Updated on June 13, 2024
Edited by Evelyn Keener
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University Headquarters (HQ) is an industry-leading, independent educational organization that provides independent college rankings using a proprietary formula to create first class unbiased rankings. The team at University HQ strives to provide accurate and trustworthy rankings that highlights the best online programs for nursing.

Compare Popular Online Nursing Programs

Nursing careers offer a wide variety of challenges and specializations for a prospective nurse; students interested in health and medicine can find some application of an online nursing degree to suit their interests. Prospective students can advance their education by completing a nursing degree online, with coursework online and clinicals in your local area. There are four levels of nursing; these include nurse’s aides, nurse assistants, Registered Nurses (RN), and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN). No matter which option you choose, at every level, nurses and other professionals work as a team to help educate patients and the public, diagnose patients, care for their medical treatment, and offer emotional support to patients and their families across the U.S. This may happen in clinical practice in direct patient care through community health nursing, experienced nurses educating other nursing students through one of the many online nursing programs available, as a clinical nurse specialist in healthcare facilities or other medical centers, in nursing informatics or healthcare informatics, and more.

Part-time or full-time students can reach their professional goals by gaining a collegiate nursing education through associate or BSN programs, available through in-person and online courses at one of many accredited colleges offering accredited nursing programs. They can use a nursing certificate program to start as a nurse's aide or assistant, and they can get an associate in nursing to become a licensed practical nurse. If students complete a bachelor’s degree or BSN degree program, they can gain an RN license and become a registered nurse (RN). Nurses can grow into advanced nursing opportunities and nursing leadership positions through nursing education and professional experience earned through clinical hours. Completing online graduate nursing programs to gain a Master of Science or RN to MSN degree, when combined with clinical education, can qualify nursing students as leaders, nurse educators, and experts in their fields.

Those with their nursing diploma or who have completed BSN programs and gained their RN license or more can work or become a nurse leader in many settings such as hospitals, community nursing clinics, schools, and doctor’s offices. Nurses serve in public health facilities and the military services. They can work in research facilities, in specializations such as pediatrics (children), gerontology (older persons), and surgical settings like nurse anesthetists that monitor patients under anesthesia during surgery. With the right prerequisite courses and and a willingness to meet clinical requirements, there's no telling what you can accomplish with an online nursing degree program.

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Overview of an Online Nursing Education

Nursing is a broad field, and it covers at least four levels, from nurse’s aides to master’s degree specialists. Some broad ideas apply to every level of nursing and education as components of a successful career in nursing.

  • Dedication to Healing
    Nursing positions are high paid health professions because they carry many serious responsibilities. Patients rely upon nurses for a range of care that includes critical illnesses and a huge diversity of life-threatening conditions. The job requires a deep sense of dedication to helping people when they may be in severe distress.
  • Communications and Interpersonal Relationships
    Communications and personal engagement are critical skills in a profession that can frequently operate in severe emergencies and urgent conditions. Nurses must work well with colleagues, doctors, patients, and patient families. They must listen carefully and communicate clearly and precisely about findings, observations, info, and facts gathered.
  • Critical Thinking
    Nurses must be problem solvers. They must sometimes assemble pieces of information and develop plans of action based purely on the content of a patient's file and the information they gather from observing and speaking with them. They must also follow instructions and use knowledge and experience as required by the circumstances.
  • Compassionate Patient Care
    Compassion is an essential part of the duties of a nursing professional; they must demonstrate this trait when dealing with patients, patient families, and the public full-time.

Nursing is a broad field and, historically, it was not a college-based profession. Hospitals were the primary source and training ground for nurses. They gained their credentials and nursing education through clinical rotations and clinical experiences. Schools of nursing grew as colleges and universities adopted standards for medical education and extended them to the staff and support personnel for medical practitioners and hospitals. Today, formal education, such as a nursing associate or baccalaureate degree program, is the primary path for entry into the nursing field and an RN license. The non-degree options include apprentice-type training and nurse assistant certificate programs. The main degree options are the associate degree, the bachelor’s degree, and the master’s degree, which can be gained through an online nursing school with fully online programs, a hybrid program with online courses, or in-person classes. No matter which of these online nursing degrees you choose, you will have to complete a certain number of clinical hours through partner programs in order to complete online degree programs.

The medical care field has become increasingly specialized, both by population and fields of study. The US population has statistically gotten older, with longer lifespans, and a larger percentage of older persons. The senior population is a driving force in the expansion of medical care as well as healthcare reform laws that provide insurance coverage for millions of Americans that had previously gone uninsured. The demand for nurses has increased as have the numbers of persons seeking a healthcare education, jobs, and careers. The type of nursing degree, the nursing degree level you obtain, and your nursing experience will determine what career you may be eligible for.

  • Decide this is the right field as an assistant, LPN, RN, or APRN.
  • Decide whether to attend online, on-campus, or a mix of both.
  • Select candidate programs from accredited schools and universities.
  • Apply for admission to an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s level degree in nursing.
  • Apply for financial aid and scholarships if needed.

Typical Nursing Certifications Needed

All nurse practitioners must pass the NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN, the licensure examination for eligibility to become an RN and gain an RN license. It consists of written and practical examinations for state licensure along with any state-specific licensing and registration requirements. Specialists will frequently require additional certifications and licenses. Certifications are legal processes for practice in some areas such as anesthesia. Certifications require special education and passing a practical and written examination.

The trend in nursing is towards greater use of certifications. For example, in the period of 2006 through 2010 the percentage of nurses with certifications grew from about 16% to about 42%. Some of the most widely achieved certifications were in HIV/AIDS, Certified Pediatric Nursing, Advanced Ontology Certified Nurse, Nurse Family Practitioner, and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).

At the other end of the spectrum, the Certified Nursing Assistant or CNA test consists of a written exam followed by a skills test. The practical phase requires candidates to demonstrate some basic elements of patient care and bedside approach.

Academic Standards

The general academic standard is that when a graduate completes the Registered Nursing Program, then they will be able to function knowledgeably, safely, and effectively in a nursing environment. They will have training sufficient from an accredited program to ensure competence within a variety of healthcare settings and will be qualified for the licensing examination.

The ADN prepares a graduate to transfer to a four-year institution to complete a bachelor’s degree. The BSN degree prepares students to enter specializations in advanced nursing, certifications as specialized nurses, or a master’s nursing degree program with one or more specializations. Cultural competence is an important academic standard. Nurses must perform their duties with a sense of respect for every person

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Exams and Experience Needed

The National Council Licensure Examination also called the NCLEX is the national examination administered by the Council on behalf of the fifty states and the territorial governments that must license nurses for the practice of nursing in their jurisdictions. The exam exists to protect the public by ensuring that nurses have the knowledge and skills needed to administer medicines and other prescribed treatments safely.

There are two types of NCLEX; they are the NCLEX-PN and the NCLEX-RN. The NCLEX-PN applies to vocational grads and associate degree holders that have qualified for the Practical Nursing exam under state law. The NCLEX-RN is for students that have qualified for the RN exam by earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing or by having a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) license and the further education or experience required under state law. Learn more below about the different types of nursing degrees available to future Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Registered Nurses (RN) and Nurse Practitioners (NP).

Popular Nursing Concentrations & Licensing

There are many nursing concentrations available to students looking to specialize in nursing. You can learn more about each of these concentrations below:

Online Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

An associate degree in nursing, whether earned in-person or through an accredited online nursing program, is the shortest path to a licensed nurse status. An associate degree is available at nursing schools, online nursing schools, and community colleges and typically takes two years to complete. The accredited institutions that provide the associate course of study prepare graduates to sit for the NCLEX-PN examination and qualify for a Practical Nursing License. The LPN is a qualification for Licensed Practical Nursing and a steppingstone to a bachelor’s degree and other educational levels in the field of nursing. You can become a registered nurse by gaining an associate degree and passing the NCLEX exam with a passing score.

An online associate degree in nursing requires between 65 to 70 semester hours of courses and laboratory work. Students can complete the degree in two to three years with full-time attendance. The coursework includes about one-third in general education and two-thirds nursing education and lab work.

Courses for the online Associate degree in nursing may include:

  • Introduction to Pharmacology
  • Principles of Nursing Practice
  • Health & Illness Concepts and Health & Illness Concepts Lab
  • Mental Health Concepts
  • Acute Concepts
  • Complex Concepts and Complex Concepts Lab
Read More About an Associate Degree in Nursing

Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

An online bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) is a college degree from accredited online nursing programs that will gain you full participation in the profession. This online BSN degree program will prepare you to work with MDs and specialists and manages a segment of patient care. Registered nurses supervise nurse assistants and licensed practical nurses.

To become a nurse, traditional BSN programs require a total of 125 to 130 hours or about eight semesters for completion, which like other degrees can take 4-5 years to complete. The prerequisite general education courses typically consist of about 28 hours of coursework. BSN programs typically consist of six semesters of nursing, laboratory, and general medical education.

Coursework for online Bachelor of Science (BSN) may include:

  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Introduction to Human Nutrition
  • Microbiology and Microbiology Lab
  • Pharmacology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Nursing Care of Acute and Chronically Ill Patients, I
  • Health Promotion and Disease and Illness Prevention, I
  • Behavioral Health
  • Research and Evidence-Based Practice

Concentrations for Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing include:
Gerontology, Orthopedics, Psychiatric, Midwifery, Neonatal Practice

Read More About a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing (BSN)

Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

The online Master of Science in Nursing is an advanced nursing degree that qualifies graduates for educational, managerial, and administrator level positions as an advanced practice registered nurse. MSN graduates can conduct advanced healthcare assessments, diagnostic procedures, and treatment plans. They take coursework in promoting health and wellness, disease prevention and health counseling. MSN graduates play a key role in the delivery of quality health care locally and regionally.

The MSN requires a bachelor’s degree in Nursing or a degree in a related field plus additional coursework. The post-graduate coursework consists of about 40 to 45 semester hours, and specialization takes hundreds of additional hours of study under clinical supervision. An MSN program can take about 2-3 years to complete and can lead to a position as a Nurse Practitioner.

Sample Coursework for the MSN degree includes:

  • Evidence-Based Practice
  • Science Development, Study Design, and Statistics
  • Advanced Nursing Practice
  • Population Health in a Global Society

Concentrations for Master of Science in Nursing:
Administration, Nurse Informatics, and Nurse Adult-Gerontology

Read More About a Master's Degree in Nursing (MSN)

Earning Potential and Career Salaries for Graduates

Both experience and education have the effect of raising the annual salary and improving earning potential and career opportunities for nurses. There are clear correlations in national employment data between higher levels of education and higher median annual income. Work experience has a similar impact on salary. This pattern exists in nearly every profession and occupation. Employees with greater experience have higher annual wages than less experienced workers. The field of nursing follows the overall trend. Education and expertise raise the median annual income level.

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Fields of Study and Median Salaries

  • Anesthesia studies the application of anesthetic drugs in inpatient, outpatient, and emergency situations.
  • Research in medical labs, universities, and commercial facilities makes important contributions to public safety, medical effectiveness, and innovation.
  • Mental health and psychiatric work form critical parts of a comprehensive approach to healthcare. The focus is on patient needs but also on the families and others affected by behavioral disorders.
  • Midwifery studies methods for assisting births in hospital and other settings. This field also involves care for newborns and mothers.
  • Orthopedics is the study of muscle and skeletal problems and the effort to restore patient mobility and a symptom-free state.
  • General Health is the field of study that includes prevention and wellness. This field also provides general care in areas that are chronically underserved. It is broad, but it is also an advanced field of study.
  • Geriatrics focuses on diseases and treatment of elderly or older persons in the population. This field incorporates multilingual training and a high level of education.
  • Neonatal studies concern premature and newborn babies that require critical care.
Field of Study Associate's degree Bachelor’s degree Master’s degree
Orthopedics $64,000 $65,000 $110,000
Nurse Practitioner N/A $91,298 $102,000
Clinical Specialist $62,000 $68,450 $107,450
Geriatrics $64,500 $70,000 $78,000
Anesthetist N/A $156,000 $175,000
Neonatal Care $58,000 $67,500 $95,000
Mental Health $42,900 $56,750 $90,000
Midwifery N/A $102,000 $110,00
Research $62,000 $68,000 $78,000

Salaries by Occupation

The nursing profession responds to increased demands for medical care as the US population ages and as healthcare reforms extend the availability of medical care. In many geographic areas, the number of nursing applicants has increased, and the supply of qualified nurses has also increased. In high competition areas, students can distinguish their credentials by specialization, certifications, and higher levels of education.

  • Nurse Assistants perform many of the principal functions in hospital and other patient care settings. They often have extended contact with patients and in situations of urgent care.
  • Licensed Practical Nurses manage patient care and treatments. They work closely with patients and families and handle important communications between patients and medical care providers.
  • Registered Nurses assess health problems and carry out treatments. They provide education to patients and the public on diseases and wellness solutions.
  • Oncologist nurses help manage the treatment of cancer patients providing care to inpatients or outpatients. This field is high stress and works with terminally ill patients and their families.
  • ICU Nurses attend patients in critical care and work in a high-stress environment of severe illness and injury.
  • Family Nurse Practitioners perform many of the functions of a general practitioner. They diagnose diseases and prescribe treatments and serve as primary care providers. They often serve as the primary point of contact in managed healthcare systems. Find some additional related salary and career information from Payscale and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) below.
Occupation Entry-Level Mid-Career Late-Career
Registered Nurse $56,500 $67,200 $72,900
LP Nurse $39,200 $45,600 $48,100
Nursing Assistant $25,300 $29,100 $31,100
Nurse – Advanced Practice $90,700 $97,900 $104,800
ICU Nurse $55,000 $68,600 $93,000
Oncology Nurse $61,400 $74,800 $77,800
Family Nurse Practitioner $91,000 $100,700 $104,000

Top 25 Best Campus Nursing Schools


Yale University

Score: 96.46

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $64,700
    • Out-of-State: $64,700
  • Net Price: $18,647
  • Acceptance Rate: 5%
  • Retention Rate: 98%
  • Graduation Rate: 98%
  • Total Enrollment: 14,776
  • Undergrad Students: 6,645
  • Graduate Students: 8,131
  • Grads Salary: $96,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 6:1
  • Yale University
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings

Duke University

Score: 93.51

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $65,805
    • Out-of-State: $65,805
  • Net Price: $23,694
  • Acceptance Rate: 6%
  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 97%
  • Total Enrollment: 18,023
  • Undergrad Students: 6,640
  • Graduate Students: 11,383
  • Grads Salary: $95,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 6:1
  • Duke University
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $69,045
    • Out-of-State: $69,045
  • Net Price: $22,058
  • Acceptance Rate: 4%
  • Retention Rate: 98%
  • Graduation Rate: 95%
  • Total Enrollment: 34,782
  • Undergrad Students: 8,902
  • Graduate Students: 25,880
  • Grads Salary: $91,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 6:1
  • Columbia University
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $63,340
    • Out-of-State: $63,340
  • Net Price: $24,034
  • Acceptance Rate: 7%
  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 94%
  • Total Enrollment: 31,275
  • Undergrad Students: 6,044
  • Graduate Students: 25,231
  • Grads Salary: $94,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 6:1
  • Johns Hopkins University
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $66,104
    • Out-of-State: $66,104
  • Net Price: $26,123
  • Acceptance Rate: 7%
  • Retention Rate: 98%
  • Graduation Rate: 96%
  • Total Enrollment: 28,201
  • Undergrad Students: 11,250
  • Graduate Students: 16,951
  • Grads Salary: $94,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 8:1
  • University of Pennsylvania
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $13,747
    • Out-of-State: $44,524
  • Net Price: $16,999
  • Acceptance Rate: 9%
  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 92%
  • Total Enrollment: 46,430
  • Undergrad Students: 32,423
  • Graduate Students: 14,007
  • Grads Salary: $89,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 18:1
  • University of California-Los Angeles
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $17,228
    • Out-of-State: $58,072
  • Net Price: $19,318
  • Acceptance Rate: 18%
  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 93%
  • Total Enrollment: 51,225
  • Undergrad Students: 32,695
  • Graduate Students: 18,530
  • Grads Salary: $88,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 12:1
  • University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $63,946
    • Out-of-State: $63,946
  • Net Price: $25,606
  • Acceptance Rate: 7%
  • Retention Rate: 96%
  • Graduation Rate: 93%
  • Total Enrollment: 13,710
  • Undergrad Students: 7,151
  • Graduate Students: 6,559
  • Grads Salary: $89,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 7:1
  • Vanderbilt University
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $20,986
    • Out-of-State: $58,014
  • Net Price: $19,469
  • Acceptance Rate: 19%
  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 95%
  • Total Enrollment: 26,082
  • Undergrad Students: 17,444
  • Graduate Students: 8,638
  • Grads Salary: $84,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 15:1
  • University of Virginia
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $6,381
    • Out-of-State: $28,659
  • Net Price: $11,740
  • Acceptance Rate: 23%
  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 90%
  • Total Enrollment: 55,211
  • Undergrad Students: 34,552
  • Graduate Students: 20,659
  • Grads Salary: $79,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 16:1
  • University of Florida
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $8,989
    • Out-of-State: $39,330
  • Net Price: $10,614
  • Acceptance Rate: 17%
  • Retention Rate: 96%
  • Graduation Rate: 91%
  • Total Enrollment: 31,705
  • Undergrad Students: 20,029
  • Graduate Students: 11,676
  • Grads Salary: $77,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 17:1
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $12,643
    • Out-of-State: $41,997
  • Net Price: $10,603
  • Acceptance Rate: 48%
  • Retention Rate: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 84%
  • Total Enrollment: 52,319
  • Undergrad Students: 36,213
  • Graduate Students: 16,106
  • Grads Salary: $87,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 21:1
  • University of Washington
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Emory University

Score: 84.75

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $60,774
    • Out-of-State: $60,774
  • Net Price: $26,680
  • Acceptance Rate: 11%
  • Retention Rate: 95%
  • Graduation Rate: 90%
  • Total Enrollment: 14,841
  • Undergrad Students: 7,101
  • Graduate Students: 7,740
  • Grads Salary: $84,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 9:1
  • Emory University
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $11,678
    • Out-of-State: $42,778
  • Net Price: $17,434
  • Acceptance Rate: 31%
  • Retention Rate: 95%
  • Graduation Rate: 88%
  • Total Enrollment: 52,384
  • Undergrad Students: 41,309
  • Graduate Students: 11,075
  • Grads Salary: $83,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 18:1
  • The University of Texas at Austin
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $11,205
    • Out-of-State: $40,603
  • Net Price: $13,376
  • Acceptance Rate: 49%
  • Retention Rate: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 89%
  • Total Enrollment: 48,956
  • Undergrad Students: 36,306
  • Graduate Students: 12,650
  • Grads Salary: $80,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 18:1
  • University of Wisconsin-Madison
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $60,438
    • Out-of-State: $60,438
  • Net Price: $29,499
  • Acceptance Rate: 12%
  • Retention Rate: 95%
  • Graduation Rate: 87%
  • Total Enrollment: 59,144
  • Undergrad Students: 29,401
  • Graduate Students: 29,743
  • Grads Salary: $87,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 8:1
  • New York University
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $10,363
    • Out-of-State: $29,453
  • Net Price: $19,535
  • Acceptance Rate: 42%
  • Retention Rate: 91%
  • Graduation Rate: 83%
  • Total Enrollment: 18,312
  • Undergrad Students: 14,402
  • Graduate Students: 3,910
  • Grads Salary: $90,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 19:1
  • Binghamton University
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $64,701
    • Out-of-State: $64,701
  • Net Price: $34,837
  • Acceptance Rate: 23%
  • Retention Rate: 96%
  • Graduation Rate: 91%
  • Total Enrollment: 10,383
  • Undergrad Students: 6,989
  • Graduate Students: 3,394
  • Grads Salary: $91,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 10:1
  • Villanova University
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $65,081
    • Out-of-State: $65,081
  • Net Price: $35,566
  • Acceptance Rate: 12%
  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 96%
  • Total Enrollment: 20,984
  • Undergrad Students: 7,900
  • Graduate Students: 13,084
  • Grads Salary: $87,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 11:1
  • Georgetown University
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Boston College

Score: 82.81

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $67,680
    • Out-of-State: $67,680
  • Net Price: $30,559
  • Acceptance Rate: 17%
  • Retention Rate: 95%
  • Graduation Rate: 91%
  • Total Enrollment: 15,287
  • Undergrad Students: 9,982
  • Graduate Students: 5,305
  • Grads Salary: $85,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 12:1
  • Boston College
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $63,141
    • Out-of-State: $63,141
  • Net Price: $35,827
  • Acceptance Rate: 7%
  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 91%
  • Total Enrollment: 30,013
  • Undergrad Students: 16,302
  • Graduate Students: 13,711
  • Grads Salary: $87,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 16:1
  • Northeastern University
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $17,239
    • Out-of-State: $36,001
  • Net Price: $17,535
  • Acceptance Rate: 66%
  • Retention Rate: 92%
  • Graduation Rate: 84%
  • Total Enrollment: 50,637
  • Undergrad Students: 36,344
  • Graduate Students: 14,293
  • Grads Salary: $81,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 15:1
  • Rutgers University-New Brunswick
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $16,488
    • Out-of-State: $36,402
  • Net Price: $16,018
  • Acceptance Rate: 75%
  • Retention Rate: 90%
  • Graduation Rate: 84%
  • Total Enrollment: 54,955
  • Undergrad Students: 39,248
  • Graduate Students: 15,707
  • Grads Salary: $80,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 16:1
  • University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $12,859
    • Out-of-State: $38,365
  • Net Price: $19,582
  • Acceptance Rate: 53%
  • Retention Rate: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 88%
  • Total Enrollment: 60,540
  • Undergrad Students: 46,123
  • Graduate Students: 14,417
  • Grads Salary: $77,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 17:1
  • Ohio State University
View All Their Popular Majors and Rankings
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $13,099
    • Out-of-State: $40,328
  • Net Price: $20,375
  • Acceptance Rate: 63%
  • Retention Rate: 95%
  • Graduation Rate: 84%
  • Total Enrollment: 74,014
  • Undergrad Students: 57,512
  • Graduate Students: 16,502
  • Grads Salary: $80,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 18:1
  • Texas A&M University-College Station
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Important Questions to Ask (FAQ)

How long does it take to earn an online nursing degree?

The Online Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing is a four-year program that students can complete with four to five years of full-time attendance. The curriculum for a Bachelor of Science in nursing has general education courses meant to provide a background of knowledge and sound basic skills in math and science, English, and communications. Today, the broad experience should include some computer science and an understanding of operating systems.

RN to BSN is a shortcut version of the four-year BSN program that takes advantage of the associate's degree and RN experience that an applicant may have. The RN to BSN path can be two-to-three years in length which can save time and finances when compared to a four-year BSN program at an accredited school.

Please note that almost all programs which are meant to prepare you for a career as a nurse require classes for practical skills. These will not be accessible in an online format.

How much does an online degree in nursing cost?

Estimates for the costs of a nursing degree run from $40,000 to $100,000 per year depending on the university and its tuition charges. Community colleges and public universities charge lower rates for in-state students than out-of-state students. The difference can be remarkable.

Based on all schools and all majors, some estimates can help guide the student. Data from the College Board and the NCES provide ranges for costs that add tuition, living expenses, and fees into price ranges. Based on 2017 data, the costs of a four-year degree at a public school is in the range of $85,000 for in-state students, $150,000 for out-of-state students, and $190,000 for private school students. When projected to the year 2019 through 2020 one can anticipate an increase in the area of three to four percent.

Does the school have the major(s) you’re considering?

University HQ considers the choice of major to be an important decision for students when selecting nursing school for a bachelor's degree. Nursing is a broad field, and it has a wide potential for developing specializations and expertise. The student should pause and study the situation carefully. It is important to connect the choice of school with the career goals and employment objectives. Students should be sure that the school is well-equipped to provide high-quality education in the subject areas of greatest interest.

Students must look at the curriculum to determine if the subject will be covered thoroughly and in the areas of study that will be most beneficial. Laboratory work and clinical supervision are important features. Students can look at the number of lab-based courses. Medical services work environments have become computerized, and students must be sure that their training meets the standards of the types of environments they will encounter in the real world of healthcare delivery.

How many students graduate “on time,” in four years?

The graduation rate is an important piece of information. It measures the performance of the entire student body, and it is a good predictor of the experience each applicant can expect. Time is money when it comes to education. The longer time for completion means more tuition and fee payments. Each year in addition to the expected four years, adds about 25% to the total costs of a degree.

National statistics measure on-time degree completion using four-year and six-year marks. Private schools across the US and for all majors have a range of 53% on-time graduation and 65.6% within six years. In these schools, students can expect to finish on time if they attend full time and within six years with some part-time attendance. Public schools show a 35% on-time rate at four years and 59% at the six-year mark. Students at these schools must plan carefully to ensure that they can complete requirements for on-time graduation.

What kind of accreditation does the online program hold? How is it regarded in the field?

There are two major types of accreditation. The national accreditation typically applies to specialized and vocational schools, and this includes nursing schools. Regional accreditation agencies provide assessments of the entire institution (institutional accreditation) or a specific school or program (programmatic accreditation).

The US Department of Education designates accreditation agencies for colleges and universities. These regional agencies perform a robust assessment and a continuous monitoring of the quality of instruction and education. In the field of healthcare, the technical and medical requirements are important, and specialized education of this type also must have specialized accreditation. The leading program accreditation agency is the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) was formerly known as the NLNAC. ACEN has authority and recognition through the Council on Higher Education and the Department of Education. This organization accredits all levels of registered nurse (RN) programs including diploma or certificate programs, associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and master’s degrees. ACEN can accredit schools that do not have regional accreditation. Schools with regional accreditation can also choose to have program accreditation for their nursing education program.

The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredits schools and colleges that offer baccalaureate and master’s level degrees. The CCNE focuses exclusively on master’s and bachelor’s programs. The CCNE has Department of Education recognition as a national accreditation agency. The Department of Education set the scope of its accreditation authority, and accredited schools may participate in Title IV funding programs such as federal student loans.

Software, Technology and Skills Needed

Nurses increasingly work in computer-based environments. Automation and innovation have touched nearly every aspect of medical examinations, diagnosis, and care. Modern medical facilities store and retrieve medical information in digital form and provide security for medical privacy. Nurses must be comfortable with a range of operating systems, data display formats, and enterprise software systems.

Technology and innovation have changed the types and uses of medical devices. Technology has also changed the types of nursing degrees and online options to obtaining a degree faster. Nurses must stay current on innovations and new technology particularly in standard and special diagnostic routines.

Get Matched With Online Nursing Schools


  • American Cancer Society Graduate in Cancer Nursing Practice Scholarship
    Amount: $20,000
    Deadline: November 1

    The American Cancer Society invests in advanced nursing education with scholarships that promote awareness and research in cancer cures. The awards support graduate students pursuing studies in cancer treatment and research. The program offers $10,000 awards for up to two years for master’s degree and Doctor of Nursing Practice candidates for work in cancer treatment or prevention. Applicants are not required to be US citizens.

  • Jane Delano Student Nurse Scholarship
    Amount: $3,000
    Deadline: May 1

    The Award honors Jane Delano, the woman that organized the American Red Cross Nursing Service during World War I. Ms. Delano was a hero of the American Expedition in Europe where she died in combat. This award promotes nursing education and nurse involvement with the American Red Cross. Eligible applicants must show a contribution of time and effort to the American Red Cross. Eligible applicants must be enrolled in a BSN program or MSN program, be in good standing, and have completed one or more years of coursework.

  • Latinos in Technology Scholarship
    Amount: Up to $3000 over three years with renewal (Up to 100 awards)
    Deadline: November 13

    The awards for Latino students include scholarship funds and opportunities for internships in the summer months with Silicon Valley firms. The eligibility is for any STEM field, and in Nursing, there are information and computer-based fields such as nurse informatics, life sciences, and nursing statistics. Applicants must be graduates of a high school or attend a college in the region defined by the following counties: Graduate of a high school in the following Northern California counties: Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Marin County, Napa County, San Francisco County, San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, Santa Cruz County, Solano County, Sonoma County and Yolo County.

  • American Cancer Society Doctoral Degree Scholarships in Cancer Nursing
    Amount:$15,000 (possible 2-year renewal)
    Deadline: October 15

    Eligible applicants will be enrolled or accepted into a doctoral program in nursing. Applicants must have a current license to practice as an RN. Applicants must also demonstrate a commitment to cancer research and treatment and need not be US citizens.

Professional Organizations

  • ANA
  • STT
  • ICN
  • ANIA


American Nursing Association

This large powerful association represents the interests of more than 3.4 million registered nurses. They engages in advocacy for health policy and improvement in the national health system. They also promote nursing standards, ethics, and greater participation in the health industry. Members can take advantage of education, continuing education, and information resources. There are 54 state-based affiliate chapters, and students can join. Students will benefit from discussions of current trends, best practices, and educational benefits. The association works to advance practical issues for nurses such as salary, greater professional recognition, and better working conditions.



Sigma Theta Tau

Sigma is an honor society that appeals to students and recent grads too. Operating through local chapters and affiliates, this global association funds grant and research opportunities. Its activities include networking, leadership, and personal and professional growth opportunities. Sigma represents more than 130,000 nurses across more than 90 countries. The association helps students access career counseling, coaching, and job placement assistance. Members can get up-to-date information about job openings and salaries based on current offers and salaries. Graduating students can get the benefits of association with members of their new profession.



International Council of Nurses

The council consists of about 130 national nursing associations. In combination, they represent more than 20 million nurses around the globe. The association promotes the nursing profession and advances health policies. They publish a peer-reviewed journal: The International Nursing Review. This scholarly platform provides a means of communication across national boundaries with insights about regulations, government policies, and the needs for more and better cooperation. The association advances health education on a global basis. Students can take advantage of educational resources and health information from around the world.



American Nursing Informatics Association

Members have a commitment to this specialty; Informatics integrates science, computer science, and information science. This field has the potential to change the way the profession manages and communicates data, information, knowledge, and wisdom in nursing practice. The goal of the association is to reinforce informatics practice as a specialty. Informatics is essential to the delivery of high quality, and cost-effective healthcare. Students can join this group and take advantage of the information and education resources. Graduates can move into this emerging information technology field for professional development.



The National Council of State Boards of Nursing

This independent and non-profit association represents the state boards of governance of the nursing profession. This body serves the vital role of reviewing and developing nursing examinations. It also provides a voice on policy issues of concern to public health and safety. The association operates events that provide opportunities for collaboration, participation, and networking.

Choosing an Accredited College

Accreditation is important to the value and usefulness of a degree. University HQ strongly recommends the selection of an accredited school and programs. The nursing profession has accreditation through specialized agencies in addition to regional accreditation from the primary Department of Education-approved agencies. Accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) are favorable; they provide additional assurance of quality nursing education when combined with regional accreditation.

Online vs. On-Campus vs. Hybrid

Online Registered Nurse (RN) programs are flexible and convenient for students. These courses are designed so that nursing students can set their schedules and access classwork on the school website from any place with an Internet connection. Online learning helps working students and those with needs or preferences that prevent on-campus attendance. However, students will still need to complete clinical hours, meaning their RN to MSN degree program or other master's programs cannot be completed fully online as some online programs can be. Instead, they will still need to find nursing schools nearby or facility locations that support nursing education, because this is something you can't skip.

On-campus bachelor's degrees and master's degree programs are the traditional classroom and lecture hall types of teaching. This traditional format has the advantage of face-to-face communications with faculty and connection to a campus-based community of scholars and students.

Hybrid programs can be issued from the school or selected and composed by the student. Hybrids combine on-campus and online learning into a program for completing the degree. Nursing is unlike some other areas of study in that nursing requires a license and an exam that requires preparation in laboratory education and supervised clinical teaching environments.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why get a nursing degree?

Whether you are looking for the chance to help people or you want to earn a good living within a medical profession without taking seven years to start work, nursing might be the best option for you. Even those who are still on the fence about what they want to do in their professional lives might want to consider nursing as a good option. These professionals can get started quickly, they can make excellent money, and they are more in-demand than ever before.

How much do nursing majors make?

Those who graduate school with a nursing degree can expect to make an excellent living. Even an associate degree in nursing can mean that you’ll make as much as $72,000/year or over $30 an hour. If you earn a bachelor’s degree and work as a registered nurse, you can expect to make at least $67,000/ year. And the more experience you have, the more you can expect to make. A certified nursing assistant only makes around $36,000/year, but a nurse with trauma nurse certification can make up to $86,000/year. So, as you can see, you can get started quickly and earn a great paycheck no matter what degree you choose to earn.

How quickly can I get a nursing degree?

As mentioned before, you can become a nurse with little more than an associate degree. These degrees usually take about two years to earn and can be completed through online nursing programs. There are also accelerated courses for those interested in nursing, which can take as little as 11 months and still allow you enough time to work part-time while you work your way through school. So, no matter your schedule, you can get into nursing in less than a year if you are willing to put the time and effort into a degree.

Does the College Have Post-Graduate Job Placement Help & Assistance?

University HQ recommends that students make a specific inquiry about job placement assistance programs at any school they consider for a degree program. Advanced institutions incorporate career planning into the two or four-year course of study for a bachelor’s degree or master’s in nursing. The school may host job fairs, business community awareness communications, and host interviews for employers from across the region.

The school of nursing, college, or university is a broad community of alumni, business sponsors, and corporate partners. Both new and established schools often have extensive local, regional, and national networks. The overall resources of the nursing school and the larger community can potentially assist in producing high levels of job opportunities and hires for recent graduates.

Some schools pair students with advisers, career counselors, and job coaches at various stages of their academic careers. Observers can see the results in annual satisfaction surveys, and the numbers of students that get interviews and offers of employment.

Why You Need to Consider the Overall National Rankings of the College and The Effects on Your Career or Salary

Students should consider the overall national ranking of the schools under consideration. The national ranking can affect your salary after graduation and the range of career options you can achieve. National rankings include many factors that are important to employers. The rankings include graduation rates and indications of graduate’s successful employment. The factors assessed include awards and Ph.D. degrees achieved by alumni.

Graduates from highly ranked nursing schools and highly rated degree programs have advantages in getting interviews, referrals, and hires. They can compete for high paying, competitive positions among the top graduates in their particular nursing fields. The overall ranking matters and University HQ recommends that students consider it when selecting a nursing school or degree program for an associate, bachelor’s, RN to MSN, or master’s degree.

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