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How to Select an RN to BSN Program

Posted by Megan Kokenge, Director of Enrollment Services Friday, Jan. 22, 2021

Registered nurses (RNs) care for patients across the lifespan. They think (and work) on their feet and constantly learn new skills, juggling multiple tasks at once. The job field for RNs is very competitive, and nursing is an in-demand job. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects nursing jobs will increase 15% by 2026.

Nurses can increase their chances for competitive jobs in the industry by earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). As a registered nurse, the decision to go back to school is a big deal. You've already worked hard to earn your registered nurse (RN) license, and that's a big accomplishment. There's a push to make the BSN the standard entry for nursing. Many hospitals and health systems are following suit by requiring their nurses to have bachelor's degrees. 

The benefits of earning your RN to BSN are numerous. Expanding on your nursing education can lead to more job opportunities, better pay and more autonomy over your career, just to name a few. You'll get to land your dream job and live up to your full potential as a nurse. Nebraska Methodist College put together a list of criteria and factors to help you research RN to BSN programs and find a high-quality program.

BSN student Taylor writes on the glass dry-erase boards in NMC's study rooms.


1. Program Format


RN to BSN programs are offered in several different formats. Many programs are offered 100% online, while others require students to attend classes on campus. You might even find a program that offers a blend of both, which would be considered hybrid.

As you look into programs, the format is very important. You will need to determine what is the best fit for your schedule and learning style. If attending class each week at a certain time isn’t right for your life, an online program could prove more suitable. If you really desire to interact with your classmates and faculty members face to face, an on-campus RN to BSN program is probably what you are looking for.

Many BSN programs take two years for new RNs, while some offer accelerated options where nurses can earn a BSN in a little over a year. Accelerated programs can potentially get nurses better jobs and more money in a faster amount of time. However, students with obligations outside of school may prefer a program with a non-accelerated pace.


2. RN to BSN Accreditation


Many schools offer RN to BSN programs. At some schools, this might be the only nursing program they offer, along with non-healthcare related degrees. Other schools may offer several nursing programs with a sole focus on nursing and healthcare.

Does the school specialize in nursing? Do they have a reputable, established nursing department? When a school is focused on nursing, it offers students some critical advantages over other programs and schools.

Some of the differences you'll find at a healthcare college:

  • Full time nursing faculty (not just adjuncts)
  • Established nursing accreditation
  • Strong healthcare-focused curriculum (not re-purposed courses from other programs)
  • Relationships with recognized nurse leaders and faculty
In addition, students should always verify that programs are fully accredited by an nursing accreditation agency like the Commission on the Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Accreditation ensures that the programs follow best practices put in place. It means that professional standards are met, according to the licensing boards, certification agencies and future employers. Students should always check a program's status to ensure it's accredited. Many programs display their ACEN or CCNE accreditation on their websites.


3. RN to BSN Prerequisites


RN to BSN programs are not all built the same. Some require you to have certain prerequisite courses completed prior to enrolling. Others do not have any prerequisite requirements, but might ask you to complete additional courses at the college or transfer the courses in.

It is valuable to compare what prerequisites are required of each program. Required prerequisites could lengthen the time it takes to complete your RN to BSN program and add to the overall cost of earning your BSN degree.

One of the benefits of an RN to BSN program is earning your degree quickly. Prerequisites will determine the lack of time it will take for students to graduate. Programs may set a minimum GPA for college coursework. RN to BSN programs require a current, unencumbered RN license to be admitted. Applicants must hold the license in the state where they plan to complete clinical practicum requirements.


4. Clinical & Practicum Requirements


As a practicing nurse, you might wonder if you need to complete a clinical component again. This is a great question.

Some programs do include a clinical component in their RN to BSN program; other programs include a practicum. In a clinical, students observe and treat actual patients often in departmental rotations to give them a variety of hands-on experience. Practicums are practiced-based projects that allow you to put your nursing skills and current coursework into action.

It is also important to ask if the school assists you in setting up your clinical or practicum or if you have to set up your own experience. 


5. How Much is an RN to BSN program?


When comparing RN to BSN programs, cost is always a significant consideration. Programs might charge a flat tuition rate per semester or per credit hour. It is also very important to research what additional fees are associated with the program and how much books might be.

Typically, in-state schools will charge the lowest tuition rates, out-of-state schools charge higher rates and private schools cost the most. Some online RN to BSN programs offer lower tuition for 100% online classes. Always consider credit transfers, which can save money on tuition. Nurses can often benefit from scholarship opportunities.

If an online program has a residency requirement, you might be asked to visit campus. If this is the case, travel expenses could add to the cost. Remember: investing in your education is important for your future. 


Interested in learning more about Nebraska Methodist College’s RN to BSN program?  Give us a call and we can help answer the questions above and see if we are the right fit for you! You can reach us at (402) 354-7200 or

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Topics: healthcare education, RN to BSN, online education