Last Updated on December 22, 2022 by Omoyeni Adeniyi
Interested in taking the next step in your nursing career but not sure where to begin? Whether you’re already a registered nurse (RN) with an associate degree or you have an undergraduate degree in another field and are hoping to make a change, an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program might be a suitable path for you. In fact, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing External link:open_in_new emphasizes that “BSN nurses are prized for their skills in critical thinking, leadership, case management and health promotion, and for their ability to practice across a variety of inpatient and outpatient settings.”
How to Become an RN Online
There are three steps to becoming a registered nurse:
- Complete the minimum required nursing education in your state—usually a certificate or diploma.
- Work at a healthcare facility under an RN to gain supervised clinical experience.
- Pass the national RN examination (NCLEX-RN exam).
Online RN Programs
More than one online nursing degree program can help you become an RN and prepare you to sit for the licensing exam.
RNs may follow one of three educational paths:
- Earn a diploma or certificate from an approved nursing program
- Complete an associate degree in nursing (ADN)
- Earn a bachelor of science in nursing degree (BSN)
Changing Careers to Become a Nurse
If you have no nursing experience and want to enter this field, nursing school at a local community college may be your best option. Many community colleges offer hybrid or blended online nursing aide programs, nursing diplomas and associate’s in nursing that prepare students to be a Licensed Nurse Practitioner (LPN).
Online LPN programs prepare students to sit for the NCLEX-NP exam and lay the foundation for future education needed for an RN designation.
LPN programs, generally offered at community college nursing schools, combine nursing theory courses with local supervised placements inside hospitals and nursing homes.
Sometimes online LPN programs include coursework required to sit for the the NCLEX-RN exam. These programs allow students to gain different levels of licensure as they work their way through the program.
Nursing students must complete clinical hours and take exams in person, but can complete many core courses, such as anatomy, online. Many online nursing classes also use virtual simulation to enrich learning.
Similarly, Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) gain on-the-job experience and lower levels of licensure before pursuing an RN degree online.
Online LPN programs take, on average, one year to complete. LPN to RN bridge and associate nursing degree programs take two years.
For those who have a bachelor’s degree, but their major was not in nursing, there are special programs that allow career changers to earn a RN degree online. These special nursing degrees are often referred to as online accelerated BSN programs or second degree BSN.
Online nursing bachelor completion degrees are the fastest route to a BSN for career changers who already hold a bachelor’s degree with a non-nursing major. Few online nursing degree programs, however, admit nurses who do not already hold a valid RN license.
Online nursing master’s degrees are sometimes open to individuals who hold a bachelor’s in a field other than nursing. Explore an online nursing degree at the master’s level if you already hold a bachelor’s and want to move into nursing without repeating a formal new nursing bachelor’s degree online.
An accredited online BSN program for non-nurses
|CCNE accredited,1 Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission
|3 years or less when attending full-time and depending on transfer credit; you can transfer up to 90 approved credits
|Designed for students without RN experience
|All core didactic (lecture) courses are delivered online, including real-time and on-demand courses you can take when it’s convenient for you
|Hands-on learning includes on-site clinicals and three intensives requiring attendance at a designated Herzing or partner site
|Available for enrollment in select states2
|Earn dual credit towards a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), or choose our online MSN Direct Entry program to begin working towards your master’s degree from the start
Online BSN program classes & curriculum details
Every nursing course in our curriculum is designed to help you build a strong body of knowledge and skills to help pass the NCLEX-RN and get off to a fast, successful start in the field of nursing as an entry-level RN.
All didactic (lecture) nursing courses in the program are delivered online through the Herzing University Canvas Learning Management System platform. Upon completing the program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN to earn licensure in your state.2
RN Licensure & Certification
Once an individual has completed education and clinical requirements, they must pursue licensure to become a registered nurse.
Though licensure requirements do vary by state, passage of a state-approved training program and the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) are almost always needed.
The NCLEX-RN exam covers:
- psychosocial and physiological integrity
- health promotion
- infection control
- fundamental nursing skills.
RNs can advance their careers by earning certifications in specialty areas. The American Nurses Credentialing Center, a subsidiary of the American Nurses Association, offers a variety of certifications and specialties ranging from General Nursing practice to Public Health Nursing and Pediatric Nursing.
How Does a Typical BSN Online Program Look?
A standard BSN online program consists of three vital components: coursework, nursing labs, and clinical rotations.
Coursework covers numerous healthcare aspects, such as family health, mental health, pharmacology, pathophysiology, and personalized nursing.
Nursing labs facilitate hands-on experience by simulating a hospital setting to put theory into practice. Standard activities include wound care and catheterization.
Lastly, clinical rotations rely on partnerships between hospitals and healthcare facilities to place you in the field. Expect plenty of real-world experience working alongside supervising nurses.
This particular element requires physical involvement, so it’s advisable to confirm if your institution has partners close to your location before enrolling in an online program.
Nurse Practitioner Programs for Non Nurses
To become a nurse, individuals will need to get formal education in nursing, including extensive training, and a professional license. Nursing degree programs are offered by many accredited institutions, which are designed to prepare students for various nursing careers.
There is no single academic route to becoming a nurse. One can opt for a basic nursing degree such as the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) and become a nurse, or go for a more advanced program such as the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Not necessarily does one need to have a background in nursing education to qualify for nursing degrees. A number of colleges are offering on-campus and online nursing degrees for non nurses. Online nursing programs for non nurses can be pursued at bachelors and masters level.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing
This is a four year undergraduate nursing program that prepares students for the NCLEX exam and a career as a registered nurse. The program will emphasize on nursing knowledge, comprising of biological sciences, behavioral sciences, and nursing theories. Students will spend a great deal of time learning about the basics of nursing in modern day healthcare organizations. The first one or two years of the program are solely dedicated to theoretical development. The last two years typically focus on clinical nursing skills and practical training. Some schools may cover the clinical experience at the institute while other schools may require students to gain hands on experience at healthcare facilities such as nearby clinics.
The curriculum will include a wide range of nursing courses that are mandatory to pass. A few have been described below:
- Structure and function of the human body
In this course, students will learn about the basic organ systems and structures. The course will cover topics such as skeletal systems, palatinated body parts, chemical principles, homeostasis, and more.
This course will explore the mechanisms and theories related to diseases. Students will learn how body functions are affected by various diseases. Topics such as disease transmission, immunological responses, and health patterns are covered.
- Community health nursing
In this course, students will learn about health promotion and disease prevention. The course aims to provide students with an overview of ecological contexts, populations, and public health sciences.
- Nursing care for patients with complex needs
Students in this course will learn how to assess patients, promote health, and administer treatment. The course will emphasize on research skill development and critical reasoning skills.
Study Accelerated BSN Programs Online
Online BSN programs for non nurses are offered as well. Students can study from any location and complete the degree online. The coursework is covered via videos and tutorials. Online accelerated BSN programs for non nurses are designed for individuals who wish to join the industry sooner. The popularity of accelerated nursing programs for non nurses has increased due to a positive employment outlook and high demand for nursing professionals. It is important that you check with the school offering the online program to find out what kind of curriculum they are offering since many BSN programs follow a hybrid format; practical coursework is done on-campus.
Master of Science in Nursing
The MSN degree is an advanced nursing program that is designed to provide students with theoretical knowledge, a professional skill set, and a thorough understanding of the scope of advanced nursing practice.
Many schools are offering master’s degree in nursing for non majors. Masters nursing programs for non nurses are designed particularly for students who have earned a bachelor’s degree in a field other than nursing.
The coursework of graduate nursing programs for non-nursing majors will focus on key nursing concepts and practices. Students will learn how healthcare delivery systems function, and how healthcare goals are met by organizations. Students will be required to complete clinical courses that help build nursing skills and provide exposure to clinical practice. The curriculum will typically include courses such as the following:
In this course, students will focus on inferential statistics and quantitative research methods. Students will learn how to solve practical problems using experimental design models, and interpret healthcare research.
- Epidemiology and population health
Students will explore the foundation of clinical prevention in healthcare and disease management. Topics such as behavior change, screening, cultural competency, and self-care are covered.
- Nursing science for clinical practice
In this course, students will learn about the scientific principles and philosophical basis of nursing practices. Students will learn how to apply theories in real clinical care settings.
- Healthcare policy
This course is mainly theoretical in nature. Students will analyze public health environments and gain an in-depth understanding of health policy making.
What Are the Benefits of a BSN Online Program?
Enrolling on a digital BSN program has the following merits:
- Standard Requirement: Research has established that BSN is inherently valuable. Consider the American Association of the Colleges of Nursing’s suggestion that BSN Nurses record lower patient mortality and readmission rates and fewer clinical errors. As such, employees emphasize the need for a BSN these days. For example, New York’s BSN in 10 law mandates BSN-less RNs (LPs and ADN-RNs) to secure their BSNs within ten years of gaining their licenses.
- Learning Style: Online learning relies less on face-to-face interactions among nurses and fellow students and more on self-paced learning. Therefore, the experience is more focused and purposeful.
- Lower Costs: Online nursing programs are generally cheaper than in-person programs due to lower overhead costs. Expect significant savings with travel costs, meals, and other incidentals.
- One-on-one Instruction: Online, cloud-based learning allows increased one-on-one instruction, an advantage over larger traditional classes. You can contact your instructor easily using resources like Slack, video conferencing, and email.
- Work at Your Own Pace: Virtual programs allow you to learn at a pace you find comfortable. Contrast that with a traditional classroom setting where all nursing students march to the beat of the same drum.
Top Online Programs for Non-Nurses
For nursing candidates interested in online programs, convenience is generally the factor that ranks highest in importance and priority. But there are other elements that contribute to our ranking methodology, including accreditation, cost, and the program’s reputation. When choosing the top online nursing programs for non-nurses, our selection process included the following elements:
- Cost of attendance
- Program length
- Admission requirements
- Flexibility of available programs
- Any additional accolades that the program has received
Emory University’s Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing is one of the nation’s leading educational institutions, and its distance-based Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program provides the opportunity for students who have already earned a previous bachelor’s degree in another discipline to earn their BSN over three semesters, completing the curriculum in just one year.
The program is full-time but distance-based, with all classes offered online. Clinical rotations are offered in local communities, on the Emory campus, and in optional global sites. The program has two required clinical intensive sessions that students must attend on Emory’s Atlanta campus.
- Tuition: $1,608 per credit hour
- Program Length: One year
- Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)
- Application Deadline: Rolling
- Requirements: Bachelor’s degree, transcripts from school attended, resume, prerequisites
- Contact Email: [email protected]
- Contact Phone Number: 404-727-7980
- Online Options Available? Yes
The University of Wisconsin’s Accelerated BSN program was the first program for students who have already completed a bachelor’s degree in a non-nursing field. It is an intense program that offers all nursing theory courses online, with clinical rotations completed in or near a student’s home community. There are also required on-campus residencies, including a two-week lab/clinical combination and an advanced concepts/capstone week.
- Tuition: $46,500
- Program Length: 12 months
- Accreditation: CCNE
- Application Deadline: June 30
- Requirements: Prior completion of non-nursing bachelor’s degree from accredited college or university with a minimum GPA of 2.5, prerequisites, completion of nursing assistant course with clinical component and Certified Nursing Assistant
- Contact Email: [email protected]
- Contact Phone Number: 920-424-0134
- Online Options Available? Yes
Kent State’s Accelerated BSN was specifically designed for students who already hold a bachelor’s degree and who want to transition to a career in nursing. The hybrid program is offered as a combination of online and in-person classes and clinical experiences at major hospitals and healthcare facilities throughout northeastern Ohio.
It emphasizes professional knowledge, skills, and compassionate nursing practices and can be completed in just 15 months and is offered as a daytime cohort or evening and weekend cohorts offered at the Akron and Cleveland locations.
- Tuition: $30,000
- Program Length: Four or five semesters
- Accreditation: CCNE
- Application Deadline: June 1, September 1, February 1
- Requirements: Completed baccalaureate degree with a cumulative 2.75 GPA or higher, prerequisite courses
- Contact Email: [email protected]
- Contact Phone Number: 330-672-7930
- Online Options Available? Yes