Find the Best Online Nursing Programs and Nursing Schools
Compare Reviews for Top Online Nursing Programs and Schools
|Western Governors University|
Read 66 Reviews
Western Governors University is an online, nonprofit university that got it’s start in 1997. Supported by 19 U.S. governors, it offers multiple online degree options including bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing.
|Concorde Career College|
Read 521 Reviews
Concorde Career College offers over 20 programs in the healthcare industry. They have 16 campuses in 8 states. Choose from diploma, associate and bachelor degree programs. Apply online for free.
|Capella School of Nursing and Health Sciences|
Read 13 Reviews
Established in 1993, Capella is a regionally accredited leader in online learning and competency-based education. Its online nursing program focuses on helping registered nurses advance their careers and education.
|University of Phoenix School of Nursing|
Read 18 Reviews
The University of Phoenix was established in 1976 and is headquartered in Tempe, Arizona. Among other degree options, it offers a flexible online nursing program that allows nurses the chance to work towards an advanced degree.
|Walden University Nursing|
Read 9 Reviews
Walden University is a regionally accredited online institution that has been helping adult learners achieve their goals for 45 years. Today, it provides undergraduate and graduate degrees in many disciplines, including nursing.
|Chamberlain College of Nursing||Read Author Review|
Chamberlain College of Nursing is located in Downers Grove, Illinois and has been providing nursing education since 1889. Today, they offer multiple academic programs for people looking to start or advance their nursing career.
|Drexel University||Read Author Review|
Founded in 1891, Drexel University has been offering online undergraduate and graduate nursing programs since 2002. Drexel offers current nurses many options in master’s programs to further their career in healthcare.
|Gardner-Webb University Hunt School of Nursing||Read Author Review|
Gardner-Webb University started in 1905 as a boarding high school and later became a college in 1928. The nursing program began in 1965 and has since expanded to include online undergraduate and graduate nursing programs.
|Penn State World Campus||Read Author Review|
Penn State World Campus is Penn State University’s online college, which opened in 1998. Students have 125 career-enhancing programs to choose from, including advanced degrees and certificates in nursing.
|South University College of Nursing and Public Health||Read Author Review|
South University was established in 1899 in Savannah, Georgia as a business college. Since then it has opened 15 campuses and launched its online courses, including undergraduate and graduate nursing and public health degrees.
Important questions about online nursing programs
What is the difference between a RN and BSN?
People who have their Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) or people who have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) are both considered registered nurses (RNs) once they pass the NCLEX exam. However, hospitals are starting to look for more people with a BSN. With a BSN, nurses can further their credibility in the field by getting advanced degrees in focused areas and have more job opportunities to choose from. Almost all online nursing schools offer RN to BSN degree programs.
- RN: To become an RN, students must take the NCLEX exam. To be eligible to take the exam they must first earn their ADN or BSN. Students can earn an ADN and become an RN in about two years. Once an RN, they can perform typical nursing duties such as operate medical equipment, chart symptoms and educate patients about an illness.
- BSN: Many RNs choose to get a BSN degree to further their career in the nursing field. Typically, a BSN takes around three to four years, however, RN to BSN programs can be completed in about two years because RNs already have half of the credits needed for a BSN. Once a BSN is obtained, nurses can go on to get master’s and doctorate degrees in specialized areas of nursing. Hospitals are starting to look for nurses with a BSN as part of their hiring practices. RNs with a BSN can expect to earn more than RNs with an associate degree, and they will be eligible for managerial roles.
What programs do online nursing schools offer?
Generally, most online nursing schools offer the same types of degrees. As students start looking into more advanced nursing degrees such as a Master of Science in Nursing, they will see varying options in degree specialties and focuses. Master’s degrees in nursing are the most popular and diverse degrees offered by online nursing programs.
- Certificates: Many online nursing schools offer certificates that focus on specific areas in the nursing field. Certification degrees are offered on a state-to-state basis due to licensing requirements.
- Undergraduate: The most common undergraduate degree offered by online nursing schools is a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN). This degree is designed for registered nurses who are pursuing a bachelor’s in nursing.
- Graduate: Online nursing schools offer the greatest number of options for a Master of Science in Nursing degree. Nurses looking for a master’s degree typically focus on a specific area of study within the nursing field, such as pediatrics or gerontology. Many schools offer doctoral degrees, such as a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or a Ph.D. in nursing.
How are online nursing schools accredited?
Accreditation shows employers and licensing agencies that a school meets minimum academic standards. Each school typically has some type of accreditation, and each program within a school can have a more specified accreditation for that area of study. For example, most nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
- Regional accreditation: All online nursing schools are regionally accredited with one of the six regional accreditors. The accrediting organization largely depends on the state in which the school is located.
- National accreditation: National accreditation is typically used by vocational and trade schools and is not limited to a particular geographical area. Although some schools may advertise national accreditation as superior to regional accreditation, it does not offer any additional advantages for students.
- State certificates: Many online nursing programs are approved by multiple state licensing boards, allowing students to use their degrees across a broad list of states.
What are the tuition costs and fees for online nursing schools?
Tuition for each type of degree varies between schools. Each school will have different regular fees and program-specific fees that can make the overall tuition go up. If a school isn’t upfront about all of the fees associated with its nursing school, students should ask for a full list before making a final decision on a degree option.
- Tuition: Tuition depends on many factors including degree type (BSN or MSN), whether a student is full-time or part-time and how many transferrable credits they have. Most online nursing programs have a breakdown of tuition costs for each program online, or students can request more information to get the cost of a program.
- Additional fees: Students should be aware of additional fees that will be added to their overall tuition cost. Additional fees for nursing students can include application fees, books and supplies, course resource fees, and any material and supplies for clinical.
- Tuition reimbursement: Nursing students working towards advanced degrees should talk to their employer about tuition reimbursement. Some schools work with employers by accepting third-party checks for tuition.
What are the admission requirements for online nursing schools?
Schools have different admission requirements, not only for acceptance into the school but for the nursing program within the school. Online schools typically have admission requirements outlined in each course description as well as readily available admissions counselors to answer any general requirement questions.
- Standardized tests: Nursing programs require specific scores on the SAT or ACT as a general admission requirement.
- GPA: Minimum Grade Point Average for admission consideration will vary depending on the school. In most cases, students applying for a graduate degree will need to have a specific GPA in their undergraduate nursing courses.
- Registered nurses: Students will need to produce a current, active and unrestricted RN license when applying for a bachelor’s degree with the RN to BSN option.
What kind of financial aid do online nursing schools offer?
Figuring out how to pay for school is a daunting task, especially if this is a student’s second degree. Nearly all online nursing schools provide some type of financial aid students can apply for.
- Scholarships: Schools normally provide many scholarship options to help students pay for tuition. Students can look online for a list of scholarships and requirements for each one. Students with children should look for Working Parent scholarships that are available to registered nurses with children.
- Grants: Students seeking federal aid should consider all the grant options each school provides. Federal Pell Grants and Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG) are for undergraduates seeking a bachelor’s degree. Pell Grants have a maximum award of up to $6000, and FSEOGs are $375 per semester for those who qualify.
- Work study: Some online nursing schools give students the option to utilize the Federal Work-Study (FWS) program. FWS allows students with financial needs to earn part of their educational expenses. Students can earn an hourly minimum wage by working for the school or a nonprofit.
What kind of technology is used by online nursing schools?
Online classes and programs rely heavily on technology to communicate course material, homework and lectures to students. Flexible, easy-to-use programs are essential when it comes to online learning.
- Mobile app: Mobile apps give students the flexibility to access class assignments, participate in live discussions, send emails, review discussion boards and track academic progress from a mobile device.
- Easy-to-use programs: The programs that students use to complete their coursework, watch/listen to online lectures and take tests should be user-friendly.
- Live chat: Live chat features are becoming more popular with online classes. Students can ask questions during lectures and participate in live, online discussion groups. Many schools even have academic counselors available on an online chat platform.
Different types of online nursing degrees
Some online nursing programs offer associate degrees as an option to become a registered nurse. As an RN, students can go on to pursue advanced degrees in the nursing field, starting with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Bachelor of Science degrees
Most online nursing schools offer a couple of undergraduate options in the nursing field. A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) can have an RN to BSN option or an accelerated option. RN to BSN programs are designed for registered nurses pursuing a bachelor's degree in the field. The accelerated programs are fast-tracked degree options for students who have more time to devote to their studies.
Master of Science degrees
A Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree is the most common degree pursued by nursing students. The flexibility of having master’s courses online accommodates working nurses better than traditional learning. Students can pursue an MSN with a variety of focused options in the nursing field such as pediatrics, gerontology or nursing administration.
A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is the most common advanced nursing degree offered by online nursing programs. This program is designed to give advanced practice nurses the scientific knowledge and expertise to deal with the increased complexity of the nursing field.
People looking for online nursing programs
High school graduates
High school graduates who already know they want to pursue a career in nursing may find an online nursing program attractive, especially if they will be working part-time or full-time while earning a degree.
An online nursing program is a flexible option for registered nurses who want to pursue an advanced degree in the field of nursing. In some cases, nurses who are actively employed can use their work experience towards course credit.
Adults looking to switch their current career path to one in the nursing field may find online nursing programs a convenient option. This will allow them to continue working at their current job while pursuing a nursing degree.
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Information in this guide is general in nature and is intended for informational purposes only; it is not legal, health, investment or tax advice. ConsumerAffairs.com makes no representation as to the accuracy of the information provided and assumes no liability for any damages or loss arising from its use.