An RN-to-BSN program is a degree program specifically designed for practicing nurses who have already earned their Associate’s Degree in Nursing. The program is much shorter than a standard BSN or Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing program because it is accelerated and accounts for the knowledge and experience a registered nurse has already earned. In fact, these programs can take as little as 12 months to complete, depending on the institution from which you’re learning.
However, it may not be possible for an RN to work while still going through the program, especially when that program requires them to attend classes regularly. This is why there are online RN-to-BSN options available for nurses who want to advance their careers. There are several beneficial reasons for an RN to pursue their BSN online, such as:
- By participating in an online program, a nurse has the flexibility to establish and arrange their course load based on their schedule. For working individuals, this allows them to pursue advancements in their careers at their own convenience.
- Employers are constantly on the lookout for an employee with the appropriate experience and education. An online program is an excellent way to educate a nurse who is already gaining experience on the job. The knowledge earned through an RN-to-BSN program is crucial for improving a nurse’s skills.
- While online RN-to-BSN programs don’t require you to visit campuses, you will still enjoy a level of interactivity. Depending on the program, you will regularly have the opportunity to speak with faculty members, as well as your peers.
- The costs of education can be significant, especially when you’re working. An online program means you don’t have to concern yourself with the various costs required to go to college or university, such as paying for room and board or paying to commute to and from your classes.
While RN-to-BSN programs are held mostly online through classes, you may still have to participate in clinical training. However, if you are already working as a nurse, there is a good chance you will only have to take the classes without having to do anything outside of your standard course work.
Best Schools Offering Online RN-to-BSN Programs
The right RN-to-BSN program is important as a good education helps increase your opportunities in finding employment and advancing your career. The following are online RN-to-BSN programs that are known for their quality. If you are looking to earn your BSN, these institutions are the ones you should consider.
The University of Iowa is a public institution that has an RN-to-BSN program designed to prepare current RNs for advancements in their career. In order to graduate, online students must complete a number of courses focused on nursing research, healthcare finance and patient safety. The program includes a project-based leadership course and a practicum.
To help students with their education, the University of Iowa offers a 3+1 program with community colleges. This program allows students to take three years of community college and then complete their BSN at the University of Iowa with an additional year of study.
The University of Wisconsin has an RN-to-BSN program designed for working adults. The curriculum covers healthcare technology, community health nursing and evidence-based practice. Students take additional courses in gerontological nursing and chronic care management, which makes them well rounded in their ability to deal with patients.
In addition to the coursework they receive online, students are tasked with completing a practicum, which strengthens their clinical skills. Students can graduate within two years.
University of Phoenix students can graduate from its BSN program within 14 months. The program has multiple options. Students can choose to take several courses at once or take a single course to better fit their schedule. The program was specifically designed for working nurses and includes many courses created by experts in the industry so that working nurses can find success in their field.
The Western Governors University RN-to-BSN program takes your previous nursing experience and education and builds on it. The program has a focus on research, leadership, theory and the trends in healthcare today. For most students, completing the program takes 24 months.
Ohio State University is a public research institution that has one of the top RN-to-BSN programs in the United States. The program prepares nurses for either generalist practice or toward pursuing graduate nursing studies.
Students in the program learn the different ways in which to apply evidence-based practices to their work. The program has a course on management and leadership, building the skills nurses need to achieve even greater positions in their field. Students can complete clinical hours locally to get the practical experience they need. There is no requirement for campus visits.
Texas A & M University is the first Texas public institution and it has a popular online RN-to-BSN program that has a strong emphasis on core skills. During the program, students learn about patient care, evidence-based practice, health assessments and more.
Students also take classes on leadership and management as a form of training for future roles. In addition to their coursework, students must complete clinical hours locally to gain practical experience in their field and graduate from the program.
The University of Kansas offers a fully online RN-to-BSN program that focuses on critical thinking and leadership to prepare nurses for the difficult situations they may face while working. Online nursing students complete between 30 to 35 credits in order to receive their degree.
Students take a variety of courses based on quality improvement, macro-environment healthcare and population-based healthcare. The curriculum also includes updated courses, such as those with a strong focus on utilizing technology to ensure patient safety. When working toward graduating, students must do a senior project that combines their knowledge with the skills they’ve acquired.
Michigan State University gives students the opportunity to earn an RN-to-BSN degree online. The fully online program focuses on professional growth through an easily accessible learning environment.
Students study population health, healthcare policy and evidence-based practice. The curriculum involves a scholarly project designed to synthesize degree knowledge with students’ skills. Students must complete their clinical requirements, in addition to online work, in order to graduate from the program.
To give more opportunities to potential students, MSU offers scholarships exclusively to RN-to-BSN students. If a student is currently pursuing an associate degree in nursing at a community college that partners with MSU, they can enroll in BSN courses while completing their work.
The University of Cincinnati was one of the first colleges in the United States to offer a BSN degree. Today, the school offers an online RN-to-BSN program that has six start dates each year. This gives potential BSN students several opportunities to start their career advancement.
The curriculum covers multiple areas in nursing key in a student’s career. This includes courses focusing on health issues in marginalized populations, evidence-based practice and community nursing. Students also have the ability to take courses that have a strong emphasis on leadership and management to prepare them for future rules in their field.
There are three degree-completion timelines the University of Cincinnati has to offer. There are full-time, part-time and an additional part-time option that involves more semesters. These options can help students who cannot devote themselves to the program full-time due to their work responsibilities.
The University of Rochester has an online RN-to-BSN degree program that takes 16 months for students to complete. The program consists of 32 credits and covers various topics, such as genetics, evidence-based practice and nutrition.
Within the program, eight courses are fully online. The remainder of the courses involves some form of fieldwork. For example, the leadership and management course require 56 field hours to complete.
There are other courses that can take upwards of 84 hours. Students take a single course at a time, usually completing up to two within a given semester.
The University of Missouri offers a 30-credit RN-to-BSN program that covers health assessment, nursing theory and nursing ethics. Students also complete management and leadership courses designed to prepare them for career advancements in the nursing industry. A portion of the 30 credits involves a four-credit, 45-hour clinical requirement that must be met within their local community.
The University of Missouri’s RN-to-BSN program prepares graduates to enter management roles. Students receive a personal academic advisor, as well as an opportunity to travel abroad in order to broaden their horizons. There are also dual-enrollment opportunities for nursing students who are currently pursuing their associate degree in another program.
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot
Indiana University has an extensive online RN-to-BSN degree program that consists of 120 credits. Of those credits, 36 are dedicated to core nursing topics such as nursing information, data analysis and health policy. Students can customize their program online and even choose from several elective options, such as emergency preparedness and complementary health.
In order to help students, Indiana University supports online students through application support, an interactive orientation and career coaching to help them find success after graduating. Students can choose between a 12-month, 18-month or 24-month course, depending on their availability.
Career Opportunities for RN-to-BSN Program Graduates
Several of the major healthcare systems in the United States use clinical ladders as a means of rewarding nurses who participate in hospital-based committees and education. In order to apply for the clinical ladder, nurses must be BSN prepared. With the advancements of the clinical ladder, nurses receive benefits, such as an increase in salary.
In addition to this, it is becoming increasingly more difficult for a nurse to find a position with just an associate degree. Several hospitals, particularly academic healthcare organizations and magnet hospitals, only seek to hire BSN nurses.
While nurses typically won’t see an increase in their salary when they receive their BSN, they will have more job opportunities available to them when applying for positions. A BSN is a gateway toward starting your career in nursing and it gives you the ability to pursue your master’s degree or obtain a leadership or management role.
An increase in salary is just one aspect of why you should become a BSN. The salary increase does not come from the degree itself, but from the career opportunities and the ability to make advancements in your field.
If you want to pursue a career in nursing, obtaining your BSN is vital. As a registered nurse, you can work while earning your BSN online. There are incredible universities that offer RN-to-BSN degree programs for students seeking to further their careers.
While these online programs are typically handled entirely online, there are aspects of them that must be taken care of in person. Typically, students must perform a required number of hours of field experience. If you are already employed as a nurse, your work may serve as a form of this experience.
For students that are currently pursuing an Associate’s Degree in Nursing, it is recommended you extend your studies further and acquire your BSN. Many universities partner with community colleges or allow for dual-enrollment. This gives students the ability to study and take on BSN courses while they are pursuing their Associate’s Degree in Nursing.
Obtaining your BSN is not only a good opportunity, but as competition for nursing positions continues to increase, it is becoming standard. With several healthcare systems requiring nurses to have a BSN when applying for a position, completing the RN-to-BSN program is a great way to ensure job security and place yourself in a position for career success.
Find the best degree program and advance your career today through the Career Karma app.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.