Affordable Online Associate Degrees in Nursing 2021

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Registered nurses care for patients in hospitals and doctor’s offices. An associate degree in nursing (ADN) meets the requirement for an RN license in every state.

During an associate in nursing program, students strengthen their patient care and nursing skills. After earning an ADN, graduates benefit from above average salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, registered nurses earn a median annual salary of over $73,000. 

Our list ranks the most affordable online associate in nursing programs to help prospective nurses find the best fit for their budget and career goals.

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Frequently Asked Questions People Ask About Nursing


  • What is the difference between ADN and RN?

    An ADN trains students for the NCLEX-RN exam and nursing careers. An RN, or registered nurse, holds a state license to practice nursing.


  • How long does it take to get a degree in nursing?

    Earning an associate in nursing typically takes two years for full-time students.


  • What can I do with an associate in nursing?

    An ADN meets the requirements for entry-level roles including pediatric nurse, acute care nurse, and emergency nurse. It also qualifies graduates for RN licensure.


  • Is it hard to get a nursing job with an associate degree?

    Many hospitals and healthcare organizations hire RNs with an associate degree. Nurses with an RN can also enroll in an RN-to-BSN program to complete a bachelor’s degree.


Why Get a Degree in Nursing?

An online degree in nursing offers several professional and personal benefits, including career advancement, increased earning potential, and schedule flexibility.

RN Licensure
A nursing associate degree meets the requirement for an RN license. After earning their degree, graduates take the NCLEX-RN exam and apply for a state RN license.
Earning Potential
Registered nurses earn a median annual salary of over $73,000. Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs) and other health professionals can increase their earning potential by getting a nursing associate degree.
Flexibility
Online associate in nursing programs prioritize flexibility. Most use an asynchronous format, allowing healthcare professionals to arrange coursework around their irregular schedules.
Career Advancement
Current LPNs, medical assistants, and other healthcare professionals can advance into RN jobs with an ADN. An associate in nursing degree may also prepare graduates for an RN-to-BSN program.
Accessibility
A distance learning format makes ADN programs more accessible. Prospective applicants can research the most affordable program rather than restricting their search to local nursing schools.

Online Guide to Accredited Colleges and Universities

Courses in Nursing

A nursing associate degree prepares graduates for the NCLEX-RN exam and an RN license. ADN courses develop knowledge and skills required for entry-level nursing careers. Nursing students learn about human anatomy, medical terminology, pharmacology, and nursing practice.

The curriculum includes specialized courses in maternal nursing, pediatric nursing, and emergency nursing for enrollees pursuing specialized careers after graduation. During an ADN program, degree-seekers complete practicum hours and hands-on training through labs and simulations.

This section introduces common nursing courses. While each nursing program sets its own curriculum, many feature the following options.

Introductory courses cover core nursing concepts and key skills for successful nurses. Learners examine the nursing process, trends in healthcare delivery, and ethical issues in the field. The course introduces evidence-based practices, patient care, and nurses’ roles. Fundamentals of nursing courses prepare nursing students for advanced coursework.

Aspiring nurses learn about drug therapy and medication administration. This course covers pharmacological terminology, regulations on drug therapies, and drug classifications. Nursing students go over the immune system and the interaction between medications and different body systems. Pharmacology classes prepare nurses for their NCLEX-RN exam and an RN license.

Health assessment classes explore the best practices for conducting a physical and mental health assessment. Enrollees study how to evaluate a patient’s health, identify abnormal information, and communicate patient issues to other medical professionals. The course prepares graduates for RN jobs in various settings.

Students learn the theory and practice behind ethical nursing, receiving guidance and advice from experienced nurses. The class may cover broad ethical issues in healthcare and moral issues that professional nurses face, preparing nurses to provide ethical treatment.

Pediatric nursing courses train students to treat children from birth through adolescence. Learners apply their nursing practice knowledge to pediatric patients, with an emphasis on wellness and health management. The course covers developmental milestones, nutrition, and common pediatric health problems. Nurses strengthen their interpersonal and communication skills.

Scholarships for Nursing Students

Nursing students qualify for many scholarships, including ones for learners pursuing their RN license in an online program. Professional associations, private foundations, and corporations all support nurses through scholarships. In addition to the opportunities listed below, aspiring nurses should research scholarships based on their state, school, or nursing specialty.

  • A Nurse I Am Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Nursing students pursuing an RN license, including those in online associate in nursing programs, qualify for the scholarship. Applicants can enroll either full time or part time, but must have begun their coursework by Jan. 31, 2021.

    Amount: $2,500

    Explore Here

  • Barbara Rhomberg Excellence in Nursing Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: The scholarship supports nontraditional students pursuing a nursing degree. Applicants must enroll full time in an undergraduate nursing program with at least a three-year gap between high school and their college enrollment.

    Amount: $1,000

    Explore Here

Most Affordable Online Associate in Nursing Programs 2021

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