The Best Online Bachelor’s in Nursing Programs
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Students who are interested in helping others and who enjoy engaging with science and medicine should consider earning a bachelor's degree in nursing. Data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 12% increase in demand for registered nurses (RNs) through 2028.
This page outlines typical requirements of nursing programs, including common coursework and admission standards. It also lists the top 10 online nursing programs, all of which hold accreditation. Readers can also find financial aid resources, potential career paths, and answers to frequently asked questions.
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Most nursing graduates work in hospitals, about 60% in fact. However, RNs also work for ambulatory services and within elderly care facilities, schools, and correctional centers. Individuals who enjoy traveling may even consider becoming a traveling nurse.
The Best Accredited Online BSN Programs
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Featured Online BSN Programs
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
While professionals can acquire an RN license at the associate level, students who earn a bachelor's in nursing gain access to better pay, exclusive job opportunities, and programs that develop students' knowledge and skills in depth.
Online Bachelor's in Nursing (BSN) Program Overview
BSN programs do not require prerequisites or experience outside of a high school diploma or GED. Therefore, the program begins with general education requirements and builds up to fundamental nursing knowledge and skills. Core subjects include physiology and anatomy, microbiology, statistics, psychology, nutrition, nursing theory, and nursing research. Students also learn about healthcare systems and special needs nursing.
In addition to coursework, this degree requires hands-on clinical experiences at patient care facilities. Universities often allow students to choose advanced clinical settings based on their career interests.
These programs develop ethical, accountable, and socially responsible practitioners. Online nursing programs emphasize evidence-based nursing practices, critical thinking, application of nurse theory, and effective communication.
A bachelor's degree in nursing allows graduates to enter the workforce after passing their license exam. Practitioners may go on to earn an advanced nursing degree, which provides more employment opportunities and higher salary potential.
Common BSN Nursing Degree Courses
Pathophysiology explores underlying diseases that can develop across the lifespan, as well as therapeutic interventions for injury disease risk factors. This course includes clinical and theoretical principles regarding diseases that result from genetic, stress-based, and environmental causes. Coursework also requires students to identify psychosocial and cognitive characteristics of conditions and diseases.
Methods for Evidence-Based Practice
This course instructs students to use research evidence, clinical expertise, and patient preferences to provide individualized patient care. Graduates will know how to investigate the most up-to-date healthcare research to determine courses of care and treatment for their patients.
Microbiology explores basic properties of archaea, bacteria, viruses, and eukaryotic microorganisms. Students learn to compare and distinguish microbes, examine major pathways of catabolism, and analyze major pathways of biosynthesis. Students are also able to identify common features of microbial pathogens and defense mechanisms against infection.
Human Anatomy and Physiology
Human anatomy and physiology introduces students to the regulation and functions of major systems in the body. This course also examines how body parts collaborate to accomplish tasks. Topics include organ function, electrolytes, the digestive system, the lymphatic system, and the cardiovascular system.
Nursing Care of Mental Health Patients
This course addresses evidence-based practices and theories regarding the care of psychiatric patients. Students examine concepts of mental health issues and the ethical, cultural, and legal influences therein. By the end of the course, students should understand how to discuss clinical modalities, use psychiatric terminology, and identify barriers for psychiatric patients.
Online Bachelor's in Nursing (BSN) Admission Requirements
BSN programs generally require a minimum GPA for admission, since universities want to ensure students can succeed in their program. Some universities may accept a lower GPA if students achieve a higher score on standardized exams.
BSN programs usually require students to submit SAT or ACT scores. Schools may accept lower scores for students with a high GPA. If schools accept both standardized exams, students should submit their best score.
An online bachelor's in nursing begins with general education requirements, which students must complete before taking upper-level nursing courses. Students may also need to complete work or volunteer hours in approved medical settings.
Letters of Recommendation
Colleges and universities include letters of recommendation in the admission process in order to examine students' character. Students applying right out of high school can ask teachers or counselors for letters. Nontraditional students with work or college experience may want to consider asking employers or professors who can speak to their character.
Online bachelor's in nursing students complete multiple field experiences during the latter portion of their program. Because of this, schools must ensure their students are able to safely participate in such experiences. Universities often require students to obtain immunization and drug screening prior to admission. Admission also typically requires a criminal background check.
Online Bachelor's in Nursing Career Paths
Professionals can earn an RN license at the associate degree level. However, a BSN allows graduates to apply for higher-level roles, such as nurse manager, quality assurance coordinator, and case management nurse. Alternative career paths include nurse health coach, legal nurse consultant, and public health nurse.
Professionals who remain in the field may go on to earn an advanced nursing degree that leads to leadership roles and an increase in wages. Advanced degrees require an additional license.
Frequently Asked Questions about Online BSN Programs
What can you do with a Bachelor of Nursing Online?
An online nursing (BSN) degree allows practitioners to work directly with patients in multiple settings. RNs should identify a target population they are interested in working with to determine the settings or facilities to which they should apply. A BSN also creates administrative and consulting opportunities. Practitioners considering the next step in their career also qualify for MSN programs.
How long does it take to get an online BSN?
On average, students can complete a bachelor's in nursing in four years if they attend full time. Students who already hold an ADN may qualify for accelerated programs that focus on more in-depth nursing curricula. These programs typically require about two years of study with full-time attendance.
How much can you make with an online BSN?
According to BLS data, registered nurses earn about $71,730 on average. However, students should research state- and county-specific data, as earning potential varies by location. Students may also want to explore top-paying industries. For instance, the average median salary for professionals in the pharmaceutical industry is $95,400.
Can you get an online BSN without an associate in nursing (ADN)?
Universities offer programs that do not require prior experience, but students may need to complete general coursework before being admitted to the actual nursing program. Accelerated programs require an unencumbered RN license that students can earn in an ADN program.
What does an online BSN program consist of?
A BSN includes classroom-based coursework, clinical experiences, and laboratory work. Other tasks may include conducting research independently or in groups. At the end of the program, students must prepare to pass the National Council of State Boards of Nursing NCLEX-RN exam.
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