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Common Questions About the RN to BSN Degree Online

Common Questions About the RN to BSN Degree Online

RNs who gained licensure through ADN or diploma programs have many different reasons for earning their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Some want to learn more, earn more and qualify for a wider range of career opportunities. Others need the degree to be eligible for a promotion. Nurses further up the career ladder also get their BSN, sometimes because their employer wants them to have a higher academic credential for the job they already hold.

Regardless of your motivation for earning a BSN, you may enjoy the flexibility an online RN to BSN degree program offers working nurses. You'll have the ability to learn at your own pace and on your own schedule. And the online classroom is a lively space where you'll interact with your RN peers and learn from each other as well.

Follow the links below to find out more about online RN to BSN programs and the benefits of getting your bachelor's degree in nursing.

About the RN to BSN

Practice Experience Requirements

Admission and Transfer Credits

Careers & Salary

Tuition & Financial Aid

Time Factors

Studying Online

What Is an RN to BSN Degree?

RN to BSN is a bridge program for ADN or diploma RNs

The RN to BSN degree is designed for working nurses who want to continue their education and build on their experience. It's a type of academic bridge program that gives nurses with an ADN or diploma education a flexible way to finish the remaining required bachelor's coursework and a streamlined path to a degree. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), there are now 777 RN to BSN degree programs across the nation, and more than 600 of them are partially or fully online.

The University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) has been educating nurses for over 40 years, and the school's blends the best of traditional nursing with today's data-driven work environment. U.S. News & World Report has ranked UNCW online bachelor's programs eighth in the nation for 2019, noting that 93 percent of the school's online bachelor's degree students enroll in the RN to BSN program.

How Does the BSN Benefit Nurses?

BSN degree for working nurses

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), college graduates with a bachelor's degree can earn almost 30 percent more per year on average than those with an associate degree alone. This in itself is a strong argument for the financial rewards a BSN can potentially bring, but it's not the only reason so many RNs decide to go back to school for this degree.

BSN-level education and practice experience benefits RNs working in every aspect of healthcare, from bedside nursing and care coordination to management and leadership. It also prepares RNs for new opportunities and the broad range of nursing career paths they can access with additional education. According to AACN research, 86 percent of employers strongly prefer to hire BSN RNs. And half now require the degree.

 Dr. Jeeyae Choi, Assistant Professor, UNCW RN to BSN online
A BSN helps nurses provide more quality care to all patients.
Dr. Carolyn Kleman, Assistant Professor, UNCW RN to BSN online
Having a BSN will make a nurse more marketable and open more opportunities for advancement.
Dr. Carolyn Kleman, Assistant Professor, UNCW RN to BSN online
Dr. Lorie Sigmon, Assistant Professor, UNCW RN to BSN online
Any nurse can be a leader, no matter what their official title is. That is why preparing yourself academically is so important.

What More Can an Online RN to BSN Program Teach Me About Nursing?

Experienced nurses can still learn from an RN to BSN program

If you're an experienced ADN or diploma RN, and wondering what all the fuss is about with the BSN, you're not alone. Some nurses are skeptical of how much they can realistically learn in the classroom after they have spent many years in the field, and that's understandable. But there are very good reasons to consider this degree.

AACN strongly encourages RNs to earn a BSN because the coursework delivers the advanced knowledge that modern nursing increasingly requires. It also focuses on essential skills and key competencies that healthcare employers seek in nurse leaders, such as project management, patient-centered research and data analysis. You'll learn how working nurses can impact and influence healthcare policy as well.

 Boots Vandermark, 2018 UNCW online RN to BSN graduate
The degree allowed me to understand the more definitive roles and responsibilities that come with leadership and the bachelor's-prepared nurse. It helped me be an advocate for myself.
 Leah Johnson, 2017 UNCW BSN graduate and intensive care unit nurse
Have an open mind to all of the types of nursing out there. Your career is so vast. People come into the program with the mindset that 'I want to be this type of nurse.' I did, too. It dramatically changed. UNCW gives you great opportunities to experience what kind of nurse you could possibly be.
 Leah Johnson, 2017 UNCW BSN graduate and intensive care unit nurse

What Kinds of Courses Will I Take?

In many RN to BSN programs, your coursework will center on assessment, research, evidence-based practice (EBP) and specialized care for specific populations. At UNCW, you'll also study leadership and management, healthcare law, population and community health, and more.

In addition to general education coursework, UNCW online RN to BSN students take , plus one or more nursing electives of their choice. Many UNCW alumni have a favorite class that speaks to their experience or their passion for nursing. Here are a few examples.

Carolyn Hunter, 2018 UNCW online RN to BSN graduate
I liked the Gerontological Nursing and the End of Life Care course because a large number of patients I work with are geriatric patients. I like working with the older population. I could take what I learned and apply it right into my practice.
Jevon Morris, 2017 UNCW RN to BSN online graduate
I like that [NSG 316: Professional Nursing Practice for the Baccalaureate Nurse] went into detail you don't normally get. In the associate of nursing degree program, you don't get the detail you get in the health professional course.
Jevon Morris, 2017 UNCW RN to BSN online graduate
Kim Fowler, 2016 UNCW RN to BSN online graduate
I really, really enjoyed [NSG 408: Population and Community Health Nursing] because I've always been a bedside nurse. I've always worked in a hospital. Nursing in the community was a whole different world to me. I never really gave it much thought. It just opened my eyes to a whole other world of nursing.

Are Online RN to BSN Programs Accredited?

accreditation for online nursing programs

Many online RN to BSN programs are accredited, but you can always check the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs (DAPIP) to be sure before you apply. Programs accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) or the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) go through an extended evaluation process to ensure that the RN to BSN degree offered meets rigorous academic and professional standards.

UNCW's online RN to BSN program is CCNE-accredited. The university is also regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Why Is Accreditation so Important?

Graduating from an accredited nursing program is important for RNs starting or continuing their career in any number of healthcare settings. Most hospitals and healthcare systems prefer to hire BSN-prepared nurses from accredited academic programs, and many employers have also added this requirement for RNs seeking pay raises and promotions. Accreditors protect students as well, by verifying that their RN to BSN program is sound, both academically and financially.

Will I Have to Repeat My RN Clinicals to Get a BSN?

No. If you are already a licensed RN, you won't need to repeat that part of your training for the BSN.

Will I Get Any Hands-on Experience in an RN to BSN Program?

Gain practical skills in an online RN to BSN program with practicum experiences

Yes. RN to BSN programs provide plenty of opportunity for you to get additional hands-on experience in areas such as evidence-based practice, research, planning, leadership and other areas of nursing. These practice experiences are different from the supervised clinical rotations you've previously done, however, because you'll deal with new and advanced nursing concepts.

At UNCW, practice experiences are designed for and by the RNs studying in the program, and they address many different aspects of nursing. You might develop an assessment tool for a care unit, do research on nursing challenges in a specific healthcare setting, or plan and execute a local community wellness initiative, for example.

Can I Arrange a Practice Experience Where I Work or in My Hometown?

 apply the principles of evidence-based practice to clinical and community settings

In most online RN to BSN programs, you can. In fact, this kind of opportunity highlights something that online RN to BSN programs do well. They help students apply the principles of evidence-based practice to clinical and community settings where nurses can have a direct influence on health outcomes.

UNCW RN to BSN students take a final capstone course where they can use a practice experience to address a real-life healthcare issue or challenge, and students may choose to do a project in their local area. Workplace practice experiences must differ from your regular RN duties, however, and integrate new skills and knowledge. Hospital-based projects might focus on a different patient population or care unit, for instance, or a community outreach effort.

Is a Specific Number of Practice Experience Hours Required?

No set number of practice experience hours for UNCW online RN to BSN

Once students have already completed the clinicals required for initial licensure, many states don't require RN to BSN programs to keep track of an RN's practice experience in hours. Some programs still do that, however, so check with the schools you're interested in to confirm their practice experience requirements.

UNCW does not require students to complete a set number of hours during their RN to BSN practice experiences. The progress and results you demonstrate during your practice experience are more important than the amount of time you spend in a given clinical environment.

Do Practice Experiences Require a Preceptor?

It depends on your program's requirements and whether you are working directly with patients. No preceptor is required for online UNCW students completing their practice experiences, but a supervisor will mentor and evaluate students working in a direct care capacity, or otherwise interacting with patients. UNCW faculty members also guide and evaluate students during each practice experience, even if there is no direct contact with patients involved.

Learn more about our RN to BSN online program

What Do Online RN to BSN Programs Require for Admission?

Online Rn to BSN program admissions requirements

The admissions process is always specific to each school, but there are a few standard requirements:

  • Program application
  • ADN or diploma program in nursing
  • Active and unencumbered RN license
  • Your undergraduate GPA and official transcripts detailing all previous coursework

Some schools also request a background check, proof of your certifications, or verification that your liability insurance and immunizations are current. You must meet the program's minimum GPA requirement for RN to BSN admission as well.

In addition to the bulleted items listed above, UNCW online RN to BSN applicants must have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 and at least 24 transferable coursework credits. Consult the for further information on program requirements.

Will I Get Credit for College Courses I've Already Taken?

Transfer credits to ADN to BSN program

Chances are good that you will get credit for courses taken at an accredited college or university, as long as there is an equivalent course at your new school. The admissions office will need to evaluate your previous college transcripts to determine what will transfer, however.

Visit UNCW's transfer credit FAQ for more information on how your college credits might apply to the online RN to BSN program. You must have a grade of C or better in any transfer courses being counted toward the degree.

Do I Have to Take Prerequisites or Extra Courses Before I Can Apply?

It depends on your situation and your transcripts. If you have already fulfilled the general education requirements for a bachelor of science as part of your associate degree, you're probably well prepared for a BSN program. However, some RNs discover through the application process that they need an extra class here or there to get up to speed with BSN course requirements, and ensure they have the total number of course credits (120 hours) required to earn a bachelor's degree.

If you are applying to UNCW, just review the general education requirements for a BSN and speak with an admissions counselor to discuss your options.

Carolyn Hunter, 2018 UNCW online RN to BSN graduate
When I started working at the hospital, they said, 'Make earning a bachelor's degree a five-year goal.' I was a new RN, and I was so excited about the RN that I was content. Then, I took some prerequisites and spoke to somebody at UNCW. I never stopped. I filled out the application, I was accepted and I was excited. That's where my journey began.

Will I Have to Take Statistics or Chemistry to Get a BSN?

It varies by school, but many RN to BSN programs do require that you take undergraduate statistics and/or chemistry and pass with a grade of C or better.

If you passed an ETS Advanced Placement Examination in chemistry or statistics in high school, you may be able to receive credit-by-exam for those courses at UNCW. Check with an admissions counselor for more details.

I loved the seven-week semesters. Even when I had to take chemistry, it was only for seven weeks.
Ashley Currin RN to BSN online graudate

What Is the Career Outlook for BSN RNs?

Career Outlook for BSN RNs

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, RN employment will grow at double the average rate of all other professions through 2028. The career outlook for RNs with a bachelor's degree is even more promising. Labor market analytics firm Burning Glass Technologies forecasts 16 percent job growth for RNs with a BSN over the next eight years.

Nationwide, there were 546,373 job postings for BSN RNs from April 2018 to March 2019, and employment data for places like North Carolina tells a story that is playing out across America. The state had 21,478 job postings for BSN RNs over the same period, as well as the fifth-highest recruitment in the country. Burning Glass also predicts job growth of more than 22 percent for BSN RNs in North Carolina through 2026.

Why Do Employers Expect Me to Have a BSN or to Get One?

Many employers have adopted new education requirements for RNs, which were first outlined in the 2010 Institute of Medicine report "The Future of Nursing." The IOM (now known as the National Academy of Medicine) argued in the report that when ADN or diploma-trained RNs earn a BSN, nurses and patients both benefit. Here are a few reasons why.

Many hospitals require or strongly prefer BSN RNs
  • BSN-level preparation in areas such as leadership, technology and evidence-based practice helps nurses rise to the challenges presented by medicine's rapid evolution.
  • BSN RNs receive additional practice experience that's essential to their career progression, such as coordinating services between care teams and using research to solve problems.

The report also set a high bar for RNs, recommending that 80 percent have their bachelor's degree by 2020. According to AACN, 64 percent currently do.

Dr. Lorie Sigmon, Assistant Professor, UNCW RN to BSN online
The value of the BSN from the personal nurse perspective is that it opens doors for future work. You are prepared for entry-level leadership and EBP roles within your work environment. You are able to progress on the clinical ladder and be promoted and offered additional roles that you may not have had otherwise.
Dr. Lorie Sigmon, Assistant Professor, UNCW RN to BSN online
Materria Strickland, 2019 UNCW online RN to BSN graduate
Completing a bachelor's degree was a requirement when I signed my contract. I frequently recommend the RN to BSN program. When my new nurse colleagues ask me about degree programs, I always tell them that UNCW is very flexible.

How Do Hospitals Benefit From Hiring BSN RNs?

Hospitals Benefit From Hiring BSN RNs

BSN RNs bring specific expertise to their work that pays significant dividends for hospitals. Research demonstrates the tangible effects of their advanced knowledge and skills.

Studies published in BMJ Quality and Safety, Medical Care and other healthcare journals indicate that increased BSN RN staffing in hospital patient care is linked with better patient outcomes. Hospitals studied have seen lower incidences of life-threatening conditions such as pulmonary thrombosis and congestive heart failure, as well as lower mortality rates and fewer readmissions.

Hospitals seeking the most prestigious award in nursing, Magnet designation by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), also need BSN-prepared RNs. To earn Magnet status, a hospital is required to have 80 percent of its nurses and 100 percent of its nurse managers and nurse leaders prepared at the BSN level. A high percentage of U.S. News & World Report's 2018-2019 Best Hospitals are Magnets, including Minnesota's Mayo Clinic (#1), Ohio's Cleveland Clinic (#2), Maryland's Johns Hopkins Hospital (#3), and the rest of the top 10.

Shawn Klabo, UNCW online RN to BSN graduate
There is value in doing the RN to BSN program online. It gives you a lot of explanation and background of why we do the things that we do. It also gives you a more balanced, well-rounded look at nursing as a profession.

Can I Make More Money With a BSN?

September 2019 salary data from PayScale shows strong pay nationwide for BSN graduates. The average annual BSN salary is currently $83,000, compared to the average salary for all RNs of $66,000. Pay rates can vary by location and job responsibilities, however.

 Chloe Linton, UNCW online RN to BSN graduate
The BSN allowed me to climb the clinical ladder. We have a clinical ladder program at the hospital, and in order to climb to a staff nurse III, which I am currently, you have to have your BSN. So, that allowed me to climb the clinical ladder and do more things within the organization, including getting a raise.
Materria Strickland, 2019 UNCW online RN to BSN graduate
I was absolutely able to use the information from the program at my job. Plus, the BSN has already opened doors for me in case management. It was a good experience.
Materria Strickland, 2019 UNCW online RN to BSN graduate

What Types of Jobs Require a BSN?

While your job prospects will also depend on your experience and background in nursing, a BSN can make you more competitive for a range of positions. Here are some examples of leadership, management and specialized care roles that usually require a bachelor's degree.

Position Average Salary
Certified Diabetes Educator $71,873
Nurse Navigator $73,431
Clinical Documentation Specialist $75,607
Transplant Coordinator $79,275
Long-Term Care Nursing Director $81,238
Clinical Informatics Specialist $83,508
Home Health Agency Administrator $85,545
Emergency Department Manager $87,139
Quality Manager $87,777
Clinical Specialist, Medical Devices $89,111
Nursing Manager, Operating Room $92,858
Healthcare Consultant $97,890

Source: PayScale, April 2019

Can Second-Career RNs Move Up Faster With a BSN?

Many second-career RNs are initially attracted to the field due to the high demand for nurses and the fact that they can get trained and certified quickly, with just a diploma or an associate degree. Once in the profession, however, some career changers find that they can't move up without a BSN, or that many hospitals and other healthcare employers now require the degree.

If you've already made the switch to nursing from a different career, or entered the field at an older age than many of your peers, having a BSN can help you make up for lost time. The BSN is becoming the new standard in nursing education, driven by research and employer demand, so it's also the ticket to many places an ambitious nurse may wish to go in his or her second career.

Learn more about our RN to BSN online program

Where Is Demand for BSN RNs High?

Burning Glass Technologies job market data from the first few months of 2019 indicates that Texas, Florida, New York, North Carolina, Georgia and Pennsylvania are among the top states for BSN RN recruitment. The top metro areas include:

  • New York, New York
  • Newark, New Jersey
  • Dallas, Texas
  • Fort Worth, Texas
  • Atlanta, Georgia
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • Nashua, New Hampshire
  • Phoenix, Arizona
  • Arlington, Virginia
  • Charlotte, North Carolina

 Leah Johnson, 2017 UNCW BSN graduate and intensive care unit nurse
What UNCW provides for its nursing students was what I was looking for … I have a great base in critical care that can take me anywhere.

Am I More Likely to Get a Hiring Bonus With a BSN?

Hiring BSN RNs

You don't have to have a bachelor's degree to get a hiring bonus when you sign on for a new job, but it definitely helps. The reality is that BSN nurses do have the edge in this respect, because they are more heavily recruited. Competition for BSN RNs can even be fierce.

Becker's Hospital Review, healthcare trade magazine STAT and nursing recruiter Advisory Board all report that signing bonuses are trending skyward, so BSN-prepared RNs are enjoying good opportunities. It's no longer uncommon to get $5,000-$10,000 up front as an incentive to come work for a hospital or healthcare system in need, and some BSN RNs have received signing bonuses as high as $25,000.

How Much Is Tuition for an Online RN to BSN Degree Program?

Online RN to BSN program tuition averages $619 per credit hour. In-state tuition at public colleges and universities is often the most affordable, averaging $426 per credit hour. Private school tuition rates can run as high as $1,327 per credit.

UNCW was named the #8 Best Affordable RN to BSN Online Program out of 154 schools ranked by in 2017. Tuition is only $167.81 per credit hour for North Carolina residents, or $503.43 per course.

Out-of-state students who plan to become North Carolina residents before or during their studies in the UNCW online RN to BSN program can be approved by the state's Residency Determination Service to qualify for in-state tuition.

 Leah Johnson, 2017 UNCW BSN graduate and intensive care unit nurse
I always try to tell and encourage any nurses who need their bachelor's degree to apply to UNCW … they have a great program and the tuition is affordable — especially for nurses here in North Carolina.
 Chloe Linton, UNCW online RN to BSN graduate
I was looking into some local online programs and came across the UNCW one. It was financially doable and it was easy for me to talk to people because it was kind of local. So, I decided to go ahead and take the leap.
 Chloe Linton, UNCW online RN to BSN graduate

Can I Get Financial Aid for an Online RN to BSN Degree Program?

Students who study in an accredited online RN to BSN program can apply for state and federal financial aid, which may include loans, grants or scholarships. Your eligibility for aid is based on your income and the cost of your degree.

Online RN to BSN students at UNCW can also apply for a variety of scholarships, including some available only to nursing students.

Can Nurses Get Tuition Reimbursement or Loan Forgiveness for an Online BSN?

Yes. You may find your employer offers one or more of these perks, and some state and federal programs for nurses also provide this type of financial assistance. Resources include:

Some online UNCW students also take advantage of state-based opportunities like the Virginia Department of Health loan repayment program and Forgivable Education Loans for Service (FELS) from the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority.

Kim Fowler, 2016 UNCW RN to BSN online graduate
I probably couldn't have done it without it being online. … This program is absolutely wonderful. And it's very affordable. Where I work reimbursed me most of my tuition back, but it was still very affordable for me because I had to pay first, get my grades and make sure I passed before work reimbursed me. I was pleased. That's definitely a big selling point.

Can I Use Military Education Benefits to Get This Type of Nursing Degree?

Yes you can, as long as you study in an accredited RN to BSN program. And if you are an active duty soldier with plans to move up in your branch of military, you can also use your education benefits while you serve. The BSN is now required to become an officer in the Army, Navy or Air Force Nurse Corps.

How Long Does It Take to Go From ADN to BSN Online?

Your timeline can vary between schools, but the RN to BSN can be completed in two years or less in most degree programs.

Can I Take Accelerated Courses or Study Year Round to Finish Faster?

Yes. In an online RN to BSN program you can do both. Nursing courses at UNCW online are only seven weeks in length, and you can take as many or few as you prefer throughout the year. Motivated students can even earn their BSN online in as little as 12 months.

"I was able to finish in a year, but I worked very hard." – , UNCW online RN to BSN graduate

I was caring for my infant granddaughter at the same time I was finishing my degree, and my son-in-law was working nights and also going to school, so it really worked to be able to go to school when it fit into my life, and finish it in a year.

Is It Possible to Work Full Time and Earn a BSN Online?

Yes. The RN to BSN was created to help working nurses earn their bachelor's degree while still maintaining a career. Many nurses who simply can't fit a traditional on-campus ADN to BSN program into their schedule are finding streamlined online RN to BSN programs more responsive to their needs and helpful in addressing the obstacles nurses can face in going back to school.

If you're also balancing a nursing career with kids and family, social time with friends, or other commitments, an online RN to BSN program can offer you the true flexibility you need to get your degree, with professors who will work with you and help you make it through.

Carolyn Hunter, 2018 UNCW online RN to BSN graduate
Looking back, the bachelor's degree was so huge, it was like a giant — it was something I once thought I couldn't accomplish. I've had people in my life tell me what I can't do, and I didn't have the tools to think I could do it. I took one class at a time. Then, I checked each one off … Just don't give up.
Carolyn Hunter, 2018 UNCW online RN to BSN graduate
Materria Strickland, 2019 UNCW online RN to BSN graduate
The flexibility is big. I initially thought I had to change my schedule and work weekends only. I did that for a while, but then I realized I would be okay working a regular schedule due to the flexibility of the program. That was a benefit.

How Much Study Time Will I Need Each Week?

Plan for 9-15 hours of study time for a 3 credit hour course

For advanced nursing courses, expect to spend 3-5 hours per week studying for every hour of course credit. For a typical three-hour online course, this means you'll spend around 9-15 hours working through the learning module for the week, including lecture, readings, assignments and discussion board posts, as applicable.

I'm Nervous About Taking Classes Online. Is It Easy for Beginners?

If you're comfortable doing other things online — like internet surfing, video chatting, banking, shopping or hanging out on social media — online RN to BSN courses will probably feel quite familiar. Even if you spend less time online, courses are pretty easy to access and use. Just fire up your computer, tablet or even your smartphone. Many students new to online learning get hooked on it right away.

"Be patient with yourself, be diligent, communicate with your instructor and get started!" – , Assistant Professor, UNCW RN to BSN online

When I first started the online classes, it took a little time to figure out the structure of the classes and to figure out the online interaction. But with the help of the tutorials and the support of the teachers, it made it fairly easy.

How Are Online Nursing Courses Taught?

At UNCW and many other schools, online nursing courses are organized around weekly learning modules. Each module will be covered in your syllabus and include a lecture or overview from your professor, with readings and assignments due each week. You may also complete discussion board posts, quizzes, tests or group projects. And there could be case studies or other interesting content to explore.

Professors will grade your assignments and often give you feedback. You can also email or speak with your professor online at any point when you have questions.

Kim Fowler, 2016 UNCW RN to BSN online graduate
They were just friendly. It seemed like the whole program set you up to succeed. I've heard from other people that programs they were in were so disorganized, and it was really, really hard. This was completely organized.
Kim Fowler, 2016 UNCW RN to BSN online graduate
Jevon Morris, 2017 UNCW RN to BSN online graduate
It took a little bit of adjustment the first semester, but pretty much the way the program is laid out is pretty consistent and even from course to course … You'd have a post due on Wednesday and have a response due by Friday in every single class. It was always the same. That consistency really helps students to manage the program.

Do Online Professors Have Clinical Experience?

Yes. Most online professors are nurses who began their careers at the bedside and rose up through the ranks of your shared profession. They are seasoned RNs who followed their interests into different areas of specialization in clinical practice, as well as healthcare research and management. Many continue their clinical practice while teaching in an RN to BSN program, bringing the ongoing knowledge they gain from working with patients to their courses and interactions with students.

The support that UNCW gave me as a student was excellent. They were constantly checking in with me to make sure that the classes were appropriate and that I was getting along well with my instructors.
 Boots Vandermark, 2018 UNCW online RN to BSN graduate

Will I Meet Other RNs in My Online Courses?

Yes. While distance learning can feel like a solitary pursuit at times, you will have classmates in your online courses. Students often meet and get to know each other through message board posts, projects and other course elements. They also learn from each other by sharing their perspectives on nursing, and solving problems together.

Do Online Students Collaborate on Projects or Presentations?

Yes, many online courses require that you work with classmates on a project or presentation just as you would in an on-campus nursing course. Here are a few examples of what students working in pairs or teams might do together for an online assignment.

  • Conduct research on a disease and its treatment modalities, and summarize the findings.
  • Collaborate on a proposal to improve health screening and wellness for a specific population.
  • Develop a new project to help address health disparities in a local community.
  • Collect data on Magnet hospitals and evidence-based practice, and create a slide show that demonstrates related health outcomes for patients.
  • Design a clinical project to be carried out by multiple students in their own community, and documented in a written report on the results.

 Chloe Linton, UNCW online RN to BSN graduate
We did a group project of a local health community in New Bern. We collaborated as a group. We did a lot of group chats on the blog and the discussion area within the course. We did a lot of text messages. A few of them FaceTimed back and forth.

Do Mature Nurses Fit in With Younger BSN Students?

Yes. Many mature RNs actually prefer online study because it breaks down social or generational barriers that can sometimes pop up in the face-to-face classroom environment. Learning online gives nurses of all ages the chance to form a community and connect with each other over the ideas and experiences they have in common.

What Are the Technical Requirements for Online Courses?

technical requirements for online courses

Check with your prospective RN to BSN program for their requirements, but if you can easily surf the internet, email, chat, and stream audio or video, you're already halfway there.

You'll want to make sure your computer or device can handle word processing for writing papers and presentation software for doing projects, and you'll also need a working webcam so you can meet with your professors and peers in real time if you like. You may also need to check your disc space and storage capacity to ensure you can create large files such as presentations or videos.

Can I Get the Same Support Services Online That I Could on Campus?

At many schools, yes. UNCW online RN to BSN students enjoy excellent remote access to the writing center and library, and the assistance of designated librarians for nursing and online student support. UNCW's Technology Assistance Center also provides comprehensive computer and course support for online students.

In addition, the RN to BSN program provides students with academic coaching from a master's-level practicing nurse, who can offer personalized support for assignments, group projects and other learning activities.

Can I Attend the Graduation Ceremony When I Finish My BSN?

Most online RN to BSN programs do encourage students to attend graduation, and UNCW's School of Nursing will be proud to award your degree in person. It's a great time to meet professors and your fellow BSN RNs and celebrate your new bachelor's degree. 

UNCW also livestreams graduation ceremonies for family or friends who can't be there for your big day and maintains an online video archive where you can relive your favorite moments again and again.

 Boots Vandermark, 2018 UNCW online RN to BSN graduate
It was important to me for my children to see all of the hard work that went into it. I would say, 'Mommy is doing schoolwork. I can't play right now, guys. I have to finish this paper.' I wanted them to see the culmination of all of that hard work at graduation, too. It was pretty special. My family was all supportive and excited.
Kim Fowler, 2016 UNCW RN to BSN online graduate
I'm an older person, so I went to graduation. I'm 53 years old, and I'm proud.
Kim Fowler, 2016 UNCW RN to BSN online graduate

Learn more about our RN to BSN online program!


American Association of Colleges of Nursing:
Degree Completion Programs for Registered Nurses: RN to Master's Degree and RN to Baccalaureate Programs
The Baccalaureate Degree in Nursing as Minimal Preparation for Professional Practice
The Impact of Education on Nursing Practice
White Paper: Expectations for Practice Experiences in the RN to Baccalaureate Curriculum

University of North Carolina Wilmington:
RN to BSN Online Overview
School of Nursing: RN to BSN
Office of the Registrar: Transfer Credit FAQ
RN to BSN Non-Nursing Required Courses
Office of the Registrar: Earn Credit by Examination
College of Health and Human Services Student Success Center: Scholarship Opportunities
University Learning Center: Writing Center
William Madison Randall Library: Information for Online & Distance Learners
Technology Assistance Center
Commencement Ceremony Video Archive

U.S. News & World Report:
Best Online Programs: University of North Carolina Wilmington
2018-19 Best Hospitals Honor Roll and Medical Specialties Rankings

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: Measuring the Value of an Education

U.S. Department of Education:
Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs (DAPIP)
Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
Perkins Loan Cancellation Program

Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE)

Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)

Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

The National Academy of Medicine:
About the National Academy of Medicine
The Future of Nursing: Leading Change, Advancing Health

BMJ Quality and Safety: Nursing Skill Mix in European Hospitals: Cross-Sectional Study of the Association With Mortality, Patient Ratings, and Quality of Care

Medical Care: Effects of Nurse Staffing and Nurse Education on Patient Deaths in Hospitals With Different Nurse Work Environments

American Nurses Credentialing Center: ANCC Magnet Recognition Program

Mayo Clinic: Quality and Mayo Clinic

Cleveland Clinic: Magnet Nursing

Johns Hopkins Hospital: The Meaning of Magnet

Average Salary of RN BSN Jobs
Average Salary of Registered Nurse Jobs

Burning Glass Technologies, April 2019 (reports by state)

Becker's Hospital Review: Text Messages and $10K Signing Bonuses: How 2 Health Systems Have Found Nurse Recruitment Success

STAT: 'Whatever It Takes': Hospitals Get Creative in Hiring Nurses Amid a National Shortage

Advisory Board: No-Cost Housing — and a Free Ford Mustang? How Hospitals Are Trying to Attract Nurses The 154 Best Affordable RN to BSN Online Programs

North Carolina Residency Determination Service: Student FAQs

Travel Nurse Across America: RN to BSN Tuition Reimbursement

Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA):
Bureau of Health Workforce
Nurse Corps: Loan Repayment Program
National Health Service Corps: Loan Repayment Program

Indian Health Service: Loan Repayment Program

Virginia Department of Health: Virginia State Loan Repayment Program

North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority:
Paying for College
Forgivable Education Loans for Service (FELS)

Army Medicine

Navy Nursing Careers

Air Force: Caring for Those Protecting the Nation

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