BSN Degrees– What You Should Know

Nurses play a vital role in today’s healthcare industry. You can find nurses at doctors’ offices, hospitals, clinics, outpatient facilities, nursing care facilities, schools, universities, and private residences caring for and comforting patients who are suffering from illness, injury, or old age. To perform effectively, nurses must be both highly skilled and thoroughly trained. The Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN) is the typical educational route to a career in nursing. While some employers still hire nurses with an associate degree or a nursing diploma, the BSN degree requires in-depth study of the subjects and skills that nurses need to do the job. Because the degree takes four years to obtain, nurses with a BSN degree usually have more classroom hours and more time spent in clinical rotations than nurses with other types of training. In addition, this full-time educational program opens doors and creates opportunities for those who wish to advance to the highest ranks of nursing.

BSN Program Curriculum & Goals - What You Will Learn

Students who complete a BSN program leave college with a solid foundation in nursing. Once they pass the NCELX-RN exam, they’re ready to begin their career. While a percentage of students eventually go on to complete graduate studies, all these programs require nurses to complete clinical rotations before they can seek another degree. As a result, students who graduate with a BSN should have all the skills and knowledge required to practice nursing in a real-world setting. Core courses in these programs help students develop the skills essential to a strong foundation in the practice of nursing. Students learn how to provide medical care to diverse populations and take a leadership role in healthcare settings. Students also learn how to apply the most recent research to their nursing practice and how to communicate with patients, physicians, and other healthcare providers.

BSN Program Objectives - What Skills & Knowledge You Will Develop

Upon graduation with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, nurses must be able to ethically and competently provide health care to patients from many backgrounds and of different ages. Students also must be able to function effectively as part of a health care team, work with doctors and other healthcare providers, and thrive within a variety of conditions. Students must stay up to date on current discoveries and the most recent research in the medical field to make decisions and administer health care to sick and injured patients. They also must know how to work with modern medical equipment and software in healthcare facilities.

BSN Program Structure - Typical Coursework & Clinical Training

Varied and academically rich, BSN coursework prepares students for a demanding career. In addition to general studies courses such as math, social science, English, and mathematics, all students must take courses in psychology, physiology, anatomy, fitness, statistics, microbiology, pharmacology, nursing research, mental health, and clinical studies. Students who earn a BSN degree also work in clinical rotations during which they observe and assist working nurses in real-world settings under the direct supervision of experienced professional registered nurses (RNs).

The 25 Best BSN Programs of 2018

1 Texas A & M University Health Science Center
Bryan, TX

If you’re looking for a start to your career rich in cutting-edge science and nonstop innovation, the Texas A&M University HSC School of Nursing can provide you exactly that. Coming up on its 150th birthday, the university boasts a reputation for one of the strongest scientifically minded healthcare programs in the country.

Their nursing track is no exception. The RN to BSN program makes it easy for students to earn both a Registered Nurse certification and Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, both of which open doors to greater career opportunity and potential for continuing education. With completely online course instruction, this No. 1 program also enables students to continue duties at home and in their existing careers without interruption.

2 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, NC

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, or simply “Carolina,” has spent the first part of the 21st century focusing all its energies on bringing coursework into a global world. Nowhere is this more clear than in its nursing program, which is slated to reboot in 2019. The university now offers both a BSN and an accelerated BSN for those who have the time and resources to devote full-time attention to their degree.

In either case, both programs prioritize clinical experience from the first semester on, and culminate with an intensive capstone in the final year of the program. Programs also focus on leadership and advocacy, turning nurses into the storytellers and defenders patients need them to be.

3 University of Florida
Gainesville, FL

Impressively, a full 80 percent of University of Florida BSN students continue on to graduate school within 3 years of finishing their degree. The school has an average of around 600 BSN students at any given time, with a further 400 in graduate-level programs.

The online RN to BSN at the University of Florida strongly encourages leadership and professional preparation in a variety of clinical settings. As the program points out, there are almost 3 million nurses practicing in the United States today. Roughly 55 percent of RNs hold a bachelor’s degree.

That means if you want to compete for the best jobs, you need to have that degree too. The University of Florida is committed to helping you get it with their online courses that teach wellness promotion, illness prevention, and critical care, among other subjects.

4 Allen College
Waterloo, IA

Built on 90 years of healthcare expertise, Allen College is one of the best options for those who wish to become nurses. The campus The in Waterloo, Iowa. It offers students the benefit of both the nearby Cedar Falls Metropolitan area as well as the cozy experience of a university campus.

Their nursing degree programs are complemented by other programs in radiography, diagnostic medical sonography, public health, dental hygiene, medical laboratory science, community health, psychiatric health and more. The experience of surrounding oneself with so many health-focused students, faculty and courses is incredibly enriching for anyone hoping to achieve a BSN.

5 Ohio State University
Columbus, OH

Ohio State is a public university in Columbus, Ohio. Founded in 1870, it has nearly 150 years of excellence behind it. In addition to highly regarded football team (go Buckeyes!), the institution also has a widely respected medical arm.

OSU, as it is also known, offers two routes to the BSN. Firstly, students can choose to take a full four-year track. This includes all the usual expectations of an undergraduate university degree, including classes in the arts and humanities as well as nursing. However, for those who already hold a registered nurse certificate, OSU’s College of Nursing also offers an RN to BSN option. Either route will prepare students to perform admirably in a medical environment and to apply, if desired, for a master’s program.

6 University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA

The University of Pennsylvania’s nursing program consistently ranks as one of the best in the nation. US News and World Report gives the university a No. 1 rating for four different specialties, and QS world University has given it the primary spot for 2017 and 2018. Clearly, any student wishing for an excellent education will find one here.

Students at the University of Pennsylvania have access to two teaching hospitals and may choose from a variety of study programs. Both high school and transfer students are welcome to apply to the BSN program, while those who already hold an RN degree are eligible for the accelerated program. UPenn offers a huge range of opportunity when it comes to coursework and campus activity, from , clubs and institutions to study abroad programs.

7 Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA

Nearby Pennsylvania State University also offers a lot of options for BSN programs. First, they offer a traditional four-year program, which teaches the basics of nursing up through specific focus areas. They also offer second-degree programs, which is when the student already has a bachelor’s degree. Lastly, those who hold an RN are eligible for the RN to BSN program.

Given the ever-greater competition for nursing jobs, and the growing number of nurses who hold BSNs, a bachelor’s degree is becoming more and more critical for those who wish to compete for the best roles. Luckily, Pennsylvania State University, founded in 1855, is among the best institutions to offer a degree that will fully prepare students as well as impress potential employers.

8 The University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX

The University of Texas is among one of the largest and most progressive institutions in the United States today. It boasts an incredibly diverse student body along with an administration heavily focused on diversity and inclusion among both students and faculty. This is critical for nursing trainees in any role, but particularly helpful for those who wish to work in underserved areas, where the socioeconomic and cultural demographics vary so widely.

UT’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing programs are open to incoming freshman as well as internal and external transfers. The application dates and coursework may vary depending on these factors, but the core of the program stays the same: to give students an excellent nursing foundation on which they can build careers or graduate degrees.

9 University of Wisconsin - Madison
Madison, WI

Founded 170 years ago, the University of Wisconsin at Madison is one of the most respected institutions in the United States. The university it Is widely regarded for its attention not only to public health, but to the environment and the complex relationships between people and the Earth. Such understanding is integral to our quality of life in the future, not to mention that of other creatures who live here – which may explain why the university has such a respected vet school as well.

The Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Wisconsin is a two-year program. It is predicated on pre-nursing courses and gives students a huge variety of skills and academic knowledge, along with access to some of the best teachers and leaders in the world. The program is highly selective, and students who get in are well-prepared to enter the nursing field immediately upon graduation.

10 Brigham Young University
Provo, UT

Brigham Young University is one of the respected institutions in Utah and a common draw for those who want a comprehensive education with or without a Christian component. The campus post ongoing devotionals, its own planetarium and a variety of other activities that any student would enjoy.

The university offers baccalaureate programs for those who are just embarking on their four-year college educations, as well as masters programs for those who wish a deeper level of nursing understanding and capability, so students who wish to go straight from the undergraduate to the graduate degree will find a good home at BYU.

11 University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA

The University of Virginia posts one of the finest medical research institutions in the world. Charlottesville is a destination for those with medical issues of various sorts, and the university’s other departments constantly make advances in science.

The nursing program is no exception, with UVA accepting nursing students from a wide variety of locations. Students may either enter school with the intention to get a four-year degree in nursing, or they may transfer from within or outside the institution. Working RNs may also leverage the RN to BSN track to increase their career standing.

12 University of California - Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA

The University of California, Los Angeles is one of the West Coast’s most respected institutions. In 2019, it will see its centennial, giving the “best coast” yet another long-standing university to rival the East Coast. In addition to having one of the best medical programs in the United States, UCLA is also highly committed to diversity and inclusion.

The BSN program is based on a four-year model, with incoming students first completing pre-nursing requirements before entering the BSN track. Upon graduation, they are prepared to sit the licensure exam, work in medical settings or continue on to a Masters or a graduate program to further enhance their careers.

13 Georgetown University
Washington, DC

One of oldest institutions on this list, Georgetown University was established in the late 1700s. With going on 250 years of excellence in Washington DC, Georgetown is a popular choice for nursing students applying to programs. While it is quite competitive, those who get in almost universally have an amazing four-year experience among the Gothic architecture and other bright nursing candidates.

The BSN program is a comprehensive approach to nursing that prepares students for long-term success in the field. The website boasts that graduates go on to work at such renowned institutions as MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, University of Virginia Health System, New York Presbyterian’s Sloane Hospital for Women, the United States Air Force, MedStar Washington Hospital Center and the Children’s National Medical Center.

14 Duke University
Durham, NC

Duke University’s longevity is similar to Georgetown’s, with the institution having been established in 1838. It is located in Durham, North Carolina, and its known for both impressive athletic teams as well as a high degree of academic excellence.

The nursing program is no exception. Duke is somewhat unique in its accelerated BSN, which is especially geared towards students already have a bachelor’s degree. For those who have completed the prerequisites required, the program takes only 16 months. This means students wishing to increase understanding of medical field or for enter for the first time can do so within only a few years.

15 University of California - Irvine
Irvine, CA

Another of the best coastal schools, the University of California at Irvine is just as impressive in the medical sphere as the other institutions on this list. The UCI health center makes consistent advancements in the medical field in areas such as oncology.

The nursing program is quite competitive – only the top 2.5 percent of students who apply receive a letter of acceptance. The program looks for incoming freshman with 4.0 GPAs and high SAT scores, so while students who don’t meet those requirements may feel to apply, know that this institution prides itself on accepting the best of the best.

16 University of Central Florida
Orlando, FL

The University of Central Florida is a large and popular school located in sunny Orlando, Florida. With more than 200 degree programs and 13 different colleges, UCF has something for everyone – nurses included. The nursing program faculty are established, experienced and in many cases, still working in medical settings.

This results in a well-vetted program for those who want to become heavyweights in the field: leaders, entrepreneurs or graduate-degree holders. The program is very specific, however, that it is only for students intent on getting a four-year degree from UCF. It is not for those who want a second degree or for RNs looking to continue their education.

17 University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
Minneapolis, MN

University of Minnesota students routinely go on to impressive feats. Their students head to Cambridge to continue studies in reproductive biology, take chemical engineering skills to far-off Ethiopia, or complete high-level surgeries as part of a team. These are only a few of the recent achievements among UM’s graduates.

Nursing students at the University of Minnesota may choose to study in one of two locations: Rochester or the Twin Cities. Like several of the other institutions on this list, UM does not offer RN to BSN degrees, but rather reserves its programs for undergraduates.

18 Purdue University
West Lafayette, IN

Purdue University’s red brick architecture and Midwestern location make it an ideal destination for those who want to experience a wintry change of pace or are already well-suited to Indiana’s harsh colder months. Luckily, Purdue’s BSN keeps students plenty busy indoors. Students may choose from a full four-year degree or enroll in the second degree program, which prepares those who already hold bachelor’s degrees in a different field to become RNs in only 4 semesters. Graduates are prepared to work in a variety of clinical settings, community health centers, hospitals and field stations.

19 Florida State University
Tallahassee, FL

Florida State University, recently designated a preeminent research university by the Florida legislature, is one of the best places to attend nursing school in the deep south. It’s new reputation as an even more prestigious institution, having met a series of stringent benchmarks, means students who graduate from it are bound to impress.

Florida State focuses on four-year bachelor’s degrees by educating its undergraduates with two years of pre-nursing courses and following that up with a two-year BSN program. It also offers second degrees, or BSNs to those who already have a bachelors in another field. It is not a good choice for those who wish to make the RN to BSN jump. The program is competitive and limited-access, meaning you must have outstanding grades and test scores to apply.

20 New York University
New York, NY

NYU needs no explaining as a prestigious institution. One of New York’s longest-standing and finest universities, this school is a destination of choice for many nursing students. The NYU Rory Meyers College of Nursing also offers some of the most flexible options when it comes to getting a degree.

Students can, for example, take the traditional four-year track. They can also take the RN to BSN track, transfer from another school or from another college with in NYU, or combine their nursing major with another major. Upon finishing this program, students will have an outstanding foundation on which to take the nursing boards and get jobs. Bonus: NYU nursing grads have an 84-percent pass rate on the certification test.

21 Bon Secours Memorial College of Nursing
Richmond, VA

Translating as “good help,” Bon Secours is a purely nursing-focused institution that has provided students with top-level educations for 50 years. Because so many students who want to earn the BSN are in nontraditional situations – i.e. already working or taking care of families – Bon Secours offers two options.

The first is a traditional bachelor of science. This program offers four years of instruction to high school graduates or others who thus far lack a college education. By the end of the program, students are prepared to sit the boards and become registered nurses. For those working as registered nurses already, the institution offers a another track: the RN to BSN. This, like the options offered in the universities listed above, takes much less time and sets students up for graduate degrees or greater career opportunities.

22 California State University - Long Beach
Long Beach, CA

More than 12,000 students received diplomas from California State University-Long Beach in 2018. Though it is a lesser-known institution, it still boasts a 70-year reputation and a 322-acre campus filled with sweeping landscaping and beautiful architecture.

Its nursing program admits two types of students: those who are in the process of getting a four-year degree from CSU, and those who already possess the RN but wish to get the bachelor’s degree. Nursing graduates have the skills not only to work in any type of medical setting, but to continue their educations either on a yearly basis or go on to master’s or even doctoral programs (to clarify: PhDs or PsyDs, not MDs). Once earning California’s required certifications, nurses are eligible to work anywhere in the state.

23 New England Institute of Technology
East Greenwich, RI

As the name implies, the New England Institute of Technology stays on the cutting edge of science and innovation. A prime tenet of the institution is learning by doing, with the latest technologies, equipment and academic research on hand for majors of all sorts. It offers more than 50 programs, ranging from the associate’s to the master’s level.

The RN to BSN program is one of the most affordable and simplest in which to enroll, as the school offers it entirely online. Various publications have ranked it among the top five, eight and 25 nursing programs for the RN to BSN track.

24 University at Buffalo
Buffalo, NY

The University at Buffalo, New York’s state university, is rich with medical history. Established in 1846, it has almost 175 years of academic excellence fueling its various scientific and medical focuses. These include biomedical research, nursing, pharmacology, public health, social work, cancer research, and engineering, among other pursuits.

In other words, nursing students are in good company when they attend this scientifically rigorous, medically respected institution. The BSN program offers four-year students the opportunity to build their nursing foundations from the ground up. The RN to BSN program enables those who earned their nursing certificate through other channels to round out their understanding and improve their career opportunities.

25 Emory University
Atlanta, GA

In an effort to respond to the world’s great need for alternative medical services and mental healthcare, Emory University is helping to lead the charge against the opioid epidemic. This is just one example of their incredibly diverse medical programming. They also collaborate with big names, such as Kaiser Permanente, contribute regularly to medical research and advance the health sciences every day.

Students can apply to the BSN program straight out of high school, while currently attending Emory or if attending another institution and wishing to transfer. The two-year program combines clinical and classroom settings, culminating in a bachelor’s degree with a strong focus on practical medicine, continuing care and ongoing educational opportunity.

BSN Programs Near Me

There are almost 700 colleges and universities across the country offering BSN programs for students who want to start or advance their careers in nursing. If you are beginning your college search, it helps to know that your decision does not have to begin and end with nationally recognized programs with name brands. There are many schools – some known and some less known – that have built strong reputations and are deserving of your attention.

Here, we provide carefully researched lists of the best BSN programs for each state. Click on your state to view program rankings and to access our database of online BSN programs near you.