2020 Most Affordable Online Nursing Programs

By the OnlineU team | Updated 3/12/2021
2020 Most Affordable Nursing Bachelors Degrees Badge
By the OnlineU team | Updated 3/12/2021

The list below highlights the 25 schools offering the most affordable online bachelor's in nursing degrees, starting with Tallahassee Community College at $2,570 per year. All of our ranked schools are accredited and offer either an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or an online RN to BSN program specifically for registered nurses (RNs). The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that RNs earned a median annual salary of $73,300 in 2019. Job openings in the nursing field are projected to grow faster than average for all U.S. occupations. Below, we provide information about choosing an online bachelor's degree in nursing, the cost of an online program, and the salary and job outlook for nurses.

You can read more about our ranked schools below or browse our rankings of the most affordable online master's in nursing degrees. View our methodology or learn more about OnlineU.

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All tuition numbers were manually collected and verified
Rank School Annual Tuition
# 1 #1 Tallahassee Community College $2,570
# 2 #2 Florida SouthWestern State College $2,753
# 3 #3 East Georgia State College $2,850
# 4 #4 Broward College $3,579
# 5 #5 Fitchburg State University $4,080
# 6 #6 Great Basin College $4,785
# 7 #7 University of South Carolina-Aiken $4,896
# 8 #8 Washburn University $4,949
# 9 #9 The University of Texas at El Paso $5,041
# 10 #10 Cleveland State University $5,335
# 11 #11 University of West Georgia $5,463
# 12 #12 Albany State University $5,487
# 13 #13 Clayton State University $5,490
# 14 #14 Georgia Southern University $5,580
# 15 #15 Montana Technological University $5,706
# 16 #16 Georgia Southwestern State University $5,970
# 17 (tie) #17 (tie) American Sentinel University $6,000
# 17 (tie) #17 (tie) Hampton University $6,000
# 17 (tie) #17 (tie) Southeastern University $6,000
# 17 (tie) #17 (tie) University of Mary Hardin-Baylor $6,000
# 21 #21 Southern Utah University $6,006
# 22 #22 Tarleton State University $6,044
# 23 #23 University of Arkansas $6,159
# 24 #24 Columbus State University $6,169
# 25 #25 Metropolitan State University $6,211
#1
#1
Annual Tuition: $2,570
Annual Tuition: $2,570
Annual Tuition: $2,570

Tallahassee Community College (TCC) offers an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) program that requires 120 credits. It must be completed within four years and includes 72 credits from a previously earned associate degree, 18 credits of general education requirements, and 48 credits of upper-division nursing courses. A final capstone course requires students to complete an evidence-based project.

Courses are delivered through the Canvas platform, where students can learn at their own... pace and access lectures, assignments, and other class materials. Online students have access to several services, including a career center, accessibility center, academic advising, IT help desk, testing center, and electronic library resources. TCC offers a $10K BSN program to students who meet certain eligibility requirements, which include maintaining Florida residency, a 3.0 minimum GPA, and full-time status. After completing the BSN, qualified students will receive a refund of tuition payments in excess of $10,000. Additionally, a tuition payment plan is offered for any academic term.

The BSN program is available to currently licensed, registered nurses who have completed an Associate of Science in Nursing program with a minimum 2.0 GPA. Prospective students must have a current and unrestricted registered nurse license in their state of residence. Applicants must submit an online TCC application and a BSN program application to be considered.

  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 67%
  • Graduation Rate: 31%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,738
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (850) 201-6200

Example Classes: Cultural Issues in Nursing, Nursing Informatics, Population-Based Nursing

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing
#2
#2

Florida SouthWestern State College

Fort Myers (FL) (and 3 others)
Annual Tuition: $2,753
Annual Tuition: $2,753
Annual Tuition: $2,753

Florida Southwestern University (FSW) offers an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) program for registered nurses to pursue career advancement in their fields. The 120-credit program includes 30 credits of upper-division nursing courses, which cover pathophysiology, nursing research, and advanced health assessment. A portfolio capstone is also included. Nursing students can complete the program in four semesters; however, there is an option for students to enroll in the fall and spring... semesters on a full-time basis to graduate in three semesters.

Online coursework is asynchronous and hosted on the Canvas learning management system. FSW offers a tuition installment plan so that payments can be made on a monthly basis. Additionally, scholarships are available to BSN students to help with tuition and the cost of course materials. Online students have access to various resources, including technical support and academic advising and support.

Enrollment into the RN to BSN program is limited and based on the number of open spots available. Applications are accepted in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. Before applying, prospective students must have an associate degree, complete all general education courses and RN to BSN prerequisites with a grade "C" or better, and fulfill the foreign language competency requirement.

  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 73%
  • Graduation Rate: 34%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 2,337
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Example Classes: Multicultural Nursing, Pathophysiology for Nursing Practice, Pharmacology and Alternative Therapeutics, Professional Roles and Dimensions

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN
#3
#3

East Georgia State College

Swainsboro (GA)
Annual Tuition: $2,850
Annual Tuition: $2,850
Annual Tuition: $2,850

East Georgia State College (EGSC) offers an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN Bridge) program for students with a current registered nurse (RN) license. The program takes four semesters and requires 120 credit hours. Credit hours are divided into 60 core credits, 30 transfer credits, and 30 credits for nursing courses taken at EGSC. Classes cover topics in health assessment, nursing research, and ethics in nursing. Students also complete capstone courses where they work with a nurse mentor....

Coursework is delivered through the Brightspace learning management system, where instructors post grades, create assignments, and provide students with content and quizzes. Students can access clinical laboratory space and computer labs on campus, but coursework may be completed entirely online. Once accepted, students attend a mandatory online orientation. Online nursing students have access to a student and clinical handbook and electronic resources from the library. EGSC Foundation Scholarships cover the cost of education for one year and are offered to eligible students.

Students can apply for the fall and spring semesters. Interested candidates must be accepted into EGSC before applying to the nursing program. They must also have an associate degree or diploma in a registered nurse program, pass a background check and drug screen, and maintain Health and Professional Malpractice Insurance or a waiver while enrolled. It is recommended that students complete core classes before applying to the program; however, students who have not met these requirements may petition for consideration. EGSC accepts transfer credits from other colleges with a grade "C" or better, or a minimum 2.5 GPA.

  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 91%
  • Graduation Rate: 6%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 315
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (478) 289-2000

Example Classes: Current Trends, Issues & Interventions: Best Clinical Practices in Nursing, Ethics in Nursing, Health Assessment, Health Promotions in Communities, Nursing Research: Introductory Evidence-Based Practice, Professional Nurse as Leader/Designer/Manager/Coordinator, Transition into Professional Nursing

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN - Bridge Program
#4
#4

Broward College

Fort Lauderdale (FL)
Annual Tuition: $3,579
Annual Tuition: $3,579
Annual Tuition: $3,579
  • Online Degrees: 2
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 74%
  • Graduation Rate: 30%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 5,162
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (954) 201-7350

Example Classes: Contemporary Issues in Aging, End-of-Life, Ethics/Legal Aspects, Nurse as a Scholar, Nursing Care of Vulnerable Populations, Nursing Informatics

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing - RN-BSN (Hybrid)
  • BS in Nursing
#5
#5
Annual Tuition: $4,080
Annual Tuition: $4,080
Annual Tuition: $4,080
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 90%
  • Graduation Rate: 61%
  • Acceptance Rate: 80%
  • Average SATs: 1000 -1150
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 152
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,097
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NECHE
  • Phone #: (978) 345-2151

Example Classes: Caring for Forensic Populations, Genomics for Nursing Practice, Nursing in a Global Community, Social Justice and Advocacy

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)
#6
#6
Annual Tuition: $4,785
Annual Tuition: $4,785
Annual Tuition: $4,785
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 75%
  • Graduation Rate: 27%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 2,194
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NWCCU
  • Phone #: (775) 738-8493

Example Classes: Evidence-Based Practice & Research in Nursing, Nursing Leadership & Management Practicum, Nursing Leadership & Management Theory, Population Focused Community Health Theory, Transition to Professional Nursing

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)
#7
#7
Annual Tuition: $4,896
Annual Tuition: $4,896
Annual Tuition: $4,896
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 95%
  • Graduation Rate: 40%
  • Acceptance Rate: 53%
  • Average SATs: 950 -1140
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 297
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 326
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (803) 648-6851

Example Classes: Ethical-Legal Issues in Nursing, Gerontological Nursing, Nursing Care of the Client with Complex Health Needs

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • BS in Nursing - RN to BSN
#8
#8

Washburn University

Topeka (KS)
Annual Tuition: $4,949
Annual Tuition: $4,949
Annual Tuition: $4,949
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 92%
  • Graduation Rate: 43%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 507
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 249
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Phone #: (785) 670-1010

Example Classes: Clinical Prevention & Population Health Management, Leadership & Health Policy, Quality & Safety in Healthcare

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • BSN - RN to BSN
#9
#9
Annual Tuition: $5,041
Annual Tuition: $5,041
Annual Tuition: $5,041
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 88%
  • Graduation Rate: 39%
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Average SATs: 940 -1130
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,143
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,156
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (915) 747-5000

Example Classes: Evidence-Based Research, Nursing in the Community, Nursing Leadership & Management

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)
#10
#10
Annual Tuition: $5,335
Annual Tuition: $5,335
Annual Tuition: $5,335
  • Online Degrees: 2
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 90%
  • Graduation Rate: 45%
  • Acceptance Rate: 90%
  • Average SATs: 960 -1200
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 564
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 509
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Phone #: (216) 687-2000

Example Classes: Community as a Client, Gerontological Nursing, Gerontological Nursing Clinical, Nursing Research

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)
  • RN to BSN (Hybrid)
#11
#11

University of West Georgia

Carrollton (GA)
Annual Tuition: $5,463
Annual Tuition: $5,463
Annual Tuition: $5,463
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 42%
  • Acceptance Rate: 59%
  • Average SATs: 920 -1080
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,355
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 2,039
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (678) 839-5000

Example Classes: Holistic Health Assessment for RNs, Nursing Informatics for RNs, Transition to Professional Nursing Practice for RNs

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN
#12
#12
Annual Tuition: $5,487
Annual Tuition: $5,487
Annual Tuition: $5,487
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 19%
  • Acceptance Rate: 90%
  • Average SATs: 750 -900
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,084
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 205
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (229) 430-4600

Example Classes: Health Assessment, Nursing Research, Pathophysiology

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)
#13
#13
Annual Tuition: $5,490
Annual Tuition: $5,490
Annual Tuition: $5,490
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 31%
  • Acceptance Rate: 42%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,050
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 162
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (678) 466-4000

Example Classes: Community and Population-Focused Nursing Practice for RNs, Nursing Leadership and Management for RNs, Pathophysiology for RNs

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)
#14
#14

Georgia Southern University

Statesboro (GA)
Annual Tuition: $5,580
Annual Tuition: $5,580
Annual Tuition: $5,580
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 90%
  • Graduation Rate: 50%
  • Acceptance Rate: 68%
  • Average SATs: 1060 -1200
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,168
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,484
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (912) 478-5391

Example Classes: Complementary Therapies, Complex Nursing Concepts, Critical Inquiry - Research, Nursing Leadership

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)
#15
#15
Annual Tuition: $5,706
Annual Tuition: $5,706
Annual Tuition: $5,706
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 49%
  • Acceptance Rate: 92%
  • Average SATs: 1110 -1230
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 42
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 120
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NWCCU
  • Phone #: (406) 496-4256

Example Classes: Complex Healthcare Needs, Global Nursing, Leadership and Management for the RN

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing Completion Post-Licensure
#16
#16
Annual Tuition: $5,970
Annual Tuition: $5,970
Annual Tuition: $5,970
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 29%
  • Acceptance Rate: 67%
  • Average SATs: 940 -1120
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 624
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 124
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Example Classes: Care of Childbearing Family, Gerontological Nursing, Human Pathophysiology, Mental Health Nursing

#17
#17
Annual Tuition: $6,000
Annual Tuition: $6,000
Annual Tuition: $6,000
  • Online Degrees: 3
  • Graduation Rate: 0%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,444
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,230
  • School Type: For-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Phone #: (303) 991-1575

Example Classes: Case Management, Health Care Delivery and Quality Outcomes, Reflective Practice, Issues, and Trends

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing/Master of Science Nursing
  • RN to Bachelor of Science Nursing
  • RN to Bachelor of Science Nursing, CBE
#17
#17

Hampton University

Hampton (VA)
Annual Tuition: $6,000
Annual Tuition: $6,000
Annual Tuition: $6,000
  • Online Degrees: 2
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 95%
  • Graduation Rate: 58%
  • Acceptance Rate: 36%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 109
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 107
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (757) 727-5000

Example Classes: Community Health Nursing, Major Health Issues and Problems of the Elderly, Transcultural Nursing

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing - 1 Year Accelerated (RN to BSN)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing - 2 Year Accelerated (RN to BSN)
#17
#17

Southeastern University

Lakeland (FL)
Annual Tuition: $6,000
Annual Tuition: $6,000
Annual Tuition: $6,000
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 98%
  • Graduation Rate: 42%
  • Acceptance Rate: 53%
  • Average SATs: 950 -1160
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 837
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 514
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (863) 667-5000

Example Classes: Clinical Applications for the RN, Community Nursing and Population Health, Health Assessment for the RN, Nursing Leadership and Management for the RN, Research and Evidence Based Practice, Transition to Baccalaureate Nursing Role

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)
#17
#17
Annual Tuition: $6,000
Annual Tuition: $6,000
Annual Tuition: $6,000
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 45%
  • Acceptance Rate: 79%
  • Average SATs: 1030 -1200
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 66
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 17
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (800) 727-8642

Example Classes: Ethics in Nursing Practice, Health Care Delivery III, Nursing Perspectives in Pharmacotherapy

#21
#21

Southern Utah University

Cedar City (UT)
Annual Tuition: $6,006
Annual Tuition: $6,006
Annual Tuition: $6,006
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 39%
  • Acceptance Rate: 76%
  • Average SATs: 1010 -1250
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 459
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 414
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NWCCU
  • Phone #: (435) 586-7700

Example Classes: Contemporary Issues in Nursing for the RN to BSN, Influencing Quality Within Healthcare, Management of the Complex Patient for RN to BSN, Nursing for Wellness in Older Adults for the RN to BSN

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)
#22
#22

Tarleton State University

Stephenville (TX)
Annual Tuition: $6,044
Annual Tuition: $6,044
Annual Tuition: $6,044
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 89%
  • Graduation Rate: 46%
  • Acceptance Rate: 50%
  • Average SATs: 960 -1140
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 718
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 286
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (254) 968-9000

Example Classes: Family and Community Health Nursing for RNs, Pathophysiology and Pharmacology for RNs, Policy, Politics, and Ethics

#23
#23

University of Arkansas

Fayetteville (AR)
Annual Tuition: $6,159
Annual Tuition: $6,159
Annual Tuition: $6,159
  • Online Degrees: 2
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 77%
  • Graduation Rate: 65%
  • Acceptance Rate: 66%
  • Average SATs: 1100 -1290
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 887
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 1,441
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Phone #: (479) 575-2000

Example Classes: Introduction to Professional Nursing Concepts, Nursing Concepts: Older Adult, Nursing Informatics, Pharmacology in Nursing, Statistics in Nursing, Therapeutic and Interprofessional Communication

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (LPN to BSN)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)
#24
#24
Annual Tuition: $6,169
Annual Tuition: $6,169
Annual Tuition: $6,169
  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 92%
  • Graduation Rate: 37%
  • Acceptance Rate: 53%
  • Average SATs: 870 -1100
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 737
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 781
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (706) 507-8800

Example Classes: Applied Pathophysiology RN, Evidence Based Practice RN, Professional Development Perspectives RN II

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)
#25
#25
Annual Tuition: $6,211
Annual Tuition: $6,211
Annual Tuition: $6,211
  • Online Degrees: 2
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 39%
  • Acceptance Rate: 56%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,352
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 228
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC

Example Classes: Integrative Nursing Care, Lifespan Transitions: Aging and Health, Medical Ethics

Online Bachelor's Degrees

  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN (Hybrid)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)

Choosing an Online Bachelor's Degree in Nursing


Becoming an RN Online

To become RNs, students must first complete an accredited, state-approved nursing education program and then pass their state’s National Council Licensure Examination, otherwise known as NCLEX-RN. The following are several educational pathways aspiring nurses can take to become eligible for the licensure exam:

  • RN Diploma
  • Associate degree in Nursing (ADN) / Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

The RN programs above cover nursing theory and clinical practice that qualify students to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. While BSN and ADN/ASN degree programs are offered online, students must complete the clinical experience requirement in-person at an approved healthcare facility.

RN diploma programs are the least common educational pathway for aspiring nurses and are offered by some hospitals and nursing schools. These diploma programs are not available online and do not culminate in a college degree. RN diplomas and associate degree programs can take two to three years to complete, while a bachelor’s degree requires three to four years of study.


Getting a BSN Degree Online

There are several types of online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees, and most are degree completion programs intended for students with some college credit. These online nursing programs are flexible to accommodate the schedule of working professionals; the majority of the coursework can be completed online and the only in-person requirements are supervised clinical hours that students carry out at an approved site in their community.

Below are some of the different online BSN programs available, their application requirements, and the approximate time it takes to complete the degree:

  • RN to BSN: The most common online program is the RN to BSN pathway that requires an active registered nurse license, obtained by passing the NCLEX-RN, and an associate degree in nursing (ADN) to apply. The majority of schools ranked on this page are RN to BSN programs, which students can generally complete in 18-24 months.
  • LPN to BSN: Licensed practical nurses have completed an accredited, one-year nursing program and passed their National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). Students can typically complete an LPN to BSN program in 2-3 years.
  • BSN: Another option is a BSN program for students without an RN or LPN license but with an ADN from an accredited institution. Students can typically complete this BSN program in 2-3 years. Graduates must then pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become a registered nurse if they don’t already have that credential.

How Fast Can I Get My Online BSN?

The majority of online BSN programs available are RN to BSN, which require that students have a registered nurse license and an associate degree in the field to apply. Some BSN programs may only require an associate degree in nursing. Regardless of the program, students can earn their BSN degrees in 18-24 months. Some accelerated BSN programs will even allow students to graduate in as few as ten months. Students taking classes part-time will take longer to complete their degrees.


What Are the Advantages of Pursuing a Nursing Degree Online?

One major advantage of online learning is affordability. Enrollment in an online program is generally more affordable because additional on-campus service fees aren’t included in the overall cost. Additionally, many schools charge their online students the reduced in-state tuition rate regardless of their location.

Other advantages of online programs are increased flexibility and convenience, sometimes with the option to pursue a degree in a part-time capacity. The majority of online nursing programs are RN to BSN, which are intended for working RNs who want to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. The ability to watch lectures and participate in classroom discussions when convenient may be helpful for students who work full time while pursuing their education.


Why Accreditation is Important

Regardless of which BSN pathway students choose, it is essential to select an accredited school or a program. Accreditation ensures that students can apply for federal financial aid, transfer credit between programs, and are eligible for certification and employment as registered nurses. Some of the national associations that grant accreditation to nursing programs are the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).


Common Online Nursing Courses

Nursing students will likely take some of the following courses while pursuing their degree, though course names will vary across schools and programs.

  • Anatomy and Physiology: Nursing students may be required to take a series of online courses on this topic. Learners will be given an introduction to the body and how organs function. Related topics include how the body and associated structures respond to disease.
  • Community Health Nursing: Community health nursing is related to public health and addresses the specific health needs of diverse populations and groups. This course examines disease prevention and management at the individual, family, and community levels. Other topics include healthcare promotion and comprehensive care planning.
  • Ethical-Legal Issues in Nursing: This course introduces nursing students to clinical ethics across various healthcare settings. Students learn how to use ethical reasoning and analysis to resolve issues with patients as they arise in clinical practice. The topics covered can include current legislation and differences in politics or religion.
  • Foundations of Nursing Practice: This topic is covered as a single course or as a series of courses, depending on the school. Coursework emphasizes patient health assessments and clinical concepts. Nursing students learn to promote patient health and safety through communication and proper assessment techniques. Students may also study the role of technology in providing patient care.
  • Nursing Informatics: Students take this course to learn about the applications of information technology in nursing. Students learn how to manage clinical information as it relates to patient care. Other topics include ethical issues and emerging technologies in the field.
  • Nursing Research: Nursing research is designed to teach students the fundamentals of evidence-based practice. Students learn about research processes related to nursing knowledge and care. Additionally, students are taught how to identify valid research in the field.
  • Pharmacology: An online class in pharmacology teaches students how to administer drug therapy to patients. Topics covered include the major drug groups, the mechanisms of drugs in the human body, and drug testing and approval. Additionally, students must demonstrate competency in their knowledge of drug interactions and side effects.

Cost of an Online BSN Degree


The average cost for undergraduate tuition among all higher education institutions was $23,835 for the 2017-2018 academic year. In comparison, the schools ranked on our list of affordable online colleges for nursing have significantly lower tuition rates, ranging from $2,750 - $6,211 per year, which translates to approximately $5,550 - $12,422 for the total cost of a two-year RN to BSN program. However, the time it takes to complete a degree can vary by student and depends on several factors, such as the number of transfer credits you have and whether you are enrolled part- or full-time in the program.

While online programs do not charge for on-campus fees in most cases, they may charge students distance learning or technology fees in addition to tuition rates. However, students can significantly reduce out-of-pocket costs for higher education by applying for financial aid, outside scholarships, and tuition assistance programs outlined below.


Funding an Online Nursing Degree

Most students pay less than a college’s sticker price because of financial aid. Regardless of whether students enroll in an accredited online or an on-campus degree program, they apply for aid in the same way.

Students should submit a FAFSA form to see if they qualify for government aid. There are several types of federal student aid available, including grants or loans. Grants do not need to be repaid, so they have the potential to significantly reduce tuition costs. However, students must follow specific requirements in order to maintain eligibility.

Colleges or universities also offer new or currently enrolled students need- or merit-based scholarships. Students should check with their school’s financial aid office or website to view a list of available scholarships, application requirements, and deadlines. If you are currently working as an RN, reach out to your healthcare employer to determine if they offer tuition reimbursement programs to employees pursuing their BSN degrees. There are also outside organizations that provide scholarships and financial aid to nursing students:

  • American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN): The AACN offers multiple scholarships to nursing students pursuing degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. Some undergraduate scholarship options include the Geraldine "Polly" Bednash Scholarship, the National Black Nurses Association, Inc (NBNA), and the Foundation of the National Student Nurses Association (FNSNA) Undergraduate Scholarship.
  • Nursing Student Loans (NSL): The Health Services and Resource Administration (HRSA) offers NSL loans to qualifying students. These are long-term, low-interest loans for students from disadvantaged backgrounds who pursue an associate degree in nursing, a BSN, or an MSN.
  • Nurse Corps Scholarship Program: The HRSA also offers the Nurse Corps program to currently enrolled nursing students. If accepted into the program, the HRSA pays all of the student’s tuition, fees, and textbooks and provides a monthly stipend. In exchange, students must work at a facility that has a critical shortage of nurses after graduation.

Are There Any Free Nursing Programs Available?

While there are no free nursing programs, the Nurse Corps Scholarship does cover the full cost of tuition for students accepted into an accredited nursing program in exchange for a service commitment. This federal program is offered by the Health Resources and Services Administration to help communities in need have greater access to health care resources. Eligible students receive a monthly stipend in addition to full coverage of tuition, fees, and other educational-related expenses, such as textbooks and uniforms. After graduating, students in the program must work for a minimum of two years at a critical shortage facility. To apply, students must submit an application and supporting documentation.

After receiving your RN licensure, there are many continuing nursing education (CNE) courses available at no cost. The University of Washington offers several free CNE classes, including the Nursing Ground Round Series covering patient care delivery and best practices. Free CNE courses are also provided by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, Medscape.com, and Medline University.


Salary and Job Outlook for Nurses


Is Getting a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Worth It?

Determining if a degree is worth it can depend on several factors, such your financial situation, the amount of time you have to study and complete coursework, and your return on investment (ROI). ROI is calculated by weighing the financial investment against future salary and employment opportunities. Earning a BSN is often worth the cost since RNs with a BSN tend to earn higher wages and have greater responsibilities than RNs with an associate degree. According to ADVANCE Healthcare’s 2020 nurse salary survey, RNs with a bachelor’s degree earned an average salary of $71,901 compared to $64,983 for those with only an associate degree.

Having a BSN degree can also lead to increased employment opportunities as many hospitals require or strongly prefer to hire entry-level RNs with a BSN based on a survey of 647 schools of nursing. Nursing organizations are also advocating for increased credentials among nurses; the American Association of College of Nursing (AACN) recommends that nurses have at least a BSN degree since this strongly correlates with a better quality of care and patient outcomes. As of 2019, 56% of RNs have a BSN, compared to only 49% in 2010.


Do Employers Hire Online Nursing Graduates?

In a 2019 survey of HR leaders conducted by Northeastern University, 61% reported that they view online credentials equal in quality to those completed in-person. To ensure that a college or university is reputable, students should determine that the institution is accredited. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is an accrediting body for nursing programs that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Other factors to consider are graduation rate, course content, clinical experiences facilitated by the program, student support services, and employment rate after graduation.