As a profession, nursing is a prominent and exciting career choice. Providing support and comfort everywhere around the world, nurses have the advantage of helping people firsthand. Most importantly, registered nurses (RN) can save somebody’s life. Although the idea of completing a 4-year program at an expensive university appears unrealistic, prospective nurses can look at an online school. Many of the most prestigious universities offer online nursing programs through its colleges. The need for more qualified nurses is a source of optimism for those thinking about online nursing school.
With the growing age of baby boomers and new health care initiatives, a greater need for nurses is imminent in the potential future. As one of the fastest growing occupations in the country, hospitals need qualified nurses who can be leaders in the healthcare industry. As a result, online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs (RN to BSN), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and doctorate nursing degrees are now readily accessible to any nurse seeking an education.
Many of the benefits of an accredited online nursing program revolve around the idea that nurses don’t have to visit on-campus. Nurses can focus on family and employment while earning their degree. Also, graduates of online nursing programs also have a greater range of job possibilities and greater earning potential in the workforce. Nurses have more options to pursue as well, whether that is in administration, clinical nurse management, or seeking graduate or doctorate degrees.
Hundreds of universities across the nation offer top-tier nursing programs fully online, providing students with the nursing education necessary to pass the NCLEX and start their career as a registered nurse. The NCLEX exam, also known as the National Council Licensure Examination, is a standardized exam required by each state board of nursing. A student’s score helps determine whether or not a candidate is ready for entry-level nursing practice. But the first step is to complete an accredited nursing degree.
|1||Georgetown University||Washington, D.C., United States|
|2||Duke University||Durham, North Carolina|
|3||University of Central Florida||Orlando, Florida|
|4||Drexel University||Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
|5||Rush University||Chicago, Illinois|
The Best 24 Online Nursing Programs of 2020
With an exceptionally high NCLEX pass rate of 99.2 percent, Georgetown University’s online nursing programs will prepare students for successful nursing careers. Master’s degrees offered include Adult Gerontology Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse-Midwifery/Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. The Family Nurse Practitioner degree, which requires 44 credits and 650 clinical hours, can be completed in 19 months.
Duke University School of Nursing offers both its Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) and its Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree programs using distance-based and online technologies. Duke is one of the first schools to promote distance education in 1995. As the number one school for online nursing, Duke is well-known for having one of the highest NCLEX pass rates each year.
University of Central Florida
As one of the largest universities in the nation, the University of Central Florida hosts over 63,000 students in more than 200 different program areas. The nursing program at UCF, founded in 1979, now has online programs to make up for the same distinguished and experienced faculty members. Online students living somewhat close to campus also have the option of mixing online and on campus schooling. Most of the ten online programs take about five semesters, and students can take advantage of some specializations and degree paths.
Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions serves more than 1,500 students and offers online nursing and healthcare degrees and certificates through several online masters in nursing programs and bachelor’s degree programs. A pioneer in online education, Drexel University was one of the earliest accredited nursing and healthcare schools online, offering degrees online through eLearning since 2002.
Rush University was founded in Chicago in 1972 and sits as part of the Illinois medical district. The university is a private health sciences institution providing more than 40 degree and certificate programs. Both full time and part time programs are available to the online student with lectures being recorded to allow students the flexibility of completing coursework at their leisure. Recently, Rush University also enjoys the distinction of having been named one of the nation’s top young universities.
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Northeastern University’s hybrid Master of Science in Nursing program is a direct-entry program, meaning students don’t need a previous nursing degree or credentials. Both the RN-BSN and master’s degrees take about sixteen months to complete. Based in Massachusetts, NU has well-established clinical affiliations to provide students with experience to succeed in the field.
University of South Carolina
The University of South Carolina is a large school with nearly 400 different areas of study. Prospective online students looking into the online nursing degree have the option to complete the program in as little as a single year. The University also produces the most BSN graduates in the state of South Carolina and has a 98 percent online graduation rate.
University of Texas at Tyler
UT Tyler offers one online nursing program with advantage to either take the one-year track (full-time) or flexible part-time schedule. The Nursing RN-BSN Track is tailored specifically for students looking to advance their career in nursing. Applications are accepted year-round and courses begin in Fall, Spring, and Summer.
Graceland University is a small, private, liberal arts university based in Independence, Missouri. The 2,300 undergraduate and graduate students are in enrolled over 50 academic programs. Of those, five nursing programs are available online. Graceland is one of the few colleges with nursing programs that offer a Bachelor of Arts in Health Care Management, RN to BSN, RN to BSN to MSN and Doctor of Nursing Practice degrees online.
University of Illinois at Chicago
The University of Illinois at Chicago, established in 1913, started the nursing program in 1951. The university enjoys accreditation from both The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education. The online nursing program provides significant application flexibility in allowing completion in any time frame between sixteen months and four years. This particular program is especially expensive with tuition costing $500 per credit on the lower end of prices.
Established in 1946, Utica features an accelerated, accredited online BSN program available only to full-time students. To graduate, nursing students must participate in clinical rotations where they can learn about patient care in a medical setting. Alternatively, Utica offers an RN to BSN program that students can complete entirely online.
University of Alabama
With an annual tuition of $8,475, the University of Alabama offers one of the most affordable online nursing degrees in the nation. The school offers bachelor degrees in RN to BSN and RN to BSN/MSN. Master degrees in case management, clinical nurse leader, and nurse practitioner are available in nursing as well. The programs have the full-time option, and for students looking for more flexibility, part-time is an option as well.
Ohio State University
Ohio State University, located in Columbus, Ohio is another large university with a student body of over 59,000 students. OSU founded the college of nursing in 1914. A unique feature and important consideration for potential online students is that all of the classes are synchronous. Classes are more engaging for students, and the student-professor interactions are unique. Plus, classes are more flexible. Online students do have the opportunity to participate in practice at the OSU college of the nursing clinic, giving students valuable real-life experience.
Since 1888, Clarkson College has dedicated itself to preparing students for positions in nursing across the country. Clarkson offers three online Bachelor’s degrees in RN to BSN, LPN to BSN, and BSN. Five online master in nursing degrees and one doctoral degree are available as well. Depending on the program chosen, there may be requirements before the student begins the RN-BSN program. To offset the annual tuition of $20,028 students may be entitled to apply for financial aid.
George Washington University
George Washington University offers several different levels of education for its online nursing programs. GWU offers BSN, MSN, and Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degrees online. Graduate certificates are also available at GWU. An accelerated BSN program is also available for students who wish to graduate sooner. The nursing school’s mission is to provide both students and nurses with a growing array of resources and learning opportunities. They also offer a PhD in Nursing in addition to their BSN, MSN, DNP and certificates.
University of Florida
Students pursuing an online nursing degree from the University of Florida can choose from one master’s RN degree and five online doctorate degrees, including a BSN to DNP in several concentrations. An RN to BSN degree is available as well for undergraduate students.
University of West Georgia
The University of West Georgia, located in Carrollton, Georgia, has just over 13,000 students registered at UWG. The university offers three different online programs, one at each of the three levels of bachelor’s, masters and doctorate degrees. UWG makes an online nursing degree program at a level more accessible, and students have the option for full-time or part-time.
The BSN program offered through Baker College’s School of Nursing is a fully online, asynchronous and accredited BSN program. Baker College commits to providing a solid basis for its nursing program including the online nursing program. Both an associate degree and a master’s degree are also available on-campus.
Florida Atlantic University
Florida Atlantic University, based in Boca Raton, Florida, is well known for its research activities in biotechnology, oceanography, ocean engineering and marine biotechnology. FAU offers five different nursing programs with four of them being graduate programs. The RN to BSN degree is available online for undergraduate students. The master’s programs are in clinical nurse leadership, advanced holistic nursing, and nurse educator.
The University of Texas at Arlington
UTA’s online Bachelor of Science in Nursing is one of the most efficient online BSN programs available in the area, taking only 15 months to complete, and it’s suitable for working professionals. The program holds graduation and licensure rates exceeding 90%. A multi-tiered approach supports students through professors, clinical instructors, MSN-qualified academic coaches, the student success program, the hospital partner, and technical assistance services.
University of Cincinnati
The online BSN program offered through the University of Cincinnati’s College of Nursing is a nationally and internationally recognized BSN program that is available 100 percent online and in an asynchronous format. Including the BSN program, UC offers a Master of Science in Nursing for five different tracks including family nurse practitioner, nurse midwifery, and adult-gero primary care nurse practitioner.
Kent State University
Kent State offers nursing degrees at the bachelor, master, and doctorate level. The RN to BSN is an accelerated course that takes as little as 12 months. As for students who need more flexibility and time, part-time is an option. Kent State University (KSU) is a public research university in Kent, Ohio.
Illinois State University
Illinois State University, founded in 1857 as Illinois State Normal University, is the oldest public university in Illinois and is located in Normal, Illinois. The school currently enrolls over 21,000 students. The school has three online nursing programs for bachelor, master’s, and doctorate students. An RN to BSN is for current registered nurses and students may select either a full time or part schedule.
Ohio University is a large, primarily residential, public research university in Athens, Ohio, United States. OU offers three different programs, one of which is the RN to BSN. The RN to BSN is for RNs who want to further their education and advance their careers by getting a bachelor degree in nursing. The Master of Health Administration and Master of Science in Nursing are the possible graduate programs at OU.
The order of the list was determined by NCLEX exam pass rates, although the number of online programs, tuition cost, and overall flexibility are worth considering. For the multiple schools that had the same NCLEX exam pass rates, the number of online programs was the next consideration.
We know that finding the best school to fit your unique needs can be a huge challenge. For that reason, we work hard to develop lists of the best schools based on the characteristics most important for you. Whether that be the cost of attendance, student success, resources available, flexibility of schedule, or any other number of important factors, we’ve got you covered. For more information about our ranking process and to find lists of schools based on specific characteristics, check out our methodology page.
If you’re looking for an online RN to BSN program, check out our article – Best RN to BSN Online Programs.
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*The Best Online Nursing Programs of 2020 guide has been updated.