RN to BSN Online Curriculum and Course Descriptions


The online RN to BSN program emphasizes the three fundamental aspects of nursing practice throughout the curriculum to include: 1) population focused health care, 2) health promotion, 3) care of the sick in and across all environments. Classes are taught by nursing graduate program faculty members who are skilled practitioners and have graduate degrees in their areas of clinical specialization.

Upon acceptance each applicant’s prior academic and professional background is evaluated to maximize transfer credits and shorten your path to obtaining your BSN degree. Depending on your work history, you may be approved to complete up to 3 portfolio courses to earn 11 academic credits from your professional experience in lieu of a traditional course format. The portfolio option allows the student to put together a compilation of work, including a philosophy relevant to the course content and nursing, evidence of completion of CEUs, and written assignments documenting achievements and self-reflection regarding the course content. The Program Director and your Student Services Coordinator will help guide you through the options best suited to meet your academic program of study.

The RN to BSN degree is accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

Nursing Prerequisite Courses

Gannon University’s Villa Maria School of Nursing requires completion or transfer equivalent of 25 credits of nursing prerequisites:

  • Human Anatomy & Physiology I and II (8 credits)
  • Introduction to Microbiology and lab (4 credits)
  • Human Growth and Development (3 credits)
  • Physiologic Chemistry and lab (4 credits – offered online at Gannon)
  • Nutrition (3 credits – offered online at Gannon)
  • Statistics (3 credits – offered online at Gannon)

Nursing Major Course Descriptions

Students enrolled in the online RN to BSN program are required to complete all nursing major courses. Validation by portfolio may be available for NURS 404, NURS 408, and NURS 414 depending upon evaluation of your work experience as a nurse while enrolled in NURS 203.

NURS 203 Transition to Professional Nursing (5 credits)

Transition to Professional Nursing is an online course designed to provide learning opportunities for RN to BSN students to broaden their perspectives of the professional nursing role in health care delivery. The course recognizes and builds on prior education and work experience of the RN. The course introduces the major concepts of Person, Society, Health and Nursing. The context of professional nursing including, but not limited to: critical thinking, evidence based practice, professional roles, values, ethics, responsibilities and theoretical foundations of professional practice. The process for creation and validation of course objectives by portfolio including use of the APA 6th edition format are presented, practiced and refined.
This course is a Prerequisite for all other Nursing courses.

NURS 308 The Research Process in Nursing (3 credits)

Using a comprehensive approach, this course is designed to stimulate student interest in the research process, theory development, and translation of findings to nursing practice. Students learn the components, principles, and methods of scientific research to become discerning consumers of research.
Prerequisite: NURS 203, PSYC 211 or equivalent

NURS 404 Nurse Power Politics (3 credits)

This Liberal Studies course is a seminar experience designed to provide the student with an opportunity to explore contemporary health care issues, to analyze these issues within the historical, professional context as well as the context of his or her value system, and to adopt a position regarding such issues. The student is engaged in an active exploration of his / her own philosophy of nursing. Students are guided through this analysis by faculty who facilitate open discussions and exchange of ideas. Students develop skill in formulation of a position, consideration of others’ viewpoints and defense of such a position, as well as to realize the potential impact and power of political activity. Students also realize the importance of individual action and commitment. Service learning is a required component of the course.
Validation by Portfolio available. Course includes a clinical component.
Prerequisite: NURS 203

NURS 408 Management and Leadership in Nursing (3 credits)

This course focuses on the knowledge and skills related to the delivery of health care services within a nursing management context. Theories, concepts and models are presented which give the student an understanding of the knowledge base required for effective management and assuming a leadership role in professional nursing practice. The course provides the knowledge and skills necessary to apply principles in planning and delegating nursing care and discusses developing creative roles for managing and leading in nursing.
Validation by Portfolio available
Prerequisite: NURS 203

NURS 414 Promoting Healthy Communities (5 credits)

This online course provides RN to BSN students a perspective of professional nursing at the community level of practice. Course content will provide an overview of specific issues and societal concerns that affect community health nursing practice; epidemiological applications in community health nursing; educational theories, models, and principles applied in community health nursing; risk factors and health problems for defined populations across the lifespan; issues and approaches in providing for the health care of defined populations in the community; specific health care needs and issues for populations at risk; communicable disease risk and prevention; and the diversity in the role of the community health nurse. Students apply previous knowledge and the nursing process in maximizing the health status of individuals, families, and defined populations within the community. Adult learning teaching strategies are employed in this course.
Validation by Portfolio available. Course includes a clinical component.
Prerequisite: NURS 203

Nursing Elective Course Descriptions

Students enrolled in the online RN to BSN are required to take a minimum of 9 credits in nursing electives.

NURS 343 Palliative Care (3 credits)

This course provides an examination of the theory of palliative care focusing on the complexities of caring for terminally ill and dying patients as well as those with life-threatening or chronic illness. This course is designed for students from a variety of health care disciplines. Aspects of the interdisciplinary team in providing a comprehensive approach to palliative care are emphasized. The physical, psychosocial, cultural and spiritual needs of patients and families as well as ethical and legal issues concerning care are explored.
Prerequisite: NURS 203

NURS 416 Special Topics in Nursing (1 – 3 credits)

This course allows students to work with the faculty to develop their own course so they can tailor the learning experience to meet their educational interests and goals. Students create the specific description and course objectives, methods of instruction, assessment measures of the objectives, and a grading rubric in collaboration with the assigned course faculty.
Prerequisite: NURS 203

NURS 419 Basic Dysrhythmia and 12-lead EKG Interpretation (3 credits)

This course is designed for professional nursing majors who desire to develop skills in dysrhythmia interpretation. Identification of EKG features, predisposing conditions and treatments; role of the nurse in patient care; and current ACLS interventions are emphasized. The student will learn common normal rhythms and dysrhythmias of the SA node, atria, AV node and ventricles. Technical artifact patterns are also covered in addition to the identifying EKG features, predisposing conditions, pathophysiology, decision-making for treatment, and the nursing role in client care is emphasized. Electrocardiographic evidence of electrolyte disturbances, pacemaker activity, ischemic, injury and infarction are also included. Current treatment recommendations of the American Heart Association, and Advanced Cardiac Life Support training will be presented.
Prerequisite: NURS 203

NURS 435 Forensic Nursing (3 credits)

This introductory course provides the student with knowledge and nursing strategy to better meet the needs of those affected by forensic related health care situations and ultimately improve patient outcomes. The course explores the history and development of forensic nursing as a scientific subspecialty of nursing; the forensic nursing process; application of the forensic nursing role (i.e. sexual assault management, death investigation, child death review, abuse/neglect, emergency department, etc.), violence and victimology; injury identification and interpretation; evidence recognition, collection, preservation, and documentation; and finally, forensic nursing and the law/legal interface.
Prerequisite: NURS 203

General Education Elective Course Descriptions

Students enrolled in the online RN to BSN may be required to take general education elective courses in order to meet the minimum elective requirement of 30 credits, with a minimum of 9 credits in nursing.

LIBR 111 Library Research and Information Skills (1 credit)

A one-credit course focusing on understanding and utilizing a variety of information sources and formats, both print and electronic. It will include the skills of determining information needed, effective search strategies, critical evaluation of sources of information, using information effectively and the ethical and legal use of information.

SCWK 220 Death Dying and Bereavement (3 credits)

This course explores dying, death and grief, a topic of interest to personnel in the human service and related professions. Issues discussed are theories of dying, death and bereavement with aged, and assessments and interventions with clients and their families. Social cultural differences in attitude and behavior toward death as well as ethical, legal issues, resources and support services are explored.

PSYC 234 Health Psychology (3 credits)

A consideration of the roles played by psychological factors in the maintenance of health and the development of illness. Emphasizes the importance of the therapeutic relationship which includes the patient, the patient's family and the health provider. Includes both a review of relevant clinical and research findings and practical concepts/skill development.

SPED 101 Special Education Overview (3 credits)

This course provides teacher candidates with a basic understanding of the federal mandates associated with special education. Teacher candidates are introduced to: characteristics of various exceptionalities; pre-referral strategies and interventions; cultural diversity; curricular and behavioral modifications, adaptations, and instructional strategies; educational assessment; historical legislations and current legal issues in special education; and the collaboration of regular education and special education teachers. Focus is given to the special education process for evaluation, identification, eligibility determination, and placement of students with exceptionalities in special education.

CRJS 110 Introduction to Criminal Justice (3 credits)

This course introduces students to the field of criminal justice through the examination of police, courts, and correctional arenas. It includes a review of historical data, statistical information, and evaluation of criminal justice system policies, procedures, and trends. Students learn the terminology of the field, gain an awareness of the methods of inquiry utilized in the field, and have the opportunity to examine personal attitudes and values regarding crime and responses to crime. Students will examine how criminal justice decision making involves a delicate balance between community and individual rights as it responds to crime in society.

Liberal Core Course Descriptions

Students enrolled in the online RN to BSN are required to have 19 credits of liberal studies core.

LTHE 121 Sacred Scripture (3 credits)

A study of the Christian concept of God’s self-revelation in the history of Israel and climactically in the person and redemptive work of Jesus Christ.

LPHI 131 Introduction to Philosophy (3 credits)

An introduction to the study of philosophy. Beginning with the dawn of philosophical awareness among the ancient Greek philosophers, the course surveys both traditional and modern approaches to the philosophical understanding of the human condition.

LENG 245 Poetry (3 credits)

This course helps students develop an appreciation, understanding and evaluation of drama as it reflects human experience in diverse cultural contexts.

LFIN 251 Introduction to Music (3 credits)

The aim of this course is to guide the student to a more perceptive and meaningful enjoyment of the art of music. After having been acquainted with musical materials and procedures, the student will be introduced to selected works characteristic of different style periods.

LPHI 237 Philosophy of Ethical Responsibility (3 credits)

The subject matter of ethics is “the good life and how to live it”. Students will examine a variety of influential approaches to ethics, and will gain skill in applying ethical theory both to practical ethical issues in daily life, and to some of the urgent ethical issues in contemporary society.
Prerequisite: LPHI 131

NURS 320 Leadership Seminar (1 credit)

The Leadership seminar introduces students to a three dimensional model of leadership, including a repertoire of leadership skills and means of using those skills responsibly in various communities to which they belong. In addition, the course helps students explore the relevance of leadership skills in the leadership process. Ethical reasoning and Catholic social justice teaching serve as the basis for the students’ leadership development as reflected both in this course and the co-requisite Theology or Philosophy Series III courses.
Prerequisite: NURS 203

NURS 404 Nurse Power Politics (3 credits)

Please see course description above.

The University requires the successful completion of the final 30 credits of degree requirements to be taken with Gannon University. You will take courses in the nursing major and nursing electives, as well as additional prerequisite and liberal core credits. To earn a bachelor’s degree at Gannon University, you must complete a total of 128 semester credit hours. We will accept liberal core, science and support course credits from an accredited ADN or diploma program, in addition to a maximum of 32 nursing articulation credits.

Learn more about the curriculum of the online RN to BSN at Gannon: call us at 877.497.5854 or request more information.