Best Online RN Programs in 2020 (Online & On-Campus) - Best Value Schools

Best Online RN Programs in 2020 (Online & On-Campus)

Nursing will continue to be in high demand for the next two decades. Even before 2020 arrived, the baby boomer generation had reached full senior status and was already challenging the capacity of the U.S. healthcare system. The demand for nurses and nursing roles grew exponentially as a result. Therefore, finding the best online RN programs is very important. The Department of Labor is now estimating that the need for Registered Nurses alone will grow another 12 percent through 2028, and those estimates did not include any of the current health issues now present in 2020. The current number of RNs as of 2018 was slightly over 3 million positions, so a 12 percent increase would mean up to 376,000 more jobs over the next 8 years. So, the demand for the position is high, and will continue to grow.

The Best Online RN Programs for Working Adults

Becoming a Registered Nurse or expanding on one’s education after achieving an RN license is frequently on the minds of most nurses who are looking for ways to improve their career path once working. Fortunately, there are numerous options, and they don’t have to involve a traditional, in-person classroom format that conflicts with one’s working schedule. It’s a well-known fact, new nurses often get the hardest shifts which frequently don’t work with any kind of a typical school schedule. So, a digital education option is a must for many who want to secure their RN license or go further and leverage their RN to a bachelor’s degree in nursing or higher. The following schools have some of the most active and developed online programs in nursing, with options specifically geared for RNs, and those seeking an RN license.

1. Fort Hays State University

fort hays state university best online rn programs

Offering an entirely online program for registered nurses, Fort Hays’ RN-to-BSN program provides a complete digital training experience which only leaves the clinical hours required to be arranged in person. The school provides two paths, a standard bachelor’s degree in nursing as well as a transition from RN to a bachelor’s. However, the program has limitations. Students based in the states of Alabama, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming are not accepted online. International students also barred from the online program.

  • Private or Public – Public
  • Location – Hays, KS
  • Cost – $3,450 annually
  • Degrees Offered – BSN, RN-to-BSN

 

2. Northwest Mississippi Community College

Students enrolled in the Northwest Mississippi School of Health Sciences become eligible upon completion of classes to earn an associate degree in nursing or an LPN certificate. Because of the scope of the associate degree provided, students become eligible for the state RN licensing examination process. The current hybrid teaching approach gives an RN student both online class training and in-person clinical education.

  • Private or Public – Public
  • Location – Senatobia, MS
  • Cost – $5,082 annually (with fees)
  • Degrees Offered – RN ADN, LPN-RN, LPN certificate

 

3. Columbus State Community College

Students accepted and attending Columbus learn nursing through online visual training, using both video lectures and movies as well as interactive digital environments. Their basic nursing education program is one of 20 disciplines utilizing online training, and the school provides a general approach to prepare a student for national RN examination. Lasting five semesters, students earn their associate’s degree in nursing on completion and are ready to take their RN licensure test and enter a career right after. The digital classes can be taken online, and as a hybrid approach they are matched to in-person clinical lab work.

  • Private or Public – Public
  • Location – Columbus, OH
  • Cost – $4,730 annually (plus fees) with in-state residency
  • Degrees Offered – ASN, LVN certificate

 

4. Northern Arizona University

Leading the pack in Arizona for the highest pass rates on the national licensing nursing exams, Northern Arizona University provides Registered Nurses a four-year standard bachelor’s degree path, a transfer in option for those with prior college education and degrees, and an RN-to-BSN alternative for working, current nurses. Those with an RN need to show proof of an associate degree. Northern Arizona’s courses can all be handled and passed online, and clinical work can be coordinated with local facilities where the student is located. Northern Arizona does limit application, however. Students from the states of Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, and Washington cannot apply.

  • Private or Public – Public
  • Location – Flagstaff, AZ
  • Cost – $8,072 annually
  • Degrees Offered – BSN, LPN-to-BSN, Other bachelors-to-BSN, RN-to-BSN

 

5. Ball State University

Recognized by the National League for Nursing Center of Excellence, the Ball State University nursing program provides students a four-year bachelor’s degree path to a Registered Nurse exam candidacy. The school boasts a high rate of passage on national licensing exams and provides students an expedited 3-year bachelor’s program as well. Ball also provides lateral entry options for LPNs as well as students who already have a bachelor’s in another field. Finally, Ball University provides for an online RN to bachelor’s degree path for working nurses, entirely doable online except for the in-clinic hours requirement.

  • Private or Public – Public
  • Location – Muncie, IN
  • Cost – $8,682 annually
  • Degrees offered – BSN, LPN-to-BSN, Bachelors-to-BSN, RN-to-BSN

 

6. Nevada State College

For those out west, Nevada State College offers Registered Nurses the ability to earn not just their bachelor’s degree online but to move further and earn a digital master’s degree as well. The bachelor’s program involves entirely online classes and criteria, allowing a working RN to complete higher education without disrupting a career.

  • Private or Public – Public
  • Location – Henderson, NV
  • Cost – $10,080 annually
  • Degrees offered – RN-to-BSN, MSN

 

7. Pittsburg State University

Offering a one-year expedited training program, Pittsburg State provides an online digital education channel for Registered Nurses to take the next step to a bachelor’s degree. RNs do have to show proof they have already completed their other, non-nursing bachelor degree pre-requisites, which is achieved with either an associate’s degree or a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field. The program can also be combined with hands-on clinical work with local health facilities as well.

  • Private or Public – Public
  • Location – Pittsburg, KS
  • Cost – $11,743 annually
  • Degrees offered – RN-to-BSN

 

8. St Philip’s College

Geared to cater to online education, St. Philip’s College provides both a vocational nursing path as well as an LVN program for preparation for Registered Nurse status. Classes are all web-based, work is performed and delivered online, and hybrid teaching provides the clinical and lab requirements. Students do need to complete prerequisites in natural sciences and ethics. Each class is selected and entered every Fall.

  • Private or Public – Private
  • Location – West Texas, TX
  • Cost – $13,084
  • Degrees Offered – ASN

 

9. Morehead State University

As a program entirely tailored to working nurses, Morehead’s RN-to-BSN program is a working person’s degree path for expansion of a Registered Nurse’s existing education. Entirely online, Morehead’s program utilizes an 8-week format for classes, moving students along in an efficient manner to graduation. Completion of the program provides a student with a full level bachelor’s degree in nursing.

  • Private or Public – Public
  • Location – Morehead, KY
  • Cost – $14,172 annually
  • Degrees offered – BSN

 

10. Oakland University

Offering a pre-requirement free path for existing RNs to achieve a bachelor’s degree, Oakland University combines online education with one of the easiest ways for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing. As long as an RN can already show proof of a valid license, prerequisites for non-nursing education requirements are waived. This saves a student time and money and allows focus on just moving ahead. The program operates fully online, making it ideal for working nurses.

  • Private or Public – Private
  • Location – Oakland, MI
  • Cost – $17,333 annually
  • Degrees offered – BSN, Accelerated BSN, RN-to-BSN

 

11. Lincoln Memorial University

As a school focused on high-speed learning, Lincoln Memorial probably retains one of the fastest books-to-work programs available for nursing education. The school provides a two-path opportunity for nursing education, either as a basic associate degree or a broader education bachelor’s degree in nursing. Additionally, the school offers an RN-bachelors degree which is possible if students entering have already achieved an associate in nursing. RN training is entirely online, allowing working nurses to maintain their career position while studying.

  • Private or Public – Private
  • Location – Harrogate, TN
  • Cost – $19,440 annually
  • Degrees offered – ASN, BSN

 

12. Newman University

With a primary focus on generalist nursing education, Newman University provides multiple nursing degree tracks for those who want to achieve an RN or want to add to it and go further in medical education. The school offers both a standard bachelor’s in nursing as well as an LPN to bachelor’s track for those with prior education. Both will prepare the student for the Registered Nurse NCLEX exam. The school also allows students with a prior nursing education that has lapsed (i.e. more than 10 years ago), but such entries have to take three required classes via testing, prove at least 1,000 hours of nursing work as well as have a current nursing license in the state of Kansas.

  • Private or Public – Private
  • Location – Wichita Kansas
  • Cost – $23,700 annually
  • Degrees offered – BSN, LPN-to-BSN

 

13. Maryville University

Designed to provide a quality nursing education 100 percent online, the Maryville University nursing program is intended to be a stepping-stone path for working nurses who already have an RN license and need an alternative to the traditional schedule classroom approach. Transfer credits are allowed and accepted for already-completed work, and the school is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

  • Private or Public – Private
  • Location – St. Louis, MS
  • Cost – $28,470 (including fees) annually
  • Degrees offered – RN-to-BSN

How the Schools Above Were Ranked

First, every school involved had to have some kind of an RN education-related program. While there are many online nursing education institutions, not all have a program geared for those trying to earn an RN license or expand upon it. Second, the school program had to be provided predominantly online with a digital format. There were a number of schools included that had hybrid programs where the classes are online but the clinical time requirements have to be performed in person. These are still included as many of the schools are willing to work with health facilities in the student’s location versus the school itself to meet these criteria. Finally, the schools were organized by cost to the student, regardless of being private or public. All of the schools listed have noted graduation rates passing RN licensure for either associate or bachelor degree students. Cost, however, is often a major factor influencing the decision of a prospective student.

If your institution is represented above, and you feel the data provided needs updating or revision or you just have a question, please contact us online or by email. We would be glad to review the content and your suggested changes as well as data updates as well as a follow-up on requests.