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Explore Top Online ADN Programs in Illinois for 2024

There are several options for online and hybrid ADN programs in Illinois. Keep reading for a look at two spotlight schools and additional tips for finding the right fit.

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Panoramic view of the reflective cloud gate sculpture, also known as "the bean," in chicago's millennium park at twilight with illuminated skyscrapers in the background.

Deciding to start or continue your nursing education is no small feat. Whether you’re a licensed practical nurse (LPN) looking to level up your credentials or a recent high school graduate considering how best to enter the field of allied healthcare, online ADN programs in Illinois can pave the way to a rewarding career.

In 2022, the Illinois chapter of the American Nurses Association reported that the state is likely to see a shortage of nearly 15,000 RNs by 2025. As an ADN-prepared nurse, you’ll be equipped to meet this growing demand for qualified nurses and care for the community you love. Earning your ADN online in Illinois will also prepare you to pursue higher education and advanced leadership positions down the road.

The question now is where to begin. Illinois offers a myriad of high quality online ADN programs, most of which can be completed in as few as two years (although accelerated ADN programs can prepare you to practice even more quickly). In this guide, we’ll take a closer look at two of Illinois’ top online ADN programs, break down the key features of a quality school, outline the steps to certification, and leave you with a list of resources to utilize as you step into the world of nursing. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know to get started.

Spotlight Schools: Inside Online Associate Nursing Programs in Illinois

Hybrid and online ADN programs in Illinois make nursing degrees accessible and affordable, allowing you to further your education on your time (and within your budget) without sacrificing quality. To help you begin to sift through your options, we’ve profiled two top programs. Take a look at what they have to offer below.

Lake Land College

Lake Land College offers an associate degree in nursing program at its Mattoon and Effingham campuses. This two-year program is comprised of coursework, skills labs, and practicums at various healthcare facilities.

Lake Land College is fully accredited through the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). Admission to the program is competitive and requires summer coursework in the program’s first year. The rigor of the program pays off, however, as evidenced by its 85% NCLEX pass rate among first-time test takers — a figure that surpasses the national average of 82.8% — and 100% employment rate among recent graduates.

Current tuition for full-time students living in-district is $3,315 annually or $110.50 per credit hour for part-time students. To help offset the cost of attendance, Lake Land College also offers substantial financial aid in the form of grants, scholarships, work-study programs, and more.

Students interested in continuing their education after completing this online ADN program in Illinois can go on to earn their BSN completely online thanks Lake Land College’s agreements with partnering universities.

Rasmussen University

Rasmussen University is a private, for-profit college that offers its online ADN program at 17 campuses across five states. The 102-credit online ADN program in Illinois blends in-person and online learning with in-person clinical rotations and can be completed over seven quarters (21 months). This program is currently a candidate for initial accreditation through the ACEN.

Over the course of the program, students take courses that prepare them for every aspect of their future careers, including Nursing Care of the Older Adult; Mental and Behavioral Health Nursing; Dimensions of Nursing Practice; and Role, Scope, Quality and Leadership in Professional Nursing.

With no prerequisites and four start dates throughout the year, Rasmussen offers significant flexibility to current and prospective students. The school also prioritizes affordability — Rasmussen accepts FAFSA and partners with various employers to offer reduced program fees to their employees. Students can transfer credits from past coursework to further reduce the cost of tuition, which is set at $422 per credit hour.

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What to Look for in Illinois ADN Programs Online

There are several important factors to consider when choosing an online ADN program in Illinois. Some of these will be personal to you while others are essential for all prospective nursing students. We’ve outlined some of the latter to help you determine which programs are worth considering and which you can cut from your list.


Accreditation is crucial to any degree program — especially when pursuing a career requiring a license. The two main accrediting bodies for nursing programs are the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) and the ACEN. The ACEN is the accrediting body for both Lake Land College and Rasmussen University.

Clinical Placement Opportunities

Clinical placements are your opportunity to apply your newly acquired nursing knowledge firsthand under the supervision of a licensed nurse or other practitioner. It is essential to gain this experience before entering the workforce so that you can feel confident in your abilities when you do.

Clinical placements are also great networking opportunities. All reputable ADN programs have some form of clinical placement as part of their coursework.

Graduation & Job Placement Rates

Many schools, such as Lake Land College, publish their graduation and job placement rates. However, just because a school doesn’t post the data on its website doesn’t mean they don’t have the numbers. Ask the schools you’re interested in to share their graduation and job placement rates to better understand how well they prepare their students to succeed.

Licensure Approval

You must attend an approved pre-licensure education program to be eligible to sit for the NCLEX. The state of Illinois lists all of the schools that have approved pre-licensure programs. The list is divided into nursing degree types. Both Lake Land College and Rasmussen University are listed as approved ADN programs — consult this list to see if the other schools you’re eyeing also made the cut.

NCLEX Pass Rates

The NCLEX is the test student nurses must pass to become licensed, registered nurses. The average NCLEX pass rate nationally in 2022 was 79.98%. The NCLEX changed significantly in April of 2023 to the NCLEX Next Generation format, and many schools have yet to publish their most recent test data. You can feel confident in the quality of any program whose NCLEX pass rates approach or exceed national averages.

Certification & Licensure Requirements in IL

As a prospective nursing student, you may think you don’t have to worry about Illinois licensure requirements just yet, but doing so now can help you better choose the right program for you and set yourself up for future success. Earning and maintaining your license involves completing several steps, all of which we’ll describe in greater detail below.

Continuing Education

Illinois is one of several states that requires nurses to earn continuing education (CE) credits to renew their licenses. The only time you will not be required to complete CE hours is the first time you renew your license, after which you will have to complete 20 credits every two years.

Of these 20 hours, Illinois specifies that nurses must complete the following:

  • A one-hour course on the care, diagnosis, and treatment of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia types;
  • A one-hour course on implicit bias awareness and training; and
  • A one-hour course on sexual harassment prevention training.

Criminal Background Check

Nurses work with vulnerable populations every day. To guarantee they can be trusted to do so, the state of Illinois mandates that prospective nurses submit to a criminal background check and fingerprint processing through a vendor approved by the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation approves.

If you are out of state and cannot have your fingerprint taken in Illinois, the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) lists several steps to complete the fingerprinting process out of state.

NCLEX-RN Examination

To sit for the NCLEX, you must be granted eligibility through the nursing regulatory body in the state you plan to work in. The regulatory body in Illinois is the IDFPR. You must also register and pay the test fee through Pearson Vue — the company that administers the NCLEX.

Registration with the Colorado State Board of Nursing

The Illinois Board of Nursing sits under the IDFPR. The IDFPR offers a registered nurse new application checklist that details everything applicants must submit to receive licensure. This includes their social security number, fingerprint clearance, and a paying a fee.

Several additional resources are available online through the IDFPR Nurses webpage, including forms for changing your address and/or name and other documents you may need to maintain your nursing license.

FAQs About Online Associate Nursing Programs in Illinois

Beginning to research the right hybrid or online ADN program in Illinois for you may leave you with more questions than answers. That’s why we’ve collected and answered the most common questions we hear from prospective ADN students and addressed them here. Keep reading for insights into the length and cost of online Illinois ADN programs, the job market for graduates, and more.

How long do Florida ADN programs take to complete?

While your graduation timeline can vary depending on your status as a full-time or part-time student, online ADN programs in Florida typically take about two years to complete. For example, the 72-credit associate degree in nursing program at Miami Dade College combines clinical and theoretical coursework and takes full-time degree-seekers two years to complete.

How long do Illinois ADN programs take to complete?

The length of an ADN program varies by school. Lake Land College’s program can be completed in two years, while Rasmussen’s can be completed in just 21 months.

Other factors play into the length of programs. For example, you can complete programs part-time over the course of three to four years or enroll in an accelerated program and graduate in as few as 18 months.

How much do online associate nursing programs cost in Illinois?

The cost of an online ADN program will vary between institutions but depends primarily on whether the school is public or private. For example, Lake Land College is a public school and its per-credit tuition for in-district students is significantly lower than that at Rasmussen, a private school. Your status as an in-state or out-of-state student can also drastically affect your cost of attendance. For example, out-of-district students at Lake Land College pay $237.96 per credit hour compared to in-district students, who pay $110.50 per credit hour.

Is financial aid available to help me fund my ADN program in Illinois?

Various forms of financial aid are available through nursing schools in Illinois. Both Rasmussen University and Lake Land College accept the FAFSA. Additionally, both Rasmussen University and Lake Land College offer several school-specific financial aid options.

What does the job market look like for graduates of Illinois associate in nursing programs?

Overall, the job market for Illinois nurses is strong. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports an anticipated 6% growth in nursing jobs nationally through 2032. This growth is faster than the average for other occupations.

The Illinois 2022 Registered Nurse Workforce Survey Report also indicates a strong job market outlook for nurses. Of the nurses who participated in the survey, a quarter indicated an intent to retire in the next five years; over 55% of respondents were over 55.

Given the steady influx of new graduate nurses, an aging workforce, and an increased demand for healthcare from an aging population in the United States, the job market remains strong for Illinois ADN program graduates.

Resources & Support for Illinois ADN Students

Applying to, completing, and finding work after nursing school can be challenging. Fortunately, several resources exist to support prospective and current Illinois nursing students. These resources include scholarship and grant funds, professional associations for students and practicing nurses, and resources to help understand the licensure application process.

  • American Nurses Association Illinois – The American Nurses Association (ANA) has a robust Illinois chapter. The group hosts quarterly meetings along with several events throughout the year. For example, student nurses can gather for a student nurse political action day. They also offer educational resources and awards for nurses, including student nurses.
  • IDFPR Registered Nurse New Applicant Checklist – To help upcoming nurses obtain licensure, the IDFPR has a checklist for new nurses that includes instructions and qualifications, the fee structure, and detailed information about correctly completing the fingerprint requirement.
  • Illinois Nursing Workforce Center – The Illinois Nursing Workforce Center keeps a list of several financial aid opportunities for students of nursing programs, including several Illinois-specific grants and scholarships. You can find more Information about these opportunities and links to apply on the website.
  • Illinois Nurses Foundation – One of the primary goals of the Illinois Nurses Foundation is to award scholarships to new and returning nursing students. Links and details of how to apply are listed on their website.
  • Student Nurses Association of Illinois – The Student Nurses Association of Illinois is run by and for nursing students. The association runs a print magazine and hosts two annual events for its members. There is also an active Facebook page where student nurses can stay up to date with the latest events and news.