Online Nursing Programs by State

83% of users found this page helpful Was this page helpful?
Select a State:

This comprehensive list of 287 online nursing schools, arranged by state, includes tuition information, NCLEX pass rates, and campus locations. Forty-seven states, in addition to Washington D.C., offer online nursing programs. Over one hundred schools across the country offer their online programs for less than $25,000, with some as low as $6,000 for an annual tuition.

This list gives students the information they need to not only select a degree program, but also to learn state procedures such as licensure and renewal requirements. Prospective nursing students should ensure that any degree program they consider is accredited and recognized by their state's licensing board. Programmatic accreditation for nursing degrees is granted by the NLNAC and the CCNE, and choosing a degree with this distinction will ensure adequate preparation for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), which is required to obtain nursing licensure.

You can also browse a comprehensive, alphabetical list of online nursing programs.

Alabama

Students planning to work as nurses in Alabama must meet a continuing education requirement of 24 contact hours during the two years between each renewal period. Applications must be completed online. There are several schools in Alabama that offer online nursing degrees. The University of North Alabama offers an RN to BSN program, an RN to MSN program, and a traditional master's in nursing. The MSN has a "Teaching-Learning" track that equips registered nurses to educate nursing students, health care clients, and colleagues. There is also a "Leadership" track that prepares registered nurses for management roles in nursing or health care.

Arizona

Arizona is one of twenty-four compact states, meaning students with a license from Arizona may practice in any other member location. Students seeking to renew their nursing license must have worked at least 960 hours as a nurse, or participate in an approved refresher course. Some Arizona-based schools offering an online nursing degree include Arizona State University, Grand Canyon University, and Northern Arizona. Arizona State University offers an online RN to BSN degree. ASU also has a generous credit transfer policy which decreases the overall cost of the program.

Arkansas

Students seeking to work in nursing must be licensed by the Arkansas State Board of Nursing and meet state-mandated requirements to practice nursing. Arkansas is a compact state, meaning a nurse in this state has a license and is eligible to work in 23 other compact nursing states. Arkansas requires license renewal every two years. New nursing school graduates may obtain a temporary license, permitting practice until a permanent license is secured upon passing the state’s nursing examination. The University of Arkansas offers an online bachelor's in nursing degree which has the longest accredited BSN program in Arkansas. The project-based practicum required can be completed in the student's geographic area.

California

California offers two alternatives to obtaining a degree in order to become a registered nurse. California Licensed Vocational Nurses can take the LVN 30 Unit Option but most other states don't recognize the option. Military Corpsmen can also take the national exam for an RN license if they've completed RN level education and have clinical experience. To renew the license, candidates must complete at least 30 hours of continuing education every 2 years. There are several schools offering online nursing degree programs in California. One of the most affordable of these choices, California State University - Dominguez Hills, has both an online RN to BSN and an online MSN program available. Clinical hours can be completed on campus or at appropriate agencies in the student's communities. Both programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Applicants must have a professional resume.

Colorado

Colorado is one of twenty-four compact states. Colorado nursing licenses will be recognized in these other states, and vice-versa. Licenses expire every two years. Aspen University is one of the most affordable choices of schools offering online nursing programs in Colorado, and it offers an online master's in nursing. Aspen offers an RN to MSN Bridge program which allows students who have earned an associate's degree in nursing but not a bachelor's to graduate directly with a master's degree.

Connecticut

Connecticut licenses must be renewed online each year. There are several schools that offer online nursing degree programs, including Yale University. Yale offers a master's in nursing in which 100 percent of students are already employed when they first enroll. University of Phoenix has one of the lowest tuitions in the state and offers online nursing programs at both the graduate and undergraduate level.

Delaware

Students who wish to renew their nursing license in Delaware must have worked 1,000 hours as a nurse over the past five years or 400 hours over the past two years. Students must also complete continuing education requirements. Delaware is a compact state. There are a few institutions that offer nursing degrees in Delaware, including the University of Delaware and Wilmington University. The University of Delaware offers an online RN to BSN, an online RN to MSN and a traditional MSN. Wilmington University's online RN to BSN program allows students to take as little as one course (3 credits) per term or as many as 12 or more credits per semester.

Florida

Florida has strict continuing education requirements for nurses. Those wishing to renew their license must complete 24 hours of courses, which must be either approved by the Florida Board of Nursing or accredited by a state or national organization for nursing accreditation. There are lots of schools that offer online nursing degrees in Florida. One, St. Petersburg College, offers an online RN to BSN completion program that is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Georgia

Georgia requires nursing licenses to be renewed every two years. Georgia does not currently require continuing education for nurses, however, starting on January 31, 2016, nurses will be required to complete continuing education requirements. Although several schools in the state offer online nursing degrees, Georgia is also home to one of the most affordable programs in the nation - Georgia Military College offering an AA or AA in pre-nursing. The program prepares students for admission to RN programs and although it is geared toward military members, 80 percent of students are not in the military.

Hawaii

Hawaii nurses must renew their licenses every two years by June 30. The University of Hawaii at Manoa is one of a few schools on the islands that offers an online nursing degree program. There are several pathways provided. Non-nurses, RNs with a bachelor's degree in nursing, RNs with a bachelor's degree in an unrelated field, and RNs that have a master's degree all have the option to a master's of science, doctorate in nursing practice, and PhD in nursing.

Idaho

Idaho nurses must renew their licenses every two years, by August 31. Idaho is a compact state, and will recognize nursing licenses from member states. Idaho State University offers a traditional bachelor's in nursing degree that admits 70 students a year, an accelerated bachelor's in nursing that admits 30 students a year, a master's degree, a doctor of nursing practice, and a PhD in nursing.

Illinois

Illinois nurses must renew their licenses every two years by May 31 and have 20 hours of continuing education credits in order to renew. Tuition rates at the several schools offering online nursing degrees vary, with some of the least expensive schools being Rasmussen College and University of Phoenix.

Indiana

There are many available online nursing programs in Indiana. Indiana nurses must renew their licenses every two years by Oct. 31. RNs who want to acquire a bachelor's degree could consider the University of Indianapolis’s online program. Western Governors University has one of the lowest tuitions in the state starting at $5,870 annually.

Iowa

Iowa is a compact state. Licenses are renewed every 3 years. Nurses must have 36 contact hours of continuing education and a course on mandatory approved identification and reporting of child and elderly abuse. Graceland University offers an RN to BSN, RN to MSN, and a doctor of nursing practice degree online. Although clinical requirements can be completed anywhere in the United States, one focus session (between two and five days) takes place on campus.

Kansas

Kansas nursing licenses must be renewed every two years on the last day of your birth month, and nurses must have 30 hours of continuing education to do so. Grantham is one of the most affordable programs and offers a path to a bachelor's and a master's degree to registered nurses.

Kentucky

Kentucky is a compact state. Nurses must prove competency to renew their nursing licenses, and may do so in several ways, including earning 14 contact hours or national certification. Morehead State University's RN to BSN degree program is accredited through the Kentucky Board of Nursing.

Louisiana

Full-time nurses (those who work at least 1600 hours a year) must have 5 hours of continuing education credits each year to renew. Part-time nurses (at least 160 hours of work a year) must have 10 hours of continuing education and nurses that have less than 160 hours of work must have 15 hours of continuing education courses each year. Several schools offer online nursing programs including Loyola University New Orleans. Students can acquire a BSN, a MSN, or a DNP online and RNs have a special Bridge option helping them earn a master's degree faster.

Maine

Maine is a compact state and contains a few online nursing programs through the University of Maine. Nurses must renew their license every year. University of Maine at Fort Kent has an online RN to BSN program. Each nursing student is assigned to a dedicated academic adviser. University of Maine - Online also offers an online nursing program.

Maryland

Maryland nurses must perform at least 1000 hours of work during each five-year period in order to renew. If a nurse hasn't performed the minimum number work hours, they have to take a refresher course to renew their license. Maryland is a compact state. Several Maryland schools offer online nursing degrees, incluing the University of Maryland. RNs qualify for the online BSN program but there are also health-related online master's degrees offered.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts nurses must complete 15 contact hours of continuing education every two years to renew their licenses. Fitchburg State University offers both an online RN to BSN degree and a master's degree in Forensic Nursing that can help students become a medical examiner.

Michigan

Michigan nurses must complete 25 contact hours of continuing education every two years in order to renew their licenses. Registered nurses have a variety of choices for an online degree program, including Ferris State University which offers an RN to BSN and an RN to MSN program.

Minnesota

Minnesota nurses must renew their licenses every two years and complete 24 contact hours of continuing education during that time period. For students just starting out, Northwest Technical College offers an online associate's degree in nursing. Some other online nursing programs in Minnesota include Minnesota State University at Mankato and St. Catherine University.

Mississippi

Mississippi is a compact state. Licenses must be renewed every two years. University of Southern Mississippi offers an online RN to BSN program and an online MSN. The master's degree program has a variety of concentration available, including adult gerontology, family psychiatric nurse, and family nurse practitioner.

Missouri

Missouri is a compact state with many online nursing programs. Licenses must be renewed by April 30 every two years in the state. Online nursing degree programs vary greatly in tuition. One of the most affordable choices, Southeast Missouri State University, offers an online RN to BSN that gives students field experience in their communities.

Montana

Nurses residing within the state of Montana must complete 24 contact hours between each two-year renewal period. Montana State University offers both an online Master of Nursing and a Doctor of Nursing Practice program and provides an affordable option for students seeking a nursing degree at the graduate level.

Nebraska

Nebraska RNs must complete a combination of contact hours and working hours during each two-year period, in order to renew their license. Several Nebraska colleges and universities offer online nursing programs. Bellevue University provides students with the most affordable option, and offers an online RN to BSN for RNs who have been practicing for at least one year.

Nevada

RNs licensed by the state of Nevada must finish 30 hours of continuing education requirements every two years in order to renew their license. Several Nevada schools offer online nursing programs, including the University of Nevada at Las Vegas and the University of Nevada Reno, which both offer online nursing degrees at the graduate level.

New Hampshire

Although New Hampshire state nursing requirements do not include any continuing education, licenses must be renewed annually. Plymouth State University’s online RN to BSN program is accredited by the CCNE and affords students the flexibility of earning their degree through part- or full-time study. Southern New Hampshire University offers online nursing degrees at both the graduate and undergraduate level.

New Jersey

Nurses practicing in the state of New Jersey must complete 30 hours of continuing education during each two-year license renewal period. Many New Jersey schools offer online nursing degrees, providing students with a wide array of programs. Thomas Edison State College, the most affordable choice, offers both an online RN to BSN program and options for students to earn an MSN.

New Mexico

New Mexico requires nurses to complete 30 hours of continuing education in order to renew their license every two years. Several New Mexico schools offer online nursing programs. Eastern New Mexico provides students with one of the most affordable options, and includes online nursing degree programs at both the graduate and undergraduate level.

New York

Registered nurses practicing in the state of New York must complete contact hours in areas such as infection control and child abuse during each renewal period. Multiple schools in the state offer online nursing degrees, including three of the SUNY schools--which are some of the most affordable options. SUNY Delhi Online offers both an RN to BSN and an MSN program. SUNY College of Technology at Canton also offers an online RN to BSN degree.

North Carolina

Nurses in the state of North Carolina must complete 30 hours of continuing education or 15 contact hours in addition to 640 active practice hours every two years in order to renew their license. Many schools in North Carolina offer online nursing degrees. Western Carolina University is at the lower end of tuition cost and provides online nursing degrees at both the graduate and undergraduate level. Students may choose from their online RN to BSN program, or their master’s programs in nurse education and nurse leadership.

North Dakota

Nurses practicing in North Dakota must complete 12 continuing education hours in order to renew their license each year. Students that earned initial licensure through the exam do not need contact hours for their first renewal. Several North Dakota schools have online nursing programs. The University of Mary is one of the most affordable options available in the state. The university offers several online nursing degrees, including an RN to BSN and ADN to MSN Nurse Administrator program, among many others.

Ohio

The state of Ohio requires nurses to complete 24 continuing education hours in order to renew their license every two years. Multiple Ohio schools offer online nursing degrees, with a large range in tuition costs. Columbus State Community College provides students with the most affordable option, and offers an online associate degree that is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.

Oklahoma

Oklahoma nurses must renew their license every two years. No continuing education is requried to do so. A few schools offer online nursing degrees in Oklahoma, including ITT Technical Institute and the University of Phoenix, wich both provide students with affordable options.

Oregon

Registered nurses practicing in the state of Oregon do not need to complete continuing education requirements in order to renew their license. Nurses must have practiced for at least 960 hours during the past five years, or have completed a re-entry program within the past two years or a degree program within the past five. Licenses expire every two years. A few schools offer online nursing degrees in Oregon, including ITT Technical Institute and the University of Phoenix.

Pennsylvania

Nurses in the state of Pennsylvania must complete 30 continuing education hours during each two-year renewal period. Many schools in the state offer online nursing degree programs. Edinboro University of Pennsylvania provides students with one of the most affordable options and offers online degrees at the master’s and doctorate level.

South Carolina

Thirty hours of continuing education hours are required for nurses in South Carolina to renew their license, which expires every two years. Several South Carolina schools offer online nursing degrees. The Medical University of South Carolina offers an online RN to BSN program which can be completed in as little as one year.

South Dakota

South Dakota nurses must renew their license annually, though no continuing education hours are required to do so. Both the University of South Dakota and South Dakota State University offer online nursing programs with affordable tuitions.

Tennessee

Nurses in the state of Tennessee do not have to complete any continuing education hours in order to renew their license. However, licenses must be renewed each year. Multiple schools in Tennessee offer online nursing degree programs. Western Governors University, the most affordable option, offers both master’s and bachelor’s degrees.

Texas

Texas nurses must complete 20 continuing education hours during each two-year renewal period. Many schools in Texas offer online nursing programs, with campuses based in several cities across the state. One of the more affordable choices, the University of Texas - Arlington offers degrees at both the graduate and undergraduate level. Associate, bachelor’s, and master’s level programs are all available in an online format.

Utah

Utah nurses become eligible to renew their license after completing a combination of patient care and contact hours. Licenses expire after two years. Students seeking an online nursing degree in Utah may choose from several schools, including Western Governors University and Ameritech College online.

Virginia

Nurses practicing in the state of Virginia must renew their license every year. No continuing education hours are required. Annual tuition ranges widely at the many Virginia-based schools offering online nursing degrees. George Mason University, located in Fairfax, offers both an RN to BSN and an MSN program.

Washington

Washington-based nurses must complete 45 hours of continuing education during each renewal period of three years. Several schools in Washington offer online nursing degrees, including Western Governors University and Gonzaga University. Students seeking an online graduate degree from a brick-and-mortar campus may want to consider Gonzaga, which offers a Doctor of Nursing Practice.

Washington D.C.

Nurses in Washington D.C. must complete 24 contact hours during each two-year renewal period. A few schools in Washington D.C. offer online nursing programs. Catholic University of America offers several online nursing degrees at the graduate level, including an MSN, Doctor of Nursing Practice, and PhD in Nursing.

West Virginia

West Virginia nurses must renew their license each year; the state requires 12 continuing education hours in order to do so. Several West Virginia schools offer online nursing degrees. American Public University system provides students with the most affordable option. It’s online Bachelor of Science in Nursing program is accredited by the CCNE.

Wisconsin

Registered nurses practicing in Wisconsin must renew their licenses annually. No continuing education hours are required. Multiple Wisconsin schools offer online nursing programs, with annual tuition costs ranging widely. The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh offers a unique BS to BSN degree program, which allows students who currently on a Bachelor of Science degree to earn their BSN in a year.

Which Degree is Right for Me?

Online nursing degrees are available at the certificate, undergraduate, and graduate level and combine information-based classes with on-site clinical experiences. Many online nursing programs may also be completed in an accelerated format. If you're not sure which degree is best for your career aspirations, please use the table below to see typical pre-requisites, the average time to complete each degree, and to find links to more information.

Bridge Programs for Students Who Already Have Nursing Credentials

Degree Type Typical Prerequisites Avg. Years to Complete
RN to BSN Typical Prerequisites RN License Avg. Years to Complete 1-2 Learn More View All Online Bachelor's Nursing Degrees
RN to MSN Typical Prerequisites RN License Avg. Years to Complete 2-3 Learn More View All Online Master's Nursing Degrees

Accelerated Programs for Students Who Already Have a 4-Year Degree

Degree Type Typical Prerequisites Avg. Years to Complete
Second Degree BSN Typical Prerequisites Non-nursing Bachelor's Degree Avg. Years to Complete 1-3 Learn More View All Online Bachelor's Nursing Degrees
Second Degree MSN Typical Prerequisites Non-nursing Master's Degree Avg. Years to Complete 2-3 Learn More View All Online Master's Nursing Degrees
BSN to PhD/DNP Typical Prerequisites BSN Avg. Years to Complete 3 Learn More View All Online Doctorate Nursing Degrees

Traditional Online Nursing Programs

Degree Type Typical Prerequisites Avg. Years to Complete
Direct Entry Bachelor Typical Prerequisites High School Diploma or GED Avg. Years to Complete 4 Learn More View All Schools Offering BSN Degrees Online
ASN Typical Prerequisites High School Diploma or GED Avg. Years to Complete 2 Learn More View All Schools Offering ASN Degrees Online
MSN Typical Prerequisites BSN Avg. Years to Complete 2 Learn More View All Schools Offering MSN Degrees Online
Nurse Practitioner Typical Prerequisites MSN Avg. Years to Complete 2 Learn More View All Schools Offering Online Nurse Practitioner Degrees
DNP Typical Prerequisites MSN Avg. Years to Complete 2 Learn More View All Schools Offering DNP Degrees Online

Bridge Programs

A unique category of online nursing degrees are the online nursing bridge programs. These can help nurses with lower credentials gain a higher degree in an accelerated time frame. They usually require one year of previous, professional work; however, some programs allow students to submit an essay on nursing topics in lieu of this experience. Bridge programs also generally require that nurses transfer in 60 credits of general education and nursing courses. Applicants are required to have completed foundational courses in physical sciences, math, social sciences, and humanities.

RN to BSN

An RN to BSN program is a specially designed bachelor’s program for currently licensed nurses. These programs help associate-level nurses learn advanced clinical skills and practice clinical care in a greater variety of healthcare settings. Many RN to BSN bridge programs are designed for professional nurses who are interested in working part-time as they earn a bachelor’s degree. These degree programs require between 100 and 120 credits, and students can typically transfer in the full 60 credits from their associate degree or diploma. An RN bridge program usually takes one to two years to complete, depending on the student's prerequisites and clinical experiences.

RN to MSN

RN to MSN bridge programs are special degrees that can help registered nurses (RN) with an associate degree earn a graduate degree at an accelerated pace. After meeting the prerequisite requirements and enrolling, students take a short number of credits of bachelor’s degree bridge work; this is generally between 15 and 25 credit hours. Students are often required to maintain a GPA of 2.5 or 3.0 during this bachelor’s work in order to advance to the master’s portion of the program.

The master’s portion of the degree generally takes two to three years to complete. Students begin by taking general advanced courses, such as health assessment, professional practice, and community health. Many programs require students to focus in a particular specialty area after completing these general classes. Many specializations are available, such as acute care, gerontology, emergency care, women’s health, or midwifery.

Accelerated Nursing Programs

For students who wish to enroll in a nursing degree program but have scheduling needs that aren't well suited to a traditional degree program, there are some flexible options, including accelerated and second degree programs.

Second degree programs in nursing are accelerated, specially designed degree programs for students who already have a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing area and want to enter the nursing profession. Because second degree programs are so accelerated, they are intensive and generally have high admissions standards. The previous academic records of applicants are taken into account; some require a particular GPA. Most second degree programs in nursing advise incoming students not to hold a job while completing the program, as the coursework and clinical practicums are very demanding.

Second Degree BSN

A second bachelor’s degree program in nursing typically takes one to three years to complete, depending on the student’s prerequisite coursework and the pacing of the degree (full-time or part-time). These programs still include the same number of nursing theory classes and clinical experiences as a traditional BSN, but because these courses are squeezed into a shorter time frame, students can expect intense course loads and a lot of academic work.

Second Degree MSN

Second degree MSN programs ensure that students don’t waste their time retaking courses they have already completed. Graduates of MSN programs are prepared for a variety of advanced roles, such as head nurse, or administrative roles, such as director or vice president of a healthcare organization. Clinical nurses can become advanced practice nurses (APRN), who practice nursing more independently and, in many cases, provide primary care.

BSN to PhD and BSN to DNP

BSN to PhD and BSN to DNP nursing programs provide a fast track for nurses who already have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to earn a doctorate degree by skipping the master's degree. Note that by enrolling in one of these programs, you may earn a master's degree; you simply don't need to go through a separate a master's program as is traditionally required to enter a graduate level program.

While each program is different, the majority of BSN to PhD nursing programs require students to take core courses and electives, as well as complete a dissertation. Some programs also require students to complete an administrative, clinical, or nursing education specialty or declare a major and minor. Completion of all of these requirements typically requires four years of full-time study. The career opportunities for PhD-level nurses are quite broad; options include working as a high-level administrator, educator, researcher, clinician, or specialist. Employers include private and public organizations such as hospitals, research companies, universities, and health clinics.

The BSN to DNP is more focused on advanced clinical care skills and methods for increasing the levels of care. Students take courses in topics like nursing outcomes management, health finance, and systems leadership. Students may complete a capstone project or nursing rotation in an advanced practice area. DNP graduates generally use the degree to apply for leadership positions in clinical care, such as healthcare administrator or policymaker, in settings that require the highest level of training.

Traditional Online Nursing Programs

Direct Entry Bachelor's Degree

Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs are offered for candidates who already hold RN credentials from an associate degree or diploma program. Applicants must have completed high school or have a GED. The college or university will require official transcripts from high school and any postsecondary programs the applicant has attended. Additional admission requirements may also exist for applicants from particular US states. A 120-credit program can be completed in two to four years, depending on the number of prior credits and experience a student can transfer to the bachelor's degree program.

Students enrolled in a BSN program are required to complete a certain number of general education credits. These courses may include biology, chemistry, fine arts, philosophy, psychology, sociology, or literature courses. Core courses required to satisfy the requirements for a nursing major include nursing informatics, trauma/critical care nursing, data management for nurse managers, evidence-based nursing, holistic nursing, or nursing leadership and health care policy.

ASN

Online associate degrees are available in nursing assistance, licensed practical nursing, and registered nursing, and typically take two to three years of full-time study to complete. These programs are offered at community colleges. Students must have a high school diploma or an equivalency to enroll; the latter option requires passing one of a variety of examinations such as the General Education Development test.

Graduates from accredited associate degree programs can work as RNs once they pass an examination and fulfill any other state licensure requirements. These candidates may earn higher salaries and benefits than those with a certificate. Professionals can increase their career prospects by earning a bachelor’s degree in this field, which requires two more years of full-time study. Some universities offer specific programs for RNs to earn bachelor’s degrees. Candidates can earn professional certification to improve networking and earning potential.

MSN

The master’s degree in nursing provides bachelor’s-level nurses with advanced clinical care and leadership skills. The Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) program generally takes two years to complete when students enroll on a full-time basis. These programs include 40 to 70 credits, depending on the applicant’s experience and the degree focus. Applicants need a bachelor’s degree in nursing to apply.

The curriculum of the MSN depends on the program specialization. Clinical programs focus on advanced skills for assessing patients, managing cases, and promoting health in patients. Within these clinical programs, students choose a particular focus, such as nurse practitioner, midwife, clinical nurse specialist, or psychiatric nursing. Clinical care MSN degrees always require clinical rounds in a healthcare facility, where nurses practice advanced hands-on care.

DNP

The doctoral degree in nursing trains nurses in the highest levels of nursing clinical practice or scholarship. These programs come in two distinct types: the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in nursing and the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP). These programs typically take three to five years to complete, depending on the applicant’s experience. Applicants to doctorate programs in nursing need an accredited bachelor’s or master’s degree in nursing, along with a nursing license. Some programs require a year or more of professional nursing experience.

What Do I Need to Know About Accreditation?

Accredited schools and programs are those that have undergone a thorough peer-review process and been found to meet the minimum standards associated with educational quality. Both the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) play a vital role in the accreditation of nursing education in the United States and are recognized by the US Department of Education. The two bodies provide specialized accreditation for postsecondary nursing educational programs that award certificates, diplomas, undergraduate, or graduate degrees.

Accreditation is a vital aspect in nursing education, as it helps to promote accountability of nursing educational programs to various stakeholders, including the public, other academic institutions, students, employers, and the nursing profession as a whole. Most employers prefer to hire candidates who have completed accredited degree programs, as they are more likely to be trained with the relevant skills to perform well on the job. Schools that have received regional or national accreditation also qualify for funding support from federal and state agencies.

By selecting an accredited nursing program, you can expect to experience a quality educational experience as you prepare to provide direct patient care service. For students who are considering applying for other academic degrees, accreditation is also necessary for any credits you would like to transfer to another academic institution. Completion of an accredited nursing program will also help you meet eligibility requirements to take the national nursing license exam or to apply for specialized board certifications for nurses. To identify accredited nursing programs, visit the Council for Higher Education Accreditation or the US Department of Education.

How Do I Get Licensed?

All nurses in the United States must pass a certification exam in order to obtain licensure. In order to be eligible to take the exam, students must have graduated from a CCNE-accredited nursing program. The National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) administers the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX). The two types of examinations are the NCLEX-RN, which is for registered nurses, and NCLEX-PN, which is for practical nurses. These exams test the knowledge and skills required for practicing nursing in the United States.

The tests are designed to ensure that nursing professionals have the appropriate healthcare and professional knowledge before they begin working with patients and handling sensitive healthcare information. Students can find a detailed breakdown of what the NCLEX concentrates on, and to what extent, at the NCSBN. The tests focus on different skill sets and knowledge, ensuring that nurses are prepared to best serve their patients. They are divided into four basic "client needs" categories: safe and effective care environment, health promotion and maintenance, psychosocial integrity, and physiological integrity. (NCSBN)

In addition to passing the appropriate NCLEX exam, state requirements set forth by each state’s board of nursing or regulatory body must also be met by each candidate in order to obtain licensure. Some states require licensed nurses to complete continuing education hours during each license renewal period to demonstrate their knowledge and update their skills. Check with your state'snursing board to learn more about their specific licensing requirements.

What are the Best Online Nursing Programs?

Our list of highlighted schools below are quality schools offering a variety of benefits from low annual tuitions rates, to multiple online nursing degree options, to military scholarships and other forms of financial aid. Requirements to be considered as one of our highlighted schools include:

  • Non-profit status
  • Regional and CCNE accreditation
  • Strong student support services

Our highlighted schools are ordered alphabetically.

  • Annual Tuition: $45,376
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC and CCNE

Duke University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges, and its online nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. With a 98% NCLEX pass rate, the school is one of the most popular choices for students seeking an online nursing degree. The school offers both of its Doctor of Nursing Practice and Master of Science in Nursing degrees using online and distance-based technologies. The DNP program includes a comprehensive three-day on-campus orientation where students can meet others and establish contact with the nursing faculty members. All academic courses in this program are offered with distance-based technology and are structured to include on-campus sessions. Distance-based nurse practitioner specialties include Adult Nurse Practitioner Cardiovascular Care, Gerontological Nurse Practitioner, and a Family Nurse Practitioner as well as a Adult Primary Care Nurse Practitioner. All master’s degree courses are offered online at least one semester each year, and students are not required to come to the campus.

Learn More
  • Annual Tuition: $23,950
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC and CCNE

There are several online nursing programs offered at The University of Alabama. Registered nurses can earn a Bachelor’s of Science of Nursing or a Master’s of Science of Nursing in two different programs. The RN to BSN program requires 25 hours of nursing courses in addition to core curriculum classes. The RN to BSN/MSN program is available to registered nurses who hold an associate degree or diploma. This program reduces the amount of time needed to complete both the BSN and MSN. Students pursuing a Master’s of Science in Nursing can follow one of three tracks, including case management, clinical nurse leader, and nurse practitioner concentration. Additionally, the University of Alabama offers an online Doctor of Nursing Practice degree. With a minimum of 40 credits, students in the DNP program will complete classes such as population health in advanced practice nursing and evidence based practice design and translation, on top of a development of a practice or leadership focused project.

Learn More

Online Bachelor's Degrees (1)

Online Master's Degrees (4)

Online Doctorate Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $19,074
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: NCACSTHLC, ACEN, and CCNE

The University of Arkansas offers a lower net cost for its online undergraduate students than 75% of comparable online institutions. It is accredited by the North central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission, and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education has approved accreditation for its online nursing programs. The estimated cost of tuition for an undergraduate online nursing degree is $227.44 per credit hour and $388.29 per credit hour for graduate nursing programs. With an online RN to B.S. in Nursing degree, students can take advantage of a research base for nursing practice that promotes the nurse’s ability to improve the health of his or her patients. In this track, the student will acquire specific and theoretical knowledge to meet health care needs and build on a planned general education for the academic disciplines. The curriculum will also provide an opportunity for students with technical education to expand their scope of practice. Students may also opt for an online M.S. in Nursing with a Nurse Educator concentration, and a Doctor of Nursing Practice with a focus on an Adult-Geriatric Clinical Nurse Specialist track or Adult-Geriatric Acute Care Nurse Practitioner track is also available. Students will learn to design, deliver, and evaluate care to improve patient outcomes, provide evidence-based clinical prevention and health services, lead transformation of healthcare, design and sustain quality improvement in organizations, and solve complex health issues.

Learn More

Online Bachelor's Degrees (1)

Online Master's Degrees (1)

Online Doctorate Degrees (2)

  • Annual Tuition: $22,057
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: NCACSTHLC and CCNE

The University of Colorado-Denver offers several online nursing degree programs. An online RN to Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing (BSN), a Master of Science in Nursing, an online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and more are available. The RN to BS in Nursing program is available only to nurses who are residents of Colorado and requires 30 credit hours. Students pursuing the Master of Nursing degree can choose from two tracks, the Informatics Option Degree or the Leadership and Healthcare Systems (iLEAD) Degree. The Doctor of Nursing Practices is open to those who already hold a master’s degree. The program consists of 41 credit hours and a capstone clinical evaluation project. The program can be completed in 2-3 years.

Learn More
  • Annual Tuition: $28,159
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: NEAS CIHE and CCNE

With nearly 3,000 attending students, the University of Massachusetts-Amherst is one of the country’s most popular choices for online students. It is regionally accredited by the NEAS CIHE and boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of 18:1. While tuition fees will vary according to the specific type of course, graduate-level courses range from $1,230 to $2,250, and undergraduate students can expect to pay $125 to $1,980. Regardless of residency, the tuition amount is the same. The school offers three nursing degrees online, including an RN to BSN that requires 120 credits, a Master of Science Clinical Nurse Leader that requires 37 credits, and a Doctor of Nursing Practice that requires between 36 and 88 credits. Students wishing to pursue the RN to BSN degree should note that NLN ACE exams are not required, and students will receive UMass Amherst Residence Credit for their RN licensure.

Learn More

Online Bachelor's Degrees (1)

Online Master's Degrees (1)

Online Doctorate Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $13,596
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC and CCNE

The University of South Alabama provides interested students with an opportunity to earn a combined BSN/MSN through an online accelerated nursing degree program. The university requires program applicants to have earned a cumulative GPA of 3.0 in all college coursework, including courses taken before attempting to gain entry into the accelerated BSN/MSN program. Divided into two phases, the first portion of is targeted toward earning the BSN and requires approximately 31 semester hours to complete. The second phase is directed toward the MSN and requires the student to choose a specialized nursing path. When both phases are successfully completed, the students will receive a graduate degree in nursing.

Learn More

Online Bachelor's Degrees (1)

Online Master's Degrees (1)

Online Doctorate Degrees (2)

  • Annual Tuition: $14,974
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: NCACSTHLC and CCNE

The University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh also has an online accelerated nursing degree program that allows students to earn a BSN by choosing from two yearly cohorts: May through May of the following year, or October through October of the following year. Courses are completed individually, one week at a time, with each student earning one credit hour per course. Students are allowed to begin clinical rotation in their local area. An intense two-week period, known as “boot camp,” gives the student their first clinical rotation and begins approximately at the end of the first quarter of the academic cohort year.

Learn More

Online Bachelor's Degrees (1)

  • Annual Tuition: $5,870 - $6,140
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: NWCCU and CCNE

Western Governors University is a nonprofit, private online college that offers several nursing degrees designed to enhance students’ skills and knowledge. The school provides individualized support from a mentoring team as well as an affordable, flat-rate tuition. Students can expect to pay $3,250 per term for the master’s and bachelor’s nursing programs and $4,250 per term for a B.S. in Nursing with a prelicensure track. Scholarships and financial aid are also available, and the school offers several military benefits for veterans and active-duty members. Degree options in the Online College of Health Professions include a B.S. Nursing (RN to BSN), M.S. Nursing – Leadership and Management, M.S. Nursing – Education, M.S. Nursing – Leadership and Management (RN to MSN Option), and M.S. Nursing – Education (RN to MSN Options). Key subject areas and courses will include professional roles and values, health assessment, care of the older adults, organizational systems and quality leadership, and leadership and professional image. Students may also take classes in nutrition for contemporary society, information management and the application of technology, and evidence-based practice and applied nursing research.

Learn More

What are Students Saying About Online Nursing Programs?

We asked online nursing students and graduates what their experience was like getting an online nursing degree—what was the course structure like? What did they find difficult? Would they recommend their particular program and school?

Here's what they had to say:

"Since 1997 I have worked as a nurse. I started out as a LPN and then a RN with an associate degree. I went back to college in 2002 and received my Bachelors degree. I love pediatrics and public health and have spent the last 9 years in a pediatric primary care clinic for under and un-insured pediatric clients in our community. Nursing provides a opportunity to help and an opportunity to care.

Nursing becomes second nature to me. I like the constant adventure and learning and the uncertainty of what the next door will open to. Another great part of the job is the constant learning. Learning about rashes and different illnesses, learning how to deal with not just the client but also the parent, and learning how to fairly and effectively supervise staff. In my current role, I do all the scheduling of the clinical staff, handle all the triages, take care of problems with clients coming in late and other "little fires" everyday.

In the 15 years that I have been a nurse, I have worked in a variety of fields. I have worked in nursing homes, physician offices, hospitals, home health, and primary care public health clinics. I have worked with all population from people with a lot of money to the poorest of the poor. People are people and they all deserve the same care. they deserve well trained nurses."

"For those individuals who are self-starters, goal-directed and research oriented Grantham University has the ideal Graduate Nursing Program. It is designed for individuals that are highly motivated, self-guided, and determined to accomplish educational goals. Their master level nursing program (education) is rigorous and challenging yet designed for success. Before graduating from this institution my thoughts were I'm a graduate student and should work at a graduate level. That means I needed to spend X amount of time researching information to produce the evidence needed to reach a certain outcome. The nurse educators are easily accessible and readily respond to discussion postings and e-mails. The Dean of nursing is open to answering question and concerns students may present. The online format is great and the eight-week class schedule worked well for me. Their nursing programs are in the process of accreditation and this is an important phase of the nursing program in order to validate the institutional standards. For individuals who understand the approach to practices of research investigative study and can commit to asynchronous learning in eight-week format sessions this is the ideal program. It worked great for me and I'm glad that I had the opportunity to complete my education in Grantham University's nursing program."

"I recently completed the online BSN program through GCU and am currently enrolled in the MSN program. While there are no tests requiring memorization and regurgitation of facts--the workload is heavier because research papers and group projects (known as CLCs or Collaborative Learning Community) are required in almost every course. Research papers are due weekly in almost every course and there is usually one group project per course.

My only complaint is the group projects. If you have a good group, it's fine. If you have lazy students in your group, you end up doing the entire project alone to save your GPA. In reality, these are the people that I FIRE for failure to do their job.

Overall, the instructors have been excellent and I have only had a problem with one that I felt was totally disconnected from the course and the students. One finds this in any school, though, so this is not unique to GCU."

"I am an excellent student, but work full time, and have a lot going on in my life, and am completing my Bachelors of Science in Nursing after two semesters--ONE YEAR people! Did I skate through? Not even close, I had to make time to study and do assessments, and yes, I had revisions to do when I did mediocre work thinking I could just turn in the bare minimum.

You get back what you put in to this program, just like anything else! However, I am one assessment away from program completion, and will pursue my Masters of Science in Nursing at WGU immediately after graduating, with a goal to complete this program in a year also! It is UP TO ME how fast I complete my degree,and I make no excuses. THAT is the kind of student that does well at WGU!"

"I have held an associate’s degree in nursing for 13 years and I am ready to take my career to the next step. I enjoyed working as a respiratory therapist but always felt I needed to know more. I decided to further my education, thus worked towards my associate degree in nursing while working as a respiratory therapist. I have been employed in acute care nursing for the length of my nursing career of 13 years. I desire to further my career which prompted my return to school for my bachelors of Science degree in nursing. I love learning and remain excited each and every shift that I work as I always learns something new. I am a mother of 3 children and feel it’s very important to emphasize the importance of continued education to them. I stress to my children how important knowledge is while reinforcing education earned and not handed to you. I felt I could emphasize how it’s never too late to further education which is why I enrolled in school again. My children see me constantly studying, we even do homework together. I love my profession and remain excited to learn. Nursing always offers learning opportunities each and every time that I work. In the future I would like to further my education even farther, obtaining my master’s degree in nursing as an advanced nurse practitioner. I have ambitions to work with the less fortunate, the under or not insured. I would like to be able to give back to the community helping those in need. There are several local clinics that offer health care services to those in need but require advanced practitioner degree. I foresee my bachelors of Science degree as a stepping stone towards my master’s degree. I feel it’s important to give back to the local community and I look forward to the day when I can do just that."

Ask an Expert

Do you have a question about online degrees or schools? Send it to one of our experts and we'll answer it here!
Thank you for your vote! Was this page helpful?
83% of 18 found this page helpful.

Our tuition numbers reflect data collected from the National Center for Education Statistics.

Recommendation rates and review counts are based on student reviews from our partner site, GradReports.com.
This icon indicates that a school offers annual tuition for $15,000 or less. Tuition figures reflect the most recent data from the National Center for Education Statistics or data provided by an official representative of the school.