Top RN Online Colleges to Advance Your Nursing Career

Nursing is one of the most in-demand careers in the healthcare industry. With its growing popularity, nursing schools have become more competitive and challenging to enroll in. However, the good news is that online nursing degrees have become increasingly popular over the years. If you’re looking to earn an RN degree online, you’ll find a range of schools that offer programs with flexible schedules and affordable tuition fees. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most popular online nursing colleges.

Studying nursing online can be convenient for working professionals or those who live far away from traditional universities. With that said, choosing the right online nursing school can be tricky. You want to ensure you are getting a quality education, and your degree is recognized by potential employers. A good online nursing program should have accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Let’s take a look at some of the popular online nursing colleges that have met these standards.

One of the top online nursing schools is Western Governors University, offering a bachelor’s degree in nursing backed by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. The program curriculum includes healthcare management, population health, and nursing informatics. Another online school that stands out is Capella University, which offers an online RN to BSN program along with a Master’s in Nursing degree. The program has received accreditation from the CCNE and is designed for practicing registered nurses.

Other notable online nursing schools include Walden University, which has an online RN to BSN program that focuses on leadership skills, research, and community health. The University of Alabama, which is renowned for its brick-and-mortar nursing programs, has also dedicated an online RN to BSN degree. The university assures that its online program aligns with its on-campus curriculum and boasts accreditation from the CCNE.

What Are RN Online Colleges

RN online colleges are distance learning institutions that offer nursing programs leading to an Associate or Bachelor’s degree in Nursing.

The Benefits of Enrolling in RN Online Colleges

Enrolling in RN online colleges can be beneficial due to its flexibility and convenience, affordability, and ability to learn at your own pace.

Online Colleges: A Convenient Way to Pursue RN Education

If you are planning to pursue a career in nursing, but you are unable to attend traditional on-campus classes, online colleges can be an excellent option for you. Online colleges offer RN programs where students can learn at their own pace, at their own time, and from anywhere in the world.

Online RN programs provide an opportunity for individuals who may be working full-time, live in rural areas, or have other obligations that make it difficult for them to attend traditional classes. Furthermore, many online RN programs offer flexible schedules that can confidently accommodate busy and working professionals.

With the current global pandemic, online RN programs have become a safe and viable way to learn while practicing social distancing, which makes them even more attractive.

The Importance of Accreditation

Before choosing any online RN program, it is crucial to ensure that it is accredited. Accreditation ensures that the program is recognized by industry professionals and authorities and meets the quality standards required and set by the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN).

Choosing unaccredited online RN programs may lead to the following consequences:

  • Lack of eligibility for program transfer to traditional universities
  • Difficulty in finding jobs
  • Inability to obtain licensure
  • Difficulty in securing federal financial aid
  • Limited job opportunities upon graduation

Therefore, it is essential to find accredited online RN programs to avoid the above negative implications.

Class Formats

Online RN programs offer different formats depending on the institution, program, and instructor preference. The two significant categories of class formats are synchronous and asynchronous.

Synchronous- In a Synchronous format, students are required to attend online classes at specific times and interact with the instructor and other students in real-time. Live discussions, video conferencing, and webinars are common in online colleges that offer synchronous formats.

Asynchronous- In an asynchronous format, students are not required to attend classes at specific times, but they still have to complete assignments, contribute to class discussions, and complete the course requirements within set deadlines. Recorded lectures, discussion boards, emails, and online journals are the usual tools in asynchronous formats.

Some online programs offer a blend of synchronous and asynchronous formats, which can provide flexibility for students while maintaining classroom interaction.

Program Length and Coursework

Online RN programs typically require two to four years to complete for individuals with non-nursing degrees. However, this can be shorter for licensed practical nurses (LPNs) or licensed vocational nurses (LVNs) who want to become registered nurses.

Coursework in online RN programs mainly focuses on nursing theory and clinical practice. Courses include anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, nursing research, nursing leadership, and healthcare management. In most online RN programs, students are also required to attend clinical practicums where they get hands-on training in healthcare facilities.

Online RN programs have assignments, quizzes, exams, discussions, and other assessment tools that assess your knowledge and understanding of the course material. You also typically get to choose elective courses to personalize your education.

Costs and Financial Aid Options

Online RN programs can be less expensive than traditional in-person degree programs because they have lower overhead costs.

The cost of an online RN degree varies depending on institution, location, and program. Generally, students can expect to pay tuition, fees, and additional expenses, such as textbooks, computers, and internet access.

Financial aid is available to eligible students in online RN programs, and the application process is the same as for traditional degree programs. Students are encouraged to apply for financial aid, scholarships, loans, and grants to help offset college costs.


Overall, online RN programs can be an excellent option for individuals seeking to pursue RN education but do not have the ability to attend on-campus classes. It is crucial to find and enroll in an accredited program, understand the different class formats, program length, and coursework, and apply for financial aid to get the most out of your online RN program experience. Pursuing an RN education online is a flexible, convenient, and affordable path to follow.

FAQ about Online RN Colleges

1. Is an online RN degree as credible as an on-campus program?

Yes. Online RN programs have the same educational standard and rigor as their on-campus counterparts. As long as the online RN program is accredited by the appropriate agencies, your online degree will be just as legitimate.

2. How long does it take to complete an online RN program?

The duration of your online RN program depends on your pace and the program requirements. You can finish an online RN program within three years or longer, depending on your schedule and how many classes you can take each semester.

3. Do online RN programs have clinical requirements?

Yes. All state-approved online RN programs require clinical or hands-on experience. You may be required to complete your clinical requirements in a healthcare facility within your state. Some online RN programs may partner with local healthcare providers to enable you to complete your clinicals near your location.

4. Can I obtain my RN license online?

No. RN licensure requires you to complete specific clinical and educational requirements. You can complete your RN coursework online, but you may have to complete your clinical requirements in a healthcare facility near you.

5. Can I work while completing my online RN program?

Yes. Online RN programs offer the flexibility for students to work while studying. Work-study balance can be a challenge, but setting a study schedule and creating priorities can boost your chances of success in your online RN program.

6. What is the cost of online RN programs?

Cost varies depending on the program. Many state colleges and universities offer online RN programs at a competitive rate. Online RN programs charge per credit-hour, and the fees cover the cost of tuition, materials, and clinical experiences.

7. Do online RN programs offer financial aid?

Yes. Most online RN programs offer various financial aid options that can help you pay for school. Federal financial aid, grants, scholarships, and loans are available to online RN students who qualify and meet the eligibility requirements.

8. What is the difference between a BSN and an ADN?

A Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a four-year degree program, while an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is a two-year degree program. Both programs train students to become registered nurses, but BSN offers more advanced education and training in leadership, management, and communication, making it a higher-level degree.

9. Is it better to complete an RN program online or on-campus?

The choice between online and campus-based programs depends on numerous factors such as schedule, location, motivation, and learning style. Online RN programs offer flexibility, convenience, and student-centered learning, while on-campus programs offer in-person interactions, support, and access to resources. Choose the program that suits your learning style and career goals best.

10. What are the job prospects for RNs with an online degree?

Online RN degrees are no different from on-campus degrees. The job market for RNs is robust, and the demand is projected to grow. Graduates with an online RN degree have the same opportunities as graduates with an on-campus degree, including entry-level positions, promotions, and career advancement.

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