With excellent advancement opportunities and the ability to work in a wide variety of different careers, a nursing degree is an excellent choice for individuals driven to help others.
Whether this is the start of your nursing career journey or you’re a seasoned nurse looking to advance your career, one of our top 30 accredited online colleges for nursing can open doors you didn’t even know existed! According to at least one study, 94% of registered nurses are glad they chose the career they did with the number rising to 98% for clinical nurse specialists (CNS) and certified nurse anesthetists (CRNAs). If you think about those numbers, they’re pretty impressive and means that you’ll likely be happy being a nurse if you decide to enter this profession.
What Will You Learn With a Nursing Degree?
The kind of knowledge you’ll learn depends primarily on the kind of nursing degree you choose. Many of the programs on this list are programs designed for those who are already working as registered nurses (RN’s) who wish to go back to school to earn their bachelor’s degree. With these kinds of programs, students can expect to focus their studies in leadership and management topics.
The Master of Science in Nursing is another popular online nursing degree that allows students to focus on a variety of careers. Common focuses or concentrations for MSN’s include:
- Leadership and management
- Nursing education
- Acute care nurse practitioner
- Adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner
- Family nurse practitioner
- Psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.
If you decide to enroll in an online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program you can expect to take many classes on research. Some DNP programs require the publication of a research finding, while other programs require the completion of an applied doctoral project.
What Are the Best Accredited Online Colleges For Nursing?
Accredited Online College uses the most recent data from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics. Each program is scored individually. It’s then compared to all other universities offering that degree to determine the final score you see by each ranking. Accredited Online College considers the affordability, student-to-faculty ratio, and the number of programs offered on-campus and online. To learn more, visit our methodology page.
It’s not hard to figure out why Pennsylvania State University tops our list of the best accredited online colleges for nursing as this school is known for offering one of the highest quality online educations available. In 2020, U.S. News & World Report ranked this university’s online bachelor’s degree among the top ten in the United States.
This program has multiple accreditations including being accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The Bachelor of Science in Nursing from this university is a 120-credit hour program and is designed for registered nurses (RN’s) wishing to complete a bachelor’s in an accelerated format.
Students in the accelerated program option rotate through classes every seven and a half weeks. To complete this degree students are required to complete 45 hours of clinical experience which has recently been reduced from 180 that was required in the past.
Texas A&M University’s campus in Bryan-College Station, Texas offers students an RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program that can be completed almost entirely online. The program does require that newly admitted students attend a two-day conference at their Bryan-College Station campus before starting their online classes.
To be eligible to apply to this university’s BSN program students are expected to have completed an associate degree in nursing or 59 credit hours of prerequisite coursework. Full-time students are able to complete this program in as little as three semesters depending on what time of the year they are enrolled.
This program only requires students to complete 30 credit hours of coursework to complete the program. If your schedule is hectic and only has minimal time to complete this program there is a two-year option that gives students the option to go at a slower pace.
Critical thinking and leadership skills are the primary focuses of the RN to BSN program at the University of Wisconsin Madison. The BSN from this university will give you the skills to take on new responsibilities in the organization you already are employed in or land that dream job that requires that candidates have at least a bachelor’s degree.
Students who have their general education requirements met can expect to take anywhere from 24 to 30 credit hours of coursework, which can be completed in 1.5 to 2.5 years. Students can complete classes in a traditional 14-week format or choose an accelerated seven-week session. The school also offers its students the ability to pursue a school nursing certificate for those interested in working as a nurse in the educational system. This certificate is 18-credit hours and enables students to become licensed through the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction.
The RN to BSN program from North Dakota State University was created to develop graduates who are able to change with, and make changes to, an increasingly complex healthcare system. This program focuses on subjects you’ll apply day-to-day as a nurse such as quality and safety, evidence-based practice, population-focused nursing, as well as leadership skills.
If you’re someone that needs an entirely online program with zero on-ground travel to the school’s campus in Fargo, North Dakota, then this program may not be an ideal choice. The school requires on-campus immersions once per semester and since the program takes around five semesters to complete, students can expect to travel to the main campus five times throughout the program.
The requirements for admission to this program are relatively straightforward, with the school expecting candidates to have an associate degree with a cumulative GPA of at least 2.75 and a current unencumbered professional nurse license (RN).
The Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Purdue University’s Global Campus is a degree created for nurses by nurses, which means you’ll be taught information that will be genuinely applicable in your everyday job. This is a rigorous program that will require serious amounts of dedication and time, but you’ll be rewarded for your hard work with an unparalleled education.
To complete the BSN, students are required to complete 180 credit hours of coursework, of which 90 are likely to be transfer credits as this is an RN to BSN program. The 90 to 130 credits that most students have to complete to graduate will take students around 18 months of full-time study.
Courses are held in 10-week modules with the school estimating that students should plan on spending between 15 and 18 hours per week on their studies. Tuition is competitively priced at about $315 per credit hour with those transferring 90 credit hours of coursework paying just over $28,000 for their degree completion.
In 2020, U.S. News & World Report ranked East Carolina University in the top five best online nursing education programs in the nation, which is no surprise given the school’s low tuition costs and short time to completion. This program is an RN to BSN program that can be completed in as little as 16 months of part-time study. The website is full of testimonials from students who have completed the program and can’t speak highly enough about their process with this university in earning their BSN.
Don’t worry about on-site immersion or hidden required visits to the campus, as East Carolina University has made this program completable entirely online. The school expects its applicants to have completed their general education requirements as well as some basic science courses such as microbiology, chemistry, and nutrition, among others. If you’ve been out of school for some time now, don’t worry as they accept all previously taken coursework with a C or greater.
The University of Cincinnati offers an RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree that allows its students to take maximum advantage of previously earned college credits and work experience so they can complete their degree as quickly as possible. The university allows students already admitted into the university to transfer into the College of Nursing by simply submitting an application, which can allow students to bypass the undergraduate student office.
Students admitted into this program can choose either a full-time or part-time option accommodating students no matter where they are in life. Those that choose the full-time option can expect to walk away with their degree in as little as nine months (two semesters), while part-time students can choose between a program that can be completed in three or five semesters.
Developing a general foundational knowledge base and well-rounded nurses is what the RN to BSN program from Ohio State University is all about. If you choose this program you’ll be guided by teachers who have years of experience working as nurses and who hold graduate degrees, so they know what it takes to get you where you want to go in nursing.
This program is available to almost everyone in the US, but there are eight states in the continental United States in which the program is not accepted because it’s a distance education program. You can find out specifically at the school’s website whether you’re located in one of the unfortunate states that don’t approve this program.
While this program focuses on the foundational knowledge necessary to be successful in nursing you’ll also explore advanced issues such as evolving concepts in leadership and management. OSU understands that education can be expensive, which is why they created a program that eliminates the textbook costs by eliminating the need for textbooks entirely through the utilization of free resources online.
You don’t have to travel all the way to rural Hays, Kansas, the home of Fort Hays University, to partake in their excellent nursing programs including their online RN to BSN program. The school even offers high school students the ability to spend two days exploring exactly what nursing and college life could be like through a program called the Nightingale Experience. If you’re an RN wanting a program that can quickly be completed to receive your bachelor’s, the RN to BSN program may be exactly what you’re looking for as the program can be completed in as little as three semesters.
The entire RN to BSN program is 120 credit hours, but many of the students transfer into this program with well over 60 credit hours. The requirements for completing this program are relatively straightforward—as long as you have an unrestricted RN license and you maintain a C average in all nursing courses then you’ll be successful.
Study what you want to study with the RN to BSN program at the University of South Florida. The program allows students to focus on patient/staff education, leadership/management, or clinical excellence while working toward their degree. Whether you want to take three full-time semesters or five part-time semesters, this program will give you the tools and techniques to shine as a nurse and distinguish yourself in the profession.
This program consists of 30 credit hours of coursework with experiential learning a requirement in at least three of the courses taken. Upon completion of the BSN program, students are prepared to begin work at the graduate level, and can pursue the school’s Master of Science in Nursing, Doctor of Nursing Practice, or Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science.
North Carolina residents may find the RN to BSN program from Appalachian State University of particular appeal, as in-state residents will only pay $163 per credit hour. The program is 120 credit hours of which 30 credit hours have to be completed at Appalachian State University, which means those needing the minimum number of requirements can complete their degree in under a year and pay less than $5,000.
Students accepted into this program can choose an area of focus in education, health care, or professional studies. Like in most nursing degree programs, clinicals are a part of the curriculum, but the university counts class projects and research toward these requirements. The school requires that those wishing to transfer into this program have at least an associate in nursing or a diploma in nursing and hold an unrestricted registered nurse license.
Students wanting a university that emphasizes support for their students through student services and advisory services need to check out the University of North Dakota. UND provides online tutoring services, library and tech support, and advising services, among others, to ensure that every student admitted into their program has all the tools and support to finish their degree.
The RN to BSN program offered by UND allows students to participate in live web classes or students can view the recorded lectures at their own convenience. This degree completion program is 30 credit hours which is estimated to take students between one and two years to complete.
If you’re unsure how your previous college coursework will transfer then take advantage of the school’s unofficial transcript review service. Pay attention to the dates as the application deadline for the fall semester is July 1st as you don’t want to delay anymore the completion of your degree.
If chemistry wasn’t your strongest subject or the very thought of having to take the subject dissuades you from earning your BSN degree then select the RN to BSN program through the University of Southern Mississippi. If that piques your interest, it gets better. There are three start dates each year, the summer, spring, and fall semesters, with students able to choose eight, ten, or sixteen week class lengths.
Two clinical experiences are required before graduation, which students can complete in their local communities. Additionally, for students to receive their BSN the school requires them to complete a leadership course, which counts as the students’ capstone requirement.
If the idea of knocking a few thousand dollars off your tuition while earning your degree sounds enticing then you’ll want to check out the school’s many scholarship opportunities that online students can apply for.
The RN to BSN program at FAU is not only regionally accredited and accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), but is also endorsed by the American Holistic Nurses Association. Students of this program are able to pursue certification in holistic nursing upon graduating. This program requires students complete 32 credit hours of coursework with online students paying in-state tuition rates.
Graduates of this program are equipped to pursue careers in many different kinds of nursing, such as emergency room nursing, clinical nursing, leadership, and more. If you’re curious about the credit hour tuition rate you’ll be paying as an online student, it’s $201.29. If you do the math the 32 credit hour program could only cost some students around $6,500. That’s a pretty cheap investment for new career opportunities and higher future salaries.
Virginia community college students working toward completing their Associate of Applied Science in nursing will want to check out George Mason University’s co-enrollment BSN program. The co-enrollment program allows nursing students enrolled in a partnering Virginia community college to complete their BSN in one semester after completing their AAS in nursing. The school also offers a regular RN to BSN program for non-Virginia residents. Both of these programs are 30 credit hours of coursework which are broken down into ten courses.
Courses are held in seven-week formats and students can work toward their degree carrying a full-time or part-time workload. Throughout the program students will take classes in research, leadership and management, and health assessment. Those able to participate in the co-enrollment program have the added benefit of paying in-state tuition of $558.50 per credit hour, which is nearly a third less than the out of state tuition rate.
With the University of New Mexico’s RN to BSN program you’ll be taught the exact same curriculum that your on-ground cohorts will be taught, the only difference is that you’ll learn the information when and where you want. The program is focused on teaching students evidence-based practices and how to critically think through problems that they may actually face in their jobs. The school knows that teaching information is important, but teaching students thinking skills is the cornerstone of their future success.
Students are unlikely to get bored with the subjects they’re studying as classes are held in accelerated eight week modules. To be eligible for admittance into this program students will need to have at least 26 hours of transferable credits. This program is listed as a 30 credit hour program, but to graduate with a BSN degree from the University of New Mexico students must have completed 128 credit hours in total college coursework.
The RN to BSN program from Michigan State University can be completed in five semesters of part-time study. The program specializes in providing its students with clinical practice in both community health and leadership. The school is proud of their graduates, which is why the school lists some of the careers and companies their graduates ended up working after finishing their degree.
During this program students will take classes in a wide variety of subjects including BSN Impact on Healthcare; Genetics: Transforming Healthcare; Research, Ethics, and Evidence Based Practice for Nurses; Community and Population Health; and others. Online students can also apply for the same scholarships that are available to the on-ground nursing students, which can mean a little extra money in your pocket after graduating.
The 35-credit hour online RN to BSN program from the University of Texas at Arlington will strengthen your existing clinical and patient care skills, while developing skills in leadership and management. You’ll be receiving an excellent education at an extremely affordable price of $257 per credit hour. If you’re doing the math that will come out to slightly less than $9,000 for the program.
On average, students are able to complete this program in only nine months, making this one of the fastest programs to finish your Bachelor of Science in Nursing on this list. Those that may don’t have the best cumulative GPA from their last university may still make the cut as this university only requires that students have a past cumulative GPA of 2.25.
Students who have a dream of someday completing a graduate degree after their BSN would be wise to check out the RN to BSN program at the University of Central Florida, which allows students to earn up to nine credit hours of graduate work while completing their undergraduate degree.
The RN to BSN program allows students to complete the degree at their own pace so that individuals who want to finish the degree as quickly as possible can zip through it in as little as three semesters and those that need more time can take as long as ten semesters.
The program is a 30 credit hour program that places a strong emphasis on the sciences involved in nursing. This university also offers students an ASN to BSN program that can be completed in as little as six semesters. Like the RN to BSN program the ASN to BSN program also allows students to earn credit toward a graduate degree while earning their bachelor’s.
The accelerated BSN program from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh is the ideal program for individuals that already have a bachelor’s degree in another subject, but are wanting to earn a BSN. You don’t have to have any nursing experience or be a registered nurse to apply to this program, as the program will prepare you for the NCLEX, the licensing exam to become an RN. This program is designed for the serious student that is willing to put in the time and effort to quickly earn their nursing degree.
This program is designed to be 12 months in duration and does require multiple visits to the university’s main campus to complete labs. How intense is this program? Students can expect to spend between eight to 12 hours per day studying, but if your goal is to get your RN and BSN as quickly as possible then this is definitely the degree for you!
If you have an associate degree in nursing and are licensed as a registered nurse then you’re eligible to apply for admission to Davenport University’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. This degree completion program is 31-credit hours in duration that seeks to prepare students to provide care and become leaders in a wide variety of settings. The program will take students approximately three semesters to complete, with students enrolled in nine to 12 credit hours of coursework each semester.
Davenport University also has partnerships with community colleges throughout the state of Michigan and allows students to enroll in their BSN program while taking courses at their local community college. This concurrent pathway allows students to complete their BSN degree in as few as two semesters after graduating with their Associate of Nursing degree.
It’s easy to find students who have had positive experiences in Clemson University’s RNBS completion track program, and it’s no wonder given the school’s hard work to ensure students in this program have some of the same opportunities to interact with professors as their on-ground students. Faculty that will be teaching your classes and other knowledgeable faculty are available by phone to answer questions you may encounter and help you tackle difficult nursing concepts.
Students who are admitted into this program are required to complete 32 credit hours, which can be completed in around one year of diligent study. Students take classes over the fall, summer, and spring blocks, with three to four courses each module. There are part-time study options available for students with busy work and personal lives that just don’t have the time for full-time study.
With the RN-BSN program at the University of Iowa, students have the ability to gain clinical practicum experience in Swaziland, Africa. Few other programs ranked here offer students the ability to gain knowledge and experience treating patients in another country. If this experience doesn’t excite you, don’t worry, because most students choose to complete practicum hours at a local health center.
Students can enroll in the full-time program that can be completed in three semesters or the part-time program that will take students five semesters. The RN-BSN program consists of 32 credit hours of coursework with students in the full-time option taking between six and 14 credit hours a semester and those in the part-time option taking close to six credit hours each semester. To graduate, students have to complete a quality-improvement project in their place of employment or a healthcare facility located in Iowa.
Clarion University has a program for every type of person: those wishing to get into the profession, those wishing to expand their roles within nursing, and those wanting to establish themselves as experts in nursing practice. At the undergraduate level students can apply to an Associate of Science in Nursing, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or RN to BSN program.
Those wishing to pursue a graduate degree can pursue a Master of Science in Nursing with a concentration in family nurse practitioner or a Doctor of Nursing Practice. The school also offers a case management certificate and a post master’s family nurse practitioner certificate program.
The RN-BSN program prepares students to take on more responsibility in their current nursing job and to pursue graduate education. Non-Pennsylvania residents pursuing the RN-BSN program can expect to pay tuition rates of $11,108 per semester.
If you’re a registered nurse and have a bachelor’s degree in a subject other than nursing, then the University of Michigan – Flint has a Doctor of Nursing Practice that you can apply to. Many DNP programs require that their applicants have a Master of Science in Nursing Practice, or at least a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, but this university has created an alternative pathway for those that took an alternative route to their nursing careers. To be accepted into this unique program students must have maintained at least a 3.50 cumulative GPA in the last sixty hours of coursework.
The DNP online degree from the University of Michigan will take students anywhere from three to six years to complete. This program allows students to concentrate their studies in adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, or psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.
Around 15 months is all it’ll take to earn your Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree with George Washington University’s RN-BSN program. This university partners with community colleges in Washington D.C. and Virginia, guaranteeing students who complete their Associate in Nursing entry into their RN-BSN program. To find out if you have attended one of their partner institutions check out the programs website.
The RN-BSN program consists of 21 credit hours of coursework with an additional 15 credit hours awarded through the completion of the Nursing Advancement Professional Portfolio for a total of 36 credit hours. The entire program will take students around 15 months to complete, with students on average taking six credit hours per semester. Students can gain admission into this program in either the fall or spring semesters each year.
Registered nurses wanting a master’s degree focused on leadership and management will find an excellent program in the ADN to MSN with a concentration in nursing leadership and management program from the University of Mary. There is a lot going for this program including an accelerated format and reasonable tuition rates. The students can complete this program in only 20 months of hard work, which would cut months off what it would take to earn this degree if you were to pursue a bachelor and master’s degree separately.
The ADN to MSN program length is 43-credit hours combined with 500 clinicals hours which are broken up over five semesters. If you decide to choose this program you’ll take classes such as Community as Partner, Resilient Nursing Leadership, and Contemporary Issues in Healthcare Administration, just to list a few.
While the RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree is an online program, you’ll have opportunities to meet with faculty and other students face-to-face if you so desire. Nurses with a Massachusetts RN license are automatically awarded 39 credit hours upon enrollment into this program. The entire BS in Nursing degree consists of 40 classes or 120-credit hours of coursework.
The school requires students enrolled into this program take 27 credit hours of nursing courses with four courses taken sequentially. The first nursing courses you’ll take are Academic Strategies: Portfolio and Seminar, Research in Nursing and Health Care, Health Assessment, and Concepts for Baccalaureate Nursing. Students in this program will select electives from sociology/psychology and courses from the school’s Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences.
With a 100% placement rate into jobs, Vermont Technical College should be a top contender for students wanting to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). RN’s who want to take on the challenge of more education are eligible to apply to this program. This BSN program is 121 credit hours in length with the time to complete this degree dependent on the number of transferable previous college coursework and credit hours taken per semester.
In total, students that finish this degree will have taken 225 hours of clinical experience that can be completed in the student’s community without ever setting foot in Vermont. The school offers its online students the ability to apply for numerous scholarships including one dedicated to students enrolled in a nursing program with the highest need for financial aid.
Residents of North Carolina that are looking for an online RN to BSN will find it near to impossible to beat the $4,906.22 tuition rate for this program. The program requires 29 credit hours of coursework, but the University of North Carolina Wilmington requires that all students take at least 30 credit hours of coursework through UNC for the awarding of this degree. This means that if you haven’t attended UNC in the past, this program will be at least 30 credit hours long.
The RN to BSN program can be completed in one years’ time for students with the maximum amount of transferable credits. Courses are offered in seven week modules and students are able to start this program six times throughout the year. There are two start dates in the fall, spring, and summer semesters, which means you’ll be receiving your degree in the quickest time possible without unnecessary delays!
How Much Can I Earn After Getting a Degree in Nursing?
We have already talked about how nursing is an incredibly satisfying career for those that perform this job day in and day out, but did you know that nursing can also be financially rewarding? It’s true that your earning potential will depend on the specific job you get and the education level you decide to pursue, but even non-specialized nurses can bring home a decent income.
Registered nurses (RN’s) go by a variety of job titles such as director of nursing, emergency department RN, and staff nurse, among other titles, and administer nursing care to patients throughout the medical care continuum. As of 2018, there was estimated to be over three million RN’s employed throughout the United States.
The majority (66%) of RN’s have an associate degree with only 23% having a bachelor’s degree. Becoming an RN is an excellent career move as the profession is expected to grow faster than average at 11% or higher between 2018 and 2028. The median annual salary for RN’s in the United States is $73,300, but this figure varies depends on which state you end up working in.
Nurse practitioners are RN’s who have at least a master’s degree and specialized training in clinical care so that they can diagnose and treat disease. The nurse practitioner profession is another nursing career that is expected to grow faster than average in the next decade. You’ll likely be happy with your income if you choose this career as the median yearly pay for NP’s is $109,820.
If you’re looking for the nursing career that pays the most then you’ll want to become a nurse anesthetist. Nurse anesthetists administer anesthesia and monitor patients in a variety of medical and dental settings. You won’t be able to become a nurse anesthetist by performing a program delivered entirely online, as this career requires extensive clinical training under the supervision of professionals.
More than three quarters of nurse anesthetists have a master’s degree and 6% have a doctoral degree. All the time, dedication, and hard work you’ll put into getting into this career will pay off—the median pay for individuals working as nurse anesthetists is $174,790 per year.
What Requirements Will You Need to Apply to a Nursing Degree Program?
The minimum requirements you’ll need to apply to the program of your choice will depend on the type of nursing degree you select. Since many of the programs ranked on this list are RN to BSN programs, you’ll likely need to already have your license to practice as a registered nurse.
Some programs want their applicants to have at least a year of work experience as a registered nurse, but this is not a universal requirement as some of the programs allow students enrolled in an associate degree to simultaneously enroll in their BSN degree.
Many of the BSN programs expect their applicants to have already completed an associate degree or certificate program in nursing with at least 90 credit hours of transferable previous college credit. BSN programs will want to see your cumulative GPA of the last 60 hours of college credit, which will help them gauge the likelihood you’ll be successful in their program.
Throughout this list, many of the schools are looking for applicants with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5, but there are some programs that accept students with GPAs higher than 2.0 and others that are looking for students with GPAs greater than 3.5.
All the programs on this list will request that you submit official transcripts from all the colleges and universities you have attended in the past. Some programs will also require that you submit official high school transcripts, but this is typically waived for students who have attended some college.
Individuals who are applying to an online Master of Science in Nursing program will likely have the same requirements listed above and also be expected to submit letters of recommendation and an essay. The letters of recommendation gives the admission team insight into the kind of people that they are letting into their program. This is especially important in programs upon the completion of which will allow students to practice independently to diagnose and treat disease.
Some programs request that students include an essay in their application packet which allows the admission team to see the students motivation for applying to the program and the ability of the applicant to write and communicate clearly.
If you’re interested in pursuing higher education, then you should check out The 15 Best Accredited Online Graduate Schools For 2020 and The Top 20 Easy Accredited Online Masters Degrees!