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Best Fast-Track RN to BSN Online Programs For 2021


Written By: Caitlin Goodwin MSN, CNM, RN

Registered nurses (RN) obtain a bachelor’s of science in nursing (BSN) for many reasons during many different seasons of life. However, the combination of a shortened program, advanced critical thinking skills, leadership skills, and convenience makes a fast track RN to BSN online program perfect for busy working professionals. When looking at the fastest accelerated RN to BSN online programs, the number of options can seem overwhelming. Don’t let that deter you from furthering your education and career!

This article will cover everything you need to know about the best fast track RN to BSN online programs for 2021 from the benefits, considerations, and expectations for potential students.


What Exactly Is the Goal of a Fast-Track RN to BSN Program?


The primary goal is to quickly graduate with a BSN by taking advantage of a flexible and accessible program. Established registered nurses seek a fast track RN to BSN online program to graduate with a BSN as soon as possible. Distance education improves access to nurses who live in areas without options for nearby colleges or lack the flexibility to attend a brick and mortar program.

Secondary goals include improving ones’ skills and expertise in:

◦ Evidence-based practice
◦ Leadership
◦ Health care policy
◦ Health information management
◦ Health promotion and disease prevention
◦ Critical thinking
◦ Professional ethical, moral, and legal


6 Benefits of Fast-Track RN to BSN Online Programs


There are many instances where a fast track RN to BSN program is ideal. The six advantages of fast RN to BSN programs online include:

• Ideal for self-starters: Because of the online program’s fast pace, you must be focused and motivated.
• Resume enhancement: Whether you are looking for a new career, a side hustle, or furthering your education- a bachelor’s degree is helpful.
• Increased career opportunities: The distance education format means that you can obtain a degree while living and working in your community.
• Better salary: According to payscale, the annual salary of all BSN graduates is $85,539, and an ADN is $69,901. Thus, on average, BSN prepared registered nurses earn about $15,638 more each year.
• Attaining leadership skills: RN to BSN programs are structured to support the cultivation and development of leadership skills.
• Improving critical thinking skills: The RN to BSN curriculum features a higher level of critical thinking in all courses.


7 Important Things to Consider When Choosing the Right Fast-Track RN to BSN Online Program


The seven crucial considerations when selecting the best fast track RN to BSN online programs are:

• Program length: For some, nine or twelve months does not make a difference. However, if your career or life goals surround the desired graduation date- make sure to include this in your plans!
• Cost: The tuition cost varies tremendously among fast-track RN to BSN schools. The cost can make or break many student’s choices.
• Coursework: While programs have similar overall goals, the specifics of each course vary. Review the courses and curriculum before attending.
• Clinical training: What are the objectives for the clinical practicum in your desired program? Does your place of employment or chosen clinical site support those objectives?
• Admission requirements: Can you meet all the requirements? Does your state of residency or licensure match the needs of your desired program?
• Study habits: What level of faculty involvement does the university provide? Are there academic coaches, office hours, and tutors? Or are you left to your own devices? Which enables you to thrive?
• Career goals: Most accelerated RN to BSN programs will work for registered nurses. However, some nurses choose their program based on their desire to work in that community.


How Long Are the Fastest RN to BSN Online Programs?


The fastest RN to BSN online programs are eight to nine months. However, this is for programs that are year-round. If you feel ready to jump in, American Sentinel University offers start dates every month, and you can complete it in as short as forty weeks. At the University of Texas- Arlington, the program takes nine months from January and can be finished in ten months if you start any other month. You must attend full time and meet all deadlines, including for your capstone experience. While this may seem intense, it is for a limited period.

Luckily, if life gets in the way, you have options. The part-time program at the Ohio State University is only one term longer (four semesters) than the full-time program (three semesters). In many programs, those who need to take a prolonged time and go part-time can. For example, the University of Arkansas provides you with a catalog of all the classes that you have to take, their proper order, and the terms that they will be offered so you can shift your plan as life happens.


How Much Do the Fastest RN to BSN Online Programs Cost?


The fastest RN to BSN online programs cost anywhere from $3500 to $20,000 over nine months. The BSN completion program at the University of Texas- Arlington online is about $8,995 before fees or prerequisites. Some schools charge significantly more for those who live out of state. At Appalachian State University, residents pay $163 per credit hour while out of state tuition costs $663 per credit hour. While nationally recognized, Ohio State University costs $16,200 for full-time and $16,490 to attend part-time. However, that is not the most expensive school in Ohio. The online accelerated RN to BSN program at the University of Cincinnati in Ohio is about $19,221 for in-state students who can transfer most credits in and attend full-time for nine months. Out of state, students pay $19,761 for full-time attendance. However, they also offer a tuition guarantee that the price will not increase for the length of time it takes your cohort to graduate (usually four to five years).


Coursework


The required coursework for fast track RN to BSN online programs generally involve:

• Health assessment: Focusing on interviewing clients for a health history, how to perform a head to toe physical assessment, and using critical thinking skills to identify risk factors for health issues. The class also differentiates between normal and abnormal findings.
• Pathophysiology: The study of diseases that cause, result from, or are associated with a medical condition or injury.
• Nursing ethics: Reviewing the standards, principles, and morality of spirituality and nursing care in nursing to ensure nurses execute their duties responsibly and ethically. In nursing ethics, they are carrying out responsibilities in a manner. American Sentinel University includes “Reflective Practice, Issues, and Trends.”
• Nursing research: Nursing research provides evidence-based care that improves the nursing profession. Many nursing experts employ research nurses to perform analysis.
• Statistics: Nursing statistics encourages students to summarize data, understand statistical methods, develop computing skills, and improve confidence in dealing with data and statistics.
• Community health nursing: Nurses who work outside of a hospital environment often choose to work in their community. This type of nursing involves working with vulnerable clients, health wellness and promotion, and client education. At Cleveland State University, this course is more hands-on and split into two parts: “The Community as a Client” and “The Community as a Client Clinical.”
• Public health nursing: Nurses who work in public health promote wellness and prevent illness. They teach vulnerable clients and groups to live healthy lifestyles and prevent disease. At the University of Wyoming, public health nursing is combined with community health. However, U of W also has courses on “Disparities in Healthcare” and “Population Health.”
• Professional clinical practicum: The BSN nursing practicum enables students to expand their expertise, explore and understand unfamiliar specialty areas, and apply theory from the BSN curriculum to nursing clients’ needs.
• Other coursework: Programs may feature additional core classes, such as the University of Louisiana- Lafayette with “Nursing in a Disaster for RN to BSN.”


Clinical Training


In the BSN program, you will complete professional clinical training as a capstone project that is the culmination of the coursework. However, the clinical practicum for an accelerated RN to BSN program is different from the clinical practice you were accustomed to when you became a nurse.

While the program is online, clinical training will typically occur in the student’s community. Your clinical experience generally is involved and may span several months, so make sure to stay focused and on task. At the University of Cincinnati, the faculty assigns these projects in the community and capstone courses.

Instead of learning the necessary skills to be a nurse, the accelerated RN to BSN program’s clinical training has a different aim. At Capella University, the capstone experience demonstrates the student’s competency in the role of the baccalaureate-prepared nurse in applying evidence-based care to a health problem.

At the University of Arkansas, the clinical focus is to cultivate the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to care for complicated patient and family needs as part of an interdisciplinary healthcare team. The University of North Carolina- Wilmington describes the capstone as synthesizing students’ knowledge and applying leadership and critical thinking skills to transition to their new role.


Admission Requirements


The fastest RN to BSN online programs have varying requirements. However, you must be a nurse first, and most require:

◦ Associate’s degree with a nursing major
◦ Unencumbered registered nursing license
◦ Acceptance to the college or university
◦ State licensure- some state accreditation will not permit you to attend unless you have licensure in specific states.
◦ Residential requirements- some universities require that you reside in particular states.
◦ Two forms of personal identification
◦ Professional references from a manager or instructor
◦ A goal statement or essay
◦ Completed prerequisite coursework
◦ Grade point average (GPA) of 2.5 or higher (The University of Louisiana- Lafayette requires a 2.4 or higher GPA.)

Each college or university may have additional requirements when it comes to specific prerequisite coursework. For example, Appalachian State University requires six semester hours of English composition, twelve of fine arts or humanities, twelve of social or behavioral sciences, six mathematics, and eight of natural sciences. Cleveland State University lists a statistics course. American Sentinel University permits you to obtain additional credit towards your prerequisites by exam, such as “Worlds of Music” and “Jazz: The First 100 Years.”


How to Pay for Fast-Track RN to BSN Online Programs?


Pursuing your bachelor’s degree in nursing is not cheap. However, it improves your perspectives for career advancement. Fast-track Online RN to BSN programs often save money in several ways, such as minimizing fees associated with transportation. There are many ways to pay for the program:

• Hospital Tuition Benefits: Luckily, many hospitals offer tuition benefits for nurses. Some health systems pay for the BSN degree of full-time nursing staff so long as they achieve a certain grade point average (GPA) and attend specific programs.
• Federal Student Aid: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) provides financial assistance in grants, loans, and other types of possible aid from the government.
• Scholarships: There are hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarship money out there for general nursing, merit-based, income-dependent, and needs-based, or specific RN to BSN programs. Many nursing students never even apply for a single scholarship- don’t leave that money behind.
Private financial institutions offer additional student loans. However, the qualification criteria are strict and require an excellent credit score and annual income.



FOLLOWING ARE THE 13 BEST FAST TRACK RN TO BSN ONLINE PROGRAMS FOR 2021

(Online RN to BSN programs allow nurses to work full-time without sacrificing the interaction with their peers and instructors as they earn their bachelor’s degree. While there are many RN to BSN programs, these fast-track RN to BSN online programs are the best and the fastest.)

1. University of Texas Arlington – Arlington, TX (9 Months)


2. Appalachian State University – Boone, NC (12 Months)


3. Cleveland State University – Cleveland, OH (12 Months)


4. Ohio State University – Columbus, OH (12 Months)


5. American Sentinel University – Denver, CO (8 Months)


6. University of Wyoming – Laramie, WY (12 Months)


7. Capella University – Minneapolis, MN (9 Months)


8. University Of North Carolina Wilmington – Wilmington, NC (12 Months)


9. University of Arkansas – Fayetteville, AK (12 Months)


10. Baptist Memorial College of Health Sciences – Memphis, TN (12 Months)


11. Georgia Southern University – Statesboro, GA (12 Months)


12. The University of Louisiana At Lafayette – Lafayette, LA (12 Months)


13. University of Cincinnati – Cincinnati, OH (9 Months)


View Ranking Methodology



What Kind of Career Opportunities Exist for Fast-Track RN to BSN Graduates?


Research demonstrates a positive relationship between staffing with an increased number of BSN prepared nurses and patient outcomes. These results include a decreased incidence of pressure ulcers, deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and mortality rates following surgery. When you combine the BSN degree with their hands-on experience as RNs, RN to BSN nurses provide the solution to a number of problems in healthcare. Thus, RN to BSN prepared nurses thrive in the following career opportunities:

Working at a Magnet Recognized facility: Magnet Recognition Program requires hospitals to hire a certain percentage of BSN prepared nurses They also give greater nurse autonomy and take job satisfaction seriously while striving for low RN turnover and increased patient satisfaction. Nurses who obtain their RN to BSN will have a better chance of getting hired at these facilities.
Nursing Management: Most positions in nursing leadership beyond charge nurse require a BSN. The degree provides a base in healthcare policy, critical thinking, and leadership which is critical for this career. The RN to BSN program encourages intellectual and personal skills to succeed in leadership and the quick pace allows potential managers to start sooner.
Nursing or Medical Research: BSN prepared nurses prepare trial protocols, submit studies for regulatory approval, coordinate research management, screen and educate potential participants, ensure the safety and protection of participants, collect and record data, report adverse events, and write grants for funding.

Federal and military agencies
◦ Insurance companies
◦ Healthcare foundations and leading nursing organizations
◦ Minority nurse advocacy groups


Average Earnings


By pursuing an accelerated RN to BSN online program, you can achieve a degree quickly to meet your new career goals. With the increased responsibility and challenges in your new career, the pay is amplified as well. The annual salary for a fast-track RN to BSN graduate is $39.20 for an hour or $81,530 per year.

Per Hour $39.20
Per Month$6,790
Per Year $81,530


Job Market


Half of fast track RN-BSN program graduates report moving into nursing leadership positions in the year following graduation. RN to BSN graduates are ideal candidates for career advancement with their RN experience and specialized degree. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, job opportunities are excellent for nursing school graduates with a BSN degree and will be better than the prospects of those without one.


Bottomline


With 600 options for online RN to BSN programs, there are many to choose from. While some nursing programs are distinctively better than others, the best nursing program is the one that works for your specific situation. If you prefer online learning and are looking to complete your program as quickly as possible, this list highlighting the best fast track RN to BSN online programs for 2021 is the perfect way to obtain your degree.


Frequently Asked Questions Answered By Our Expert


Five challenges you will face as a fast-track RN to BSN online student & how to overcome them?

1. Accountability: You must possess or gain the ability to take ownership of your workload and responsibilities.
2. Time management: Being able to prioritize tasks for work, school, and life is essential for a fast-moving RN to BSN online program.
3. Organization: Those who are disorganized will need to establish a system. Many benefit from a calendar or planner to delineate deadlines and to-do lists.
4. Demands of life: Your family and friends may feel left out or frustrated that you’re always busy. Remember that the accelerated RN to BSN program takes nine months to a year- this is just for a short season of your life.
5. Schedules or long shifts: When you get mandated to stay over on your shift or called in, it can be difficult to complete projects by their deadline. This is where numbers one and two come in!

Are fast track RN to BSN programs cheaper than the regular RN to BSN programs?

Yes, in many cases fast track RN to BSN programs can be cheaper than the regular RN to BSN programs. With higher education, there are typically technology and other fees charged each term. If you are in an accelerated program, you will have less terms for fees. Many accelerated programs also accept prior experience or college credit which further reduces your overall cost.

How many credit hours will I need to complete my fast-track RN to BSN?

You will need 120 quarter hours to obtain a BSN, but many of those hours are prerequisites that can be transferred from your associate degree, RN license, and experience.

Do I need to have a degree to obtain my BSN?

Some fast-track programs require an associate’s degree, but many will admit those who graduated from a diploma program. However, less credits will transfer and the process will take longer.

Will I have any peer interaction despite the online format?

Yes, accelerated RN to BSN online programs typically provide peer interaction through online discussion boards and other assignments. In many cases, you will have the opportunity to connect with students across the country. If collaboration with peers is important to you, discuss it with your school prior to application.

Can I work full-time while in school for my fast-track RN to BSN?

Yes, but it varies from student to student. Some can work on their BSN during downtime at work. Others work three twelves and can work on it in between. However, take stock of your responsibilities to the family, job, and school and make sure it can accustom a full-time course load. Attending part-time will still get you a degree!

Can I pursue a fast-track RN to BSN online program part-time?

The goal of a fast-track RN to BSN program is to get you through the program as quickly as possible. The full-time option usually means you have a degree in a year or less! However, if you choose to attend part-time, you can. Many nurses opt to complete the program part-time in 18 to 24 months.


Caitlin Goodwin MSN, CNM, RN
Caitlin Goodwin is a Certified Nurse-Midwife who has been a nurse for 12 years, primarily in women’s health. She is passionate about caring for children with developmental disabilities, as her son has Autism Spectrum Disorder. Caitlin loved working as a camp nurse for a summer camp for those with special needs