6 Best RN to BSN Programs in Washington (Online & Campus) – 2024 Rankings

Written By: Editorial Staff @ NursingProcess.org

Working as an RN in Washington state is incredibly rewarding, but if you have yet to earn your bachelor’s degree in nursing, now is an amazing time to do it. There are several outstanding RN to BSN programs in Washington that will build on your previous experience and education and prepare you for a rewarding career in leadership, research, management, and more. As Washington’s population continues to expand, more highly-educated RNs will be needed to fill them. There are 12 nursing schools in this state offering RN to BSN courses, and we have ranked the top five to help you narrow down your choices and make the best possible decision for your future.

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

For many RNs in the area, online RN to BSN programs in WA are the best solution. Many of the RNs who seek higher education work full time, and many raise families, so online programs allow them the flexibility they need to learn new skills at their own pace and on their own time. Most of these programs require very few visits to campuses or medical centers if any at all.

ACEN/CCNE Accredited & Approved by Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission: The program you choose, whether online or on campus, should be approved by the Washington State Nursing Care Quality Assurance Commission. It should also be accredited by one of the country’s leading agencies – the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. These organizations oversee nursing education and provide stringent standards to which programs must adhere in order to receive accreditation, and as a result, Washington employers prefer to hire RNs who have completed accredited programs.

Coursework: The coursework you can expect during your program will vary somewhat depending on your needs and the program you choose, but it will build on your previous education and work experience to provide more specialized skills and knowledge. Some courses will teach you how to be a leader in the nursing environment, and others will focus on mental health. You may also need to participate in practicums or clinicals to prove your knowledge of these courses.

Sample Courses
Professional Nursing Concepts and Issues, Assessment and Application of Physiological Concepts to Nursing Practice, Nursing Research, Evidence-Based Practice & Informatics, Healthcare Ethics, Nursing Leadership, Population Health Theory, Selected Nursing Concepts: Psychiatric/Mental Health Concepts, Nursing Practice: Community and Psychiatric/Mental Health, Nursing Management and Advanced Clinical Practicum

Clinical Training: Clinical training is not a legal requirement for RN to BSN program completion in Washington, but many schools may still require it. If you are currently employed as an RN, this may suffice as your hands-on training. Be sure to check with your program director to find out.

Program Length: Online RN to BSN programs in this state are typically more flexible than their campus or hybrid counterparts, allowing you to take anywhere from one to three years to complete them depending on their flexibility. Most campus-based programs are between 14 and 24 months long, with the average program lasting 16 months.

Typical Admission Requirements: Admission requirements will vary somewhat from one school to the next, but for the most part, you will need to meet some very general guidelines to enter the program. As an example, to enter the online program at Washington State University, you will need:

• A current unrestricted Washington state RN license (or proof of licensure eligibility);
• A direct transferable associate degree (ADN);
• A cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher in all college courses;
• Proof of completion of the College of Nursing’s prerequisites; and
• A minimum 2.0 GPA for each individual prerequisite course.

What are the 6 Best Accredited RN to BSN Programs in Washington for 2024?

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

1) Western Washington University, Bellingham

Type: Hybrid

Program Overview: Western Washington University offers a unique advantage through its collaborative partnerships with healthcare facilities and other educational institutions. For instance, the hybrid RN to BSN program at the university’s main campus in Bellingham is offered through Woodring College of Education. Starting in fall and spring, the program takes a year to complete if taken full-time and two years if you opt for part-time. While half of the core courses require face-to-face attendance, that is a full day each week; few courses are offered online. Out of the total 180 credits required to graduate, you can transfer up to 60 credits from your previous coursework and earn your degree sooner. The curriculum is designed to teach social justice, nursing leadership, health policy and community care.

Key Highlights

• The collaborative educational initiative between Western Washington and Woodring colleges brings in a dynamic approach as you benefit from both of their multiple healthcare partnerships.
• This program is offered in a cohort format, admitting around 35 students.
• The hybrid mode allows student and faculty interaction which helps build personal connections and a professional network.

2) Bellevue College, Bellevue

Type: Hybrid

Program Overview: Bellevue College is conveniently situated close to the downtown of Bellevue and Seattle, making campus visits to the third largest institution in the state just a breeze. If you are a registered nurse holding a nurse license in Washington State and a looking at advancing your career, then pursuing a RN to BSN in the Evergreen State can be just right for you. Offered by the college, this program is a blend of online and classroom learning. While some courses can be taken online, visiting the campus once or twice a week to interact with faculty and peers will be required. If you can commit to full-time study, the coursework can be completed in a year. For working students, part-time works better, however duration of program will be much longer. Graduation requires completion of 32 credits in core nursing courses.

Key Highlights

• The program builds on your associate in nursing by inculcating values of research and inquiry, communication skills, leadership, health informatics and community health.
• On-campus lectures are recorded and made available for online viewing, so you can go back to them if you miss a session or even otherwise for future reference.

3) University of Washington Bothell, Bothell, Everett & Seattle

Type: Hybrid, Campus

Program Overview: University of Washington, Bothell is one of the prominent nursing schools in WA with conveniently located campuses across the state. To cater to the needs of nursing students, RN to BSN is offered both on-campus and in a hybrid format. If you are someone who prefers in-person tutoring, the on-campus program is offered at the Everett and Seattle campuses. The hybrid option on the other hand is offered at the Bothell and Everett campuses. Additional flexibility can be availed with part-time and full-time options. While you are required to complete 35 credits in core nursing courses, you can transfer 45 credits for passing the NCLEX-RN and up to 90 from your previous ADN degree.

Key Highlights

• The nursing coursework entails completing 100 practice hours, giving you ample hands on experience to hone professional skills.
• Training nursing students to be holistic care givers, the college is armed with an interdisciplinary faculty that engages in research and community service.

4) Washington State University, Spokane

Type: Online

Program Overview: Washington State University has been transforming lives with 50 years of pioneering nursing education. The student centric approach reflects in its various policies and initiatives. The RN to BSN is an online program that requires only one campus meet per semester. To ensure that you will not have to travel much, the college organizes these meets at seven nursing sites located across the state; Spokane, Kennewick, Pasco, Richland, Yakima, Vancouver and Walla. You can complete this program opting for either a part-time or full-time schedule. Ideally meant for registered nurses, this program allows a transfer of 32 credits for past professional knowledge towards your BSN degree. By taking courses in mental and community health, nursing leadership and management, health informatics and assessment, ethics and research, you will be prepared to work in all kinds of health settings. These core courses require competition of 30 credits.

Key Highlights

• Clinical practice experiences are arranged by the university, so you need not go through this hassle and keep your focus solely on studying.
• As the college is selective in its admission policy, ensure a minimum GPA of 3.0 in your previous coursework to stand a better chance of making it through.

5) Olympic College, Bremerton, Poulsbo & Shelton

Type: Campus

Program Overview: Olympic College is a public community college that has been serving the counties of Kitsap and Mason since its inception in 1946. If you are a registered nurse looking at broadening professional knowledge and adding value to your resume, then you should look no further to pursue your RN to BSN education in Washington. This on- campus program is offered at three locations with part-time and full-time options. You can opt for an individualized schedule and complete the program, taking anywhere from one to three years. A commitment of one to two days per week is required, so plan ahead and enroll. Once enrolled, you must successfully complete each core course with a minimum GPA of 2.0 in order to progress.

Key Highlights

• The college asks for active clinical experience; the number of years you put in may even be a deciding factor for admission into this program.
• The college offers a generous transfer of credits from your previous coursework; however, the exact number will depend on your curriculum needs. Out of the total 180 credits required for graduation, 35 must be completed in BSN coursework.

6) University of Washington Tacoma, Tacoma

Type: Hybrid

Program Overview: University of Washington Tacoma is located in downtown Tacoma with a vibrant culture of leisure and recreational activities. Offering a blend of on campus and online learning, this hybrid RN to BSN course in Washington can be ideal for working professionals. The coursework is designed in a manner to help develop critical thinking and evidence- based patient care. The program is designed for registered nurses, however even for those who still haven’t taken the NCLEX-RN and are in the last year of an associate can apply for a provisional BSN admission. To earn your BSN, you must complete 45 credits of the BSN coursework in residence at the university. Full-time students can complete this program in 4 quarters; while part-timers take seven quarters.

Key Highlights

• When you enroll for this program you enjoy the various interdisciplinary learning opportunities that come with UW.
• Depending on your coursework requirements you can transfer up to 135 credits towards the total of 180 credits required to graduate.



Update on Washington’s Push for 80 Percent BSN by 2024

The Institute of Medicine has challenged all 50 states to have 80% of their RN workforce educated at the BSN level or above by 2020. This is due to numerous studies demonstrating that highly-educated RNs are able to directly and positively influence patient outcomes in various healthcare settings. While the report indicated that Washington State may miss that mark overall, it has actually exceeded that goal with its younger generation of RNs, and it is one of the few states in the country to have done so.

An October 2018 report released by the Washington Center of Nursing in collaboration with the University of Washington Center for Health Workforce Studies found that more than 63% of all the RNs practicing across the state have BSN degrees or higher. What’s more, the same report noted that 75% of the RNs under the age of 30 have BSN degrees or higher, which is a clear indication that more RNs across WA are seeing the value of higher education. Higher salary and more job opportunities make BSN degrees more enticing for prelicensure RNs.

How to pay Your RN to BSN in Washington

Earning a BSN degree is important, but for working RNs who are raising families, it is also expensive. Fortunately, there are several options available to you that can help you pay for your education.

Grants: Federal grants are sums of money granted to students based on financial need or academic merit, and they do not have to be repaid. To find out if you qualify, and to apply for grants, simply fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Loans: Student loans are another option for those who may not qualify for other forms of financial aid. These are available from the federal government or through private lending institutions. Unlike grants or scholarships, students must repay loans according to the lender’s terms. The Washington State Office of the Attorney General offers numerous resources for those interested in student loans, and the state also offers a loan repayment program.

Scholarships: Scholarships are an abundant source of funding in the healthcare industry. They are available in individual nursing schools, healthcare facilities and employers, and even from state organizations like the Washington State Nurses Association. Scholarships may be based on need or merit, and in some cases, you must demonstrate both.

Employer Assistance Programs: Employer assistance programs are available from some Washington hospitals and medical facilities. It may come in the form of tuition reimbursement, which is a benefit given to all employees after a specific period of time, or it may be a work-study program allowing you to earn your RN to BSN degree in the state of WA in exchange for agreeing to work in underserved areas for a specific period of time.

6 Benefits of Pursuing an RN to BSN in Washington

There is little doubt that pursuing your RN to BSN degree in Washington will provide you with a sense of pride and accomplishment, but there are several other benefits that you can enjoy, as well.

1. Expand Your Knowledge and Skills: The courses you will take during your RN to BSN program in this state are designed to provide you with more specialized education. These courses teach you what you need to know to lead a team of nurses in a managerial or supervisory role. They will also help you learn the role of registered nurses in research settings, and in some cases, you may even learn skills that will build a foundation for working as a nurse educator.

2. Salary Bump: Along with the new skills and abilities afforded by your baccalaureate education, you will also be able to command a higher salary. Prior to BSN completion, RNs in WA earn an average annual salary of $93,820, which is already well above the national average. After completing their BSNs, they earn $107,670 a year – a difference of $13,850 annually. This salary increase is especially noticeable if you work in the Seattle or Bremerton areas where the population is more concentrated.

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 population in Washington grows each year, particularly in cities like Seattle and Tacoma. As a result, the demand for healthcare professionals increases each year, too. Each year, there are 1,600 new and replacement jobs available to ADN graduates compared to 2,870 annual openings for BSN graduates. RNs who have earned BSNs will have access to jobs with better pay, better hours, and a better overall work environment, as well.

Washington Annual Job Openings (New + Replacement)
Annual Openings for BSN Graduates 2,870
Annual Openings for ADN Graduates 1,600
(Source: Compiled using data from careeronestop.org)

4. Advance Your Career: Nursing in general continues to thrive in WA, but this is especially true for BSN-educated RNs. Between 2020 and 2030, 2,630 new jobs will become available for RNs who have ADN degrees, which represents growth of 14.29%. For RNs with BSN degrees, that growth is even larger. In the same time period, 5,590 new jobs will be added, representing 17.33% growth and a great deal of job security for RNs who continue to excel at their jobs.

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

5. Career Advancement: Though working directly with patients as an RN is very rewarding, completing your BSN opens many new doors for you. You will be qualified to work as a Charge Nurse, a Nurse Manager, or a Nurse Supervisor, all of which are important leadership positions. You can also work as a Clinical Nurse Specialist or a Clinical Research Nurse, two highly specialized careers that will allow you to develop a skillset important to the very future of medicine in Washington.

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: Of course, your career ladder does not end with your BSN degree and a leadership or management position. Your RN to BSN program in "The Evergreen State" will also provide you with a solid foundation for graduate degrees. With an MSN, for example, you can work as a Nurse Practitioner or a Certified Nurse Midwife in Washington and earn as much as $154,040 annually. This will take up to two additional years of school. You could also choose to go to school for another four to six years and earn your PhD or DNP, which will allow you to work as a Nurse Educator in a four-year college or even an APRN, one of the most in-demand and highest paid nursing positions in the state. Your salary in these positions could top out as high as $179,850.

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$97,000 - $154,040
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$97,000 - $179,850

RN to BSN Programs in Nearby States
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  • Kansas
  • Montana
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