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In the rapidly changing world of healthcare, it is increasingly essential for registered nurses to consider continuing their education by earning a bachelor’s degree. RNs with a BSN degree earn a median pay of $77,600 annually and are in high demand at hospitals, clinics, and other care centers. In some circumstances, facilities will only accept bachelor-trained nurses for positions on their staff.

Earning your BSN degree online in a self-paced program can be one of the most flexible and effective ways for busy nurses to gain the education they need to advance in their field. In this article, we’ll look at the best RN-to-BSN online self-paced programs and discuss the factors you need to consider when looking for the program that suits you best.

How Do RN-to-BSN Programs Work?

RN-to-BSN programs are designed for RNs who have passed their NCLEX. When they apply, they may need to show proof of that and will also need to submit transcripts from their previous education. They may also need to submit a personal statement and letters of recommendation from individuals who can attest to their ability to handle bachelor-level work. Your chosen institution may have other requirements, which will likely be listed online with the application.

Most programs allow students to transfer qualified credits from their diploma or associate degree. This makes it possible for motivated students to complete their bachelor’s degree in two years or less. Depending on your situation and state regulations, you may or may not need to undertake clinical work during your program. In some cases, you may be able to substitute work experience for clinical requirements.

The Pros and Cons of Self-Paced Degree Programs

Self-paced degree programs allow you a certain amount of flexibility in when and how you do your coursework. As the name suggests, with a self-paced program, you attend classes at the time that works best for you. This makes these programs an excellent choice for nurses with busy working schedules and those with family or other commitments.

Your school may include some restrictions: you may have, for example, three more weeks to complete your work than regular students. It’s worth noting that self-paced programs do include deadlines; they just tend to be more flexible than usual.

Self-paced programs are a good option for students who are driven to succeed. It can be difficult to log in to your coursework after a long day at work. Unless you possess a high level of motivation, you may struggle and find it difficult to commit to your work. If that describes you, you might be better with a more structured program that includes courses at a set time and weekly assignments and readings.

The very nature of self-paced programs may lead to challenges. It can be hard to build a rapport with your professors and others in your class when you are working at a pace that is individual to you. It may take time for your professors to provide feedback or work with you on areas where you are struggling. A self-paced program may only work for you if you are a confident learner.


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    Flexibility makes it a good choice for those with work or family commitments

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    Allows students to progress at a pace they are comfortable with

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    Rewarding for students with motivation and willpower


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    May be hard to stick with unless the student is highly motivated

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    The program may not provide immediate feedback, making it hard for the student to assess their progress

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    There may be less interaction with other students and professors

How To Pay for a Self-Paced Online RN to BSN Program

Generally, self-paced online RN-to-BSN programs offer the same tuition rates as other programs. However, some schools offer different rates for in-state and out-of-state students, so be sure to check on costs if you are applying for a program far from where you live.

Worried about paying for your program? Here are a few options that may help:

Employer Tuition Reimbursement

If you already work in healthcare, check with your employer to see if they offer tuition reimbursement. Your employer benefits from having a highly-trained workforce, so many hospitals and other care centers will offer to pay part or all of their employee’s tuition costs in order to gain a more skilled and educated staff.

Usually, you will be required to pay upfront for your courses and will submit documentation to your employer afterward. They will issue you a payment for your costs. There may be a limit to the amount they will pay, and there might also be other requirements. For example, they may only pay for classes in which you earn a certain grade, such as a “B” or higher.

Scholarships and grants

You may be eligible for scholarships through government sources, such as Pell Grants, and through your school. There are also many scholarships offered through private organizations and charities. A simple Google search for “nursing scholarships” leads to many possibilities. Here are a few you might want to investigate:

Student loans

Federal loans may be either subsidized or unsubsidized, but you’re better off with the subsidized version. Both types of loans offer low interest rates and some flexibility in repaying them. Subsidized loans are based on the student’s demonstrated financial need, and the government may help pay some of the interest on them.

Subsidized loans are only available to undergraduate students, and there are caps on the amount you may borrow. Interest on the loans won’t start accruing until you leave school. The government will pay any interest that accumulates while you are still working on your program.

To apply for a subsidized loan, you will need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Filling out the form online requires you to create an account at the Federal Student Aid website, and you will need to submit information about your financial situation when you apply.

Our Research

This list features some of the country’s best self-paced online RN to BSN programs. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution, either public or private, with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions.

We evaluated each school’s program on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation. Then, we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared this comprehensive list of the best self-paced online RN to BSN programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications, such as U.S. News & World Report, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

Read More about Online RN-to-BSN Degrees

The 50 Best Online RN to BSN Self-Paced Programs

Best Self-Paced Online RN-to-BSN Programs Badge 2024

UA Little Rock

Southeastern Louisiana University

Lewis University

University of North Florida

AdventHealth University

McKendree University

NM State University

Eastern New Mexico University

Madonna University

UWM College of Nursing

Northern Arizona University

The University of Tennessee at Martin

Western Governors University

University of Toledo

Anderson University

Lourdes University