An online CNA program is one of the fastest ways to enter the field of healthcare. The online flexibility makes it easier to study and learn at your own convenience, and the clinical portions occur either at a nearby campus or another pre-approved healthcare facility. But how fast can it be done? Six weeks? Four weeks? While most CNA programs take between 4-6 months, you can finish an accelerated online program in as few as four weeks – under certain circumstances. This means taking 15-18 credits, bringing completed pre-requisites into your new program, or getting credit for past work experience. Below, we’ll rundown some of today’s best fast-track CNA programs with online components, what they entail, and how long they take to complete.
University of Nevada-Las Vegas: Partially Online 4-Week Program
Aspiring CNAs living in the Las Vegas/Henderson, Nevada, area can quickly gain the nursing knowledge and skills they need to prepare for the Nevada State Board of Nursing exam. Offered through the University of Nevada – Las Vegas (UNLV), the Certified Nursing Assistant program allows students to obtain their state CNA certification in just over four weeks. The program consists of 43 hours of nursing theory classes, 21 hours of lab work, and 32 clinical practice hours for a total of 96 contact hours. Students receive instruction in a broad range of topics, including basic nursing skills, personal care skills, basic restorative services, infection control, emergency and safety procedures, and more.
The four-week CNA program is offered by UNLV Continuing Education through a partnership with the Perry Foundation Academy of Health. Students attend classes at the Foundation’s Classroom Training Facility in Henderson. They then complete clinical instruction at various healthcare facilities in and around the Las Vegas/Henderson area, including long-term acute care hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and the Perry Foundation Academy of Health. The curriculum is in a hybrid format, meaning that students complete their academic coursework through a combination of online and in-person classes and activities.
Individuals seeking enrollment into UNLV’s Certified Nursing Assistant program must meet the following admission requirements:
- Be 18 years of age or older.
- Possess a high school diploma or equivalent (such as a GED) or satisfactorily complete a preadmission assessment.
- Pass a criminal background check (completed online through this PreCheck website).
- Provide proof of immunizations (see the college catalog for details).
- Complete CPR/BLS (Basic Life Support) training by taking either a CPR + First Aid course or BLS for Healthcare Workers course offered by the American Heart Association or equivalent.
- Complete the CNA program enrollment agreement and an interview with a school faculty member.
Meeting the admission requirements doesn’t guarantee placement in the next available class. If classes are full, a student may opt to be placed on a waitlist. Once on the list, the student will be contacted if a seat becomes available or a new class is added.
The current tuition price for this four-week hybrid CNA program is $2,100, which includes all classes, labs, and clinical experiences, along with the program’s textbook, workbook, and one set of scrubs. Students are responsible for the additional costs of a stethoscope, blood pressure cuff, gait belt, and licensing.
UNLV is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The Perry Foundation Academy of Health is licensed by the State of Nevada Commission on Postsecondary Education.
Johnson County Community College: Partially Online 4-Week Program
Johnson County Community College (JCCC) is located just south of Kansas City in Overland Park, Kansas. JCCC offers a Certified Nurse Aide program in a four-week hybrid format. The 96-contact hour CNA program combines online lectures and other curriculum with in-person labs and clinical rotations. In-person classes are held at the Olathe Health Education Center in Olathe, Kansas, and at the state-of-the-art Healthcare Simulation Center located on JCCC’s main campus. Class times include mornings, afternoons, evenings, and weekends. Clinical rotation days, times, and locations also vary and are assigned by the course instructor.
Students learn the full range of nurse aide skills, including how to:
- Provide bedside patient care.
- Take vital signs, including blood pressure and pulse.
- Properly and safely transfer and position patients.
- Perform various personal hygiene tasks, such as oral care and bathing.
- Prevent and control infection.
- Effectively communicate with patients and their families.
Following successful completion of this four-week hybrid CNA program, students are prepared for the Kansas State CNA examination. Students who pass are eligible to be added to the Kansas Nurse Aide Registry, allowing them to work as CNAs in healthcare facilities and agencies throughout the state. Program graduates may enhance their marketability by completing additional training to obtain specialized certification as a Certified Medication Aide or Home Health Aide. CNA certification is also a prerequisite for enrollment in JCCC’s Practical Nurse and Registered Nurse programs.
Admission requirements for the CNA program include:
- High school diploma or equivalent.
- Current two-step TB skin test results or negative chest X-ray within the last year.
- Current Basic Life Support (CPR) for Health Care Providers card.
CNA course registration begins at 8 am on the Friday after the start of open enrollment. Course demand is extremely high; prospective students are encouraged to enroll online to increase their chance of securing a seat. Students who don’t get a seat may choose to be put on the waitlist.
Program costs for JCCC’s four-week Certified Nurse Aide program vary depending on total credit hours and the student’s residence status and age. You’ll find detailed tuition information here. The CNA program is eligible for the Kansas Promise Scholarship, which allows qualifying students to take the CNA course at no cost to them in exchange for agreeing to live and work in Kansas for two years following course completion. Other financial aid opportunities may be available.
Johnson County Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Northern Essex Community College: Partially Online 4-Week Program
Students in the Merrimack Valley region, which covers parts of Massachusetts and Southern New Hampshire, can prepare for nurse assistant certification quickly and conveniently through the hybrid-format Certified Nurse Assistant/Certified Nurse Aide program at Northern Essex Community College (NECC). And the best news is that the program is tuition-free.
The 90-hour, four-week CNA program includes nursing theory coursework, hands-on labs in which students learn basic nursing aide skills in a simulated practice environment, and clinical experiences that allow students to practice their skills with actual patients in a real nursing setting. The program covers topics including:
- Safety and infection control procedures.
- Basic personal care skills for residents/patients in long-term care, sub-acute care, and home health care settings.
- Taking and monitoring of vital signs (temperature, blood pressure, pulse, etc.)
- Legal and regulatory practices.
Nursing theory content is delivered online and includes several synchronous virtual meetings using Zoom. Mandatory skills labs take place in person over one weekend in the Nursing Assistant Lab located on NECC’s Lawrence campus. Clinical rotations (25 total clock hours) are held off-campus at a program-affiliated long-term care facility in the school’s area. New classes start monthly.
Requirements prior to program admission include:
- Completion of the CNA program application.
- Obtaining a current and valid photo ID.
- Proof of a physical examination (taken within the past year).
- Current immunization records, including a recent TB test, full Covid-19 vaccination, and flu shot (if applicable).
- Ability to pass a Massachusetts Criminal Offender Record Information background check.
Students who successfully complete the four-week hybrid CNA program are eligible to take the Massachusetts Nurse Aide Competency Exam (which is administered by Prometric). Students who pass the exam and meet all other requirements are then placed on the Massachusetts Nurse Aide Registry, allowing them to work as CNAs in the state. Students who complete the program are also awarded six credits (the equivalent of the HES 112 Nursing Assistant course), which can be applied to NECC’s Health Care Technician Certificate Program.
The Certified Nurse Assistant/Certified Nurse Aide Program at NECC is funded by the TRAIN grant, which means tuition and supplies for the program are free. However, students are responsible for additional program-related costs, such as transportation, immunizations, criminal background check, and physical exam.
Northern Essex Community College is institutionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education. The Certified Nurse Assistant/Certified Nurse Aide program is state-approved by the Massachusetts Department of Health.
Grand Rapids Community College’s 4-Week Program
The Certified Nurse Aide Training Program at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) in Grand Rapids, Michigan, provides students with the learning opportunities and hands-on skills training required for Michigan CNA licensure and practice as a nurse aid. CNAs provide and assist with basic nursing support under the direct supervision of licensed nursing staff in a range of health and nursing settings, including acute care, home health care, behavioral health care, hospice care, and—most commonly—long-term care facilities.
The accelerated program option is full-time and lasts four or five weeks (depending on the specific section you enroll in). Students attend classes in person Monday through Thursday, 8 am to 4 pm at the Holland Home Raybrook Campus in southeast Grand Rapids. A 15-week (two evenings/week, plus three Saturdays) part-time option is also available.
Students who successfully complete the entire four- to five-week CNA course of study are eligible to take the Michigan CNA exam leading to placement on the state’s Nurse Aide Registry. CNA exam and registry services are administered by Headmaster LLP.
To apply to GRCC’s CNA Training Program:
- Complete the program’s online application.
- Submit ACT WorkKeys (Applied Math, Graphic Literacy, and Workplace Documents) Assessment scores with a Level 3 or higher for each.
- Obtain and submit records for required immunizations (hepatitis B series, influenza, SARS Covid-19, and tuberculosis test) using the Student Immunization Form.
- Submit Computer Competency Badges. Computer competency is determined by online completion of the four-module computer competency assessment package.
All students are required to attend a mandatory orientation meeting, which is normally scheduled on the Monday morning of the week prior to the program’s start.
The current cost of tuition for the CNA Training Program is $990, which includes classes, textbook, workbook, supplies, and mandated clothing, as well as the certification exam fee, computer competency assessment, criminal background check, and WorkKeys Talent and Fit Assessment. Students are responsible for covering the cost of required immunizations and the WorkKeys NCRC assessment fee.
Find full application information on the Certified Nurse Aide—How to Apply webpage. To learn more about the four- to five-week CNA program, watch this GRCC Healthcare Programs Informational Meeting video.
Grand Rapids Community College is institutionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. (More on accreditation below). GRCC’s Certified Nurse Aide Training Program is approved by the State of Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.
Houston Community College District’s 4-Week Program
Houston Community College (HCC) is a system of 20 campuses in the Houston, Texas, area. The fast-track Certified Nurse Aide course offered by HCC prepares individuals for entry-level employment as CNAs primarily in long-term patient care facilities, as well as hospitals, doctor’s offices, hospices, home health care, and other settings. Specific topics covered in the four-week course include:
- Basic care for residents in long-term care facilities, including personal hygiene (bathing, grooming, oral care, etc.), positioning and moving, and patient safety and comfort.
- Rights of clients/patients/residents.
- Effective communication (oral and written) and interaction skills with patients, families, and healthcare team members.
- Restorative services.
- Mental health care assistance.
- Social services in patient care.
The program consists of 108 contact hours of nursing theory coursework, simulation skills labs, and clinical rotations. Course sections are available at different dates and times throughout the year at several HCC campuses. Students complete the required 44 hours of clinical rotations offsite at program-approved nursing facilities throughout the Houston area. Following successful completion of all course requirements, students are eligible to take the Texas Nurse Aide Competency Exam (includes both written and skills competency portions) and qualify for placement on the Texas Nurse Aide Registry.
Admission requirements for HCC’s four-week CNA program include:
- Attendance at a mandatory CNA information session (currently offered online).
- Current flu shot and required immunizations (including measles, mumps, rubella; tetanus; TB skin test or negative chest X-ray; hepatitis B series; and others).
- Pass a criminal background check and drug screening.
- Completion of the CPR Certification for Healthcare Provider or Professional Rescuer course.
- Having a Social Security card and valid photo ID.
- Ability to read, write, understand, and speak English.
- Be free of communicable disease and in suitable physical and emotional health.
- Possess reasonable visual acuity and manual dexterity.
CNA course tuition is $895. Tuition does not include state exam, textbooks, and other supplies. Students in the CNA program may be eligible for the Texas Public Education Grant (TPEG) to help pay for tuition and fees.
HCC’s four-week Certified Nurse Aide course is approved by Texas HHS as a Nurse Aide Training and Competency Evaluation Program. HCC is institutionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Accreditation for Online CNA Programs
One concern many students have about accelerated CNA courses is quality. Specifically, do these programs cut corners for the sake of a shorter completion time? This is where accreditation and state approval come in. If you want to know if a particular CNA course is worth your time, effort, and money—regardless of its length or whether it’s offered online or in-person—confirm that the program is state-approved and that the school offering it is institutionally accredited.
Institutional accreditation of U.S. postsecondary schools is handled by regional and national accrediting bodies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. There are no accrediting agencies for U.S.-based CNA programs themselves. However, programs that qualify students for state CNA certification are typically approved by the state agency that oversees nursing assistant/aide practice within the state’s borders. In most cases, this will be the state’s board of nursing.
To learn more about the current accreditation and approval status for a CNA program you’re considering, visit the school’s website or contact the program directly.
Distance learning is now commonplace in postsecondary education, with exponential growth of online programs spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s no surprise, then, that many CNA courses feature some level of online coursework, particularly for lectures, readings, and written assignments. In-person participation is still required for skills labs and clinical experiences. To find out more, check out this EduMed guide to online CNA classes and programs.
Many students look at becoming a CNA as the first step into a long-term career in nursing. Oftentimes the second step is becoming a licensed practical nurse, usually by completing a CNA to LPN bridge program. And like CNA programs, many schools now offer CNA to LPN programs with online components. This guide will help you learn all about these programs.