What Over 20 Nurses Said About Earning Their Nursing Degree Online

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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.

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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
Very little Male Bachelor’s 59
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
The flexibility Female Bachelor’s 44
That I can do it from the comfort of my home Female Associate 26
The flexibility Male Associate 28
The freedom Female Bachelor’s 27
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
Procrastination Female Bachelor’s 29
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
Managing time Male Bachelor’s 27
Procrastination Female Associate 22
My internet issues always acted up Female Associate 21
Managing time Female Bachelor’s 46
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
None Female Bachelor’s 44
No challenges Female Associate 26
Balancing school and life Male Associate 28
Meeting deadlines Female Bachelor’s 30
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.

Portrait of Thomas Broderick

Thomas Broderick

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.

See articles by Thomas

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