RN to BSN Programs in Illinois: Rankings, Costs, Licensure, Salaries, Scholarships

Have you earned your two-year RN and are now ready to elevate your nursing career by obtaining a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree? Well, you’re on the right track! With the growing demand for highly skilled nurses in the Land of Lincoln and nationwide, RN to BSN programs in Illinois present a robust opportunity for career advancement and personal growth.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the multifaceted benefits of obtaining a BSN degree in Illinois. These programs not only prepare you for higher-paying roles in the nursing field but also unlock a wide array of advanced nursing positions. What’s more, a BSN qualification will place you at the forefront of patient care, contributing to improved health outcomes and reinforcing Illinois’s push towards the 80% BSN initiative.

We’ll delve deep into the structure of these programs, highlighting the admission requirements, and explaining the rich curriculum you’ll encounter as you undertake this journey. You’ll learn about the theoretical and practical aspects of advanced nursing and how they apply to Illinois’s diverse healthcare landscape.

But it’s not just about what you’ll learn; it’s also about how you’ll fund your education. This guide will provide you with a detailed overview of various financial aid options, including scholarships, grants, and loan forgiveness programs specific to Illinois.

Finally, we’ll examine the salary prospects for BSN-prepared nurses in Illinois, underscore the unique advantages of a BSN degree, and arm you with resources to guide you through your BSN journey in the Prairie State. Ready to soar to greater heights in your nursing career? Let’s get started with your guide to RN to BSN Programs in Illinois.

Rn To Bsn Programs In Illinois

RN to BSN Programs in Illinois

RN to BSN Programs in Illinois

Illinois offers 23 RN to BSN programs, providing registered nurses (RNs) with valuable opportunities to advance their nursing education. These programs focus on enhancing clinical skills, fostering leadership development, and expanding career prospects. By pursuing an RN to BSN program in Illinois, nurses can gain advanced knowledge in nursing theory, research, and evidence-based practice.

You’ll develop critical thinking abilities, sharpen their clinical judgment, and enhance their ability to provide comprehensive patient care. Additionally, these programs open doors to various career opportunities, including specialization in different nursing fields and leadership roles in healthcare organizations.

Illinois’s RN to BSN programs empower nurses to excel professionally and contribute to the delivery of high-quality healthcare across the state.

University Offered asCity/State
Oak Point University Campus, Hybrid, OnlineOak Brook, IL
Western Illinois University Campus, OnlineMacomb, IL
Saint Anthony College of Nursing Campus, HybridRockford, IL
Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville Campus, Hybrid, OnlineEdwardsville, IL
Saint Francis Medical Center – College of Nursing Campus, Hybrid, OnlinePeoria, IL
North Park University CampusChicago, IL
Northern Illinois University Campus, HybridDekalb, IL
Olivet Nazarene University Campus, Hybrid, OnlineBourbonnais, IL
Trinity College of Nursing & Health Sciences CampusRock Island, IL
McKendree University Campus, OnlineLebanon, IL
Millikin University Campus, OnlineDecatur, IL
MacMurray College Campus, OnlineJacksonville, IL
Lakeview College of Nursing CampusDanville, IL
Lewis University Campus, Hybrid, OnlineRomeoville, IL
Mennonite Nursing at Illinois State University Campus, Hybrid, OnlineNormal, IL
Elmhurst University CampusElmhurst, IL
Benedictine University CampusLisle, IL
Eastern Illinois University Campus, OnlineCharleston, IL
Blessing Rieman College of Nursing Campus, OnlineQuincy, IL
Bradley University Campus, OnlinePeoria, IL
Aurora University Campus, OnlineAurora, IL
Methodist College Campus, OnlinePeoria, IL
DePaul University Campus, Hybrid, OnlineChicago, IL

Admissions Requirements for Illinois RN to BSN Programs

The path to BSN qualification in the Prairie State involves fulfilling specific admission prerequisites. While these can vary among different RN to BSN Programs in Illinois, certain fundamental requirements remain consistent. Below, we delineate the most common admission requisites:

  1. Active RN License: As an RN to BSN applicant, you’re expected to possess an active RN license. This license should be free of disciplinary action and valid in Illinois, ensuring you’re competent to practice in the state’s healthcare settings.
  2. Diploma or Associate’s Degree in Nursing: Prospective students must have an ASN, ADN, or a diploma in nursing from an accredited institution. This ensures you have a foundational understanding of nursing principles.
  3. Minimum GPA: Most programs require a minimum GPA in your prior nursing coursework, typically around 2.5 – 3.0. This reflects your commitment to academics and the capacity to succeed in rigorous BSN coursework.
  4. Transcripts: Official transcripts from all previously attended institutions are typically required. These documents provide a record of your academic performance.
  5. Prerequisite Courses: Certain programs may require completion of prerequisite courses such as anatomy, physiology, or statistics before enrollment.
  6. Letters of Recommendation: Some schools request letters of recommendation. These endorsements can come from current or previous employers, faculty, or professional references who can attest to your readiness for BSN studies.
  7. Personal Statement: A personal statement may be requested, offering you the opportunity to articulate your professional goals, reasons for pursuing a BSN, and why you chose the specific program.
  8. Optional – Filling out the FAFSA: While not a requirement for admission, completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) early in the application process is crucial. This step opens the door to various federal, state, and institutional financial aid opportunities, easing the financial load of your educational journey.

Remember, requirements may vary across different RN to BSN programs in Illinois. Always check with your chosen program for the most accurate and up-to-date information. Embarking on the road to BSN qualification is a significant step in your nursing career, and understanding these admission prerequisites is the first milestone in this exciting journey.

RN to BSN Classes & Courses in Illinois

Curriculum for RN to BSN programs in Illinois is designed to build upon the foundational nursing knowledge gained during diploma or associate degree programs, while introducing advanced concepts to prepare nurses for more complex roles in the healthcare setting. While the specifics can vary based on the institution, typical courses often include:

  1. Health Assessment: This course equips nurses with advanced skills for comprehensive health assessment across the lifespan. Students learn to perform holistic evaluations, considering physiological, sociocultural, and psychological components. For an example, visit Loyola University Chicago’s RN to BSN program page.
  2. Community Health Nursing: Focused on population health, this course teaches students about health promotion and disease prevention strategies, community health advocacy, and addressing health disparities.
  3. Nursing Research and Evidence-Based Practice: Nurses learn to critically appraise research, utilize evidence in practice, and potentially contribute to nursing research. The goal is to promote best practices in patient care.
  4. Nursing Leadership and Management: This course explores leadership styles, change management, and principles of delegation. It prepares nurses to take on leadership roles and effectively manage healthcare teams.
  5. Nursing Informatics: In an increasingly digital age, nurses learn to use technology and data to improve patient care. The course covers electronic health records, patient privacy, and leveraging data for health improvements.
  6. Pathophysiology: A more advanced look at disease processes, this course helps nurses deepen their understanding of how diseases affect the body, crucial for disease management and patient education.
  7. Professional Ethics in Nursing: Nurses explore ethical dilemmas in healthcare, learning to apply ethical principles and legal guidelines in their practice.
  8. Healthcare Policy: This course covers local, state, and federal healthcare policies, preparing nurses to advocate for patients and influence policy-making.
  9. Advanced Pharmacology: Nurses expand their understanding of pharmacotherapeutics, learning about drug interactions, adverse effects, and educating patients about medications.

These courses in RN to BSN programs in Illinois not only foster technical competence but also promote the development of critical thinking, leadership, and advocacy skills, positioning nurses for diverse roles within the evolving healthcare sector. It’s a robust curriculum, meticulously designed to help Illinois nurses rise to the challenges and opportunities of modern healthcare.

Online RN to BSN Programs in Illinois

The journey towards earning a BSN in the Land of Lincoln starts long before you step foot into your first class. Navigating the admission process, understanding the timeline, and gauging the completion time for RN to BSN Programs in Illinois are integral to planning your path.

Admission Process

  1. Research: Start by exploring different RN to BSN programs in Illinois. Look at the coursework, faculty, financial aid opportunities, and any unique features of the programs.
  2. Prepare Application Materials: Gather the necessary documents such as transcripts, letters of recommendation, and your personal statement, ensuring you meet all the program-specific requirements.
  3. Complete Application: Fill in the online application form provided by the school and upload the required documents. This often involves a nominal application fee.
  4. Submit Application: After a thorough review of your application, submit it before the deadline. Keep an eye out for confirmation of receipt from the school.
  5. Interview (if required): Some programs might require an interview as part of the admission process. If so, prepare to articulate your goals and commitment to nursing.


Typically, RN to BSN programs in Illinois operate on a rolling admission basis, meaning you can apply throughout the year. However, specific deadlines vary from program to program.

Program Length and Time to Completion

The length of RN to BSN programs in Illinois largely depends on the course load you can handle and the flexibility of the program. On average, these programs can be completed:

  • Full-time: If you’re studying full time, most programs can be completed in about 12 to 18 months.
  • Part-time: If you’re balancing work and studies, part-time programs generally allow completion in 2 to 3 years.

RN to BSN programs in Illinois provide a flexible and comprehensive pathway for nurses seeking to elevate their careers. With diligent planning and dedicated effort, you can join the ranks of BSN-prepared nurses contributing to Illinois’s robust healthcare system.

Tuition and Cost of Attendance

The investment in an RN to BSN program in Illinois can vary based on several factors, including the type of institution (public or private), the specific program, and whether you are an in-state or out-of-state student. Here are some examples to provide a clearer picture:

  1. University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC): As a public institution, UIC’s RN to BSN program provides an affordable option, particularly for in-state students. The estimated cost of tuition and fees is around $15,000 for Illinois residents.
  2. Loyola University Chicago: A private institution, Loyola University’s RN to BSN program has a slightly higher tuition rate. The total estimated cost of attendance is approximately $23,000.
  3. Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE): For another public school option, SIUE’s RN to BSN program offers a competitive tuition rate, with an estimated cost of around $10,000 for in-state students.

Keep in mind that tuition isn’t the only cost to consider. Additional expenses can add significantly to the cost of attendance and may include:

  • Books and Supplies: This could range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars per year, depending on the courses and the use of digital or second-hand textbooks.
  • Technology Fees: Online programs often charge technology fees to support their virtual learning platforms. These fees could range from $50 to $200 per semester.
  • Health Insurance: Many schools require students to carry health insurance, which could add another substantial amount to your budget.
  • Living Expenses: If you’re planning to relocate for your BSN program, or if you’re currently not working, you’ll need to factor in living expenses such as housing, food, and transportation.

While the costs might seem daunting, remember that financial aid, scholarships, and employer tuition reimbursement programs can help offset these expenses. Researching and applying for such opportunities should be an integral part of your transition from RN to BSN.

Scholarships for RN to BSN Nursing Students

An RN to BSN degree is an investment in your future, and to help ease the financial burden, a range of scholarships are available for Illinois nurses. These funds can help reduce your out-of-pocket expenses and minimize student debt. Below are seven notable scholarships for Illinois nurses pursuing an RN to BSN degree:

  1. Illinois Healthcare Education and Research Foundation Scholarship: This scholarship supports Illinois students pursuing a degree in a healthcare-related field, including nursing.
  2. Illinois Nurses Foundation (INF) Scholarship: INF offers multiple scholarships for registered nurses pursuing a BSN in Illinois.
  3. March of Dimes Dr. Margaret C. Freda Graduate Nursing Scholarship Award: This scholarship is for registered nurses enrolled in a graduate nursing program.
  4. Nurses Educational Funds, Inc. Scholarships: NEF offers scholarships for registered nurses pursuing advanced degrees.
  5. ANA Illinois Professional Issues Conference (ANA-IPIC) Scholarship: This scholarship supports the professional development of Illinois nurses.
  6. American Red Cross Jane Delano Student Nurse Scholarship: This scholarship is for nursing students who have contributed volunteer service to the American Red Cross.
  7. Promise of Nursing Regional Faculty Fellowship: This fellowship supports graduate nursing students who are committed to becoming nurse educators.

When seeking scholarships, it’s crucial to also complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is a gateway to numerous financial aid opportunities, including federal grants, work-study programs, and low-interest student loans. It’s also often required for many scholarship applications. Planning for your financial aid options early in the process will ensure you maximize the funds available to support your RN to BSN journey in Illinois.

Does an RN to BSN Increase My Salary?

An RN to BSN degree can indeed increase your earning potential. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that nurses with a BSN generally earn more than those with an associate degree. The increased salary reflects the advanced skills and knowledge gained through the BSN program. 2023 Illinois BSN comprehensive salary report.

However, the benefits of RN to BSN programs in Illinois go beyond salary alone. They include:

  • Expanded Opportunities: A BSN opens up more job opportunities in healthcare. BSN-prepared nurses can work in different healthcare settings and take on roles such as nurse manager or case manager. They also have a stepping stone to more advanced degrees and roles like nurse practitioner or clinical nurse specialist.
  • Higher Skill Level: BSN programs offer comprehensive training that equips nurses with advanced skills. These skills include critical thinking, leadership, and evidence-based practice. The program also delves deeper into health policy, nursing research, and community health.
  • Industry Preference: Many healthcare employers now prefer or require their RNs to have a BSN. The Institute of Medicine (now the National Academy of Medicine) has recommended that 80% of RNs hold a BSN by 2020, a trend followed by many hospitals and healthcare facilities.
  • Greater Job Satisfaction: Many nurses with a BSN report higher job satisfaction. The additional knowledge and skills obtained often lead to increased confidence and autonomy in practice.

Remember, while the potential for increased income is an important consideration, the non-monetary benefits are just as valuable. The skills and knowledge you gain through RN to BSN programs in Illinois can significantly enhance your nursing practice and career trajectory.

2023 Best RN to BSN Programs in Illinois

As the demand for highly skilled nurses increases, so does the number of RN to BSN programs. Below is a snapshot of ten accredited RN to BSN programs in Illinois, designed to cater to diverse needs and preferences of nurses seeking to advance their education and careers.

Program NameLocationOnlineCampus or HybridAccreditation
University of Illinois at ChicagoChicago, ILYesHybridCCNE
Loyola University ChicagoChicago, ILYesHybridCCNE
Northern Illinois UniversityDeKalb, ILYesBothCCNE
Illinois State UniversityNormal, ILYesBothCCNE
Southern Illinois University EdwardsvilleEdwardsville, ILYesBothCCNE
DePaul UniversityChicago, ILYesBothCCNE
Western Illinois UniversityMacomb, ILYesBothACEN
Rush UniversityChicago, ILYesBothCCNE
Saint Xavier UniversityChicago, ILYesBothCCNE
Lewis UniversityRomeoville, ILYesBothCCNE

While this list is a great starting point, prospective students should also explore other RN to BSN programs in Illinois. The perfect fit will depend on individual factors like cost, duration, flexibility, and the school’s reputation.

Financial Pathways to an RN to BSN in Illinois

Investing in an RN to BSN degree in Illinois is a decision that can lead to enhanced career prospects and personal fulfillment. Thankfully, there are numerous funding options available to help alleviate the financial burden:

  • Federal Financial Aid: The U.S. Department of Education offers various types of financial aid, including grants, work-study funds, and loans. To determine your eligibility, you must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • State Aid: The Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) offers numerous grants and scholarships to Illinois residents pursuing postsecondary education. The Monetary Award Program (MAP) is one such grant.
  • Scholarships: Scholarships are a form of aid that doesn’t need to be repaid. They can be awarded based on merit, need, or specific characteristics. There are numerous scholarships available specifically for students enrolled in RN to BSN programs in Illinois.
  • Employer Tuition Reimbursement: Some employers offer tuition reimbursement as a part of their benefits package. Check with your HR department to see if this is an option for you.
  • Work-Study Programs: Federal Work-Study provides part-time jobs for students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay for school. Many universities in Illinois participate in this program.
  • Loan Forgiveness Programs: Programs like the Nurse Corps Loan Repayment Program or the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program can forgive the remaining balance on your direct loans after you’ve made 120 qualifying payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer.
  • Military Benefits: Service members, veterans, and their families can access benefits to help cover the cost of higher education. The Post-9/11 GI Bill is one such program.
  • Payment Plans: Many institutions offer payment plans that allow students to pay their tuition and fees over an extended period, rather than in a lump sum.
  • Tax Credits: Tax credits such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) and Lifetime Learning Credit can help reduce the amount of income tax you may have to pay.
  • Private Student Loans: Private student loans from banks or credit unions can be used to cover the gap between the cost of your education and the amount of financial aid you receive.

While funding an RN to BSN program in Illinois can seem daunting, remember that there are plenty of resources available to help you. Start by exploring these options and consider speaking with a financial advisor to help guide your decision-making process.

Illinois’s Pursuit of the 80 Percent BSN Initiative: A Leap Towards Improved Healthcare

As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, there’s a growing emphasis on education in the nursing profession. This focus led to the Institute of Medicine’s (now the National Academy of Medicine) recommendation that 80% of RNs hold a BSN degree by 2020. This initiative, widely known as the “80% BSN Initiative,” has been adopted by several states to varying degrees.

In response, Illinois has made considerable strides towards this goal, with RN to BSN programs in Illinois seeing a steady increase in enrollment. Although the state does not currently mandate a BSN for all RNs, Illinois recognizes the value of a BSN degree in providing high-quality patient care.

Several Illinois healthcare institutions prefer or require a BSN for certain positions, creating an incentive for RNs to pursue advanced education. Furthermore, the Illinois Center for Nursing actively supports efforts to promote academic progression in nursing, reflecting the broader industry trend towards advanced education for nurses.

Ultimately, the commitment to the 80% BSN Initiative in Illinois is clear. While there isn’t a legislative mandate, the increased preference for BSN-prepared nurses by employers speaks volumes about the value of a BSN degree in the state’s healthcare industry.

10 Benefits of Earning an RN to BSN in Illinois

Choosing to advance your education through RN to BSN Programs in Illinois opens a world of possibilities. Here are ten benefits that can come from earning your BSN in the Land of Lincoln:

  1. Increased Earning Potential: Generally, BSN-prepared nurses earn higher salaries compared to their ADN-prepared counterparts.
  2. Expanded Job Opportunities: Many healthcare employers, especially hospitals, prefer or require a BSN for certain roles, like nurse manager or charge nurse.
  3. Advanced Clinical Skills: RN to BSN programs often provide more in-depth study in areas such as patient assessment, clinical decision-making, and leadership.
  4. Preparation for Graduate Study: If you aspire to become a nurse practitioner, nurse educator, or nurse anesthetist, a BSN is typically the necessary stepping stone.
  5. Increased Patient Care Quality: Studies have linked higher BSN nurse ratios to better patient outcomes, including lower mortality rates.
  6. Greater Understanding of Healthcare Policy: BSN programs often cover healthcare policy, helping nurses understand the broader context of their work.
  7. Leadership Opportunities: With a BSN, you’ll be better prepared to take on leadership roles within your organization.
  8. Community and Public Health: Unlike ADN programs, BSN programs usually include coursework in community and public health, better preparing nurses to care for populations.
  9. Cultural Competency: BSN coursework often addresses how to provide culturally competent care, a critical skill in today’s diverse patient population.
  10. Better Adaptability: The comprehensive knowledge gained through a BSN program can make nurses more adaptable to changes in the healthcare landscape.

In Illinois, where the healthcare industry is both vibrant and evolving, these benefits can lead to a rewarding and dynamic career in nursing. Pursuing an RN to BSN degree can not only transform your career trajectory but also the quality of care that patients receive.

RN to BSN Resources for Nurses in Illinois

As an RN to BSN nurse in Illinois, having access to valuable resources can enhance your educational journey and career advancement. Below, we’ve compiled a list of resources specifically tailored to support your needs:

  • Illinois Nurses Association (INA): INA is a professional organization that advocates for nurses and provides resources, continuing education opportunities, networking, and support for professional development.
  • Illinois Board of Nursing: The Illinois Board of Nursing regulates the practice of nursing in the state. Their website offers information on licensing requirements, scope of practice, and updates on nursing laws and regulations.
  • RN to BSN Programs in Your State: This resource provides comprehensive information on RN to BSN programs in Illinois, including program overviews, admission requirements, and links to specific schools offering these programs.
  • Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR): IDFPR oversees professional licensure in Illinois, including nursing. Their website provides information on license renewal, continuing education requirements, and answers to frequently asked questions.
  • American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN): AACN is a national organization that represents schools of nursing and offers resources, research, and advocacy for nursing education. Their website provides access to educational resources, news, and updates on nursing trends.

These resources can help you stay informed, connected, and supported throughout your RN to BSN journey in Illinois. Whether you need information on licensing, scholarships, professional development, or program options, these organizations and websites offer valuable assistance.


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