The Best Online RN to BSN Programs

As the health care industry grows to meet demand and becomes more complex, a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing, or BSN, has turned into a necessary degree for nurses who want to advance their careers. A BSN is often required for administrative positions and is a prerequisite for admission into graduate programs and all four advanced practice nursing specialties (nurse practitioners, nurse anesthetists, clinical nurse specialists, and nurse midwives). Also, according to the Nursing2006 Salary Survey, registered nurses with a BSN earned $4,200 more per year than registered nurses without the degree.

We selected the best online RN to BSN degree programs in nursing which we feel are strong programs for your education dollars. Along with considering the tuition costs, we made our selections based on other factors including accreditation, special features, and reputation.

Each of the degrees has received regional accreditation, which is the most legitimate form of school accreditation in the United States. Some colleges with online programs hold national accreditation instead of regional accreditation because they are unwilling or unable to meet the rigorous standards of regional accreditation. Many regionally accredited institutions do not recognize credits or degrees earned at nationally accredited institutions.

Also, we examined the nursing accreditation of the schools. There are two main accrediting agencies for nursing programs, National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) and Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). There is some debate as to which agency is superior. We believe both are acceptable and neither is better than the other. Both agencies are recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). CHEA is the only nongovernmental organization to evaluate and certify accrediting organizations in the United States.

Nursing accreditation is important for a couple of reasons. First, the colleges and universities which have received accreditation from NLNAC or CCNE have undertaken additional evaluation and scrutiny to make sure their nursing programs meet high standards. Second, some companies will only hire BSN graduates from schools with NLNAC or CCNE accreditation. Third, if you choose to further your education, some graduate schools will not accept BSN degrees from a non-accredited nursing program. Therefore, we chose degree programs that are accredited by one or both of the nursing accreditors.

Here are our top online RN to BSN bachelor nursing degrees:

Florida Hospital College of Health Sciences

Regional accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Nursing accreditation: NLNAC

With a tuition cost of $290 per credit hour and matriculation fee of $290 per trimester, Florida Hospital College of Health Sciences offers one of the best deals for an online BSN.

Depending on the number of credits you transfer and the number of classes you take each trimester, Florida Hospital College’s RN to BSN program can be completed in as little as 18 – 24 months. Also, you can move at a slower pace if you have a busy schedule with work and family.

The program does not require clinicals or group projects.

Upon graduation, you will receive the same degree conferred to an on-campus student.

Florida Hospital College is part of Florida Hospital. With over 2,000 beds in Central Florida, Florida Hospital is consistently listed by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s best hospitals.

Chamberlain College of Nursing

Regional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
Nursing accreditation: NLNAC, CCNE

With their singular focus on nursing education, Chamberlain is able to provide a better education than other schools who have programs in other fields.

Chamberlain College of Nursing’s Fast Track RN to BSN Online Degree completion program can be completed in as few as three semesters. The program is management oriented to prepare you for advancement opportunities as well as master’s level programs.

The curriculum does not include clinicals. Instead, you will participate in experiential learning projects.

Unlike many other online nursing schools, Chamberlain has rolling admissions which means you can apply throughout the year and not have to wait months or even a year to start taking classes.

Chamberlain is a trusted institution with a 120-year history of excellence in nursing education.

Sacred Heart University

Regional accreditation: New England Association of Schools and Colleges
Nursing accreditation: CCNE

Sacred Heart University’s online RN to BSN program is designed for part-time students who have busy schedules because of work and family. You can earn a BSN degree at your own pace and avoid the stress that can come from an accelerated program.

Sacred Heart has a flexible credit transfer policy tailored to meet the needs of adults students. There is no time limit to transfer credits as long as you went to an accredited college and earned a grade of C or higher for the course. Up to 66 credits from a two-year college and up to 90 credits from a four-year college may be transferred for applicable courses.

The university’s expert faculty makes sure the online curriculum is up-to-date with developments in the field and your assignments and projects will be relevant to your workplace experience.

The Princeton Review included Sacred Heart in its latest edition of “The Best 371 Colleges”.

Drexel University

Regional accreditation: Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools
Nursing accreditation: NLNAC, CCNE

Earn your bachelor degree in nursing online from a top school by enrolling in Drexel University’s RN to BSN program. Drexel was ranked one of “America’s Best Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report.

Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions is regarded as a top nursing school. With a rich 130-year legacy of training nurses, the college has earned a national reputation as an education leader in nursing.

Drexel’s online BSN program has the same rigorous academic standards (admission criteria, curricula, accreditation and exams) as their on-campus program. The same qualified faculty will teach your online classes and you will receive the same quality degree as on-campus students upon graduation.

You can complete the program at the pace that fits your lifestyle. Take 1-2 courses per term if you have a busy schedule or take a full time credit load to accelerate the process.

Western Governors University

Regional accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Nursing accreditation: CCNE

Time wrote an article about Western Governors University (WGU) calling it “the best relatively cheap university you’ve never heard of.”

WGU is a fully accredited online-only university with a unique low-cost tuition plan. For their RN to BSN program, the school charges a flat tuition rate of $3,250 per 6-month term. With the flat rate, you can save a lot of money by completing as much of your degree as possible each term.

WGU does not have traditional classes. Instead of basing your progress on earning credit hours from courses, you will complete challenging assessments (papers, tests, assignments) in the required subject areas. These assessments measure your knowledge and competency.

Your progress is tracked through Competency Units (CUs), which are credit equivalents based on the assessments you complete. If you devote much time and effort to learning the material, you can accumulate CUs at a faster rate than the typical course method. Also, if you are already competent in a topic, you can finish the assessment on that topic quickly.

[Request information from WGU about their RN to BSN program]

Graceland University

Regional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
Nursing accreditation: CCNE

Graceland University has been providing nurses with distance learning options since 1987. Their online RN to BSN program is competitively priced and uses an intuitive online platform called eCollege. Along with being user friendly, eCollege offers 24/7 technical support.

As a BSN student, you are required to attend a four-day, on-campus focus session. This session provides opportunities to be introduced to faculty and staff and meet your cohort classmates while participating in learning activities.

The university has 15:1 student to faculty ratio, which means you’ll enjoy small classes in which the professors can personally get to know you and help you with your studies.

Graceland was selected as a top college in the midwest by The Princeton Review in their “2010 Best Colleges: Region by Region” website section.

Indiana State University

Regional accreditation: North Central Association of Colleges and Schools
Nursing accreditation: NLNAC

Indiana State University’s online RN to BSN program has a unique feature that allows you to earn up to 10 credit hours through professional portfolio evalutation. This process gives you the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge and skills in certain subject areas. Successful achievement of the objectives gives you full or partial credit for selected courses.

The tuition is affordable – even for out-of-state students. Indiana residents pay $272.00 per credit hour if they are enrolled for less than 12 hours in the semester. If they take 12-18 hours instead, they pay $3,757.00 for the semester. Out-of-state residents pay $340.00 and $4,696.00, respectively.

The Princeton Review named Indiana State among the “Best in the Midwest” schools for the sixth year in a row.

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