In this ranking, we examine the best value colleges for online RN programs.
Registered nursing is one of the most popular online degrees in the United States. With over 200 programs available through distance education, it’d be hard for a student NOT to find something that works for them. Schools offer nursing programs of all prices, sizes, and shapes, but the most common by far is the RN-BSN. Perfect for registered nurses who still need to earn their baccalaureate diploma, these “bridge” programs are intended to close the gap between technical nursing knowledge and the broad-based education of a full B.S. or B.A. And since most professional nurses are likely to continue working while they study, the convenience of online courses is especially important here. All of the schools below are exceptional values in terms of affordability and student success.
Best Offerings in RN Programs Online
30. Wichita State University
Online RN to BSN Program
With the RN to BSN program at Wichita State University, working students can earn an RN degree online in as little as a year for a fraction of the cost of attending a four-year university. Asynchronous coursework—offered in full- and part-time formats—affords students the flexibility they need to continue working as a healthcare professional while they advance their career in the classroom. Only with 100% online coursework, WSU doesn’t require students to enter a single classroom. What’s more, students who transfer from WSU Professional Link Advancement of Nurses (PLAN) schools can accelerate their education by applying up to 25 transfer credits to their online RN degree at Wichita State.
Net Price: $9,843/yr
29. Western Carolina University
Online RN to BSN Program
Western Carolina University offers every single aspect of its RN degree online, up to and including the virtual orientation course. This highly affordable program features 24 credit hours of core classes and 8 hours of electives, which allows even part-time students to complete all the requirements within two years. Learn while you work at WCU by minimizing your travel time and completing your required practicum course rotations at an organization nearby (pending instructor approval, of course). And students looking to earn an advanced degree after getting their bachelor’s won’t have to wait long: WCU’s RN to MS(N) early-entry option allows BSN students to apply up to eight credits of graduate work towards their undergraduate degree to save both time and money.
Net Price: $12,916/yr
28. Southeast Missouri State University
Online RN to BSN
Approved and vetted by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, Southeast Missouri State University’s accredited online RN degree program prepares working nurses for the additional knowledge and responsibilities of advanced nursing practice, administration, and teaching/education. In fact, Southeast’s program is particularly suited to the needs of professional students, requiring no classroom visits whatsoever (all coursework, registration, and required materials are available on the school’s Moodle server). Interested students can even test-drive a class on their own time to see if suits their needs; simply head over to the website and try out the demo with a single click.
Net Price: $11,398/yr
27. Fitchburg State University
Online RN to BS in Nursing Program
Fitchburg State University has been nationally recognized by U.S. News for offering high-quality online bachelor’s degree programs, and their online RN degree is no exception. Whether you are looking to apply to graduate school, work in nursing management, or simply earn a higher pay grade by augmenting your skillset, earning your BSN at FSU is not simply among the most convenient options, but one of the best. Beyond the standard-issue nursing curriculum, FSU provides all online nursing students with a rigorous liberal arts education that covers topics in the humanities, science/technology, and even diversity-oriented “citizenship” coursework ranging from world history to psychology and sociology.
Net Price: $12,715/yr
26. East Carolina University
Online RN to BSN
East Carolina University’s inexpensive online RN degree is designed for registered nurses who are looking to complete their bachelor’s degree without sacrificing their career or their income for any amount of time. In fact, only two courses in the entire program—Professional Communication in Nursing and the Practice Experience Capstone—require offline components. RNs even get advanced placement in ECU’s nursing program and aren’t required to take any placement exams. Last but not least, blocked format coursework in 5-1/2 and 7-week increments make studying part-time easier by allowing students to focus on one course at a time while still taking multiple courses per semester.
Net Price: $12,908/yr
25. University of Central Florida
Online RN to B.S.N. Program
The University of Central Florida offers three unique RN programs online that allow students to customize their education to suit their career goals. First is the ASN to BSN degree program, which gives students the opportunity to use their Florida Public College credits to earn a BSN without passing the NCLEX-RN exam. UCF also offers a more traditional RN to BSN program for out of state students who are already working healthcare professionals. Finally, ambitious students looking to enter into education, research, or administration can skip ahead with UCF’s RN to MSN program, which condenses two degrees into a single curriculum.
Net Price: $14,745/yr
24. University of Louisiana at Monroe
Online RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing
For aspiring nurses, passing the NCLEX-RN exam is the first step to realizing their dream of becoming a fully-fledged healthcare practitioner. For many, the next step can be tricky—that’s why the University of Louisiana at Monroe offers an affordable RN degree online. With ULM’s RN to BSN degree, working nurses can take the next step towards management, higher education, or simply offering a higher standard of care than ever before. And with such low tuition rates, all ULM really requires is computer access, a high-speed internet connection, and the motivation to work at your own pace.
Net Price: $8,287/yr
23. University of Hawaii at Manoa
Online RN to Bachelor of Science (BS) in Nursing
If you are a working, registered nurse with less than two years of professional nursing experience, you are the perfect candidate for one of the best RN programs online: the RN to BSN program at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. UH Manoa builds on students’ education and work experience to continue their professional development, enhance their clinical knowledge, and develop their interpersonal and cultural communication skills. What’s more, this can all be accomplished from the convenience of home—whether that be an island or a continent away from campus—with UH’s 100% online curriculum.
Net Price: $12,163/yr
22. Florida International University
Designed to accommodate not only nursing students, but also nursing professionals, Florida International University offers its accredited RN degree online in full-time and part-time formats. Accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) as well as the Council on Accreditation of Nurse Anesthesia Educational Programs, FIU’s nursing program is designed for and by the practitioners making healthcare possible today. Students in this program complete 30 credit hours of upper level nursing coursework combined with 30 hours of clinical proficiency evaluations to round out their 120-credit hour bachelor’s degree (counting 60 credit hours from their ASN or equivalent prerequisite coursework).
Net Price: $11,552/yr
21. Ball State University
Online Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science, Nursing Completion Track
One of just a handful of programs in the country recognized as a member of the National League for Nursing Center of Excellence, Ball State University offers one of the best RN programs online available. For those familiar with Ball State, this should come as no surprise, as the school has been offering courses in an online format since 1998 and debuted their RN to BSN degree as a distance learning program as early as 1986. Working students can customize their education by selecting from full- and part-time scheduling options (6 and 3 courses per semester, respectively), and even work closely with a personal advisor to develop their own curriculum.
Net Price: $12,804/yr
20. Marshall University
Online BSN Program for Registered Nurses
Registered nurses seeking career advancement opportunities have relatively few options; traditional bachelor programs are not only expensive but also interfere with a consuming work schedule. Marshall University provides these ambitious professionals with an alternative option through its affordable RN degree online. With 100% online coursework, graduates of either an accredited diploma or ADN program who have completed the requisite general education credits can earn their bachelor’s degree at Marshall in as little as three full-time semesters. In addition to advanced coursework in nursing, Marshall students also complete a Professional Engagement Practicum to satisfy their 150 clinical hour graduation requirement.
Net Price: $8,738/yr
19. The University of West Florida
Online RN to BSN
With accelerated 7-week course modules, online RN to BSN students at the University of West Florida can attend registration one day and receive their diploma just 12 months later. This Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredited RN degree online provides all the resources working students need to get ahead in the field of modern nursing, from flexible, online coursework to personalized mentorship through UWF’s student coordinator initiative. With so many opportunities for students to succeed, it’s no wonder that UWF was selected as one of the best Southeastern colleges by the Princeton Review.
Net Price: $10,759/yr
18. The University of Texas at El Paso
Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing: RN to BSN
Getting a bachelor’s degree in nursing can open the door not only to higher pay, but a range of specializations in research, education, management, and practice that are as diverse as the field of medicine itself. At the University of Texas at El Paso, a BSN can be yours in just a year with their RN to BSN program. What makes UTEP’s accelerated program arguably the best RN degree online is not only its incomparably low tuition and convenient online coursework; it’s also the quality. With the same professional faculty as in the classroom and no expiration on previously earned credit, online nursing students at UTEP enjoy all of the benefits of a traditional BSN program without any of the restrictions.
Net Price: $5,607/yr
17. North Carolina Central University
Online RN-BSN Program
Established in 1969 and offered in a fully online format since 2006, North Carolina Central University’s RN to BSN program is one of the oldest and best RN programs online in the state. Students looking for an affordable way to build marketable – and of course life-saving – skills while continuing to save lives during their day job would do well to consider NCCU for their bachelor’s degree. NCCU’s high-tech online platform provides students with access not only to their coursework, professors, and fellow students, but also a multitude of other digital resources, including academic advising and the impressive Shepard Library.
Net Price: $9,701/yr
16. Texas Woman’s University
Online RN to BS
Texas Woman’s University may have once been an all-female school, but there was also a time when nursing was strictly a female profession. With one of the largest nursing programs in the country today, TWU provides students of both genders with a comprehensive survey of the latest technologies and best practices in the industry. Students looking to earn their RN degree online can complete TWU’s program in just a year if they study full-time, but part-time options are also available to accommodate demanding schedules. Outside of two clinical components in the curriculum, all coursework is available online with no campus visits whatsoever.
Net Price: $8,596/yr
15. University of North Carolina Wilmington
Online RN to BS in Nursing
The University of North Carolina Wilmington combines the best of both worlds: the rigor and prestige of a bachelor’s degree in nursing with the convenience of an online RN degree. Students at UNCW’s RN to BSN program gain insight into the latest nursing-led research and learn to work with physicians and other clinicians to achieve healthcare synergy. Students who satisfy the general education course requirements and only need nursing courses can complete the entire program in just a year. In fact, students can test out of certain nursing courses and finish their degree even sooner.
Net Price: $14,418/yr
14. Indian River State College
Online RN to BSN Program
Nurses with a BSN degree have the opportunity to work in clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, home care organizations, and even private businesses. If you’re a working registered nurse thinking of making the jump from an RN to a BSN, Indian River State College offers one of the most affordable RN programs online. This accelerated degree program combines 18 credits of general education coursework with 31 credits of upper level nursing classes to augment students’ associate-level knowledge. In just two years, IRSC will transform you into a top-tier nurse with serious leadership potential.
Net Price: $1,807/yr
13. University at Buffalo
Online RN to BS Program
At the University of Buffalo, registered nurses can build on their existing degree and experience by earning a cheap RN degree online. Buffalo is sensitive to the problems that sometimes arise when students transfer between institutions. As such, administrators will evaluate your transcript – paying close attention to your associate’s degree coursework – and either make recommendations for additional study or offer supplementary course credit. As a result, you’ll be able to focus on taking exactly the online BSN courses you need, no more and no less. In this way, Buffalo’s program successfully simulates a traditional nursing program while substantially reducing your financial and time commitments. But Buffalo goes a step further, emphasizing a statistics prerequisite in order for students to develop fluency in healthcare research and informatics.
Net Price: $14,546/yr
12. Wright State University
Online RN-BSN Completion Program
Aligned with the principles and values of the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN) and the Quality and Safety Education for Nurses (QSEN) Institute, Wright State University’s RN to BSN Completion Program allows students to get a top RN degree online. Wright Lake offers a range of stimulating upper level coursework to challenge working nurses, including topics in genomics, holistic nursing practices, and pathophysiology across the lifespan. And in addition to providing the convenience and low price tag of a fully online degree program, Wright Lake has combined forces with Premiere Health Partners to provide scholarships and tuition assistance for their RN employees.
Net Price: $7,455/yr
11. University of Delaware
Online RN to BSN
At the University of Delaware, students looking for a comprehensive and affordable RN degree online can choose between two offerings: an RN to BSN program and an RN to MSN program (with Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Practitioner, and Health Services Administration concentrations). Both programs adapt students’ existing nursing training and experience to meet the growing complexity of technology and medicine today, as well as the shifting hierarchies and responsibilities in modern hospitals. Both programs also accept up to 59 transfer credits from previous institutions and require at least 84 hours of clinical practicums.
Net Price: $15,407/yr
10. The University of Tennessee-Martin
Online RN-BSN Option
The field of modern medicine is expanding rapidly, which has created an enormous need for nurses in a variety of practice areas. Nurses with bachelor’s degrees are in a unique position to take advantage of these opportunities around the country, which makes the University of Tennessee-Martin’s cheap online RN degree so attractive to practicing nurses today. Accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and approved by the Tennessee Board of Nursing, UTM provides ample curricular and professional resources for nurses looking to advance in their careers, and it even allows them to do so from the comfort of their own homes!
Net Price: $8,512/yr
9. Stony Brook University
Online Registered Nurse Baccalaureate Program
Even as a registered nurse, climbing the ranks in the healthcare industry is difficult without an advanced degree. At Stony Brook University, RNs can use their professional experience to get ahead in a rigorous online RN degree program that is specifically designed to offer the utmost in flexibility and convenience. Rather than starting their degree from scratch, RN students can submit a clinical practice portfolio and earn as many as 28 credits of introductory nursing coursework. And although there are several on-site requirements—including laboratory courses and a nursing management practicum—Stony Brook students can complete the majority of both their upper-level nursing courses and the 57 required general education credits right from their home computer.
Net Price: $13,352/yr
8. Winston-Salem State University
Online RN-BSN Option
Winston-Salem State University has developed an RN degree online program that caters to adult learners, facilitating a pathway to more advanced nursing knowledge that doesn’t require them to take a leave of absence from work. This program is ideal for self-directed learners who are looking to progress into management, education, or graduate work, but there is limited online availability. Students who are interested in this program should apply well before the deadline; for those who can’t, WSSU provides off-site courses in 18 locations around the state. Students who qualify can also transfer their previous credits from approved North Carolina community college courses.
Net Price: $7,737/yr
7. Michigan State University
Online RN to BSN Community College Partnership Program
The RN to BSN Community College Partnership Program at Michigan State University offers a completion RN degree online that draws on the curriculum of six local community colleges. Qualified students at these local schools can transfer their credits to gain admission to MSU’s part-time online RN to BSN program. In fact, the partnership is structured so that students can take courses at both institutions simultaneously. During the school year, you’ll work toward your ADN and prepare for the NCLEX examination at a community college, then spend your summers enrolled at special sessions through MSU. Once you’ve earned enough credits, make the full transition to online courses at Michigan State and earn your BSN in just a few short semesters.
Net Price: $14,791/yr
6. University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Online RN to BSN Completion Program
The University of North Carolina at Charlotte makes it easy for working nurses to advance their career with this Online RN to BSN Completion Program. After completing UNCC’s general education requirements and transfer program prerequisites, students can earn their affordable RN degree online in 31 credits hours – or just a year’s worth of upper level nursing courses. With year-round admission and cohort programs starting in each fall, spring, and summer semester, there’s never a bad time to start taking your future into your own hands and earning the degree you need to succeed.
Net Price: $10,196/yr
5. University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Online RN-BSN Completion Program
The Online RN to BSN Completion Program at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire is another collaborative distance learning program that leverages the resources of six schools in the University of Wisconsin system (Eau Claire, Green Bay, Madison, Milwaukee, Osh Kosh, and Stevens Point) to provide an uncompromising and unparalleled online RN degree. The university has designed its program to complement the curriculum at each local campus, helping students stay on track regardless of where they earned their associate’s degree. And thanks to a condensed curriculum that focuses on only the most relevant coursework, RN online degree students at UW Eau Claire can graduate in just three semesters, or 1.5 years.
Net Price: $12,439/yr
4. Florida Gateway College
Online RN-BSN Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing
In many ways, a bachelor’s degree in nursing is a gateway —a gateway to higher levels of understanding, to a higher rung on the career ladder, and of course to higher wages. Florida Gateway College’s Online RN-BSN Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing program is another gateway that allows professional RNs to take the next step in their nursing career and earn their RN degree online without sacrificing their livelihood in the process. With coursework that emphasizes public health, leadership, management, and research experience, FGC prepares students for diverse roles in the field of nursing, including supervisory positions like patient unit coordination and health administration.
Net Price: $4,677/yr
3. Brigham Young University-Idaho
Online BS in Nursing RN to BSN
Brigham Young University-Idaho’s Online BS in Nursing RN to BSN degree completion program takes between three to six semesters to complete. In that time, BYU-I inculcates RN online degree students in four basic precepts of quality nursing: stewardship, knowledge, professionalism, and caring. Through rigorous coursework, expert faculty guidance, practical experience, and a great learning opportunity, BYU brings all nursing students up to a level of excellence that can sustain a lifelong career. This is a particularly advantageous program for Pathway (a distance-learning initiative partnered with the university) alumni, who receive special tuition reductions.
Net Price: $7,968/yr
2. Appalachian State University
Online Nursing (RN-BSN)
Students pursue BSNs for a variety of reasons, but the most common are either to apply new skills to diversify their practice or to go on to graduate education. Either way, earning an RN degree online at Appalachian State University is the one of the fastest and most convenient steps to get there. In addition to introducing students to the new technologies, research methods, and best practices in the modern nursing industry, App State makes it easy to balance work and school by offering the program entirely online. App State also provides excellent career resources for nurses, including contacts with professional nursing organizations and associations.
Net Price: $11,508/yr
1. Allen College
Online RN to BSN
The online RN degree program at Allen College follows the statutes of the Iowa Articulation Plan, one of the first formal initiatives for helping and encouraging registered nurses to seek advanced degrees. This provides students with three customizable matriculation plans, ranging from direct credit transfer from their associate’s degree or diploma program to standardized exams for out-of-state (or even out-of-country) coursework. Allen College is also noted for providing an impressive 114 merit- and need-based scholarships (including diversity and/or religious support programs) to subsidize its already highly competitive tuition rate.
Net Price: $6,953/yr
This concludes our ranking of the top 30 values in online RN programs.
See our methodology page for more information about how we calculated this ranking.
By CVO Staff
Published February 2016