FIND RN to BSN PROGRAMS

FIND RN to BSN PROGRAMS

10 Best Online Competency-Based RN to BSN Programs – 2023


Written By: Brooke Schmidt, RN, BSN

Are you a registered nurse interested in obtaining your BSN degree but do not know where to start? Are you concerned you may have to repeat classes you took previously? You may be interested to know, there is a great option for nurses like you to receive credit by proving your competence in specific areas of nursing. Competency-based RN to BSN programs simplify the process of earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing by letting you demonstrate your knowledge and skills to earn credit toward your BSN.

Maybe you have heard of this type of nursing program but wonder, “What are the best online competency-based RN to BSN programs?” In this article, I will share information with you about the 10 best online competency-based RN to BSN programs for 2023, including the cost of the programs, length of study, admission requirements, and more. You will even find some bonus tips to help improve your chances of acceptance into the programs. By the time you finish reading this article, you will have the information you need to determine if this is the right academic path to pursue your degree.


RECOMMENDED ONLINE RN TO BSN PROGRAMS

WHAT EXACTLY IS THE GOAL OF AN ONLINE COMPETENCY-BASED RN TO BSN PROGRAM?


Competency-based RN to BSN programs offer an educational experience that incorporates your previous college credits and work experience to reduce the amount of time it takes to earn a BSN. The goal of competency-based RN-to-BSN programs is to allow you to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing by demonstrating professional competencies. These programs require you to prove your competence by completing tests or in-person demonstrations of skills and knowledge based on topics including assessment, nursing trends and practices, healthcare policy, routine nursing procedures, and patient care technology. Completing competency-based assessments allows you to receive credit for courses or concepts you have already mastered.



5 MOST IMPORTANT SKILLS AND ABILITIES YOU WILL GAIN IN AN ONLINE COMPETENCY-BASED RN TO BSN PROGRAM


When you choose competency-based RN to BSN online programs, you do more than prove your competence from your previous nursing degree. These programs help you develop more advanced skills and abilities, which benefit you, your patients, and the nursing profession overall. Here are the five most important skills and abilities you will gain:

1. You learn to apply evidence-based data into your practice:

BSN-prepared nurses are specially trained to have a deeper understanding of the science behind their nursing practice. Competency-based RN to BSN online programs incorporate evidence-based nursing practice into their curriculum, teaching you to read, understand, and apply new research supported by scientific evidence. This knowledge helps you understand why you must perform a task and the expected outcomes, instead of just "checking the box." Your knowledge and use of evidence-based practices can help promote best-practice care decisions.

2. Competency-based RN to BSN online programs will help you develop leadership skills:

BSN nurses learn how to be leaders in their field and chosen practice setting. BSN degrees are usually required for leadership roles as the extra education and training will set you apart from other nurses.

3. You learn ways to help improve patient outcomes:

Competency-based online RN to BSN programs will help you build upon your previous knowledge and skills to develop a deeper understanding of illness, disease, treatment options, and nursing interventions. As you develop new, more advanced knowledge and skills and apply them to patient care, you will see improved patient outcomes.

4. Competency-based RN to BSN online programs help improve your critical thinking and decision-making skills:

As you continue to learn and gain a deeper understanding of nursing theory and clinical skills, your ability to use critical thinking to make important decisions will improve. You will learn to make critical decisions based on specific frameworks and care models that will be utilized during your nursing career.

5. You will learn to be self-disciplined:

Nothing says "professionalism" like the ability to be self-disciplined. As you grow and learn in a competency-based RN to BSN program, you will learn the importance of practicing self-discipline. Self-discipline is essential in making decisions based on facts instead of your personal preference or opinion. It keeps you motivated and focused on the task at hand, which is crucial in providing effective patient care.



3 MAIN ADVANTAGES OF ONLINE COMPETENCY-BASED RN TO BSN PROGRAMS


As you consider whether to pursue a competency-based RN to BSN online program, weigh the pros and cons carefully. The best online competency-based RN to BSN programs provide you with many advantages to further your nursing career. Here are the three main advantages of choosing one of these programs:

1. You can earn your degree faster by receiving credit for previous college credits and work experience:

Competency-based online RN to BSN programs allow you to prove your knowledge about specific areas to determine if you need to take a class. If you have experience in a particular specialty or have knowledge relevant to a specific competency, you can demonstrate your knowledge and skills through competency assessments and receive credit toward your degree without having to take the classes, which saves time and money.

2. Online competency-based RN to BSN programs offer more flexibility:

One of the greatest advantages of pursuing a degree through an online program is flexibility. While online programs may require meeting online for synchronous classes, many offer asynchronous schedules, which means you can study when and where you want. Flexibility is especially advantageous to students with work or personal obligations.

3. Competency-based RN to BSN online programs can save you money:

Let’s face it; earning a college degree is not cheap. By choosing a competency-based RN to BSN online program, you could significantly reduce the costs associated with earning your degree. Receiving credit for previous college coursework and life experiences means you do not have to pay to repeat classes. Attending school online means saving money commuting to school. You may also use online sources to study instead of buying textbooks.



2 MAIN DISADVANTAGES OF ONLINE COMPETENCY-BASED RN TO BSN PROGRAMS


While there are several advantages to pursuing your degree online, there are also some disadvantages. Deciding to complete one of the online competency-based RN to BSN programs can be a tough decision. So, allow yourself to think about the pros and cons equally. Here are two things to consider that may be disadvantages of the program.

1. You must be self-motivated:

A disadvantage of these programs is that completion depends solely on your ability to stay on track. In most cases, you will receive assignments with due dates and be responsible for turning in your work and completing your exams on time, without reminders from instructors. You must stay focused and keep up to succeed.

2. Little or No Peer Interaction:

Because you take your classes online, interaction with peers is limited at best. If you learn better in a group environment, online competency-based RN to BSN programs may not be the best option.



WHO ACCREDITS COMPETENCY-BASED RN TO BSN ONLINE PROGRAMS?


Without a doubt, the most important thing to consider when choosing a nursing program is accreditation. Accreditation ensures a program meets strict quality standards to help you succeed. All the best competency-based RN to BSN online programs are accredited through either the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

S.NO.Accrediting Agency
1Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)
2Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)



WHEN DO COMPETENCY-BASED RN TO BSN ONLINE PROGRAMS START?


Online competency-based RN to BSN programs have varying start dates, as determined by the school. Unlike traditional campus-based programs, you may find online programs offer more start dates. The following are a few examples of start dates for some of our featured programs.

Rasmussen University offers eight start dates throughout the year. With this many options, you can begin your journey to earning a BSN just about any time you like.

The University of Phoenix offers seven dates for its competency-based RN to BSN program. The program's start dates are in January, February, April, June, August, October, and December

The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor admits students each month. You must meet admission requirements by the 15th of the month to begin classes on the 15th of the following month.

The competency-based RN to BSN online program at Oklahoma Christian University has classes beginning each month.

Houston Baptist University admits students to its online competency-based RN to BSN programs in the Spring and Fall semesters yearly.



HOW MANY CREDITS ARE THERE IN COMPETENCY-BASED RN TO BSN ONLINE PROGRAMS?


The credits you need to earn your degree through one of these competency-based RN to BSN online programs may be higher or lower based on your previously completed coursework. Here are some examples of the number of credits needed to graduate at each school:

The online competency-based RN to BSN program at Lourdes University is a 120-credit program. Credits are earned through a combination of general education and nursing courses and clinical experiences.

Students in the Post University RN to BSN online competency-based program must earn a total of 120 credits. Your RN license and an associate degree in nursing earn you 60 credits toward the degree. You may transfer up to 90 credits, based on GAP analysis and evaluation of your official nursing transcript.

At Oklahoma Christian University students in the online competency-based RN to BSN program work through learning modules designed to allow you to move ahead in the program if you have already mastered the content. In this program, you will complete 45 competencies; these competencies are considered your credits. Once you test out or complete all required competencies you will be ready for graduation.

At the University of Toledo, you will need a total of 120 credits to graduate from the competency-based online RN to BSN program. You can transfer credits from your previous degree, but you must complete 36 core credits and 30 nursing credits at the University of Toledo.

The online competency-based RN to BSN program at the University of Wisconsin System requires you to complete 124 credits. Students in this program receive at least 60 credits for general education and core nursing courses from your ADN or diploma nursing program. Additional transfer credits may be possible, based on a review of your official college transcripts.



HOW LONG ARE COMPETENCY-BASED RN TO BSN ONLINE PROGRAMS?


Online competency-based RN to BSN programs can take as few as ten months up to two years or longer to complete. Whether you enroll as a part-time or full-time student and the number of credits you need determines how long you need to complete the program. The following list offers examples of the time it takes to complete some of our featured programs.

At Walden University, you can complete the competency-based RN to BSN program in as few as ten months.

Students at the University of Phoenix can graduate from the RN to BSN competency-based online program in approximately 12 months.

The University of Wisconsin System does not provide a standard completion estimate. This is because each student’s study plan will differ based on their transfer credits and competency analysis. You will meet with a dedicated success coach to help you design a custom learning plan.

At Rasmussen University, you can complete your BSN degree through the competency-based RN to BSN program in 12 to 18 months, depending on the number of credits you take each semester.

You can progress through the program at your own pace at Houston Baptist University. Full-time students can graduate in as few as nine months. Part-time students may take up to two years to complete the program.



HOW MUCH DO COMPETENCY-BASED RN TO BSN ONLINE PROGRAMS COST?


The cost of competency-based RN to BSN online programs varies. A few factors that determine your cost include the number of credits you need, whether you enroll part-time or full-time, and any additional fees. The following are examples of the costs of some of this article’s featured programs.

The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor makes figuring out tuition costs easy. They charge a one-time payment of $3,250 for a 6-month subscription or six monthly payments of $542. This price includes all fees and there are no required textbooks to purchase. You will work with a Student Success Coach as you complete competencies and badges until your degree is complete. The total cost of the program depends on your learning pace. However, most students complete the degree in 12 months, which means two subscription periods totaling $6,450.

At Walden University, students are billed a flat rate for every three months of attendance, referred to as a subscription term. Each subscription period costs $3,470, which includes tuition and a technology fee. The average time to complete the program is ten months, which means you will pay for four subscription terms, totaling approximately $13,880.

Rasmussen University charges $335 per credit hour. Students complete 70 credits, making the total tuition $23,450. However, with programs such as the Get Started Grant and the use of self-directed assessments, you could save more than $8,000 and complete your degree for around $14,000.

The University of Phoenix charges tuition at $300 per credit. The online competency-based RN to BSN program requires you to complete 33 credits. Therefore, the total cost of the program averages $9,900.

Oklahoma Christian University offers a subscription-based payment system. You will pay $4,000 every four months to access the classes necessary to complete your degree. The number of subscription periods you will need depends on how quickly you move through the curriculum. Some students have completed the program in only four months. However, the average time to completion is 12 months.



WHAT KIND OF FINANCIAL AID, SCHOLARSHIPS, AND TUITION WAIVERS ARE OFFERED BY ONLINE COMPETENCY-BASED RN TO BSN PROGRAMS?


Financial aid is an essential factor to consider when applying for a nursing program. The type and amount of aid offered by each school can differ. Here are some of the examples of financial aid, scholarships, and tuition waivers offered by some of our featured online competency-based RN to BSN programs.

Students at Lourdes University may apply for several university grants, awards, and scholarship offers. Examples are the Heart of American Grant, Diversity Awards, and Legacy and Alumni Awards. Students may qualify for academic merit-based scholarships, the Tau Scholarship and the Phi Theta Kappa Scholarship.

Post University offers institutional and merit-based scholarships, including a specific RN to BSN scholarship called “Yes You CANN”. This scholarship is awarded to new students who earned their previous degrees in the last two years and is awarded in the amount of $2,500. The university also offers the Post Tuition Reduction program, which offers tuition discounts to military service men and women and qualified family members.

Oklahoma Christian University offers several resources for financial assistance to help offset the cost of tuition. A few options are the Founders Scholarship, Presidents Scholarship, Eagle Award, and National Merit Scholarship Award. You can also apply for three nursing-specific scholarships: the Rebecca Stafford Endowed Scholarship, Bill & Sue Antwine Scholarship, and the Donna Eckhart Scholarship.

The University of Toledo offers the UToledo Online Scholarship, which is for online students, like those in the competency-based online RN to BSN program. Additionally, you may apply for the UT Achievement Award, which is available to transfer students. The school offers an Out-of-State Tuition Discount program which allows out-of-state students to pay in-state tuition. Other scholarship opportunities include the Anaya-Arroyo Latinx LGBTQA+ Scholarship, the Andrew J. and Mary Frances Fenady Scholarship, and the Anne Donabedian Scholarship.

The University of Wisconsin System encourages students to apply for federal grants and loans. Additionally, the school offers scholarship opportunities like the Federal Children of Fallen Heroes Scholarship, Thomas Jones and Grace Stevenson Jones Scholarship, and nursing scholarships. Veterans benefits and tuition reimbursement opportunities are also available.



WHAT IS THE MINIMUM GPA REQUIRED TO GET INTO ONLINE COMPETENCY-BASED RN TO BSN PROGRAMS?


The minimum GPA required to enter competency-based RN to BSN online programs typically ranges from 2.0 to 3.0 on a 4.0 grading scale. Here are a few examples of minimum GPA requirements at some of the programs featured in this article.

Candidates seeking admission to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor competency-based online RN to BSN program must have an overall GPA of at least 3.0 from their associate nursing degree program.

At Post University, you must have a minimum 2.0-grade point average on a 4.0 scale from your previous college coursework.

Admission to the Houston Baptist University online competency-based RN to BSN program requires a minimum GPA of 2.75.

The University of Toledo competency-based RN to BSN program online requires applicants to have a minimum GPA of 2.0 in all accredited post-secondary coursework.

Students seeking admission to an undergraduate program at Walden University, like the online RN to BSN competency-based program, must have a minimum 2.0 cumulative GPA from all previous college credits.



WHAT ARE THE ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS FOR ONLINE COMPETENCY-BASED RN TO BSN PROGRAMS?


Admission criteria for online competency-based RN to BSN programs vary from one school to the next. While requirements vary to a degree, some criteria are similar among all schools. In addition to meeting the degree and licensing requirements, candidates are usually asked to submit official transcripts from all colleges attended, a professional resume or CV, letters of recommendation, and a Statement of Intent/Admissions Essay. The following are admission requirements for some of our featured programs.

At the University of Phoenix, you must possess an associate’s degree in nursing and have a valid and unencumbered nursing license to be considered for admission. You also need one year of full-time (32 hours or more per week) nursing experience during the last five years.

Admission to the RN to BSN online competency-based program at the University of Wisconsin System requires meeting the following criteria. You must have an Associate Degree in Nursing or an undergraduate nursing diploma from an accredited nursing program, and an unrestricted, active license to practice as a registered nurse. Applicants must have a minimum cumulative college GPA of at least 2.5 on a 4.0 scale and one year of experience working as a registered nurse.

Candidates applying for admission to the Walden University competency-based RN to BSN online program must complete an online application and provide official college transcripts. You must have an associate degree or diploma in nursing earned at an accredited nursing school and an active RN license.

The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor requires you to have an active and unencumbered RN license in the state where you live. Additional admission requirements include current employment as a registered nurse before starting the program and remaining employed as an RN throughout the program. Candidates must have a minimum of 24 transferrable credit hours of specific coursework and an overall GPA of at least 3.0. Finally, you must live in Texas or one of the states included in the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements.

At the University of Toledo, you need an associate degree or diploma in nursing, an active RN license in the state where you live or want to complete your clinical rotations, and a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 on a 4.0 scale.



WHAT KIND OF COURSES WILL YOU TAKE IN ONLINE COMPETENCY-BASED RN TO BSN PROGRAMS?


The courses required for online competency-based RN to BSN programs are determined based on previous coursework you completed and the competency-based learning outcomes you need to accomplish. Below are examples of some of the courses in the curriculum at five of our featured programs.

The Lourdes University competency-based RN to BSN program features a 120-credit curriculum, including general education and core nursing courses. You may take classes including Bioethics, Foundations in Evidence-Based Practice, Applied Concepts in Population-Focused Nursing, World Religion, Concepts in Leadership & Management, Writing for the Sciences & Health Professions, and Developmental Psychology.

At Post University, the online RN to BSN competency-based program's curriculum includes Reflective Practice, Issues, &Trends, Nursing Management Strategies, Nursing Research, Health Assessment, Health Care Delivery, Leadership & Strategic Planning, and Community Health Nursing.

Oklahoma Christian University presents its curriculum through online learning modules. In this program, you will study topics including Population Health, Evidence-Based Nursing Research, Emerging Nursing Interventions in Clinical Practice, Healthcare Advocacy, Role Expansion in Nursing, Servant Leadership, and Professional Roles in Nursing.

At Houston Baptist University, students in the competency-based online RN to BSN program take classes including Perspectives on the Healthcare System, Health Assessment, Care of Vulnerable Populations, Applied Nursing Research, Pharmacology for Nurses, Health care Administration for Nurses, and Nurses in the Community.

The Rasmussen University RN to BSN competency-based online program offers a rigorous curriculum. Classes for this program include Practice Excellence Through Innovation, Integration of Genetics & Genomics into Ethical Nursing Practice, Emerging Healthcare Technologies & Innovation, Clinical Reasoning & Clinical Judgement, Research & Theory, Contemporary Issues in Nursing, and Scholarly Communication in Nursing.



WHAT KIND OF PRACTICAL TRAINING WILL YOU UNDERGO IN ONLINE COMPETENCY-BASED RN TO BSN PROGRAMS?


While you have already accrued experience as a nurse and completed clinicals in your associate degree nursing program, there may be additional practical training requirements to complete your BSN. Some programs consider your previous nursing experience and associate degree program clinicals as your practical training and do not require additional clinical hours. Here are some overviews of the clinical and practical training provided at a few of the schools that offer some of the best online competency-based RN to BSN programs.

The University of Phoenix online competency-based RN to BSN program does not require traditional clinical practicum experiences. Instead, you will learn to incorporate strategies associated with effective nursing practices based on your previous clinical experience from work and your associate degree nursing program.

Students enrolled in the Rasmussen University competency-based RN to BSN online program complete two clinical rotations. Clinical assignments are focused on public health and nursing leadership and are designed to help you apply theoretical learning in a clinical setting. The school can assist you as needed in finding preceptors and clinical locations near where you live.

At The University of Toledo, students in the online competency-based RN to BSN program do not participate in field clinicals. Instead, the focus is placed on theoretical and professional foundations of nursing, nursing leadership and management, and population-focused care.

According to Dr. Jennifer Gray, Ph.D., FAAN, Chair of the Division of Natural and Health Sciences at Oklahoma Christian University, students do not have hands-on clinical requirements. Instead, students in the competency-based RN to BSN program participate in clinical assignments and projects using past patient care experiences to complete case studies. Typically, these assignments are aligned within the Emerging Nurse Interventions and Population Health competencies categories.

The University of Wisconsin is another program that draws on your previous and current nursing experience to fulfill any practical or clinical requirements. No additional clinicals will be required to complete this program.




WHAT ARE THE BEST ONLINE COMPETENCY-BASED RN TO BSN PROGRAMS IN THE NATION?


(The following are the 10 Best Online Competency-Based RN to BSN Programs in the nation for the year 2023.)


1. Lourdes University - Sylvania, OH


2. Walden University - Minneapolis, MN


3. Post University - Waterbury, CT


4. University of Mary Hardin-Baylor - Belton, TX


5. Oklahoma Christian University - Oklahoma City, OK


6. University of Toledo - Toledo, OH


7. Houston Baptist University - Houston, TX


8. University of Wisconsin System - Madison, WI


9. University of Phoenix - Phoenix, AZ


10. Rasmussen University - Bloomington, MN



VIEW OUR RANKING METHODOLOGY




WHAT STARTING SALARY CAN NEW GRADUATES OF THIS PROGRAM EXPECT?


The starting salary for new graduates of competency-based RN to BSN online programs is $59,190 per year. This pay is equal to $4,930 per month, $1,138 per week, and $28.46 per hour.

Hourly$28.46
Weekly$1,138
Monthly$4,930
Annual$59,190



WHAT AVERAGE SALARY CAN GRADUATES OF COMPETENCY-BASED RN TO BSN ONLINE PROGRAMS EXPECT?


The average salary for competency-based RN to BSN online program graduates is $82,392 per year. This pay is equivalent to $6,870 per month, $1,584 per week, and $39.61 per hour.

Hourly$39.61
Weekly$1,584
Monthly$6,870
Annual$82,392
(Source: Ziprecruiter.com)



10-YEAR JOB OUTLOOK FOR GRADUATES OF COMPETENCY-BASED RN TO BSN ONLINE PROGRAMS


The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects jobs for graduates of online competency-based RN to BSN programs is expected to increase by 6.24% between 2021-2031. This projection indicates a positive outlook for individuals considering pursuing these programs.

2021-31
+6.24%
(Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)



IS THE COST OF AN ONLINE COMPETENCY-BASED RN TO BSN PROGRAM WORTH THE RETURN ON INVESTMENT (ROI)?


Online competency-based RN to BSN programs typically cost between $10,000 and $50,000. The average annual income for graduates of these programs is $82,392, which is more than $30,000 higher than some of the higher-priced programs. When you compare these numbers, the return on your investment is worth it. Further, when you consider the value of benefits packages and other perks, your ROI could be significant in a short time.



BONUS! 5 EXPERT TIPS TO IMPROVE YOUR CHANCES OF GETTING ACCEPTED INTO THE BEST ONLINE COMPETENCY-BASED RN TO BSN PROGRAMS


Once you decide on a program or school you want to attend, the next step is getting in. The following are five tips to help improve your chances of getting into competency-based RN to BSN online programs.

1. Write a great statement of intent.

Writing a statement of intent that grabs the attention of the reader is essential. Begin by introducing yourself. Talk about your education, volunteer work, and work experience. Think of something you are passionate about as it relates to nursing and discuss it in detail. Share why the school and program interest you, how you think the program can help you achieve your academic and professional goals, and how you can be an asset to the program.

2. Get excellent letters of recommendation.

One of the common requirements for admissions packages is to include two or three letters of recommendation. Recommendations should come from professionals such as employers, supervisors, or previous college instructors. The letter should speak to your ability to handle heavy coursework, meet clinical requirements, and work with others. The writer should write about these things indicating you are a likely candidate for success in the program.

3. Follow up with an admissions counselor.

Nursing schools, like those that offer online competency-based RN to BSN programs, receive many applications from qualified candidates. Once you complete and submit your application, make it a point to follow up by phone or in person. Ask to speak with an admissions counselor directly. Be enthusiastic but polite, and tell them you look forward to being part of their nursing program.

4. Turn in your application on time:

You never want to be the person asking for an extension or missing an important deadline. Missing the deadline or turning in an incomplete application is a sure way to get your application tossed aside as the admissions faculty move on to other candidates. Therefore, gather all necessary paperwork and complete your application ahead of time to increase your chances of being accepted.

5. Apply to several schools.

Many schools offer online competency-based RN to BSN programs. That does not mean every program is right for you. Apply to several schools that interest you, and be diligent with follow-up calls.



MY FINAL THOUGHTS


Throughout this article, we have addressed the question, “What are the best online competency-based RN to BSN programs?” You have learned about admissions criteria, cost, curriculum, and which schools offer the 10 best online competency-based RN to BSN programs for 2023. If you are a registered nurse with an associate degree in nursing who wants to earn a BSN, a competency-based RN to BSN program could be the perfect way to accomplish that goal. You should check out the schools that interest you, start applying, and earn the degree!


Brooke Schmidt, RN, BSN
Brooke Schmidt is a registered nurse with 10 years of clinical experience. She is currently living in Oregon and enjoys exploring the Pacific Northwest with her family. Brooke graduated from The University of Portland with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. During her time in school, Brooke developed a passion for geriatrics and chose a specialized practicum to gain further experience with this population.