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The dif­fer­ence between an RN and a BSN is that an RN is a cer­ti­fied nurse and a BSN is a nurs­ing degree. RN stands for Reg­is­tered Nurse, which means that a prac­tic­ing nurse has been cer­ti­fied by grad­u­at­ing from a nurs­ing pro­gram and has met the require­ments out­lined by their local med­ical licens­ing body, which includes pass­ing the NCLEX-RN exam in the Unit­ed States and Cana­da. BSN stands for Bachelor’s of Sci­ence in Nurs­ing, which requires the com­ple­tion of 120 col­le­giate cred­it hours. Many RNs have grad­u­at­ed from a BSN pro­gram, though nurs­es can also become qual­i­fied after earn­ing their Associate’s degree in nurs­ing (ASN), or a nurs­ing diplo­ma pro­gram. It is gen­er­al­ly rec­om­mend­ed that RNs go on to com­plete their BSN, and there are many online RN-BSN degree pro­grams that pro­vide max­i­mum con­ve­nience for RNs to com­plete their degree. Con­sid­er the advan­tages of enrolling in an online RN-BSN program:

  • A focused cur­ricu­lum will give stu­dents a greater under­stand­ing of med­ical prac­tices in the field of nursing
  • The BSN will qual­i­fy grad­u­ates for posi­tions with more respon­si­bil­i­ty and high­er salary
  • The online for­mat allows for sched­ule flex­i­bil­i­ty for RNs to work night­time or irreg­u­lar shifts

For­tu­nate­ly, there are many great options for online RN-BSN degree pro­grams. For ref­er­ence to some of the top RN-BSN pro­grams, check out our list of the 30 Best Online Bach­e­lors of Nurs­ing Pro­grams. Let’s take a clos­er look at a cou­ple of the top options for an online RN-BSN degree that made our ranking.

The University of Cincinnati

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Cincin­nati is a pub­lic research uni­ver­si­ty that was estab­lished in 1819, and is locat­ed in Cincin­nati, Ohio. The uni­ver­si­ty has recent­ly grown in pedi­gree and has become a Tier One uni­ver­si­ty accord­ing to the US News and World Report. The university’s Col­lege of Nurs­ing offers an online RN-BSN degree pro­gram that pro­vides sched­ule flex­i­bil­i­ty with six dif­fer­ent start dates through­out the year. The pro­gram sup­ports stu­dents who have received pre­vi­ous col­lege cred­its with an easy cred­it trans­fer sys­tem. The pro­gram focus­es their cur­ricu­lum on lead­er­ship respon­si­bil­i­ties, which has allowed many of their grad­u­ates to become Med­ical and Health Ser­vice Man­agers. For more infor­ma­tion about their pro­gram, prospec­tive stu­dents should attend one of their online infor­ma­tion ses­sions to get a feel for their online for­mat, fac­ul­ty, and cur­ricu­lum. Tuition for the 2017–18 school year came out to $11,000 for in-state stu­dents, and $27,334 for out-of-state stu­dents, mak­ing it a great deal for RNs look­ing to obtain their BSN.

Michigan State University

Michi­gan State Uni­ver­si­ty is a pub­lic research uni­ver­si­ty that was found­ed in 1855, and is locat­ed in East Lans­ing, Michi­gan. The university’s Col­lege of Nurs­ing offers an online RN-BSN pro­gram that is deliv­ered in a part-time, five-semes­ter for­mat, allow­ing stu­dents to work at the com­fort­able pace of 6–8 cred­its per semes­ter. The pro­gram requires the com­ple­tion of 117 clin­i­cal hours, which may be tak­en at the hos­pi­tal or med­ical facil­i­ty where they are employed. Thir­ty cred­its are award­ed to stu­dents who have passed the NCELX-RN exam, allow­ing RNs to earn their BSN faster with­out bur­den­ing them with a heavy coarse load. The tuition for the 2017–18 school year came out to $14,460 for in-state stu­dents, and $39,406 for out-of-state students.


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