre-Select, (2) Full-Time, and (3) Part-Time. The program’s courses include Transition to Professional Nursing, Globalization of Nursing Practice, and Culture in Nursing Practice. Students must also complete in-person clinical hours to graduate and enter a range of careers, like school nurses, nurse educators, and nurse directors.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 84%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $6,027
  • Repayment Rate: 88%
  • Salary Score: 71
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $73,541
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 33%
  • Retention Rate: N/A
  • Recommend Rate: N/A
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Public)
  • Undergraduate Online: 3,507 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: N/A
  • Certificate Online: 1,425 enrolled

#27 New Mexico Highlands University

  • Locations: Las Vegas (NM)
  • Annual Tuition: $10,590
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A

New Mexico Highlands University (NMHU) is a public institution in Las Vegas, and it is a Hispanic-Serving Institution. It offers a CCNE-Accredited online RN to BSN degree. This online degree program requires 120 credit hours and takes 14 months to complete, with an estimate of 6-9 hours per week. NMHU has an open admissions policy, which means all prospective students who apply are accepted. Perhaps due to this 100% acceptance rate, the graduation rate is somewhat lower than average at 42%.

To accommodate students who are continuing nursing careers while working on their degrees, courses are asynchronous to allow for a flexible pace of completion. No in-person components are required for the RN to BSN program because it is 100% online. Upon enrollment, students gain access to various courses covering topics such as cultural competency in health care, community health nursing, and evidence-based health assessment.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 95%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $7,532
  • Repayment Rate: 84%
  • Salary Score: 70
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $73,248
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 22%
  • Retention Rate: 55%
  • Recommend Rate: N/A
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Public)
  • Undergraduate Online: 428 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 392 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 50 enrolled

#28 University of Alaska Anchorage

  • Locations: Anchorage (AK)
  • Annual Tuition: $28,084
  • Acceptance Rate: 71%

The online RN to BSN program offered by the public University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) School of Nursing is a 120-credit program that provides registered professional nurses currently licensed in Alaska with a flexible and convenient pathway to obtain their Bachelor of Science in Nursing. Times to complete vary, but it is possible to complete all courses for the program in 16 months. Overall, UAA accepts 69% of applicants, and 34% of enrolled students successfully earn their degrees.

The online nursing curriculum encompasses a wide array of subjects, including management in nursing, technology and nursing informatics, and nursing research. Some of the virtual courses are live-streamed, so this requires a set schedule. Additionally, clinical hours are completed in the student's community with a local preceptor when available. When this cannot be achieved, the student may have to travel to Anchorage for up to 9 weeks total on three separate occasions.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 82%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $7,055
  • Repayment Rate: 88%
  • Salary Score: 70
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $73,122
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 29%
  • Retention Rate: 66%
  • Recommend Rate: 100%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 2,401 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 375 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 2,509 enrolled

#29 Wilmington University

  • Locations: New Castle (DE)
  • Annual Tuition: $11,480
  • Acceptance Rate: N/A

Wilmington University (WilmU) is a private, nonprofit institution offering an online RN to BSN program. This degree can be completed on either a full-time or part-time schedule, typically taking most RNs with an associate degree around 18 months. WilmU has an open admissions policy, accepting all students, and 45% of enrolled students earn their degrees. A dual-credit BSN to MSN option is also available that allows students to complete credits towards an MSN degree that they can continue onto after completing their BSN.

WilmU's online nursing program's curriculum emphasizes the modern complexities of the healthcare environment, helping prepare students to service diverse health needs. Some example courses include Chronic and Palliative Care, Health Equity & Inclusion In Nursing Practice, and Leadership in Nursing Practice. Additionally, a senior capstone project is required called Community and Population Health.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 63%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $4,475
  • Repayment Rate: N/A
  • Salary Score: 70
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $72,946
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 21%
  • Retention Rate: 60%
  • Recommend Rate: 100%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 5,064 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 3,291 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 72 enrolled

#30 Southern New Hampshire University Online

  • Locations: Manchester (NH)
  • Annual Tuition: $9,600
  • Acceptance Rate: 78%

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) is a private, nonprofit institution offering a flexible online pathway for students seeking to obtain their Bachelor of Science in Nursing through the RN to BSN program. The degree requires a total of 120 credits. Students can also choose to transition into the online RN to MSN pathway and save 2.5 months of time in completing an MSN degree. SNHU has a very high acceptance rate of 92%, but only 36% of students enrolled make it to graduation on average.

Classes take place in cloud-based virtual environments, and they are asynchronous, with no set class meeting times. The coursework for the online nursing program at SNHU involves safety, communication, and strategies to encourage lifelong learning in the industry. Some example classes include Ethical and Legal Considerations of Healthcare, Healthcare Management and Finance, and Systems Leadership for Continuous Quality. Additionally, a capstone course is required in order to graduate.

  • Financial Aid Recipients: 77%
  • Avg. Aid Package: $10,243
  • Repayment Rate: 93%
  • Salary Score: 70
  • Avg. Starting Salary: $72,753
  • Avg. Graduation Rate: 44%
  • Retention Rate: 65%
  • Recommend Rate: 62%
  • School Type: Nonprofit (Private)
  • Undergraduate Online: 86,849 enrolled
  • Graduate Online: 19,526 enrolled
  • Certificate Online: 877 enrolled
Find an Online Degree:

Overview of Online Nursing Bachelor's Degrees

Nursing is one of the most popular majors, and hundreds of schools now offer nursing degree programs virtually. Students typically learn to assess health conditions, develop comprehensive care plans, educate patients and the public about health, monitor admissions and discharges, and supervise staff.

Some programs have concentrations so students can tailor their studies to a focused area of practice, such as family medicine, pediatrics, geriatrics, hospice, or public health.

Online nursing programs require students to complete much of their coursework remotely and then engage in on-site clinical practice activities at approved healthcare facilities near their homes.

Which Nursing Level Is Best for Me?

The best type of nursing degree depends on which type of nurse a student wants to become. Those who are eager to enter the workforce may want to consider becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or licensed vocational nurse (LVN). Students can enter these careers with only a nursing certificate or diploma, which typically takes one year to achieve.

For those who want to become registered nurses — taking on more responsibility and earning higher salaries than LPNS and LVNs — a two-year associate degree in nursing may be a better choice. Generally speaking, a nurse's earnings increase with their level of education, so a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing may be the best option for some. The most common online nursing programs are RN-to-BSN programs for RNs who have earned either a certificate or an associate degree and now want to complete a bachelor's degree in nursing. However, there are also online BSN programs for students who are not yet RNs and have no previous nursing education.

Nursing Classes

BSN programs prepare students for professional nursing practice. Coursework helps students develop skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, research, education, and leadership.

Some classes will involve hands-on, experiential learning activities, and most nursing programs online require a practicum in which students work in a supervised healthcare setting to gain a required number of clinical hours.

Some of the most common nursing courses include those below.

Community Health

In this course, students learn how to care for individuals, families, groups, and high-risk populations in community health settings. They learn to care for patients of all ages by recognizing physical, psychological, social, and cultural needs in order to provide interventions as needed. The course often requires hands-on application of concepts as students work in various community health environments.

Evidence-based Practice

This course provides nursing students with a systematic process for using current evidence and data to make decisions about patient care. Students learn how to research health literature, identify relevant qualitative and quantitative data, and analyze this information to make informed decisions.

Health Assessment, Education, and Promotion

Students transition to a higher level of nursing practice in this course, where they learn to conduct a comprehensive physical examination, including collecting, organizing, interpreting, and recording patient data. They also explore the role of nurses as educators by learning to use health education and promotion strategies and to overcome patients' barriers to change.

Health Informatics

Health informatics faculty introduce students to the latest information technology used in nursing practice. Students will use these tools to communicate data and other knowledge to inform patients and work with them to manage their care.

Types of Nursing Bachelor's Degrees

There are two main types of online bachelor's programs in nursing: direct-entry BSN, RN to BSN, and second-degree BSN. Each degree combines information-based classes with on-site clinical experience. Many online nursing programs also come with an accelerated option.

The table below highlights typical prerequisites, the average time to completion, and additional links for each degree.

Degree Type Typical Prerequisites Average Time to Complete
Direct-entry BSN High school diploma Four years
RN to BSN RN license One to two years
Second-Degree BSN Non-nursing bachelor's degree Two to three years

Bridge Programs

Online nursing bridge programs may help nurses with existing credentials gain a higher degree in less time. For bachelor's students, the relevant program is the RN-to-BSN path. These programs usually require one year of work as an RN, but some programs allow students to submit an essay on nursing topics instead.

Bridge programs also generally require that nurses transfer 60 credits of general education and nursing courses. Applicants must have completed foundational courses in physical sciences, math, social sciences, and humanities.

Accelerated Nursing Programs

Accelerated and second-degree programs might help students to graduate college early by giving credit for previous experience or letting them take more classes in less time. Second-degree programs in nursing are designed for students who already have a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing area.

Accelerated programs are intensive and generally have high admissions standards.


Most second-degree programs in nursing advise incoming students not to hold a job while completing the program, as the coursework and clinical practicums are very demanding.


Nursing Degrees by State

To learn about online nursing programs and requirements in other states, explore our list of accredited nursing degrees by state below.

Nursing Degrees by State

Cost of an Online BSN Degree

The median annual tuition for an online bachelor's degree in nursing is $12,601, according to our analysis of 360 schools.

Future nurses who opt for online nursing schools may save some money in the process. All students pay charges that vary by institution — such as facility fees or book and supply costs — but online students usually don't need to pay for room and board or other campus-based fees. At some public schools, virtual learners pay the same lower tuition rate as in-state students. Additionally, online nursing students may need to pay for transportation to the healthcare facilities where they gain clinical experience, although these costs are usually minimal because the chosen facilities are generally near students' homes.

To practice nursing, graduates must have a license, and there are several fees involved in obtaining and maintaining a nursing license. Application fees vary widely by state, and the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) certification exam fee is $200. Licensed nurses must also pay a renewal fee periodically, usually every two years.

In addition to the up-front cost of a nursing degree through tuition and related fees, students should consider the payoff after finishing their program. To help with this, we've provided the online schools with the highest alumni salaries in the rankings list above.

How to Choose an Online Nursing Program

Career goals, specialization, and relevant experience will dictate which online nursing programs may suit you best. You'll need to decide how far you want to go with your career and what your plans are for the future. Once determined, you can start looking at specific schools and programs and what they have to offer that will help you meet your goals.

Below are some other factors to consider when choosing an online nursing program.

Accreditation

Accreditation ensures program curriculum, faculty, and learning outcomes meet state and national standards and is necessary for licensure. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) programmatically accredits many traditional bachelor's and master's programs, and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) accredits those online. Either is accepted for licensure. The US Department of Education can help identify accredited nursing programs.

Cost

It's important to choose an affordable program that meets educational and career goals while mitigating any student debt that you may incur. Earning transfer credits at a community college can help save money. Along with federal financial aid, students often choose to apply for private scholarships to help offset costs. You might also consider the costs associated with obtaining and maintaining a nursing license.

Degree Level

Students should pick the level appropriate to their background and career goals. It may help to look at several careers to note the degree requirements and research employers of interest to find out what they specifically want in a healthcare worker.

Exam Pass Rates

The NCLEX was developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) as a way for nursing graduates to prove competency and earn state licenses. Most schools post NCLEX pass rates on their websites, allowing students to gauge the quality of their nursing programs by how many students pass on the first try.

Support for Online Learners

It can be challenging to complete a nursing program online without staff and faculty nearby. Therefore, it's essential to consider what kind of support for online students is available. For example, schools may offer writing and tutorial services online, library services and access to librarians, tech support, and opportunities to engage with other students through online clubs and associations. It's also important to ask about the best way to contact faculty and how quickly they typically respond.

Nursing Careers

Graduates can become registered nurses with a nursing certificate, associate degree, or bachelor's degree. This career pays median annual wages of $77,600 and features a 6% growth rate in new jobs through 2031.

Online BSN programs typically prepare students to pass their nursing certifications, including the NCLEX exam, and to obtain a license to practice nursing. Each nursing degree option also opens the door to different specializations. Prospective nurses who want to pursue a particular area of focus should pick a program that allows them to reach their desired level of specialization. We've listed a few specializations below.

Cardiac Care Nurse

These heart specialists provide care to patients during hospital or outpatient stays, including monitoring ongoing cardiac conditions. A large part of their work involves educating patients on the best ways to take care of themselves. RNs typically need one of several specialty certifications to find work as cardiac care nurses.

Geriatric Nurse

Geriatric nurses specialize in working with older adults. They perform assessments, administer medications, and prepare and update nursing plans for their patients, among other tasks. RNs can become geriatric nurses with only an associate degree, but some states require a BSN and possibly additional certification.

Pediatric Nurse

Pediatric nurses are RNs who work with children. They provide routine check-ups, administer medications and immunizations, and conduct screenings for developmental conditions. Many states require pediatric nurses to have a BSN, and some require them to obtain special certification in addition to their nursing licenses.

We've put together guides to popular nursing jobs, which you can explore for more information.

Licensure

How Do I Get a Nursing License?

To legally practice as a nurse, all nursing candidates in the U.S. must first graduate from an accredited nursing program. They must then apply for an RN nursing license from their state nursing board, which requires passing the NCLEX, administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

There are two types of examinations — the NCLEX-RN, which is for registered nurses, and the NCLEX-PN, which is for practical nurses. The tests are designed to ensure that nursing professionals have the appropriate healthcare and professional knowledge before they begin working with patients and handling sensitive healthcare information. Nursing students can find more details about the contents of the exams on the NCSBN website.

In addition to passing the appropriate NCLEX exam, nursing candidates must meet their state's board of nursing requirements to obtain licensure. Some states also require licensed nurses to complete continuing education hours during each license renewal period to demonstrate their knowledge and update their skills. Students can check with their state board to learn more about their specific licensing requirements.

What Are the Requirements for Renewing a Nursing License?

Requirements for renewing a nursing license vary by state, but in most cases, nursing licenses need to be renewed once every two years. Some states set a specific deadline for renewal, such as the nurse's birthday.

Almost every state requires nurses to complete a documented number of continuing education hours, called CEUs or "contact hours," in order to maintain their licenses. The number of contact hours required may vary depending on whether the nurse works full or part time. If a license lapses, delinquency fees may occur. However, fees can be avoided if nurses request to have their licenses put on inactive status during their time away from work.

Approximately two-thirds of the states in the U.S. have entered into the Nurse Licensure Compact. This interstate agreement allows nurses who qualify for the multistate license to practice on-site nursing, telenursing, and nursing education in any of the states in the NLC without obtaining separate licenses for each state.

Is an Online Bachelor's in Nursing Degree Worth It?

A bachelor's degree in nursing can open up many career opportunities. However, there are some specific advantages and disadvantages students may want to explore when deciding whether to pursue a BSN, particularly through distance learning.

Potential Benefits

  • This degree has the potential to pay off in terms of salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary is $77,600 for RNs with bachelor's degrees, as compared to licensed nurses with associate degrees who earn a median annual salary of $48,070.
  • The BLS predicts that about 195,400 new jobs for registered nurses will emerge over the 2021-2031 period, and a bachelor's degree could help make graduates more competitive in the job market.
  • Earning a BSN online allows students to choose from a broader range of schools without moving to a new location. It also means that they can complete coursework on their own schedules and fulfill requirements for clinical hours at healthcare facilities close to home.

Potential Drawbacks

  • A BSN requires two additional years of education beyond an associate nursing degree, which means a higher cost for the degree and more time out of the workforce are required.
  • As with other distance-learning programs, some online nursing students may feel somewhat disconnected from their peers, and they may not always reap the rewards of sharing information and experiences with classmates, which often occurs within the classroom environment.
  • Some nursing jobs require long shifts during nontraditional hours, especially when working in a hospital or emergency care environment. Aspiring nurses who want a more traditional work schedule may prefer a career in a physician's office.

FAQs About BSN Degrees

How Long Will It Take to Earn My Degree?


It depends on how much nursing education you already have. If you have an associate degree in nursing (ADN), you might finish an RN-to-BSN program in 1-2 years. Administrators design traditional BSN programs to take four years with a full-time schedule, but most college students take more than four years to finish.

Can You Get a Nursing Degree Online?


Many colleges offer fully online nursing degrees at all levels, including the bachelor's level. However, each program requires a certain amount of clinical experience hours in a healthcare facility.

Are Online Nursing Degrees Legitimate?


Accredited online colleges are legitimate — not to mention increasingly respected — so make sure to only consider schools with institutional accreditation. These institutions work to ensure that their online programs feature the same level of quality as on-campus offerings.

Is Nursing a Good Career?


Although everyone's criteria differ, nursing is a stable, relatively high-paying occupation compared to many others. RNs' median annual salary is about $32,000 more per year than the median salary for all jobs combined, which is $45,760. The job outlook is average for RNs, but more advanced nursing roles are experiencing blazing-fast growth, so it might be worth considering a graduate degree in nursing.

Overview of Online Nursing Bachelor's Degrees

Nursing is one of the most popular majors, and hundreds of schools now offer nursing degree programs virtually. Students typically learn to assess health conditions, develop comprehensive care plans, educate patients and the public about health, monitor admissions and discharges, and supervise staff.

Some programs have concentrations so students can tailor their studies to a focused area of practice, such as family medicine, pediatrics, geriatrics, hospice, or public health.

Online nursing programs require students to complete much of their coursework remotely and then engage in on-site clinical practice activities at approved healthcare facilities near their homes.

Which Nursing Level Is Best for Me?

The best type of nursing degree depends on which type of nurse a student wants to become. Those who are eager to enter the workforce may want to consider becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or licensed vocational nurse (LVN). Students can enter these careers with only a nursing certificate or diploma, which typically takes one year to achieve.

For those who want to become registered nurses — taking on more responsibility and earning higher salaries than LPNS and LVNs — a two-year associate degree in nursing may be a better choice. Generally speaking, a nurse's earnings increase with their level of education, so a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing may be the best option for some. The most common online nursing programs are RN-to-BSN programs for RNs who have earned either a certificate or an associate degree and now want to complete a bachelor's degree in nursing. However, there are also online BSN programs for students who are not yet RNs and have no previous nursing education.

Nursing Classes

BSN programs prepare students for professional nursing practice. Coursework helps students develop skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, research, education, and leadership.

Some classes will involve hands-on, experiential learning activities, and most nursing programs online require a practicum in which students work in a supervised healthcare setting to gain a required number of clinical hours.

Some of the most common nursing courses include those below.

Community Health

In this course, students learn how to care for individuals, families, groups, and high-risk populations in community health settings. They learn to care for patients of all ages by recognizing physical, psychological, social, and cultural needs in order to provide interventions as needed. The course often requires hands-on application of concepts as students work in various community health environments.

Evidence-based Practice

This course provides nursing students with a systematic process for using current evidence and data to make decisions about patient care. Students learn how to research health literature, identify relevant qualitative and quantitative data, and analyze this information to make informed decisions.

Health Assessment, Education, and Promotion

Students transition to a higher level of nursing practice in this course, where they learn to conduct a comprehensive physical examination, including collecting, organizing, interpreting, and recording patient data. They also explore the role of nurses as educators by learning to use health education and promotion strategies and to overcome patients' barriers to change.

Health Informatics

Health informatics faculty introduce students to the latest information technology used in nursing practice. Students will use these tools to communicate data and other knowledge to inform patients and work with them to manage their care.

Types of Nursing Bachelor's Degrees

There are two main types of online bachelor's programs in nursing: direct-entry BSN, RN to BSN, and second-degree BSN. Each degree combines information-based classes with on-site clinical experience. Many online nursing programs also come with an accelerated option.

The table below highlights typical prerequisites, the average time to completion, and additional links for each degree.

Degree Type Typical Prerequisites Average Time to Complete
Direct-entry BSN High school diploma Four years
RN to BSN RN license One to two years
Second-Degree BSN Non-nursing bachelor's degree Two to three years

Bridge Programs

Online nursing bridge programs may help nurses with existing credentials gain a higher degree in less time. For bachelor's students, the relevant program is the RN-to-BSN path. These programs usually require one year of work as an RN, but some programs allow students to submit an essay on nursing topics instead.

Bridge programs also generally require that nurses transfer 60 credits of general education and nursing courses. Applicants must have completed foundational courses in physical sciences, math, social sciences, and humanities.

Accelerated Nursing Programs

Accelerated and second-degree programs might help students to graduate college early by giving credit for previous experience or letting them take more classes in less time. Second-degree programs in nursing are designed for students who already have a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing area.

Accelerated programs are intensive and generally have high admissions standards.


Most second-degree programs in nursing advise incoming students not to hold a job while completing the program, as the coursework and clinical practicums are very demanding.


Nursing Degrees by State

To learn about online nursing programs and requirements in other states, explore our list of accredited nursing degrees by state below.

Nursing Degrees by State

Cost of an Online BSN Degree

The median annual tuition for an online bachelor's degree in nursing is $12,601, according to our analysis of 360 schools.

Future nurses who opt for online nursing schools may save some money in the process. All students pay charges that vary by institution — such as facility fees or book and supply costs — but online students usually don't need to pay for room and board or other campus-based fees. At some public schools, virtual learners pay the same lower tuition rate as in-state students. Additionally, online nursing students may need to pay for transportation to the healthcare facilities where they gain clinical experience, although these costs are usually minimal because the chosen facilities are generally near students' homes.

To practice nursing, graduates must have a license, and there are several fees involved in obtaining and maintaining a nursing license. Application fees vary widely by state, and the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) certification exam fee is $200. Licensed nurses must also pay a renewal fee periodically, usually every two years.

In addition to the up-front cost of a nursing degree through tuition and related fees, students should consider the payoff after finishing their program. To help with this, we've provided the online schools with the highest alumni salaries in the rankings list above.

How to Choose an Online Nursing Program

Career goals, specialization, and relevant experience will dictate which online nursing programs may suit you best. You'll need to decide how far you want to go with your career and what your plans are for the future. Once determined, you can start looking at specific schools and programs and what they have to offer that will help you meet your goals.

Below are some other factors to consider when choosing an online nursing program.

Accreditation

Accreditation ensures program curriculum, faculty, and learning outcomes meet state and national standards and is necessary for licensure. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) programmatically accredits many traditional bachelor's and master's programs, and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) accredits those online. Either is accepted for licensure. The US Department of Education can help identify accredited nursing programs.

Cost

It's important to choose an affordable program that meets educational and career goals while mitigating any student debt that you may incur. Earning transfer credits at a community college can help save money. Along with federal financial aid, students often choose to apply for private scholarships to help offset costs. You might also consider the costs associated with obtaining and maintaining a nursing license.

Degree Level

Students should pick the level appropriate to their background and career goals. It may help to look at several careers to note the degree requirements and research employers of interest to find out what they specifically want in a healthcare worker.

Exam Pass Rates

The NCLEX was developed by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) as a way for nursing graduates to prove competency and earn state licenses. Most schools post NCLEX pass rates on their websites, allowing students to gauge the quality of their nursing programs by how many students pass on the first try.

Support for Online Learners

It can be challenging to complete a nursing program online without staff and faculty nearby. Therefore, it's essential to consider what kind of support for online students is available. For example, schools may offer writing and tutorial services online, library services and access to librarians, tech support, and opportunities to engage with other students through online clubs and associations. It's also important to ask about the best way to contact faculty and how quickly they typically respond.

Nursing Careers

Graduates can become registered nurses with a nursing certificate, associate degree, or bachelor's degree. This career pays median annual wages of $77,600 and features a 6% growth rate in new jobs through 2031.

Online BSN programs typically prepare students to pass their nursing certifications, including the NCLEX exam, and to obtain a license to practice nursing. Each nursing degree option also opens the door to different specializations. Prospective nurses who want to pursue a particular area of focus should pick a program that allows them to reach their desired level of specialization. We've listed a few specializations below.

Cardiac Care Nurse

These heart specialists provide care to patients during hospital or outpatient stays, including monitoring ongoing cardiac conditions. A large part of their work involves educating patients on the best ways to take care of themselves. RNs typically need one of several specialty certifications to find work as cardiac care nurses.

Geriatric Nurse

Geriatric nurses specialize in working with older adults. They perform assessments, administer medications, and prepare and update nursing plans for their patients, among other tasks. RNs can become geriatric nurses with only an associate degree, but some states require a BSN and possibly additional certification.

Pediatric Nurse

Pediatric nurses are RNs who work with children. They provide routine check-ups, administer medications and immunizations, and conduct screenings for developmental conditions. Many states require pediatric nurses to have a BSN, and some require them to obtain special certification in addition to their nursing licenses.

We've put together guides to popular nursing jobs, which you can explore for more information.

Licensure

How Do I Get a Nursing License?

To legally practice as a nurse, all nursing candidates in the U.S. must first graduate from an accredited nursing program. They must then apply for an RN nursing license from their state nursing board, which requires passing the NCLEX, administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.

There are two types of examinations — the NCLEX-RN, which is for registered nurses, and the NCLEX-PN, which is for practical nurses. The tests are designed to ensure that nursing professionals have the appropriate healthcare and professional knowledge before they begin working with patients and handling sensitive healthcare information. Nursing students can find more details about the contents of the exams on the NCSBN website.

In addition to passing the appropriate NCLEX exam, nursing candidates must meet their state's board of nursing requirements to obtain licensure. Some states also require licensed nurses to complete continuing education hours during each license renewal period to demonstrate their knowledge and update their skills. Students can check with their state board to learn more about their specific licensing requirements.

What Are the Requirements for Renewing a Nursing License?

Requirements for renewing a nursing license vary by state, but in most cases, nursing licenses need to be renewed once every two years. Some states set a specific deadline for renewal, such as the nurse's birthday.

Almost every state requires nurses to complete a documented number of continuing education hours, called CEUs or "contact hours," in order to maintain their licenses. The number of contact hours required may vary depending on whether the nurse works full or part time. If a license lapses, delinquency fees may occur. However, fees can be avoided if nurses request to have their licenses put on inactive status during their time away from work.

Approximately two-thirds of the states in the U.S. have entered into the Nurse Licensure Compact. This interstate agreement allows nurses who qualify for the multistate license to practice on-site nursing, telenursing, and nursing education in any of the states in the NLC without obtaining separate licenses for each state.

Is an Online Bachelor's in Nursing Degree Worth It?

A bachelor's degree in nursing can open up many career opportunities. However, there are some specific advantages and disadvantages students may want to explore when deciding whether to pursue a BSN, particularly through distance learning.

Potential Benefits

  • This degree has the potential to pay off in terms of salary. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary is $77,600 for RNs with bachelor's degrees, as compared to licensed nurses with associate degrees who earn a median annual salary of $48,070.
  • The BLS predicts that about 195,400 new jobs for registered nurses will emerge over the 2021-2031 period, and a bachelor's degree could help make graduates more competitive in the job market.
  • Earning a BSN online allows students to choose from a broader range of schools without moving to a new location. It also means that they can complete coursework on their own schedules and fulfill requirements for clinical hours at healthcare facilities close to home.

Potential Drawbacks

  • A BSN requires two additional years of education beyond an associate nursing degree, which means a higher cost for the degree and more time out of the workforce are required.
  • As with other distance-learning programs, some online nursing students may feel somewhat disconnected from their peers, and they may not always reap the rewards of sharing information and experiences with classmates, which often occurs within the classroom environment.
  • Some nursing jobs require long shifts during nontraditional hours, especially when working in a hospital or emergency care environment. Aspiring nurses who want a more traditional work schedule may prefer a career in a physician's office.

FAQs About BSN Degrees

How Long Will It Take to Earn My Degree?


It depends on how much nursing education you already have. If you have an associate degree in nursing (ADN), you might finish an RN-to-BSN program in 1-2 years. Administrators design traditional BSN programs to take four years with a full-time schedule, but most college students take more than four years to finish.

Can You Get a Nursing Degree Online?


Many colleges offer fully online nursing degrees at all levels, including the bachelor's level. However, each program requires a certain amount of clinical experience hours in a healthcare facility.

Are Online Nursing Degrees Legitimate?


Accredited online colleges are legitimate — not to mention increasingly respected — so make sure to only consider schools with institutional accreditation. These institutions work to ensure that their online programs feature the same level of quality as on-campus offerings.

Is Nursing a Good Career?


Although everyone's criteria differ, nursing is a stable, relatively high-paying occupation compared to many others. RNs' median annual salary is about $32,000 more per year than the median salary for all jobs combined, which is $45,760. The job outlook is average for RNs, but more advanced nursing roles are experiencing blazing-fast growth, so it might be worth considering a graduate degree in nursing.

Why Trust Us?

27 Data
Researchers

60,000 Degrees Researched Annually

20,000 Hours Spent on Research Annually

Launching Rankings Since 2009

Meet our team