10 Fastest Online BSN Degree Programs for 2020

With an enormous demand for well-trained, well-educated nurses (thanks to a nationwide nursing shortage), many nursing schools are developing accelerated nursing programs to speed up the process. When you are looking for fast track RN to BSN online programs, you want to look into the various options that may help cut back on the amount of time required for your degree. An accelerated 1 year BSN online may focus on different methods of reducing the time required for your classes. The best accelerated nursing programs online can be truly career-making.

A common method used by colleges and universities to cut back on the time required for your degree is through intensive class formats. You may have an opportunity to work on your degree in courses that are either six or eight weeks long. The intensive studies allow you to get through your course material in a shorter amount of time, which accelerates the process. An RN to BSN program may also offer credit for your work experience as a nurse or accept classes you’ve taken before you entered the program. Transferring credits from other college classes you’ve taken at a community college or a previous university course may help reduce the amount of time required for your bachelor’s degree.

Our Method: Ranking the Best Accelerated Nursing Programs Online

In our search for the best fast track RN to BSN online programs, Best Health Degrees editors compiled a list of accredited, reputable institutions offering accelerated online nursing degrees. While these programs use a variety of methods to get students through quickly, we ranked programs not just on how fast they are, but on their quality and return on investment. Programs were ranked by five data points: Tuition, Student Satisfaction, Salary Potential, Grad Rate, and Job Placement, using numbers from Niche, IPEDS, and College Scorecard.

1. University of Rhode Island

The University of Rhode Island offers an online RN to BSN program that can be completed in as little as 15 months. While there are several programs on this list that can be completed in a short time and are geared for RNs for want to obtain a BSN, URI does have one unique aspect. The courses in this program are only 7 weeks long, which is shorter than usual. This means that students can take more classes and broaden their skill set. This benefit and the overall quality of the program make it one of the best accelerated nursing programs online.

The University of Rhode Island is one of the most respected public universities in the region. It is considered to be a top-tier American university, which is the exception rather than the rule for a public university. URI’s stellar reputation, especially in the New England area, makes graduates desirable for employers in various fields. URI’s online nursing programs use the same esteemed faculty that teaches at the Rhode Island campus, unlike some programs who utilize adjunct instructors for their online classes.

Degree: Online RN to BSN – as little as 15 months

2. University of North Florida

The University of North Florida has an online RN to BSN that students can finish in as little as 12 months. This is just about the shortest time that students could complete an RN to BSN program. What makes the program at UNF unique is the focus on community health. The program at UNF is one of the best accelerated nursing programs online for students who want to go into this fast-growing and rewarding area.

UNF is known for being a very affordable college. It has been highly ranked on several lists of the best value in higher education. Students in all fields can benefit from these low tuition rates, which are further offset by the generous financial aid available. UNF does not put an expiration date on the transfer credits that it considers, meaning that RNs who haven’t been in school for a very long time are still eligible for the accelerated program.

Degree: RN to BSN – as little as 12 months

3. University of North Carolina at Wilmington

The University of North Carolina at Wilmington offers an Internet-based RN to BSN degree track that students can graduate from in as little as 12 months. What sets the program at UNCW apart is the education in career advancement that the degree includes. Many RN to BSN programs are focused on practical clinical experience and research-based lectures, and UNCW certainly includes these components. However, the program also includes career guidance from experienced nurses, which makes it one of the best accelerated nursing programs online.

UNCW is known for providing an exceptional amount of research funding to its students. This is especially true for students in STEM fields like nursing. Ambitious RNs who want to make a real impact in their careers can work on impactful research projects at UNCW. UNCW also offers a Center for Support of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships.

Degree: RN to BSN – as little as 12 months

4. Purdue University Global

Purdue University Global has a very unique accelerated RN to BSN program called the ExcelTrack BSN. This program allows students to take as many courses as they want at their own pace. Students can study subjects they don’t know and avoid taking classes in subjects they do know. The level of customization that the Purdue RN to BSN program offers makes it one of the best nursing programs online. The ExcelTrack nursing program offers a flat tuition rate per semester, no matter how many classes you take.

Purdue is known for being one of the most prestigious and academically rigorous public universities in the world. It is frequently ranked near the top on lists of the best American public universities. Employers in all fields from around the country will recognize the prestige of a degree from Purdue.

Degree: RN to BSN – accelerated – ExcelTrack BSN

5. La Salle University

La Salle University offers an Internet-based RN to BSN program that can be completed in as little as 13 months. This program has a unique emphasis on patient care (colloquially called bedside manner), which many nursing professionals feel has suffered as the number of patients that healthcare professionals have to deal with on a regular basis has skyrocketed. This emphasis on caring for patients makes La Salle one of the best nursing programs online. La Salle’s nursing programs are CCNE-accredited.

La Salle is known for offering students an exceptional bang for their buck. The relatively low tuition rates, along with the high average salaries that graduates enjoy after they complete their educations, makes La Salle an attractive choice for students planning to go into a variety of fields. STEM graduates, such as those from the nursing programs, are especially well-compensated.

Degree: RN to BSN – as little as 13 months

6. University of Louisiana Monroe

The University of Louisiana Monroe offers an online RN to BSN degree that can be completed in as little as 14 months. The most unique aspect of this program is the focus on management rather than clinical practice. Nurses that want to move into managerial roles in their careers may want to consider ULM. For them, this program is a great choice when looking for a flexible nursing program available in an online format. The undergraduate nursing program at ULM is accredited by CCNE.

ULM is one of the top-ranked public universities in the region. It also has very affordable tuition, especially for Louisiana residents. This combination makes it one of the most attractive universities to students in the South who are on a tight budget, no matter what field of study they plan to go into.

Degree: RN to BSN – as little as 14 months

7. University of North Alabama

The University of North Alabama has an online RN to BSN degree that can be finished in as little as 12 months. This program is a little different from similar programs because it does not charge increased tuition fees to out-of-state students, which most public universities do. Students from outside of Alabama who want to get a quality education at extremely low tuition rates may find UNA to be one of the best accelerated nursing programs online for their needs.

UNA is known for its focus on preparing students with practical career guidance. For example, nursing students can get advice from experienced professionals in their field. Few universities offer this sort of valuable mentorship to their students. UNA will also accept up to 30 hours of undergraduate nursing transfer credits.

Degree: RN to BSN – as little as 12 months

8. Oakland University

Oakland University has an Internet-based RN to BSN program that students can complete in as little as 12 months. This program is unique in that it requires student nurses to complete a capstone class, which usually involves a research-based clinical project. This gives the students both research experience and clinical experience that graduates of other universities may not have, making Oakland the perfect choice for nursing programs that are available online.

Oakland, which is located in Oakland County, Michigan, is recognized as a leading public university in the area of nursing. There are many alumni in the Detroit area. Students in this area and elsewhere can benefit from Oakland’s strong and civic-minded alumni association. Oakland is classified as a “high research activity” university, and STEM programs like nursing benefit from this research activity.

Degree: RN to BSN – as little as 12 months

9. University of Wisconsin-Green Bay

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has an online RN to BSN program. This program is unique because it lets students transfer up to 90 credits. After transferring credits, students could complete the program in as little as a year. This makes UWGB not only one of the best online options, but also a great choice for prospective students looking to accomplish their goals fast. UWGB’s nursing program is jointly managed with the Bellin College of Nursing.

UWGB is known for its generous financial aid. Students can benefit from various grants and scholarships. Students of color have many different financial aid opportunities created specifically for people from their respective backgrounds.

Degree: RN to BSN – transfer up to 90 credits

10. Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville

Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville has an Internet-based RN to BSN program that students can complete in as little as 12 months. What sets the program at SIUE apart is its integration with accelerated graduate nursing programs. Students can go all the way from their RN license to their DNP license at an accelerated rate. Of course, students can also simply complete the RN to BSN program if they so choose. The advancement options make SIUE one of the best accelerated nursing programs online.

SIUE is known for its research focus. It has more funding for research than many larger and better-known universities. Students in STEM programs like nursing often take advantage of this high level of funding by completing research projects during their educations. In addition to providing a unique learning experience, a research project will help a student’s resume stand out when they are trying to advance in their chosen career path. SIUE has partnerships with many leading area hospitals to give students access to a wide range of clinical experiences as an integral part of their education.

Degree: RN to BSN – as little as 12 months

What are the Advantages of an Accelerated BSN Program?

When you decide to pursue an accelerated BSN program, you will want to understand the advantages of your career and your goals. The obvious advantage of the accelerated online program is the amount of time required for your degree. You finish the degree in 12 to 18 months rather than taking two or more years to finish up an RN to BSN degree program. The classes are accelerated, which means you have an intensive learning environment.

The cheapest accelerated nursing programs are also a benefit for your goals. Accelerated programs through online courses are more likely to have a reasonable cost for your degree. It is not as expensive as traditional classes because you are not spending as much time in school. You cut back on unnecessary costs associated with paying extra tuition expenses for added semesters.

You can also consider RN to BSN online no clinical courses. When a degree program does not require clinical lab work or related standards due to your work experience as a registered nurse, it may help reduce the time required for your degree.

Are Online BSN Programs Easier than On-Campus?

When you are looking for the easiest online RN to BSN programs, you may assume that it will not compare to the challenges of on-campus classes. When it comes to reputable online programs, you can expect the course work to be as challenging as on-campus course work. In some cases, quick online RN to BSN programs are more challenging due to the intensity of the training and the fast pace of the online course material.

As a general rule, you should expect the online BSN programs to have a similar level of challenge and difficulty as the on-campus degree programs. Many colleges and universities focus on ensuring that students have access to the same level of training and skill development to provide competent care to patients. If you are looking for an easier program, then you may want to focus on online BSN programs that offer classes that are longer than six or eight weeks to work at a slower pace.

Can I Get an Accelerated BSN if I Have a Bachelor’s in Another Field?

If you are considering a change to your career and want to start working as a nurse, you may consider taking an accelerated BSN program. While the exact standards set by a school depend on their program and options, there are many second-degree programs that are designed for students who have a bachelor’s degree in another field and want to change their focus to nursing.

The way online BSN programs for non-nurses work is simple. You are given a second degree in nursing after you finish up the program. The school may use credits from your first degree that apply to the nursing degree. You then take classes that are specifically designed for nursing and you finish appropriate clinical lab work or simulations. The exact number of credits that may transfer into the program vary based on the details of the program, the school’s standards, and the type of bachelor’s degree you completed. As a general rule, you can expect credits and courses that apply to the nursing industry to transfer to many programs. Classes that are not related to your new field of study may or may not transfer for credit in a BSN program.

You will want to clarify the details about the school’s methods of transferring credits for a second degree in nursing before you decide to pursue an accelerated program at a college or university. The exact details about their transfer processes and standards will differ for each school. You should also discuss the process of obtaining a second degree and how your original degree program may enhance or improve your training as a nurse.

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