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Associate Programs
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Online Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) Programs

Students can earn an associate's degree in nursing (ADN) through one of several schools online. Find out more about accredited online programs, costs, degree completion time, and career paths.

Top Online ADN Programs

With several online Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN) programs to choose from, it's important to consider cost, flexibility, and program length. Below are some of the top online ADN options.

1. University of Arkansas Community College-Batesville

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid 2018 NCLEX Pass Rate
Batesville, AK $2,818 95% 80%*

*Source: University of Arkansas Community College-Batesville

Although the NCLEX pass rate (first attempt) for the RN program at University of Arkansas Community College falls below the national average, they boast a 95.35% job placement rate within six months of program completion. The online program is open to current Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and takes 11 months to complete. During the program, students will complete 12-hour shift clinical practicums at one of several locations near the school. While coursework is completed online, students are required to meet with faculty 7 or 8 times during their program.

2. Northwest Technical College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid 2018 NCLEX Pass Rate
Bemidji, MN $5,488 93% 91.23%*

*Source: Minnesota Board of Nursing

Northwest Technical College has two associate's degree programs that prepare students for RN licensure. Current nursing assistants can enter the two-year cohort program that can be completed online excluding an on-campus orientation and clinical requirements. Students who have an LPN license can earn an associate's degree in nursing in three semesters through a similar online program with some on-site clinical labs.

3. Minnesota West Community and Technical College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid 2018 NCLEX Pass Rate
Granite Falls, MN $5,692 90% 83.82%*

*Source: Minnesota Board of Nursing

Nursing assistants and LPNs can earn an ADN and prepare for RN licensure through Minnesota West's online programs. Nursing assistants will need to first complete the online LPN diploma requirements and can then enter the AS program. While the programs offer online coursework, students are required to complete clinical practice components in southwest Minnesota. The curriculum for the ADN integrates National League for Nursing and Quality and Safety for Nursing Education competencies into student learning outcomes.

4. North Central Missouri College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid 2018 NCLEX Pass Rate
Trenton, MO $5,400 96% 97.30%*

*Source: Missouri Board of Nursing

North Central Missouri College has an online ADN program that is available to licensed practical nurses. The program starts every August and consists of asynchronous online courses. Students are required to attend labs 2 to 3 times each semester and clinical sessions 2 to 4 days per month.

5. Western Oklahoma State College

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid 2018 NCLEX Pass Rate
Altus, OK $4,662 94% 81.82%*

*Source: Oklahoma Board of Nursing

The online nursing program at Western Oklahoma State College is available to licensed practical nurses (LPNs). The program can be completed in as few as five semesters and prepares students for the RN licensure exam (NCLEX). Students will be required to attend a new student orientation at the beginning of their program as well as attend various on-site and clinical components.

6. Allegany College of Maryland

Location Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid 2018 NCLEX Pass Rate
Cumberland, MD $7,580 95% 89%*

*Source: Allegany College of Maryland

Licensed PNs can earn an ADN in 18 months or less through Allegany College of Maryland's online LPN to RN program. Students can complete the program and qualify for RN licensure if they live in Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Texas, or Virginia. Program completion time and clinical requirements will vary based on previous education and experience.

7. Excelsior College

Location Total Tuition & Fees (in-state) % Receiving Financial Aid 2018 NCLEX Pass Rate
Albany, NY $34,170*Not Available 81.13%*

*Source: Excelsior College

Excelsior College offers two associate's degree programs in nursing that are completed entirely online except for a clinical capstone. Students can pursue an Associate in Applied Science in Nursing to expand their knowledge of nursing theory, or they can alternatively pursue an Associate of Science in Nursing for a more practice-focused education. Both degree tracks are completed through 8-week courses and include a 3-day clinical capstone assessment at the end of the program.

Tuition and financial aid statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics
Average in-state tuition & fees, 2018-2019

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

How to Choose an Online ADN Program

When you are deciding on an online associate's degree program in nursing, there are several factors that you should keep in mind.

Cost

Program costs can vary by school, but they can also vary based on any prerequisite courses that students may need to complete. Some schools offer decreased tuition rates to students who live within their district. When considering the cost of the program it's important to review all fees that may apply. While some programs may include fees such as book rental in their tuition, others may separate these. Also, there may be other fees such as technology fees and administrative fees. Check with your school choices to see if they offer flat tuition rates or if they have itemized fees.

Accreditation

Ensure that an ADN program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). This accreditation is essential to qualifying for RN licensure.

Program Options

The biggest thing to consider when looking at ADN programs is if those programs apply to you. Most online ADN programs are available to nursing assistants or licensed practical nurses. Some programs may also require students to have some nursing experience, such as one year. Check with your school to ensure they have the right program for you.

Flexibility

Depending on your time limitations, you may need asynchronous courses that allow you to log in and work at a time that's convenient for you. These programs are extremely flexible but do require the self-discipline to keep up with deadlines. If that doesn't sound like you, courses with more synchronous components may be a better fit. Some programs may offer part-time options while others require full-time study. Also, certain programs may recommend that students not work while pursuing their degree. Make sure to ask your schools about these options.

Residency Requirements

Due to the nature of the nursing profession and program type, all online ADN programs require students to complete some amount of clinical practice. Some programs may require practice hours weekly, monthly, or rarely. It's important to see if your chosen program will work with your schedule. Additionally, some programs may require on-campus visits one or more times throughout your program.

Overview of Online ADN Programs

Online ADN programs may be available as nursing assistants to ADN or LPN to ADN programs. These programs can take 1 to 2 years of full-time study, depending on course load and student's previous experience (LPN or nursing assistant). The instructional credit hours in ADN programs are usually in online learning portals which may be accessed through a third-party website. Students may be required to complete an online orientation or tutorial before beginning their coursework. Some courses that may be included in an ADN program are listed below.

  • Communication - These classes prepare students for effective and professional communication with peers and through presentations.
  • Pharmacology - Students learn about various pharmaceuticals and what their uses and limitations are in nursing practice.
  • Ethics in Society - These classes explore various theories and issues of ethics in society.
  • Intro to Psychology - Introduction to psychology courses provide students with a basic understanding of psychological processes and behaviors.
  • Nursing Practice - Nursing practice courses deepen student understanding of nursing theories, practices, and implications.

Higher-level nursing programs typically allow students to choose concentrations, or focus areas, within their program and curriculum. ADN programs typically do not allow focus areas within the curriculum but provide more of a broad overview of foundational nursing topics.

In addition to instructional coursework, students will need to complete clinical practice requirements. Some programs may only require clinical practice as an assessment at the end of an ADN program while others might require students to spend several hours each month completing clinical requirements. Some programs may also require students to participate in on-campus sessions once per program or even once per month. Regardless of program choice, students will have some on-site requirements during an ADN program.

Average Costs for Online ADN Programs

While specific online ADN program costs can vary, they can range from less than $10,000 to more than $30,000 for the entire program. Keep in mind that students may have reduced costs if they have qualifying prerequisite courses and/or qualify for in-district tuition (where available). Students should consider all costs included in a program. In addition to tuition, schools may also charge semester fees, fees for registration, technology fees, and book fees. Students typically have outside costs associated with their programs as well. These costs may include the purchase or a computer and maintaining an internet connection at home.

Students can obtain financial aid to fund their degrees by first filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is free to use and shows students what aid they might qualify for. Students may also find other aid through their school or program. Listed below are several types of aid available to ADN students.

  • Work Study - Nurses may be able to have some or all of their program costs paid by their employer for pursuing a higher certification. Students may also be able to participate in a work-study program through their school.
  • Scholarships - There are various nursing scholarships available to online ADN students.
    • Daughters of the American Revolution - $2,000 to $2,500 awarded (one time)
    • National Student Nurses' Association - $1,000 to $5,000 awarded to students pursuing their first nursing degree
    • ExceptionalNurse.com - $250 to $500 awarded to a disabled full-time nursing student
    • St. Francis School of Nursing Alumni of Pittsburgh, PA - $2,000 on average awarded to a nursing student with a GPA of 3.0 or greater
    • NURSE Corps - This scholarship program can pay part or all of a student's program fees. Students are required to work in an area of health professional shortage
    • Greta James Memorial - $500 awarded to nursing students (2 essays required)
    • Cherokee Uniforms 'A Nurse I Am' - $2,000 awarded (essay required)
    • Tylenol Future Care - Scholarship amount varies, but a total of $250,000 is awarded to 40 nursing students each year
  • Student Loans - Students who have not met their program costs through other types of aid may choose to utilize student loans. These are available from federal and state providers, as well as private loan issuers. Students are advised to use federal and state loans before considering private loans.
  • Loan Forgiveness - Students may be able to have their loan balances forgiven after some time. Individuals who work for qualifying employers (such as non-profit organizations) may have their loan balances forgiven after ten years. Students who choose income-based repayment plans may have their loan balances forgiven after 20 or 25 years.

Enrolling in an Online ADN Program

To enroll in an online ADN program, locate and complete a program and/or school application. You may need to upload your official transcripts when you submit your application as well as copies of applicable licenses, immunization records (where required) and letters of recommendation. You may be required to submit official transcripts upon program acceptance. Check with your school to see when applications are due as well as when programs begin. While some schools may accept applications and program entry at multiple points throughout the year, other schools may only accept new students once a year. Students may receive an acceptance decision within days or months, depending on the school.

After you've been accepted into a program you should receive an enrollment packet that may include school policies and information on online learning. You may receive information on technical requirements, which may include a personal computer with a qualifying operating system, high-speed internet, and certain computer software (such as Microsoft Office). Other documents within the welcome packet will likely provide instruction on how to register your student accounts which may include email and online learning. If you haven't registered already with an academic advisor, you may be able to do so manually through your school's registration page. Speak with an academic advisor before registering for courses to ensure you take the right courses when they're offered.

What Can You Do with an Online ADN?

Online ADN graduates have the necessary knowledge and skills to work as registered nurses (RNs). After graduation, they must pass the National Council Licensure Exam (NCLEX) to earn their RN license. The NCLEX exam must be taken at an approved location site after students have been given the authorization to take the test. The test uses Computer Adaptive Testing, or CAT, that uses student responses to update assigned questions. This helps decrease the easier questions for students with better performance on the hard questions, and vice versa. The computer determines if students exhibit sufficient entry-level nursing knowledge to effectively perform job functions. Students who do not pass receive a Candidate Performance Report (CPR) that outlines how close students were to passing, and what areas need improvement.

Depending on their employer, nurses may also need to hold additional certifications such as CPR and basic life support. Nurses may choose to become certified in a field of specialties such as pediatrics or gerontology; although the additional certification isn't usually mandatory, it shows an advanced understanding and focus. Healthcare services are growing in demand, with nurses expecting a 12% growth from 2018 to 2028. Nurses can work in a variety of settings with different populations, but all typically provide direct patient care and support. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses had a median salary of $71,730 in 2018.

  • Organizations: There are a wide variety of professional organizations that RNs can become a part of. These include the American Society of Registered Nursing, American Nurses Association, Johnson & Johnson Discover Nursing, and National League for Nursing.
  • Advancement: Registered nurses can advance to administrative roles through experience and/or a higher degree. Many schools offer online and onsite programs for RN/ADN to BSN, and some also offer RN/ADN to MSN programs. Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) programs can help nurses to increase their expertise and salary and may enable them to qualify for administrative positions. Nurses who wish to provide advanced nursing services, which often includes primary care, can pursue a Master of Science in Nursing to qualify to work as nurse practitioners and/or clinical nurse specialists as well as healthcare administrators. BSN and MSN programs often enable students to choose degree concentrations such as nurse practitioner (MSN), nursing administration, and nursing leadership.