Earning Your Nursing Degree Online
In May 2021, Affordable Colleges Online surveyed 23 practicing nurses to learn more about their experience earning a nursing degree online. Participants included high school graduates and professionals training for a new career. The group featured a mix of men and women making $20,000-$90,000. The survey did not ask questions about racial or cultural background.
Survey replies show how online learning benefits associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degree-seekers. Some nurses reported that online nursing programs come with challenges. Even so, most said that the experience played a positive role in advancing their career.
Prospective online nursing school students can find value in the survey results. Answers straight from professionals show the true online learning experience. But remember that these replies do not tell the whole story of someone’s school journey. College applicants should continue researching whether a nursing degree fits their learning style and education needs.
Survey Data and Participant Information
The following data details participants’ demographic information as of May 2021. Affordable Colleges Online asked about degree level, gender, age, and program format. The self-reported information includes data on current income and whether nursing degree students received financial assistance from friends or family.
The data reveal many patterns, including the following highlights. Most professionals earned a degree after the age of 30. Approximately half of learners classified themselves as first-generation college students.
Affordable Colleges Online does not discriminate on the basis of gender and provides equal opportunity for non-binary persons to participate in surveys.
Student testimonials have generally been obtained with the offer of compensation for completion of a survey (e.g., entrance into a gift card drawing). Such testimonials are the opinions of such students and surveys are designed to avoid influencing such testimonials either positively or negatively. All student respondents were supplied by Lucid LLC.
Questions and responses have been edited for brevity and clarity.
What Level of Degree Did You Complete Online?
- Master’s (including MBA): 10
- Bachelor’s: 11
- Associate: 4
How Do You Identify Your Gender?
- Female: 19
- Male: 4
Are You a First Generation College Student?
- First-generation college students: 12 of 23
How Was Your Degree Offered?
- Fully online: 12
- Online with a few on-campus visits required: 11
At What Age Did You Start Your Online Nursing Degree?
- 18-21: 5
- 22-25: 4
- 26-29: 3
- 30-34: 2
- 35-39: 3
- 40-44: 2
- 45-49: 1
- 50+: 3
At What Age Did You Finish Your Online Nursing Degree?
- 75,000-90,000: 9
- 60,000-74,999: 4
- 35,000-49,999: 1
- 20,000-34,999: 2
Did You Receive Financial Assistance from Others for Your Nursing Degree?
- No: 15
- Yes: 8
What Did You Like Most About Your Online Nursing Experience?
Online nursing programs provided graduates with many benefits. Participants liked self-paced curricula, academic support, and flexible scheduling. Others praised their program’s affordability and the ability to learn from home.
|What did you like most about your online nursing degree experience?||Gender||Degree Level||Age|
|The flexibility of doing school at whatever time of day worked best for me||Female||Bachelor’s||29|
|The ability to work at my own pace||Female||Bachelor’s||26|
|The supportive community and flexibility||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||32|
|That I could work at a self-directed pace||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||51|
|That it is easy and convenient||Male||Bachelor’s||27|
|Even though it was online, I still felt like my professors cared for my success||Female||Associate||22|
|That it was right to the point and not too much money!||Female||Associate||21|
|The ability to work at your own pace||Female||Bachelor’s||26|
|That I could do it at my pace||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||63|
|The ability to do it at anytime I wanted||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||26|
|Not really sure yet whether I liked it or not. I don’t feel like I learned as much as I would have in an on-campus program.||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||59|
|The flexible options||Female||Bachelor’s||50|
|The flexible schedule||Female||Bachelor’s||32|
|That I can do it from the comfort of my home||Female||Associate||26|
|That I didn’t really have to interact with other people||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||39|
|The ability to complete the work at times that fit with my schedule||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||35|
|That it was self-paced||Female||Bachelor’s||31|
|That it was easy and accessible||Female||Bachelor’s||29|
What Challenges Did You Experience While Getting Your Nursing Degree Online?
Participants also talked about the challenges of online nursing programs. Typical critiques include difficulty finding time to study and balancing work and school. Others struggled to pay for online nursing school without going into debt.
|What challenges did you experience while getting your nursing degree online?||Gender||Degree Level||Age|
|Making time around my family||Female||Bachelor’s||36|
|Time constraints with work and family||Male||Bachelor’s||59|
|Some were resistant (to me getting an online degree); they thought since my degree was online that somehow it might not be as strong as an in-person degree||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||32|
|Managing time and procrastination||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||51|
|My internet issues always acted up||Female||Associate||21|
|Having enough time to complete coursework after working all day||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||63|
|Making time to complete the assignments||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||26|
|Time management was an issue at times, and I felt like I was alone in my class work. Also, having instructors who were not really involved in the class and gave only minimal feedback to students’ work and participation (was challenging).||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||59|
|Financially paying for it||Female||Bachelor’s||50|
|Time management and balancing school, life, and work||Female||Bachelor’s||32|
|Balancing school and life||Male||Associate||28|
|Coursework and management||Male||Master’s (including MBA)||27|
|Mainly financial challenges but also the practicum requirements. I was on my own to find placement.||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||39|
|You have to be self-motivated to complete an online degree||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||35|
|Scheduling time to do school work with other things going on||Female||Bachelor’s||31|
|Managing time and money||Female||Bachelor’s||29|
How Has Completing an Online Nursing Degree Changed Your Life?
Many graduates stated that a nursing degree changed their life for the better. Outcomes included a pay raise and improved self-confidence. Other nurses used their education to qualify for a new position or enroll in medical school.
|How has completing an online degree changed your life?||Gender||Degree Level||Age|
|It has given me a higher degree||Female||Bachelor’s||29|
|I’ll hopefully get a good job soon||Female||Bachelor’s||36|
|I got a divorce||Male||Bachelor’s||59|
|I got an increase in pay and role||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||32|
|I work in a more autonomous and better-paying position with a very flexible schedule||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||51|
|It made me feel like I made the right decision||Male||Bachelor’s||27|
|It has opened a door of opportunity for me in my career field||Female||Associate||22|
|I am more confident and happy with myself than ever before!||Female||Associate||21|
|I’m now working on my master’s||Female||Bachelor’s||46|
|It has given me job security; a master’s was required for my job||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||63|
|It enabled me to advance my career and make more money||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||26|
|It has made it more frustrating because I can’t find a position to utilize my MSN degree||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||59|
|It changed my life because my job eventually required the degree. Glad I did it when I did.||Female||Bachelor’s||50|
|I’m eligible for BSN-only hospitals||Female||Bachelor’s||32|
|Actually, not much right now. But I like having my degree finished.||Female||Bachelor’s||44|
|It changed my life because now I can go for a good-paying job and change my life around||Female||Associate||26|
|It helped me get a job||Male||Associate||28|
|It furthered my career||Female||Bachelor’s||30|
|It helped me get into medical school||Male||Master’s (including MBA)||27|
|It allows me to teach, which is why I got the degree||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||39|
|I was able to get a higher-paying job with a more advanced degree||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||35|
|It helped advance my career||Female||Bachelor’s||31|
|It helped me get a raise in the field I work in||Female||Bachelor’s||29|
What Was the Biggest Challenge to Completing Your Online Nursing Degree?
Like on-campus nursing degrees, hybrid and online nursing programs present new challenges. Many graduates who earned their nursing degree online reported struggling with scheduling on-campus visits and dealing with unexpected circumstances.
|What was the biggest challenge to completing your online nursing degree?||Gender||Degree Level||Age|
|Scheduling on-campus visits to support my program (testing, orientation, etc.)||Female||Bachelor’s||29|
|Paying for higher education while minimizing student debt||Female||Bachelor’s||36|
|Paying for higher education while minimizing student debt||Male||Bachelor’s||59|
|Paying for higher education while minimizing student debt||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||32|
|Staying on track with classes so I can graduate in the planned time frame||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||51|
|Unexpected circumstances or events in my personal life||Male||Bachelor’s||27|
|Maintaining a desired GPA||Female||Associate||22|
|Paying for higher education while minimizing student debt||Female||Associate||21|
|I had no challenges in completing my online degree||Female||Bachelor’s||46|
|Paying for higher education while minimizing student debt||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||63|
|I had no challenges in completing my online degree||Female||Master’s||26|
|I had no challenges in completing my online degree||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||59|
|Maintaining a desired GPA||Female||Bachelor’s||50|
|I had no challenges in completing my online degree||Female||Bachelor’s||32|
|I had no challenges in completing my online degree||Female||Bachelor’s||44|
|Maintaining a desired GPA||Female||Associate||26|
|Paying for higher education while minimizing student debt||Male||Associate||28|
|Unexpected circumstances or events in my personal life||Female||Bachelor’s||30|
|Paying for higher education while minimizing student debt||Male||Master’s (including MBA)||27|
|Paying for higher education while minimizing student debt||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||39|
|Paying for higher education while minimizing student debt||Female||Master’s (including MBA)||35|
|Paying for higher education while minimizing student debt||Female||Bachelor’s||31|
|Paying for higher education while minimizing student debt||Female||Bachelor’s||29|
Why You Should Get an Online Nursing Degree
Responses including “flexibility” and “easy and accessible” show that top online and hybrid nursing degrees provide a good educational experience. Prospective learners do not need to stick to local programs. A fully online nursing program out of state may offer the best education at the best price.
Career outcomes make online learning a valuable tool for prospective and current nurses. Responses such as “got a job” and “furthered my career” show how employers view online nursing degrees the same as on-campus degrees. Start an online nursing school search by researching programs with Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education accreditation.
Thomas Broderick is a freelance writer and the owner of Broderick Writer LLC. He creates study guides, informational websites, and blog posts for clients in the education field. Thomas is also a published author of over 20 short stories and a member of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.
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