Online Associate's Degree Programs in Registered Nursing

Aspiring registered nurses (RNs) may be able to earn a degree partially online. For information about earning an online associate's degree in registered nursing, read on. See about common classes, online learning methods, the career outlook for graduates and program prerequisites. Schools offering Nursing degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Registered Nursing Associate's Degree Program?

A registered nursing associate's degree program generally requires a combination of lecture-based courses, laboratory work and clinical experiences. Hybrid programs are available that allow you to complete much of your coursework online, but you'll typically need to complete the hands-on lab and clinical portions in person.

The clinical portion includes real-world experience working with patients under the supervision of a medical professional. This typically takes place at a local medical center or at the campus medical facility. Requirements for clinical hours often include different specialty areas, such as pediatrics, mental health, maternity and surgery.

Topics of study in a registered nursing associate's degree may include:

  • Drug administration and classification
  • Legal aspects of nursing assessment
  • Concepts in immunology
  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Human development in psychology
  • Mental health nursing
  • Nursing management of patients
  • Statistics

After graduating from your nursing program, you'll need to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to get your registered nurse (RN) license. States may have different requirements for licensure eligibility, so check with the board of nursing in the state where you wish to work. You'll have to participate in continuing education to maintain your nursing license. After earning your associate's degree in registered nursing (ADN), you can also pursue a bachelor's degree by participating in an RN-to-BSN program.

Common Courses Drug administration and classification, legal aspects of nursing assessment, human development in psychology, mental health nursing, statistics
Career Options Work as a staff nurse in clinics, hospitals or home health care agencies
Prerequisites High school diploma or equivalent plus completion of admission exam; some schools require proof of immunizations, background checks, professional training in CPR, or a practical nurse license
Online Programs Class components include video lectures and group discussions via online forums or web chats

What Can I Do with My Degree?

As a graduate of a registered nursing associate's degree program, you'll be prepared for employment opportunities as a staff nurse in clinics, hospitals or home health care agencies. Employment opportunities for registered nurses, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), were expected to increase 16% from 2014 to 2024 ( In fact, the BLS notes that more new jobs should be created for registered nurses during this period than for any other occupation. The constant emphasis on preventative care, the advances in medical technology and the increasing number of elderly people needing nursing care all contribute to the faster-than-average employment growth for registered nursing, per the BLS.

Are There Any Prerequisites?

The most basic prerequisite for an associate's degree in registered nursing is a high school diploma or its equivalent. If you're a high school student considering a nursing program, having a strong background in mathematics, science and communications courses may be beneficial. You may also be required to successfully pass an admission assessment or COMPASS exam. Depending on the state or program, other requirements may include completion of first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training, proof of immunizations and submitting to a background check. Some programs may also require current state licensure as a licensed practical nurse.

Registered nursing associate's degree programs may have a competitive selection process. Some programs require you to have completed a designated number of college credits with an overall minimum GPA. Successful completion of prerequisite courses, such as psychology, biology, chemistry, English composition and some nursing courses may also be required for admission.

How Does an Online Program Work?

To participate in a hybrid registered nursing associate's degree program, you'll need a computer with Internet access and an e-mail address. The online courses you'll take are similar to what you'd find in an on-campus program, except the interaction with your instructors and classmates takes place mostly via e-mail or an Internet-based course delivery system. Online components typically include video lectures and group discussions via an online forum or Web chat. In addition to in-person clinical requirements, some programs require you to visit campus for exams.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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