Online Associate Nursing (ADN) Programs

Earning an online associate degree in nursing can be a great way to enter the medical field. Learn more about ADN programs here.

Online Associate Nursing (ADN) Programs

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Registered nurses (RNs) need an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). Online ADN programs prepare learners to earn an RN license. Students complete online classes and in-person clinical rotations. Some programs also require on-campus experiences, such as labs.

Online ADN programs emphasize practical nursing skills. Students develop leadership skills and memorize relevant laws. The following sections include information on costs and common classes for an associate degree in nursing online. The final sections explain how to become a nurse.

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Frequently Asked Questions About ADN Programs

true Q. Is an ADN the same as an RN?

No. An ADN refers to a type of nursing degree. An RN holds state licensure to practice nursing.

true Q. How long does an ADN program take?

Full-time learners can complete an ADN program in 1-2 years. Students working or raising children may need longer to graduate.

true Q. Can you earn an ADN online?

Yes. Many top online ADN programs use a hybrid curriculum. Students complete classes online in a synchronous or asynchronous format. They complete in-person experiences such as campus labs and clinical rotations.

Why Get an ADN Degree?

An ADN degree prepares learners to enter an in-demand field. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for RNs to grow 9% from 2020-2030. This rate matches the median projected growth for all U.S. jobs. South Dakota, West Virginia, and Rhode Island feature the highest concentration of nurses.

Online ADN programs provide flexibility. Students can complete most graduation requirements at home. Asynchronous classes allow degree-seekers to learn when convenient.

How Much Does an ADN Degree Cost?

Online ADN degree costs depend on many factors, including whether students qualify for in-state tuition at a public school. These learners pay the most affordable rates. However, in-state tuition varies by school.

Degree-seekers may find the lowest rates at a local junior or community college. These schools prepare students for careers or transfer to RN-to-BSN programs. Students attending in-state community colleges spend an average of $3,400 annually on tuition, according to EducationData.org.

Additional Online Student Fees

Online learners should budget for technology and graduation fees. Some programs charge for uniforms and supplies. Institutional and private financial aid may cover these extra costs.

Online and hybrid learners must meet their school's technology requirements. These students may need to buy new laptops or upgrade their internet connection. Fortunately, many computer companies offer student discounts. Learners pursuing an associate in nursing degree online also need to buy books. They can save money by buying used or digital books.

Students nearing graduation can take the $200 NCLEX-RN exam. Test-takers who pass can apply for an RN license with their state board. This process requires a fee. RNs who renew their license also pay a fee. Costs vary by state.

How Much Do ADN Majors Make?

RNs earn a median annual salary of $75,330, according to the BLS. This figure includes RNs with an ADN or a BSN. The highest-paid nurses work for government agencies and hospitals. RNs in California, Hawaii, and Massachusetts earn more than nurses in other states.

Nurses can increase their salary potential by continuing their education. Nurses with an ADN can enroll in an RN-to-BSN program or an ADN-to-MSN program. These programs take 2-3 years and let students master a nursing specialty. For example, degree-seekers can become clinical nurse specialists. Nurses with a master's earn a median annual salary of $117,670.

Courses in an ADN Program

Students pursuing an online ADN degree take 3-4 classes each semester. Every semester features one or more clinical experiences that learners complete on campus or at a local hospital. Many programs end with advanced medical/surgical nursing classes and NCLEX-RN preparation. These graduation requirements help degree-seekers develop the skills entry-level nurses need to find a job.

See below for three common ADN classes. Please note that class names, topics, and assignments vary by program. Students can learn more by visiting prospective schools' websites and contacting admissions counselors. They can also contact faculty directly.

How to Become a Nurse

RNs must complete an ADN or BSN program. They also need certification from a state nursing board. Some master's in nursing programs help learners with a bachelor's in another subject earn a license. Typical coursework covers anatomy, psychology, and physiology. Becoming a nurse takes 2-4 years, depending on a learner's degree and enrollment status.

Nurses track patients' conditions, maintain medical records, and give medicine. These professionals work with patients and families to develop care plans. Some nurses specialize in areas such as addiction or public health. Specializing requires many years of experience or an advanced degree.

Licensure for Nursing

Licensure requirements vary by state. Learners in California nursing programs earn licensure by examination. Candidates take the NCLEX-RN. Those who pass can create a BreEZe online account and submit test results and transcripts. Candidates also provide fingerprints for a criminal background check. An initial license costs $300.

Out-of-state RNs can transfer their license through licensure by endorsement. RNs submit their license on their BreEZe account. Other required materials include a fingerprint card and the Verification of License form. RNs planning to start work soon can apply for a temporary license. California charges $350 to transfer a license and $100 for a temporary one.

Licensed California RNs pay $190 to renew their license. Nurse practitioners pay less. Other renewal steps include completing 30 professional development (PD) contact hours. The state board of nursing maintains a list of approved PD providers. RNs receive renewal notices to keep current with deadlines and requirements.

The Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) lets nurses earn a license to practice in their home state and states included in the compact. As of Jan. 2022, 39 states participate in the NLC.

Online Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) Programs 2022

#1 Online College in Minnesota

Minnesota West Community and Technical College

School Information
Location Granite Falls, Minnesota
Graduation Rate 45%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 49% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Granite Falls-based Minnesota West Community and Technical College is a public postsecondary school. The institution delivers accessible educational programs to its students. The flexibility of online learning can benefit learners with children or full-time employment. 

Associate-level curricula feature foundational coursework and field-specific classes. Prospective students can find graduation requirements on the school's website. Like on-campus students, online students work with academic and career advisors and IT support professionals. While completing an associate program, students can undertake practical experiences to prepare for the workforce.

To qualify for high-level roles, associate degree-holders can earn a four-year degree. After graduating from an associate program, individuals can apply for entry-level positions. The institution charges students affordable per-credit tuition rates. Financial aid can help associate degree-seekers reduce out-of-pocket expenses. To qualify for admission, prospective associate degree-seekers typically need a high school diploma or passing GED scores.

Minnesota West Community and Technical College has been accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an independent accrediting agency.

#2 Online College in Minnesota

Northwest Technical College

School Information
Location Bemidji, Minnesota
Graduation Rate 31%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 69% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

Bemidji-based Northwest Technical College is a public postsecondary institution. Interested students can select from among 12 on-campus associate programs and 14 online associate programs. Students take about two years to complete the school's nursing generic degree. The school provides advisors and tech support professionals to help distance learners. While earning an associate degree, learners gain practical experience in their major to prepare for entry-level positions.

Associate degree-holders can also pursue further studies after graduation. An associate degree qualifies holders for many entry-level positions. Learners pay low per-credit tuition rates while earning their associate degree. Learners pay $11,008 on average to attend the school, after factoring in financial aid.

The school is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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Portrait of Shrilekha Deshaies, MSN, CCRN, RN

Shrilekha Deshaies, MSN, CCRN, RN

Shri Deshaies is a nurse educator with over 20 years of experience teaching in hospital, nursing school, and community settings. Deshaies' clinical area of expertise is critical care nursing, and she is a certified critical care nurse. She has worked in various surgical ICUs throughout her career, including cardiovascular, trauma, and neurosurgery.

Shri Deshaies is a paid member of our Healthcare Review Partner Network. Learn more about our review partners here.

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AffordableCollegesOnline.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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