Nursing
January 10, 2024

RN-BSN Programs: Cost and Admission Requirements

We've investigated 10 popular RN to BSN Programs to help you compare tuition, admission requirements and licensing eligibility.

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RN-BSN Programs: Cost and Admission Requirements

An RN to BSN program is for practicing RNs with either an associate's degree in nursing (ADN) or a nursing diploma who want to return to school and earn a bachelor's of science in nursing. RN to BSN programs are generally shorter than traditional bachelor's degree programs because the person will already have experience working as a nurse. Because the people coming into these programs typically have clinical experience from their ADN or nursing diploma program and their careers, many RN to BSN programs can be completed entirely online. However, some do have a clinical requirement.

Registered nurses with a BSN degree may see a pay increase, but there are other reasons to consider getting this nursing degree. There’s a big push in nursing for all nurses to have their BSN degree, and many employers prefer them. Plus, nurses who hope to one day pursue a master’s degree must complete a BSN program before they can take that step.

Online RN to BSN degree programs vary in cost. Some charge a flat rate per block or semester; others break it down by credit hour. The length of the program varies, too, from nine months to two years. If you’re considering enrolling in an online RN to BSN program, here are ten programs to consider and everything you need to know to make an informed choice.

10 RN to BSN Programs

Chamberlain University

Chamberlain University’s RN to BSN online program can be completed in as little as one year for nursing students who choose the full-time option. Those enrolled full-time take two to three courses in an eight-week session, but Chamberlain offers other options, too. You can also take classes individually and add more when you’re ready. Chamberlain’s is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). This program is approved by all 50 states and Washington, DC.

Cost: $31,835, though the average tuition is less than $14,000 after accounting for transfer credits.

What to know: New student tuition for the RN to BSN online program varies; $28,575 is the full tuition, but on average, most students pay less than $14,000. Chamberlain allows all students a minimum of 77 credits from their previous nursing education and clinical experience working as an RN. On average, students start with 89 credit hours.

Learn more at Chamberlain University

Western Governors University

The online RN to BSN program at WGU has an interesting approach, encouraging registered nurses to work at their own pace. Rather than paying per credit, WGU has a flat fee for each six-month term. This way, students can control the ultimate cost of their education. The faster they finish, the less they pay. According to WGU, 77% of nursing students in the 90-credit program finish within two years. Students don’t have to log in to classes at a specific time, and assignments don’t have deadlines, making this an excellent program for people planning to work while in school. This program is recognized by the boards of nursing in all 50 states and accredited through the CCNE.

Cost: $4,885 per six-month term

What to know: Although online classes are flexible, this program does have a required clinical component. Students must work under a licensed BSN at an approved clinical site.

Learn more at WGU

The University of Texas at Arlington

UTA offers an accelerated CCNE-accredited online RN to BSN program that can be completed in as little as nine months. Program requirements are pretty straightforward. Nursing coursework consists of 32 credits or nine classes. Enrolled students must also complete 54 credit hours of general education classes and six credit hours of upper-division electives, one of which must be a nursing course. Each course is five to ten weeks long.

Cost: $257 per semester credit hour. They estimate the total cost to be $8,995.

What to know: UTA accepts up to 29 transfer credits from associate degree or diploma programs. This program does not require any in-person clinical work.

Learn more at UT Arlington

University of Central Florida

This fully online program from UCF is convenient and flexible. Online students are rarely on campus, so UCF has added fee waivers to make the program more affordable. These waivers reduce access to some on-campus amenities, but this shouldn’t affect online students very much. This 30-credit program starts three times yearly: summer, fall, and spring. You can attend full- or part-time.

Cost:  $179.19 per credit hour. Assuming the program is 30 credit hours, the total tuition is $5,375.70.

What to know: Applicants must be physically located in a Nurse Licensure Compact state for their education at UCF. See this map for more details

Learn more at UCF

Capella

Capella’s online RN to BSN program is flexible. Students can work at their own pace, and with the FlexPath option, they can finish in as little as nine months. With the FlexPath option, you can complete as many classes as possible in 12 weeks for a flat fee. According to Capella, over 90% of BSN students choose this option, and on average, BSN students transfer 65% of the credits they need to obtain their BSN with the FlexPath option. The CCNE accredits this program.

Cost: $13,480 ($6,740 accelerated)

What to know: Not all nursing boards accept graduates of Capella's RN to BSN program. Make sure your state board approves Capella before you apply.

Learn more at Capella

Arizona State University

ASU’s online RN to BSN program consists of ten classes at 7.5 weeks each. Students earn 39 credits, which can be completed in as little as 14 months. It’s flexible enough that you should be able to continue working while you earn your nursing degree. The CCNE accredits ASU’s online RN to BSN program.

Cost: $520 per credit hour. Assuming the program is 39 credit hours, the total cost of the program is $20,280.

What to know: This program is not approved in Washington, Tennessee, Rhode Island, Oregon, New York, or Louisiana.

Learn more at ASU

University of Maryland Global Campus

For the UMGC online RN to BSN program, all classes are available remotely, but you do have to have clinical experience. You need 120 credits to complete this program; UMGC gives 30 upper-level credits to nurses with an active RN license in an approved state. Students can also transfer up to 90 credits. One of the best things this program offers is career services, which you can continue to access even after graduation.

Cost: $499 per credit hour for out-of-state students; $318 in-state.

What to know: The University of Maryland Global Campus requires a nursing license from an approved state at admission and throughout the program. The following states do not meet this criteria: Alabama, Alaska, California, Idaho, Iowa, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.

Learn more at Maryland

Seminole State College

This program from Seminole State College can be completed in as little as one year, and it’s one of the most reasonably priced online programs out there. Most students pay less than $5,000, including fees and books. All classes are 100% online, and you can move through the program as fast or slow as you want. This program is fully accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

Cost: $381.57 per credit hour for out-of-state residents; $104.08 in-state

What to know: About 77% of 2021-2022 graduates completed the program on-time. An impressive 97% held current employment in the nursing profession.

Learn more at Seminole State

University of Florida

This CCNE-accredited program from the University of Florida is designed for working nurses. The coursework is entirely online, though the program does require 90 clinical hours. In the first semester, students complete 45 clinical hours through virtual simulations. The remaining 45 clinical hours are obtained through an independent clinical experience in the fourth semester. Students can choose an eligible facility near their home to complete these remaining hours.

Cost: $552.62 per credit hour for out-of-state residents; $129.18 in-state

What to know: The University of Florida only accepts students into this program who have an active, unencumbered Florida nursing license or a multi-state enhanced license. Visit this website to see if you can apply for an enhanced license in your state.

Learn more at UF

Stevenson University

Students can complete this online CCNE-accredited program entirely online in as little as 15 months. This program has a clinical component, but Stevenson allows you to complete your clinical hours while on the job, so you don’t have to take any time off of work or spend your days off trying to squeeze in clinical hours. Stevenson accepts up to 70 undergraduate credits from regionally accredited community colleges and 90 credits from regionally accredited four-year institutions.

Cost: $495.00 per credit or $1,485.00 per course

What to know: Not all nursing boards accept this program. Make sure your state board approves Stevenson of nursing before you apply.

Learn more at Stevenson

How to Choose Between RN-BSN Programs

Accreditation

We cover more about accreditation in a bit, but it's an essential part of choosing an online RN to BSN program. Accrediting bodies look at these programs very carefully; if a program gets through the nursing education accreditation process, it will likely provide you with an excellent education that will serve you well in your professional nursing practice.

Flexibility

Some of these programs allow you a lot of flexibility, which is great if you’re still working as a licensed registered nurse while pursuing your degree. Most allow you to attend classes whenever you want, but a few give you a way to graduate as quickly as possible and maybe even save some money.

Clinical Hours

Not all online RN to BSN programs require clinical. After all, you’re already working as a nurse; you probably already have a lot of hands-on experience. There are a few that we covered that do have a clinical component, though. If you are worried about managing your time with class, tests, work, and clinicals, choosing a program that doesn’t require them or will accept your working hours toward your clinical requirements might be better.

State Requirements

State requirements vary significantly, and not every online RN to BSN program meets every state’s requirements. Before applying for a program, check with your state’s regulating body to ensure that the program meets all of the requirements.

Cost

The cost of these programs varies significantly, not only by amount but by how the amount is calculated. Some programs charge a flat rate for each semester or block of classes, which can be a great way to graduate fast and save money. Others charge by the credit hour, but you won’t know how much that will be until someone in admissions looks at your transcripts and tells you how many transfer credits the school accepts.

Length

Online RN to BSN programs can be completed in as little as nine months or take up to two or three years. You have to ask yourself what you want. Do you want to graduate as soon as you can? Would you rather take your time so your workload doesn’t get too heavy while you’re also working your nursing job?

Why Should You Choose an Accredited and Credentialed RN-to-BSN Program?

Accreditation is knowing that a program provides a quality professional nursing education. In the U.S., private professional organizations accredit programs. These organizations exist purely to review colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher learning. 

The accreditation process involves a close examination of every part of the program. When you see that a program is accredited, you can rest assured that experts have looked at every detail and that it lives up to its promises. You should be able to request reliable data from an accredited institution, too, which can help you decide which program to apply to. Ask about the total costs, the likely salary you can earn, or your odds of finding employment after graduation.

FAQs

What's the curriculum for an RN to BSN program?

The BSN curriculum specifics will vary by program, but for most, you will take both general education classes, like history or English literature, and nursing-specific classes. Nursing courses will be a little more in-depth than you took to get your ADN or diploma because BSN-prepared nurses are more likely to take on supervisory roles or continue their education with an MSN degree. These classes might include leadership and management, health promotion, community nursing, research and evidence-based nursing practice, healthcare laws and ethics, or nursing informatics.

What are the admission requirements for an online BSN program?

Again, this will vary by program. Generally, you will need an active, unencumbered RN license in good standing and a minimum GPA from when you completed your diploma or ADN program. Some online nursing programs might require you to take prerequisite courses to fulfill additional requirements before entering their RN to BSN program.

Do you need to retake the NCLEX after completing an online BSN program?

No, you do not have to retake the NCLEX after you finish your BSN program. You can continue practicing under the same license.

Final Thoughts

If you’re a registered nurse looking to advance your career, an online RN to BSN program is a great place to start. This online nursing degree can open new doors or prepare you for an MSN degree program. Most of these nursing programs are flexible, and many will keep you working while in school. Look at these ten schools to help you determine which is the right one for you.

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Program outcomes may vary depending on each institution's specific curriculum and employment opportunities are not guranteed.