Top Nursing Schools and Programs Online 2021

Top Nursing Schools and Programs Online 2021

Nurses dedicate their careers to helping others. They conduct physical tests, check vital signs, listen to patients, check patient histories, and carry out many other duties.

Registered nurses (RNs) are the most common type of nursing professionals, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that the number of RNs may increase by 7% from 2019-29. RNs must hold an associate degree of nursing (ADN) or bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) to qualify for the role.

Others go on to earn a master of science in nursing (MSN) and become advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs). These nurses perform a role somewhere in between RNs and physicians, meeting with patients independently and, in many states, prescribing medication. Although there are fewer APRNs than RNs, the BLS projects the profession to grow by 45% from 2019-29.

Many students prefer online nursing schools and programs, which offer learners considerably more flexibility and autonomy than traditional, on-campus programs. The following list outlines some of the best online nursing programs.

Applying to an Online Nursing Program

Admission requirements for online nursing programs vary between schools. BSN programs generally require incoming students to hold a high school diploma or associate degree. Applicants may also need to submit ACT or SAT scores and possess a minimum GPA of around 2.0.

In addition to transcripts, prospective students may need to send in recommendation letters and personal essays. While BSN programs do not usually require work experience, applicants may increase their admission chances by volunteering in a healthcare setting.

MSN programs usually expect applicants to possess an active nursing license, and some require work experience. Some schools prefer applicants with a BSN degree, while others admit students to RN-to-MSN programs with just an ADN.

Like undergraduate students, prospective MSN candidates typically need to meet a certain minimum GPA requirement and submit recommendation letters and personal essays. MSN applicants may also need to provide GRE or MAT scores.

Featured Online Programs

Find a program that meets your affordability, flexibility, and education needs through an accredited, online school.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is an online BSN program like?

    Curricula for online BSN programs are identical to those of traditional, on-campus programs. Distance learners stream lectures, participate in web-based class discussions, and submit assignments online. Some courses are entirely asynchronous, which means students can log on at any time. Others include synchronous components. All distance learners complete their supervised clinicals on location.

  • What is accreditation, and why is it important?

    The accreditation system evaluates higher education institutions and academic programs to ensure students receive a valuable degree. State boards require that nursing licensure candidates possess an accredited degree. For these reasons, be sure your nursing program holds accreditation from an agency like the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).

  • What can I do with an MSN?

    A master of nursing practice prepares graduates to work as APRNs. These roles, which include nurse practitioners and nurse midwives, come with responsibilities like diagnosing patients and prescribing medication. APRNs usually specialize in certain areas or demographics and earn more than RNs.

  • What does a DNP prepare graduates for?

    Many students who pursue doctor of nursing practice degrees go on to become nurse educators, working as professors at colleges and universities. Others work as leaders or researchers in the nursing industry.

Top Online Nursing Schools 2021

View ranking methodology here.
  1. University of Central Florida

    Orlando, FL



    With nearly 72,000 enrolled students, the University of Central Florida has the largest student body in Florida. This Orlando-based research university offers an online bachelor of nursing program for RNs with an associate degree or diploma in nursing.

    This online BSN program has two tracks: RN-to-BSN and the Florida College System Concurrent ASN-to-BSN. Both tracks can be completed entirely online, but the RN-to-BSN students have a face-to-face class option. Students can complete this 30-credit RN-to BSN track in three semesters and the ASN-to-BSN in track in six semesters.

    The BSN features a curriculum with a major emphasis on the sciences, prepares students for nursing leadership roles, and for graduate nursing studies.

    Applicants must supply proof of official transcripts from all institutions attended, a 2.0 GPA, and an official course-to-course evaluation.

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  2. University of Florida

    Gainesville, FL



    Located in Gainesville, the University of Florida holds U.S. News' number three rank as the best online bachelor's degree program in the United States. UF Online features an online bachelor of science in nursing degree for working RNs with the desire to advance their careers.

    This 100% online BSN program is approved by the Florida Board of Nursing and accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). It trains nurses for many potential nursing roles in various clinical environments, such as hospices, schools, ICUs, and surgery clinics.

    This UF Online program presents a curriculum that helps nursing students develop the analytical technical skills necessary to advance in the medical field. Some of the courses are genetics and genomics in health care, inquiry and evidence in professional nursing practice, and legal/ethical issues in nursing. For students with busy work schedules, the curriculum's flexibility helps them juggle their responsibilities.

    Applicants must submit proof of an associate degree from an accredited program, a 2.8 GPA, and an unencumbered Florida RN license.

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  3. Ohio State University

    Columbus, OH



    From its campus in Columbus, Ohio State runs one of the nation's highest-ranked nursing schools. Ohio State's College of Nursing offers an online RN-to-BSN program for nurses with an associate degree or a nursing diploma.

    Ohio State's RN-to-BSN program is a degree completion program. It provides an opportunity for students to apply their previously earned credits toward completing their bachelor in science in nursing. The 100% online design gives students the advantage of scheduling their studies around their work and private lives. Additionally, they pay in-state tuition whether they live in Ohio or not.

    The admission and curriculum standards of Ohio State's online programs are the same as the on-campus programs. Students can earn a diploma from this highly respected university and receive the training and skills necessary to advance in the evolving health care field.

    To apply, licensed RNs must provide proof of an associate degree in nursing or a nursing diploma, a 2.0 GPA, and an active and unrestricted RN license.

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  4. University of Virginia

    Charlottesville, VA



    The University of Virginia ranked in the top 3% of nursing schools in the latest U.S. News and World Report rankings. With nearly 24,000 enrolled students, Charlottesville-based UVA offers an online master of science in nursing program for future nurse practitioners and clinical nurses with BSNs.

    This MSN program has nine specialties, including adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner-acute care (AGNP-AC), family nurse practitioner (FNP), and pediatric nurse practitioner-acute care (PNP-AC). With these options, nursing students can focus on providing advanced care for patients ranging from newborns to the chronically ill.

    As part of their clinical training, UVA's nursing students have the opportunity to complete their clinical work at the university's 700-bed Level I trauma center, UVA Health. Core curriculum courses include research and biostatistics processes for health care, theoretical foundations of nursing, and local and global health policy.

    Applicants must submit a bachelor's in nursing from a nationally accredited institution, a 3.0-plus GPA, an RN license valid in the US and Virginia, three satisfactory recommendations, and a resume.

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  5. Florida International University

    Miami, FL



    Located in Miami, Florida International University is ranked in the top 50 public schools in the nation with almost 54,000 students attending on campus or online. FIU's College of Nursing features an online RN-to-BSN program for RNs with the desire to finish their bachelor of science in nursing.

    RNs can increase their career opportunities and potential in this CCNE-accredited RN-to-BSN program. Attending full-time, students can finish the 33-credit upper-division courses in one year. Whether attending full or part-time, the program's online flexibility allows students to start during any semester.

    This RN-to-BSN program curriculum increases students marketability in the evolving health care market and provides advanced nursing education with courses such as professional nursing leadership, psychosocial nursing, and evidence-based nursing and research.

    Potential FIU nursing students must submit an unencumbered Florida Registered Nurse License, a 2.75 GPA, and at least 60 transferable lower division college credits.

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