A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree continues to emerge as the more common route of entering the nursing field. There are a variety of career options in the nursing field and RNs are given the credentials and the ability to specialize in a certain area of nursing and pursue leadership and management roles.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ employment projections, from 2012-2022 there will be a need for 525,000 replacement nurses in the workforce, bringing the total number of job openings for nurses due to growth and replacements to 1.05 million by 2022. Nurses, LPNs and general nurse practitioners are in high demand! One way colleges have responded to the desperate needs of the present and future nursing community has been to “blend” online educational programs with practical clinical experiences for a more hybrid-type experience. The median age of nurses is 46, which means that about 50 percent of the nursing workforce is close to retirement. The recent reforms in healthcare will give millions of people access to the system, and many current younger nurses need more education and continue to seek it in this competitive field. So the options are aplenty. But who is the best?
Online courses from an accredited online nursing program are just as rigorous as you would expect traditional courses to be. Do not expect earning your nursing degree online to be any easier than in a physical classroom. Online colleges and traditional colleges are accredited in the same way…they both must meet the criteria set by independent accrediting bodies to receive recognition by that governing body
This ranking was determined based upon a variety of factors, including quality of faculty, technology level, student support, accreditation, cost, and the national and regional reputations of each school..
Each school on this list offers an online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. Some will require a few days on-campus for an occasional intensive, or for orientation, otherwise the process of education is completely online. In order to pursue these programs you will typically need an active RN license and a diploma or Associate of Arts. As you begin your search, it is recommended that you talk with admissions advisors at the schools you are interested in because they will be able to aid you in course planning so you can have a realistic picture of the time and financial commitments that successful completion of their program will require. Additionally, please note that each school that made this list is accredited both by their respective national and regional accrediting agencies and by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
We used a variety of resources online to compile a competitive list that hopefully points aspiring nurses in the right direction! Then, each of these schools were ranked by affordability (according to the latest tuition numbers) and quality (according to the latest US News & World Report ranking of the best online colleges for bachelor’s degrees). The 10 programs below scored the highest combined average rank between cost and quality.
Wright State University was founded in 1963 and is named after the Wright brothers, given their ties to the Dayton, Ohio area. It is respected as a research university with a commitment to innovation. The enrollment total is over 16,500 and its diverse student body enriches the educational experience. In particular, Wright State is a national leader in serving students with disabilities. Wright State’s RN-BSN Online Completion Program is designed for busy, working nurses. It allows students the opportunity to progress at their own pace in a supportive environment that will enhance their skills and knowledge.
Offered by the region’s most recognized and trusted provider of nursing education, Wright State’s program:
- is taught by real faculty who actually know you and your nursing experience.
- offers a superior online delivery and technical support allowing you to spend time learning rather than on technology.
- is fully aligned with AACN BSN Essentials and informed by QSEN principles
- provides outstanding value and competitive tuition.
- can be completed in as little as 15 months.
Founded in 1912, Loyola University New Orleans is a Catholic school in the Jesuit tradition which values educating the whole person and is open to students of all faiths. One of 28 Jesuit colleges and universities nationwide, Loyola has consistently been recognized as one of the nation’s top universities. The mission of the School of Nursing at Loyola New Orleans is of “a world where every nurse is a leader.” Loyola is dedicated to promoting health for all and the nursing program faculty, students, and graduates strive to embody the Jesuit values in providing new models for access to health care and health reform that benefits all persons. Their online RN to BSN provides students with both a broad base of liberal arts studies in the Jesuit tradition and with working knowledge of all the emerging matters that are essential for contemporary professional nursing practice.
Western Carolina University is a public university that is located in Cullowhee, NC and is a member of the University of North Carolina system. It was founded in 1889 in order to bring higher education opportunities to the western region of North Carolina. Their mission is on providing quality education and preparation for responsible citizenship in a changing world. The university has 10,107 students. Of this number, approximately 1,400 are enrolled in online undergraduate programs. Western Carolina University provides around 17 accredited online bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees as well as seven online certificate programs. The online RN to BSN Program at Western Carolina University affords current registered nurses the opportunity to broaden their perspective of current clinical practice and enhance their leadership potential. All of WCU’s RN to BSN program is online, making it convenient, affordable, while also maintaining a high standard of educational aspirations and outcomes.
The University of Massachusetts Amherst combines the strengths of a nationally ranked university with individualized student support. Their more than 1,200 faculty members are at the top of their respective fields of study. As a leader in nursing education for over 60 years, the College of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst prepares candidates to excel in the nursing profession through their online RN to BSN program . With the resources of a major research university, students are exposed to the most innovative trends in clinical skills, research, and theory. The College of Nursing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst offers a space for learning and discovery for students who will be culturally proficient nurses, leading the field of health care in our increasingly global society.
The University of Alabama has a history dating back to 1831 when it was launched as Alabama’s first public college. Its programs set the bar high for the character, service and citizenship asked of its nearly 35,000 students. The University of Alabama has 25 online bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. The offering includes fields such as law, human environmental studies, education, business, engineering, and healthcare. Its online RN to BSN program is an accelerated option for the experienced, highly qualified registered nurse with an associate’s degree or diploma in nursing. The RN to BSN offers all of its nursing courses online, making it convenient for working nurses. In addition to its convenience and flexibility, the RN to BSN at the University of Alabama boasts some of the best educational training for nurses in the country.
The University of Illinois at Chicago is a major research university in the heart of one of the world’s most popular areas. UIC is the largest university in the Chicago area and has close to 28,000 students. UIC operates the state’s major public medical center, which provides care for underserved communities. It is known as the major educator of health care professionals in Illinois, and the rich diversity of its student body helps to train health care professionals for our world of today and tomorrow. UIC’s RN to BSN online program provides quality education with supportive student services, such as you own personal academic advisor who will journey with you from admission through graduation.
The Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing’s online RN-to-BSN program offers nurses a convenient way to advance their education and career. Our creatively designed Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree recognizes previous credits and professional development while eliminating time lost in repetitive courses. It was created specifically to accommodate busy nursing schedules and give those outside the geographical area an opportunity at a high quality education.
The online RN-to-BSN program from Loyola University Chicago is a faster way to reach that goal. Our top-notch faculty and high academic standards are geared towards enhancing healthcare quality and positive patient outcomes while helping you build a successful career.
An urban campus that more than 30,000 students call home, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) offers excellence in education through its more than 250 degree programs. IUPUI is especially well known and recognized for its work in the medical and health fields. All eight of the Indiana University Schools of Nursing joined together to fashion the collaborative online RN to BSN Degree Completion program that is available through Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis. The result is program designed with the adult-learner in mind that features flexible pathways of study in an innovative learning environment.
All eight of the Indiana University School of Nursing campuses across the state of Indiana joined to create the RN to BSN Degree Completion Program. This means that nursing courses are distance accessible, using Web-based and video technologies rather than requiring you to come to campus.
Flexible paths of study allow you to complete nursing courses in 12 months of full-time study or 18–24 months of part-time study once you complete general education coursework. The nursing curriculum is designed with the adult-learner in mind, focused on the needs of working nurses and their employers.
Arizona State University is a public research university that welcomes over 10,000 students who pursue a wide range of majors. ASU champions intellectual and cultural diversity, and is home to students from all 50 states and more than 150 countries. Its research is inspired by real-world application, blurring the boundaries that traditionally separate academic disciplines. The school offers degrees from the main campus in Tempe, Arizona, several extension campuses, and online. There are approximately 7,500 students enrolled in their online bachelor’s degree programs. Its online RN-BSN program is part of ASU’s commitment to building the future of the American university. It is a flexible program with all of the educational excellence that you would expect from a university that is a leader in higher education.
Why choose ASU? You deserve a quality education.
Quality Matters (QM) is a faculty–centered, peer–review process and rubric designed to certify the quality of online courses. The nationally recognized QM process is based on the research literature and best practices for online teaching and learning.
ASU has been a QM subscribing institution since 2008 with the RN to BSN courses being the first at ASU to be CM certified. Faculty and online course designers at the university use QM to guide course design decisions and as the foundation for course review and revision. The review process is designed to ensure that course expectations are clearly communicated and that student learning is assessed based on those expectations. The QM review also ensures that online courses include meaningful interaction between instructors and students, and with the course content.
Pennsylvania State University began to educate students in 1855 and have had a long commitment to leading on the frontiers of education. They were amongst the first major accredited universities to provide online education back in 1998. They did this because they believe that knowledge empowers people to do great things in this world, but that pursuit shouldn’t necessitate that one put the rest of their life on hold. Just over 13,800 students are enrolled in online degree programs at Pennsylvania State University, where they pursue nearly 63 accredited online bachelors, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Their world-classonline RN to BSN program is offered through their Penn State World Campus, whose mission is to ensure the quality of the academic experience for distance students. Thus, you can trust their program will be convenient, flexible, and the quality you would expect from Penn State.
Career Opportunities for Online BSN graduates from PSU via their website
- administrative or management positions
- community and public health centers
- social work case management
- specialization areas
- pharmaceutical sales
A part of the State University of New York system, SUNY Delhi, enrolls over 3,500 students from New York, surrounding states and several foreign countries. SUNY Delhi offers seamless, technology-based education on its main campus, satellite campuses and online. It has earned a reputation for excellence in several program areas, including its online RN-BSN program . SUNY Delhi is the only college in New York to offer a bachelor’s degree in nursing completely online. This allows you as a current RN to pursue further education while also balancing your other life commitments such as work and family. The RN to BSN program at SUNY-Delhi is “flexible, affordable, and doable.”
Program Highlights via their website
- Flexible scheduling that meets the needs of working professionals by allowing students to advance in the program part-time or full-time, with opportunities to begin the program in Fall, Spring, or Summer semesters
- Easy to use, web-supported classes with technical assistance and tutoring
- A state of the art curriculum delivered by a faculty with the highest credentials in the field
- Affordable SUNY tuition rates
- An opportunity to pursue your degree with other motivated professionals
- Additional online upper division liberal arts courses available from SUNY Delhi
- Military friendly College
Last Tip for enrollment: Be absolutely sure the online nursing program you’re considering is accredited by one of the two Department of Education-recognized nursing accreditors:
- The National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC)
- The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
What Can You Do with a BSN?
A staff nurse provides direct patient care as ordered by physicians. They carry out treatment procedures, administer medication and injections, document care, provide education to patients and families, and offer assistance during diagnostic testing and other procedures. Other duties may include supervising other medical staff such as vocational nurses, medical assistants, and nursing assistants. Staff nurses commonly work in hospitals, private doctor’s offices, and clinics. The average annual salary for staff nurses with a BSN is $56,000.
A nurse midwife provides obstetric care while under the supervision and guidance of a physician. They perform obstetrical examinations, provide advice to patients, perform and analyze tests during pregnancy, and consult physicians on patient care. During the labor and delivery process, nurse midwives offer emotional support to the mother and birthing partner and deliver the baby the most natural and safest way possible. Per the mother’s request, the nurse midwife limits the use of medication and medical equipment. Nurse midwives commonly work in hospital settings or as independent health care providers. The average yearly salary for nurse midwives with a BSN is $53,000.
Critical Care Registered Nurse
A critical care registered nurse specializes in providing care to patients with life-threatening medical conditions. While directed by a physician, these nurses closely monitor patients and life support equipment, administer medications, and perform intensive medical treatment. They also document all types of patient interactions and provide constant status updates to physicians. Critical care registered nurses typically work with fewer patients at a time because the needs are far greater. Critical care registered nurses often work in hospital intensive care units, cardiac care units, and emergency rooms. The average annual pay for critical care registered nurses with a BSN is $55,000.
Clinical Nurse Educator
A clinical nurse educator provides education and training to recent nursing graduates, aspiring nurses, and other clinical staff. They develop curricula for nurse educator programs, teach healthcare topics and clinical experience, and coordinate orientation of new staff. They are also involved in the planning, development, and assessment of continuing education courses for registered nurses. Some continue to provide direct patient care when they are not performing educational duties. Clinical nurse educators commonly have significant experience in the nursing field and many have completed a nurse educator training program. The average yearly salary for clinical nurse educators with a BSN is $56,000.
Medical and Health Services Manager
A medical and health services manager performs administrative tasks in various types of medical facilities. They plan, direct, and organize medical services and work to improve the quality and efficiency of those services. They also manage the finances, create work schedules, and organize records. Some medical and health services managers manage a whole facility and others are in charge of one specific department. The average annual pay for medical and health services manager with a BSN is $63,000.
Please make sure this rewarding profession is for you!
Nurses are responsible for a wide variety of tasks in the medical field. Some of the most common job duties of a nurse include:
- Administering medications
- Checking vital signs
- Working closely with doctors in exams, surgeries, etc.
- Recording patient symptoms, medical histories, and more
- Cleaning bed bans and helping patients to the restroom
- Performing sponge baths
- Monitoring a patient’s medical condition
- Answering questions about a patient’s condition
- Comforting families in times of trauma
- Changing bed sheets and clothes
- Making patients feel comfortable, even in scary situations
Online BSN Programs that just missed the 2015 list:
- Mckendree University
- Villanova University
- Loyola University Chicago
- University of Arkansas-Fayetteville
- University of Wyoming
- Kaplan University
- University of Wisconsin-Superior
Check out our Top Online Nursing Degree Programs for 2015