The Best Online
ADN Programs in 2021

Look inside some of the top online ADN programs today. Get online course info, browse tuition and fees, see NCLEX-RN pass rates, and review school and program accreditation.

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Dianne Barnard

- Bio

Dianne Barnard is a Registered Nurse-Board Certified with over 20 years of nursing experience. In addition to her nursing degree, she has a Bachelor of Science in Education and is board certified in both psychiatric and holistic nursing. Dianne has experience working in bedside, oncology, ICU, home-health, clinical nursing instruction, and mental health.

last updated

Last Updated: 09/21/2021
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For those attending nursing school on campus and close to home, it’s pretty easy to choose a school. But for online ADN programs where living close to the school isn’t a requirement, it can be much harder to decide where to apply. To help students narrow down their choice, EduMed.org has created its “Best in 2021” online ADN program ranking. Our data analysis team used a combination of publicly-reported data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) and data from the school’s themselves to identify which programs offer the best combinations of quality, affordability, student services, career preparation, and online learning. See which schools stand out in 2021.

or
About the ranking

X

Methodology for EduMed’s 2021 Best Online Programs

1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

2. Assign Weightings

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Online program availability and overall affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

Online Program Availability

  • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.

Affordability

  • Cost – Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid – Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

Support Services

  • Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement – Existence of this service on campus or online.

About Our Data

EduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2021

# School Name Type Cost Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 Pima Community CollegeTucson, AZ Public $ 4

The Associate of Applied Science in Nursing program at Pima Community College in Tucson, Arizona, is offered in a “Practical Nurse Exit Option stackable credential model,” where students first enroll in and complete PCC’s one-year Practical Nurse Certificate program. They then apply to the second-year AASN program to complete the additional course requirements for earning their nursing associate degree. Current LPNs can enter the second-year AASN curriculum directly. Required nursing courses are offered on-campus, fully online, and in hybrid formats with on-campus classes taken on the school’s West Campus location. Many general education and AASN prerequisite classes may be taken fully online or partially online as well. Clinical rotation hours are at program-affiliated healthcare facilities in the greater Tucson area. Graduates of the program receive an AASN degree and are eligible for the NCLEX-RN exam.

Program Highlights:

Associate of Applied Science in Nursing

  • Credits: 60 to 61
  • Length: 5 to 6 semesters
  • Cost: $87/credit (in-state); $308.50/credit (out-of-state); $218.50/credit (non-resident, fully-online)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HCL (school); ACEN (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
11%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
2 Ivy Tech Community CollegeIndianapolis, IN Public $ 3

Ivy Tech Community College’s Associate of Science in Nursing degree program offers several options that feature online coursework for earning a nursing associate degree: Traditional Track (Junior transfer); LPN to ASN; Medical Assistant to ASN; Military Medic to ASN; and Paramedic to ASN. Students complete both general education and nursing track courses to earn their degrees. Many general education courses are either fully online or partially online. However, nursing courses are in person at one of the many ITCC-affiliated campuses throughout Indiana. Students also complete in-person clinical hours at healthcare facilities typically in the student’s local area. Completion of any of the tracks leads to an ASN, eligibility for the NCLEX-RN exam, and (after meeting other state requirements) becoming a fully licensed RN.

Program Highlights:

Associate of Science in Nursing

  • Credits: Varies depending on track and previously-earned credits
  • Length: Varies depending on track and previously-earned credits
  • Cost: $149.55/credit (in-state); $292.57 (out-of-state)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); NLN CNEA (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
11%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
3 Quinsigamond Community CollegeWorcester, MA Public $ 3

The Associate of Science in Nursing program at Quinsigamond Community College prepares students for the NCLEX-RN exam and RN licensure eligibility in Massachusetts and other states. Nursing courses and labs are at QCC’s Healthcare and Workforce Development Center in downtown Worcester. Clinical practice hours are primarily face-to-face at program-affiliated clinical sites within the Worcester County area and surrounding counties. Clinical requirements can include virtual simulation experiences completed in person or online in a synchronous format. Additionally, students complete required and elective non-nursing general education courses that may be fully or partially online.

Program Highlights:

Associate of Science in Nursing

  • Credits: 71
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $205/credit (in-state); $411/credit (out-of-state)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: NECHE (school); ACEN (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
10%
AccreditationNew England Commission of Higher Education
4 Barton County Community CollegeGreat Bend, KS Public $ 3

Students residing in the Central Kansas region interested in becoming licensed RNs can earn an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing degree through Barton Community College. BCC’s AASN program is made up of two separate programs. Students first complete the one-year Practical Nursing program, after which they are eligible to sit for the NCLEX-PN exam to become licensed practical nurses. In their second year of studies, students complete BCC’s Registered Nursing program leading to NCLEX-RN exam eligibility and the opportunity to become fully licensed RNs. Depending on the course choices, students can complete a portion of their general education courses online while attending nursing classes and labs on BCC’s main campus in Great Bend. Clinical hours are at practice facilities in and around the Central Kansas area.

Program Highlights:

Associate of Applied Science in Nursing

  • Credits: 64 (PN +RN)
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $111/credit (in-district on-campus); $118/credit (in-state on-campus); $142/credit (out-of-state on-campus); $150/credit (online)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); ACEN (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
83%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
5 GateWay Community CollegePhoenix, AZ Public $ 3

Gateway Community College in Phoenix, Arizona has one of the most distance learning-friendly nursing associate’s programs around. All required courses in the Associate of Applied Science in Nursing program feature some level of virtual learning, either in a fully online or hybrid format. All nursing courses, for example, are presented in a hybrid format combining synchronous online and in-person coursework. In-person components are attended on GCC’s Washington campus located approximately halfway between downtown Phoenix and Tempe. Non-nursing (general education and science-related) required and elective courses are available in either fully online or hybrid formats. Students also complete clinical practice hours at program-approved hospitals and other healthcare facilities in the Phoenix metro area.

Program Highlights:

Associate of Applied Science in Nursing

  • Credits: 62-75
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $85/credit (in-county); $441/credit (out-of-county); $241 (out-of-state residents living in Arizona); $127.50/credit (WEU+ students)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); ACEN (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
28%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
6 Arizona Western CollegeYuma, AZ Public $ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
16%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
7 Lorain County Community CollegeElyria, OH Public $ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
34%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
8 Truckee Meadows Community CollegeReno, NV Public $ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
22%
AccreditationNorthwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
9 Surry Community CollegeDobson, NC Public $ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
27%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
10 Guilford Technical Community CollegeJamestown, NC Public $ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
4%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
11 Arkansas State University-Mountain HomeMountain Home, AR Public $ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
19%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
12 Sandhills Community CollegePinehurst, NC Public $ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
19%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
13 Alamance Community CollegeGraham, NC Public $ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
15%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
14 South Piedmont Community CollegePolkton, NC Public $ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
0%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
15 American River CollegeSacramento, CA Public N/A 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
1%
AccreditationWestern Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
16 Santa Rosa Junior CollegeSanta Rosa, CA Public $ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
44%
AccreditationWestern Association of Schools and Colleges, Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges
17 Northwest CollegePowell, WY Public $ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
79%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
18 Piedmont Community CollegeRoxboro, NC Public $ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
16%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
19 Middlesex Community CollegeBedford, MA Public $ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
30%
AccreditationNew England Commission of Higher Education
20 Cincinnati State Technical and Community CollegeCincinnati, OH Public $ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
7%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
21 Durham Technical Community CollegeDurham, NC Public $ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
53%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
22 Central New Mexico Community CollegeAlbuquerque, NM Public $ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
23%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
23 El Centro CollegeDallas, TX Public $ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
10%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges
24 Northeast Wisconsin Technical CollegeGreen Bay, WI Public $ 3 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
12%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
25 Dodge City Community CollegeDodge City, KS Public $ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
69%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
26 Fort Scott Community CollegeFort Scott, KS Public $ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
68%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
27 Bunker Hill Community CollegeBoston, MA Public $ 2 Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
1%
AccreditationNew England Commission of Higher Education
or
About the ranking

X

Methodology for EduMed’s 2021 Best Online Programs

1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

2. Assign Weightings

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Online program availability and overall affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

Online Program Availability

  • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.

Affordability

  • Cost – Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid – Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

Support Services

  • Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement – Existence of this service on campus or online.

About Our Data

EduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2021

# School Name Type Cost Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 Kent State University at KentKent, OH Public $$$ 7

Kent State University's Associate of Applied Science in Nursing has three track options: an LPN to ADN concentration for current licensed practical nurses; a Paramedic to ADN concentration for certified paramedics; and a General ADN option for students not declaring a concentration. All AASN students complete at least 53 credit hours of core general education, science, and nursing courses, several of which are offered either fully or partially online. Paramedic to ADN and non-concentration students complete 14 credit hours of coursework specific to their chosen options, while LPN to ADN students complete three additional credits by completing the LPN to Associate Degree in Nursing Transition course. Clinical rotations are attended in person at program-approved facilities located in the greater Kent, Ohio area. Graduates in all tracks are eligible to take the NCLEX-RN examination required for RN licensure in Ohio and most other states.

Program Highlights:

Associate of Applied Science in Nursing

  • Credits: 67
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $297.87/credit (in-state); $348.42/credit (out-of-state)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: HLC (school); ACEN (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
79%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
2 Georgia State UniversityAtlanta, GA Public $$ 5

Two curriculum tracks are available in GSU’s Associate of Science in Nursing program. The Generic Track is for students with no nursing experience coming directly from high school or another field of employment. Current licensed practical nurses can opt for the LPN to RN Bridge track that requires fewer credits. Both tracks provide all the didactic coursework, labs, and clinical practice hours needed for NCLEX-RN exam eligibility. Several general education courses and some nursing courses can be completed either entirely or partially online. General education classes may be taken at one or more GSU locations in Alpharetta, Clarkston, Decatur, Dunwoody, and Newton. However, some required courses are available only on the Clarkston campus. Additionally, students complete clinical rotation hours at program-approved healthcare facilities located in and around the school’s various campuses.

Program Highlights:

Associate of Science in Nursing

  • Credits: 71 (generic track); 63 (LPN to ADN track)
  • Length: 2 years
  • Cost: $3,930 (est.)/tuition and fees (in-state, 2 semesters); $11,870 (est.)/tuition and fees (out-of-state, 2 semesters)
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: SACSCOC (school); ACEN (program)
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
25%
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges

Inside Look: Featured Online ADN Programs

One of the best ways to find the online ADN program you want is to look inside the program itself. What courses does it include, how many credits to graduate, what’s the cost, and what’s the NCLEX pass rate? Those are just some of the key questions and data points to explore to get you started. Browse three of EduMed’s featured online Associate of Science in Nursing degree opportunities below.

Denver College of Nursing

Denver-College-of-Nursing

When it comes to registered nursing academic programs, the single most important metric is the NCLEX-RN passage rates of graduates. The national average for ADN-prepared candidates is approximately 85 percent. However, students that graduate from Denver College of Nursing easily exceed this statistic. For example, graduates from the Associate Degree in Nursing program passed the NCLEX-RN at a rate of 94.4 percent in 2017.

Of course, completion of Denver College of Nursing’s ADN program doesn’t guarantee passage of the NCLEX-RN, but these numbers are a great sign that at the very least, graduates are very well-trained to practice as registered nurses. In fact, 87 percent of program graduates find jobs a registered nursing following graduation and passage of the NCLEX-RN.

The ADN program lasts 66 weeks and has a hybrid curriculum. This is to be expected, because almost any reputable registered nursing program will have in-person clinical and laboratory requirements but provide for nursing coursework to be completed online. However, it’s important to remember that some are more stringent about their on-campus requirements, and that is certainly true of the Denver College of Nursing; the ADN program only allows for some general education courses to be completed online.

These online courses are delivered through the Blackboard Learning Management System. They consist of typical general education areas such as writing, communication, mathematics, humanities, social sciences, psychology and language.

Purdue University – Global

Purdue-University---Global

Purdue University Global is the distance learning branch of Purdue University and currently has more than 180 online programs available. One of these programs is its Associate of Science in Nursing program, which is approved by the Iowa and Nebraska Boards of Nursing.

The Associate of Science in Nursing program consists of 110 quarter credit hours; 25 of those are prerequisites and 75 are core nursing credits. Students can expect to complete their associate degree in approximately 18 months while taking two or three courses at one time. Most classes last 10 weeks and include subjects such as:

  • Nursing Fundamentals
  • Pathophysiology for Nursing
  • Pharmacology for Nursing
  • Pediatric Nursing
  • Medical-Surgical Nursing I
  • Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • Nursing Capstone

This curriculum is set up to allow most of the coursework to be completed online while the in-person laboratory class requirements take place at a variety of locations in Nebraska and Iowa. As for clinicals, students can make arrangements with program administrators to approve healthcare facilities in the student’s home community. For added flexibility, students can begin their program during one of four start dates throughout the year. To help ensure student success, Purdue University Global provides free individual tutoring and one-on-one mentoring.

Midway University

Midway University

Located on an actual working horse farm, Midway University is just outside Lexington, Kentucky. Its Associate Degree in Nursing program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, is approved by the Kentucky Board of Nursing and boasts an NCLEX-RN passage rate of 86 percent, which is above the national average.

Students receive individualized support from their professors, with a 16 to 1 student-to-faculty ratio and face-to-face help, either through office hours or online networking technology. Students receive tremendous financial assistance. In fact, approximately 90 percent of students receive some form of financial aid. Throughout their studies, students will be required to take assessments throughout the program that are designed to supplement the curriculum and better prepare students to pass the NCLEX-RN.

Like any other ADN program, the one at Midway University has a hybrid curriculum, combining classroom instruction through online delivery and hands-on experience through clinicals, which are hosted at various healthcare facilities in Kentucky. The core courses in the program consist of 64 credits, which take about 18 to 24 months to complete, depending on whether a student is enrolled as a day or evening student.

Unpacking Online Associate Nursing Programs

Not all online college programs are fully online. Majors and degrees with more of a practical or hands-on element, such as nursing, are usually a hybrid of both online and in-person instruction.

Does Blended Mean Online?

A hybrid or blended online program means students receive both in-person and online instruction. The ratio between remote and on-site learning will vary depending on the school and program, but at the very least, laboratory classes and clinicals must be completed at a healthcare provider or simulation facility. In most instances, the introductory nursing courses that don’t require any patient interaction, such as Introduction to Pharmacology, will be 100% online.

The specifics of online course delivery will depend on the school’s choice of online learning management system, but Blackboard or Canvas are common choices. Other examples of classes that are usually available fully online in an ADN nursing program include:

  1. Foundational Nursing
  2. Microbiology
  3. Health and Safety in Nursing
  4. Pathophysiology
  5. LPN to RN Transition

Labs and Clinicals

Laboratory portions of classes and clinicals cannot be replicated through current online course delivery systems. Because of this, most online associate degree programs have two main ways in which they allow students to complete their in-person course requirements.

First, the school that hosts the online program develops strong professional relationships with local hospitals, clinics and other healthcare providers. Under agreements with these off-campus providers, students can complete their clinical work. The student’s only responsibility in this kind of arrangement is making sure to show up for clinical work on time and adhere to any requirements for completion.

Secondly, some schools might offer the student an opportunity to find their own clinical site. This is especially true if the online student is far away from the school at which they are earning the degree. In this case, students will work closely with a school liaison to ensure the clinic, hospital or other healthcare facility they choose is approved for teaching clinicals. This is almost always done on a case-by-case basis, and the student must be proactive about finalizing all the logistical details.

Laboratory courses are similar to clinical courses in that they cannot be completed online. Schools often have their own medical facility simulators on or near the campus that mimic a hospital-style environment. Here, students can expect to encounter mannequins that simulate patients in various conditions.

ADN Admissions Requirements

Each school and program will have its own set of admissions requirements. But most schools tend to require applicants to meet the following admissions requirements:

  • Completion of a high school diploma or equivalent.
  • Submission of an application for enrollment.
  • A minimum score on a standardized test, such as the SAT or ACT. In place of a standardized test score, applicant may need to pass a school-specific entrance exam.
  • Several professional letters of recommendation.
  • Otherwise show that they will be able to meet the licensure requirements to sit for the NCLEX-RN and become a registered nurse in the state in which they hope to practice. This includes being able to pass a criminal background check.

Some schools may also require:

  • Personal interview.
  • Proof of immunizations. If students aren’t required to submit this information during the application process, they will need to do so before enrollment or before clinicals begin, depending on the school.
  • Completion of specific high school courses, such as algebra or advanced English, with a minimum GPA (often 2.0 or higher).
  • Personal statement.

How Long Are Online ADN Programs?

When calculating the length of an online associate’s degree nursing program, there are several factors to keep in mind. For example, how a school accepts transfer credits from other schools can make it easier (or harder) to obtain advanced standing before enrollment. But one of the biggest variables is the academic path you choose. As you might imagine, a full-time path will take less time to complete than a part-time program. But exactly how different are these two options?

Full-time

A full-time course load will take two years to complete, with each semester comprised of about 15 credits (quarter systems will have about 20 quarter credits in each quarter). Before students dive into core nursing courses, they will need to complete the prerequisites. Some of these are general education classes that are often completed before enrollment into the nursing program; others are nursing-related prerequisites that are taken during the first academic period. By the second academic period, students may begin taking core nursing courses and might even be gaining in-person training from laboratory courses and clinicals. For the rest of their time in the nursing program, students will usually take a mixture of courses that can be completed online and in-person.

Part-time

The length of the part-time track will vary based on the course load, but will usually add about another year to the associate degree pursuit. However, an extension of as many as 18 months is possible.

In a semester system, students can expect to spend an extra two semesters in school before completing their associate degree. The course progression of part-time students will be similar to that of full-time students, only slower. For instance, part-time students can expect to take an extra academic period or two to finish their general education and nursing prerequisites before beginning the core nursing classes.

Can it take less than two years to complete? Definitely. At some online programs, completion in just 16 months is possible for certain students. This is often the case with those who already have some college credit under their belt; specifically, those who have already completed general education courses. As a result, they can jump right into the core nursing curriculum. There are three common ways students can get that head start:

Transfer credits

This is probably the most popular way to obtain advanced standing in the nursing program. Many associate degree programs will provide academic credit for courses taken elsewhere, especially when fulfilling general education requirements. The student will need to show that these courses were earned at an accredited institution with a minimum grade, such as a C or B.

Credit for work experience

Another popular way to save time is to get credit for work experience. This is especially true for those who already have experience working as licensed practical or licensed vocational nurses. Many programs will allow these students to bypass several basic nursing courses. For students with non-nursing experience, work experience credit is possible, but mostly for general education or non-core nursing prerequisites.

Military training

Many schools will provide college credit for military training as long as the training is evaluated by the American Council of Education (ACE). Alternatively, military training can be converted into academic credit if the student completes an equivalency exam, such as CLEP (College Level Examination Program) or DSST (DANTES Subject Standardized Tests).

Accreditation, Approval, and What It Means

Within the context of education, accreditation is obtained when a neutral third party reviews a school or program and determines if its curriculum meets a certain threshold of quality. Accreditation is important because it ensures students will receive a level of instruction that makes their degree worth the pursuit.

There are two primary types of accreditation: regional and programmatic. Regional accrediting bodies typically accredit entire schools, while programmatic accrediting bodies will accredit only specific programs. In nursing education, the two main accrediting bodies are the CCNE (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education) and the ACEN (Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing).

Accreditation is especially important in programs where graduates take on serious responsibilities. Nursing is a prime example, as the work of a nurse can make the difference in the life or death of a patient. Accreditation ensures that when you graduate, you will be ready to move into such an important job.

There are other reasons it matters, too. If you ever want to transfer your credits to a bachelor’s degree program, it is usually only the credits earned from an accredited institution that transfer. In addition, not only does accreditation make it easier to obtain financial aid from public or private sources, but it conveys to the general public and future employers that you’ve been properly taught the skills and information you will need to safely practice as a nurse.

On a final note, prospective students may see that many nursing programs are “approved” by state nursing boards, but not accredited. In many states, graduating from an accredited nursing school is not required for licensure. However, the individual must graduate from a nursing program that has been approved by the applicable state licensing nursing board. To understand what the distinctions are and what your state requires, check with your state licensing board.

From ADN to Passing the NCLEX-RN

Any prospective nursing student interested in enrolling in a nursing program should make sure it will effectively prepare them to pass the NCLEX-RN. Without passing this exam, graduates cannot become registered nurses and all that time and effort into schooling will be wasted.

Besides tailoring the curriculum to cover subjects that will be on the NCLEX-RN exam, nursing schools will take additional steps to ensure their graduates have the best possible chance of passing. Some schools require students to take periodic assessments to not only identify deficiencies in the training, but also to encourage the students to further study what they’ve been taught. Other schools might provide a special NCLEX-RN review course for students near the end of the program or immediately upon completion.

A good way for future nursing students to find a reputable online associate degree nursing program is to look at the school’s NCLEX-RN passage rates. As a general rule, the better the program, the higher rate at which its graduate pass the NCLEX-RN.

LPN to ADN Online Programs

Recognizing the desire for many LPNs to become registered nurses, several schools have special “bridge” programs. These allow practicing nurses to earn an associate degree and become registered nurses. Because LPNs already have significant training and classroom instruction within the nursing field, these programs allow students to save time when earning an ADN.

LPN to ADN programs take roughly 15 to 18 months to complete. The exact length will depend on whether the student attends full-time or part-time, if prerequisite courses are included in the curriculum, and the student’s educational background. Most LPN to ADN bridge programs will give credit for LPN-related coursework. They often have generous transfer guidelines for giving credit for general education courses taken at other institutions.

Another advantage of LPN to ADN bridge programs is that students can begin their hands-on clinical training earlier in the program. As an added bonus, some schools will have a seamless transition for ADN graduates to go on and earn their bachelor’s degree in nursing if they wish.

Career Growth & Salaries for ADNs

The career outlook for graduates with an ADN is extremely bright. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median income for registered nurses is $70,000 and it projects a 15 percent growth rate from 2016 to 2026. Most graduates of an associate degree nursing program will go on to become registered nurses, but that doesn’t mean that’s all they can do.

One interesting job possibility is working as an expert witness for criminal or civil litigation. Many personal injury and criminal court cases need special witnesses with expertise in medicine to explain to jurors how a biological process works or how a health facility is supposed to operate. One thing to keep in mind is that the best expert witnesses will have at least a few years of experience working as a nurse in a medical setting. The more experience an expert witness has, the more powerful their testimony will be in court. Compensation for an expert witness can vary greatly based on the level of experience, popularity among lawyers, and whether they practice medicine on the side. However, PayScale calculates that legal specialists have a median salary of $60,272.

Another interesting career field is nurse informatics. An informatics nurse is a professional who combines knowledge of nursing along with information systems technology to help everyone take full advantage of technology in the medical field. For example, a software company might need feedback on a new monitoring system for vital signs. An informatics nurse would serve as an intermediary between the software company and hospital administrators and caregivers, such as nurses and doctors. According to PayScale, the median salary for an informatics nurse is $77,360.