10 Most Affordable RN to BSN Programs | 2024

We've compiled the most affordable RN to BSN programs available in 2024, along with career outlook and salary information. Programs

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For RNs with an ADN, advancing to a BSN enhances skills, opens leadership opportunities, and increases salary potential. However, the cost of returning to school can be a major factor. To help you navigate this, we've compiled a list of the most affordable RN to BSN programs in 2024, along with key insights on program costs, earning potential, and requirements.

What Is an RN to BSN?

An RN to BSN program is a bridge program for ADN-prepared RNs aiming to enhance career prospects, increase salary potential, and build on their nursing skills. Unlike the traditional four-year BSN, the RN to BSN program leverages prior experience to accelerate the process. It offers flexible options, including online, in-person, part-time, and full-time formats to accommodate diverse student needs.

Graduates from affordable RN to BSN programs can expect better career opportunities, such as eligibility to work in Magnet hospitals. A survey by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing found that 77% of employers prefer nurses with a BSN, and 41% consider it a requirement.

Most Affordable RN to BSN Program 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. Florida Gateway College

Florida Gateway College's Nursing program, based in Lake City, offers a robust and flexible educational pathway for aspiring nurses. The program stands out with its options for both full-time (3 semesters) and part-time studies (6 semesters), accommodating various student needs. It is designed for registered nurses holding an Associate's degree and focuses on preparing them for advanced roles in the nursing field.

Highlights of the program include its fully online delivery and the innovative virtual simulation lab, ensuring that distance learners don't miss out on critical practical experiences. The program's focus on leadership, management, and community healthcare needs, along with the career coaching available for graduates, makes it an ideal choice for those looking to enhance their nursing careers.

  • Tuition: $5,125 estimated total cost
  • Mode: Online
  • Duration: 12 months
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
  • Graduation Rate: 100%
  • Job Placement Rate: 100%

2. University of Washington

Located in Bothell, WA, the University of Washington's RN to BSN program is a blend of flexibility and quality, ideal for working nurses. It offers a hybrid format, combining on-campus and online learning, and multiple start dates for added convenience. Classes are held every other week on campus, allowing students to effectively manage their schedules.

This program's unique features include its focus on integrating research into the classroom, fostering diverse perspectives, and project-based learning. With a graduation rate of 90% and competitive tuition rates for Washington state residents, it's a compelling option for those seeking career advancement in nursing.

  • Tuition: $12,645 (in-state tuition) to $41,997 (out-of-state tuition)
  • Mode: Hybrid
  • Duration: 12 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE
  • Graduation Rate: 90%

3. University of North Carolina at Wilmington

The University of North Carolina Wilmington's online RN to BSN program is tailored for working nurses, offering flexibility and accessibility. With six start dates a year and the ability to complete clinical hours at the nurse's workplace, the program is highly convenient. The program emphasizes both practical skills and academic growth, offering opportunities for nurses to advance their careers and even pursue graduate-level education. This approach makes it an attractive option for those looking to expand their professional horizons in nursing.

  • Tuition: $6,299.10 estimated total tuition 
  • Mode: Online
  • Duration: 12 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE

4. Florida International University

Florida International University's online RN to BSN program stands out with its impressive national rankings, making it an excellent choice for licensed registered nurses looking to advance their careers. This program is specifically tailored to expand students' skills and enhance their marketability in the healthcare sector.

One of the key advantages of FIU's program is its flexibility, allowing students to enroll at any semester start. Additionally, the program offers the convenience of completing clinical hours at any location with an approved preceptor. This flexibility makes it easier for working nurses to pursue further education while continuing their professional responsibilities.

  • Tuition: $253 per credit hour (FL residents); $648 per credit hour (non-residents)
  • Mode: Online
  • Duration: 1 year, 120 credit hours
  • Accreditation: CCNE

5. University of Texas Rio Grande Valley

The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley offers a cost-effective and structured RN to BSN program, accommodating the busy schedules of working nurses with its fully online format. With both full-time and part-time options, the program facilitates a rapid progression towards a BSN, offering a comprehensive curriculum to enhance nursing knowledge and skills.

This program is characterized by its accelerated modules, financial aid options for eligible students, and competitive tuition, underpinning its commitment to accessible nursing education. Graduates from the program are well-equipped to meet the complex demands of the healthcare industry.

  • Tuition: $277.77 per credit hour and a total of $7,500 per program
  • Mode: Online
  • Duration: 12 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE

6. University of Texas Arlington

The University of Texas at Arlington's RN to BSN program offers a blend of flexibility and applied learning. With various start dates, students can begin their studies at times that best suit their personal schedules. The curriculum is tailored to build on nurses' existing skills, enhancing their clinical reasoning, leadership, and management capabilities.

This comprehensive online program is designed to provide a quick and efficient route to a BSN degree, with clinical requirements met through workplace-based assignments. A standout feature is the final capstone course, which provides a focused experience in clinicals, management, or education, aligning with students' career objectives and enabling them to apply their knowledge in a tangible way.

  • Tuition: $8,995
  • Mode: Online
  • Duration: 9 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE

7. Northern Kentucky University 

Northern Kentucky University's RN to BSN online program is structured for flexibility and accelerated learning, offering six start times a year and seven-week course durations. The program's affordability extends to all students, regardless of residency. Post-graduate opportunities in MSN and doctoral programs are also available for those seeking advanced practice degrees.

This program stands out for its efficiency and comprehensive curriculum. It provides a path for RNs to advance their knowledge and skills, preparing them for a variety of roles in diverse healthcare settings.

  • Tuition: $9,750
  • Mode: Online
  • Duration: 10 Months
  • Accreditation: CCNE

8. The University of Texas at Tyler

The University of Texas at Tyler offers a flexible RN to BSN program that is highly regarded in Texas. It accommodates different paces of learning with its flexible start and graduation dates. The entirely online mode provides direct access to faculty, enhancing the learning experience. This program, designed for practical application, stands out for its adaptability to student needs and direct faculty engagement in an online setting.

  • Tuition: $9,895
  • Mode: Online
  • Duration: 12 Months
  • Accreditation: CCNE

9. East Tennessee State University

East Tennessee State University's RN to BSN program offers a flexible online format tailored for working nurses, including those currently employed as RNs who can use their practice hours for clinical requirements. The program also allows ADN students to start BSN classes before passing the RN NCLEX exam, offering an accessible path to further nursing education. This program is known for its convenience and practicality, making it an excellent choice for nurses looking to advance their education and career.

  • Tuition: $9,950
  • Mode: Online
  • Duration: 3 semesters
  • Accreditation: CCNE

10. Ohio University

Ohio University's RN to BSN online program, designed for working nurses, offers unique flexibility with eight start times a year and five-week classes. The program also addresses the gap in interaction often found in online learning by requiring virtual meetings with faculty. Students yet to take the RN NCLEX can apply, with testing details documented. This program stands out for its adaptability to busy professional lives and commitment to quality education.

  • Tuition: $10,000
  • Mode: Online
  • Duration: 12 months
  • Accreditation: CCNE

RN to BSN Admission Requirements

Prerequisites for admission into an RN to BSN program will vary by institution, but standard requirements include the following criteria:

  • Completion of an ADN program at an accredited institution
  • Active RN license in good standing
  • Minimum GPA (varies by school)
  • Criminal background check
  • Prerequisite coursework in subjects like anatomy, physiology, Microbiology, or statistics
  • Proof of practice hours or years of experience as an RN
  • Personal statement
  • Interview with nursing faculty
  • Physical exam, drug screening, and immunization records

Completing an RN-to-BSN program requires meeting a predetermined number of credit hours. Each school will determine how many credit hours will transfer from completed ADN courses. These credit hours include general higher education, electives, and advanced nursing courses. The higher education nursing courses prepare RN to BSN students to understand the following topics better:

  • Healthcare systems organization
  • Quality improvement strategies
  • Integrating technology and nursing practice
  • Community Health Nursing Perspectives 
  • Interprofessional communication and collaboration
  • Evidence-based practice 

RN to BSN Curriculum

The RN to BSN program offers advanced education in leadership, research, and specialized nursing practices, enhancing career opportunities and healthcare impact. Typical courses in RN to BSN program include:

  • Advanced Nursing Practice: Advanced nursing skills, health assessment, and evidence-based practice.
  • Community Health Nursing: Public health, community assessment, and health promotion.
  • Leadership and Management: Healthcare systems, leadership theories, and management practices.
  • Healthcare Policy and Ethics: Legal, ethical, and policy issues in healthcare.
  • Nursing Research: Research methodologies, critical analysis, and evidence-based practice.
  • Pathophysiology: Disease processes and their impacts.
  • Pharmacology: Pharmacological principles, medication management, and patient education.
  • Cultural Competence: Cultural diversity, health disparities, and culturally competent care.
  • Nursing Informatics: Role of IT in healthcare, data management, and informatics.

RN to BSN Clinical Training

Program completion requires classroom work, often online or in-person, and clinical hours with a BSN-prepared nurse. Some programs include a capstone or practicum course to apply advanced skills in evidence-based projects.

  • Community Health Clinicals: Hands-on experience in public health and community care.
  • Leadership Practicum: Practice leadership and management skills under supervision.
  • Capstone Project: Culminating project integrating learning into real-world scenarios.
  • Simulation Labs: Enhance clinical decision-making with simulation technology.
  • Clinical Electives: Elective experiences in pediatrics, geriatrics, or mental health nursing.

RN to BSN Program Costs

When considering the costs of the most affordable RN to BSN programs, prospective students should take into account several additional factors beyond just the listed tuition fees. These considerations are crucial in getting a comprehensive understanding of the total investment required for the program:

  • Additional Fees: Beyond tuition, there may be other fees such as technology fees, lab fees, simulation lab access fees, or administrative fees. These can add up and should be factored into the overall cost.
  • Textbooks and Supplies: The cost of textbooks and other necessary supplies can be significant. Some courses may require specific software, medical supplies, or equipment.
  • Living Expenses: If the program requires any on-campus components, even if it's primarily online, students should consider the cost of travel, accommodation, and meals during these periods.
  • Opportunity Cost: For working nurses, there may be a need to reduce working hours to accommodate study time, which can impact income. This loss of income is an indirect but very real cost of the program.
  • Financial Aid and Scholarships: Research available scholarships, grants, and financial aid options. Some employers offer tuition reimbursement programs, which can significantly reduce out-of-pocket expenses.
  • Accreditation and Program Reputation: Ensure that the program's accreditation aligns with your career goals. The reputation of the program can also impact future employment opportunities and salary potential.
  • Technology Requirements: Online programs may require a reliable computer and internet connection. The cost of upgrading technology should be considered.
  • Licensing and Exam Fees: Post-graduation, there may be fees associated with licensure or certification exams relevant to BSN graduates.
  • Long-term ROI: Consider the long-term return on investment. While some programs may be more expensive, they might offer better networking opportunities, higher quality education, or better job placement rates.
  • Personal Circumstances: Personal financial circumstances, such as the need for childcare or the ability to maintain employment while studying, will also influence the overall cost and feasibility of the program.

As for tuition itself, expectations can vary per institution based on numerous factors, including in-state vs out-of-state, public vs private, and more. For example, the University of Washington costs $4,215 (in-state tuition) to $13,999 (out-of-state tuition), while Florida Gateway costs $3,730 for in-state.

To finance an RN to BSN program, explore various aid options such as federal grants, work-study, and sector-specific scholarships. Effective financial planning is crucial for managing educational costs. To assist you, we've compiled the Best Ways to Pay for Nursing School.

BSN RN Salary Expectations & Career Outlook

Geographic location, years of nursing experience, certifications, and employer will all affect the salary of the BSN-prepared nurse. Urban settings, multiple years of experience, and working for a large health system can lead to higher wages. However, travel nursing offers higher salaries but typically provides fewer benefits.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes the RN average pay is $94,480, and the top five paying states for RNs are:

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

The top-paying metropolitan areas for registered nurses include San Francisco, Oakland, and Hayward, CA, with an hourly mean wage of $79.21 and an annual mean wage of $164,760.

Many hospitals and healthcare systems offer higher wages for RNs who hold a Bachelor's degree. Although the BLS doesn't differentiate between the salaries of ADN RNs and BSN RNs, ZipRecruiter offers valuable data on the pay disparities between these two groups of 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: $46.00
  • Annual Wage: $96,546.00

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

While a BSN has the potential to increase your earnings as a registered nurse, the education also serves as a stepping stone for post-graduate studies to become APRNs, which can see even higher salaries. Keep in mind salary figures serve as general guidelines and will vary depending on location, years of experience, and nursing specialty. 

RN to BSN Job Projection

The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics highlights a robust job market for RNs with a projected 6% growth by 2032, which equates to an addition of nearly 177,400 positions. This estimate may be conservative, as it doesn't account for the aging population's impact or the potential retirement wave within the nursing workforce. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to career shifts among nurses, exacerbating the shortage and amplifying demand for the foreseeable future.

Is an RN to BSN Program Worth It?

Pursuing an RN to BSN program is a significant step for nurses aiming to elevate their professional standing. This pathway not only enhances their clinical competencies and broadens their understanding of healthcare systems but also positions them for better salary prospects and leadership roles.

The flexibility of these programs, often available online and tailored for working professionals, makes them accessible and practical. Moreover, the growing preference among healthcare employers for BSN-qualified nurses underscores the value of this advancement, making it a strategic choice for those seeking to deepen their impact in the nursing field and expand their career opportunities.

Pros & Cons of the Most Affordable RN to BSN Programs

The most affordable RN to BSN programs offer a range of advantages and disadvantages that are important to consider:

Cheapest RN to BSN Program Pros

  1. Cost-Effectiveness: The most obvious advantage is the reduced financial burden. Lower tuition fees mean less debt and financial stress, making education more accessible.
  2. Increased Accessibility: These programs often attract a diverse range of students, including those who might not be able to afford more expensive options, thereby promoting inclusivity in higher education.
  3. Opportunity for Career Advancement: Like all RN to BSN programs, these affordable options provide the opportunity for career advancement, opening doors to higher-paying positions and specialized nursing roles.
  4. Flexibility: Affordable programs, especially online ones, often offer greater flexibility, allowing students to balance work, studies, and personal commitments more effectively.
  5. Broader Options for Further Education: Saving money on an undergraduate program can make funds available for further education, like a Master's degree, without accumulating excessive debt.

Cheapest RN to BSN Cons

  1. Perceived Quality: There can be a perception, whether accurate or not, that less expensive programs are of lower quality. This perception can influence both student expectations and employer opinions.
  2. Resource Limitations: Some affordable programs might have fewer resources, such as less access to state-of-the-art facilities, cutting-edge technology, or a wide range of elective courses.
  3. Larger Class Sizes: To maintain affordability, some programs might have larger class sizes, which can impact the level of individual attention and support students receive.
  4. Limited Networking Opportunities: There might be fewer networking opportunities with peers and faculty, which can be a disadvantage in building professional connections.
  5. Potential for Fewer Clinical Placement Options: Affordable programs might have limited partnerships with healthcare facilities, potentially offering fewer or less diverse clinical placement opportunities.

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

Prospective students should carefully evaluate their needs and choose schools that suit them best. Accreditation is a critical factor in this decision, especially for RN to BSN programs. Though it may not seem immediately important, accreditation plays a significant role. Here's why selecting an accredited RN to BSN program is essential:

  • Quality of Education: Accreditation ensures that the program meets established standards for nursing education. This guarantees that even the most affordable programs provide a high-quality education, essential for developing the necessary skills and knowledge in nursing.
  • Eligibility for RN Licensure: Graduating from accredited programs is often required for licensure as a registered nurse. Additionally, certain advanced nursing certifications may only be available to those who have completed an accredited program.
  • Career Opportunities: Many employers prefer or even require candidates who have graduated from accredited programs. This preference is due to the assurance of a certain level of education and training that accreditation provides.
  • Further Education and Advancement: If you decide to pursue further education, such as a Master's or Doctorate in nursing, accredited BSN degrees are typically a prerequisite for admission into these programs. Accreditation ensures that your credits and degree are recognized by other educational institutions.
  • Financial Aid Eligibility: Federal financial aid, along with many scholarships and grants, often require enrollment in an accredited program. Even in affordable programs, this financial assistance can be crucial in covering educational expenses.
  • Professional Credibility: Graduating from an accredited program enhances your professional credibility. It demonstrates to employers, colleagues, and patients that you have a solid educational foundation in nursing.
  • Public Trust: Accreditation ensures that nursing programs adhere to standards that promote patient safety and well-being. This is vital for maintaining public trust in the healthcare system and the nursing profession.

Accrediting Bodies Include:

RN to BSN Programs Near Me

Discover the best RN to BSN programs in the following states:

FAQ and Additional Readings (FAQ)

Q: How do I know if an RN-BSN program is good?

Find out if the program is accredited. When a program is accredited, this means the college or university has met rigorous standards and has positive student outcomes. If you were to go on to get an advanced degree, like an MSN, the BSN program you completed must be accredited.    

Q: How can I afford an RN-BSN program? 

There are many options available to pay for these programs. If you cannot afford to pay the full tuition, meet with a financial counselor at the school to discuss options. Many students use financial aid options like scholarships, grants, and loans. If you will work while completing the program, check with your employer for tuition reimbursement options. 

Q: What if I am an LPN who wants to get my BSN?

The RN to BSN programs require an active RN license. Many schools offer LPN to BSN programs. These programs take longer than the RN to BSN programs but will get you to your career goal of a baccalaureate degree in nursing. 

Q: Why do the costs of RN to BSN programs vary so greatly?

The cost of RN to BSN programs varies due to factors like the type of institution (public vs. private), location, program length (accelerated or traditional), format (online vs. on-campus), state residency (in-state vs. out-of-state tuition), the program's accreditation and reputation, available resources and facilities, additional fees, financial aid options, and market demand. These elements influence the overall tuition and fees, making each program's cost unique.

Q: Are online RN to BSN programs respected?

Online RN to BSN programs are generally well-respected, especially those offered by accredited institutions. They provide quality education, often mirroring the curriculum of traditional on-campus programs, and are designed to accommodate the schedules of working nurses. Employers increasingly recognize and value these programs, understanding that they provide comprehensive education and practical clinical skills relevant to exceptional patient care.

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Editorial Team / Admin

Sarah Beattie has 21 years experience as a DNP, APRN and specializes in Critical Care, Endocrinology.

6 Articles   14 Posts

VeraRN

27 Posts

Is there a way to obtain free education in the USA for Nurses? Thanks

Teaaa

15 Posts

VeraRN said:

Is there a way to obtain free education in the USA for Nurses? Thanks

I am commented to stay on the thread so I can also see what resources there is out there! From what I know there are a lot of scholarships available 

Editorial Team / Admin

Erin Lee, BSN, RN

23 Articles | 210 Posts

Specializes in Critical Care, Procedural, Care Coordination, LNC. Has 12 years experience.
VeraRN said:

Is there a way to obtain free education in the USA for Nurses? Thanks

Here is a great thread on free nursing CEU's