Best Online RN to BSN Bachelor Degrees

Degree Overview

Registered nurses often seek ways to advance their careers, and one way to do this is by going back to school. To make the most of the education and knowledge you already have, turn your RN certificate into a BSN degree. Read on to learn more about what BSN programs are, what to expect from admissions and program requirements, BSN course fees, and how to ultimately determine which online BSN programs are best for helping you further your career.

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What Is the Difference Between an RN Certificate and a BSN Degree?

RN certification is earned through either an RN certificate program or an ADN (associate degree in nursing), and through passing the NCLEX test. RNs can still be licensed without a BSN, but income and career prospects are limited. In most cases, nurses earn their RN and start working immediately rather than continuing with school.

A BSN (Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing) is a program that helps nurses further their education, learn new skills, have more job prospects, and earn more money. If you were to go to school only for a BSN, it would take four years to get this degree. However, if you’ve already earned your RN license, it should only take you two years to earn your BSN degree.

Top RN to BSN Programs Online

Here are some top choices for the best online RN to BSN programs.


Western Governors University

Location: Online (based in Salt Lake City, UT)

Fastest time to graduation: 19 Months

Acceptance rate: 100%

Graduation rate: 50%

Cost of attendance: $7,452.00 per year

Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Admission requirements

  • Application form
  • Official high school/college transcripts
  • Nonrefundable application fee of $65

Unique offerings

  • Competency-based education; charges by the term rather than by the credit so students can graduate faster and control the total cost of their degree
  • Known for excellent distance learning
  • Awarded for high performance

Excelsior College

Location: Online (based in Albany, NY)

Cost of attendance: $26,790.00 total (%tuition_2% per year or %tuition_3% per credit)

Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education


University of Phoenix

Location: Online (based in Phoenix, AZ)

Graduation rate: 28%

Cost of attendance: $19,282.00 total (%tuition_2% per year or %tuition_3% per credit)

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission


Colorado Technical University

Location: Online (based in Colorado Springs, CO)

Graduation rate: 27%

Cost of attendance: $24,143.00 total (%tuition_2% per year or %tuition_3% per credit)

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission


Arizona State Online

Location: Online (based in Scottsdale, AZ)

Acceptance rate: 88%

Graduation rate: 67%

Cost of attendance: $25,214.00 total

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Admission requirements

  • High school GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Application form
  • Nonrefundable application fee of $70
  • ACT or SAT scores
  • Official transcripts

Southern New Hampshire University

Location: Online (based in Manchester, NH)

Graduation rate: 54%

Cost of attendance: $15,380.00 per year

Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education


Capella University

Location: Online

Fastest time to graduation: 12 Months

Acceptance rate: 100%

Cost of attendance: $14,148.00 per year

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Admission requirements

  • Application form
  • Official high school/college transcripts
  • Nonrefundable application fee of $50
  • English proficiency
  • Must meet FlexPath requirements (talk to program advisor for details)

Unique offerings

  • The FlexPath system enables students to take as many courses as they desire in each 12-week billing session
  • Flat-rate tuition fee per session
  • No courseroom discussions
  • Students can set their own deadlines

Walden University

Location: Online (based in Minneapolis, MN)

Acceptance rate: 100%

Graduation rate: 27%

Cost of attendance: $24,240.00 total

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Admission requirements

  • Official transcripts
  • Applicable test scores
  • Completed online application
  • List of transfer credits

Chamberlain University

Location: Online (based in Chicago, IL)

Cost of attendance: $19,226.00 total (%tuition_2% per year or %tuition_3% per credit)

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission


Purdue University Global

Location: Online (based in West Lafayette, IN)

Graduation rate: 27%

Cost of attendance: In-State is $10,125.00 per year, Out-of-State is $14,436.00 per year

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

How We Rank Online College Programs

At, we want you to find the best online BSN program to meet your needs. We’ve ranked the above schools based on different criteria, including:

  • Graduation rate
  • School reputation
  • Cost
  • And more

All of our rankings are impartial and cannot be bought. Our goal is to bring you honest, accurate ranking formation so you can choose the online BSN program that best fits your needs.

Why Get a BSN Degree?

There are many reasons to turn your RN into a BSN degree and embark on a more versatile career path.

BSN Degrees Are In High Demand

The health care field is always in need of more nurses, and that need has continued to rise in recent years. With such high demand, many employers look to hire those with at least a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Employers do this to ensure they are employing high-quality, knowledgeable nurses who can do more than those with an associate degree.

Additionally, hospitals want to earn magnet status, which shows they attract and retain well-qualified nurses who focus on quality patient care and have better patient outcomes. To meet magnet eligibility requirements, 100% of the nurses in leadership roles need to have a BSN degree or higher.

More Job Opportunities

BSN degrees can be applied across many different fields, including medical, educational, and criminal forensics. You’ll have more freedom in terms of what you do and where you do it.

Build on Current Knowledge

Health care services and procedures can change every day and many people may feel that they are struggling to catch up. With an online BSN degree, you can use the knowledge you already have from your RN license and build upon it with new, up-to-date information from the BSN degree.

Career/Financial Advancement

For your benefit, nurses that have a BSN degree have more earning potential and better job prospects. By turning your RN into a BSN degree, you become a stronger job candidate and can earn more during your nursing career.

What to Look for in an Online BSN Program

Going back to school to turn an associate degree in nursing into a BSN degree can feel overwhelming, especially if you don’t know where to start. After deciding to further your education, the next biggest decision is choosing an online program. As you make this important decision, here are some things to investigate in an online BSN degree.


The average cost of an online BSN degree from a public university is $37,920 (tuition only). This price can vary depending on which school you choose, and is an important factor when choosing the right place for your online education. Do keep in mind that online degrees still have other costs and fees, as with in-person degrees, and you should understand all of the associated costs when comparing online BSN degrees.


College location seems counterintuitive for an online degree, but it actually is something to consider. Some online programs still have residency requirements while other programs consider all students as in-state students, no matter where they currently live. Additionally, in-state students should qualify for in-state tuition, reducing the overall cost of the degree.

If a BSN program has resident requirements that you don’t meet, find an online program that is a better fit.

Credit Transfer

To take your associate degree to a BSN degree, there are usually ways to ensure that your new program recognizes and counts the work you’ve already done. Find a program that accepts the courses you’ve completed, the credits you’ve earned, and, in some cases, the work experience you have. If an online BSN program accepts your credits and work experience, it puts you in a better starting position, which can help you finish the BSN degree faster while also saving you money.


An online BSN program must be accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. Without these accreditations, students won’t be able to qualify for nursing licenses and certificates. Additionally, if a program is not accredited, you will not be able to receive federal financial aid to help cover school costs.

Check that any online BSN degree that you are considering has the proper accreditations so you can properly further your education and career.


A traditional BSN degree takes four years to complete. However, with an RN license, you should be able to turn an RN into a BSN in two years or less. Some online BSN programs may have accelerated courses to help you get your degree faster, so you will need to consider that when choosing which school to attend.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online BSN Programs

Most RNs that choose to go back to school have a lot of questions about online BSN programs. Topics we frequently receive questions about are outlined below.

What courses are usually part of the curriculum?

During your online RN to BSN degree program, your courses will focus on patient care and how to professionally and legally perform your job. Some courses include:

  • Fundamentals of nursing — This BSN course covers the main role of nurses, including assessing problems, determining treatments, completing medical records, promoting health, and taking an evidence-based approach to clinical practice.
  • Anatomy — This BSN course teaches body parts and organs at the cellular level. You will also learn about bodily functions in the skeletal, muscular, nervous, and sensory systems.
  • Microbiology — This BSN course takes a closer look at bacteria, viruses, diseases, and how to prevent infection spread.

Additional courses may include:

  • Nursing health assessment
  • Human growth and development
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology
  • Community nursing
  • Theory of clinical practice
  • Leadership and management

What careers are typically available?

A BSN degree can open up a wide range of job possibilities, depending on what you want to do. BSN jobs can include:

  • Hospitals
  • Clinics
  • Physicians offices
  • Nurse educator
  • Health policy nurse
  • Nurse recruiter
  • Forensics
  • Clinical research
  • Health coaching

Online BSN programs also offer courses for particular nursing specialties such as:

  • Acute care
  • Emergency care
  • Obstetrics
  • Pediatrics
  • Public health

What is the average salary range?

Depending on where you live, your certifications, and your continuing education, a BSN salary can range from $48,000 to $94,000.

What are the typical admission requirements?

Admission requirements vary depending on the online program in which you want to enroll. However, some standard RN to BSN admission requirements are:

  • GPA — Most programs have a 2.0 GPA requirement but some programs require up to a 3.0 GPA. The GPA comes from previous nursing programs or prerequisite courses needed for the BSN program, depending on the school.
  • RN degree/licensure — To take your RN to a BSN degree, you need to be a current licensed nurse in good standing.
  • Personal essay — Colleges like to get to know who you are as a person outside of school or nursing. Essays are not a requirement for every BSN program but you should be prepared to write one if required by your chosen program.
  • Resume/CV — Some schools will ask for a resume or CV as part of the admission process. They do this to learn about you on a professional level, including school completion and work experience.
  • Letters of recommendation — These letters should come from teachers or employers who can speak to your readiness and qualifications for starting a BSN degree. Most schools will require between one and three letters, so plan accordingly about who you will ask to write the letters. Be sure that you have a good professional relationship with whomever you ask to write a letter for you to ensure they will give you a solid recommendation.
  • Application — In addition to all the other information you need to provide, BSN programs will also have a standard application that needs to be submitted. Read over it carefully before you start and ensure you have all the information needed to fill it out completely.
  • Criminal background check — Nurses are on the frontline of most patient interactions, and as such, they must be honest, ethical, and professional. A clean background check shows your school that you are trustworthy and fit to work in medicine. In addition to background checks, some BSN programs may also require a drug test or that you complete a physical with your primary care provider.
  • Full-time RN employment (in some cases) — Outside of regular BSN courses, most programs have a clinical hours requirement. Since these programs are online, you may be required to work as an RN to get the clinical hours you need for your degree.
  • Equivalency exam — You may be able to test out of the clinical hours if you can pass an equivalency exam. This may be a good option if you are trying to graduate faster.

What is the average cost of getting the degree?

The average cost of an online RN to BSN program from a public university is $37,920 (tuition only). However, prices can range from $25,000 to $80,000, depending on which school you choose and whether they are a public or private university. In some cases, schools will charge online students higher out-of-state tuition, which can also raise costs.

Tuition isn’t the only cost that online students have to cover. You’ll still need school materials, textbooks, a computer to access online courses, and a strong, stable internet connection. All of this needs to be calculated on top of tuition costs to help you determine if a school’s costs fit your budget.

How long does it take to earn a BSN degree (on average)?

Typically, it takes two years to turn an RN associate degree into a BSN degree. A BSN degree is usually a four-year program, but with an RN associate degree, it cuts two years out of your overall time. Some schools offer accelerated programs that are usually 12–18 months but this is not a standard option.

Other factors affect how long your BSN degree takes, including:

  • Credit transfers
  • Work experience
  • Your learning pace

If you want to work through a BSN program quickly, find an online school that offers accelerated courses, accepts your credits for transfer, and considers work experience for your degree progress.

Do RN-to-BSN Programs Require Clinicals?

Typically, no. If you already have your RN license, you shouldn’t need to repeat your clinicals. However, some schools may require students to work as an RN during their schooling. This option fulfills the clinical hours that may be required for graduation.

Ready to Go Back to School?

In today’s competitive job market, higher education is becoming a necessity. People often find that certain career goals are slightly out of reach without having at least a bachelor’s degree. With so many colleges and universities offering online programs for a variety of degrees, it’s never been more convenient to go back to school for whatever you want to learn.

Turning an RN license into a BSN degree may seem overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. You now have the tools to help you research online BSN programs to find the right one for you. With, you’ll be able to rank your own program options and boost your career prospects.