Top 10 Online Nursing Programs: 2010 Rankings – LPN, RN, BSN, & MSN, online

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Online nursing degreesOnline nursing degrees

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Online nursing degreesOnline nursing degrees

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Online nursing degreesOnline nursing degrees

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Top Nursing Programs

As the U.S. Department of Labor continues to project a 19% growth in the field over the next decade (with an estimated 1.05 million new job openings by 2022), there simply aren’t enough nurses to meet the increased demand. And as the previous generation continues to age to the point that they require increased healthcare, that supply gap will only grow wider. Add to that the demands of nationwide healthcare reform, and you have an industry standing on a precipice.

The outside factors contributing to this shortage come at a time when internal change is also sending ripples through the industry. Though the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree has been around for some time, it has never been the entry-level degree into the industry. The minimum requirement to take the NCLEX-RN exam (required to be licensed as a registered nurse) has either been a nursing diploma or associate s of Science in nursing degree, despite calls within the industry for higher education requirements since the 60s. However, in March 2005, the American Organization of Nurse Executives officially called for all registered nurses to be educated at the baccalaureate level in order to meet what they saw as the ever-increasing demands of a complex industry. Then in 2010, the Institute of Medicine released a report in which they also called for 80% of the nurses in the workforce to be baccalaureate-prepared.

Many in the industry have heeded that call and made it a company mandate. Nearly 80% of employers are now requiring that their nurses have a BSN degree. And this isn’t just affecting new-hires. Many existing RNs are being given a deadline to obtain their bachelor’s degree, or face demotion and possible termination. Some nurses who have worked decades in the field with only a diploma or ASN are suddenly seeing their jobs on the line because of their education level. And if not their jobs, than most certainly their job security and opportunities for advancement.

But none of this is meant to sound negative or foreboding. In fact, quite the opposite. The country desperately needs nurses, particularly those with a bachelor’s degree. The only uncertainty in the industry is where the nurses will come from, not if there will be a market for them. This provides an unprecedented opportunity for anyone looking to join a growing job field with a median salary of $66,640 a year. Fortunately, this nursing crisis comes at a time when advancements in online education have made it easier than ever for working professionals to earn a BSN degree on their schedule and in the comfort of their own home.

But the internet sometimes resembles a big, congested city. It’s can be hard to navigate and it has its own bad parts of town with dark alleyways. There are hundreds of available nursing programs out there, but not all of them are reputable. That’s why we here at wanted to create a comprehensive resource for anyone looking to earn a quality, accredited nursing degree online, particularly those existing RNs looking to advance their education with a bachelor’s degree and beyond. Our hope is that you can add our extensive research to your own in order to choose the right online nursing program for you. It’s the least we could do. After all, we’re those people who have been positively impacted by nurses too.

Top Online RN to BSN Programs

One of the most attractive aspects of pursuing a degree online is the flexibility it affords. Often, course lectures, materials, and assignments can be accessed and completed by students at any time of day, making classes easy to fit into the busiest of schedules. But perhaps no programs are more specifically designed to accommodate working professionals than online RN to BSN programs. Schools recognize the need and desire of current, working RNs to further their education and obtain their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. They have made it easier than before by offering asynchronous programs, completely online, that have various timeframes for completion. Typically requiring 30 credits of coursework, programs usually range in length from 12 to 24 months, with several options between. RN to BSN programs move quickly because they recognize the applicant’s existing nursing diploma (or ASN) and work experience and use it to satisfy most of the prerequisites, lower-level classes, labs, and clinical work of a typical bachelor’s degree. The programs then focus instead on upper-level classes in the areas of public health, management, research, and science.

In order to select the best RN to BSN programs to present to you, we started by meticulously researching nearly 650 online nursing programs. We then used several weighted metrics to grade them in the following key areas:

  • Value: The term “affordability” is a subjective one. So instead of just focusing on low tuition costs, we focused on value. We weighed tuition cost against factors like salary potential and debt prevention in order to arrive at a score.
  • Reputation: Some employers pay as much attention to where a degree came from as to the degree itself. We graded every program on where they placed on popular college ranking systems, as well as their accreditations and graduation and retention rates.
  • Response: As convenient as they are, online programs sometimes present their own unique challenges, particularly in communication. Without a traditional campus setting, where questions can be answered on the spot, students can end up waiting for pertinent information. Therefore, we graded each program on the timeliness and quality of their response to our inquiries.
  • Curriculum: We also closely examined the faculty, courses, content, number of credit hours, and program accreditations in order to grade what is actually being taught in the classes.

After all of the grades had been calculated, we ranked the schools in order. The following list represents the top 10 online RN to BSN programs:

#1 University of North Florida

Degree Type: Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)

In-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: $285 (below average)

Out-of-state Tuition Per Credit Hour: N/A (same as in-state)

Institutional Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) (verification)

Programmatic Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) (verification)

Institution Type: Public, non-profit

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