studying nursing online

For many registered nurses (RNs), going back to school to obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree is a goal that can lead to career advancement, leadership roles, and an increased salary range. However, getting there has its challenges, especially for nurses who work full-time or have family commitments.

For many nurses, an online RN-to-BSN program may be the best solution. Online programs offer flexibility and may even be cheaper than on-campus programs. But the question remains: how long is an RN-to-BSN online program? Let’s look at some of the factors that come into play so that you can make the best decision.

How Long Do RN-to-BSN Programs Take to Complete?

Several elements can play a role in how long your chosen online program will take:

Transfer credits

Usually, earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing takes about 120 credit hours of college-level study. If you already have an associate degree in nursing, you have earned about half. One of the first things you should consider when looking at institutions for your BSN program is to ensure that all your associate-level credits transfer to your new school. You may need extra classes to meet your school’s requirements if they can’t transfer.

Depending on the program, you can earn credit for your work as a nurse. Many schools offer credit for your experiences in the field, so you should investigate this when applying for your BSN program. RNs can earn about 30 credits for their professional experience, depending on how long they have worked. As you begin working toward your BSN, this can save you considerable time and money.

You may be able to transfer as many as 90 credit hours to your new program, which typically leaves you with only 30 additional credits to earn before you graduate with your BSN. That could take you a year or even less if you studied full-time.

Course load

The second factor that plays a role in determining how long it will take you to earn your BSN is the course load you can handle each semester. A student attending classes full-time will earn their degree sooner than someone who only takes classes part-time.

It’s essential to be realistic when considering your course load. It’s nice to imagine that you can handle both your full-time job and a full-time schedule of classes simultaneously, but this could be difficult, and you may find that your coursework will suffer because you just don’t have the time to work on homework or study for tests.

Whether you have a family, especially if you have young children, can also play a role in how long it takes to complete your desired program. Asynchronous online courses can be an excellent option for those who must dedicate some of their time to child care. This format allows students to sign on to watch their courses late in the evening or early in the day when their children are asleep.

Fastest Online RN-to-BSN Programs

1. Ohio State University

Ohio State’s program is a fully online program that features asynchronous courses for increased flexibility. Students with the appropriate background can graduate with 25 credit hours for $457.88 per hour, a rate that includes instructional, general, and program fees. Those who are not residents of Ohio may pay slightly more. If taken full-time, the program can be completed in a year, although a part-time option that takes 15 months is available. Coursework includes the following classes: Foundations and Contemporary Issues for RNs, Concepts in Community Health Nursing, and Evolving Concepts in Leadership and Management.

2. University of Alabama

University of Alabama’s program offers 25 credit hours for $385 per hour. Applications are accepted year-round for admission for fall, spring, or summer semesters. Lower-division core courses in anatomy, microbiology, medical ethics, and more must be completed before the student enrolls in the upper-division coursework, including Nursing Informatics for RNs, Community Health for RNs, and Leadership and Management Roles. Full-time students earn their degrees in three semesters, whereas part-time students will take six semesters of coursework. The university also has a pathway program for RNs that helps them earn a BSN and a Master of Science in Nursing.

3. University of Cincinnati

The University of Cincinnati has trained nurses since 1916, and its online RN-to-BSN program is highly regarded. It is a fully online program with no clinical requirements. Students take nine nursing courses for a total of 27 credit hours. The courses are offered twice a semester and last for seven weeks. There’s an optional minor in public health available for interested students. Tuition is $549 per credit hour for part-time studies or $4,588 per semester if you attend full-time. Tuition is slightly higher for nonresidents, and there are also program fees to consider. The university estimates that the total cost of the program ranges between $13,852 and $17,197. Courses include Gerontological Nursing Practice, Learning With Technology, and Focus on Community.

4. West Virginia University

West Virginia University offers an online program with eight required courses for 28-30 credit hours. Classes are entirely online and asynchronous so that students can take them at their convenience. Tuition is $528 per credit hour, with all students paying the same price, regardless of where they live. If you attend full-time, you can complete the program in three semesters; however, it takes six semesters if you attend classes part-time. In addition to foundational general education courses in science, English, and the humanities, students take courses like Ethics in Nursing, Clinical Health Promotion, and Foundations of Research and Evidence-Based Practice. This university has a community service component that requires all health science students to complete 25 hours of service.

5. Georgia Southern University

Georgia Southern University’s RN-to-BSN program has a fast-track option that can have you graduating in as little as two semesters. The program is entirely online with flexible, individualized clinical hours. It is specifically designed for working RNs. There are eight courses for a total of 28

credit hours. Tuition is $199 per credit hour for all students, regardless of residential status. Courses include Professional Nursing Practice, Community Health Nursing, and Leadership and Management Clinical. Sixty hours of clinical experience in an approved setting is required for graduation. Study abroad experiences in Costa Rica and Italy are also available to interested students.

Interested in another degree instead?

Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.