By David West

NATCHITOCHES – Northwestern State University’s online bachelor’s program in nursing has been rated as the top program in the country, according to Nonprofit Colleges Online.

The RN to BSN program is the fourth Northwestern State program to be named the program in the nation. Northwestern State online degrees in computer information systems, criminal justice and psychology were also ranked number one. The bachelor’s in accounting was ranked second and the master’s in education was seventh.

“Receiving this award is particularly gratifying because the RN to BSN faculty truly care about our students and work diligently to help each student succeed in the program and achieve a professional goal,” said Vicki Wissing, director of the RN to BSN program. “Presentation of this award helps the public know what NSU already knows is that this truly is a caring university that strives to help students while pursuing an academic program.”

Programs in the rankings are degree completion RN to BSN programs, meaning prospective students will need to already hold registered nurse licensure, and in most cases, a diploma or an associate degree in nursing.

“I like the convenience of being able to take courses online,” said graduating senior Angela Owens-Graham of Tyler, Texas. “The courses are well designed and give you everything you need. The faculty are always available and responsive.”

Graham earned an associate degree at Northwestern State and started in the RN to BSN program while living in Alaska and continued after moving to Texas. She has been a nurse for six years. Graham’s goal is to earn a master’s in nursing and teach.

“This is the next step for me,” said Graham. “A bachelor’s degree is almost imperative. Without it, succeeding in certain areas is very difficult. Someone with a bachelor’s degree is better prepared and informed. You can look at best practices and have more of a world view of the field.”

Graham said Northwestern State’s faculty works to stay current and brings the latest knowledge in the field to students.

“Northwestern has done a good job of designing the program so that it is addressing changes in the field,” said Graham. “The field of medicine is evolving and we are being prepared for that.”

The rankings at were created to recognize online colleges and universities committed to putting the interest of students first.  Northwestern State was recognized for having the least expensive bachelor’s RN to BSN program among regionally accredited not-for-profit colleges and universities in the U.S. at an estimated cost of $9,868 for full-time, out-of-state tuition. Northwestern State was more than $2,200 less expensive than the second ranked school.

NSU does not charge out-of-state-tuition for online students. The university received a Students Before Profits Award, which was created to promote nonprofit colleges and universities offering online degree programs that put students before profits and education before the bottom line.

Northwestern State University offers an individualized plan for learning to assist registered nurses who are pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. This individualized plan of learning has been developed to offer flexibility to meet the registered nurse students’ needs. This plan offers the opportunity to complete upper division nursing courses after the completion of general academics. Students can earn credit without enrollment in 31 hours of nursing courses. Northwestern State has offered a RN to BSN program for 60 years. It was the first online program offered at the university beginning in 2003.

The program is fully online, but students can opt to take face to face courses in Alexandria. The university offers individualized advising and scheduling of courses and 8 or 12-week sessions. Clinical experiences can be completed in the students’ employment setting with student selected local mentors.

For more information on the award, go to You can learn about NSU’s program at

Northwestern State has 37 online degree programs. The university offers flat rate pricing for exclusively online students and does not charge out of state tuition. For more information on online degree programs at NSU, go to