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2022 Most Affordable Online Nursing Programs

By the OnlineU team | Updated 9/14/2022
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Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system, and they’re needed now more than ever. If you’re an RN looking for a management and/or leadership role or you want to transition into graduate school, consider an online bachelor’s degree in nursing. A BSN provides the knowledge and skills you'll need to elevate your career. Beyond nursing skills, a bachelor’s degree teaches administration, leadership, and research. If you’re interested in advancing your career, explore the recommended programs below.

View our methodology for more details about rankings or learn more about us. You can also check out our overall list of the most affordable online degrees for more inspiration.

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Online Nursing Bachelor's Degrees You May Be Interested In


All tuition numbers were manually collected and verified
Rank School Locations Annual Tuition
# 1 #1 Dalton State College Dalton (GA) $3,204
# 2 #2 Pfeiffer University Misenheimer (NC) $3,497
# 3 #3 University of South Dakota Vermillion (SD) $3,548
# 4 #4 Ohio University - Main Campus Athens (OH) $3,645
# 5 #5 Tallahassee Community College Tallahassee (FL) $3,855
# 6 #6 Great Basin College Elko (NV) $4,935
# 7 #7 University of North Carolina at Pembroke Pembroke (NC) $5,074
# 8 #8 College of Southern Nevada Las Vegas (NV) $5,100
# 9 #9 Georgia Southwestern State University Americus (GA) $5,249
# 10 #10 University of New Mexico Albuquerque (NM) $5,827
#1
#1

Dalton State College

Dalton (GA)
Annual Tuition: $3,204
Annual Tuition: $3,204
Annual Tuition: $3,204

Dalton State College (Dalton State) is a medium-sized, public institution that offers an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN requiring 120 credit hours. This program prepares students to meet patients’ needs and improve the overall quality of patients' lives. Graduates have the knowledge and skills to make nursing judgments, clinical decisions, and provide safe, high quality care. Applicants must have at least six months of work experience.

At Dalton State, students use Brightspace to access their coursework, which is entirely online. Core courses in this major include Perspectives on USA Health Systems, Community Health Nursing, and Health Assessment, along with a required nursing capstone course. Additionally, online students have access to all university resources.

  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 87%
  • Graduation Rate: 25%
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (706) 272-4436
#2
#2

Pfeiffer University

Misenheimer (NC)
Annual Tuition: $3,497
Annual Tuition: $3,497
Annual Tuition: $3,497

Pfeiffer University (Pfeiffer) is a small, private institution that offers an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing - RN to BNS, which requires 120 credit hours and an internship. This four-year program provides students with the knowledge and skills to work as advocates, clinicians, coordinators, educators, leaders, and researchers. Graduates work in critical care nursing, pediatric nursing, psychiatric mental health, and medical-surgical nursing.

At Pfeiffer, students use Blackboard to access their coursework, which is fully online and asynchronous. Core courses in this program include Foundations and Concepts for Professional Nursing Practice, Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing, and Pharmacology for Nursing. Besides Blackboard, online students can also access the writing center, academic advisors, and all library resources.

  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 99%
  • Graduation Rate: 44%
  • Acceptance Rate: 66%
  • Average SATs: 915 -1140
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 78
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 290
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (704) 463-1360
#3
#3

University of South Dakota

Vermillion (SD)
Annual Tuition: $3,548
Annual Tuition: $3,548
Annual Tuition: $3,548

The University of South Dakota (USD) is a medium-sized, public institution that offers an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN. This program requires 120 credit hours and a capstone practicum: Designer, Coordinator, and Manager of Care. USD’s online program prepares students to assume leadership positions or pursue a graduate degree, and it takes full-time students about four years to complete. However, USD accepts up to 90 transfer credits or an associate degree, which could decrease the amount of time to two years. Graduates are eligible to sit for the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX-RN).

At USD, students use Blackboard to access their online courses, which are fully online. Core courses in this major include Research and Evidence-Based Practice, Optimizing Health of Populations, and Nursing PRactice in a Global Society. At USD, online students also have access to all other university resources.

  • Online Degrees: 3
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 59%
  • Acceptance Rate: 87%
  • Average SATs: 990 -1180
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,921
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 983
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Phone #: (605) 658-6200

Example Classes: Clinical Prevention and Population Health, Healthcare Policy, Finance and Regulatory Environments, Org Systems/Ldrshp/Informatics, Pharmacology

#4
#4
Annual Tuition: $3,645
Annual Tuition: $3,645
Annual Tuition: $3,645

Ohio University - Main Campus (Ohio) is a large, public university that offers an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN requiring 120 credit hours. This program takes four years with a full-time schedule, but Ohio accepts up to 90 transfer credits or an associate degree, which could accelerate the program. Taking these steps could allow students to graduate in just two years. Overall, Ohio's nursing program helps students enhance their skills in the areas of clinical reasoning, leadership, management, and evidence-based practice. Alumni seek leadership positions in healthcare agencies or attend graduate programs.

At Ohio, students use Blackboard to access their coursework, which is 100% online and asynchronous. Core courses in this program include Gerontologic Nursing Care, Leadership in Nursing, and Professional Nursing Program. Additionally, online students have access to flexible advising, tutoring services, and all library resources.

  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 65%
  • Acceptance Rate: 74%
  • Average SATs: 1050 -1260
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 4,926
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 2,892
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Phone #: (740) 593-1000

Example Classes: Community Health Nursing, Evidence-Based Nursing Practice, Family Nursing, Gerontologic Nursing Care, Health Assessment and Promotion, Leadership in Nursing, Professional Nursing Practice

#5
#5
Annual Tuition: $3,855
Annual Tuition: $3,855
Annual Tuition: $3,855

Tallahassee Community College (TCC) is a public institution with a medium-sized student population, and it offers an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN). Requiring 120 credit hours, this program is designed to take four years at a full-time pace, but TCC accepts either transfer credits or an associate degree, allowing students to potentially graduate in two years. TCC prepares RNs to seek leadership and higher level positions.

At TCC, students use Canvas to access their coursework, which is entirely online and asynchronous. Core courses in this major include Cultural Issues in Nursing, Leadership/Management in Nursing, and Health Promotion. There is also a required capstone course. Also, online students can access academic advising, library services, and tutoring.

  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 68%
  • Graduation Rate: 35%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,999
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (850) 201-6200

Example Classes: Cultural Issues in Nursing, Nursing Informatics, Population-Based Nursing

#6
#6
Annual Tuition: $4,935
Annual Tuition: $4,935
Annual Tuition: $4,935

Great Basin College (GBC) is a medium-sized, public institution that offers an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN requiring 120 credit hours. This degree is aimed at students who already have an associate degree or its equivalent, and it takes two years to complete with a full time schedule. GBC’s online degree program prepares RNs for research and theory-based professional practice roles.

At GBC, students use WebCampus to access their coursework, which is fully online and asynchronous. Core courses in this program include Nursing Leadership and Management Theory, Population Focused Community Health Theory, and Pathophysiology. Online students can also virtually access tutoring services, academic advising, and all university library resources.

  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 72%
  • Graduation Rate: 42%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 2,638
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NWCCU
  • Phone #: (775) 738-8493

Example Classes: Evidence-Based Practice & Research in Nursing, Nursing Leadership & Management Practicum, Nursing Leadership & Management Theory, Population Focused Community Health Theory, Transition to Professional Nursing

#7
#7
Annual Tuition: $5,074
Annual Tuition: $5,074
Annual Tuition: $5,074

The University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP) is a medium-sized, public institution that offers an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN requiring 124 credit hours. This program provides students with the skills to evaluate client problems and seek solutions through critical thinking and systematic investigations. Overall, it takes students about three years to finish with a full-time schedule, but UNCP accepts either transfer credits or an associate degree, which could accelerate the program time to just one year.

At UNCP, students use Canvas to access their online coursework, which is 100% online. Core courses include Critical Thinking in the Nursing Discipline, Health Assessment Across the Life Span, and Leadership in Nursing, along with a capstone course. Students can complete the coursework on Canvas at either a full- or part-time pace. AT UNCP, online students can also access the university library and student resource centers.

  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 90%
  • Graduation Rate: 41%
  • Acceptance Rate: 81%
  • Average SATs: 930 -1080
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,435
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 853
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC
  • Phone #: (910) 521-6000
#8
#8
Annual Tuition: $5,100
Annual Tuition: $5,100
Annual Tuition: $5,100

The College of Southern Nevada (CSN) is a large, public institution offering an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN. CSN's nursing degree requires 124 credit hours and takes full-time students about four years to complete. The curriculum prepares RNs for career opportunities in population-based health, education, administration, research, management, informatics, and related fields.

At CSN, students use Canvas to access their asynchronous coursework entirely online. Core courses in this major include Mental Health Nursing, Advanced Pharmacology for Urban Nursing Practice, and Cultural Diversity in Healthcare. This program also requires a capstone project. In addition to Canvas, online students have access to tutoring services, academic advisors, and all university library resources.

  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 84%
  • Graduation Rate: 12%
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 6,420
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: NWCCU
  • Phone #: (702) 651-5000
#9
#9
Annual Tuition: $5,249
Annual Tuition: $5,249
Annual Tuition: $5,249

Georgia Southwestern State University (GSW) is a public institution with a medium-sized student population. GSW offers an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN requiring 112 credit hours, and this program is geared toward working professionals who want to move into a leadership position. GSW requires a practicum course that helps students understand how theory works in practice. This program is aimed at students who already have an associate degree or its equivalent, which means it takes students about two years to complete this degree at a full-time pace.

At GSW, students use Brightspace to access their 100% online coursework, which may be delivered either synchronously or asynchronously. Core courses in this program include Community Health Nursing, Nursing Informatics, and Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing. Additionally, online students can access electronic library resources, a technical help desk, and academic advisors.

  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 95%
  • Graduation Rate: 38%
  • Acceptance Rate: 67%
  • Average SATs: 940 -1120
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 604
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 208
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: SACS COC

Example Classes: Care of Childbearing Family, Gerontological Nursing, Human Pathophysiology, Mental Health Nursing

#10
#10

University of New Mexico

Albuquerque (NM)
Annual Tuition: $5,827
Annual Tuition: $5,827
Annual Tuition: $5,827

The University of New Mexico (UNM) is a large, public institution that offers an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing - RN to BSN. Requiring 120 credit hours, UNM’s program focuses on critical thinking, management, leadership, and research skills expected of a professional nurse. This degree is aimed at students who already have an associate degree or its equivalent, and it takes two years to complete with a full time schedule. Graduates pursue higher career advancement and graduate studies in MSN, DNP, and PHD Programs.

At UNM, students use Canvas to access their coursework, and their classes are fully online and synchronous. Core courses include Pathophysiology for Nursing Professionals, Advancement of Professional Nursing, and Care of Vulnerable Populations. UNM also provides online students with access to their student resource centers and university library.

  • Online Degrees: 1
  • Financial Aid Recipients: 94%
  • Graduation Rate: 54%
  • Acceptance Rate: 67%
  • Average SATs: 970 -1290
  • Undergrad Online Enrollment: 1,596
  • Graduate Online Enrollment: 352
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • School Accreditation: HLC
  • Phone #: (505) 277-0111

Choosing an Online Bachelor's Degree in Nursing


Becoming an RN Online

To become RNs, students must first complete an accredited, state-approved nursing education program and then pass their state’s National Council Licensure Examination, otherwise known as NCLEX-RN. The following are several educational pathways aspiring nurses can take to become eligible for the licensure exam:

  • RN Diploma
  • Associate degree in Nursing (ADN) / Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN)
  • Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

The RN programs above cover nursing theory and clinical practice that qualify students to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam. While BSN and ADN/ASN degree programs are offered online, students must complete the clinical experience requirement in-person at an approved healthcare facility.

RN diploma programs are the least common educational pathway for aspiring nurses and are offered by some hospitals and nursing schools. These diploma programs are not available online and do not culminate in a college degree. RN diplomas and associate degree programs can take two to three years to complete, while a bachelor’s degree requires three to four years of study.


Getting a BSN Degree Online

There are several types of online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degrees, and most are degree completion programs intended for students with some college credit. These online nursing programs are flexible to accommodate the schedule of working professionals; the majority of the coursework can be completed online and the only in-person requirements are supervised clinical hours that students carry out at an approved site in their community.

Below are some of the different online BSN programs available, their application requirements, and the approximate time it takes to complete the degree:

  • RN to BSN: The most common online program is the RN to BSN pathway that requires an active registered nurse license, obtained by passing the NCLEX-RN, and an associate degree in nursing (ADN) to apply. The majority of schools ranked on this page are RN to BSN programs, which students can generally complete in 18-24 months.
  • LPN to BSN: Licensed practical nurses have completed an accredited, one-year nursing program and passed their National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN). Students can typically complete an LPN to BSN program in 2-3 years.
  • BSN: Another option is a BSN program for students without an RN or LPN license but with an ADN from an accredited institution. Students can typically complete this BSN program in 2-3 years. Graduates must then pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become a registered nurse if they don’t already have that credential.

How Fast Can I Get My Online BSN?

The majority of online BSN programs available are RN to BSN, which require that students have a registered nurse license and an associate degree in the field to apply. Some BSN programs may only require an associate degree in nursing. Regardless of the program, students can earn their BSN degrees in 18-24 months. Some accelerated BSN programs will even allow students to graduate in as few as ten months. Students taking classes part-time will take longer to complete their degrees.


What Are the Advantages of Pursuing a Nursing Degree Online?

One major advantage of online learning is affordability. Enrollment in an online program is generally more affordable because additional on-campus service fees aren’t included in the overall cost. Additionally, many schools charge their online students the reduced in-state tuition rate regardless of their location.

Other advantages of online programs are increased flexibility and convenience, sometimes with the option to pursue a degree in a part-time capacity. The majority of online nursing programs are RN to BSN, which are intended for working RNs who want to earn their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. The ability to watch lectures and participate in classroom discussions when convenient may be helpful for students who work full time while pursuing their education.


Why Accreditation is Important

Regardless of which BSN pathway students choose, it is essential to select an accredited school or a program. Accreditation ensures that students can apply for federal financial aid, transfer credit between programs, and are eligible for certification and employment as registered nurses. Some of the national associations that grant accreditation to nursing programs are the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).


Common Online Nursing Courses

Nursing students will likely take some of the following courses while pursuing their degree, though course names will vary across schools and programs.

  • Anatomy and Physiology: Nursing students may be required to take a series of online courses on this topic. Learners will be given an introduction to the body and how organs function. Related topics include how the body and associated structures respond to disease.
  • Community Health Nursing: Community health nursing is related to public health and addresses the specific health needs of diverse populations and groups. This course examines disease prevention and management at the individual, family, and community levels. Other topics include healthcare promotion and comprehensive care planning.
  • Ethical-Legal Issues in Nursing: This course introduces nursing students to clinical ethics across various healthcare settings. Students learn how to use ethical reasoning and analysis to resolve issues with patients as they arise in clinical practice. The topics covered can include current legislation and differences in politics or religion.
  • Foundations of Nursing Practice: This topic is covered as a single course or as a series of courses, depending on the school. Coursework emphasizes patient health assessments and clinical concepts. Nursing students learn to promote patient health and safety through communication and proper assessment techniques. Students may also study the role of technology in providing patient care.
  • Nursing Informatics: Students take this course to learn about the applications of information technology in nursing. Students learn how to manage clinical information as it relates to patient care. Other topics include ethical issues and emerging technologies in the field.
  • Nursing Research: Nursing research is designed to teach students the fundamentals of evidence-based practice. Students learn about research processes related to nursing knowledge and care. Additionally, students are taught how to identify valid research in the field.
  • Pharmacology: An online class in pharmacology teaches students how to administer drug therapy to patients. Topics covered include the major drug groups, the mechanisms of drugs in the human body, and drug testing and approval. Additionally, students must demonstrate competency in their knowledge of drug interactions and side effects.

Cost of an Online BSN Degree


The average cost for undergraduate tuition among all higher education institutions was $23,835 for the 2017-2018 academic year. In comparison, the schools ranked on our list of affordable online colleges for nursing have significantly lower tuition rates, ranging from $2,750 - $6,211 per year, which translates to approximately $5,550 - $12,422 for the total cost of a two-year RN to BSN program. However, the time it takes to complete a degree can vary by student and depends on several factors, such as the number of transfer credits you have and whether you are enrolled part- or full-time in the program.

While online programs do not charge for on-campus fees in most cases, they may charge students distance learning or technology fees in addition to tuition rates. However, students can significantly reduce out-of-pocket costs for higher education by applying for financial aid, outside scholarships, and tuition assistance programs outlined below.


Funding an Online Nursing Degree

Most students pay less than a college’s sticker price because of financial aid. Regardless of whether students enroll in an accredited online or an on-campus degree program, they apply for aid in the same way.

Students should submit a FAFSA form to see if they qualify for government aid. There are several types of federal student aid available, including grants or loans. Grants do not need to be repaid, so they have the potential to significantly reduce tuition costs. However, students must follow specific requirements in order to maintain eligibility.

Colleges or universities also offer new or currently enrolled students need- or merit-based scholarships. Students should check with their school’s financial aid office or website to view a list of available scholarships, application requirements, and deadlines. If you are currently working as an RN, reach out to your healthcare employer to determine if they offer tuition reimbursement programs to employees pursuing their BSN degrees. There are also outside organizations that provide scholarships and financial aid to nursing students:

  • American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN): The AACN offers multiple scholarships to nursing students pursuing degrees at the undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral levels. Some undergraduate scholarship options include the Geraldine "Polly" Bednash Scholarship, the National Black Nurses Association, Inc (NBNA), and the Foundation of the National Student Nurses Association (FNSNA) Undergraduate Scholarship.
  • Nursing Student Loans (NSL): The Health Services and Resource Administration (HRSA) offers NSL loans to qualifying students. These are long-term, low-interest loans for students from disadvantaged backgrounds who pursue an associate degree in nursing, a BSN, or an MSN.
  • Nurse Corps Scholarship Program: The HRSA also offers the Nurse Corps program to currently enrolled nursing students. If accepted into the program, the HRSA pays all of the student’s tuition, fees, and textbooks and provides a monthly stipend. In exchange, students must work at a facility that has a critical shortage of nurses after graduation.

Are There Any Free Nursing Programs Available?

While there are no free nursing programs, the Nurse Corps Scholarship does cover the full cost of tuition for students accepted into an accredited nursing program in exchange for a service commitment. This federal program is offered by the Health Resources and Services Administration to help communities in need have greater access to health care resources. Eligible students receive a monthly stipend in addition to full coverage of tuition, fees, and other educational-related expenses, such as textbooks and uniforms. After graduating, students in the program must work for a minimum of two years at a critical shortage facility. To apply, students must submit an application and supporting documentation.

After receiving your RN licensure, there are many continuing nursing education (CNE) courses available at no cost. The University of Washington offers several free CNE classes, including the Nursing Ground Round Series covering patient care delivery and best practices. Free CNE courses are also provided by the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, Medscape.com, and Medline University.


Salary and Job Outlook for Nurses


Is Getting a Bachelor of Science in Nursing Worth It?

Determining if a degree is worth it can depend on several factors, such your financial situation, the amount of time you have to study and complete coursework, and your return on investment (ROI). ROI is calculated by weighing the financial investment against future salary and employment opportunities. Earning a BSN is often worth the cost since RNs with a BSN tend to earn higher wages and have greater responsibilities than RNs with an associate degree. According to ADVANCE Healthcare’s 2020 nurse salary survey, RNs with a bachelor’s degree earned an average salary of $71,901 compared to $64,983 for those with only an associate degree.

Having a BSN degree can also lead to increased employment opportunities as many hospitals require or strongly prefer to hire entry-level RNs with a BSN based on a survey of 647 schools of nursing. Nursing organizations are also advocating for increased credentials among nurses; the American Association of College of Nursing (AACN) recommends that nurses have at least a BSN degree since this strongly correlates with a better quality of care and patient outcomes. As of 2019, 56% of RNs have a BSN, compared to only 49% in 2010.


Do Employers Hire Online Nursing Graduates?

In a 2019 survey of HR leaders conducted by Northeastern University, 61% reported that they view online credentials equal in quality to those completed in-person. To ensure that a college or university is reputable, students should determine that the institution is accredited. The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is an accrediting body for nursing programs that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Other factors to consider are graduation rate, course content, clinical experiences facilitated by the program, student support services, and employment rate after graduation.

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