Updated November 14, 2022

If you're interested in becoming a nurse, the first step is to earn a college degree. Many nurses start out by earning their associate's degree or diploma to become a registered nurse (RN). This allows them to start working in a hospital or other healthcare center so that they can gain on-the-job skills. However, most ... is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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If you're interested in becoming a nurse, the first step is to earn a college degree. Many nurses start out by earning their associate's degree or diploma to become a registered nurse (RN). This allows them to start working in a hospital or other healthcare center so that they can gain on-the-job skills. However, most employers prefer nurses who have a bachelor's degree (often called a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, or BSN). Earning your BSN will allow you to take on more responsibility at work - and to make more money, too.

Online nursing graduate programs are extremely popular. They allow professional nurses to boost their credentials (and their job prospects) while continuing to work at their current place of employment. Other perks of the different online programs typically include flexible schedules, affordable tuition rates, and hands-on training opportunities that students can complete in their local community.

The 50 Best Online BSN Programs Ranking Methodology

Selection Criteria

For this ranking, we looked for public and private (non-profit) colleges and universities that offer bachelors of science in nursing online. Because the focus of this list is on affordability, we only considered programs with average* tuition rates of $20,000/year or less.

In addition, we only considered nursing programs that have earned accreditation from the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

*For public schools, we calculated the average value of their in-state and out-of-state rates.

Ranking Factors

Once we'd compiled a list of all the colleges that offer online bachelor's degrees in nursing and meet the above criteria, we then collected data in four categories:

  • Program Popularity: How many students choose to earn their degree in nursing over another health-related option? To find out, we looked at both the number of undergraduates who earned their BSN in the 2015-16 school year as well as the percentage of all health program graduates that that number represents.
  • Accreditation Date: How long has the school held continual accreditation from the CCNE? Programs that manage to maintain their accreditation status for many years tend to be better established and offer a higher quality, more reputable education than programs that are new or have at some point lost approval from the CCNE.
  • Commitment to Online Health Education:Including nursing, how much effort and resources does the school devote to providing online access to healthcare courses and programs? To answer this question, we looked at the number of online undergraduate degrees the school offers in health-related subjects.
  • Affordability: What is the average annual cost of attendance?

After collecting and sorting all the information, we ranked the candidates according to their performance in each area. Finally, we summed up the results and gave each school a final score using a curve so that the top-scoring program earned an even 100 points.

Read more about the best cheap online RN to BSN programs below!

Cheap Online RN BSN Degrees Ranked

#1 Indiana Wesleyan University Marion, IN
#2 Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville Edwardsville, IL
#3 University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh Oshkosh, WI
#4 Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ
#5 Pennsylvania State University-World Campus University Park, PA
#6 Western Governors University Salt Lake City, UT
#7 University of Alabama in Huntsville Huntsville, AL
#8 Thomas Edison State University Trenton, NJ
#9 South Dakota State University Brookings, SD
#10 University of Texas at El Paso El Paso, TX

Featured Online Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

  1. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Marion, IN



    The three-semester, accredited online nursing degree program at MUSC allows working adults to balance their careers with their education. The degree mixes short "didactic courses" - which you can complete asynchronously - with longer clinical courses, each of which focuses on a different clinical area (e.g. gerontology, public health). As a result, you acquire knowledge in a variety of key fields while also preparing for graduate-level study. And because the program operates using the cohort model, you'll take all classes with the same group of students, giving you the chance to both network and build professional relationships.

  2. Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville

    Edwardsville, IL



    No matter how much time you have to devote to your studies, Eastern Kentucky University has a program that meets your needs. If you have the availability for full-time study, for example, you can pursue the one-year accelerated program. Or if you plan to work while going to school, the traditional two-year degree should fit your schedule. The latter option also offers three start dates each year so that you can enter the program at the best time for you. Regardless of which cheap online RN to BSN program you choose, you'll benefit from its fully online coursework, CCNE-accredited curriculum, and provocative, discussion-based classes.

  3. University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

    Oshkosh, WI



    If you're looking for a BSN program with a strong support network, check out the University of Toledo. With dedicated instructors, advisors, and your own Success Coach, you'll have plenty of support as you earn your accredited RN to BSN online. The school is also a great choice for transfer students, as faculty members take pains to ensure a smooth transition. Indeed, the school offers a self-described "seamless" transfer experience in which U Toledo begins evaluating your credits as soon as you submit your transcript. Plus, you can apply for a number of transfer-specific scholarships and grants to reduce the cost of your tuition.

  4. Northern Arizona University

    Flagstaff, AZ



    You'll never have to visit campus while earning this affordable online bachelor's degree in nursing from the University of Arkansas. Although the program does require a project-based practicum, you'll work with staff to identify an appropriate site in your own community. Besides this experiential learning opportunity, U of A's program also shines for its broad curriculum. Indeed, you'll take courses that touch on everything from informatics to community-based care and other contemporary nursing topics. And in the end, you'll graduate with a deeper understanding of the "social, cultural, political, and economic issues" that inform healthcare delivery in the United States.

  5. Pennsylvania State University-World Campus

    University Park, PA



    Students looking for an accredited online BSN program with a global component should give Linfield College a look. Not only does the degree emphasize diversity, social justice, and other progressive values, but you can also opt to complete your Integrated Experiential Learning requirement abroad. Kenya, Vietnam, and Peru are just a few countries with programs open to Linfield students. And even if you decide to fulfill your requirement closer to home, you'll still benefit from the school's flexible scheduling, CCNE-accredited curriculum, and generous transfer policy; you can even get credit for prior work experience.

  6. Western Governors University

    Salt Lake City, UT



    The University of South Carolina - Upstate differentiates itself with this bachelor of science in nursing online ranking in a few ways. First, you have the option to complete the degree 100% online or incorporate a once-weekly class at the campus in Greenville. Second, instead of requiring an in-person practicum or hands-on experience, you'll complete a "virtual clinical" from your own home. However, the degree also comes with a few caveats. For example, even if you opt for the fully online course of study, you will have to visit campus once for an orientation. Also, the program only accepts applicants with an associate's degree or diploma from an ACEN-accredited institution.

  7. University of Alabama in Huntsville

    Huntsville, AL



    With its six yearly start dates and fully online curriculum, UNC Wilmington provides a top online RN BSN degree for working adults. The school also offers a broadly applicable curriculum, with classes in both specialized areas (gerontology and community health) and wider issues in the field (transcultural care and management, for example). You'll also take a required "Health Policy" class, ensuring that you're up to date on the state of healthcare delivery in the country, and a research-focused class that helps you interpret nursing science now and in the future. A required capstone rounds off your studies, asking you to synthesize what you've learned before graduating.

  8. Thomas Edison State University

    Trenton, NJ



    Thanks in part to its affordable tuition, strong focus on leadership, flexible scheduling, and integration of professional experiences, the University of Cincinnati offers one of the top online nursing degree programs in the country. That latter point, in particular, helps this degree stand out. While you won't necessarily have to complete traditional clinical rotations, many of the courses incorporate professional projects that help you apply what you've learned. These projects typically focus on specific issues - like community or population health - and feature heavily in your final capstone class. If you're still not sure whether or not UC is a good fit, you can attend one of the near-monthly online informational sessions to learn more.

  9. South Dakota State University

    Brookings, SD



    The University of West Florida describes its online program as a "high-tech, low-hassle" way to earn your degree. And it's also high-quality, as evidenced by the school's placement on multiple online ranking sites. USF's accredited online BSN program in particular earns high marks thanks to its affordability and flexible study options. In addition, the curriculum attracts applicants who want to learn about both specific fields and broad industry trends. As for the application process, make sure you either have an AA degree from a Florida community college or meet UWF's specific course requirements (including the program prerequisites).

  10. University of Texas at El Paso

    El Paso, TX



    Anyone can benefit from the cheap online RN to BSN program at the University of Southern Mississippi. Not only is the degree available entirely online, but it allows candidates to complete the two required clinical experiences in their current place of employment. But the school extends even more benefits to service members and veterans. With special scholarships, advising, housing options, and resources for military students and their families, it's no wonder why Southern Miss (which holds an official military-friendly designation) ranks among the top military-friendly online colleges. Even if you're not military, give the financial aid office a ring; they can help you find scholarships to reduce the already affordable tuition rate.

Thanks for reading our ranking of the 50 top cheap bachelor's of science in nursing online!

IPEDS Data Center
College Navigator

Published July 2020

See Also:
10 Most Affordable Online Bachelor's Degrees

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