Male and female nurse

Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN)

At Samuel Merritt University, you can earn your BSN in less than two years while continuing to work in the field.


  • Online

Program Duration

  • 20 Months (Five Semesters)

Upcoming Deadlines

Spring Application

Fall Application

Advance Your Nursing Career

Nurses with bachelor’s degrees often have higher earning potential than their counterparts with an associate degree. As demand for nurse leaders continues to rise, a BSN could make you more desirable for supervisory roles and other increased responsibilities. 

Created for Working Nurses

Our 20-month program allows you to earn your degree part-time, while also maintaining your career. As a current nurse, you already have a solid foundation, and you’ll be able to use your previous academic and professional experience as you continue your education. 

In our BSN program, you’ll deepen your knowledge of evidence-based care, broaden your understanding of public health issues, build your teamwork and communication skills, and strengthen your self-care practices. Learning alongside other nurses at SMU, you’ll also get to expand your professional network. 

Prepare for a Master's Degree

Another benefit of earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing is that it sets you up for continued career growth. With a BSN, you’re within reach of a master’s of science in nursing degree, which could open doors to advanced practice nursing. 

Samuel Merritt University's RN to BSN program is a National Caring Science Academic Affiliate of the Watson Caring Science Institute (WCSI)

What we look for:

  • Compassion
  • Interpersonal/interprofessional communication
  • Teamwork
  • Critical thinking
  • Responsibility

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Program Requirements & Info

Admission to the RN to BSN program is based upon the following criteria:

  • An associate degree in nursing or enrollment in an associate degree in nursing program

  • Current, unencumbered RN license

  • 70 transferable semester credits—all credits counting toward the associate degree in nursing are transferable

  • Minimum recommended GPA of 2.5 (4-point scale)

  • Two letters of recommendation

Application Fees
Application fees are payable to Nursing’s Centralized Application Service (NursingCAS). Samuel Merritt University does not charge an additional admission fee.

Application Fee = $60

Non-Refundable Deposits and Fees
Students offered admission pay a non-refundable tuition deposit of $350 to secure their seat in the class. Application fees and tuition deposits are non-refundable, whether or not the student withdraws in the first week of the term.

For a detailed summary of annual tuition, and all fees for the program visit Student Accounts.  

Admitted Academic Year: 2024 - 2025 

            Per Unit Rate                =          $750/unit 

            Program Units               =          30 units 

            Total Cost Guarantee*   =          $22,500 

*The total cost estimate does not reflect potential future tuition rate increases.

Samuel Merritt University, through a partnership with Kaiser Permanente, is pleased to be able to offer scholarships to assist nurses in covering the costs of the RN to BSN program. Scholarships are available first-come, first-served. Nurses who are currently working for Kaiser Permanente, public hospitals and clinics, federally qualified health centers, and public health departments will be awarded a scholarship that covers up to 75% of the tuition. Student Body, health insurance, books, transportation, and other fees are not included. Scholarships are renewable each term based upon satisfactory academic performance and continued progress towards the degree. 

This scholarship is available for nurses who are employed at Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health, or work at safety net hospitals.  

Types of Aid

Scholarships and Grants 
These are “gift aid” and do not need to be repaid. These can come from the government, private groups and directly from Samuel Merritt University.

Scholarships:  A limited number of scholarships are available for students accepted into the RN to BSN program. Scholarships will be awarded based on the content of the student’s application to Samuel Merritt University. All students are considered for this scholarship. 

Federal Grants:  Up to $5,775 in Pell Grant and up to $1000 in Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG). These are need-based awards, and will not be repaid. 

Students in the RN to BSN program are also eligible for federal student loans.

Sequential Course Curriculum      Course Descriptions

Program Length and Class Structure

  • 20 months
  • Community health clinical hours are an additional 8 hours per week in term 4
  • Online classes are four hours every other week.

Below you will find planned class schedules for upcoming RN to BSN cohorts. All times are Pacific. 

RN to BSN (students will select either a Tuesday, Wednesday, or Saturday class option)
Tuesdays 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Wednesdays 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Saturdays 8 a.m. - 12 p.m. 


Through a partnership with Kaiser Permanente, we are pleased to offer a scholarship covering 80% of the tuition to nurses currently working for Kaiser Permanente public hospitals and clinics, federally qualified health centers, and public health departments.

Scholarships are limited and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Scholarships are renewable each term based upon satisfactory academic performance and continued progress towards the degree.

Graduation Rate*
2016-2017 Cohort      91%
2015-2016 Cohort      89%

*% of Cohort Graduated Within 150%  of Expected Time

Samuel Merritt University is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), 985 Atlantic Avenue, Suite 100, Alameda, CA 94501; 510.748.9001. 

The baccalaureate degree program in nursing at Samuel Merritt University is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, 655 K Street NW, Suite 750, Washington, DC., 20001.

Baccalaureate Accreditation

Initial Accreditation Date: April 21, 2001
Most Recent Accreditation Date: November 2, 2020
Accreditation Term Expires: June 30, 2031
Last On-Site Evaluation: November 2020
Next On-Site Evaluation: Fall 2030

RN to BSN Program Technical Standards

The mission of Samuel Merritt University is to produce highly skilled and compassionate nursing professionals. Students are expected to develop a robust healthcare knowledge base and requisite clinical skills, with the ability to appropriately apply knowledge and skills, effectively interpret information, and contribute to patient-centered decisions across a broad spectrum of clinical situations in all settings. The following technical standards, in conjunction with the academic standards, are requirements for admission, promotion, and graduation. The term “candidate” refers to candidates for admission to any of the Prelicensure Programs well as current students who are candidates for retention, progression, or graduation.

These requirements may be achieved with or without reasonable accommodations, the cost of which will be borne by the institution. These standards should not serve as a deterrent to any candidate with disabilities who desires to pursue baccalaureate level education. Candidates with disabilities bring unique perspectives which contribute to the diversity of the student population and will create a diverse health care workforce of culturally competent practitioners who can meet the needs of their patients. Candidates with disabilities are encouraged to contact the Disability Resource Center immediately to begin a confidential conversation about possible accommodations necessary to meet these standards. Fulfillment of the technical standards for graduation from any Prelicensure Nursing Program does not guarantee that a graduate will be able to fulfill the technical requirements of any specific clinical position.

Technical Standards

Observational Skills

A candidate must acquire information as presented through demonstrations and experiences in foundational sciences. In addition, a candidate must be able to evaluate a patient accurately and assess relevant health, behavioral and medical information.  Candidates must be able to obtain and interpret information through comprehensive bio-psycho-social assessment of patients, correctly interpret diagnostic representations of patient data, and accurately evaluate patient conditions and responses in all clinical settings. 

Communication Skills

Candidates must exhibit interpersonal skills to enable effective care and collaboration for patients, including the ability to communicate effectively in English with all members of a multidisciplinary health care team, patients, their families, faculty, and staff.  Candidates must be able to clearly and accurately communicate verbal and written information and accurately interpret verbal and non-verbal communication in a timely manner.

Patient Care Skills 

Candidates must be able to perform health assessment and physical examination skills.  A candidate should be able to perform or direct basic laboratory tests (e.g., urinalysis), diagnostic and therapeutic procedures (e.g., venipuncture, placement of urinary catheters, electrocardiogram), and interpret findings.  A candidate must be able to provide or direct general and emergency treatment for patients, and respond to emergency situations in a timely manner (e.g., cardiopulmonary resuscitation, administration of intravenous medications, application of pressure to arrest bleeding).  Candidates must meet applicable safety standards for the environment and follow universal precaution procedures.

Intellectual-Conceptual, Integrative, and Cognitive Skills

Candidates must be able to learn through a variety of modalities, including but not limited to: lecture; group or team and collaborative activities; simulation; individual study; and use of computer technology.  A candidate must effectively interpret, assimilate and understand the complex information required to function within the Prelicensure Program’s curriculum. The candidate must be able to synthesize information both in person and via technology; interpret causal connections and make accurate, fact-based conclusions based on available data and information; formulate a plan of care, investigate the potential answers and outcomes; and reach appropriate and accurate practice decisions. A candidate must be able to find sources of knowledge and possess the ability to be a life-long learner.

Behavioral Attributes, Social Skills and Professional Expectations

A candidate must be able to exercise good judgment, promptly complete all responsibilities attendant to the care of patients, and develop mature, sensitive, and effective relationships with patients, faculty, and fellow students in the learning community. The skills required to do so include the ability to effectively handle and manage heavy workloads, function effectively under stress, adapt to changing environments, to display flexibility, and to learn to function in the face of uncertainties inherent in clinical practice and academia.  Candidates are expected to exhibit professionalism, personal accountability, compassion, integrity, concern for others, and interpersonal skills including the ability to accept and apply feedback and to respect boundaries and care for all individuals in a respectful and effective manner regardless of gender identity, age, race, sexual orientation, religion, disability, or any other protected status. Candidates should understand, and function within, the legal and ethical aspects of the nursing practice, including patient advocacy, and maintain and display ethical and moral behaviors commensurate with the role of a nurse and a Samuel Merritt University student in all interactions with patients, faculty, staff, students and the public. Interest and motivation throughout the educational process are expected of all candidates.

RN-to-BSN at SMU

We offer a friendly, flexibly program for working professionals.


Student Satisfaction with Academic Experience

My program is preparing me to succeed in my profession


Met or Exceeded

Number of alumni who report their program met or exceeded their expectations.

Higher Earning Potential

RNs with a bachelor's out-earn their counterparts with an associate’s degree.



Richard MacIntyre

PhD, RN Professor

Marcus L. Penn

MD Adjunct Assistant Professor

Uzo Nwankpa

MSN, RN Instructor

Alice Jacobs Vestergaard

EdD Instructor

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