Online RN to BSN Programs Compared: WGU vs. Chamberlain
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 a 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 and Chamberlain University are two of the largest and most well known amongst Registered Nurses. These programs may not be ideal for all individuals, but this educational resource will help start the process for those interested in finding out more about earning their BSN.
What are the pros and cons of an online RN to BSN program?
One of the biggest factors when determining if WGU, Chamberlain University, or another online program is a good fit is knowing the pros and cons of online RN to BSN programs. Both of the programs are 100% online and students must be prepared for all of the pros and cons associated with online learning environments.
- Attend classes from home
- Cheaper tuition costs
- Ability to access coursework via smartphone, laptop, and/or tablet
- Can work while attending classes
- Flexibility to work with a busy schedule
- Control over how an individual learns
- Can be completed quickly
- Staying organized
- Making sure a program is accredited
- Self-motivation is needed
- Online format can present challenges
- Ability to carve out study time
- Minimal interaction with classmates
- Less personal interaction with instructor
- Must be tech-savvy and have a computer
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.
As of January 2020, WGU boasts that 66% of their students graduate with a BSN in 18 months. And since the conception of the program, over 20,000 students have graduated with a BSN from Western Governors University.
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 of the program. WGU charges per semester and individuals that take one class will have very similar costs to an individual that is taking three to four courses per term.
Cost by time it takes to complete the program:
- 1 year: $7,090
- 1.5 years: $10,635
- 2 years: $14,180
- 2.5 years: $17,725
- 3 years: $21,270
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 taken into consideration when determining the individualized program of study. Students with an increased number of years of bedside nursing experience will be able to 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 a minimum of twenty hours per week.
Courses in this online program have start dates, assignments, and end examinations. Students will need to have discipline in order 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 will be expected to complete the following 24 courses in order to obtain their BSN degree. Some may be waived through transfer from any previous college experience. Most individuals take one course at a time and it is completed as fast as an individual can learn the material.
- Advanced Standing for RN License
- Professional Leadership and Communication for Healthcare
- Anatomy and Physiology I
- Anatomy and Physiology II
- Clinical Microbiology
- Care of the Older Adult
- Health Assessment
- Health and Wellness Through Nutritional Science
- Professional Roles and Values
- Community Health and Population-Focused Nursing
- Evidence-Based Practice and Applied Nursing Research
- Community Health and Population-Focused Nursing Field Experience
- Leadership and Professional Image
- Organizational Systems and Quality Leadership
- Information Management and the Application of Technology
- Survey of United States Constitution and Government
- Applied Healthcare Statistics
- Introduction to Humanities
- Introduction to Psychology
- Human Growth and Development Across the Lifespan
- Introduction to Sociology
- Introduction to Communication
- English Composition I
Is WGU a good RN to BSN program?
That depends. 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 members of WGU’s faculty, 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.
- 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 the lack of GPA, as students can automatically enter into the program upon successful completion of the online BSN program.
It is highly encouraged that before students decide to enroll in WGU’s RN to BSN online bridge program, they consider their career goals and if an advanced practice nursing license is in their future. 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. It’s important to speak to an enrollment specialist to determine the exact particulars and determine if WGU is a good fit.
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 that are taking online classes for the first time.
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, plus a $160 semester fee. Additional costs for books and supplies should be factored in as well to determine the total cost. Chamberlain University offers numerous financial aid options including military discounts, loans, scholarships, and work-study programs.
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, 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 will have to have discipline in order 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 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, 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:
- Transitions in Professional Nursing
- Advanced English Composition
- RN Health Assessment
- RN Collaborative Healthcare
- Statistical Reasoning for the Health Sciences
- RN Evidence-Based Practice
- Political Science
- RN Capstone Course
- RN Information Systems in Healthcare
- RN Community Nursing
- Humanities Elective
- History Elective
- Two additional elective courses
Is Chamberlain a good RN to BSN program?
That depends. 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 prior to 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. Furthermore, 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 a number of 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
How to decide on the right nursing program for you
Deciding if WGU, Chamberlain University, or another program is right for you depends on a number of 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: