Best, Fastest, Cheapest, and Top Online RN to BSN Programs | 2024

Discover the best, fastest, and most affordable RN to BSN programs in 2024, along with information on the role, salary expectations, and answers to frequently asked questions. Programs

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Are you a registered nurse (RN) looking to advance your nursing career by earning a bachelor's degree? Enrolling in an RN to BSN bridge program can boost career advancement opportunities and increase earning potential. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing can help you land jobs in leadership, research, and other specialties to broaden your career opportunities and change the trajectory of your nursing career.

Finding the right nursing program can be challenging. You may wonder if you should look for nursing programs with excellent NCLEX pass rates, method of curriculum delivery, how long it takes to complete, or another feature of the school. Unfortunately, choosing a nursing program isn't a one-size-fits-all endeavor.

You must weigh each program's pros and cons to determine which fits your needs and goals best. While this might sound like a lot of work, don't worry. We have you covered with our nursing program rankings.

What Is an RN to BSN Program?

RN to BSN bridge programs provide a fast-track way for RNs with an associate's degree or diploma to earn a bachelor's degree. Working nurses might look for online, full-time, part-time, and accelerated RN degree programs to easily balance work, home, and school life.

These specialized programs offer credits for previous nursing coursework and work experience. Most programs can be completed in two years or less. However, it's essential to point out that registered nurses with a diploma need more credits than those with an associate's degree in nursing.

As a BSN nursing student, you'll expand your knowledge by completing evidence-based practice courses in informatics, leadership, and nursing theory. You'll learn more about critical thinking and how to apply your expertise in the clinical setting. Because BSN-prepared nurses can hold leadership positions and other non-clinical roles, you'll spend much time learning how to use your new knowledge in these settings.

Best RN to BSN Programs

We've ranked the best, fastest, and cheapest online RN to BSN programs for you with our robust methodology. We consider our reader's wants and needs, as well as the following factors and features:

  • Tuition: We evaluate overall tuition rates and cost per credit hour to find the programs that have the best return on your investment.
  • Method of Delivery: This explores how the curriculum is delivered, including if it's in-person, online, or hybrid/blended.
  • Admission rates: The number of nursing students admitted compared to how many prospective students apply to the program.
  • Graduation rates: The number of nursing students who graduate in each class compared to how many started the program and didn't.
  • NCLEX-RN pass rates: The number of graduates who passed the NCLEX-RN on the first attempt.
  • Time it takes to complete: The average amount of time it takes for a nursing student to complete the full program.
  • Student-to-faculty ratio: The number of nursing faculty present for each nursing student. The smaller the student-to-faculty ratio, the more likely you'll receive individualized education and support during your nursing program.

1. Grand Canyon University (GCU)

You can complete your degree in just six terms or about 14 months. Each term lasts five weeks, so you'll complete nursing courses quickly, which can help you feel a sense of accomplishment. You'll complete didactic nursing coursework online and clinical practicum hours at healthcare facilities in your community.

  • Accreditation: CCNE

2. Ohio University (OU)

Ohio University in Athens is known as one of the country's most affordable online RN to BSN programs. Their nursing students spend only around $10,000 on their nursing education. To qualify for this program, you must hold an active, unencumbered nursing license and an ADN or diploma in nursing. OU also has state residency requirements, so check the website for more details about where you must live to qualify for this top RN to BSN program.

  • Accreditation: CCNE

3. Rasmussen University

This university is authorized to operate by the Illinois Board of Higher Education and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Students complete all didactic coursework online. All required clinical experiences are conducted locally, but the College of Nursing assists in finding opportunities close to home, so you don't have to do this alone.

  • Accreditation: CCNE

4. Western Governors University (WGU)

According to Data USA, WGU awards the most degrees in Registered Nursing in the U.S. Nursing students can obtain their BSN in just four terms.

WGU's pricing model is unique because students aren't charged by the credit hour. The university charges a flat tuition rate per term regardless of how many classes you take. So, if you're motivated, this can be a cost-effective way to complete an accelerated nursing program in a short time.

  • Accreditation: CCNE

5. Morehead State University

Coming in at number five of the 169 accredited Southeast Region RN to BSN programs is Morehead State University in Kentucky. This nursing program offers online courses for $385 per credit hour or just under $5000 per semester.

  • Accreditation: CCNE

Fastest RN to BSN Programs

Most RN to BSN programs will take about two years to complete. However, if you want to complete a BSN online program faster, these accelerated bridge programs might be a good fit.

1. Northern Kentucky University (NKU)

In just ten months, you can upskill and earn a BSN in nursing practice at NKU. With multiple start dates throughout the year, you can begin taking classes toward your BSN degree and quickly achieve your career advancement goals.

  • Accreditation: CCNE

2. Regis College

This online bachelor's program is known for its flexibility, a selling point for adult learners who are full-time or part-time nurses. The didactic portion of the BSN program coursework is offered online and can be completed in as little as 12 months. One unique feature of this program is that it requires no clinical experience, making it a lighter lift for working adults.

  • Accreditation: ACEN

3. Florida International University

Do you wish your nursing curriculum translated well to your nursing practice? The Nicole Wertheim College of Nursing and Health Sciences offers classes relevant to your workplace, including courses about culturally competent patient care, nursing leadership, and community health nursing. This accelerated program comes with a price tag ranging from about $8,000 to $11,000 and can be completed in 12 months.

  • Accreditation: CCNE

4. Florida Gateway College

This college helps RNs advance their nursing education by offering an affordable, high-quality baccalaureate nursing program. They offer full-time and part-time options. You'll take 31 credit hours in upper-level nursing courses, such as health assessment, pathophysiology, nursing research, informatics, and classes on the economics of policies of healthcare systems.

  • Accreditation: CCNE

5. Herzing University

In just 12 months, you can complete your BSN at Herzing University. This school boasts a curriculum created to help you succeed in professional nursing practice, experienced nursing faculty, and lifelong career advancement support.

  • Accreditation: CCNE
    • Campuses: Atlanta, GA; Brookfield, WI; Kenosha, WI; Madison, WI; Minneapolis, MN; New Orleans, LA; Orlando, FL

Cheapest RN to BSN Programs

Sometimes, the most important thing about choosing a nursing school is the program cost. Below are the cheapest BSN completion programs. These programs are accredited, meaning they can accept state and federal financial aid if you receive it.

1. Florida Gateway College

If this school sounds familiar, it's because it also topped our rankings as one of the fastest RN to BSN programs. So, at Florida Gateway College, you can complete a cost-conscious program in no time.

  • Accreditation: CCNE

2. University of North Carolina at Wilmington

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington delivers an entirely online nursing program designed for working adults. It's accredited by the Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The total cost of this program runs just over $6000.

  • Accreditation: CCNE

3. Roseman University

Not only is the RN to BSN program at Roseman affordable, with a total cost of $8,000, but it's designed to help nursing students master the nursing curriculum by taking just one class at a time. The program is fully online and can be completed in nine months.

  • Accreditation: CCNE

4. East Tennessee State University

Online students complete 60 clock hours in this BSN bridge program with a possible nursing leadership clinical practicum required. The school has Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accreditation; full tuition is just under $9000.

  • Accreditation: CCNE

5. University of Texas Arlington (UTA)

UTA offers multiple start dates and a pay-by-the-course pricing model, making this an affordable and flexible program for RNs seeking to continue their nursing education. Classes include nursing management and leadership and community and public health.

  • Accreditation: CCNE

RN to BSN Admission Requirements

RN completion programs have specific admission requirements. These prerequisites and requirements vary by nursing school. However, there are standard enrollment criteria, which include:

  • Proof of an active and unencumbered RN license
  • Proof of completion of an ADN or diploma nursing program
  • Proof of a specific number of years or practice hours as an RN
  • Personal statement explaining why you want to advance your career
  • Remote or in-person interview with nursing faculty
  • Prerequisite coursework in anatomy, physiology, Microbiology, or statistics
  • Proof of a GPA of 2.0 or higher for all previous college classes
  • Passing a criminal background check, including fingerprints
  • Submitting a physical exam, drug screening, and immunization records

Cost of RN to BSN Programs

The financial commitments associated with RN to BSN programs can vary significantly, contingent on multiple factors. Factors affecting tuition rates include:

  • Tuition: Varies widely between institutions, with state schools generally being more affordable than private or out-of-state schools. 
  • Resident vs. Non-Resident Tuition: Public universities often charge different rates for state residents compared to non-residents, impacting overall costs.
  •  Online Programs: Can be more cost-effective as they eliminate the need for physical classroom space, though clinical hours may still be required. 

Additional Cost Considerations:

All RN to BSN programs have additional cost considerations, including:

  • Fees: Includes application, technology, lab, and graduation fees.
  • Books and Supplies: Costs for textbooks and educational materials.
  • Technology Fees: Common in online or hybrid programs to support the use of digital resources.
  • Miscellaneous Fees: Includes application, graduation, and other administrative costs.
  • Living Expenses: Relevant for students who relocate or adjust their work schedules to accommodate studies.
  • Opportunity Costs: Potential financial impact of reduced work hours while attending school.
  • Long-term ROI: Consider benefits such as networking opportunities, educational quality, and job placement.
  • Personal Circumstances: Factors such as childcare or the need to maintain employment may affect program choice.

To reduce the overall cost of nursing school, review the Best Ways to Pay for Nursing School and consider choosing one of the Most Affordable RN to BSN Programs.

Advantages of an RN to BSN Program

While both ADN and BSN RNs undergo the same licensing test and hold identical licenses, opting for a BSN proves to be a savvy career move, unlocking advanced opportunities and fostering a more extensive skill set.

The BSN curriculum extends beyond clinical aspects, emphasizing critical thinking, leadership, and research skills. This holistic approach provides a transformative experience in your nursing journey.

Emphasizing the pivotal role of a BSN, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing strongly recommends that registered nurses (RNs) attain a minimum of a BSN or equivalent from an accredited four-year institution. This endorsement underscores the importance of a BSN in accessing advanced opportunities and assuming leadership positions in healthcare.

For ADN RNs, transitioning to pursue a BSN isn't merely about earning a degree -- it's a strategic investment in professional growth.

How to Choose an RN to BSN Program

The criteria for choosing a nursing school vary based on personal preferences. Some students emphasize tuition costs, while others prioritize NCLEX pass rates, academic reputation, or other considerations.

Although it will vary by individual, a survey by allnurses revealed the top 11 reasons nursing students chose their programs:

  1. Cost
  2. High NCLEX Pass Rate
  3. Location
  4. Academic Reputation
  5. Availability of Financial Aid and Scholarships
  6. Length of Time to Obtain Degree
  7. Flexibility of Schedule
  8. Curriculum
  9. Campus and Surroundings
  10. Nursing Clinicals Location
  11. Availability of Online Courses

Ultimately, prospective students should assess their needs and pick schools that best fit them. In addition to these factors, accreditation is another critical consideration. The significance of accreditation may not be immediately apparent, but it holds substantial importance, especially for RN to BSN programs. Here's why you should choose an accredited RN to BSN program:

  • Educational Standardization: Accredited BSN RN programs consistently maintain high standards in curriculum, faculty qualifications, resources, and clinical training, verified through regular evaluations.

  • Clinical Experience: Accredited BSN RN programs often provide enhanced clinical experiences, ensuring students receive practical training aligned with industry standards.
  • Career Opportunities: Employers prefer BSN RN graduates from accredited programs, offering more career options and flexibility for relocation to states with nursing school accreditation mandates.
  • Credit Transfers: Credits earned in an accredited BSN RN program are more likely to be recognized by other nursing institutions, easing transitions for transfer students or those pursuing advanced degrees like MSN or DNP.
  • Professional Credibility: Completing an accredited BSN program enhances professional credibility. It showcases education and training aligned with national standards and contributes to the advancement of nursing practice.

It's important for students to ensure their chosen BSN programs are accredited by reputable bodies such as the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

BSN RN Career Outlook & Salary Expectations 

As of 2022, the U.S. had 3,172,500 nurses, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts a 6% job growth, adding 177,400 new RN positions by 2032, totaling 3,349,900 nurses.

This projection is particularly noteworthy for RNs pursuing a BSN, considering the existing nursing shortage. The demand for RNs advancing to a BSN is fueled by the slow growth in nursing school enrollment and a substantial number of RNs expected to retire in the next 15-20 years. Despite challenges post-COVID-19, with some nurses leaving the workforce, there remains a continued high demand for skilled nursing professionals. The aging population, coupled with increased healthcare needs, contributes to the exciting prospect of shaping a dynamic and evolving healthcare landscape.

BSN Salary Projection

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), RNs earn an average annual salary of $94,480 or just over $45 per hour. Other factors affecting wages include geographic location, with the top-paying states being:

  • California: $137,690.00
  • Hawaii: $119,710.00
  • Massachusetts: $113,440.00
  • Oregon: $111,030.00
  • Alaska: $109,210.00

Additional factors influencing salary include years of experience, nursing specialty, the healthcare system, and location. Many hospitals and healthcare systems offer higher salaries for RNs with a Bachelor's degree. Although the BLS does not distinguish between ADN RN and BSN RN salaries, ZipRecruiter offers valuable insights into the pay differences for ADN and BSN registered nurses.

Average ADN RN Salary

  • Hourly Wage: $39.00
  • Annual Wage: $80,321.00

U.S states with the highest ADN RN salaries are:

  • Washington: $99,301.00
  • New York: $88,028.00
  • Vermont: $86,437.00
  • California: $84,528.00
  • Maine: $82,150.00

Average BSN RN Salary

  • Hourly Wage: $49.00
  • Annual Wage: $102,263.00

U.S states with the highest BSN RN salaries are: 

  • Washington: $126,428.00
  • New York: $112,075.00
  • Vermont: $110,049.00
  • California: $107,620.00
  • Maine: $104,591.00

Completing a BSN degree program has the potential to increase your salary and career prospects. However, these salaries are general guidelines and will vary based on location, tenure, and specialty.

FAQ and Additional Reading

Read More About Each Program...

Choosing an RN-BSN program can be challenging, and you might have many questions. So, we've rounded up some of the most common questions nurses have about BSN nursing programs, so you don't have to search for the answers.

Check out our FAQs below.

Q: How do I choose an RN to BSN program?

A: Choosing a nursing school and a BSN program is personal. You must explore many programs and determine what's most important to you. As you explore your options, create a pros and cons list so you can visually see what schools meet or exceed your needs.

Q: Can I complete an RN to BSN program entirely online?

A: Most RN to BSN programs don't require nursing students to attend in-person classes because you're already an RN. However, depending on the school's focus, some programs might require students to participate in in-person labs or clinicals. Ask about in-person requirements when exploring different RN to BSN programs.

Q: How many transfer credits will I get toward my bachelor's degree from my associate degree program?

A: Every nursing program determines this individually. Check with the admissions department to better understand how many transfer credits you'll receive from your ADN program.

Q: Is getting my BSN worth it?

A: This is a common question. Unfortunately, only you can determine if the time and cost of a BSN completion program is worth it. To help you resolve this, we suggest creating a pros and cons list for returning to school. You should also consider what jobs you'd like to try that wouldn't be open to you if you didn't have a BSN.

Q: Can I complete my BSN at a community college?

A: BSN completion programs are most often offered by universities. However, some community and technical colleges offer RN to BSN programs too.

Workforce Development Columnist

Melissa Mills has 26 years experience as a BSN and specializes in Workforce Development, Education, Advancement.

126 Articles   373 Posts

tt12345

18 Posts

Specializes in psych.

So much wrong with this title.

subee, MSN, CRNA

1 Article | 5,706 Posts

Specializes in CRNA, Finally retired. Has 52 years experience.
tt12345 said:

So much wrong with this title

Yep.  Not a word about quality.  Florida Gateway College has the small of scam to it.  Afraid it might be one of those Florida disappearing schools.  It's embarrassing to know that non nurses are seeing thus kind of advertising on Allnurses disguised as advice.