Best Online Nursing Degree Programs of 2023

Best Online Nursing Degree Programs of 2023
Imed Bouchrika, Phd by Imed Bouchrika, Phd
Chief Data Scientist & Head of Content

If you wish to spend your working days caring for and helping others, then a nursing degree is worth considering. With the COVID-19 pandemic, people have a new-found respect for healthcare professionals, nurses in particular. Nurses are an integral part of the healthcare system. Without them, it would have been hard to care for patients affected by this deadly disease. Nurses take charge to promote health, prevent illness, and look after the physically ill, mentally ill, and disabled people.

Because of the pandemic, people have woken up to the importance of nurses and the value they offer to the community. With that, it is nice to know that from 2021 to 2031, the employment of registered nurses (RN) is projected to grow by 6%. This means, there will be an average of 203,200 registered nurses job openings each year in the next decade (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022). Nursing is an in-demand profession as it fills the most important roles in the healthcare system. Additionally, you can further your career and help the community better by investing in an online master’s program in nursing.

In this guide, our team at Research.com gathered data on how to earn an online bachelor’s degree in nursing. We will also discuss the costs, enrollment requirements, and the different courses to expect from the nursing discipline.

Best Online Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing Table of Contents

  1. Can you get a degree completely online?
  2. Will employers take my online degree seriously?
  3. Are online degrees recognized all over the world?
  4. 2023 Best Online Bachelor’s in Nursing Programs
  5. Online vs. Traditional Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing
  6. How much does an online bachelor’s degree in nursing cost?
  7. What are the requirements for an online bachelor’s degree in nursing?
  8. Courses to Expect in Online Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing
  9. Things to Look for in an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

Can you get a degree completely online?

Technology transcends what was impossible in education decades ago. The viability of earning a degree online has evolved dramatically and at present, it is possible to get a bachelor’s degree in nursing online. In fact, in the Fall of 2020, online institutions had over 90% of students enrolled in exclusively distance education courses (National Center for Education Statistics, 2020).

Online nursing education offers students the flexibility to learn from a distance. In addition, they get access to cost-efficient education with a more customizable learning experience. The only difference it has from face-to-face programs is that they get to engage in an online community of fellow nursing students. In this way, they can work in small groups to collaborate, learn, complete case studies, prepare for exams, and even simulate realistic scenarios—all done together online (Ohio State Online, 2022).

Keep in mind, however, that while you may complete the majority of your nursing degree online, the practical component of the course is still done in person. For this, the educational institution will connect a student to the nearest clinic for placement and completion of 675 hours of hands-on experience in patient care.

distance education enrollees

Will employers take my online degree seriously?

The traditional concept of education we have is learning in a face-to-face environment. But degree programs have evolved enormously over the years. Online education and distance learning are a fast-growing segment of higher education in the United States, thanks to the dramatic growth of online programs available, student enrollment, consumer awareness, and employer acceptance of online offerings.

Even with the global acceptance of online colleges, some students are still skeptical if an online degree holds value as a traditional degree. According to recent studies, online and traditional degrees are equal in terms of academic quality, work preparation, and career opportunities. Their only difference is in the format they were delivered (Cambridge College of Healthcare and Technology, n.d.).

With so many online students making up the population of top universities, employers see online degrees as hard to ignore. Companies are noticing the trend of online degree graduates and have adjusted their hiring practices to accept all types of degree earners.

Are online degrees recognized all over the world?

If your online degree is accredited and regulated by agencies recognized by the Department of Education, Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), or their equivalent, then it will be recognized around the world. Pursuing education from an accredited online degree provider means you get similar qualifications as you get from physical programs.

In fact, some of the most popular universities in the U.S. offer some of the best online degrees today. For instance, prestigious universities like Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Michigan, and the University of Maryland all offer well-established nursing degrees online (Nurse.Org, 2022).

In line with that, there were a total of 44 million registered learners online at Coursera in 2019. While in 2020, the number rose to 71 million. And then in 2021, there were already 92 million registered learners online. These increasing numbers of registered learners online reflect the growing global acceptance of online education (World Economic Forum, 2022).

Source: World Economic Forum, 2022

2023 Best Online Bachelor’s in Nursing Programs

Our team at Research.com compiled data from credible sources to come up with the list of the best online bachelor’s degrees in nursing for 2023. These top online nursing programs are selected by cost, program reputation, academic rating, online reliability, and other key criteria.

1. Grand Canyon University (GCU)

Grand Canyon University (GCU) College of Nursing and Healthcare Professions has nearly 35 years of preparing students as highly qualified professionals in direct care, health education, management, and administration. GCU is open for a new student (pre-licensure BSN), a working RN (RN to BSN), or a student with a non-nursing baccalaureate degree (accelerated BSN or ABSN). All theory courses and didactic teaching for this nursing degree are completed online while the practicum hours should be completed in person.

  • Program Length: Four years
  • Tracks/concentrations: Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)
  • Cost per Credit: $340
  • Required Credits to Graduate: 123
  • Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), Higher Learning Commission (HLC)

2. Western Governors University (WGU)

Western Governors University (WGU) offers two pathways to gaining an online bachelor’s degree in nursing, which are BS Nursing Prelicensure and RN to BSN. The program teaches general education coursework, introduction to medical coursework, and hands-on clinical experience. Almost 60% of this program is online coursework while the remaining 40% will be hands-on clinical and lab time.

  • Program Length: Four years
  • Tracks/concentrations: LPN
  • Cost per 6-month term: $6,430
  • Required Credits to Graduate: 123
  • Accreditation: CCNE

3. Herzing University

Herzing University offers four tracks to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing online – BSN for non-nurses, accelerated BSN, pre-nursing, and RN to BSN. The online bachelor’s degree in nursing gives students fundamental skills and knowledge in safe, holistic, and quality evidence-based patient care. In this degree, a student can take all didactic and leisure classes online with in-person clinical and intensives.

  • Program Length: Three years
  • Tracks/concentrations: LPN, Paramedic, Respiratory Therapist, Cardiovascular Technician
  • Cost per Credit: $695
  • Required Credits to Graduate: 120
  • Accreditation: CCNE, HLC

4. Chamberlain University

Chamberlain University offers two pathways through which you can obtain an online bachelor’s degree in nursing — the pre-licensure BSN and RN to BSN. The nursing program at this university is a tradition with over 130 years of existence. The prelicensure path is a hybrid model with virtual instruction and hands-on clinical rotations. On the other hand, you can complete the RN to BSN track 100% online.

  • Program Length: Three years
  • Tracks/concentrations: LP
  • Cost per Credit: $675 to $699
  • Required Credits to Graduate: 120
  • Accreditation: CCNE

5. Aspen University

Aspen University offers an innovative hybrid format for gaining an online bachelor’s degree in nursing. This program allows a student to complete courses online while skills lab, seminars and community-based clinical experience, and clinical simulation are done in person. This program is designed for students without a nursing license who has little to no nursing experience.

  • Program Length: Three years
  • Tracks/concentrations: LPN
  • Cost per Credit: $180 to $495
  • Required Credits to Graduate: 120
  • Accreditation: CCNE

Online vs. Traditional Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

Many students prefer an online nursing degree because of the convenience and flexibility it offers. Online degree courses in nursing allow a student to earn a degree without the need to sacrifice their interests and obligations. Pursuing a traditional nursing degree will require you to visit the campus at a given date and time while online learning is asynchronous. With an asynchronous learning environment, students can generally do their homework and join discussions whenever it suits them. Online-based nursing programs are more efficient since students can focus on self-directed learning.

In a traditional nursing degree, there is actual face-to-face interaction but it is limited. On the other hand, online degree programs in nursing do everything online. This allows nursing aspirants to connect and network with their classmates, faculty, and professionals from various practice settings to share their challenges and experiences.

Online nursing programs are also generally cheaper compared to their brick-and-mortar counterparts. In 2020, 78% of students believe that online education was worth its overall cost while 38% of the current students at the school plan to take their future classes online (Wiley Education Services, 2020).

value of online education

Is an online degree cheaper?

Taking online degrees has become popular among students on a budget because they do not cost as much as their on-campus counterparts. With an online degree program, you will pay less since you will not be using the facilities and resources of the university. Online students will also save on indirect costs like transportation, clothing, meals, and accommodations. However, since the nature of the learning is online, it is advisable to invest in a good computer and find a reliable internet service provider.

Is an online degree as good as a regular degree?

Online degrees and traditional degrees are different in teaching formats but they are the same in terms of quality (Georgetown University, 2022). As published in Online Learning Journal titled “Flipping e-Learning for Teaching Medical Terminology: A Study of Learners’ Online Experiences and Perceptions”, Tekin et al. (2020) found that “In the flipped classroom model, course content is delivered through technologies (e.g., videos, podcasts, screencasts) that learners can gain access to at any time and from any place. This approach results in the allocation of more time for interaction, enhancement of higher-order thinking, and for enrichment during in-class sessions. The results obtained in the current study showed that the flipped classroom model applied to a Medical Terminology course affected the students’ deep learning and academic achievement.”

Online degrees have evolved since the early days of virtual education. With the advancement in technology, courses are now more interactive and engaging. Online degrees offer the premium quality of education students get from traditional learning since they both use similar requirements and faculty members. With online degrees, education is more accessible and can lead to dynamic classes with deep learning.

How much does an online bachelor’s degree in nursing cost?

The annual cost of an online nursing degree ranges from $9,446 to $70,794 while traditional nursing programs start at $16,104 to $70,794 (Nurse.Org, 2022). An online nursing degree is typically cheaper than studying on campus, considering one need not pay for living expenses, facility fees, and similar costs.

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022

Is an online nursing degree worth it?

Delivering healthcare services takes passion and commitment and not everyone has the heart to pursue this demanding role. This career will test you through and through but it will reward you with fulfillment knowing you are part of a patient’s journey to recuperation.

Besides a sense of fulfillment, you will also be properly compensated in terms of good pay. In 2021, the average annual salary of a registered nurse is $77,600. The government is the top industry in which registered nurses work with an annual median salary of $85,970. You can get higher pay as advanced practice registered nurses (APRN) such as nurse practitioners, nurse aesthetics, and nurse midwives, with a median annual salary of $123,780 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022).

Whether your career course is to focus on patient care or rise to a top position in a healthcare organization, a nursing degree is a worthy program for you. The United States is experiencing a shortage of RNs and it is expected to increase in the coming years due to an aging population and retiring nurses. Nursing will be a great career path as registered nurses are ranked fifth in the in-demand job in the American workforce (LinkedIn, 2021).

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2022

What are the requirements for an online bachelor’s degree in nursing?

Online degree courses in nursing are critical to the qualifications of an aspiring nursing student. Get a step closer to becoming a part of the university of your choice by meeting the following general requirements.

Admission Requirements

  • Proof of Graduation. To pursue an online degree in nursing, an applicant must submit proof of graduation. It can be a high school diploma or certificate. It can also be a transcript proving the completion of 30 credit hours from the General Education Program (GED).
  • Prerequisite Coursework. Applicants must have a combined GPA of 2.75 in prerequisite science courses such as Anatomy and Physiology I and II, Microbiology, and Chemistry.
  • Minimum General Point Average (GPA). Generally, the recommended GPA for a nursing degree online is 3.0. However, even if you do not meet the required average, other supporting documents will still be considered for admission.
  • SAT and ACT. The required SAT and ACT scores will vary depending on the institution you want to join. The more prestigious the university is, the higher the minimum SAT and ACT requirements will be. On average, you must have an SAT score of 1440 to 1560 and an ACT score of 32 to 35.
  • Other Requirements. Some educational institutions may ask for letters of recommendation, personal essays or letters of motivation, and proof of application fee payment (if there is any). A minimum TOEFL score of 80 is required for international students.

General Requirements

  • Communication skills. Communication is a critical factor in the field of nursing. Without proper communication, it is possible to make errors in administering medications and procedures like intravenous (IV) insertion.
  • Analytical skills. Analysis entails intellect, critical thinking, and creativity. A nurse must have analytical skills to detect the status of the patient. He should make necessary care adjustments to help improve the condition of the patient.
  • Teamwork skills. Collaborative work guarantees the effective delivery of care to patients. When nurses work together, they increase patient safety, enhance clinical performance and decrease medical errors.
  • Technology skills. There is a growing emphasis on technology in the nursing profession. Nurses need to be savvy with tech-driven concepts like telehealth, health monitoring, and the use of smart medical devices.
  • Ability to cope with burnout. Many nurses left their profession due to pandemic disruptions and burnout. This created a projected shortage of up to 13 million nurses by 2030 (International Council of Nurses, 2022). Nurses will feel pressure and fatigue and it is all part of the job. But as a nurse, it is important to be proactive in defining and reducing the negative impacts of burnout to be efficient in care delivery.

shortage of nurses

What are the technological requirements of students for online learning?

To ensure a smoother learning experience online, a nursing degree student should use a computer that is four years old or newer. It must have a video camera to support video conferencing.

If using a PC, it should be updated to Windows 7 or above has Intel i5 1.6 gigahertz or faster, 4GB RAM, and 6.0 GB available disk space to install necessary applications like Microsoft Office. For Mac, it must be macOS 10.10 or higher, Intel i5 processor, 4GB RAM, and 12 GB available disk space (University of Cincinnati, n.d.).

On top of that, it is ideal to invest in a fast and stable Internet connection. Depending on student preference, he may avail of audio and video accessories for seamless communication with instructors.

Courses to Expect in Online Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

An online bachelor’s degree in nursing begins with a general education that will build up your fundamental knowledge and skills in nursing. From anatomy to physiology, find the top courses you can learn from a nursing degree online.

  • Anatomy and physiology. Anatomy and physiology teach students about the locations, structures, and functions of human body parts. Learning topics here include the cardiovascular system, the digestive system, the lymphatic system, electrolytes, and various organ functions.
  • Microbiology. Microbiology discusses the basic properties of bacteria, viruses, archaea, and eukaryotic microorganisms. Students will learn to distinguish microbes, analyze major biosynthesis pathways, and examine catabolism pathways.
  • Pathophysiology. Pathophysiology deals with underlying diseases that can develop in the human body. It will also tackle therapeutic interventions for various injury disease risk factors. This course teaches diseases that are genetic, environment-caused, or stressed-based.
  • Nursing care of mental health patients. This course talks about evidence-based theories and practices in caring for psychiatric patients. Here, students will understand clinical modalities, use psychiatric terminologies, and define barriers for psychiatric patients.
  • Nursing research. In nursing research, students will use clinical expertise, research evidence, and patient preferences to deliver individualized patient care, In this course, students will learn how to investigate updated healthcare research to define courses of treatment and care for patients.

Things to Look for in an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

Deciding where to take your online degree programs in nursing requires deep thought and research. Consider these few factors to look for in an online institution for a more informed decision in your educational journey.

Source: Statista, 2022

  • Accreditation and Reputation. Accreditation matters when pursuing a nursing degree online as it confirms the quality of education you will get. In fact, 62% of students in the United States choose a university based on its reputation and 47% of them select schools depending on the ranking of the school (Statista, 2022). Make sure you are choosing the right institution by finding out if they are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). As much as possible, you should also research the faculty, quality of graduates, and rankings of your prospective college or university.
  • Support Services. Pursuing a nursing degree online is better when you have access to school resources. These may be IT services, library resources, tutoring, or faculty access whenever you have questions.
  • Financial Aid. Tuition costs for nursing degrees are not always easy on the pocket. Pursue your dream profession by finding a college that supports financial aid programs such as the AfterCollege/American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) Scholarship Fund, Cherokee Uniforms “A Nurse I Am” Scholarship, and Nurse Corps Scholarship Program.
  • Preparation for the Nursing Exam. Get all the help you can find from an online nursing degree institution. In 2022, 82.32% of baccalaureate degree holders in nursing passed the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) (NCSBN.org, 2022). Make sure to find a school that offers programs to help you prepare and pass NCLEX.

NCLEX passers

The Virtue is in an Online Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

Over the past decades, online learning has matured dramatically. A college education is no longer confined to the four corners of a traditional classroom. Technology makes an online bachelor’s degree in nursing accessible, flexible, and feasible for students looking to gain higher education.

With the hustle and bustle in today’s world, choosing online degree programs in nursing makes perfect sense. Transcend the limits of traditional learning and get the advantage of an online degree in nursing by choosing credible and quality educational institutions that will link you to a career of virtue, caring, and service in the healthcare department.

 

References:

  1. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022). Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm
  2. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022). Registered Nurses. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm
  3. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2022). Registered Nurses. https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm#tab-5
  4. Cambridge College of Healthcare and Technology. (n.d.). Is an Online Degree the Same as a Traditional Degree? https://www.cambridgehealth.edu/blog/it-blog/is-an-online-degree-the-same-as-a-traditional-degree
  5. Georgetown University. (2022). Is an Online Degree as Good as a Traditional One? https://scs.georgetown.edu/news-and-events/article/8050/is-an-online-degree-as-good-as-a-traditional-one
  6. International Council of Nurses. (2022). “The greatest threat to global health is the workforce shortage” – International Council of Nurses International Nurses Day demands action on investment in nursing, protection and safety of nurses. https://www.icn.ch/news/greatest-threat-global-health-workforce-shortage-international-council-nurses-international
  7. LinkedIn. (2021). The Most In-Demand Jobs. https://business.linkedin.com/talent-solutions/blog/trends-and-research/2020/most-in-demand-jobs
  8. National Center for Education Statistics. (2020). Digest of Education Statistics. https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d21/tables/dt21_311.33.asp
  9. NCSBN.org. (2022). 2022 NCLEX Pass Rates. https://www.ncsbn.org/public-files/NCLEX_Stats_2022-Q4-PassRates.pdf
  10. Nurse.Org. (2022). Top 10 Best Nursing Schools of 2023. https://nurse.org/education/top-10-best-nursing-schools
  11. Ohio State Online. (2022). Can You Really Get a Nursing Degree Online? https://online.osu.edu/resources/learn/can-you-really-get-nursing-degree-online
  12. Statista. (2022). Reasons for Online College Selection Among Students in the U.S. 2022. https://www.statista.com/statistics/956111/reasons-online-college-selection-students
  13. Tekin, P., Ilgaz, H., Adanir, G., Yildirim, D., Gulbahar, Y. (2020). Flipping e-Learning for Teaching Medical Terminology: A Study of Learners’ Online Experiences and Perceptions. Online Learning Journal. DOI:10.24059/olj.v24i2.2030
  14. University of Cincinnati (n.d.). Technology Resources & Requirements. https://nursing.uc.edu/admissions-financial-aid/admitted-students/rn-bsn-online/technology-requirements.html
  15. University of Maryland. (n.d.). Admission FAQs. https://www.nursing.umaryland.edu/admissions/faq
  16. Wiley Education Services. (2020). Online College Students: Comprehensive Data on Demands and Preferences. https://universityservices.wiley.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/OCS2020Report-ONLINE-FINAL.pdf
  17. World Economic Forum. (2022). These 3 charts show the global growth in online learning. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/01/online-learning-courses-reskill-skills-gap

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