Introduction to RN to BSN Degrees

OnlineRNtoBSN has several outlines and resources about Nursing degrees that students can find useful. Many nurses who got their RN through an associate’s degree wish to go back to school for their Bachelor of Science in nursing degree (BSN). If you’re considering continuing your nursing education there are many different options to choose from.

In addition to traditional campus based BSN programs, some colleges and universities offer RN to BSN online programs. These programs may in fact better for the working adult. Online programs let you adjust your classroom schedule to your work schedule, allowing you to log in whenever it’s convenient for you.

Kaplan University
Kaplan University — Kaplan's RN to BSN program empowers you to earn your bachelor's degree online from an accredited leader in education. The curriculum features an emphasis on professional leadership and health promotion and includes courses in management, informatics, research, and emerging trends in medicine. A capstone completed in your community allows you to apply your knowledge.
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Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon University — Grand Canyon University's RN to BS in Nursing Program is designed for registered nurses who already possess their associate's degree or diploma in nursing. The curriculum focuses on the inherent skills of an RN, building on them to graduate competent nurses with more advanced skills. Courses are taught both online and in the classroom.
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Walden University
Walden University — According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for registered nurses is projected to continue to increase dramatically through 2016. Further studies have indicated that the earnings gap between those with and without a bachelor's degree is growing. At Walden, you can earn your bachelor's degree with a flexible, relevant, online program.
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What is an Online RN to BSN Degree?

The main difference between online and on-campus learning is that you can complete the courses on the Internet rather than driving to a school somewhere. Also, online education typically has faster degree options, with some allowing you to complete the program in as little as three semesters. Many online programs accept previous RN training experience as official credits, which lessens the amount of time spent towards a BSN degree.

If you want to continue working as an RN while getting your BSN degree, distance learning makes this possible. Although there are deadlines for assignments, typically online programs are flexible. You have a wide range of time to complete the assignments, and you’re notified of them at the beginning of the semester. Additionally, tests usually have a period of time for completion rather than a specific day and time that they must be done in. This kind of flexibility allows you to have a family and to work while getting a higher education.

Sometimes online learning can aid classroom discussions and interactions with professors and staff of your nursing program. Unlike a classroom setting where you may be less inclined to participate in group discussion, online programs have discussion boards and video conferencing that many online BSN graduates say they prefer. Writing out answers to questions allows the student to process the information and come up with an answer they feel confident about. This is different from being put on the spot in a classroom discussion. Also, professors and staff of online programs are very supportive in distance learning. They’re constantly available via telephone, email, and web conferencing. Many online graduates find that professors in online programs are even more available than professors in classroom settings.

The general advantages of an online RN to BSN degree versus a traditional RN to BSN degree include:

  • Study at your own pace
  • Choose one of six start times at some schools
  • Take the number of courses that you want simultaneously
  • Convenient eight-week sessions at some schools
  • Complete your degree in as little as 24 months with full-time study
  • No mandatory logon times at some schools
  • Learn from expert faculty
  • Attend an accredited university – no campus visits required
  • Earn the same degree awarded to on-campus students

Who is Eligible for an Online RN to BSN Program?

All programs vary in their admission requirements, but in all programs someone who wishes to enroll in an online RN to BSN program must be a certified registered nurse with previous work experience. Online degree programs do vary so checking what credentials you need with different school’s programs is very important. To find the best online programs for your needs, it is recommended you contact several schools to learn about the programs and course work they offer.

The general admission guidelines for online RN to BSN programs are:

  • A completed application form to the undergraduate-nursing program
  • Current, unrestricted U.S. RN licensure (provisional acceptance will generally be offered pending successful completion of the NCLEX-RN examination)—in all accredited programs in order to start the program you must have an active license
  • College GPA of at least 2.5 or above
  • Associates degree or diploma in nursing
  • CLEP or AP exam official report scores
  • Official transcripts from all universities or colleges and other post-secondary educational institutions (including trade schools) attended
  • Occasionally schools require that transcripts show at least 60 semester hours of college prerequisites with grade of C or better. These courses may include: Nursing (30 hours), English, Humanities, Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, Sociology, Growth and Development, Psychology

If you would like to complete your degree quickly then you should look into schools that have fast-track or accelerated degree programs. Accelerated BSN degree programs are a full-time commitment. Therefore you shouldn’t plan on working while doing this option. These programs are geared towards registered nurses with great career and academic track records. Typically these programs will let you get your BSN degree in less than two years. The best way to find these accelerated programs is to contact several schools to see what they have to offer. The general outline for an accelerated online program is that you get credit for general education classes you already took in college. Then you take some nursing theory and clinical classes to prepare you to graduate with a BSN degree.

What does an Online RN to BSN Degree Offer My Current Career?

There are many benefits to increase your education to a BSN degree. Though programs differ, you’ll generally gain more information and education on the nursing field. Through these online programs you should learn how to:

  • Successfully manage patients with increasing levels of complexity.
  • Solve problems, resolve conflicts and delegate.
  • Weigh legal and ethical dilemmas in critical care.
  • Effectively communicate and make decisions in a rapidly changing environment.
  • Exercise critical thinking methods to identify and solve problems.

You’ll also gain many benefits from getting a BSN degree. These benefits may include:

  • Exercise critical thinking methods to identify and solve problems.
  • Become familiar with areas of nursing such as research, critical care and community health that most associate’s and diploma programs don’t cover.
  • Implement valuable skills you learned in management and leadership while assisting a new grad or directing a department.
  • Communicate with peers and your professors giving you broad exposure to the nursing community.
  • With an RN to BSN degree you will gain skills you can apply immediately in the workplace.

After you have finished your BSN degree you will have a better chance at going into an administration role or in supervising nursing stations. You could also work within the community training about healthy lifestyles. Depending on your career plans this may mean working in a hospital or in a nursing home. With a BSN you’ll also be a stronger candidate for popular jobs and promotions. Some other career paths you will be able to explore include, but are not limited to:

  • Director of Education
  • RN Telemetry Unit
  • Charge Nurse
  • ICU Staff RN
  • Manager of Ambulatory Surgery
  • Clinical Nurse Manager
  • Healthcare Risk Manager
  • Director of Case Management
  • Chief Nursing Officer
  • Hospitalist Service Unit RN
  • Operating Room RN
  • Oncology RN
  • Relief Charge Nurse
  • Cardiac Care Unit Nurse
  • Patient Care Manager
  • Hospice Nurse

A BSN degree will also provide you with the necessary education to get a MSN or DNP degree. Without the foundation of a BSN degree you can’t increase your nursing education to graduate level. Additionally, a BSN degree offers more money than those who work as an RN without a degree. A December 2009 report showed that nurses with an associate’s degree earned an average of $48,000 per year while those with a bachelor’s degree earned an average of $52,000 per year. Nurses with associate’s degrees who have had 20 or more years of experience earn about $62,000 per year while those with bachelor’s degree earn about $71,000 per year. Nurses with bachelor’s degrees will earn much more during their career. For a complete profile on the earnings of RNs, look at The Bureau of Labor Statistics salary profile.

Additional Resources for Online RN to BSN Degrees:

  • National League for Nursing: This organization offers information on a career as a registered nurse, including those with BSN degree. It also has information on nursing education.
  • American Association of Colleges of Nursing: The AACN is the national voice for baccalaureate and graduate nursing education. This organization has helpful information on baccalaureate and graduate nursing education, nursing career options, and financial aid.
  • American Nurses Association: The ANA is the only full-service professional organization representing the interests of the nation’s 3.1 million registered nurses through its constituent member nurses associations and its organizational affiliates. This organization has additional information on registered nurses, including credentialing.
  • National Association of Clinical Nurse Specialists: This website provides a list of accredited clinical nurse specialist programs.
  • American Society of Registered Nurses: This organization was founded for the purpose of bringing together professional nurses interested in creating a nursing “society.” Their website offers information on registered nurses in all fields and specialties.

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