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Best Online Nursing Programs of 2014

At SuperScholar we want to help you discover ideas and opportunities that will help you achieve a happier and more successful life. Our Smart Choice ranking of online nursing schools is designed to help current and future nurses make a smart choice about where to begin or continue their nursing education.

Featured Online Programs

The Value of an Accredited Online Nursing Degree

Numerous expert organizations, including The American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and the American Hospital Association, have warned in the last ten years of a nursing shortage that is only expected to increase as Baby Boomers age and demand the highest quality service available. Whether you are already an RN, or just beginning your nursing education, an accredited degree program will help you achieve higher status, higher pay, and more desirable work. The growth in demand for nursing has led many top-tier schools to open online nursing programs to keep up. A nursing degree from one of these accredited, acclaimed programs provides students not only with expertise in the nursing field, but with the confidence your their degrees will be competitive and afford you the job you want, in the place you want, with the pay you deserve.

The Advantages of an Online Nursing Degree Program

If you are a Registered Nurse, with or without a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, an online program is an ideal way to pursue a higher degree while honing your skills in your current job. Many of the nursing schools below offer flexible programs for RNs to obtain Bachelor and Master degrees in Nursing, with many valuable specializations such as Nurse Midwifery, Nurse Education, and Health Systems Administration. Many programs can be completed in as little as 18 months with local clinicals, or none at all. For those who wish to enter administrative duties or teach nursing – both areas of growth, as trained experts are needed to lead and educate new nurses – a Master of Science in Nursing is a must. And with nationally-ranked universities entering the online market, an online nursing degree can be every bit the equal of traditional degrees, and even better.

How We Selected the Smart Choice Schools for Online Nursing Degrees

In developing our Smart Choice ranking of the best online nursing programs only CCNE and NLNAC accredited online nursing schools were considered, ensuring that all distance learning programs have already met the highest standards of recognized institutional accreditation before meeting the additional scrutiny of our editors. The nursing schools that met this initial accreditation criterion were then evaluated based on reputation, selection, quality, student satisfaction and cost. The result is a ranking of online nursing schools that offers prospective students a helpful tool for making a smart choice about where to earn an online nursing degree.

#1. Capella University

Capella University provides online education on a global scale, and the university has awarded almost 35,000 undergraduate and graduate degrees. Hundreds of healthcare facilities across the country have partnered with Capella University’s healthcare and nursing programs.

Online Nursing Programs:Cappella University offers a number of affordable CCNE accredited online nursing programs through its School of Public Service Leadership. Online nursing programs include and RN to BSN/MSN, MSN, and DNP with specializations ranging from Diabetes Nursing, to Gerontology Nursing, to Nurse Educator and Nurse Administrator. Nursing degrees can be completed entirely online. Capella takes a multidisciplinary approach to healthcare education, bringing together healthcare, public safety, and public administration to address healthcare issues in a holistic way.

Accreditation:Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. Capella’s nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

[Click here to request more information from Capella University]

#2. Walden University

Walden University is a unique and highly acclaimed online university founded in 1970 as an experiment to provide adult learners with distance instruction while also working for positive social change.

Online Nursing Program: Walden University offers Bachelor and Master degrees in Nursing for registered nurses. These completion programs allow an already-registered nurse to continue their higher education, opening up opportunities for career advancement and greater expertise in nursing and leadership. MSN students may begin with an RN or a BSN. All courses are taught by qualified faculty with doctorate degrees.

Accreditation: Walden University is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS). Walden’s BSN and MSN programs have been accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

[Click here to request more information from Walden University]

#3. Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University is a private, for-profit Christian university located in Phoenix, AZ; it is, in fact, the first for-profit Christian university in the nation.

Online Nursing Program: Grand Canyon offers an online RN to BSN program. Only available to registered nurses, the online RN to BSN requires no clinicals, and there is no waiting list; a new class begins every two weeks. An MSN program for registered, licensed RNs who hold a BSN is also available, with concentrations in Leadership and Education.

Accreditation: Grand Canyon is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The College of Nursing and Health Sciences is accredited by The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) as well as by the Arizona State Board of Nursing.


[Click here to learn more about Grand Canyon University nursing programs]

#4. University of Illinois at Chicago

The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is a public research university in Chicago, Illinois that includes the largest medical school in the United States and a top-ranked College of Nursing.

Online Nursing Program: The UIC College of Nursing offers an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Degree Completion Program. This is an online RN to BSN program for students in possession of a valid, unrestricted RN license. Program graduates will be prepared for leadership positions in the nursing field. All courses are offered entirely online. There is no residency requirement. Required practicums can be completed in a location convenient to the student.

Accreditation: The University of Illinois at Chicago is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The online nursing program at UIC College of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

[Click here to request more information from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing]

#5. Georgetown University

Georgetown University is a private, Jesuit research university in Washington DC with an elite Nursing and Health Studies School, including the top-ranked Department of Nursing.

Online Nursing Program: The Georgetown University Department of Nursing offers an online Master of Science in Nursing program for licensed register nurses with a BSN. In 18-24 months students can earn a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) or Nurse Midwifery/Women’s Health Nurse practitioner Master of Nursing degree. Nursing@Georgetown students do coursework online before a faculty-selected field placement in a convenient location.

Accreditation: Georgetown University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The online Nurse Midwifery program is accredited by The Accreditation Commission for Midwifery Education (ACME), and the graduate program as a whole is accredited by The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

[Click here to request more information from the Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies]

#6. Indiana State University

Indiana State University is a public university located in Terre Haute, IN. Highly ranked by The Princeton Review, ISU also has an online nursing program acclaimed by US News and World Report.

Online Nursing Program: The Indiana State University College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services offers online LPN to BS, and an RN to BS degree programs for students already licensed as LPN or RN, respectively. At the master’s level, ISU offers online MSN programs in Family Nurse Practitioner, Nursing Administration, and Nursing Education.

Accreditation: Indiana State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA). The nursing program is accredited by The National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC).

[Click here to learn more about the Indiana State University College of Nursing, Health, and Human Services]

#7. Chamberlain College of Nursing

Chamberlain College of Nursing is a for-profit nursing school owned by DeVry Inc. with many locations around the US. The online nursing program has been cited by US News and World Report as one of the best online nursing programs for faculty credentials.

Online Nursing Program: Chamberlain College of Nursing has two online degree programs. For licensed registered nurses, an RN to BSN option is available, allowing RNs to complete a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in as little as three semesters. Registered nurses may also opt for the RN-BSN to MSN track, which allows them to begin Master of Science courses while completing the requirements for the BSN. This more intensive program provides nurses with the opportunity for further career advancement.

Accreditation: Chamberlain College of Nursing is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS), while the Master of Science program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

[Click here to request more information from Chamberlain College of Nursing]

#8. Drexel University Online

Drexel University is a private research university in Philadelphia PA., known for its cooperative education program. The College of Nursing and Health Professions was one of the first nursing schools online, beginning in 1997.

Online Nursing Program: As an early adopter of online education, Drexel University’s College of Nursing and Health Professions offers many online degree programs: a Bachelor of Science in Health Services Adminstration, an RN to BSN for registered nurses, and a Master of Science in Nursing with several possible concentrations (Innovation and Intra/Entrepreneurship in Advanced Nursing Practice, Adult Acute Care Nurse Practitioner, Nursing Education & Faculty Role, Nursing Leadership in Health Systems Management, Clinical Trials Research, Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner, and Adult Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.

Accreditation: Drexel University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools (MSCHE). Drexel’s nursing programs are accredited by Nursing programs are accredited by National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC), the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), and the PA State Board of Nursing.

[Click here to request more information from Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions]

#9. University of Colorado Denver

The University of Colorado Denver is the largest public university in Colorado, one of three universities in the University of Colorado system. It is also connected to the University of Colorado Hospital, a major teaching hospital on the Anschutz Medical Campus, making it a leading university for medical education.

Online Nursing Program: The University of Colorado Denver offers two Master of Science Nursing programs online, with concentrations in Leadership and Healthcare Systems or Informatics Option. Both of these MSN programs can be completed online. UC Denver also allows MSN students to complete a PhD in Nursing with only once-per-semester campus visits.

Accreditation: The University of Colorado Denver is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), while the Master of Science in Nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

[Click here to learn more about the University of Colorado Denver College of Nursing]

#10. The George Washington University

The George Washington University is a private, non-denominational, co-ed university located in the heart of Washington DC, mere blocks from the White House and the National Mall. Their School of Nursing has an online graduate program acclaimed by US News and World Report.

Online Nursing Program: The George Washington University School of Nursing offers a Master of Science in Nursing for five fields: Adult Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Research Administration, Family Nurse Practitioner, Health Care Quality, and Nursing Leadership and Management. Students should find their own site for clinical practicum, but the School of Nursing may provide information.

Accreditation: George Washington University is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. The School of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

[Click here to learn more about The George Washington University College of Nursing]

#11. Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt University is a private research university located in Nashville, TN. It is a consistently top-ranked university, and its nursing program is a part of the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, one of US News and World Report’s top hospitals in the nation.

Online Nursing Program: The Vanderbilt University School of Nursing offers an all-online MSN in Health Systems Management through their e-learning program, with a practicum located near home. The School of Nursing also offers a unique block program for many of its degrees, mixing campus classes in concentrated 5-day blocks, online conferencing, and digital course delivery, with clinical placement in the student’s home region.

Accreditation: Vanderbilt University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACSCOC). The MSN program is accredited by the National League for Nursing Accreditation Commission (NLNAC).

[Click here to request more information from the Vanderbilt University School of Nursing]

#12. Loyola University New Orleans

Loyola University New Orleans is a private Jesuit university located in New Orleans, LA. Its online nursing program has been named one of the best in the US by US News and World Report.

Online Nursing Program: The Loyola School of Nursing Online offers RN to BSN, RN to MSN, and BSN to MSN degree programs. An acclaimed online program, the BSN course of study is for licensed registered nurses; the potential for multiple tracks allows an RN to study for the BSN, or to track straight into a blended MSN program. The MSN degree specializes in Health Care Systems Management (HCSM) and can be entered by registered nurses with a non-nursing Bachelor’s degree.

Accreditation: Loyola University New Orleans is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (CCSACA). The nursing program is accredited by the National League for Nursing (NLN).

[Click here to learn more about the Loyola University New Orleans School of Nursing]

#13. Gonzaga University

Gonzaga University is a private Roman Catholic university, founded by the Society of Jesus, located in Spokane, WA. Gonzaga has consistently been in US News and World Report’s list of top universities for more than 15 years.

Online Nursing Program: Gonzaga’s nursing school offers an online MSN degree for licensed registered nurses. Students can specialize in Health Systems Leadership or Nurse Educator, preparing for advancement in their career in two years or less. Gonzaga has been acclaimed as one of the best values in education, and the nursing program is quite affordable with financial aid programs.

Accreditation: Gonzaga University is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Gonzaga’s nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

[Click here to learn more about the Gonzaga University Department of Nursing]

#14. Sacred Heart University

Sacred Heart University is a private Roman Catholic university in Fairfield, CN, the second-largest in New England. Highly ranked by US News and World Report and The Princeton Review, Sacred Heart also has an outstanding Department of Nursing.

Online Nursing Program: Sacred Heart University offers three online nursing degree options: an RN to BSN, an RN to MSN, and an MSN. The Master of Science Nursing further offers three specializations: Clinical Nurse Leader, Patient Care Services Administration, and Nursing Education. All of these programs are designed to help registered nurses continue their education, providing expertise and opportunity for career advancement in a flexible environment.

Accreditation: Sacred Heart University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). The Department of Nursing is also accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).


[Click here to learn more about the Sacred Heart University Department of Nursing]

#15. Clarkson College

Clarkson College is a private, non-profit institution in Omaha, NE. Originally founded as a hospital and nursing school, Clarkson has expanded into an accredited college ranked by US News and World Report as an honor-roll nursing school.

Online Nursing Program: All of Clarkson’s graduate nursing programs are available online. The MSN Nurse Educator and Health Care Administration are available fully online; the Nurse Practitioner requires three campus visits during the course of study. Clarkson records the majority of its graduate-level online nursing courses for its students’ convenience. Students typically graduate in two to three years.

Accreditation: Clarkson College is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), with nursing programs accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC).

[Click here to learn more about Clarkson College nursing programs]

#16. Saint Xavier University

Saint Xavier is Chicago’s oldest Catholic university, a four-year co-ed institution founded by the Sisters of Mercy. Saint Xavier is a highly ranked regional university according to US News and World Report, and offers an acclaimed online Master of Nursing program.

Online Nursing Program: The online Master’s in Nursing program offers two tracks of study: Executive Leadership focuses on preparing nurses for high-level administrative duties over departments or units; Clinical Leadership emphasizes working closely with patients while improving patient care and outcomes as a leader. These programs are designed for experience nurses who already have a BSN.

Accreditation: Saint Xavier is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), and its nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

[Click here to learn more about the Saint Xavier University School of Nursing]

#17. Kent State University

Kent State University is a public research university located in Kent, OH. Kent State has a number of top-ranked programs, including one of the finest nursing schools in the nation.

Online Nursing Program: Kent State’s College of Nursing offers several distance learning courses for registered nurses, including a traditional RN to BSN program, an RN BSN degree with a Health Informatics focus or combined Master’s degree, an RN BSN degree combined with a Public Health Certificate, or an RN BSN/MSN degree in Nursing Education.

Accreditation: Kent State is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association. Its nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

[Click here to learn more about the Kent State University College of Nursing]

#18. Liberty University

Liberty University is a private Christian university located in Lynchburg, VA. Founded by Rev. Jerry Falwell, Liberty is the largest evangelical Christian university, with well-known online education programs and an explicitly Christian worldview.

Online Nursing Program: Liberty Online offers bachelor- and master-level nursing program: an RN to BSN program for registered nurses, which most complete in two year; and an MSN that does not require an RN, with the option of a Nurse Educator track as well. None of Liberty’s online nursing programs require a residency period.

Accreditation: Liberty University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS-COC). Liberty’s nursing program is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

[Click here to request more information from Liberty University]

#19. University of Cincinnati

The University of Cincinnati is a public research university located in Cincinnati, OH, part of the University of Ohio system. Ranked by US News and World Report as a Tier 1 university, UC consistently ranks as one of the top universities in the nation.

Online Nursing Program: The University of Cincinnati offers an online MSN program, with specializations in Adult Nurse Practitioner, Clinical Nurse Specialist, Nurse Educator, Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse-Midwifery, Nursing Administration, Psychiatric/Mental Health Nursing, and Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner. Students are allowed to choose a clinical practicum in their own region with approval from the college.

Accreditation: UC maintains regional accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), and the College of Nursing is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

[Click here to to request more information from the University of Cincinnati College of Nursing]

#20. Western Governors University

Western Governors University is a private, nonprofit, accredited online university with corporate headquarters in Salt Lake City, UT. WGU receives no state or federal funding, sustaining on tuition and corporate grants, and has won numerous awards as an online university.

Online Nursing Program: WGU offers a number of competitive online nursing programs at the bachelor and master levels, including Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN), Nursing (Prelicensure), and Health Informatics, as well as Master of Science in Nursing Education or Leadership and Management (for RNs with BSNs), and Education or Leadership and Management for RNs without the BSN already.

Accreditation: Western Governors University is nationally accredited by the Distance Education and Training Council (DETC). WGU is also regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NCCU). WGU’s nursing degree programs are accredited by the Commission for Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

[Click here to learn more about Western Governors University nursing programs]

#21. Nebraska Methodist College

Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing and Allied Health is an accredited, private baccalaureate college located in Omaha, NE. This small college, affiliated with the Methodist Health System, offers personal attention and elite quality education with an emphasis on service learning and community involvement.

Online Nursing Program: NMC offers a number of online bachelor and master level nursing programs. The RN to BSN program allows registered nurses to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, while registered nurses may also opt for the RN to MSN program specializing in Nurse Educator or Nurse Executive.

Accreditation: Nebraska Methodist College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. (HLC NCACS). The college’s nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).


[Click here to request more information from Nebraska Methodist College]

# 22. University of Saint Mary

The University of Saint Mary is a private, Catholic liberal arts university in Leavenworth, KS. Originally a women’s college, now co-ed, USM has been acclaimed as one of the best universities in the Midwest by the Princeton Review.

Online Nursing Program: For registered nurses USM offers an RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing program. With nine nursing courses and nine non-nursing courses, the online RN to BSN degree can be completed in as little as 18 months.

Accreditation: The University of Saint Mary is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges; Schools (NCA). USM’s nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

[Click here to learn more about the University of Saint Mary nursing programs]

#23. Robert Morris University

Robert Morris University is a private, co-ed university located in Moon Township, a suburb of Pittsburgh, PA. (This institution is unrelated to Robert Morris University in Illinois, named for the same historical figure.)

Online Nursing Program: Robert Morris University (PA) offers two part-time online nursing programs. For RNs who do not yet have a BSN, RSU offers an online RN to Master of Science Nursing program; this degree can be completed in 3 years with courses run in 8-week blocks. For nurses who already have a BSN, the online MSN can be completed in two years.

Accreditation: Robert Morris University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The School of Nursing and Health Services is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

[Click here to request more information from Robert Morris University College of Nursing]

#24. Benedictine University

Benedictine University is a private Catholic university located in Lisle, a suburb of Chicago, IL. Founded by Benedictine monks, Benedictine University has been acclaimed as one of the best universities in the Midwest by US News and World Report.

Online Nursing Program: Benedictine University offers an online Master of Science Nursing with specializations including Public Health, Health Education, Administration, Leadership, Disaster Management and Health Policy. Students may also take electives to obtain certifications in Certified Nurse Executive (American Nurses Credentialing Center) and Certified Nurse in Disaster Management (Benedictine University). Students may finish the degree in 16 to 24 months depending on how many courses are taken per semester.

Accreditation: Benedictine University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association (HLC NCA). Its nursing programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

[Click here to learn more about the Benedictine University Department of Nursing and Health]

#25. Anna Maria College

Anna Maria College is a coeducational Catholic liberal arts college in Paxton, MA. Founded by the Sisters of St. Anne, AMC has grown to an accredited, respected college with 1600 students.

Online Nursing Program: Anna Maria College offers an online RN to BSN program for working nurses, with no required clinical component or residency requirement. Students may complete the degree in two and a half years, and less for students who already have a non-nursing Bachelor’s degree with transferable credits.

Accreditation: Anna Maria College is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. AMC nursing programs are accredited by the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC).

[Click here to learn more about Anna Maria College nursing programs]

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