6 Best RN to BSN Programs in Colorado (Online & Campus) – 2023 Rankings

Written By: Editorial Staff @ NursingProcess.org

RN to BSN programs in Colorado offer registered nurses the opportunity to take the first step towards a new and more exciting career. They will prepare you for a role in management or research, and they can even help you decide whether to pursue an MSN or PhD in the future. Thanks to the changing shape of healthcare in the state and its ongoing role in promoting holistic healthcare, CO is a mecca for nurses who want to make a difference in their patients’ lives. There are 12 different nursing programs across the state offering RN to BSN courses, and we have ranked the top six to help you narrow the field and make better decisions about your education and your career.

Online RN to BSN Programs in Colorado: What You Need to Know?

Online RN to BSN programs in CO, are excellent ways for otherwise busy RNs with families and careers to further their education and set themselves on the right path toward a better, higher-paying career. These programs are flexible and affordable, and almost all of the work can be completed online with only a handful of visits to campuses or medical facilities required.

ACEN/CCNE Accredited & Approved by Colorado State Board of Nursing: Before deciding where to earn your RN to BSN degree, it’s important to ensure that the program is approved by the Colorado State Board of Nursing and accredited by one of the two major accrediting bodies in the US: the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). These two respected groups set incredibly high standards for nursing education in the US, and employers prefer to hire candidates who complete programs that bear their approval.

Coursework: Different programs will offer slightly different coursework, but for the most part, RN to BSN courses will build on prior ADN or diploma courses. Some courses focus on advanced physical and mental care, but for the most part, they focus on community health, nursing leadership and management, and the role of the RN in research settings. Some courses may require you to participate in labs or simulations, either online or on campus.

Sample Courses
Developing the Baccalaureate Role, Health Assessment and Promotion, Health Assessment and Promotion Lab, Health Informatics, Quality Assessment and Improvement in Health Care Settings, Population Health Nursing, Population Health Practice Experience, Gerontological Nursing & Chronic Illness, Nursing Research and Evidence - Based Practice, Leadership for the RN, Leadership for the RN Lab, and Capstone for Nursing

Clinical Training: Though there is no specific requirement for clinical training for RN to BSN programs in this state, individual schools may require it. In most cases, though, if you are gainfully employed as a licensed RN, that experience can stand in for any clinical training that might otherwise be required. Talk to your school to learn more.

Program Length: Program lengths will also vary depending on the school, the program, and the amount of time you can spend studying. Some on-campus programs can be completed in 12-13 months, and some online programs that allow you to learn at your own pace give you three or more years to complete them. On average, it takes 15 months to complete an RN to BSN program in the state of Colorado.

Typical Admission Requirements: Admission requirements can also vary a great deal depending on the school and the program you choose, but for the most part, they are the same whether you choose online or campus-based learning. As an example, at the University of Northern Colorado, you will need:

• Proof of completion of state-accredited ADN or Diploma program;
• A 2.5 cumulative GPA on a 4.0 scale for that particular program;
• An active license as a registered nurse;
• CPR Certification (current card) for both adult and child; and
• 1,000 hours of RN practice over the last three years (recommended).

What are the 6 Best Accredited RN to BSN Programs in Colorado for 2023?

(Based on our ranking methodology, the following are the 6 best RN-to-BSN programs in Colorado (Online & Campus).)

1) Regis University, Denver

Type: Online, Hybrid

Program Overview: Regis University’s Loretto Heights School of Nursing is a top-ranking nursing school in the state. Its nursing graduates are known to deliver competent patient care with care and compassion. If you are keen on pursuing RN to BSN in the Centennial State, then you should know that Regis offers two convenient options - online and an accelerated hybrid. While completing the online program entails taking classes each eight-week terms, the hybrid is offered at an accelerated pace in a five-week term format. While online students enjoy the flexibility of taking a class anytime of the day as per their convenience, hybrid students require meeting in a virtual classroom for two weeks out of the five-week term. 13 months for the hybrid and 18 months for the online is the average duration students take to earn their degree. However, the college allows up to five years for completing all degree requirements. A laptop with a webcam, an associate in nursing, a nurse license and self-motivation is all that you need to take this next level in your career.

Key Highlights

• Put your past education to good use by transferring 33 credit hours automatically towards the BSN.
• With a rolling admission policy and four start dates in August, January, October and February, you need not wait long to apply for this program.
• The college accepts applications right up to the start date of the program, however, recommends applying sooner than later.

2) University of Northern Colorado, Greeley

Type: Online

Program Overview: University of Northern Colorado focuses on nursing education that is evidence-based, fostering a solid grounding for advanced patient care. The RN to BSN is an online program, offered every fall and spring semester. It usually takes 20 months to complete this program by taking two courses per semester. This allows enough flexibility even if you are working full-time. Despite being an online program, you will interact real time with faculty and peers by using simple digital tools, all this from the comfort of your home. The coursework begins with a transition course, moving on to core courses of professional nursing, patient care across the lifespan and leadership and management in nursing.

Key Highlights

• The program prepares you to work in any kind of clinical setting by completing 100 hours of clinical practice experience under the guidance of an experienced nurse. The clinical training is organized by the college within your own community, to help you save commute time.
• Upon graduation from this program a host of career options open up in- pediatrics, intensive care, operative room, emergency room, managerial positions, public health and academics.

3) University of Colorado, Colorado Springs

Type: Online

Program Overview: University of Colorado’s nursing school is equipped with state of art facilities and an accomplished faculty. Its online nursing programs have been ranked amongst the top in the nation by U.S. News. The RN to BSN is a 100% online program that builds up on your past nursing knowledge and experience. Pursuing a BSN not only opens- up wider career avenues but it is also a must for job positions in healthcare organizations with a Magnet Status. With no campus visits, this program gives you considerable flexibility. To be eligible for this program you must have a GPA of 2.5 or higher in previous coursework and hold a current nurse license. To graduate you must complete a total of 126 credits, out of which 38 will be core BSN credits. Towards the end of the coursework you must complete a self-arranged clinical in community health. This can be done in your own community, however, needs to be approved by the faculty.

Key Highlights

• If you are someone, who is currently enrolled in an associate (ADN) program, you can opt for the Dual Enrollment RN to BSN program, where after completing one semester of ADN you can simultaneously take BSN courses through the university. This way you can graduate with a dual advantage of becoming an RN while pursuing a BSN.
• The Pathophysiology course, one of the core nursing courses is not offered online. However, you can take it through a community college and transfer it towards your BSN.

4) Colorado Mesa Colorado State University-Pueblo, Pueblo

Type: Online

Program Overview: Although Colorado State University-Pueblo’s nursing school has been recognized only recently in 2017, it has been offering quality nursing education since 1964. Offered with part-time and full-time options, this online program can be apt for those who want to pursue RN to BSN education in Colorado. The college allows a generous transfer of up to 90 credit hours towards your BSN. This cuts short the number of courses you need to take through the university to just 30 core BSN courses. You will compete these courses, taking each class for eight weeks. You must pass all the nursing courses with a grade B or higher.

Key Highlights

• You can start, either in August, October, January, March, April and June.
• You can either be a Colorado or any compact state nursing license holder to apply for this program.

5) Colorado Christian University, Lakewood

Type: Online

Program Overview: Colorado Christian University imparts education, that is deep-rooted in Christian values of service to community with care and compassion. If you are a busy working professional with family commitments, then this online RN to BSN course in Colorado works well for you. With one course per five-week session, you will have enough flexibility to balance life and academics. Furthermore, a generous transfer of up to 84 credits from your previous degree towards the BSN can considerably minimize time and money spent on this program. Out of the total 120 credits required for graduation, you must complete 27 credits in core BSN courses. Offered in a cohort format, it takes approximately 12 to 15 months to complete this program.

Key Highlights

• You will enjoy direct access to expert faculty and leaders across healthcare fields through a digital platform.
• If further study is you calling, then you can opt for a dual degree, where nine credit hours from this program can be transferred towards the online MSN program. You can earn your RN to MSN degree in just two years.

6) Colorado Mesa University, Grand Junction

Type: Online

Program Overview: Colorado Mesa University is a known name for both, on-campus and distance learning. The college strives to maintain utmost quality with online programs by providing host of student friendly services and learning experiences. Critical thinking and evidence-based nursing practice is what you learn when you enroll for its online RN to BSN. The curriculum is a fine blend of liberal arts and science, preparing you for practice in any kind of clinical setting. Classes are offered in eight-week sessions and graduation requires completing 31 core nursing credits. Although being offered since 1979, the college has been constantly updating its RN to BSN to stay current to changes in the healthcare industry.

Key Highlights

• The college offers a special tuition cost to employees of any of their partner healthcare facilities.
• The highly trained faculty of the college has consistently delivered positive academic outcomes and the over 90% student pass rate on the NCLEX-RN exam is simply reflective of the same.



Update on Colorado’s Push for 80 Percent BSN

In part to address the push to have 80% of all RNs educated at the BSN level or above by 2020, and in part to address the nursing shortage occurring in Colorado, the Colorado Center for Nursing Excellence created the Colorado Coalition for the Future of Nursing. The coalition consists of numerous workgroups dedicated to individual aspects of improving nursing education and training, such as the development of standardized curriculum across the state, improving dual nursing enrollment, and improving the creativity and plausibility of clinical placement. These workgroups have played an important role in improving aspiring nurses’ overall experiences.

As a direct result of their initiatives, Colorado became the 10th state in the country allowing community and technical colleges to offer BSN completion programs for current RNs. These programs solve problems associated with cost, time investment, and difficulty of integrating studies into their lives in such a way that more RNs than ever are beginning to see the value in furthering their education.

How to pay for my RN to BSN Studies

With average community college tuition coming in at just under $3500 in 2017, RNs across CO can pursue BSN degrees at a much-reduced cost. Nonetheless, over the course of two years, the costs can start to add up. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce your costs substantially.

Grants: Grants are the most desirable form of financial aid for RNs seeking BSN education. These sums of money, especially the Federal Pell Grant, are often enough to cover the entire year’s tuition at a community college and are based on both need and merit. To see if you qualify, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

Loans: Student loans are another option, and these can help you fill in any gaps that aren’t covered by grants or scholarships, but unlike those options, loans must be repaid. Federally-backed loans are available, but in some cases, you may find that a loan from your private bank offers better repayment terms. Colorado also provides grants to help nurses repay student loans if they meet specific criteria.

Scholarships: Scholarships are sums of money awarded based on financial need, academic merit, or other criteria set forth by the provider that you will not need to repay. You can find scholarships everywhere, including through your school and perhaps even your employer. The Colorado Nurses Foundation offers its own scholarship specific to nurses in CO, as well.

Employer Assistance Programs: Employer assistance programs are not available everywhere, but they can be especially beneficial. In many cases, these programs come in the form of tuition reimbursement. Sometimes, though, employers may agree to pay for a portion of your education in exchange for your agreement to work in a specific setting or facility for a predetermined amount of time.

6 Benefits of Pursuing an RN to BSN in Colorado

Completing your RN to BSN degree in CO will undoubtedly provide you with a tremendous sense of accomplishment. There are several other tangible advantages you can look forward to, as well.

1. Expand Your Knowledge and Skills: Earning your RN to BSN degree in "The Centennial State" will provide you with additional knowledge, skills, and abilities that will serve you well throughout your career, even if you choose to go back to school later down the road. For example, you will gain all the skills and information necessary to become a nurse supervisor, who schedules nurses and oversees shifts or departments. You will also learn about nurses’ roles in research, which can benefit the medical industry as a whole.

2. Salary Bump: Employers in Colorado are happy to compensate you for the additional skills and abilities you gain as a result of your baccalaureate degree. Right now, RNs who have yet to complete a BSN earn $79,040 a year on average, which is quite a bit more than the national average. After completing the BSN degree, they earn an average of $90,700, which is a difference of $11,660 a year. Over the course of a 35-year career, that’s an additional $258,125.

Before RN To BSN After RN to BSN How Much More Will I Earn
(Source: Compiled using data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

3. More Job Openings: The demand for RNs in Colorado is quite high regardless of your degree, but BSN graduates have far more opportunities. Across the state, ADN graduates have access to 1,300 job openings each year while BSN graduates have access to 2,340. Those extra opportunities include some of the most desirable jobs, too – the ones with the best hours, the most valuable benefits, and the best work environment.

Colorado Annual Job Openings (New + Replacement)
Annual Openings for BSN Graduates 2,340
Annual Openings for ADN Graduates 1,300
(Source: Compiled using data from careeronestop.org)

4. Brighter Outlook: Nursing is one of the handful of careers that comes with an above-average outlook. RNs are always in demand, and with every passing year, Colorado requires more RNs to care for its growing population. Between 2020 and 2030, 4,190 additional positions for RNs with ADN degrees will become available. This represents an astonishing growth of 26.39%. However, that growth is even higher for RNs with BSN degrees. In that same timeframe, 8,290 jobs will be added, representing 29.80% growth.

10 Year (2020-2030) Job Outlook
Employment New Job Growth
2020 2030 Number %
(Source: Compiled using data from careeronestop.org)

5. Advance Your Career: After earning your bachelor’s degree in nursing in Colorado, you will gain access to a variety of positions outside the realm of patient care. Your new skills will allow you to work as a Charge Nurse, a Clinical Nurse Specialist, or perhaps even a Clinical Research Nurse. You can also work as a Nurse Educator providing RN to BSN instruction in one of Colorado’s many community colleges.

Advancement Opportunities
Charge Nurse Director of Nursing
Chief Nursing Officer Nurse Educator
Clinical Nurse Specialist Nurse Manager
Clinical Research Nurse Nurse Supervisor

6. Post-RN to BSN Higher Education Options: It is also important to remember that pursing an RN to BSN program now can open the door to numerous other career paths in the future. For example, if you go back to school for two years and earn an MSN or MS, you could work as a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist or an Administrator – both of which are in high demand in CO – and earn up to $131,500 a year. Another four to six years of school would result in a PhD or DNP, allowing you to secure a position as an Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, which is one of the most highly-paid nursing positions in the state. In fact, as an APRN, you could earn up to $153,530 a year.

Type of Degree Length Roles and Responsibilities Salary
Master’s Degree (MSN/MS)Up to 2 yearsAdministrator, Certified Nurse Midwife, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, Clinical Leader, Clinical Nurse Specialist & Nurse Practitioner$78,090 - $131,500
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Degree4 to 6 yearsAdvanced Practice Registered Nurse, College Faculty, Nursing School Dean, Health System Executive, Researcher, & Senior Policy Analyst$78,090 - $153,530

RN to BSN Programs in Nearby States
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