10 Best RN to BSN Programs in Tennessee (Online & Campus) – 2024 Rankings

Written By: Editorial Staff @ NursingProcess.org

If you are working as a registered nurse in Tennessee and you’re interested in taking on new responsibilities, increasing your salary, and improving your overall job outlook, RN to BSN programs in Tennessee are a smart investment. Several online, on-campus, and hybrid programs will provide you with the education you need to take that next step in your career. This can lead to more exciting roles in management, clinical research, education and more. We have reviewed 20 schools in Tennessee that offer RN to BSN degrees to provide you with a list of the top 10 in the state.

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

An online RN to BSN program in Tennessee is designed to build upon your ADN or diploma education in a manner that is flexible and affordable. You will get credit for the courses you took and your work experience, which drastically shortens the time it takes to earn a baccalaureate degree. The online element allows you to complete the program on your own time, which is perfect if you are already working full-time.

ACEN/CCNE Accredited & Approved by Tennessee State Board of Nursing: When choosing where to take your online RN to BSN courses, it’s important to ensure that the program is approved by the Tennessee State Board of Nursing and accredited by either the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Hospitals, nursing homes, and other employers statewide prefer to hire staff who have obtained their degrees accredited by these bodies.

Coursework: RN to BSN courses will vary depending on the courses you have already taken and the school you choose to attend. They will build upon what you already know and focus more heavily on other aspects of nursing including leadership and management, professional nursing practice, and community health.

Sample Courses
Health Assessment, Population, Community, and Public Health Nursing, Pathophysiology, Health Promotion and Research, Pharmacology for Nursing, Healthcare Systems and Informatics for Nurses, Leadership and Professional Practice, Advancing to professional Nursing Practice, and RN Practicum

Clinical Training: Clinical training may or may not be required as part of your online curriculum. Some TN colleges will allow you to earn your clinical hours via online projects or through your current employer, but others may require you to participate in an unpaid practicum through a partner medical facility. These clinical experiences are designed to put your new knowledge to the test in a real-life patient care setting.

Program Length: The time it takes to complete the program depends on several factors. These include the number of credits you transfer, the number of credits you still need to graduate, and whether you enroll full time or part time in an online program in TN. Full-time students can often complete it in a year; part-time students may take two or three years.

Common Admission Requirements: Admission requirements also vary from one school to the next. The more competitive the program – and the fewer seats available – the stricter the requirements become. You will need to have your ADN or nursing diploma at any school in Tennessee. As an example of the other requirements, take a look at East Tennessee State University. Here, you will need to have:

• Proof of completion or progress in all the required general education courses;
• Grades of a C or higher in each of the prerequisite courses;
• A college-level GPA of at least 2.6 on a 4.0 scale;
• Transcripts from all colleges attended; and
• Scores from standardized entrance exam.

What are the 10 Best Accredited RN to BSN Programs in Tennessee for 2024?

(Based on our ranking methodology, the following are the 10 best RN-to-BSN programs in Tennessee (Online & Campus).)

1) East Tennessee State University, Johnson City

Type: Online

Program Overview: East Tennessee State University is one of the largest and most affordable nursing schools in the state. Its RN to BSN is fully online and offers three entry dates. You can start this program either as an RN or even as a currently enrolled nursing associate degree student, as long as you take the licensure exam before beginning the second term of the BSN program. You can choose to complete this program in, two, three or four semesters, depending on the amount of time you can commit. The two semester plan entails completing four courses each semester, while with the three-semester plan you will take three courses and two courses with the five-semester plan. A minimum of 32 nursing core credits must be completed to earn your BSN degree.

Key Highlights

• At the end of the program, you must complete a clinical practicum in professional nursing. If you are registered nurse working in a healthcare setting, you may not be required to take the clinical as you will receive credits for your work experience.
• The college runs seven nurse-led clinics to serve the rural population. This can serve as the perfect opportunity to receive hands-on experience by serving the community before you land your first job as a BSN graduate.

2) Tennessee Technological University, Cookeville

Type: Online

Program Overview: The School of Nursing at Tennessee Technological University has been serving nursing students since 1965 and has played a pivotal role in transforming healthcare within a diverse society. Completing an RN to BSN course in Tennessee can help broaden knowledge and skills you have already acquired with your nursing associate or diploma. The program is offered completely online and allows a generous transfer of almost half the credits from your previous degree towards the BSN. This way you save a lot on study time and tuition costs. To earn your BSN degree, you must complete at least 30 credits in core nursing courses. By studying health assessment and promotion, professional nursing concepts, nursing research, pathophysiological process, pharmacological concepts of nursing, leadership and management in nursing and community health you will gain expertise to work in any kind of health setting.

Key Highlights

• Even though you do not require visiting the campus, you can use the resources of the nursing school’s 65,500 square foot state-of-art facility and enhance your learning experience.
• The college offers an MSN bridge program where four classes from your BSN can be transferred towards earning an MSN degree. Specialty MSN options offered include Family Nurse Practitioner, Nursing Administration, and Nursing Education.

3) Baptist College of Health Sciences, Memphis

Type: Online, Hybrid & On-Campus

Program Overview: If serving the community is your calling, then Baptist College with its Christian environment and a rich academic experience can be just apt for you. Well, this RN to BSN program can put you on a career fast track in a short span without compromising on your current work commitments. The program is ideally meant for registered nurses as the curriculum expands on your past education and experience. The program is offered in an online, hybrid and face to face format. So, you can choose the delivery method that works best for you. Furthermore, you even have the flexibility to choose from a part-time or full-time schedule. The average time students take to complete the required 30 core BSN courses is one year. The curriculum focuses on population health nursing, nursing leadership, research and evidence-based thinking.

Key Highlights

• To facilitate a positive academic outcome, the college provides an individual faculty coordinator to mentor you throughout the program. This can ease the transition from traditional classes to online study for most online and hybrid students.
• There are two clinicals to be completed, one in community health and the other in professional nursing. If you have recent experience or are currently working in a healthcare setting, you can request a transfer of credits. If approved, you need not go through the clinicals.

4) University of Memphis, Memphis

Type: Online

Program Overview: University of Memphis has been instrumental in providing a strong footing to nursing graduates who have enrolled in many of its nursing programs. Students are provided a conducive learning climate where they explore and grow. This online RN to BSN education in Tennessee requires completing a minimum of 31 credits in BSN coursework through the university. Classes are offered in a 7-week format. You can complete this program in a year, if you opt for full-time study. Part-timers can complete this program by choosing a pace that best suits their schedule. As the program builds up on your past knowledge you can transfer credits towards the BSN and considerably save on tuition costs.

Key Highlights

• The college has won many accolades and has consistently been ranked amongst the best online nursing schools in the nation.
• You will be able to transfer credits only if you have earned a minimum C in your previous nursing coursework. These will be held in escrow until you complete 15 hours of core nursing courses with a minimum C.

5) Austin Peay State University, Clarksville

Type: Online

Program Overview: APSU is armed with a seasoned faculty of highly educated practitioners that train students to adapt to the changing dynamics of the nursing field. The 100% online RN to BSN is ideally designed for working registered nurses. This program enhances decision making and critical thinking, leadership skills, holistic nursing care and evidence-based practice. A nursing associate or diploma, active nurse license, a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 and a minimum C grade in all prelicensure nursing courses is what makes you eligible for this program. Depending on your career goals, you can choose to complete an elective course, either in holistic nursing, transcultural nursing or emergency room nursing.

Key Highlights

• Ideally you should be a graduate of an accredited program. In case you are not, you can still apply, as long as you successfully take the exam that validates your current knowledge of nursing.
• You will complete two clinical practice experiences, one in community nursing and the other in nursing leadership. For working nurses with a similar work profile, your need not take the clinical as your experience will be considered adequate.

6) Belmont University, Nashville

Type: Online

Program Overview: Belmont University provides the perfect setting for a nursing student’s spiritual, professional, intellectual and personal growth. If you are a working nurse, looking at expanding career avenues in any kind of health setting then completing a RN to BSN program in the Volunteer State can be just the right milestone in your career path. This online program requires no campus visits and is offered in a cohort format. You must complete a total of 128 credits, out of which 30 are core nursing credits. You can complete the core coursework in just three semesters by taking four courses per semester. While completing the nursing courses online, you can also choose to concurrently complete general education courses, if any additional general courses are required.

Key Highlights

• The cohort format enables healthy interaction amongst other nurse adult learners through virtual discussion boards. Even though cohorts change every semester, a lot of sharing and learning that happens can help you make connections with your peers.
• The program includes a course in Understanding the Bible. This three-credit course lays a perfect foundation for nursing practice that is consistent with Christian ethics and values.

7) Lincoln Memorial University, Harrogate

Type: Online

Program Overview: Lincoln Memorial University was set up in living memory of the 16th president of U.S., Abraham Lincoln, with a primary goal of serving students of Claiborne County. The university has justifiably kept his legacy alive by offering education of high standards. The 100% RN to BSN program trains you to be proficient in nursing care of the community across the lifespan. Designed for registered nurses, the coursework trains you to work in any kind of healthcare setting, creating a strong foundation of nursing concepts and fundamentals. You require completing 49 credits in a general education coursework. These credits can be transferred from your previous degree. The BSN coursework requires completion of 29 credits in core nursing courses of pharmacology, nursing informatics, pathophysiology, nursing of the elderly and nursing research.

Key Highlights

• You will receive 31 credits for your RN licensure, provided you earn a minimum of ‘C’ in all the nursing courses.
• A four-credit clinical practicum course in nursing leadership must be completed. This can be done in your own geographic area.

8) University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, Chattanooga

Type: Online

Program Overview: University of Tennessee is a top-ranking nursing school in the nation. Its RN to BSN has been ranked #6 in the nation by RNtoBSN.org. The RN to BSN program that is offered in January and August is ideal for working registered nurses keen on advancing their career without putting it on hold. 100% of the class work is offered online in a cohort format. You can complete this program in four semesters (16 months) by taking two courses per semester. The BSN coursework includes pathophysiology, health assessment of individuals, concepts of community health, research and a capstone in nursing leadership.

Key Highlights

• An on-campus orientation is held prior to beginning the program. This will help you get a better understanding of online study and you also get to meet the faculty and your peers.
• During the program you can connect with faculty via email, text chat, video call or even one-on-one by visiting the campus.

9) Union University-Tennessee, Jackson

Type: Online

Program Overview: Union University - Tennessee is a liberal arts university that is known for providing quality nursing education consistent with Christian values. The RN to BSN program offers all the classes online via its E-campus. In 18-months you can complete the BSN coursework and pursue leadership positions in nursing. The college allows a generous transfer of a maximum 72 credits and a minimum of 37. A course in statistics must be completed, preferably before you begin with the BSN coursework. Out of the total 128 credit hours, 32 hours must be completed in the BSN courses from Union University.

Key Highlights

• Completing a capstone towards the end of the program is a requirement even for working nurses.
• The program is available to any BSN aspirant even outside the state, through its online E campus.

10) Carson-Newman University, Jefferson City

Type: Online

Program Overview: Carson-Newman University is a Christian university that ranks amongst the best value universities in the region. Its RN to BSN is at par with traditional on-campus teaching, so you receive the same quality of instructions even with online classes. This program will help broaden your knowledge base by developing evidence-based practices, critical thinking, nursing ethics and principles of servant leadership where you learn to heal rather than just treat the illness. Depending on your curriculum needs, you can transfer up to 90 credits for your past degree. You can complete the BSN courses in just 14 months.

Key Highlights

• You will get a dedicated student success advisor, who will provide one-on-one support from the time you register until you graduate.
• If you seek to become a Family Nurse Practitioner, you can pursue the online RN-MSN-FNP program. In just four years you will earn a BSN, MSN and a Family Nurse Practitioner certification, all this while working full-time.



Latest on Tennessee’s Push for 80 Percent BSN

According to Tennessee Nurse Extra Edition 6, the state is expected to have the highest nursing shortage of all southeastern states by the year 2020. The Institute of Medicine has challenged all states – including TN – to educate 80% of its RN workforce at the BSN level by that year. As a result, the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee was one of 11 foundations in the nation to gain access to additional funding through PIN, or Partners Investing in Nursing’s Future. This program was created to make the nursing profession more attractive and attainable by increasing the number of nursing educators across the state, improving RN retention, and providing more opportunities to nursing students.

Per the 2018 Professional Nursing School Annual Report released by the Tennessee State Board of Nursing, enrollment in and graduation from BSN programs in the state continues to increase each year. In 2013, only 6961 students were enrolled in all BSN programs (including pre- and post-licensure programs), but by 2017, this number increased to 8169, including 1962 nurses enrolled in RN to BSN courses in TN. Back in 2009, only 461 students graduated RN to BSN program in the state, but by 2017, there were 1054 graduates.

Options to Fund Your RN to BSN in Tennessee

Efforts to help RNs in Tennessee return to school for their baccalaureate degrees has resulted in more affordable online programs, but despite this, paying for education can be a burden. There are several ways to help you reduce the financial strain of going back to school.

Grants: Grants for nursing school exist at both the federal and state level, and to find out if you qualify, you can fill out the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The Pell Grant is the most commonly-awarded federal grant, and it is based solely on your financial need. At the state level, the Tennessee Student Assistance Award is the most common grant and is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis.

Loans: Student loans are another excellent option. You can obtain loans directly from your bank or credit union, but you can also find out if you qualify for federally-backed loans when you fill out the FAFSA. The state of Tennessee also offers the Nursing Education Loan Repayment Program that provides assistance with loan repayment in exchange for your agreement to work in facilities experiencing nurse shortages.

Scholarships: There are dozens of scholarship opportunities available to nursing students across the state, as well. Some of these are provided by the individual schools, and you may be surprised to learn that some employers provide scholarships, too. You can find information about various other scholarship opportunities through the Tennessee Nurses Association and the Tennessee Nurses Foundation.

Employer Assistance Programs: Finally, your employer may also offer certain benefits that can help you cover some or all of the cost of your BSN education. These may be available as tuition reimbursement programs, which may be offered as a benefit of employment. The NURSE Corps Scholarship Program is another opportunity that provides you access with funding for your agreement to work at a facility with a critical nursing shortage after you graduate.

6 Advantages of Pursuing an RN to BSN in Tennessee

Aside from providing you with skills and abilities that will enhance your ability to provide excellent patient care from the very first day, completing your RN to BSN education has other benefits, as well.

1. Expand Your Knowledge, Skills & Abilities: Because the RN to BSN courses you will take are more focused and specialized, you will gain new abilities and skills that make you more valuable to your employer and your patients. For example, thanks to increased focus on leadership, you can take on management responsibilities, and with courses that focus on research, you can participate in groundbreaking studies that benefit healthcare in Tennessee and beyond.

2. Salary Bump: Employers across Tennessee will pay their BSN-educated RNs more than those with ADN degrees or diplomas due to their increased responsibility and ability to provide higher quality patient care. Before earning a BSN, RNs in TN earn an average annual salary of $64,840. However, after completing the program, they earn $74,410 on average – a jump of more than $9,570 a year.

Before RN To BSN After RN to BSN How Much More Will I Earn
$64,840 $74,410 +$9,570
(Source: Compiled using data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

3. More Job Openings: Due to the increased demand for nurses with higher education, there are more job opportunities available to BSN-educated nurses in Tennessee. ADN graduates across the state have access to roughly 1,380 new jobs each year, but after completing RN to BSN degrees in TN, that number climbs to 2,490 job opportunities. Although hospitals are slated to remain Tennessee’s biggest employer of RNs, many of the openings for BSN-educated nurses are more lucrative positions in clinics, private doctors’ offices, and other facilities with predictable daytime hours.

Tennessee Annual Job Openings (New + Replacement)
Annual Openings for BSN Graduates 2,490
Annual Openings for ADN Graduates 1,380
(Source: Compiled using data from careeronestop.org)

4. The Outlook is Brighter for a BSN Graduate: Due to the critical nursing shortage in TN, job security as an RN is high. It is estimated that some 2,870 new ADN-educated RNs will join the workforce in the state between 2020 and 2030, which represents a 14.93% growth. However, in that same time period, 6,070 BSN-educated RNs will join the workforce. This is a growth of more than 18%, which indicates better stability and more security.

10 Year (2020-2030) Job Outlook
Employment New Job Growth
2020 2030 Number %
BSN 33,68039,7506,07018.02%
ADN 19,22022,0902,87014.93%
(Source: Compiled using data from careeronestop.org)

5. Career Advancement: If you are interested in furthering your career and moving beyond the role of providing patient care, your RN to BSN degree will open these doors for you. After completing the program, you will be qualified to work as a nurse manager or supervisor, as a clinical research nurse, or even as a nurse educator in community and technical colleges across the state. Qualified candidates are in high demand for each of these opportunities in Tennessee.

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 Study Options: If you are interested in taking your education and your career even further in Tennessee, RN to BSN degrees provide a solid foundation for graduate degrees like an MSN or PhD. For example, if you want to become a nurse practitioner or certified nurse midwife, you can earn your MSN degree in two years or less and earn a salary of as much as $120,980 a year. You could even become an APRN or health system executive if you choose to spend four to six years earning your PhD or DNP degree. The average annual salary for these careers tops out at $141,250.

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$44,010 - $120,980
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$44,010 - $141,250

RN to BSN Programs in Nearby States
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