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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.

Featured Schools

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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