WGU vs. Chamberlain vs. Capella | Online RN to BSN Programs

16 Min Read Published July 3, 2024
An overview of the pros and cons between an rn to bsn program at western governors university and chamberlain university

Online RN to BSN programs are becoming more and more important to current registered nurses hoping to complete their bachelor’s degree in nursing. With work and family commitments, nurses don’t always have the time to travel to campus for class several times a week, which is why these online programs are essential to growing the nursing profession. 

While there are hundreds of reputable and accredited online programs, Western Governors University,Chamberlain University, and Capella University are three of the largest and most well-known. Read on to learn about the differences between these three programs and determine which is the right fit for you. 

Popular Online RN-to-BSN Programs

Sponsored
Purdue Global

At Purdue Global, discover a faster, more affordable way to earn your Nursing degree. Purdue Global is committed to keeping your tuition costs as low as possible and helping you find the most efficient path to your degree.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, but certain programs have state restrictions. Check with Purdue for details.

The University of Texas at Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington’s online programs are designed to help you achieve more in your nursing practice with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. They offer convenient, flexible options for completing your RN to BSN or BSN online, both designed to fit into your busy schedule.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Grand Canyon University
GCU’s RN-BSN program is tailored to meet the needs of the RN adult learner and to maximize the strengths that the working RN already possesses. Transfer up to 90 credits and earn a BSN in as little as 12 months. GCU’s online classes allow you to study at the times that work for your schedule while still enjoying a close connection with your classmates and instructor via online discussions.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Liberty University
At Liberty, you’ll benefit from 30+ years of learning, growing, adapting, and innovating for the distance learner — and more than a decade of researching the needs of the online student. You can be confident that we’ve taken the time to learn what’s important to you.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Western Governors University

WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

WGU vs. Chamberlain vs. Capella Compared

 

Tuition

Program Length

Accreditation

Flexibility & Online Options

Admission Requirements

WGU

$4,885 - $39,080 depending on time to complete the program

23 courses - Time to complete varies



CCNE

100% online with no mandatory login times

  • ADN or diploma in nursing
  • RN license
  • Resume
  • Criminal background check
  • Application 
  • Application fee $65
  • Actively working as an RN

Chamberlain

$590 per credit hour

3 semesters

CCNE

100% online 

  • ADN or diploma in nursing
  • Minimum GPA of 2.0
  • Application
  • $60 application fee
  • Current RN license

Capella

FlexPath: Typical Pace: $13,480, Slower Pace: $20,220 

GuidedPath: Max Transfer Credits: $17,460, Average Transfer Credits: $22,366 

9 months

CCNE

100% online 

  • ADN or nursing diploma 
  • RN license
  • GPA of 2.0
  • Admission application

Western Governors University (WGU) Overview

Western Governors University* has a unique competency-based program for Registered Nurses interested in earning their RN-BSN through an online bridge program. This competency-based learning focuses on actual learning and actual class time. Once a student has demonstrated that they have mastered the material and passes an end examination, the student can move on to the next class in the sequence. 

According to WGU, over 7,000 students earned their RN-to-BSN degree from WGU in 2022 alone. Additionally, 61% of RN-to-BSN grads finish the program within 20 months. 

How much does WGU’s RN to BSN program cost?

The overall program cost will depend on how fast an individual finishes the program. The faster the program is completed, the cheaper the overall cost. WGU charges per semester, and individuals taking one class will have very similar costs to those taking three to four courses per term.

Cost by the time it takes to complete the program:

  • 0.5 years: $4,885
  • 1 year: $9,770
  • 1.5 years: $14,665
  • 2 years: $19,540
  • 2.5 years: $24,425
  • 3 years: $29,310
  • 3.5 years: $34,195
  • 4 years: $39,080

How long does it take to complete the program? 

The length of the program will be directly related to how many courses a student has to take. To remain in the program, students must complete at least 12 competency units, each with a 6-month term. Each course is typically 3 or 4 units. 

How flexible is the program?

Classes are 100% online. There are no mandatory login times for the program as courses are completed based on the student’s schedule and availability. Classes can be accessed via computer, tablet, or smartphone. 

According to the WGU website, this RN to BSN online bridge program is specifically designed for working registered nurses. They stress that time and experience are considered when determining the individualized program of study. Students with more years of bedside nursing experience can graduate quicker than others, according to their specific algorithms. For students to qualify for the hours based on their experience, they must be employed as a nurse for at least twenty hours per week. 

Courses in this online program have start dates, assignments, and end examinations. Students will need to be disciplined to complete the requirements, as there is a lack of well-defined structure. Students will be expected to maintain their own accountability throughout the program. 

What courses will I have to take?

Individuals must complete the following 23 courses to obtain their BSN degree. Some may be waived through transfer from any previous college experience. Students can transfer up to 90 credit hours. Most individuals take one course at a time, completing it as fast as they can learn the material. 

  • Interprofessional Communication and Leadership in Healthcare
  • Applied Healthcare Statistics
  • Composition: Writing with a Strategy
  • Anatomy and Physiology I with Lab
  • Introduction to Communication: Connecting with Others
  • Anatomy and Physiology II with Lab
  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Global Arts and Humanities
  • Introduction to Sociology
  • Microbiology with Lab: A Fundamental Approach
  • World History: Diverse Cultures and Global Connections
  • Human Growth and Development
  • Intrapersonal Leadership and Professional Growth
  • Scholarship in Nursing Practice
  • Pathophysiology
  • Information Technology in Nursing Practice
  • Organizational Systems and Healthcare Transformation
  • Comprehensive Health Assessment
  • Global and Population Health
  • Emerging Professional Practice
  • BSNU Capstone

Is WGU a good RN to BSN program?

The quality of online programs is based on how receptive students are to the coursework and information. Students will get out what they want from the program. However, picking an accredited program is VERY important, and WGU is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Additionally, hospitals and healthcare organizations throughout the country recognize Western Governor University and the BSN they offer online. 

WGU offers one-on-one academic and personal support on an as-needed basis. Mentorship is considered essential throughout the program. There are two distinct mentor roles, Student Mentors and Course Mentors, which exist at WGU to focus solely on supporting students’ academic success. Other faculty functions, such as curriculum development, grading and assessment, and degree program management, are assigned to other WGU faculty members, each specializing in a specific function. This allows mentors to devote their full attention to students. 

What do you need to get into WGU’s program?

In order to apply to WGU’s RN to BSN online bridge program, students must meet a number of requirements.

Admission Requirements:

  • Possess an associate’s degree or diploma in nursing
  • Possess a current, unencumbered registered nurse (RN) license
  • Submit a resume 
  • Be actively working as an RN at the time of application and throughout enrollment in the program
  • Submit to a criminal background check through American Databank, California residents are also required to provide proof of current immunizations
  • Pay a $65 application fee (waived by signing up for information online or speaking directly to an admission counselor)

Transferring to higher degrees from WGU

While the program at WGU is fully accredited and students will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, students do not earn a traditional GPA like other major universities. This can cause potential problems for nurses interested in earning an advanced practice nursing degree. Western Governors University does offer several online MSN programs, including:

  • MSN Nursing Education
  • MSN Nursing Leadership
  • MSN Nursing Informatics
  • MSN Leadership and Management 

Students transferring to an MSN program at WGU will not have to worry about a low GPA, as they can automatically enter the program upon successful completion of the online BSN program. 

It is highly encouraged that students consider their career goals and whether an advanced practice nursing license is in their future before enrolling in WGU’s RN to BSN online bridge program. Most reputable CRNA and NP schools will want a GPA and strongly encourage individuals to obtain their BSN at another online program.

Again, this will vary greatly according to the program of study, but it is important to consider as you’re thinking about the next steps in your nursing education. Speaking to an enrollment specialist is important to determine the exact particulars and whether WGU is a good fit. 

Popular Online RN-to-BSN Programs

Sponsored
Purdue Global

At Purdue Global, discover a faster, more affordable way to earn your Nursing degree. Purdue Global is committed to keeping your tuition costs as low as possible and helping you find the most efficient path to your degree.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, but certain programs have state restrictions. Check with Purdue for details.

The University of Texas at Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington’s online programs are designed to help you achieve more in your nursing practice with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. They offer convenient, flexible options for completing your RN to BSN or BSN online, both designed to fit into your busy schedule.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Grand Canyon University
GCU’s RN-BSN program is tailored to meet the needs of the RN adult learner and to maximize the strengths that the working RN already possesses. Transfer up to 90 credits and earn a BSN in as little as 12 months. GCU’s online classes allow you to study at the times that work for your schedule while still enjoying a close connection with your classmates and instructor via online discussions.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Liberty University
At Liberty, you’ll benefit from 30+ years of learning, growing, adapting, and innovating for the distance learner — and more than a decade of researching the needs of the online student. You can be confident that we’ve taken the time to learn what’s important to you.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Western Governors University

WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Chamberlain University Overview

Chamberlain University boasts that it is the only RN-to-BSN option with the nationally recognized Quality Matters certification mark, having received the Online Teaching Support and Online Learning Support certifications. This can be extremely important for adult learners or students taking online classes for the first time. 

>> Related: Is Chamberlain College of Nursing Worth it?

How much does Chamberlain’s RN to BSN program cost?

Chamberlain University has an in-depth online tuition calculator that allows prospective students to determine specific costs for their program of study. Courses are $590 per credit. Additional costs for books and supplies should also be factored in to determine the total cost. On average, tuition for the RN to BSN program is less than $14,000

Chamberlain University offers numerous financial aid options, including military discounts, loans, scholarships, and work-study programs. 93% of RN-BSN graduates in 2020–2021 received financial assistance from Chamberlain.

How long does it take to complete the program?

The RN to BSN online option can be completed in as few as three semesters with year-round, full-time enrollment. Courses are offered every eight weeks in the Chamberlain University RN to BSN program. 

How flexible is the program?

Like WGU, classes are 100% online. There are no mandatory login times for the program as courses are completed based on the student’s schedule and availability. Classes can be accessed via computer, tablet, or smartphone. 

Practice experiences are woven throughout the individual courses and can often be accomplished on the job or at your workplace. This means you will have professional clinical experiences, but will not experience clinical rotations.

Individuals will be expected to work throughout the program in order to complete the requirements. Courses are offered every eight weeks, which allows individuals to work at a slow or fast pace, depending on their work and life situations. 

Courses in this online program have start dates, assignments, and end examinations. Students must be disciplined to complete the requirements, as there is a lack of well-defined structure. Students are expected to maintain their own accountability throughout the program. 

What courses will I have to take?

Individuals will be expected to complete roughly 45 credits in order to obtain their BSN degree. Each course is worth three credit hours. Some may be waived through transfer from previous college experience. 

Similar to WGU and Capella, most individuals take one course at a time and complete them in the amount of time it takes for them to learn the material. RN to BSN courses are offered every eight weeks and include:

  • Foundational Concepts for the Practicing RN
  • Advanced English Composition
  • RN Information Systems in Healthcare
  • Health Assessment for the Practicing RN
  • Statistical Reasoning for the Health Sciences
  • Introduction to the Humanities
  • US History
  • Collaborative Leadership in Healthcare
  • Political Science
  • RN Capstone Course
  • RN Evidence-Based Practice
  • Community, Public & Population Health Nursing OR RN Community Health Nursing 
  • Two elective courses

Is Chamberlain a good RN to BSN program?

As we said above, the quality of online programs is based on how receptive students are to the coursework and information, but choosing an accredited program is important. Chamberlain is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and Higher Learning Commission and is recognized by hospitals and healthcare organizations throughout the country. 

Additionally, Chamberlain offers its students a number of benefits.

  • Faculty respond to students within 24 hours on weekdays and 48 hours on weekends.
  • Students have access to online classroom demonstration videos before the start of classes.
  • Students are assigned a dedicated advisor to support them throughout the process both academically and financially.
  • There is 24/7 technical support, as well as an online tutoring center.
  • Students have access to a full online library and librarian as well as counseling services via the ASPIRE program.

What do you need to get into Chamberlain’s program?

Students interested in Chamberlain University’s RN to BSN online program will need to meet some requirements. 

Admission Requirements:

  • A nursing diploma or Associate Degree in Nursing from an institution accredited by an agency recognized by either the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) or the U.S. Department of Education.  
  • A minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.0 on a 4.0 scale.  
  • A current, active, unrestricted RN license in the United States
  • $60 application fee (waived by signing up for information online or speaking directly to an admission counselor)

Transferring to higher degrees from Chamberlain

Chamberlain University’s RN to BSN program is nationally recognized and allows students to continue into an MSN program at their University or in another location. Currently, Chamberlain offers the following advanced practice nursing degrees:

  • Master of Science in Nursing
  • MSN - Family Nurse Practitioner
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice
  • Nursing Education Certification
  • Healthcare Policy Certification
  • Nursing Leadership Certification
  • Nursing Informatics Certification
  • Family Nurse Practitioner Certification

Capella University Overview

Designed by nurses, the RN to BSN program at Capella University boasts an impressive graduation rate and does not require GMAT or GRE scores. The program is accredited by the CCNE, and Capella is a member of the American Nurses Association (ANA) and Sigma Theta Tau International. Students have access to some of the top faculty.

The program builds on prior RN education and prepares you to pursue your professional aspirations as a nurse. 

How Much Does Capella’s RN to BSN Program Cost?

The cost of the RN to BSN program will depend if you are enrolled in the FlexPath or the GuidedPath. 

FlexPath

  • Typical Pace: $13,480
  • Slower Pace: $20,220 

GuidedPath

  • Max Transfer Credits: $17,460
  • Average Transfer Credits: $22,366 

The program costs $365 per 1000-2000-level credit course and $388 per 3000-4000-level credit course. 

How Long Does it Take to Complete the Program? 

Students can graduate with a BSN from the FlexPath program in as little as 9 months. 

How Flexible is the Program?

The RN to BSN program at Capella University offers two pathways. The first is a traditional pathway, and the second is called FlexPath. The FlexPath offers true flexibility that allows you to complete the degree at your own pace, which is usually faster than the traditional route. 

Students enrolled in the FlexPath will also take advantage of one tuition fee every 12-week billing session to help lower the costs. FlexPath offers flexible deadlines, allowing students to take one or two courses at a time and can complete them on the student's schedule.

Once the course(s) are complete, you can start your next course without waiting for a new term to begin. In an Alumni Outcomes Survey conducted during the 2022-2023 academic year, 96% of alumni agreed that FlexPath provided the flexibility needed to pursue their degrees. 

What Courses Will I Have to Take?

Capella University program requires a total of 90 program points in FlexPath or 180 program credits in GuidedPath. In addition, eight core courses in addition to general education, foundational, and elective courses are required. 

Specific courses include, 

  • Developing a Health Care Perspective
  • Coordinating Patient-Centered Care
  • Practicing in the Community to Improve Population Health
  • Leading People, Processes, and Organizations in Interprofessional Practice
  • Making Evidence-Based Decisions
  • Managing Health Information and Technology
  • Communications Course
  • Improving Quality of Care and Patient Safety
  • Capstone Project in Nursing
  • Cultures of the World
  • Sports and LIterature
  • Philosophy of Work
  • Cultural Understanding in a Global World

Is Capella a Good RN to BSN Program?

The RN to BSN program at Capella is accredited by the CCNE. Accreditation is key to recognizing a legitimate nursing program and allows you to continue your education if you are interested. 

What Do You Need to Get Into Capella’s Program?

The admission process is very straightforward at Capella University. GRE, GMAT, SAT, or ACT are not required for admission.  Specific admission requirements include, 

  • Nursing degree or associate degree in nursing from an institution accredited by a U.S. Department of Education-recognized accrediting agency or an internationally recognized institution
  • Your official transcripts, with a minimum grade point average of 2.0 or higher on a 4.0 scale
  • A valid, government-issued form of photo identification
  • RN license verification and work experience acknowledgment form that verifies your current, unrestricted RN license (or its equivalent) to practice in the United States
  • Admission application – no application fee required

Students interested in the FlexPath will have to meet the following requirements,

  • Minimum GPA is 2.8 OR at least 100 applied transfer college credits. If a GPA is below 2.8 and less than 100 applied transfer college credits, those may be considered if providing additional documentation for review.

Transferring to Higher Degrees From Capella

Capella offers numerous MSN degree options, allowing students to easily transfer into an advanced program. These programs include,

  • MSN in Care Coordination
  • MSN in Nursing Education
  • MSN in Nursing Informatics
  • MSN in Nursing Leadership and Administration
  • MSN in Adult-Gerontology Primary Care Nurse Practitioner
  • MSN in Family Nurse Practitioner

Students interested in advancing their education after completing the RN to BSN program will find that a degree from Capella will open many doors.

How to Decide on the Right Nursing Program For You

Deciding if WGU, Chamberlain University, Capella, or another program is right for you depends on many factors, including classes, financial components, and future career aspirations. 

If you’re looking for more online RN to BSN programs, check out some of Nurse.org’s featured programs below:

Popular Online RN-to-BSN Programs

Sponsored
Purdue Global

At Purdue Global, discover a faster, more affordable way to earn your Nursing degree. Purdue Global is committed to keeping your tuition costs as low as possible and helping you find the most efficient path to your degree.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, but certain programs have state restrictions. Check with Purdue for details.

The University of Texas at Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington’s online programs are designed to help you achieve more in your nursing practice with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. They offer convenient, flexible options for completing your RN to BSN or BSN online, both designed to fit into your busy schedule.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Grand Canyon University
GCU’s RN-BSN program is tailored to meet the needs of the RN adult learner and to maximize the strengths that the working RN already possesses. Transfer up to 90 credits and earn a BSN in as little as 12 months. GCU’s online classes allow you to study at the times that work for your schedule while still enjoying a close connection with your classmates and instructor via online discussions.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Liberty University
At Liberty, you’ll benefit from 30+ years of learning, growing, adapting, and innovating for the distance learner — and more than a decade of researching the needs of the online student. You can be confident that we’ve taken the time to learn what’s important to you.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Western Governors University

WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

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Kathleen Gaines
MSN, RN, BA, CBC
Kathleen Gaines
News and Education Editor

Kathleen Gaines (nee Colduvell) is a nationally published writer turned Pediatric ICU nurse from Philadelphia with over 13 years of ICU experience. She has an extensive ICU background having formerly worked in the CICU and NICU at several major hospitals in the Philadelphia region. After earning her MSN in Education from Loyola University of New Orleans, she currently also teaches for several prominent Universities making sure the next generation is ready for the bedside. As a certified breastfeeding counselor and trauma certified nurse, she is always ready for the next nursing challenge.

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