May 16, 2018  |  Purdue University Global  |  Updated March 19, 2020
RN's guide to earning a BSN online

An evolving health care environment and a desire for greater career opportunities is sending more and more registered nurses back to school. And according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing is the right idea—RN employment is projected to grow 12% from 2018 to 2028, much faster than the average for all other occupations.* This growth is attributed to a number of factors, including an aging baby boomer population and the growing prevalence of chronic conditions such as diabetes and obesity. As health care shifts focus to primary and preventive care, nurses need to be prepared for expanding professional roles that require the ability to practice in a variety of settings.

Perhaps your employer requires it or maybe you’re looking to career—whatever your motivation, here’s what you need to know about going from an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) with the RN credential to earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Why Earn an RN-to-BSN?

If you’re already a licensed RN, earning your BSN can be a worthwhile pursuit. A BSN can help you gain appreciable skills and explore new career possibilities.

Advance Your Career

Most, if not all, graduate nursing programs require a bachelor’s degree upon admittance. According to the BLS, three of the most advanced nursing jobs—nurse practitioner, nurse midwife, and nurse anesthetist—require a master’s degree, to which a BSN is a stepping stone.

Overall, nurses with a BSN can be prepared to pursue roles that are responsible for more than basic clinical care. You might also consider other positions related to the field. For instance, even if you love your work right now, in the future you may want to move into administration or teaching. A BSN can help facilitate your path to getting there.

Prepare to Increase Your Opportunities

With a BSN, you could pursue opportunities in patient care coordination, community education and public health, nursing management and leadership, health care administration, and more.

Provide Better Care

Research shows that higher levels of nursing education are associated with better clinical patient outcomes, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). According to several studies cited by the AACN, hospitals with a higher percentage of RNs with BSN or higher degrees had lower patient mortality rates and lower failure-to-rescue rates. Ultimately, nurses with a BSN or higher-level degree were found to have stronger communication and problem-solving skills, and a higher proficiency in making accurate diagnoses based on evaluations.

Why Earn Your RN-to-BSN Online?

For many RNs, leaving the workforce to pursue higher education isn’t an option. And traditional class schedules are difficult to accommodate if you have a family and a job. This is what makes an online program so appealing. It provides the same rigorous curriculum as a campus program, yet is flexible enough to allow you to work, go to school, and take care of family responsibilities.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online RN-to-BSN?

Many online RN-to-BSN programs are accelerated—at Purdue Global, for instance, RN-to-BSN students can graduate in as few as 18 months of full-time study. For example, Purdue University Global’s ExcelTrack™ RN-to-BSN online nursing degree offers a personalized, competency-based program that enables RNs to move quickly past what they already know and focus on the topics they still need to learn. The RN-to-BSN ExcelTrack™ program offers flexibility and a manageable pace, so you can earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing—in less time, for less money.

When you enter this program with a nursing degree, you can transfer up to 90 credits toward your RN-to-BSN degree. You may be eligible to receive additional credits for work experience or other coursework.§

How Should You Choose Your School?

When it comes to online schools, accreditation is key. Programmatic accreditation ensures that an unbiased agency recognized by the Department of Education reviewed a program to validate its quality and rigor. Online RN-to-BSN programs should be accredited by either the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.#

Other criteria to consider include courses offered, available specializations, student outcomes, available career support services, and the quality of faculty members. Make sure to look for an institution that offers what’s important to you and will best help you achieve your end goals.

How Will You Afford It?

Qualifying for financial aid, such as Pell Grants and the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant, are a few ways to help you afford tuition. Others could include:

  • Employer payment contributions
  • State grants
  • Scholarships
  • Subsidized and unsubsidized loans

In addition, military experience and prior credits could help you save on an RN-to-BSN degree. The average RN-to-BSN graduate with transfer credits saves $6,300 in Purdue Global tuition.**

Earn an RN-to-BSN Degree Online With Purdue University Global

If you already have your nursing license, the flexibility of an online RN-to-BSN program offers you the same rigorous coursework of an on-campus education without the rigid schedule—all while meeting high industry standards. If you’re considering pursuing an online RN-to-BSN, request information about the Purdue Global degree program. Our accredited program is led by experienced faculty and is flexible to meet the needs of today’s busy working adults.

Filed in: Nursing

About the Author

Purdue University Global

Purdue University Global delivers a fully personalized, world-class education online that's tailored for adults. We offer 175 programs, including associate's, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees as well as certificates, in areas such as business, IT, education, health sciences, nursing, criminal justice, and more.

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Your Path to Success Begins Here

Learn more about online programs at Purdue Global and download our program guide.

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*National long-term projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions, and do not guarantee actual growth.

Employment and Career Advancement: Purdue Global does not guarantee employment placement or career advancement. Actual outcomes vary by geographic area, previous work experience and opportunities for employment.

Credit for Prior Learning: Purdue Global does not guarantee transferability of credit. See the University Catalog for the Prior Learning Assessment policy.

§Purdue Global is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (, an institutional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education ( and is approved by the Iowa Board of Nursing.

#Based on Kaplan University RN-to-BSN graduates from 2013–2017 who entered their program with eligible transfer credits beyond the minimum admissions requirements. Note: these data were reported prior to the March 2018 purchase of Kaplan University by Purdue University and subsequent creation of Purdue University Global. Tuition savings calculated as 20 quarter credit hours x $315.00 = $6,300.00. Individual savings will vary. Purdue Global does not guarantee transferability of credit. See University Catalog for the Prior Learning Assessment policy. Future transfer credit savings are subject to review and the academic policies of Purdue Global.