11 Best RN to BSN Programs in Colorado | 2024

These are Colorado's 11 best RN to BSN programs, along with information on career outlooks and salary expectations. Programs

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Registered nurses (RNs) have multiple points of entry to their careers, including obtaining an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Although both degrees prepare students to become RNs, BSN-prepared nurses have the potential to earn higher pay and have increased employment rates.

Considering this, many ADN-prepared nurses are returning to school to pursue their BSN degrees. For those seeking to do so in Colorado, we've compiled the 11 best RN to BSN degrees and information on their prerequisites and salary expectations after graduation.

What Is a BSN?

A BSN degree is a baccalaureate focusing on expanding the foundations of nursing care offered in an ADN program.

As an ADN-prepared nurse, you'll earn a two-year degree and complete nursing fundamentals coursework. As a BSN-prepared nurse, you'll earn a four-year degree; your classes will be more in-depth and cover additional subjects, such as leadership, research, and informatics. Some classes include nursing leadership, research, advanced pathophysiology, and informatics. 

As a BSN-prepared RN, you'll provide patient care duties and implement and evaluate nursing interventions to promote health and best care practices and can work in various healthcare settings, including hospitals, outpatient physician offices, and long-term care and community health facilities.

BSN Program Prerequisites and Requirements

When applying to an RN to BSN program, you must meet the school and the program's admission requirements. Most Colorado program requirements include the following criteria:

  • An ADN, Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN), or Associate of Applied Science in Nursing (AAS) through an accredited institution
  • Passed NCLEX-RN exam and an unrestricted Colorado RN license
  • Basic Life Support (BLS) or CPR certification
  • Proof of transcripts from all prior institutions or colleges
  • Proof of clinical hours with a letter or transcripts outlining clinical hours completed; required clinical hours are usually about 1,000
  • New application or transfer application, depending on the institutional requirements
  • Background check and drug screen
  • Up-to-date on immunizations and physical examination

Many programs require a minimum grade point average (GPA) in previous coursework. This minimum is generally a B average (3.0), but the higher your GPA, the greater the likelihood of your acceptance into the program.

Why Earn Your RN to BSN

In addition to increased employment rate and pay, BSN-prepared nurses improve patient outcomes and increase healthcare systems' revenue. Therefore many healthcare organizations now require new nurses to be BSN-prepared or encourage their employed ADN-prepared nurses to earn their BSN.

Also, many hospitals want to achieve Magnet recognition in nursing excellence. This expectation means that all of their nurse managers and higher have a BSN.

Best Colorado RN to BSN Programs in 2024

The following schools have been selected based on allnurses' methodology of surveying our readers to understand what they value most while selecting schools with the addition of graduation rates, student-faculty ratio, price, mode, duration, and admission rates of hundreds of the most prominent nursing schools in the United States.

1. University of Colorado (CU) College of Nursing

CU's program is online and associated with the Anschutz Medical Campus. They have an early decision program along with their RN to BSN program. If you are currently working on your ASN program, you can start your BSN once you complete one semester.

  • Tuition: $565 per credit hour for in-state students; $1,494 per credit hour for out-of-state students
  • Admission Rate: 90%
  • Graduation Rate: 88%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 16:1

2. Metropolitan State University of Denver (MSU Denver) Department of Nursing

MSU's RN to BSN is a 10-course online program, giving students flexible schedules. They offer dual enrollment if you haven't earned your ADN. With dual enrollment, you can achieve your BSN while earning your ADN.

  • Tuition: $15,125 for Colorado residents; $21,295 for out-of-state students
  • Admission Rate: 64%
  • Graduation Rate: 36%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17:1

3. Colorado Mesa University (CMU) Department of Nursing

Colorado Mesa University is in Grand Junction, Colorado, but is online. The program strives for nursing excellence, and with the accelerated track, you can earn your nursing coursework in as little as 18 months.

  • Tuition: $360.85 per credit
  • Admission Rate: 83%
  • Graduation Rate: 38%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 19:1

4. Colorado State University (CSU) Pueblo Department of Nursing

In Pueblo, Colorado, CSU's program prepares students as safe, competent nurses for professional positions. You can transfer up to 90 credit hours: 57 prerequisite and 33 RN credits.

  • Tuition: $338 per credit hour for in-state students; $812 per credit hour for out-of-state students
  • Admission Rate: 89%
  • Graduation Rate: 33%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 19:1

5. University of Northern Colorado (UNC) School of Nursing

Located in Loveland, Colorado, UNC's program is entirely online, where you can take one class at a time. You'll complete an additional 180 practicum hours upon completion and enroll in courses such as advanced health assessment and professional nursing concepts.

  • Tuition: $544.00 per credit hour
  • Admission Rate: 88%
  • Graduation Rate: 58%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 18:1

6. Adams State University (ASU) Department of Nursing

Adams State University is in Alamosa, Colorado, and is online. Their program requires a GPA of 2.5 for admission, and you'll have to submit an essay and two letters of recommendation.

  • Tuition: $8,610 per year for in-state students; $21,546 per year for out-of-state students
  • Admission Rate: 100%
  • Graduation Rate: 21%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 17:1

7. Colorado Christian University (CCU) School of Nursing

Located in Lakewood, Colorado, CCU's nursing program integrates biblical values with nursing as a ministry. The curriculum prepares students to be highly competent, compassionate, and moral nurse leaders.

  • Tuition: $530 per credit hour
  • Admission Rate: 90%
  • Graduation Rate: 70%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 13:1

8. University of Colorado (CU) Colorado Springs Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences

Another campus of the University of Colorado is Colorado Springs' Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences. You'll need at least 1,000 clinical experience hours or approval from the state board for re-entry. RNs who've graduated within three years aren't required to submit clinical practice experience for entrance.

  • Tuition: $565 per credit hour for in-state students; $1,494 per credit hour for out-of-state students
  • Admission Rate: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 60%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 16:1

10. Aspen University School of Nursing

Unlike the name, Aspen University School of Nursing university is located in Phoenix, Arizona, but is online and designed for adult learners. Their program is self-paced and has start dates every two weeks.

  • Tuition: $295 per month
  • Admission Rate: Open admissions
  • Graduation Rate: N/A
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: N/A
  • Duration: 12 months or more

11. Regis University Loretto Heights School of Nursing

Regis University Loretto Heights School of Nursing is online in Denver, Colorado. You can transfer at least 66 semester hours from your ASN program if eligible. They offer free unofficial transcript evaluation. Program start dates are twice a year, in August and January.

  • Tuition: $621 per credit hour
  • Admission Rate: 60%
  • Graduation Rate: 66%
  • Student-to-Faculty Ratio: 14:1

Costs of RN to BSN Programs

When evaluating the costs of RN to BSN programs in Colorado, it's important to consider several factors:

  • Tuition: This is the primary expense. For example, at the University of Colorado College of Nursing, tuition is $565 per credit hour for in-state students. In contrast, Metropolitan State University of Denver charges $15,125 for Colorado residents for the entire program.
  • Living Expenses: These vary depending on whether you're studying online or on-campus and the program's location. Living in urban areas like Denver might be more expensive compared to smaller cities.
  • Fees: Beyond tuition, there are additional fees such as technology fees, lab fees, and resources fees. These can add a significant amount to the overall cost.
  • Books and Supplies: The cost of textbooks and other learning materials can vary but should be factored into the overall budget.
  • Accommodation: If you're relocating to Colorado for the program, accommodation costs need to be considered. This varies greatly depending on the location within the state.

Prospective students should research available scholarships, grants, and financial aid options to help offset the cost of their education.

Salary Expectations of BSNs in 2024

According to the most recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for RNs is $89,010 per year in. However, this number includes ADN-prepared nurses.

Most recent reports from Indeed show a median salary of $86,000 for nurses in Colorado. Depending on your experience level, you could start with a lower or higher salary than the average. It's also important to note that salaries vary by location, facility, and specialty.

The top-paying states for RNs were:

  • California: $133,340
  • Hawaii: $113,220
  • Oregon: $106,610
  • Massachusetts: $104,150
  • Alaska: $103,310

The states with the highest employment level of RNs were:

  • California: 325,620
  • Texas: 231,060
  • Florida: 197,630
  • New York: 190,470
  • Pennsylvania: 137,970

RN to BSN Salary by State

Compare several specializations by state with our comprehensive nursing salary guide, or learn more about nursing salaries in Colorado.

State Total Employed Hourly Mean Annual Mean
District of Columbia11,820$47.23$98,230
New Hampshire13,510$40.11$83,420
New Jersey78,340$46.48$96,670
New Mexico15,910$41.15$85,580
New York190,470$48.14$100,130
North Carolina104,300$37.22$77,420
North Dakota11,300$36.06$75,000
Rhode Island11,190$42.43$88,250
South Carolina44,030$35.74$74,330
South Dakota14,360$31.01$64,500
West Virginia21,110$34.73$72,230
Virgin Islands340$33.27$69,200

Are RN to BSN Programs in Colorado Worth It?

Evaluating whether RN to BSN programs in Colorado are worth it involves weighing the pros and cons.

Pros of RN to BSN Programs in Colorado

  1. Higher Salary Potential: BSN-prepared nurses often command higher salaries compared to their ADN counterparts. In Colorado's competitive healthcare market, this can translate to significant financial benefits.
  2. Increased Job Opportunities: Many healthcare facilities in Colorado, especially larger hospitals and clinics, prefer or require nurses with a BSN, offering more job opportunities for BSN-prepared nurses.
  3. Advancement in Career: A BSN is often necessary for leadership roles, specialized nursing positions, or administrative roles. In Colorado, this degree can open doors to various career advancement opportunities.
  4. Educational Foundation for Advanced Degrees: For nurses in Colorado aiming to pursue further education, such as a Master's or Doctoral degree, a BSN is typically a prerequisite.
  5. Meeting Industry Standards: With a nationwide push towards a more educated nursing workforce, having a BSN aligns with the evolving standards of the nursing profession. This is particularly relevant in Colorado's dynamic healthcare landscape.

Cons of RN to BSN Programs in Colorado

  1. Cost and Time Investment: Pursuing a BSN requires a significant investment of time and money. This can be a substantial burden, especially for working nurses.
  2. Work-Life Balance Challenges: Balancing work, life, and studies can be challenging, particularly for RNs who are working while pursuing their BSN.
  3. Variable Return on Investment: Depending on the specific job market in Colorado, the financial benefits of a BSN may not immediately offset the cost of education.
  4. Online vs. In-Person Learning: Many RN to BSN programs are offered online, which can be a pro for some but a con for those who prefer or benefit more from in-person learning experiences.
  5. Potential Redundancy for Experienced RNs: For RNs with many years of experience, the additional degree may not significantly change their job prospects or salary, especially in parts of Colorado where experience is highly valued.

Importance of Attending an Accredited RN to BSN Program

Attending an accredited RN to BSN program in Colorado is important for several reasons:

  • Quality of Education: Accreditation ensures that the program meets rigorous educational standards set by a recognized accrediting body. This guarantees that the curriculum is comprehensive, up-to-date, and provides the necessary skills and knowledge for effective nursing practice, which is particularly important in Colorado's diverse healthcare environment.
  • State Licensure and Certification: For nurses in Colorado, graduating from an accredited program is often essential for state licensure and certification. Accreditation signifies that the education meets both national and state-specific requirements, crucial for practicing in various healthcare settings across Colorado.
  • Employment Opportunities: Many healthcare employers in Colorado, including major hospitals and health systems, prefer or require graduates from accredited programs. Accreditation assures employers of the candidate's quality education and preparedness for the nursing role.
  • Further Education and Career Advancement: In Colorado, nurses looking to advance their careers through further education, such as Master's or Doctoral programs, will find that these advanced programs typically require a BSN from an accredited institution. Accreditation ensures the recognition and acceptance of your degree for further educational pursuits.
  • Professional Credibility: A degree from an accredited program enhances your professional credibility in Colorado's healthcare community. It demonstrates to employers, colleagues, and patients that you have received education that adheres to high standards.
  • Transferability of Credits: If you need to transfer to another institution or pursue further education, credits from an accredited program in Colorado are more likely to be accepted by other accredited schools, both within and outside the state.
  • Eligibility for Federal and State Financial Aid: Accreditation is often a requirement for eligibility for federal and state financial aid, which is crucial for students who depend on these funds for their education.

Accrediting bodies include the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

FAQs and Additional Readings

Q: Is a BSN degree worth it?

A: Many RNs enjoy helping and caring for others. They choose to become BSN-prepared to expand their nursing knowledge and open the door for opportunities in leadership or other areas of nursing. Often, RNs return to earn their BSN and think it's worth it, especially if they want to increase their earning potential.

Q: Is a BSN higher than an RN?

A: An RN is a license that you receive from the state board of nursing to practice nursing. An RN can have an associate, bachelor, or master's degree. A BSN is a four-year degree that prepares you for practice as an RN but has more advanced courses than an ADN degree.

Q: Why choose an RN to BSN program?

A: Many healthcare systems encourage nurses to earn their BSN degrees with the potential to increase their earning potential. Many online and self-paced programs make earning your degree much more manageable while working.

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Amanda Marten has 11 years experience as a MSN and specializes in Urgent Care, Travel Nursing, Post-Surgical.

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