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Top CNA Classes &
Programs Online in ’20

Learn how CNA classes work online, how long they take to complete, and which schools offer the best accredited CNA programs online today.

CNA classes online give you the chance to become a certified nursing assistant in a flexible setting. These partially online classes and courses allow you to learn the academic portion of the program via distance learning, and the hands-on elements at a campus or a third-party facility. But which programs have the right combination of online learning options, quality instruction, and affordability? Sometimes it’s hard to tell. Using data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, as well as from the schools themselves, EduMed.org has created a list of the top online CNA programs and classes available to students today. Review and compare the best CNA programs online in 2020.

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About the ranking

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Methodology for EduMed’s 2020 Rankings

To be considered for this ranking, each school must have the following:

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Program(s) offered at least partially online.

School Metrics Explained

EduMed.org data scientists analyzed government higher education data and created a proprietary algorithm to rank each U.S. postsecondary institution and its online programs using 5 primary factors:

  • Cost: Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Online Program Availability: Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to Department of Education.
  • Academic Counseling: Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement: Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid: Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

About Our Data

EduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

Most recent data pull: February 2020

# 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 Highland Community CollegeHighland, KS Public $ 1

Highland Community College’s 120-hour Basic Nursing Assistant program is comprised of a wholly online didactic training component and a 40-hour clinical requirement. The clinical requirement calls for a supervised on-site experience within Highland’s district. There is also a mandatory onsite orientation with the date, time, and location TBA. Graduates are prepared to take the Nurse Aide Training Competency Evaluation to serve in Illinois medical health institutions. Applicants must be at least 16 years old. Admission requirements include an Accuplacer reading score of 40, a TB test, healthcare worker background check and pass a physical exam. Grants, loans and scholarships are available.

Program Overview 

Basic Nursing Assistant:

  • Credits: 120 hours
  • Clinical requirements: 40 hours
  • Cost: $146/credit
  • Mode: Online (+clinicals)
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
62%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
2 State Fair Community CollegeSedalia, MO Public $ 2

At State Fair Community College, there are two wholly online certificate programs for nurse aids. The Professional Certificate in Nurse Aide requires 30 credits for completion. The curriculum includes 21 hours of required courses and 9 hours of program electives. The program incorporates and augments the curriculum from the Skills Certificate in Nurse Aide. The 18-credit Skills Certificate in Nurse Aide is designed for students who want to become a Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA), Restorative Nurse Assistant (RNA), a Home Health Aide (HHA), or Certified Medication Technician (CMT).  Graduates of both certificates may elect to pursue an associate’s degree: The Health Care Specialist with emphasis in Nurse Aid.

Program Overviews

Professional Certificate in Nurse Aide:

  • Credits: 30
  • Length: 18 months
  • Cost: $ 165/credit
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Skills Certificate in Nurse Aide:

  • Credits: 18
  • Length: One year
  • Cost: $ 165/credit
  • Mode: Online
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
13%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
3 Allen County Community CollegeIola, KS Public $ 1

It takes one year to complete the CNA program at Allen County Community College. The first part of the curriculum requires 5 credits of instructional courses offered online. The program is keenly focused on supervised practical clinical experience, totaling 25 hours of on-campus supervised laboratory and clinical instruction. In the second part of the program, students can choose to complete an additional 20 hours of lectures or 20 hours onsite at an approved nursing home setting. Graduates are prepared to work as a Certified Nurse Aide or Patient Care Technician. After completion of the program students can opt for continuing training to work as a Certified Medication Aide, Certified Home Health Aide, or Certified Health Care Specialist.

Program Overview

Certified Nurse Aide:

  • Credits: 25
  • On-site externship hours: 25-50
  • Cost: $60/credit
  • Mode: Online (+20 on-campus sessions)
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
No
Students w/
Institutional Aid
73%
AccreditationHigher Learning Commission
4 Pratt Community CollegePratt, KS Public $ 1

This partially online program at Pratt Community College allows students to take a majority of their academic courses virtually, but with labs and clinicals on-site. The programs focuses on nursing techniques and skills for careers in hospitals and long-term care facilities (nursing homes, assisted living, and similar locations). Admissions requirements include completion of the PCC application, a signature of student agreement, a negative TB test, and a state application. All students must be at least 16 years of age. The program meets the guidelines set by the Kansas Department of Aging and Disability Service.

Program Overview

Nursing Aide Certification

  • Credits: Varies
  • Length: Varies
  • Cost: $64/credit
  • Mode: Partially online
  • Accreditation: Meets KDADS guidelines
Academic
Counseling
Yes
Career
Placement
Yes
Students w/
Institutional Aid
80%
AccreditationKSBN

Detailed Look: Profiling Online CNA Programs

Finding the right online CNA program can improve your ability to find employment, so it’s worth taking time to do your research. We’re featuring three of the most affordable and comprehensive programs with the accreditation you need to begin a rewarding career as a CNA. While most CNA programs only serve the state in which they are located, these three programs have wider appeal and can give you a sense of what your journey could look like from start to finish.

Forsyth Tech Community College

Forsyth Tech Community College

As one of the largest community colleges in North Carolina, Forsyth Tech Community College is well-equipped to prepare learners for taking up roles as certified nursing assistants. The institution offers nursing assistant classes at five different campuses around the greater Winston-Salem metropolitan area, making it easy for learners to find a location best suited to their needs. A number of courses are also taught online to help individuals who want to keep working while enrolled balance their professional and academic responsibilities. Students will also take part in a number of campus-based testing procedures and lab work alongside clinical practice in local approved healthcare facilities. When participating in distance learning, students use the Blackboard learning platform to complete assignments and interact with peers and professors.

Applicants must possess a high school diploma or GED to apply. Because CPR is included in the course, learners do not need to hold certification when they apply. They do, however, need to pass a criminal background check and drug screening to receive admittance. Once enrolled, degree seekers take part in a 177-hour program that covers topics such as patient safety, legal and ethical issues in nursing, the rights of patients, nutrition, rehabilitation, aging, infection control, and taking vital signs.

Middlesex Community College

Manhattan Institute

Can You Take CNA Classes Online?

Many certified nursing assistant paths allow students to take part in both online and in-person learning. Most academic coursework tends to exist on a digital learning platform, while clinical and lab work takes place at the physical campus or at a local healthcare facility so learners can gain hands-on skills. Here’s how most online certified nursing assistant programs work:

Mostly online

These CNA programs and classes have most or all of their coursework and resources available online. Research material, complete exercises, collaborate with professors and peers, etc. However, students will need to visit a campus to complete hands-on work, e.g. clinical/patient activities.

Partially online

These CNA programs and classes have some of their coursework online, but students will mostly work on campus.

How Much Are CNA Classes Online?

Before enrolling in any CNA program, applicants must ensure they can afford to attend. The cost of higher education continues to rise year-on-year, making it difficult for many individuals to pay out of pocket. Every school sets unique price points for their CNA programs, so degree seekers should spend time familiarizing themselves with the costs of each so they can make an informed decision. Some programs include the application and exam fees required for actually receiving certification as a CNA while others do not. Pay close attention to what the stated amount is used for and whether you might incur additional fees throughout the learning process.

Depending on the type of school, costs can vary considerably. At Middlesex Community College, for example, students pay $1,199. At Manhattan Institute, however, the cost rises to $6,050. These can vary considerably when looking at public community colleges versus for-profit institutions, so pay close attention to the type of school you attend.

Online CNA classes that accept financial aid

Financial aid can be a great way to pay for CNA training, but students must meet a few stipulations to qualify. These include:

Accreditation

When looking at a prospective CNA training program, the first step a student should take is to make sure it received accreditation. In addition to receiving approval from the state board of nursing, learners should also find a school that secured national or regional accreditation. The U.S. Department of Education provides the Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs for students to search individual schools. Nursing accreditation bodies do exist, but they do not accredit CNA programs.

Courses for credit

CNA examination pass rates

For more information, check our EduMed’s full page on financial aid for medical support.

How else can I pay for online CNA classes?

Because paying out of pocket isn’t realistic for many learners, several funding sources exist to help lighten the financial burden and steer students clear of debilitating debt. In addition to reviewing the ways highlighted below, students should check with their state to find out if any additional methods exist.

1. Scholarships. Scholarships can be found through educational institutions, state and local governments, private foundations, nursing facilities, healthcare companies, and other organizations that want to further the work of CNAs. Research both national and local options early as many require submitted applications months in advance of the program start date.

2. Loans, subsidized and unsubsidized. The U.S. Department of Education offers a number of subsidized and unsubsidized loans to help cover any portion of an education that the student cannot pay for after exhausting personal income and other funding sources. If possible, seek out a subsidized loan as the government pays the interest on these while the student is enrolled.

3. Veterans benefits. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs provides a number of educational programs designed to offset costs for those who served in the military. Be sure to review each program carefully to find one that you qualify for and that covers CNA programs.

4. Workforce Innovation & Opportunity Act. Overseen by the U.S. Department of Labor, the Workforce Investment Act helps individuals access career training programs that result in the employment of dislocated workers considered low-income. Each state receives funding via the federal government to disburse to qualified individuals.

5. Employer tuition assistance. Under this scheme, individual companies can provide up to $5,250 in tax-free education assistance per year. Individuals interested in taking advantage of this should speak to their employer to find out if such a program exists at the organization.

6. Payment plans. Some schools, such as Middlesex Community College, providetuition installment payment plans so learners can begin their studies even if they cannot pay the full amount at once. MXCC arranges payments into three separate installments, but students should speak to their school to learn about specifics.

Unpacking the CNA Class Curriculum

The CNA curriculum covers a wide range of clerical and clinical knowledge and skills in order to prepare students to succeed as CNAs in a variety of medical settings. Before enrolling, learners should get a clear sense of what to expect from a program. Here’s a glimpse at some of the core CNA classes students can take online.

  • CNA classes available online

    Introduction to Basic Care

    An introductory course, students in this class learn about the basics of controlling infections, safely caring for patients, administering treatments under the supervision of qualified medical staff, and ensuring all patients in their charge receive care as needed.

    Nurse Aide Healthcare Skills

    This course introduces learners to fundamental CNA skills, with emphasis on how to communicate with patients and other healthcare providers, OSHA and HIPAA rules, emergency care response, restorative services, mental health principles, cultural sensitivity, safety measures, and the rights of patients.

    Acute Care Nurse Aide Skills

    Students enrolled in this class look at common issues surrounding acute care, such as advanced nurse aide skills, reporting findings to the nursing supervisor, caring for and preparing patients before they go into surgery, taking care of them post-op, and patient rights in acute care settings.

    Nursing Assistant

    With a focus on learning how to assist medical professionals in direct patient care, this course outlines all the responsibilities of a CNA and reviews the types of direct and indirect care a student can administer according to the state board of nursing.

  • CNA classes mostly on campus

    Nurse Aide Clinical Experience

    Building on the skills gained in the nurse aide healthcare skills course, this class – which is usually taught in a local healthcare facility – allows them to put those skills to use in real-world settings. Students follow safety protocols, observe how nurses and doctors communicate with patients, and learn about administrative responsibilities.

    Advanced Nurse Aide Clinical

    Students continue growing their hands-on skills and knowledge in this clinical course, which takes place either on campus or in a medical facility. Learners work under RNs and other medical staff, receive feedback, and take on more responsibilities to test their competencies and grow in confidence.

    Caring for the Elderly

    This clinical course introduces learners to the basics of caring for an aging population. Students develop skills in assisting patients with eating, bathing, dressing, grooming, and using the restroom. They also learn proper techniques for lifting and moving patients in a way that does not harm either body.

    Home Health Aide Clinical

    Designed for individuals who want to work with patients in their home, this class teaches them about shopping for, preparing, and storing nutritious meals, keeping a clean home, managing infections, serving the patient’s social needs, and creating a safe environment.

Earning Certification: The C in CNA

Even if an individual attends the top program in the state, makes perfect grades, and graduates at the top of their class, they cannot practice as a certified nursing assistant unless they successfully pass their state’s required certification exam. Before signing up for the test, read over requirements and common exam topics to feel prepared.

General requirements

All individuals hoping to receive certification as a nursing assistant must attend a state-approved CNA training program that meets specific and individual requirements. Individuals who fail to attend an approved program may not be allowed to sit for the examination.

State-specific requirements

The majority of states maintain similar requirements as other locations, but prospective students should review those specific to their state before beginning the process. While the majority of states require individuals to be 18 when applying, California, for example, allows 16-year-olds with parental consent to begin the training process. Reach out to your state’s board of nursing for further details.

Required documents

When seeking to enroll in a CNA program, applicants must provide proof that they are 18 years of age or older, a high school diploma or GED, results of a physical exam, proof of immunization and tuberculosis test results, a background check, and a valid driving license or identification. Some schools also require first aid/CPR certification.

Content of the exam

Some of the topics covered include the aging process, infection control, safety, anatomy and physiology, ethical/legal issues, nutrition, vital signs, body mechanics, mental health, personal care, client rights, responsibilities of the CNA, communication, range of motion, daily living activities, and medical terminology.

The exam itself

The CNA exam is divided into two parts: written and clinical. Those administering the test ask examinees to demonstrate three to six skills. Some of the options include taking vitals, providing dental care, transferring patients to a bed or chair, rotating their position, giving a partial in-bed bath, providing catheter care, and making a bed while occupied.

Still have questions about the exam? Check out the following section for answers to common queries.

Certification Exam Q&A

After students finish their CNA training program, it’s time to study for and schedule the certification exam. Prometric acts as the overseeing agency for administering the test and provides lots of helpful information for students seeking answers. In addition to the questions answered below, learners can find state-specific information on Prometric’s website.

How much does certification cost?

The cost of the exam depends on the state. In Alabama, for instance, the written exam costs $30 and the clinical exam costs $35. In New York, the written portion costs $57 and the clinical portion costs $68. Some states also charge a test site administration fee. Check with Prometric to get exact costs.

Where do I take the test?

What should I bring?

How many questions are on the test?

How long does the test take?

What is a passing score?

When do I get the results?

Salary & Job Growth for Certified Nursing Assistants

According to the latest data provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nursing assistants earned median salaries of $27,510 in 2017. The agency projects that roles for these healthcare professionals will grow by 11% between 2016-2026, with 177,700 new roles being added to the existing 1,564,300 positions. Individuals in the lowest 10% of earners made $20,680 per year, while those in the highest 10% brought home in excess of $38,630 annually. Nursing assistants working in roles funded by the government tend to earn the highest wages – averaging $32,860 per year – while those employed by retirement communities and assisted living facilities earned the lowest at $25,880 each year.

The reason for the growth of nursing assistant positions is multifaceted. In addition to a growing aging population thanks to seniors living longer, individuals who receive care in hospitals, nursing care facilities, ambulatory healthcare, and home healthcare programs also frequently rely on nursing assistants.

Resources for Students Taking CNA Classes Online

After reviewing all the information provided within this guide, some prospective students may still have a few queries about the educational process or what it looks like for job searchers after graduation. Review these resources for additional information and answers to outstanding questions.