In an online RN to BSN program, you will develop your skills and graduate with a degree that gives you a competitive edge in the job market. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the job growth rate for nurses holding a bachelor’s degree is projected to increase by 16% between 2014-2024. These buoyant career prospects are driven in part by a national push for nurses to be highly educated and to meet the healthcare demands of an aging population.
The job growth rate for nurses holding a bachelor’s degree is projected to increase by 16% between 2014-2024
A 2010 report from the Institute of Medicine found that a growing number of people in recent decades have been afflicted with chronic illnesses, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. This is problematic because the healthcare system was not built to adequately serve their needs.
The IOM committee also recommends that organizations strive to have 80% of their nursing staff hold a BSN by 2020. BLS notes that an increasing number of hospitals now require nurses to hold a bachelor’s degree, data which has recently been supported by experts in the field.
Enrolling in an online RN to BSN program or a fast track RN to BSN program will prepare you to meet the demands of a constantly evolving healthcare system. If you are interested in taking your nursing career to the next level, read on to learn more about how you can earn your BSN online. We’ve created this guide to give you more information about the advantages of a BSN program, and to help you find the cheapest RN to BSN online programs available.
ADN vs BSN
What Is the Difference Between an RN With an ADN and BSN?
BSN-holders have several advantages over nurses holding associate degrees. A BSN is crucial for highly skilled nurses to secure upward mobility and earn higher pay. One of the biggest benefits of the BSN is the career development opportunity the degree affords, in terms of job availability and the scope of positions (administrative, teaching, and research positions all require a bachelor’s) you can pursue. RN to BSN online programs give RNs the ability to seamlessly upgrade their credentials and enhance their career prospects.
How Much Does a BSN Holder Make?
The BLS reports that registered nurses with bachelor’s degrees earned a median wage of $67,490 in May 2015. The salaries of nurses holding BSN degrees vary greatly depending on a number of factors, such as location and specialization. However, a BSN degree is key for nurses seeking long-term advancement.
Nursing Careers by the Numbers
There are a variety high-paying managerial and leadership opportunities for nurses holding a BSN. Some common positions include:
RN to BSN Online: An Overview
Who should pursue an RN to BSN program?
How long does it take to get a teaching degree at this level?
Is there an in-person (residency) requirement?
What type of jobs does this degree prepare you for?
What's the average salary for someone who holds this degree?
There are hundreds of online RN to BSN programs in the country, and some degree of variability in programming is to be expected. However, each program will cover a few common core concepts:
- Patient Care Best Practices: Nurses learn to apply evidence-based research that delivers the best patient outcomes in treating and managing illness, in addition to preventative care.
- Ethics: The healthcare landscape has changed dramatically over the years with a growing number of legal, regulatory, and ethical decision-making mandates and considerations, all of which nurses must be fully up-to-date on.
- Information Management: Nurses must be equipped to use technology and information systems integral in today’s high-tech nursing practice. This covers modern communication devices, patient records, terminologies, data mining, and attendant legal issues.
|Description||Pathophysiology is the study of how disease and illness affects the physical properties of the body, including cell structure, organ function, and homeostasis.|
|Job Skill||Pathophysiology helps nurses understand why they provide certain treatments at both a macro and micro level. This understanding results in better patient outcomes due to the more nuanced care nurses are able to provide.|
|Description||Course synthesizes the theories and practice integral to successful leadership and management in nursing.|
|Job Skill||Whether in their decision-making, collaborations, conflict management or resource management, nurses are groomed to assume their roles not only as practitioners of patient-centered care, but as leaders and managers of other nurses.|
Evidence-based Practice (EBP)
|Description||Using an evaluative and qualitative approach, this class addresses common healthcare questions, with EBP serving as a guiding principle to improve patient outcomes.|
|Job Skill||Provides the knowledge and training for nurses to identify, appraise, and apply EBP to the practice of nursing in order to ensure the best patient outcomes.|
Population Health in Nursing Care
|Description||Explores the factors that influence population health and illness, including psychology, sociocultural contexts, patient environment, and economics.|
|Job Skill||Nurses learn to identify socio-economic and other factors that impact the health of individuals and communities, and how to apply the appropriate interventions in patient care and disease prevention in these contexts.|
Affordable Schools With Online RN to BSN Programs
University of Florida
|Value Score 8.49|| |
Based in Gainesville, the University of Florida has offered UF Online courses for nearly three years – including their affordable RN to BSN online programs. The school is currently home to almost 50,000 students and more than 50% participate in some form of distance education. Aside from one-to-one academic advising and support, online students can also participate in a range of extracurricular and leadership activities provided exclusively to UF Online learners. Those in the RN to BSN program online benefit from one of the lowest rates of tuition and fees in our top 50 ranking. Prospective students may also be interested to know that online courses are taught by the same professors leading campus-based classrooms. The program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and approved by the Florida Board of Nursing. Students considering this school should be aware that at this time, only online students based in Florida can be accepted into the program.
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University of Central Florida
|Value Score 7.66|| |
Since 1978, Orlando’s University of Central Florida has been approved to provide nursing classes to a variety of learners. The school’s online RN to BSN programs are a central cornerstone of the department and have been offered as a distance learning option since 2001. As one of the more competitive programs on our list, the fall 2016 intake saw 411 applicants and 126 letters of acceptance extended. Designed for working RNs, both the campus-based and distance learning programs are designed to maximize time and offer ample flexibility for students juggling myriad responsibilities. The formula has proved successful, with BSN students exceeding both state and national averages for the NCLEX licensure examination. In addition to the standard range of services for online students, the department is also home to the Student Nurses Association.
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University of South Florida
|Value Score 7.4|| |
Regardless of whether or not a student is near the University of South Florida’s campus in Tampa, affordable RN to BSN online programs at the school can be completed from across the nation. The school is comprised of more than 42,000 students enrolled in programs ranging from bachelor’s to doctoral degrees and includes learners from every state and more than 150 countries. The National Institutes of Health ranked the College of Nursing as the best in Florida and the 24th best in the nation. The College of Nursing is a modern space with the latest technologies and some of the best instructors in the nation, helping facilitate more than 400,000 clinical hours per year. Part-time learners are able to complete online RN to BSN programs in five semesters, while those in full-time study can finish in three.
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University of Illinois at Springfield
|Value Score 7.02|| |
Consistently ranked by the National Institutes of Health as one of the best colleges of nursing research funding, the University of Illinois at Springfield’s online RN to BSN programs are among the top in the country. In 2016, QS World University Rankings gave the program the 45th spot for best nursing educations globally. One of the most affordable RN to BSN online programs, the degree is comprised of 30 credits, costs $19,500 for both resident and out-of-state students, and online students are eligible to apply for departmental scholarships. Unlike other programs that require visits to campus, UIS’s program is entirely online and can be completed in 15-25 hours of work each week. The department also hosts regular webinars for prospective students looking to learn more about the programmatic and departmental offerings.
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University of Massachusetts – Lowell
|Value Score 6.99|| |
UMass Lowell is a nationally recognized research university where 90% of students see their financial needs met with average awards of $15,000. The school prides itself on offering low tuition rates and sizable funding packages, which has helped it land on the President’s Higher Education Honor Roll for the last four years. The part-time online RN to BSN programs help working RNs complete degrees from a department that’s accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and is approved by the Massachusetts Board of Registration. Incoming students lacking a required non-nursing elective can take these online as well, although students do have the option to complete a blended program combining online and on-campus learning. As of 2016, the program is only open to registered nurses residing in Massachusetts. Students looking for more information can use the department’s Live Chat feature to speak with a nursing representative.
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RN to BSN online programming is designed for working nurses to complete coursework at their own pace. Accelerated online BSN programs, on the other hand, provide an entryway into the nursing profession for those who already have a bachelor’s degree in another discipline. To be eligible, program candidates must have completed the required science courses for the nursing curriculum.
For those with a degree, accelerated programs can be completed in 11 to 18 months and are the fastest route for RN certification for baccalaureate holders from other disciplines. Accelerated programs maintain the high standards of their traditional counterparts, require continuous study with no session breaks, and comprise the same number of core nursing courses and clinical hours.
In addition, many accelerated programs give students the opportunity to complete a master’s degree in nursing within three years. Graduates from fast track programs have a bright future. The American Association of Colleges of Nursing notes that “graduates of accelerated programs are prized by nurse employers” because of their demonstrated maturity, clinical skills, and ability to learn quickly.
Next Steps: Getting Your MSN
An MSN is required for many nursing specialties, including clinical nurse specialists, nurse practitioners, and nurse educators. Common areas of focus in an MSN program include advanced care of children and families, pharmacology, and resource management.
MSN programs generally require a BSN, although there are a few RN to MSN bridge programs available. Nurses interested in pursuing an MSN must be prepared for a two- to three-year commitment. Many nurses are able to complete their MSNs while still employed, and they have the opportunity to pursue specialization, such as anesthesiology, gerontology, and non-clinical roles, such as management and nursing education.
A registered nurse who goes on to earn an MSN degree can expect a considerable increase in salary. For instance, the BLS notes that registered nurses earned a median wage of $67,490 in May 2015, but nurse practitioners—who need an MSN—earned $98,190.
Sites You May Also be Interested In
The following are some job sites for nurses as they pursue employment opportunities.
Nursing Job Boards
- Nurse.com Perhaps the biggest job board for nurses, Nurse.com connects nurses in all areas with employers seeking highly qualified nursing professionals. In addition to the job board, you’ll find education resources, news, and listings of awards and events.
- Nurse Recruiter After nurses have created a profile and uploaded a mini resume, they may begin their job search for RN and travel nurse jobs. The site also has information and resources that can be useful in the search.
- Healthecareers This site is not specific to nurses but has more than 7,500 employers in its network and includes many job opportunities for RNs, nurse practitioners, and travel nurses. The site features job alerts, newsletters, a salary calculator, and healthcare news.
- Off the Charts This is a well-respected blog of the American Journal of Nursing that includes weekly posts on a variety of subjects, including research findings, clinical practices, and nursing career issues.
- All Nurses A boon of information that transcends just a blog. It includes trending articles, including for students and nurse specialists, degree programs, jobs, etc.
- Nursing from Within RN Elizabeth Scala is an author, keynote speaker, facilitator, and trainer with an MSN and MBA. She delves into many of the challenges nurses face, from choosing a career in nursing, to work/life balance, to how to deal with on-the-job challenges.
- ANA The American Nurses Association represents the interests of the nation’s 3.6 million registered nurses.
- AANP AANP says it represents the interests of more than 222,000 nurse practitioners, advocating high-quality, cost-effective and patient-centered health care.
- Sigma Theta Tau International–Honor Society of Nursing A fraternity of nurses promoting excellence, camaraderie, resources, and links to career opportunities.