Best RN to BSN Programs in Pennsylvania (Online & Campus) – 2021 Rankings
An RN to BSN program in Pennsylvania is ideal if you are currently licensed to work as an RN, you are educated at the ADN or diploma level, and you are interested in taking your career to the next level. The bachelor’s degree program gives you credit for what you have already learned, provides more specialized instruction, and allows you to work in numerous fields. We have ranked 35 schools in PA offering RN to BSN degrees according to factors like graduation rates, prices, student-to-faculty ratio, and NCLEX pass rates to bring you the top 10.
Online RN to BSN Programs in Pennsylvania: What You Need to Know?
As an RN seeking an RN to BSN program, there are several things to keep in mind before choosing a school. One of the important things is the program should be flexible enough to meet your needs, whether you are working, caring for a family, or both. Fortunately, numerous online RN to BSN programs in PA offer you just that – the ability to learn at your own pace.
ACEN/CCNE Accredited & Approved by Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing:
One of the top considerations in selecting a program is determining whether it is approved by the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing
and accredited by either the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education
(CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing
(ACEN). These organizations set high standards that ensure excellence in nursing education. Employers in Pennsylvania increasingly seek candidates who have completed programs approved and accredited by these organizations.
RN to BSN courses are specifically designed to build upon what you learned during your ADN or diploma program. In Pennsylvania, additional courses specific to the BSN focus on things such as the use of technology in nursing, providing nursing care to an aging population, and genetics, all of which will serve you well in the quickly-changing healthcare industry.
| Sample Courses |
| Critical Issues in Nursing, Nursing Research: Methods and Critical Appraisal, Genetics and Genomics: Application to Nursing Practice, Transformational Leadership, Health Assessment, Complex Systems of Care: Technology, Patient Safety & Quality, Issues in Aging and Longevity, Population Health: Local and Global, and Senior Capstone in Nursing |
Clinical training varies from school to school. In online programs, you may be able to complete your training as part of an online classroom discussion or through your existing employer, or you may be required to provide clinical care in a medical facility partnered with your school of choice under the direct supervision of a mentor or faculty member.
Many of the RN to BSN degree programs in the “Keystone state” can be completed in about a year if you choose to participate full-time, but in most cases, you can choose to learn at your own pace over the course of three or more years.
Common Admission Requirements:
The requirements to gain entry into an online RN to BSN program in the state of Pennsylvania vary significantly depending on demand, so it is important to check with each school’s admissions department independently. As an example, in order to attend Drexel University’s online program, you must:
• Have a high school diploma or GED;
• Have an associate degree or diploma in nursing;
• Have a college GPA of at least 2.0 on a 4.0 scale;
• Possess a current RN license without any restrictions (Drexel University invites prelicensure RNs to apply early and matriculate into the program after passing the NCLEX-RN exam and receiving their licensure);
• Provide an official transcript showing 60 semester hours of prerequisite courses in Nursing, English, Humanities, Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, Sociology, Growth and Development, and Psychology have been completed.
What are the 10 Best Accredited RN to BSN Programs in Pennsylvania for 2021?
Program Overview: At Drexel University, you can earn a 100% online RN to BSN degree. Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions is recognized by employers all across New England as one of the top producers of quality BSN-educated RNs in the region. With full-time enrollment, you can complete the program in just 12 months thanks to the school’s generous credit transfer policy, and there are absolutely no on-campus requirements to concern yourself with. You will also have access to the school’s WW Hagerty library and numerous other resources.
• Drexel University utilizes state-of-the-art software that allows you to use your computer to virtually examine patients and upload videos to show your mastery of course content.
• If you are a working RN, Drexel University delivers content that you can apply to your current job from day one to improve your patient outcomes.
Program Overview: Bloomsburg University’s Department of Nursing offers a challenging 100% online RN to BSN degree program designed to prepare you for the changing healthcare industry. You can choose a two-year or three-year course of study depending on your current workload. Courses in the program will introduce you to the changing role of nursing, focus on society’s use and abuse of drugs, and prepare you for leadership and management roles that will open new career paths both now and in the future.
• Bloomsburg University takes a multifaceted approach to RN education, ensuring that graduates have the skills, tools, and experience they need to provide the best possible patient care.
• Per CollageAtlas.org, Bloomsburg University’s nursing program as a whole is ranked first in the Pennsylvania and 60th in the nation.
• Victory Media has recently named Bloomsburg University a Military Friendly School for the third year in a row.
Program Overview: The Cedar Crest College School of Nursing offers an on-campus BSN Completion program for RNs. The school’s mission is to prepare and educate the professional nurses of tomorrow with a solid foundation in liberal arts and a focus on leadership roles. Though it is a campus-based program, a handful of courses may also be available in an online format – ideal if you are currently employed as an RN. You will also participate in a capstone project as part of the Leadership in Nursing course.
• Cedar Crest College’s School of Nursing is a recipient of the 2018-2019 Colleges of Distinction
• The college is also one of the top ranked nursing schools in the country for 2018 according to RegisteredNursing.org
• Cedar Crest University offers numerous academic services and resources to its students, including tutoring, ESL and cultural support, and academic advising.
Program Overview: Holy Family University’s School of Nursing and Allied Health Professionals offers an Accelerated RN to BSN program with a strong focus on management and leadership at its Philadelphia campus. Some students complete the program in as little as 15 months, though it could take two years or more depending on the number of credits you can transfer. Cohort opportunities are available at your current work location; non-cohort classes occur at the Bensalem facility once each week.
• Holy Family University offers faith-based learning that focuses strongly on developing your management and leadership abilities.
• The University partners with Liquid Compass, a job-seeking portal that will help you find outstanding employers specifically seeking Holy Family graduates.
• Holy Family’s accelerated RN to BSN option is ideal for RNs interested in future graduate degrees, as well.
Program Overview: La Salle University’s 100% online RN to BSN degree can be completed in as little as 13 months. You will take nine total nursing courses, including seven core courses and two three-credit electives, one of which must be approved by a faculty advisor. There are six start dates each year, providing you with a great deal of flexibility, and with unique courses like Developments and Controversies in Pathophysiology and Pharmacology, you will remain engaged throughout your program.
• La Salle University takes great pride in giving you personalized attention and providing you with access to courses that will provide you with education you can use on the job from the very first day.
• The University was one of the first schools in the area to provide evening classes following World War II, which is a testament to their dedication to going above and beyond to educate you in a way that works for you.
Program Overview: West Chester University’s hybrid BSN program is designed to be flexible enough to allow students to continue working, but still provide essential one-on-one campus contact for that traditional learning experience. You have the final say in how long it takes you to earn your BSN degree, which makes it ideal for RNs working full-time, taking care of families, or both. Campus classes meet one night each week for five to six hours, and you will need to arrange your own clinical experiences to complete the program’s requirements.
• West Chester University is a proud member of Pennsylvania’s State System of Higher Education, the second-largest provider of higher education in the state, second only to the Commonwealth system.
• West Chester’s RN to BSN program is also a perfect foundation for you if you plan to pursue an MSN program later in your career path.
Program Overview: The campus-based program at the University of Scranton was designed specifically with adult learners in mind. It is a four-year program requiring a total of 128 credits to graduate, and clinical practicums are required as part of the curriculum. The University of Scranton provides its students with plenty of guidance and advice but encourages you to work independently and with other students to solve challenges. You may enroll full-time or part-time, as well.
• The University of Scranton is the highest-rated Jesuit University in Pennsylvania to provide an RN to BSN degree opportunity.
• The school was ranked third in US News & World Report’s 2019 Best Colleges edition for its Strong Commitment to Undergraduate Teaching, and it was also recognized as one of the Best Colleges for Veterans in previous editions.
• Scranton’s nursing program was named a Center of Excellence by the National League for Nursing
Program Overview: Gannon University’s Villa Maria School of Nursing offers an outstanding online RN to BSN program designed to help RNs transition from the role of general patient care into a role that is based more in leadership and management. You can receive course credits not only for your previous education, but also for your experiences working as an RN. Despite the 100% online delivery, state-of-the-art software ensures interaction and collaboration with peers and faculty.
• Gannon University was one of the first bachelor’s degree programs in PA, and it was also one of the first groundbreaking schools to provide RN to BSN opportunities in the state.
• You will be required to participate in clinicals, but the Gannon University is quite flexible and will ensure that you can complete these locally and on your schedule.
• All Gannon students – including distance and online learners – have access to the school’s extensive resource library.
Type: Online, Campus
Program Overview: The Bachelor of Science in Nursing program for existing RNs at Waynesburg University is one of the most flexible in the state of Pennsylvania. It is available either on campus or completely online, and no matter which route you choose, you can complete it in as little as one year. This program was designed with working nurses in mind and allows you to transfer up to 85 credits based on your RN license and your previous degree, and you can transfer even more if you have already taken Statistics and Ethics courses.
• Waynesburg University has been recognized with a 2018-2019 Colleges of Distinction Award
, making this the third consecutive year.
• The nursing program was ranked 2nd in the state of Pennsylvania by RegisteredNursing.org in 2018 for the second year in a row with a score of 97.97 out of 100.
• The school recently partnered with the Community College of Beaver County to offer ADN students there with a faster path into the RN to BSN program.
Program Overview: Widener University’s online RN to BSN courses are personally tailored to your academic needs and experience as an RN. You can earn credit for not only ADN or diploma coursework, but also for your experience and licensure. Many Widener students can complete the entire online program in just one year, but it’s also possible to take only one course per semester to suit your busy schedule. Their focus is on community care and positive patient outcomes based in leadership skills, research, and advances in today’s technology.
• Widener University has been recognized as a National League for Nursing Center of Excellence.
• Curriculum is based on the Essentials Baccalaureate Education for Professional Nursing Practice
set forth by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing
, or AACN.
• The curriculum is also specifically designed to serve as a foundation for later MSN programs, particularly for RNs who want to become family nurse practitioners or clinical nurse specialists.
View Ranking Methodology
USEFUL INFORMATION ABOUT RN TO BSN PROGRAMS IN PENNSYLVANIA
Latest on Pennsylvania’s Push Towards 80% BSN by 2021
The Institute of Medicine’s challenge to have 80% of all RNs across the country educated at the BSN level by 2020 has brought about significant changes throughout the state of Pennsylvania. Numerous schools all across the state have introduced incredibly flexible RN to BSN degrees that will provide you with the maximum credit possible for what you’ve already learned and experienced on the job. Furthermore, schools statewide offer discounted tuition for students who opt to take some or all of their courses online where available.
The Pennsylvania Action Coalition released a report
called “Implementation of the IOM Future of Nursing Report: What Have We Accomplished in PA and Southwestern Region?” designed to show how better-educated RNs can make a tremendous difference in the healthcare being provided across the state. The PA Action Coalition has created numerous advisory panels and pushed for more nursing residency programs, too. PA was one of nine states initially chosen for the Academic Progression in Nursing Program, which allowed community colleges to grant BSN degrees in nursing.
Options to Fund Your RN to BSN in Pennsylvania
Though schools across the state of PA have received grants designed to help reduce the expenses associated with RN to BSN degrees, for many RNs, the costs are still significant. Fortunately, there are several ways you can get help paying for college.
Federal and state grants to help pay for your education are available. Students who demonstrate financial need may apply for the Pell Grant by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid
, or FAFSA form. The American Cancer Society offers grants to nurses who agree to specialize in treating cancer patients, and the American Nurses Foundation
also offers grants and resources to RNs across the state.
Loans are available to students in Pennsylvania at the Federal level, and much like federal grants, you can apply for these by filling out the FAFSA form. You may also choose private loans through local banks, which may provide you with better terms and interest rates.
Scholarships are another excellent option, there are hundreds you can apply for. Options include the Nursing Schools Almanac’s RN-to-BSN Scholarship
, which is open to everyone who is eligible for the program, among numerous other scholarships offered by hospitals, medical facilities, and even nursing schools themselves. Check with the financial department at your college of choice to learn more about specific scholarships in PA that suit your needs.
Employer Assistance Programs:
Finally, check with your employer to find out whether it may offer you tuition reimbursement or other employer assistance programs. Tuition reimbursement is sometimes available after working for a particular employer for a specific amount of time, and in other cases, your employer may choose to pay for your program if you agree to work for the company for a predetermined amount of time.
6 Advantages of Pursuing an RN to BSN in Pennsylvania
While furthering your education is a huge accomplishment and will undoubtedly fill you with a tremendous sense of pride, there are other benefits associated with completing your RN to BSN in PA, too.
1. Expand Your Knowledge, Skills & Abilities:
The RN to BSN program is designed to build upon your existing knowledge, so you’ll gain access to all-new curriculum. By the time you finish, you will have a brand-new set of skills and abilities that will make you quite the competitor in the PA workforce. Many programs provide you with the skills you need to lead and manage entire teams of nurses, too.
2. Salary Bump:
Your patients and employers will certainly appreciate your additional skills and abilities, but you will also be able to appreciate the significant bump in your salary. On average across Pennsylvania, RNs with ADN degrees or diplomas earn $68,240 a year. After completing these programs, they earn an average of $74,260 a year, which is a $6,020 annual difference.
3. More Job Openings:
| Pennsylvania |
|Before RN To BSN || After RN to BSN || How Much More Will I Earn |
| $68,240 || $74,260 || +$6,020 |
|(Source: Compiled using data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) |
Though all nurses enjoy above-average job security due to current national nursing shortages, BSN-educated RNs in Pennsylvania have far more opportunities than their ADN-educated counterparts. Compared to 5,040 job openings across the state for RNs who have completed BSN programs each year, there are only 3,160 job openings for those with ADN degrees.
4. The Outlook is Brighter for a BSN Graduate:
| Pennsylvania Annual Job Openings (New + Replacement) |
| Annual Openings for BSN Graduates || 5,040 |
| Annual Openings for ADN Graduates || 3,160 |
| (Source: Compiled using data from careeronestop.org) |
The employment of RNs as a whole is expected to climb significantly over the next decade, but the employment of (and demand for) RNs with BSN degrees in PA will far supersede that of RNs with ADN degrees. Between 2017 and 2027, 4,700 new jobs will be added for ADN-educated RNs, representing growth of 9.96%. For RNs with BSN degrees, that number climbs to 11,330 jobs in the same time frame – a growth of 15.96%.
5. Career Advancement:
| 10 Year (2017-2027) Job Outlook |
| || Employment || New Job Growth |
| 2017 || 2027 || Number || % |
| BSN || 70,990 || 82,320 || 11,330 || 15.96% |
| ADN || 47,230 ||51,930 || 4,700 || 9.96% |
| (Source: Compiled using data from careeronestop.org) |
While many RNs are happiest caring for their patients to the best of their ability, others find they are better suited for leadership and management positions. A BSN degree opens those doors for you, allowing you to apply for positions like Charge Nurse, Director of Nursing, Nurse Supervisor, and Clinical Research Nurse, among others.
6. Post-RN to BSN Study Options:
| Advancement Opportunities |
| Charge Nurse || Director of Nursing |
| Chief Nursing Officer || Nurse Educator |
|Clinical Nurse Specialist ||Nurse Manager |
| Clinical Research Nurse || Nurse Supervisor |
Medical professionals of all kinds are in high demand across Pennsylvania and completing an RN to BSN program will provide you with a solid framework for the graduate degree of your choice. For example, you may choose to go on to complete a master’s degree, or MSN, and become a Clinical Leader, Nurse Practitioner, or Nurse Specialist capable of earning as much as $127,810 each year. You may also opt for a doctoral degree like a PhD or a DNP, allowing you to work as Senior Policy Analyst, a Health System Executive, or Researcher earning a salary of up to $207,570 each year.
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| Type of Degree || Length || Roles and Responsibilities || Salary |
| Master’s Degree (MSN/MS) || Up to 2 years ||Administrator, Certified Nurse Midwife, Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist, Clinical Leader, Clinical Nurse Specialist & Nurse Practitioner|| $67,570 - $127,810 |
| Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Degree || 4 to 6 years || Advanced Practice Registered Nurse, College Faculty, Nursing School Dean, Health System Executive, Researcher, & Senior Policy Analyst || $74,327 - $207,570 |