What You Should Know: Earning Your RN to BSN Online
If you’re already working as a registered nurse, you’ve probably considered a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or BSN. The degree can open doors to roles in management and leadership, and it’s quickly becoming the gold standard for nursing education. Whether you’re established in your nursing career or just getting started, a bachelor’s degree in nursing can raise your earning power, expand your job options, and take you one step closer advanced nursing roles. Above all, a BSN will deepen your clinical knowledge and broaden your expertise, which benefits your patients.
An RN to BSN program is designed to fast-track your bachelor’s degree because it makes the most of your transfer credits while taking your nursing experience into account. Enrolling in an online RN to BSN comes with the added benefit of flexible, accelerated courses. Online classes are available 24/7, so you can fit your studies into your busy schedule. You can complete classes in as few as seven weeks, while traditional courses will take 10 to 16 weeks.
There’s a lot to think about as you explore your options. You may want to know more about the online experience, or you might be curious about job prospects, tuition and financial aid. Follow the links below to learn more.
What Is an RN to BSN Program?
Can I Get a BSN Without an RN?
Of all 2018 BSN graduates earned the degree through an RN to BSN bridge program.
Source: Campaign for Action
What Will I Learn in an RN to BSN Program?
RN to BSN programs can broaden your nursing perspective and give you tools for navigating and implementing evidence-based practice. You’ll learn how to research and explore advanced safety strategies, and you’ll delve into pharmacology and health information systems. Academics, however, is only one aspect of your degree. The main focus is applying your studies for positive patient outcomes.
La Salle’s online RN to BSN program is centered on excellent patient care. Students at La Salle learn to employ advanced clinical judgment and decision-making skills to best serve patients and their families. Nurses also gain strategies for risk reduction, disease prevention, and health promotion.
With healthcare changing, the BSN is essential. Nurses need to be at the table to be not only part of, but also lead those changes. Nurses need to define their role in the future of healthcare, and getting their BSN can afford them that opportunity.
What Courses Will I Take to Earn My Degree?
- Professional Nursing Practice and Health Information Systems
- Developments and Controversies in Pathophysiology and Pharmacology
- Nursing Research
- Evidence-Based Practice
- International Public Health Nursing
- Nursing Leadership, Management, and Organizational Dynamics
- Safety Strategies for Healthcare Delivery Systems
Just get started, the work will be relevant to your practice, your peers will provide the motivation to continue and the faculty will support you in your quest for self-improvement with the goal of improved patient care.
Do Many RNs Have a BSN?
Why Is a BSN Important for Nurses?
- A landmark 2010 report issued by the Institute of Medicine (now known as the National Academy of Medicine) noted that healthcare, hospital operations and related technology have all become increasingly complex. The report also cited the expanding role of nurses in primary care as well as a growing demand for healthcare in general. Based on these circumstances, the report highlighted the importance of education, calling for 80% of nurses to complete their bachelor’s degree by 2020. While this percentage may be unlikely in the given time frame, healthcare operations have nevertheless shifted in favor of BSN nurses.
- The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) echoes the IOM recommendations and goes a step further. Instead of calling for 80% of RNs to complete their bachelor’s, the AACN recommends a BSN as the baseline education for all registered nurses.
- The Department of Veterans Affairs, which is the largest employer of RNs in the United States, requires a BSN for all nursing positions above entry-level.
- The Balance Careers reports that to practice as an active duty nurse, service members in the U.S. Army, Navy, and Air Force are required to hold a BSN.
- All nurse managers and nurse leaders at hospitals seeking Magnet recognition from the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC) must hold a BSN. Magnet is a title that acknowledges hospital safety and quality of care.
What Is Magnet Recognition and Why Does It Matter?
- A greater emphasis on patient care
- Lower nurse-to-patient ratios
- Lower infection and mortality rates
- Shorter hospital stays
- Lower rates of RN burnout and turnover
- More opportunities for nursing career advancement
- Higher RN job satisfaction than non-Magnet hospitals
What Are the Benefits of a BSN?
While Magnet hospitals contribute to improved patient outcomes, several studies directly link those improvements to nursing education. Research published in the Journal of Nursing Administration found that hospitals with a higher percentage of RNs with a bachelor’s degree had lower rates of congestive heart failure mortality, lower failure to rescue rates, fewer cases of pressure injuries fewer occurrences of postoperative deep vein thrombosis and fewer cases of postoperative pulmonary embolism.
HealthLeaders magazine, citing a Medical Care study, also noted that patients who received at least 80% of their care from BSN RNs were 18.7% less likely to seek readmission. The same study found that increasing BSN-prepared staff by 10% resulted in a 10% drop in patient mortality.
Increasing BSN-prepared staff by 10% resulted in a 10% drop in patient mortality.
These improvements, and their connection to BSN-prepared nurses, may be attributed to the depth of training imparted by a four-year degree. BSN nurses expand their clinical practice with additional study in research, safety strategies and evidence-based practice. Patient outcomes aside, employers prefer BSN-prepared nurses. BSN nurses often command higher salaries than diploma and ADN nurses. They’re more likely to occupy leadership and management positions as well.
As an associate degree nurse I was very centered and focused on my patient, and that was as far as I could see, the patients I cared for. After receiving my, BSN I was able to see the bigger picture, and how that affected my patient, and what I could do as a nurse to be an advocate for my patient and provide better care… That in itself is enough, but [the degree] will also open doors for you. It absolutely will open doors for you.
Why Do Employers Prefer BSN RNs?
Student Spotlight: Theresa Twegbe
What Jobs Can I Get With a BSN?
For entry level positions, a BSN-prepared nurse is eligible for any job available to a diploma- or ADN-prepared nurse. The BSN nurse, however, is more likely to be interviewed and hired. That means the BSN offers graduates a significant competitive edge in the job market.
If you plan to move into a management or leadership role, or into research and staff education, a BSN is almost always required. In some cases, an advanced degree, such as an MSN, may be required as well. The table below includes four such roles, and their average salaries.
|Job Title||Average Annual Salary|
|Nursing Unit Manager||$77,760|
|Clinical Nurse Educator||$93,629|
Source: ZipRecruiter, Indeed* (September 2019)
The BSN has also become increasingly common for specialized nursing roles. While the degree isn’t always required, it’s strongly preferred by employers. RNs are often asked to complete a BSN as a condition of employment for these jobs.
|Job Title||Average Annual Salary|
|Operating Room Nurse||$90,131|
Source: ZipRecruiter, Indeed (September 2019)
Are Salaries for BSN Nurses Higher?
While your salary depends on your job title, location and years of experience, average salaries for BSN nurses outpace those for diploma and ADN nurses. PayScale (September 2019) cites the average salary of registered nurses with a BSN as $64,000, while the average salary for an RN with an ADN is $61,000. Please note that this is specifically for those with the title of “Registered Nurse,” nurses with different titles make different salaries. The BSN is also a stepping stone toward the MSN degree, which results in higher salaries; ZipRecruiter shows an average salary of $106,201 for RN, MSNs.
Reports on average salaries vary based on source and timeframe, but one thing remains constant: many BSN RNs are paid more than RNs with a hospital program diploma or an ADN.
How Do BSN Salaries Break Down By State?
|State||Average BSN Salary|
What Is the Career Outlook for BSN RNs?
While some career outlooks and projections for nurses don’t distinguish between levels of educational attainment, even the BLS acknowledges that BSN nurses have the best job prospects. Thus, BSN-prepared nurses will reap the most benefit from projected industry growth.
In fact, the BLS predicts that employment for nurses will increase at a rate of 12% through 2028. The average rate of growth across all industries is 5%. This means the number of nursing jobs could also increase 371,500 by 2028.
Projected percent change in employment for registered nurses through 2028
– Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2018
This growth is driven by an aging population, which impacts the nursing industry in two significant ways. The labor supply will dip as nurses retire, but the healthcare needs of older patients will simultaneously result in greater demand for nurses. Given these circumstances, job projections for nurses in long-term care are triple those for nurses overall. In a study authored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Health Resources and Services Administration Bureau of Health Workforce, and the National Center for Health Workforce Analysis, researchers projected that nursing jobs in long-term care will grow at a rate of 46%, from 438,600 in 2015 to an estimated 638,800 in 2030.
How Can I Make the Most of My BSN?
While future job projections are promising, nurses are already in high demand. Some regions are even in the midst of a nursing shortage. Employers have turned to generous signing bonuses, tuition reimbursement, relocation funding and other perks to attract new hires.
Another great way to make the most of your BSN is to continue your education. With a master’s degree, you can become a nurse practitioner, certified nurse-midwife, certified registered nurse anesthetist or clinical nurse specialist. Some MSN programs offer specializations in family practice or gerontology, and the latter is an especially good bet given industry projections.
Student Spotlight: Georgian Green
How Much Does an Online RN to BSN Degree Cost?
Tuition varies depending on the school and the length of the program. The cost of an RN to BSN degree also changes based on your transfer credits. You may save money if you complete your prerequisite and general education courses before you enroll in an RN to BSN program.
The difference between for-profit colleges and nonprofit colleges is also worth considering. As Forbes points out, for-profit colleges are sometimes the most expensive.
The chart below compares tuition and fees for the online RN to BSN at for-profit and nonprofit colleges:
|University||Nonprofit||Cost Per Credit Hour|
|West Coast University||No||$525|
|La Salle University||Yes||$400|
Credit hour rates taken from university websites
It’s also important to consider added fees that aren’t rolled into your tuition cost. Chamberlain University, for instance, charges online students an extra $260 in fees per semester and $50 per course. West Coast University adds a $1,500 eBook/Technology fee. La Salle’s online RN to BSN includes a one-time student fee of $175.
Can Online RN to BSN Students Apply for Financial Aid?
Am I Eligible for Financial Aid If I Already Have Student Loans?
That depends on your current loan balance. The government places a cap on federal student loan debt, and it changes based on your circumstances. If your parents claim you as a dependent, the maximum federal loan debt is $31,000. If you’re an independent student, the cutoff is $57,500 for undergraduates.
Whether you’re seeking additional funding or not, all students who maintain the minimum enrollment of six credit hours per semester are eligible for deferment on federal loans. That means you won’t have to make payments on your existing loans while you’re in school and working on your BSN.
Can My Military Benefits Apply to Online Tuition?
When Do I Submit My Military Benefit Form to the School?
If you plan on using your veteran’s education benefit for payment of your tuition, all approved paperwork must be submitted no later than the due date of tuition.
How Do I Find Out Which Credits Will Transfer?
Do I Have to Finish My General Courses Before I Start My Nursing Program?
Once you’ve confirmed your program’s transfer policies and taken stock of your transfer credits, you’ll want to find out when you’re eligible to begin your nursing core courses.
Many RN to BSN programs will set a minimum requirement for transfer credits that you must meet before you can begin taking courses in your major. Some programs will allow you to work on general education and BSN core courses simultaneously, but your time and your focus will be split between both. Either way, the more credits you complete before enrollment, the lower your tuition costs for your RN to BSN program.
In general, you won’t have to finish all of your general education credits to begin nursing classes for La Salle’s online RN to BSN program.
What Prerequisites Do I Need to Take?
Prerequisites are courses that must be completed before you begin courses in your nursing major, and these vary from program to program. If you have an ADN, transfer credits, or you’ve earned credit by exam, you’ve probably already completed a significant portion of your prerequisites. At La Salle, the general education courses can be completed at the same time as your nursing course; these are considered co-requisite courses.
The La Salle RN to BSN online program requires a total of 70 credits of general education credits (remember that these can be transferred, taken online at La Salle or even completed through testing).
- Anatomy and Physiology I (4 credits)
- Anatomy and Physiology II (4 credits)
- Microbiology (4 credits)
- Chemistry (4 credits; may be waived with a passing grade in high-school chemistry)
- Nutrition (3 credits)
- Statistics (3 credits)
- Developmental Psychology (3 credits)
- Psychology (3 credits)
- Sociology (3 credits)
- Computer (3 credits)
- College Writing I (3 credits)
- College Writing II (3 credits)
- Religion Matters (3 credits)
- General Electives (27 credits)
What Are the Admission Requirements for RN to BSN Programs?
What Is Accreditation and Why Is It Important?
- Course credits from an unaccredited school are less likely to transfer to an accredited college or university.
- Students in unaccredited degree programs aren’t eligible for federal financial aid and military education benefits.
- Employers are less likely to hire graduates of an unaccredited degree programs.
- Graduate schools are less likely to accept students with a degree from an unaccredited college or university.
What’s the Difference Between Regional Accreditation and National Accreditation?
- Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Western Association of Schools and Colleges
- Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
- New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
- Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
- Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
- WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)
How Are Nursing Programs Accredited?
We are committed to constantly refreshing our courses to make sure that as healthcare changes, so do we in response to that.
How Long Will It Take to Complete My RN to BSN Degree?
That depends on multiple factors. The more transfer credits you have, the less time it will take to complete your RN to BSN. The same is true for your course load. The more courses you can successfully complete each semester, the sooner you’ll reach graduation.
If you have earned all required general education course credits before enrollment, and you take three courses per semester (or one to two courses each half-semester), you can complete the online RN to BSN program at La Salle University in as few as 13 months. If you still have gen ed courses to complete, this can lengthen your completion time.
The online format is beneficial for students who are already RNs busy working full-time, raising families, dealing with family issues. The online format helps students achieve their goal of getting their BSN.
– Dr. Patricia Dillon, La Salle University Chair of Graduate Nursing, RN-BSN and RN-MSN Programs
Does an Online RN to BSN Degree Program Take Less Time Than an On-Campus Degree?
I graduated with a 4.0. It was very difficult, but I can’t take all of the credit myself. It was having a great support system. My family and friends and my job were all very understanding that I had school. They helped out to make it much better.
How Do Online Courses Work?
How Many Hours a Week Do I Need to Study?
For any online students, I think it is important to be organized. Keep track of exams and assignment due dates … Plan time to work on assignments and study each day if possible.
Will I Need Any Special Software for My Online Courses?
All you really need for an online course is an internet connection, a computer and the standard software that comes with it. You can even access some LMS modules through your phone or tablet. Check with your program before classes begin however, since technology requirements can vary by university.
Will I Have to Repeat My Clinicals?
Will My Professors Have Clinical Experience?
Yes, most professors in an RN to BSN program will have clinical experience. Nursing professors hold advanced degrees in their field, and those degrees often require clinical experience.
The online RN to BSN faculty at La Salle feature expert clinicians. They understand the demands of a nursing career, and they design their curriculum with working nurses in mind.
I experienced many roles in my over 30 years of nursing. I was a manager, preceptor and transport nurse. I am presently a pediatric nurse practitioner along with a faculty member.
How Do I Interact With Professors?
Online professors are available to students via phone, email, web conferencing and online chat. Depending on your university, professors typically respond to students within 24 to 48 hours. You can always schedule a remote meeting as well.
La Salle University’s online RN to BSN faculty has firsthand knowledge of the challenges that come with juggling work and school, which is why they typically respond to students within 24 hours.
Many of our faculty started with a diploma or an associate degree, moved through the RN to a BSN program and then the MSN to their doctorates, their DNPs, and so we understand what it’s like to have family, what it’s like to have other work obligations.
Which Support Services Are Available to Online Students?
Whether you attend online or on campus, student services change from university to university. La Salle University provides online students with library access, technical support, disability services and career services. Visit La Salle online to learn more about support services available to RN to BSN students.
Why La Salle University?
According to U.S. News & World Report, La Salle University has the fourth highest percentage of students who secure a job within three months of graduation. In 2016, Forbes named La Salle “worth the investment” on its “America’s Best Value Colleges” list. La Salle is also ranked #17 on U.S. News & World Report‘s list of Best Colleges for Veterans (2019) and #28 on the same publication’s list of Best Value Schools (2019).
While these accolades highlight the financial benefits of a La Salle degree, they don’t speak to the university’s focus on educating the whole person and preparing students to make a positive impact in their communities. La Salle’s values are centered on respect for all people, concern for those in need and a commitment to the common good.
If I had a family member in the hospital I’d be happy to have a La Salle RN to BSN graduate take care of them because I think they leave our program with a lot of strengths.
How Do I Enroll?
Once you’re accepted, your university will review your transfer credits, degree plan and financial aid. You can enroll from there. Remember to look into your chosen program’s application and registration deadlines, and plan accordingly.
If you’re interested in completing your online RN to BSN program at La Salle, you can find application and registration deadlines here. Fill out an online application or speak with an enrollment specialist at 844-466-5587