Registered Nurses (RNs) are key players in the healthcare industry. As an RN, you can work alongside doctors and other healthcare professionals to provide a variety of services such as preventative and primary care and patient education. RNs may also work in many settings including hospitals, doctor's offices, outpatient health centers and skilled nursing facilities.
While you do not have the authority to diagnose and treat acute illness and prescribe medications like nurse practitioners (NPs), you can provide more advanced nursing care than licensed practical nurses (LPNs) and licensed vocational nurses (LVNs). LPNs and LVNs usually work under your supervision.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nursing employment is projected to grow 12 percent through 2028. In addition, there could be more registered nurse jobs available than any other profession by 2022. This is mainly because of a greater emphasis on preventive care, increasing rates of chronic conditions and demand for healthcare services from baby boomers.
Below, we'll dive deeper into online schools for RNs and discuss the following:
The minimum education requirement to become an RN is an associate degree in nursing (ADN). Degree levels at the associate, bachelor's and master's level qualify you to apply for the NCLEX-RN licensing exam. To learn more about the specifics of the education needed to become an RN, review our career section for RNs.
Despite this, many RNs with associate degrees enroll in online schools for registered nursing to earn a bachelor's degree in nursing (BSN) through an RN-to-BSN program. When you do, you can often take on more responsibilities, obtain management positions and enjoy higher pay.
You can qualify to become an RN by earning a nursing degree at associate, bachelor's, and master's level and passing the NCLEX-RN exam. To learn more about the required schooling and licensing steps to becoming an RN, visit the Career Outlook: Registered Nurses section below. However, our research finds that many RNs show interest in pursuing a BSN through an RN-to-BSN bridge program.
We have compiled this list of the best online colleges for RN-to-BSN. Each ranking includes a brief school profile, how it supports online nursing students and the types of accredited RN-to-BSN online programs that are available. Visit our methodologies page to learn more about how we use official data to evaluate schools.
ETSU's Academic Focus: East Tennessee State University is a public university known for its nurse-managed health centers and rural focus. The college aims to provide students a high-quality educational experience focused on excellent teaching, research training and practical skills.
Featured Resource: At ETSU, students enrolled in a registered nursing program online can access the Simulation Lab (SIM Lab), which creates realistic patient experiences, giving them more opportunities to learn.
RN-to-BSN at East Tennessee State University
UCF's Academic Focus: University of Central Florida is a research-based state university. Its 40-year standing nursing college contains nationally recognized faculty, innovative research, evidence-based practice and an outstanding community service record.
Featured UCF Resource: Students pursuing a registered nursing online program at UCF can enjoy simulation technology that can train them on patient techniques.
RN-to-BSN at University of Central Florida
GCU's Academic Focus: Grand Canyon University is a private, for-profit Christian university that aims to provide an academically challenging, value-based curriculum from Christian traditions. The university offers nursing programs that focus on comprehensive discussions and hands-on simulations.
Featured GCU Resource: Students can work with specialists in the Office of Field Experience to set up the clinical aspect of their degree program. These professionals can provide students with counseling, approve their selected site and communicate with the field experience instructors as needed.
RN-to-BSN at Grand Canyon University
UCCS's Academic Focus: University of Colorado Colorado Springs is a public research university. Their Helen and Arthur E. Johnson Beth-El, College of Nursing and Health Sciences seeks to meet the challenges of the healthcare landscape through innovative programs that include education, practice, research and service. Its 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio gives students in an RN online program personal attention.
Featured UCCS Resource: UCCS's Helen and Arthur. E. Johnson Beth-El College of Nursing and Health Sciences has partnerships with hundreds of hospitals and healthcare organizations. Through these partnerships, the school connects students to clinical and career opportunities.
RN-to-BSN at University of Colorado Colorado Springs
NSU's Academic Focus: Northwestern State University of Louisiana, a public university with a nursing campus in Shreveport, is designed to assist individuals in achieving their professional goals. Their school of nursing serves the people of Louisiana, looking to improve the health of the state's citizens.
Featured NSU Resource: Students can receive online tutoring via NSU's The Academic Success Center. Tutoring sessions can be scheduled in advance and are conducted via WebEx video conferencing.
RN-to-BSN at Northwestern State University of Louisiana
DU's Academic Focus: Drexel University is a private research, technology-infused university with a clinical practice in an urban setting. It prepares clinicians to practice and lead in a rapidly changing healthcare system.
Featured DU Resource: DU allows students in an RN online program to utilize Shadow Health and Practice, an interactive software that can give them the chance to examine virtual patients and upload videos to demonstrate the skills they've learned.
RN-to-BSN at Drexel University
Dual Accelerated RN - BSN - MSN
GSU's Academic Focus: Georgia Southern University is a public research university with a flagship campus in Statesboro. The university promotes talent and economic development, enhancing quality of life through cultural enrichment and community engagement.
Featured GSU Resource: The Office of Career and Professional Development can help students who are pursuing an RN online program find employment through the CareerShift job board, which allows them to create personal marketing campaigns and manage their job search in one place.
RN-to-BSN at Georgia Southern University
RC's Academic Focus: Rasmussen College is a private, for-profit college that focuses on providing "affordable degrees for the real world."They've designed their nursing programs to make it possible to keep working while earning a BSN credential.
Featured RC Resource: Through RC's Flex Choice, students in a registered nursing online program may be able to earn credit for prior learning, online self-directed assessments or competency-based education. Flex Choice can give them the opportunity to earn their degrees faster.
RN-to-BSN at Rasmussen College - Minnesota
Gardner-Webb's Academic Focus: Gardner-Webb University is a private, Baptist-related university that places a strong emphasis on liberal arts and prepares students to make "significant contributions to God and humanity."
Featured Gardner - Webb Resource: Nursing students can access the John R. Dover Memorial Library, which offers tutorials, databases, journals and more. Students can also schedule a private research consultation and learn how to improve their research skills via Zoom video conferencing.
RN-to-BSN at Gardner - Webb University
MU's Academic Focus: Founded in 1872, Maryville University is a private university that seeks to offer innovative education focused on student learning outcomes and success. The college offers online and in-person nursing degree programs through the Catherine McAuley School of Nursing.
Featured MU Resource: Students can gain hands-on experiences in the registered nursing field at Walker Hall, a facility that stimulates situations that often arise in intensive care units.
Registered Nursing at Maryville University of Saint Louis
RN to BSN
Online RN-to-BSN programs are designed for registered nurses who want to earn a bachelor of science in nursing. These programs can help you make more informed healthcare decisions through a study of research and theory. These types of programs can also nurture the development of your leadership skills.
While clinical requirements vary greatly from one RN-to-BSN online program to another, they are required for all programs. Upon graduating from an accredited RN-to-BSN program, most students find that they are more well-rounded nurses and have the skills and knowledge they need to advance their careers.
Requirements to Enroll
Each RN-to-BSN program has its own set of unique enrollment requirements. However, all programs require that you hold a current RN license. In addition, you may need an associate degree or diploma in nursing and a minimum GPA. A faculty interview, admission essay, letters of recommendation and a resume may be necessary, as well.
It typically takes about 24 months for students to graduate from a registered nursing online school with a BSN. However, many schools offer accelerated programs that can be completed in anywhere between 9 to 18 months. It's important to note that these timeframes are based on full-time enrollment — part-time students take longer to earn their degrees.
As an RN you can pursue a variety of career paths. You can become a pediatric nurse and work with children, an oncology nurse and serve cancer patients or a geriatric nurse and care for the elderly. You may choose to combine one or more areas of practice.
RNs are not limited to employment in a hospital as you can also secure jobs in doctor's offices, nursing homes, schools and even patients' homes.
While job duties and responsibilities of an RN depend on where you work and who you serve, an RN typically does the following:
There are a few ways you can become a registered nurse. You can earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN), bachelor's of science in nursing (BSN) or diploma from an RN online program. Once you graduate with your nursing diploma or degree, you must take and pass the NCLEX-RN exam, which is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN).
The NCLEX-RN exam includes at least 75 questions and determines whether you are ready for an entry-level nursing position. You can expect the exam to focus on topics such as basic patient care, disease detection and prevention and pharmacological therapies.
Once you pass the NCLEX-RN, you'll need to apply for an RN licensure in the state you in which you want to work. Each state has its own unique fees and requirements; so, obtaining an RN licensure in California is different than receiving one in Ohio. Depending on the state in which you live, you may want to pursue a multistate license through the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). This agreement permits a nurse to practice in their home state as well as other compact states.
Education doesn't end once you earn a nursing degree and obtain licensure because most states require continuing education hours every few years.
Every state requires that you pass the NCLEX-RN exam before applying for RN licensure and working as an RN.
The CPN, known as the gold standard for pediatric nurses, is a good option for RNs who want to care for children.
1) Obtain an RN licensure and complete a minimum of 1800 hours of pediatric clinical experience within the past 24 months as an RN
2) Or, have at least 5 years as an RN in pediatric nursing and 3,000 hours in pediatric nursing within the last 5 years with a minimum of 1000 hours within the past 24 months
To prove their competency in oncology nursing, students can earn the OCN certification, which focuses on oncology nursing practice, treatment modalities and palliative care.
While pursuing a nursing program to become an RN, you may want to join a professional nursing organization. Through these organizations, you can connect with other students and experienced RNs and stay up-to-date on the ever-evolving nursing industry.