Earning a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is becoming a must for registered nurses (RNs). There are many reasons to earn a BSN, but the most important of which may be to develop stronger nursing skills. A BSN can also improve career opportunities and increase earning potential.

RN to BSN “bridge” programs can be an affordable path for achieving educational and career goals. Still, tuition costs for an RN to BSN program can vary widely, from under $20,000 all the way up to $80,000. When making the move to earn a BSN, comparing tuition rates and additional fees can be an important step in the decision-making process.

Eastern Michigan University (EMU), for example, offers an online RN to BSN program with total tuition that comes in under $10,000. RNs who compare EMU with other RN to BSN programs in Michigan will find that EMU’s tuition is among the most affordable.

What Are Some Factors to Consider?

RNs have a lot to think about when making the decision to return to school for their BSN. Research might begin with deciding whether to go with an online format or a traditional, full-time campus-based program. For RNs who plan to continue working while they earn their degree, an online program typically offers the best solution.

But, no matter which type of program RNs choose, cost is bound to be an important factor. Analyzing 28 studies, the authors of “BSN Completion Barriers, Challenges, Incentives, and Strategies” found that nurses identified “financial constraints” as an obstacle to pursuing their bachelor’s.

However, RNs may find that an online program can be surprisingly affordable. This may be especially true when compared with traditional campus-based programs. Online programs tend to cost less. But RNs may wonder whether an online program provides the same educational value as an on-campus option.

There are many reasons that online programs can offer more affordable tuition rates. For one thing, there is no costly building upkeep or property maintenance. But it is important not to choose a school based on tuition cost alone. No matter how affordable or expensive a program may be, it is important to ensure that it is accredited.

Accreditation is a sign that a nursing program meets high standards for quality and integrity. Not surprisingly, many employers will only hire RNs who graduate from an accredited nursing program. EMU’s RN to BSN degree program, for example, is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). The CCNE is recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education as a national accreditation agency.

Keep in mind that employers may offer tuition reimbursement or educational assistance programs. These programs can put earning a BSN well within reach when it comes to cost. RNs who choose an affordable RN to BSN program may even find that these education benefits cover most or all of their tuition. To top it off, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may allow up to $5,250 in employer education assistance benefits each year as tax-free.

How Do Online RN to BSN Programs in Michigan Compare?

RNs will find no shortage of RN to BSN programs to consider. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), there are more than 600 U.S.-based RN to BSN programs offered either fully or partially online. In Michigan alone, RNs will find plenty of options, along with wide-ranging costs.

By comparing tuition, along with any other fees, RNs may find that they can save thousands of dollars on the cost of earning their BSN. These cost savings may reduce or eliminate the need for student loans.

To get a sense of how costs compare, have a look at a few RN to BSN options in Michigan.

Program Tuition Credit Hours Additional Fees Same Tuition In-State and Out-of-State?
EMU $328 per credit hour 30 $35 application fee Yes
Western Michigan University $503.92 per credit hour 30 $20 per course, tech fee Yes
Northern Michigan University $327per credit hour 32 $50 per credit,
distance education fee
Davenport University $805 per credit hour 31 No Yes

Costs sourced from university websites (February 2020)

As RNs are starting to find out, a BSN is becoming a necessity because employers may require it, not just for new jobs but also for promotions.

RNs who are ready to take the next step in their education will find that an online RN to BSN program can be a cost-effective alternative to a traditional campus-based program. Comparing the cost of online RN to BSN programs can help RNs find the right program at the right price. EMU’s affordable, CCNE-accredited RN to BSN program can give RNs peace of mind as they make the decision to pursue their bachelor’s.

Learn more about EMU’s online RN to BSN program.


The Journal of Nursing Administration: BSN Completion Barriers, Challenges, Incentives, and Strategies

American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

IRS: Tax Benefits for Education: Information Center

American Association of Colleges of Nursing: Degree Completion Programs for Registered Nurses: RN to Master’s Degree and RN to Baccalaureate Programs