Getting your ADN, ASN, or nursing diploma is a great first step to starting your nursing career. After passing the NCLEX, you're ready to work as a nurse in various settings and roles. However, working nurses who are looking for a more expansive education and more career opportunities may want to consider getting their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

A BSN can help you understand more in-depth nursing concepts and allow you to work in more fast-paced and nuanced environments. It can also increase your chances of becoming more steadily employed or negotiating a higher wage. A BSN is available for students at any level, but nurses already licensed and working in the field have a unique opportunity to get their BSN in a shorter amount of time through an RN to BSN program.

How Long Are RN to BSN Programs?

RN to BSN programs are accelerated BSN programs that are designed to accommodate working RNs who are trying to earn their BSN on a quicker timeline. RNs with a nursing license already don't require the same introductory courses that traditional BSN students will need to become licensed. This allows them to complete their BSN in under four years.

But how long are RN to BSN programs on average? Typically, RNs can finish their RN to BSN program in under two years and sometimes less than one year, depending on the school, whether the program is self-paced or offered online, the number of credits required, and whether the student chooses to attend full-time or part-time.

Who Needs an Accelerated RN to BSN Program?

Any RN wants to save time and money! Registered nurses who are already licensed and have experience in the field don't need the same level of education as regular BSN students. An RN to BSN program essentially gives these students credit for the nursing education they already completed in their associate's degree or diploma program.

But why might a registered nurse want to continue their education with a BSN degree? When an RN completes a BSN program, it offers them more opportunities on the job market, and allows them to draft a more attractive resume. Hospital systems and medical employers are increasingly preferring to hire BSN-educated RNs. The faster this can be accomplished, the faster these nurses can leverage their new degree to take advantage of higher-paid positions and use their new education to become more accomplished RNs. In addition to this, holding a BSN is often a requirement for traditional graduate nursing degree programs, so if you plan to eventually continue your education, earning a BSN is a significant foundational step.

10 Fast RN to BSN Programs

1. University of Cincinnati (Length: 8 Months)

The University of Cincinnati is home to one of the country's fastest RN to BSN programs. Students who have graduated from an ADN or ASN program are eligible to apply, and unlike many other RN to BSN programs, UC's RN to BSN allows students to apply before they receive their license.

The University of Cincinnati's RN to BSN program is offered online and is self-paced with the option to graduate in 2 months up to 20 months, depending on your schedule. This is perfect for students who have commitments at home or at work who don't want to sacrifice their schooling.

Learn more about the University of Cincinnati's program here.

2. Capella University (Length: 9 Months)

Capella University is known for hosting a variety of convenient online degree programs. Like other programs offered by Capella University, their FlexPath RN to BSN is flexible and self-paced, allowing students to complete the coursework in as little as 9 months.

For many students, the cost of Capella University's FlexPath RN to BSN program is even more attractive than the accelerated graduation timeline. You could pay less than $7,000 for your entire degree with the required transfer credits. The CCNE-accredited program allows up to 135 credits to be transferred from another program.

Students who have graduated from an associate’s degree program in nursing and have a nursing license will be eligible to apply to Capella University's FlexPath RN to BSN program. While many RN to BSN programs require a GPA of 3.0 or higher to apply, Capella University's FlexPath program has a minimum requirement of 2.0.

Learn more about Capella University's FlexPath program here.

3. Webber International University (Length: 9 Months)

Webber International University is a Florida-based school that offers an online RN to BSN program that builds on the student’s existing RN experience and education to foster a higher level of service. The self-paced program allows students to complete courses in as little as 9 months, depending on their existing credits.

To be eligible for Webber International University's RN to BSN program, you'll need to have your RN license and either a nursing diploma or ADN/ASN.

Learn more about Webber International University's program here.

4. University of Texas at Arlington (Length: 9 Months)

The University of Texas at Arlington hosts a nationally renowned nursing education facility in addition to an accessible and immersive online RN to BSN program that allows students to graduate with their degree in only 9 months.

Not only is the RN to BSN program at UTA timely, but it's also affordable! Students enrolled in this program will typically pay under $9,000 for their entire degree. Their admissions requirements are also less stringent than those of other RN to BSN programs; to apply, you'll only need a GPA of 2.25 and be currently enrolled in an ADN program on track to become licensed.

Learn more about the University of Texas at Arlington's program here.

5. Lewis and Clark State College (Length: 9 Months)

The RN to BSN offered by Lewis and Clark State College is a hybrid program, meaning that students will complete the coursework primarily online, but will be required to take some classes in person. Many nursing students prefer this approach as it allows them to complete their studies in their spare time while also getting plenty of hands-on experience.

To apply to Lewis and Clark State College's RN to BSN program, you'll need to complete or be enrolled in an ADN or ASN program and be on track to become licensed.

Learn more about Lewis and Clark State College's program here.

6. Walden University (Length: 10 Months)

Walden University’s Tempo Learning program allows students to complete an RN to BSN program in as little as 10 months. This online program is geared toward motivated students and provides flexible scheduling, 3-month subscription pricing (rather than the pay-per-course model), and even a personal academic coach.

Those enrolled in the Tempo Learning RN to BSN program will follow a self-paced curriculum developed by nursing leaders that emphasizes evidence-based practice, patient safety, and leadership concepts. The Tempo Learning format does not have weekly deadlines, and students have access to scholarships and military discounts.

Learn more about Walden University's program here.

7. Fayetteville State University (Length: 10 Months)

Due to its world-class nursing education facility and in-person clinical requirements, the RN to BSN program offered by Fayetteville State University is focused more on students who are looking for an immersive, hands-on education at its Fayetteville, NC campus. However, students who want to shorten the timeline to graduation can take online classes and transfer existing credits to complete their BSN in only 10 months.

Learn more about Fayetteville State University's program here.

8. St. Catherine University (Length: 10 Months)

St. Catherine University, located in the Twin Cities area, offers an RN to BSN program that is conducted primarily online. One course requires in-person instruction, which is perfect for students who have busy home lives or work schedules but still want to experience in-person nursing.

To be eligible for St. Catherine University, you must have an active nursing license and an associate’s degree. Once admitted, most students complete St. Catherine's RN to BSN in as little as 10 to 12 months.

Learn more about St. Catherine University's program here.

9. Central Michigan University (Length: 10 Months)

If you're hoping to apply to an RN to BSN program before graduating from your ADN or ASN, consider Central Michigan University. Students enrolling in this program don't need to have their associate's degree before applying, they simply need to be on track to graduate with a 2.5 GPA or higher and on track to receive their license.

Once you've graduated, you can transfer up to 90 credits to this 120-credit degree program, allowing you to graduate between 10 and 12 months. Central Michigan University's RN to BSN program is offered primarily online with some in-person requirements.

Learn more about Central Michigan University's program here.

10. Radford University (Length: 10 Months)

If you have a nursing diploma, a nursing license, and 10 months to kill, you can get your BSN degree at Radford University. This program is located in Radford, VA but students with transferable licensure can complete their coursework online in as little as 10 months. Unlike other RN to BSN programs, there are no in-person requirements making it perfect for students in rural communities or busy schedules.

Learn more about Radford University's program here.

Benefits of Fast RN to BSN Programs

The benefits of fast RN to BSN programs are fairly obvious – you can obtain a higher-level nursing degree in a very short amount of time. This not only allows you to re-enter the workforce with more credentials and a more rounded education, but it also allows you to save money on a degree that you would typically pay twice as much for. As opposed to ADN or diploma-educated RNs, BSN-educated nurses enjoy:

  • Higher salaries
  • Better and broader employment options
  • More room for career advancement
  • Increased eligibility for higher nursing education, such as a master's or doctoral degree in nursing

The faster an RN earns a BSN degree, the faster they can take advantage of these perks and opportunities.

6-Month RN to BSN Programs: Can it be Done?

Technically, yes, a 6-month RN to BSN program is possible – though you won't find them advertised as such, and you'll have to meet a very specific set of circumstances. Some self-paced RN to BSN programs allow you to transfer enough credits so that you could conceivably graduate with your BSN in as little as 6 months. However, you'll need to have at least an ADN or ASN, your nursing license, and likely, a large bundle of additional nursing credits. You'll also need to find a nursing program that allows you to transfer the full amount of available credits.

Drawbacks to Fast RN to BSN Programs

RN to BSN programs come with many benefits, but before you start applying to RN to BSN programs, it's important to consider the potential drawbacks. The main thing to realize before you enroll in an RN to BSN program is that even though you'll be receiving your BSN degree considerably faster, you'll still need to commit a significant amount of time and energy to your schooling.

If you're already working full-time as an RN (which most RN to BSN students are), you're in for a major transition. You'll have to balance a 40-60 hour work week with 5-10 hour (or more) class hours. Consider the burnout rates of RNs – you'll have to be eating, sleeping, and breathing everything that is nursing. If you're up for the challenge, you're likely to be handsomely rewarded when it comes time to leverage that wage increase or look for new jobs.

Next Steps for Enrolling in an RN to BSN Program

Enrolling in an RN to BSN (Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing) program involves several steps, but it’s a manageable process. Here’s a general guide to help you through it:

Research Programs: Start by researching RN to BSN programs offered by different universities or colleges. Look for programs accredited by recognized accrediting bodies, such as the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

Check Prerequisites: Make sure you meet the prerequisites for the program. These may include having an active RN license, completing specific college-level courses (like anatomy, physiology, microbiology, etc.), and having a certain amount of clinical experience.

Gather Documents: Collect all necessary documents for your application, which may include transcripts from previous schools, your RN license, letters of recommendation, and a resume.

Submit Application: Fill out the application form for your chosen RN to BSN program. Be sure to provide all required information accurately and completely. Some programs may have specific application deadlines, so be mindful of those.

Financial Aid: Explore financial aid options such as scholarships, grants, and loans. Many schools offer financial aid specifically for nursing students. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine your eligibility for federal financial aid programs.