Getting Your RN-to-BSN Online

Although nursing may be a hands-on profession, there’s good news if you’re looking for an online degree option. Many RN-to-BSN online programs are available and they’re designed specifically for nurses who are working.

You’ll take non-clinical portions of classroom courses online, completing assignments on your time and by the specified due date. Clinical portions may be taken at the nearest hospital or other facility.

Why Go Online?

Many RNs who are looking to earn their BSN—or LPNs who want to fast track directly to a BSN program—need to continue to work while they get an education. RN-to-BSN online programs are designed to accommodate your busy workload and any other obligations you may have. Example of other responsibilities that benefit from online programs could include the following:

  • You’re a single parent and have young children
  • You’re in the military
  • You live in a remote area
  • You have a disability that makes attending traditional classes difficult

Even if you don’t fit into any of these categories, choosing an RN-to-BSN online program offers the benefit of flexibility without sacrificing quality—as long as you know what to look for when choosing your program.

What Should I Look for in an RN-to-BSN Online Program?

As you begin your search for an online RN-to-BSN program, be sure to look for accredited programs that are approved by your state’s nursing board. Accreditation means that your school’s program has been assessed by a group of qualified professionals and academics, and passed their scrutiny. These groups also sometimes advise on course curriculum to ensure everything offered is up to date and current within industry standards and regulations. Without these seals of approval, you won’t be permitted to take the licensing exam.

Two national organizations accredit nursing education programs:

  • The Accreditation Commission For Education in Nursing (ACEN) accredits all types of nursing education programs including master’s, bachelor’s, associate’s and diploma
  • The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredits programs that offer only master’s and bachelor’s level nursing degree

Another reason to seek out accredited programs include the ability to apply for federal financial aid. Short and simple, the federal government offers grants and financial aid more than any other provider, but if you don’t attend an accredited program you can’t fill out the FAFSA and get your share of aid money.

The third good reason is insurance that your credits will transfer if you need to switch schools. Your new school may not accept the hard work you’ve already completed toward your degree if your credits weren’t earned at an accredited online school or nursing program.

How Online Programs Work

Your class instructor will post lecture materials, assignments and exams online. You’ll gain skills in online learning tools such as Blackboard and Moodle, and network with your classmates using Skype, Flickr, Pinterest and wikis and classroom blogs. With these sophisticated and dedicated social tools, you’ll be able to participate in discussions with your classmates and ask your instructor questions.

It’s also important to find out how flexible the online program is. Some schools will require you to log in at certain times for class lectures or group projects while others allow you to complete your assignments and view lectures at any time of the day or night.

Some nursing programs also follow the same academic calendar as their campus counterpart while others let students enroll at any time.

Course content is generally the same as a traditional program and while you may not meet your classmates face-to-face, you’ll still enjoy discussions online and start growing a valuable network through the connections you meet online.

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