In this article we present 10 best online nursing school programs. Nursing continues to rank among the nation’s most in-demand professions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for registered nurses (RNs) to grow 12% between 2018 and 2028, which is much faster than average. With nurses earning a median annual salary of $71,730 in 2018, the most affordable online Bachelor of Science in nursing (BSN) degrees can deliver an outstanding return on your educational investment.
If you find yourself wondering how to afford nursing school, read on. This guide features the best online nursing school programs, most affordable and details everything you need to know about earning your nursing credentials. Aspiring nurses can review detailed rankings of bachelor’s in nursing programs, important information about bridge programs, answers to frequently asked questions, and an exclusive expert interview.
The rankings of best online nursing school programs we track the best and most affordable nursing schools offering online programs. While researching nursing schools, look for key markers of program quality, including recognized accreditation, experienced faculty, and high post-graduation employment rates. Because many learners in online nursing programs continue to work, it also helps to seek flexible educational opportunities.
Studying online provides many benefits beyond flexibility, including ease of access and considerable cost savings. Distance learners gain access to the most affordable online BSN programs available. Online students often qualify for reduced or in-state tuition rates, even if they live outside a state or its reciprocity area.
10 Best Online Nursing School Programs
Rutgers University-New Brunswick – New Brunswick, NJ
Rutgers’ online RN-to-BSN program is among the best online nursing school programs because it offers customized curriculum planning for professional nurses who already possess an associate degree or nursing diploma. Candidates interested in graduate study can also earn up to 12 credits toward their master’s in nursing as part of Rutgers’ accelerated undergraduate curriculum. Program content occurs primarily online, though some general education courses may occur in a blended or on-campus format.
To be among the best online nursing school programs, the university allows candidates can transfer up to 94 credits toward their nursing degree. However, students must complete at least 30 credits while enrolled at Rutgers. The program includes required clinical components learners must complete in New Jersey. Applicants need either an associate degree or diploma in nursing from a program accredited by the National League for Nursing Accreditation or Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. Applicants need a minimum 3.2 GPA, though requirements may vary.
Concordia University-Saint Paul – Saint Paul, MN
Integrating theoretical knowledge and practical nursing skills, CSP’s online RN-to-BSN program builds on previous experience, training registered nurses (RNs) to provide care for diverse patient populations. Applicants need an associate degree in nursing (ADN) from a regionally accredited college with a minimum 2.75 GPA. These features makes it to be considered among the best online nursing school programs.
Candidates complete 36 credits of nursing courses, including ethics and decision-making, transcultural nursing and advanced health assessment, care coordination and case management, and population health nursing. The program runs fully asynchronously with no live class meetings, enabling students to complete coursework on their own schedule. At the end of the program, all students complete a nursing capstone course, which requires them to compile a professional portfolio and complete an action plan for a health promotion activity. It is among the best online nursing school programs and CSP reports that 95% of students receive a job offer within one year of graduating.
Bellevue University – Bellevue, ME
Ranked among Nebraska’s top nursing programs, BU’s online RN-to-BSN program aligns with competencies outlined by the American Organization for Nursing Leadership. Using a fully online delivery model, the program prepares graduates to obtain certifications, such as nurse executive or nurse leader. Candidates complete 40 nursing major credits, which cover topics of nursing research and evidence-based practice, population-based health promotion, healthcare regulation, and professional collaborative strategies for nurses.
All students must also complete BU’s Kirkpatrick Signature Series, a nine-credit course sequence focusing on evolving American values, traditions, and responsibilities. All degree-seekers complete a hands-on practicum experience during the program’s final semester. Taking place at a professional healthcare organization (often the student’s current place of employment), the practicum builds experience under the close supervision of a designated preceptor. All practicum participants identify an issue in professional nursing and develop an evidence-based action plan.
University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh – Oshkosh, WI
UW-Oshkosh’s online BSN is a unique accelerated degree intended for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree in another subject. One of the first online nursing programs of its type, this 12-month program enables candidates to earn a BSN with the fewest number of credits possible. UW-Oshkosh admits out-of-state nursing students, but applicants must ensure they receive approval from both their state board of nursing and the Higher Learning Commission.
Nursing students must reside in the same state for the program’s entire duration, including both online courses and local clinical placements. Coursework occurs primarily online. However, degree-seekers must visit the UW-Oshkosh campus for three in-person residency sessions: an orientation weekend, a two-week lab/clinical session, and a weeklong capstone session at the program’s conclusion. These campus sessions allow students to learn in a collaborative classroom environment and lab and clinical facilities.
University of Maine at Fort Kent – Fort Kent, ME
Home to one of Maine’s most affordable online BSN degrees, UMFK emphasizes essential nursing outcomes including professionalism, leadership, systems-based practice, and quality improvement. The school’s online RN-to-BSN program offers several start dates per year, with new academic terms beginning every eight weeks. Learners complete the program entirely online. The program includes 30 credits of core BSN courses, covering key topics such as health-related research, promoting healthy communities, transcultural care in nursing, and holistic health assessment.
All courses use an accelerated seven-week format and a fully asynchronous delivery mode that enables students to complete assignments at their convenience. Program applicants must possess either a valid RN license or have their NCLEX exam already scheduled. UMFK also requires applicants to hold an ADN from an accredited college, with a minimum 2.5 GPA on previous undergraduate coursework.
Rivier University – Nashua, NH
A private Catholic college based in Nashua, New Hampshire, Rivier ranks among the most affordable nursing schools in New England. Rivier’s RN-to-BSN degree offers flexibility for working nurses, with condensed seven-week courses and a fully online format that requires no campus visits. Most students complete the program in 2-4 years. Rivier’s program admits practicing nurses who hold an unencumbered RN, which fulfills 60 undergraduate credits.
Admitted students typically complete 60 additional credits, including 27 nursing major credits. Typical courses include health policy and politics, families and health in a multicultural society, holistic nursing, and leadership and management in healthcare. Rivier offers year-round enrollment and six annual start dates, enabling learners to begin the program when it suits their schedule. Applicants need a minimum undergraduate 2.6 GPA, though the school may offer conditional admission for qualified applicants who fall below this threshold.
The University of Texas at Arlington – Arlington, TX
A major public college located between Dallas and Fort Worth, UTA operates one of the most affordable online BSN programs in Texas. The school’s online BSN uses an accelerated format not tied to the traditional semester schedule, enabling candidates to complete the program in as few as 15 months. Candidates complete 51 nursing major credits, including courses in psychiatric and mental health nursing, professional nursing trends, and nursing of the childbearing family.
Courses range from 5-14 weeks in length and occur primarily online. Degree-seekers must complete required clinical experiences at partner hospitals throughout Texas. While applicants must complete 70 credits prior to enrolling (either at UTA or another institution), UTA’s nursing degree is not an RN-to-BSN program. Students complete all major nursing courses as part of the program curriculum. Learners may complete some nursing prerequisites during the first semester after enrolling.
Vermont Technical College – Randolph Center, VT
Focused on technical and vocational education, VTC operates several campuses around the state, along with a distance education program. Intended for licensed nurses, VTC’s RN-to-BSN program emphasizes key topics in health promotion, risk reduction, global health, and disease prevention. The program occurs entirely online, with no campus visits required.
The degree includes courses in bioethics, evidence-based research and practice, nursing leadership and management, and east and west holistic healing. Candidates must also complete a minimum of 225 hours of nursing practicum experience, typically at their current place of employment or another healthcare organization within their community. Learners who lack nursing experience can enroll in VTC’s ADN program, which offers seamless transfer into the BSN program. Applicants must maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA and obtain their RN license prior to beginning the bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Davenport University – Grand Rapids. MI
A private college in Grand Rapids, Michigan, DU offers an online RN-to-BSN degree that combines critical-thinking, health assessment, leadership, and management skills. The program offers a 20% tuition discount for employees of the Michigan Hospital Association, making DU one of the state’s most affordable nursing schools. DU’s degree is a completion program that only admits licensed nurses.
The school awards 60 credits for the completion of an associate degree and 30 credits for a passing score on the NCLEX exam, requiring most nurses to complete just 31 credits to earn their BSN. All courses occur online, though students must also complete in-person clinical experiences (typically in their place of employment). Common courses include introduction to biostatistics, health promotion and education, and a senior nursing seminar. The program also offers an optional specialization in medical case management.
Brenau University – Gainesville, GA
One of the country’s first regional colleges to offer online education, Brenau now hosts a significant distance learning program that includes one of Georgia’s most affordable online BSN degrees. Located in Gainesville (about 55 miles northeast of Atlanta), this private college emphasizes flexibility and accessibility, with an RN-to-BSN degree that serves working nurses. Brenau’s program prepares nurses to lead and advocate in healthcare settings, highlighting the value of evidence-based research and information technology.
Typical courses include professional nursing for diverse populations, community health nursing, comprehensive health assessment, and leadership policy and practice. Along with theoretical courses, students complete clinical experiences at labs and other healthcare facilities. Brenau offers many benefits for distance learners, including a fully online curriculum with no required campus visits and a maximum class size of 20 students. Online learners can also take advantage of services that include academic coaching, tutoring, and Brenau’s writing center.