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Despite being one of the country’s largest professions, we need more nurses. Some say an aging population is the culprit; others cite higher birth rates and greater access to healthcare. Regardless of the why, it’s the how that dictates the number of RNs, LPNs and NPs who make a difference in hospitals and other medical facilities across the country.

How can a country in need of nurses get more qualified RNs, LPNs and NPs into hospitals, urgent care and other medical clinics? The expansion of higher educational options is part of the answer. The flexible and convenient nature of online nursing programs makes educational attainment easier than ever for those interested in becoming a nurse. Learn more about online nursing programs, including what’s available, how they work, and what you should evaluate before enrolling.

Online Nursing Degree Options

There are online educational options for nurses at just about any stage, from those just starting out to experienced nurses who want to pursue graduate-level study and become advanced practitioners. Take a look at the various online degrees available in nursing as well as the outcome of each.

Online Degree Description
Associate degree (ADN) The online ADN is the quickest path to becoming a nurse, taking about two years to complete for candidates without any prior higher education. People who wish to enter the workforce as soon as possible often choose this degree, and then pursue more advanced education after they have gained some professional working experience.
Bachelor’s degree (BSN) Online bachelor’s degrees in nursing typically take four years to complete for full-time students. Online, it can be pursued at an accelerated pace, but many RNs work toward their BSNs part-time while continuing to work. In addition to core coursework in nursing and science, the BSN mandates that students take liberal arts courses to round out their education. While not immediately relevant to everyday nursing duties, the broader education can open doors to leadership positions. Moreover, several states either require (or are in the process of requiring) that RNs hold at least a BSN.
Master’s degree (MSN) Those who wish to become an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN)—such as nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives and nurse practitioners—must earn at least a master’s degree. Full-time online MSN programs, roughly 60 graduate-level credits, take about two years to complete. MSNs are ideal for nurses who want to specialize, even in nonclinical healthcare roles.
Doctorate degree (DNP or PhD) The doctorate is a terminal degree for nurses who want to be independent practitioners; programs typically, but not always, require a bachelor’s for entry. Because there are different specializations for APRNs, the length of time to complete a doctorate varies. Three years is a reasonable time frame for a student beginning with a BSN; those with a master’s might finish in two. Although a doctorate is not necessary for most careers, the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) recommends that DNPs (Doctor of Nursing Practice) be required for APRNs. Another option for doctoral study is the PhD degree; the key difference between a DNP and PhD is that the former focuses on clinical practice while the latter is a research-oriented degree.

Online Nursing Bridge Programs

Students who already have a nursing diploma or degree can also pursue online bridge programs, which eliminate redundant coursework and speed up the process of earning a degree:

Online Bridge Program Description
LPN to ADN While RNs work independently, licensed practical nurses work under the supervision of RNs. Becoming an LPN, which typically takes two years of full-time coursework, can be considered a stepping stone to becoming an RN. LPNs can expect to spend an additional one to two years completing coursework to achieve an associate degree in nursing (ADN), which will qualify them to sit for the RN exam. Some programs have specific course prerequisites, and require that students have taken them within a certain time frame and achieved a minimum grade.
LPN to BSN Full-time students in an LPN to BSN program can finish their studies in two to four years, depending on how many prerequisites they have completed in advance. Some online programs, such as the one at North Dakota State University, stipulate that LPNs enter with an associate degree in nursing. Others, such as Indiana State University’s online LPN to BS program, only require that students have completed nine nursing prerequisite courses.
RN to BSN As of March 2015, there were more than 400 fully or partially online RN to BSN programs, all of which are designed for RNs who hold an ADN. Standard programs are 120 semester credits (180 quarter credits); schools have individual policies about transferring credits.
RN to MSN In most RN to MSN programs, nurses who hold ADNs can earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees simultaneously over two to three years (some programs skip the BSN). Students begin with undergraduate work and progress to master’s studies in the latter half of the program. RN to MSN programs are time-efficient because they consolidate redundant coursework required at both the baccalaureate and graduate levels, quickly propelling students into specialized tracks such as nurse educator, nurse midwife, and diabetes nursing.
RN to DNP RN to DNP programs are a bit uncommon, but they do exist. Generally, RNs entering these programs already have BSNs, but many schools will admit students with ADNs if they have a bachelor’s degree in some area. These students, however, can expect to take more classes at the start of the program. Length of these programs varies and is usually offered in a hybrid format. For example, the hybrid RN to DNP program at MGH Institute of Health Professions, takes four to five years to complete; the first half of the curriculum is taught on campus and leads to an MSN; the second half is completed online for a DNP.

Best Online Nursing Programs: 2017

While earning a degree in nursing will prepare students to becoming an integral member of a medical team, it can be difficult to find the time to actually attend traditional in-person courses. Fortunately, there are several schools around the country that offer their nursing programs in an online format, allowing busy students to work towards their career goals without disrupting their present obligations. We’ve taken the time to look at each of these programs and have weighed them against one another, basing our analysis on information including tuition costs, class size, and acceptance rate. Check out the 2017 ranking list for online nursing schools and programs.

RankSchool Title Net Price Financial Aid Total Programs Student-Teacher ratioNCLX ValueRanking ScoreSchool DescriptionAdditional Benefits: Placement Services Counseling Services Credit for Experience
1North Central Missouri College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
21%
Online
Nursing
Programs
14
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
100%
Ranking SCORE 99.77
Read more

Founded in 1925, North Central Missouri College currently serves 1,500 students at its Trenton campus and satellite campuses in Maryville and Bethany. In Maryville, NCMC offers a fast-paced certificate program for nursing students and a full LPN educational program. In Bethany, students can pursue the fast-paced certificate program. At the home campus in Trenton, the Division of Nursing and Health Science offers a Practical Nursing (PN) program and Associate Degree in Nursing (PN to ADN) program. Busy nursing students can enroll in an online ADN program or at Bethany’s night and weekend PN program.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
2Metropolitan Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
20%
Online
Nursing
Programs
10
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
89%
Ranking SCORE 97.30
Read more

Metropolitan Community College was established in 1974 and has become one of the fastest-growing schools in Nebraska. It offers programs in applied technology, health and public services, math and natural sciences. Students looking to enter the nursing profession can choose MCC’s certified nursing assistant training (CNA) program. This 18-unit certificate program qualifies graduates to work in interdisciplinary teams in healthcare settings in Nebraska. The program is divided among 59 classroom/lab hours and 22 clinical hours of practical experience. The CNA program culminates with a State Registry certification examination. Students can enter the workplace or use their CNA as a foundation for additional college LPN or RN studies.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
3Minnesota State Community and Technical College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
5%
Online
Nursing
Programs
10
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
93%
Ranking SCORE 95.99
Read more

Minnesota State Community and Technical College offers more than 70 career and certificate programs online and on campuses in Moorhead, Detroit Lakes, Wadena and Fergus Falls. The college offers two nursing options to incoming students: a practical nursing (PN) program and an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) degree. The ADN program allows students a selection of two options: an ADN - Generic Option or ADN-Advanced program designed for licensed practical and vocational nurses advancing to RN status. In the advanced option, students receive 11 credits for their previous nursing education. The advanced program is only offered at the Moorhead, Fergus Falls, and Wadena campuses.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
4Maysville Community and Technical College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
9%
Online
Nursing
Programs
5
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
100%
Ranking SCORE 95.79
Read more

Maysville Community and Technical College was founded in 1968 to serve students in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System. It offers students a choice of certificate, diploma, and associate degree programs at campus and online. The Associate in Applied Science Degree - Registered Nurse program prepares students to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and is available at Maysville or the Licking Valley Campus in Cynthiana. Online students can pursue an LPN to RN program with required campus attendance the final two weeks of each semester.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
5Barton County Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
71%
Online
Nursing
Programs
8
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
76%
Ranking SCORE 95.48
Read more

Barton County Community College serves 17,000 students living in seven counties in central Kansas. Some 40 percent of its students take their studies entirely online, while the remainder pursues their education on campus or in hybrid programs. In the nursing field, BCCC offers a 45-hour Certificate in Practical Nursing (PN) and an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Nursing (ADN). LPN students have the option of applying for a second year of studies to complete their ADN. The college maintains clinical partnerships in the community, providing options for required practical experience.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
6State Fair Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
14%
Online
Nursing
Programs
7
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
94%
Ranking SCORE 95.45
Read more

Just over 400 students enrolled at State Fair Community College when it opened in 1968. Today, the college serves 5,000 students across 17 counties in Missouri. Nursing students can choose from educational options leading to a Professional Certificate in Practical Nursing or an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing. Classroom learning takes place in a multimedia format through SMART board™ technology and e-instruction. A computer lab is dedicated solely for use by allied health students. Practical and AAS nursing programs are approved by the Missouri State Board of Nursing and are offered at the Sedalia and Eldon campuses.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
7Gateway Community and Technical College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
9%
Online
Nursing
Programs
6
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
92%
Ranking SCORE 94.92
Read more

Gateway Community and Technical College is the only accredited, public two-year institution in northern Kentucky. Students can pursue certificates and associate degrees in more than 30 subject areas at campuses in Covington, Edgewood, and Florence. Applicants to GCTC’s Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program must complete prerequisite coursework in anatomy/physiology, college algebra, CPR, psychology, and general nursing skills. Degree coursework includes studies in pharmacology, surgical nursing, maternal/newborn nursing, microbiology and behavioral health nursing. Applicants holding LPN credentials may petition to enter the program with course credits, reducing the time of the ADN to 1.5 years.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
8Hutchinson Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
59%
Online
Nursing
Programs
5
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
83%
Ranking SCORE 94.89
Read more

Established in 1928, Hutchinson Community College first offered its classes at Hutchinson High School. Today the college serves more than 5,700 students with over 120 undergraduate majors at its main campus and at education centers in McPherson and Newton, Kansas. HCC’s practical nursing program in Hutchinson is Kansas’ only program accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN). It offers a traditional RN degree and a LPN-RN program. The Associate Degree in Nursing is the first online program in the state serving working LPNs and paramedics looking to advance to an RN degree.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
9San Juan College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
28%
Online
Nursing
Programs
7
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
100%
Ranking SCORE 94.48
Read more

Located in Farmington, San Juan College serves more than 15,000 students each year. In addition to completing one of SJC’s two-year degree and certificate programs, students can undertake studies leading to transfers to four-year partner colleges in New Mexico. Nursing students can complete an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). They may also select a Bachelor Degree in Nursing (BSN) in partnership with the University of New Mexico, also held on campus in Farmington. The ADN degree takes two years to complete. The college’s Nurse Aide Certification Course (CNA) program is comprised of a single, 8-week, 6-credit course.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
10West Kentucky Community and Technical College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
1%
Online
Nursing
Programs
5
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
93%
Ranking SCORE 94.06
Read more

The history of West Kentucky Community and Technical College dates back to 1909. It currently is home to 8,592 students pursuing associate degrees and career certificates. WKCTC’s 48-hour practical nursing diploma program can be completed in as little as three semesters. Applicants must complete a 75-hour Medicaid nurse-aide course (or equivalent) and CPR certification. Prerequisites include coursework in general psychology, anatomy and physiology. The program is built on the cohort system, with new cohorts admitted every three semesters. Transfer students must provide a letter of recommendation from a previous faculty member.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
11Madisonville Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
22%
Online
Nursing
Programs
5
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
92%
Ranking SCORE 93.85
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
12Seward County Community College and Area Technical School Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
76%
Online
Nursing
Programs
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
85%
Ranking SCORE 93.74
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
13Hazard Community and Technical College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
19%
Online
Nursing
Programs
6
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
97%
Ranking SCORE 93.72
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
14Minnesota West Community and Technical College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
1%
Online
Nursing
Programs
7
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
76%
Ranking SCORE 93.47
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
15Columbus State Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
20%
Online
Nursing
Programs
5
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
83%
Ranking SCORE 93.40
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
16Crowder College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
18%
Online
Nursing
Programs
5
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
86%
Ranking SCORE 93.31
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
17Jefferson Community and Technical College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
1%
Online
Nursing
Programs
5
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
91%
Ranking SCORE 93.20
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
18Ashland Community and Technical College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
7%
Online
Nursing
Programs
4
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
92%
Ranking SCORE 93.08
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
19Bluegrass Community and Technical College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
2%
Online
Nursing
Programs
5
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
79%
Ranking SCORE 92.96
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
20Owensboro Community and Technical College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
4%
Online
Nursing
Programs
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
96%
Ranking SCORE 92.96
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
21Richland Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
31%
Online
Nursing
Programs
4
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
89%
Ranking SCORE 92.95
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
22Lenoir Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
13%
Online
Nursing
Programs
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
96%
Ranking SCORE 92.91
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
23Henderson Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
22%
Online
Nursing
Programs
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
94%
Ranking SCORE 92.81
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
24Panola College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
24%
Online
Nursing
Programs
4
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
93%
Ranking SCORE 92.70
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
25Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
5%
Online
Nursing
Programs
4
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
85%
Ranking SCORE 92.70
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
26Rochester Community and Technical College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
7%
Online
Nursing
Programs
7
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
89%
Ranking SCORE 92.69
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
27Western Nebraska Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
60%
Online
Nursing
Programs
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
73%
Ranking SCORE 92.59
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
28Sinclair College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
28%
Online
Nursing
Programs
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
78%
Ranking SCORE 92.56
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
29Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
6%
Online
Nursing
Programs
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
100%
Ranking SCORE 92.46
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
30Three Rivers Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
17%
Online
Nursing
Programs
5
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
89%
Ranking SCORE 92.45
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
31Odessa College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
32%
Online
Nursing
Programs
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
94%
Ranking SCORE 92.44
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
32San Antonio College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
9%
Online
Nursing
Programs
6
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
81%
Ranking SCORE 92.40
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
33New Mexico Junior College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
34%
Online
Nursing
Programs
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
96%
Ranking SCORE 92.32
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
34Hopkinsville Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
10%
Online
Nursing
Programs
5
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
90%
Ranking SCORE 92.25
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
35Cincinnati State Technical and Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
11%
Online
Nursing
Programs
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
86%
Ranking SCORE 92.18
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
36Kansas City Kansas Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
22%
Online
Nursing
Programs
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
71%
Ranking SCORE 92.04
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
37Somerset Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
8%
Online
Nursing
Programs
4
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
83%
Ranking SCORE 92.02
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
38Northwest Iowa Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
32%
Online
Nursing
Programs
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
87%
Ranking SCORE 91.73
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
39Shawnee Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
44%
Online
Nursing
Programs
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
93%
Ranking SCORE 91.71
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
40South Central College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
8%
Online
Nursing
Programs
4
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
83%
Ranking SCORE 91.65
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
41Indian Hills Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
7%
Online
Nursing
Programs
5
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
50%
Ranking SCORE 91.62
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
42Forsyth Technical Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
N/A
Online
Nursing
Programs
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
94%
Ranking SCORE 91.54
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
43National Park College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
71%
Online
Nursing
Programs
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
89%
Ranking SCORE 91.50
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
44Shoreline Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
19%
Online
Nursing
Programs
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
89%
Ranking SCORE 91.34
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
45Westmoreland County Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
4%
Online
Nursing
Programs
4
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
88%
Ranking SCORE 91.29
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
46Elizabethtown Community and Technical College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
4%
Online
Nursing
Programs
4
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
98%
Ranking SCORE 91.25
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
47Beaufort County Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
5%
Online
Nursing
Programs
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
79%
Ranking SCORE 91.18
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
48Northland Community and Technical College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
N/A
Online
Nursing
Programs
6
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
86%
Ranking SCORE 91.16
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
49Central Texas College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
13%
Online
Nursing
Programs
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
90%
Ranking SCORE 91.07
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
50Central Maine Community College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
22%
Online
Nursing
Programs
1
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
100%
Ranking SCORE 91.03
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
RankSchool Title Net Price Financial Aid Total Programs Student-Teacher ratioNCLX ValueRanking ScoreSchool DescriptionAdditional Benefits: Placement Services Counseling Services Credit for Experience
1Nova Southeastern University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
94%
Online
Nursing
Programs
17
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
85%
Ranking SCORE 99.78
Read more

Established in Fort Lauderdale in 1964, Nova Southeastern University was chartered as a graduate institution for the studies of physical and social sciences. It merged in 1994 with Southeastern University of Health Sciences. The College of Nursing today serves 1,300 students from across the country via campus and online degree programs. The Entry BS Nursing Program takes two years and three months to complete following fulfillment of prerequisites. It is offered at the Fort Lauderdale, Fort Meyers and Miami campuses. NSU’s RN-to-BSN is designed for working nurses and can be completed in 4 semesters. RN’s can transfer in 61 credits toward their baccalaureate.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
2University of Cincinnati-Main Campus Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
54%
Online
Nursing
Programs
12
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
87%
Ranking SCORE 98.98
Read more

University of Cincinnati-Main Campus was established in 1870 with the merger of Cincinnati College and the Medical College of Ohio. Today the university boasts of a quarter-million living alumni. Its signature nursing programs include a Bachelor of Science in Nursing program accepting transfer students, a flexible online RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) to Doctor of Nursing Practice program. The RN-BSN program accepts students with an associate nursing degree or hospital-based diploma. Doctoral programs are offered on campus or hybrid-online formats. UC’s Center for Innovation and Excellence in Nursing Education is expanding into a “Smart Hospital”.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
3Clarkson College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
59%
Online
Nursing
Programs
14
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
86%
Ranking SCORE 98.97
Read more

Clarkson College has an extensive nursing pedigree. It was founded in Omaha in 1888 as the Bishop Clarkson Memorial Hospital School of Nursing. It was the first school of nursing in Nebraska. It received accreditation for its baccalaureate nursing program in 1988. Today, Clarkson’s broad nursing programs include a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), LPN to BSN option, RN to BSN degree, RN to MSN degree, an MSN, a Post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing, MSN in Nurse Anesthesia, 31-credit Doctor of Nursing Practice. RN–BSN and RN–MSN programs with no clinical requirements are offered entirely online.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
4Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
83%
Online
Nursing
Programs
13
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
92%
Ranking SCORE 98.56
Read more

An affiliate of Methodist Health System, the Nebraska Methodist College of Nursing & Allied Health was established in 1891. Its 1,000 students currently pursue certificate, undergraduate, and graduate programs in allied health and nursing. It offers four paths to a BSN degree, including LPN or RN to BSN and accelerated degrees. At the MSN level, students can choose from educator, executive and informatics specializations. Nursing doctoral programs lead to family nurse practitioner, gerontology or public health policy expertise. The MSN - Nursing Informatics Track is the only one offered in the region. CNA certificate programs are also available.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
5Concordia University-Wisconsin Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
98%
Online
Nursing
Programs
10
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
89%
Ranking SCORE 98.38
Read more

Concordia University-Wisconsin was founded in 1881 on 200 acres north of Milwaukee by the Lutherans in Wisconsin. Today the university serves 7,770 students with campus centers in Appleton, Beloit, Milwaukee, Kenosha, Green Bay, Madison, Waukesha, and Saint Louis. The School of Nursing offers Christ-centered degree and certificate programs that include part-time and full-time options as well as online course offerings. Nursing undergraduates may pursue a traditional BSN or a 36-credit BSN completion degree that can be completed in 18 months. At the graduate level, students can complete an MSN or online RN-BSN-MSN designed for students holding associate degrees in nursing.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
6Saint Joseph's College of Maine Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
97%
Online
Nursing
Programs
12
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
79%
Ranking SCORE 98.03
Read more

Saint Joseph's College of Maine is a Roman Catholic liberal arts college founded by the Sisters of Mercy in 1912. Today it enrolls 2,500 students in its campus and online educational programs. Nursing programs range from the BSN to the doctorate. A traditional BSN is available on campus, while an online RN-to-BSN degree is available for students who hold a two year nursing degree or diploma. Nurses who hold an associate degree can transfer 65 to 90 credits toward the online BSN degree. The college also offers a wholly online Master of Science in Nursing with tracks in administration, education, and family nurse practitioner.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
7National University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
1%
Online
Nursing
Programs
14
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
94%
Ranking SCORE 97.23
Read more

Established in 1971, National University today is one of the largest private, nonprofit postsecondary institutions in California, offering over 100 degree programs at more than 14 locations throughout the Golden State. The university has an extensive range of degrees and certificates in nursing, featuring a BSN (including RN completion), LVN-to-BSN, MSN, and Master of Science in Nurse Anesthesia. Certificates are available for Family Nurse Practitioner and Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. The RN-to-BSN program offers courses in four or eight-week sessions, and classes are delivered entirely online. Programs are accredited by the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) and Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
8Drexel University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
93%
Online
Nursing
Programs
10
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
94%
Ranking SCORE 97.06
Read more

Drexel University offered its first bachelor of science degree in Philadelphia in 1914 and today has expanded to 15 colleges and schools. The College of Nursing and Health Professions Undergraduate Nursing Department offers students three programs: Cooperative Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Accelerated Career Entry (ACE) for Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and RN/BSN Completion Program. The ACE program is designed for students who hold a baccalaureate in a field outside of nursing. Qualified baccalaureate students can enter the MSN Early Assurance Program to transition directly into the advanced degree. Graduate programs offer specialties in Advanced Role (MSN), Nurse Practitioner (MSN), Nurse Anesthesia (MSN), and PhD in Nursing.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
9Regis University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
95%
Online
Nursing
Programs
12
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
86%
Ranking SCORE 97.04
Read more

Regis University, founded in 1877, is the only Jesuit, Catholic university in Colorado and the Rocky Mountain west region. More than 3,000 students today are enrolled in the Rueckert-Hartman College for Health Professions. The Loretto Heights School of Nursing provides a range of undergraduate and graduate studies with options in classroom, online, or accelerated formats. The Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing can be completed in one year and is designed for students with a four-year degree outside the nursing fields. Online post-bachelor degree programs are available leading to a MSN or DNP.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
10East Carolina University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
50%
Online
Nursing
Programs
9
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
97%
Ranking SCORE 96.83
Read more

Some 43 percent of East Carolina University’s 29,000 students are enrolled in a healthcare or STEM degree program. The university is home to 12 colleges and schools. The East Carolina University College of Nursing enrolls over 1,300 students each year and has been designated by the National League for Nursing as a Center of Excellence. Its core academic programs include a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), Master of Science in Nursing (MSN), Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), and Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (PhD). There is a 12-month accelerated BSN program designed for students who hold a four-year degree outside of nursing and a RN to BSN option.

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
11Graceland University-Lamoni Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
Online
Nursing
Programs
8
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
87%
Ranking SCORE 96.80
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
12Gardner-Webb University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
96%
Online
Nursing
Programs
10
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
100%
Ranking SCORE 96.74
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
13Indiana Wesleyan University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
50%
Online
Nursing
Programs
11
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
87%
Ranking SCORE 96.57
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
14Allen College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
Online
Nursing
Programs
7
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
96%
Ranking SCORE 96.11
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
15Loma Linda University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
N/A
Online
Nursing
Programs
14
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
86%
Ranking SCORE 95.64
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesNo Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
16Loyola University Chicago Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
93%
Online
Nursing
Programs
7
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
92%
Ranking SCORE 95.64
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
17Rutgers University-New Brunswick Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
47%
Online
Nursing
Programs
9
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
83%
Ranking SCORE 95.49
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
18Weber State University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
50%
Online
Nursing
Programs
8
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
89%
Ranking SCORE 95.43
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
19Western Kentucky University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
37%
Online
Nursing
Programs
9
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
97%
Ranking SCORE 95.32
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
20Duquesne University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
Online
Nursing
Programs
7
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
92%
Ranking SCORE 95.30
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
21Northern Arizona University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
66%
Online
Nursing
Programs
7
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
91%
Ranking SCORE 95.23
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
22University of Florida Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
29%
Online
Nursing
Programs
8
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
93%
Ranking SCORE 95.14
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
23Seton Hall University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
97%
Online
Nursing
Programs
6
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
75%
Ranking SCORE 94.77
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
24Virginia Commonwealth University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
41%
Online
Nursing
Programs
7
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
93%
Ranking SCORE 94.75
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
25The College of Saint Scholastica Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
Online
Nursing
Programs
6
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
91%
Ranking SCORE 94.66
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
26Viterbo University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
Online
Nursing
Programs
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
95%
Ranking SCORE 94.59
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
27Misericordia University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
99%
Online
Nursing
Programs
5
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
93%
Ranking SCORE 94.58
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
28Briar Cliff University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
Online
Nursing
Programs
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
92%
Ranking SCORE 94.55
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
29Maryville University of Saint Louis Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
97%
Online
Nursing
Programs
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
93%
Ranking SCORE 94.47
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
30Roberts Wesleyan College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
97%
Online
Nursing
Programs
4
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
82%
Ranking SCORE 94.43
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
31University of North Dakota Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
30%
Online
Nursing
Programs
9
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
95%
Ranking SCORE 94.35
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
32Winona State University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
43%
Online
Nursing
Programs
7
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
92%
Ranking SCORE 94.31
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
33Youngstown State University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
45%
Online
Nursing
Programs
5
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
88%
Ranking SCORE 94.29
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
34Washburn University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
58%
Online
Nursing
Programs
6
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
81%
Ranking SCORE 93.87
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
35University of Alabama at Birmingham Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
66%
Online
Nursing
Programs
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
96%
Ranking SCORE 93.84
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
36University of Saint Mary Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
99%
Online
Nursing
Programs
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
91%
Ranking SCORE 93.81
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
37Liberty University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
78%
Online
Nursing
Programs
5
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
95%
Ranking SCORE 93.81
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
38University of Toledo Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
85%
Online
Nursing
Programs
5
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
81%
Ranking SCORE 93.78
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
39Carlow University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
100%
Online
Nursing
Programs
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
96%
Ranking SCORE 93.78
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
40East Tennessee State University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
15%
Online
Nursing
Programs
7
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
88%
Ranking SCORE 93.74
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
41Barry University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
96%
Online
Nursing
Programs
3
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
82%
Ranking SCORE 93.73
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
42University of Northern Colorado Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
79%
Online
Nursing
Programs
4
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
88%
Ranking SCORE 93.68
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
43Ohio University-Main Campus Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
68%
Online
Nursing
Programs
4
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
87%
Ranking SCORE 93.68
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
44Quinnipiac University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
91%
Online
Nursing
Programs
5
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
89%
Ranking SCORE 93.68
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
45Otterbein University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
99%
Online
Nursing
Programs
4
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
88%
Ranking SCORE 93.67
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
46South Dakota State University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
53%
Online
Nursing
Programs
5
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
87%
Ranking SCORE 93.62
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
47Simmons College Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
96%
Online
Nursing
Programs
2
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
94%
Ranking SCORE 93.61
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
48Texas Woman's University Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
36%
Online
Nursing
Programs
6
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
93%
Ranking SCORE 93.59
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo
49University of Southern Indiana Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
41%
Online
Nursing
Programs
5
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
98%
Ranking SCORE 93.59
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceYes
50University of Kansas Net
Price
FINANCIAL
AID %
60%
Online
Nursing
Programs
5
STUDENT-TEACHER
RATIO
NCLEX
Value
91%
Ranking SCORE 93.56
Read more

Additional Benefits: Placement ServicesYes Counseling ServicesYes Credit for ExperienceNo

The Nuts and Bolts of Online Nursing Degrees

Online education is a great option for a lot of students, but before embracing the format, applicants should consider the ways online classes and programs differ from their on-campus equivalents.

Class Sizes

There is ongoing debate about what an appropriate online class size is, with some arguing that class sizes should be limited regardless of the format, and others pointing out that large class sizes are consistent with the self-starter ethos of online students, who are expected to take greater responsibility for their distance learning. Some online schools have addressed the issue by creating cohort programs so students can take classes with a smaller group of students who stay together throughout the entire program.

Cohort Start Dates

Unlike traditional college programs, in which all students start classes at the same time, online programs are able to offer more choices. Many online nursing degree programs offer multiple start dates, which means aspiring nurses can apply throughout the year. For example, the RN to BSN program at the University of Texas at Arlington, has 11 start dates, meaning that students can be attending classes within a month of applying.

Asynchronous vs. Synchronous Learning

Although online programs are touted for their flexibility, it’s important to pay attention to each program’s instructional methods. Some courses—and even some entire programs—are asynchronous, meaning that students are provided with materials via online tools, and given a time frame, usually about a week, to complete assignments. They then choose when to log in and do work, using discussion boards or collaborating via wikis and other online tools. Synchronous online classes, on the other hand, require students to log in at a predetermined time and contribute via video conferencing, a chat application, or some other medium. Such classes more closely resemble classroom-based courses, with information being delivered and discussed in real time.

There are benefits to both course types. Synchronous courses give opportunities for student interaction that aren’t available to the same extent in asynchronous courses, whereas asynchronous courses are, by nature, flexible and allow students time to process what they have learned before contributing. In an effort to reap the benefits of each approach, teachers are beginning to incorporate both elements into their courses.

Full-Time vs. Part-Time

Online schools have pioneered the idea of flexible, part-time study schedules, and have advertised that fact. However, there is a catch: The cost of part-time enrollment (usually anything less than three classes a quarter for undergraduate students) is calculated on a per-credit basis, whereas full-time study tends to be counted at a flat rate. Students who attend part-time, then, generally pay a bit more over the course of their degree and, by nature, will take longer to complete the program.

Tuition and Financial Aid

As with on-campus programs, tuition for online programs depends on two factors: residency and enrollment status. Students attending an in-state program at a public university benefit from lower in-state tuition costs, whereas out-of-state students typically do not (although this depends on the individual college or university). This designation does not matter for private colleges, which make no geographical distinctions. Second, per-credit tuition can make a degree much more expensive than full-time study, depending upon how the school tiers its tuition rates.

There are also costs common to online programs that may not show up in a traditional campus program, and vice versa. For example, applicants should calculate the technology fee levied for online courses, as well as any expected travel expenses for academic residencies or clinical rotations. These may cut into the savings from on-campus fees such as parking or room and board.

To fund their education, online students have the same access to financial aid as their on-campus counterparts. Schools themselves are a good source of funds, but by far the biggest provider of financial aid is the federal government, which disburses nearly 75 percent of financial aid funding. Students should file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®); the U.S. government uses the information applicants provide to calculate how much students or their families are expected to contribute toward their education. The school’s financial aid office will work to make sure the rest is covered by grants or loans.

Online students should pay special attention to the timing for filing the FAFSA®. Because it was initially designed for campus-based students, its filing deadline corresponds to that, with students having to send in their FAFSA® between January 1 and June 30. Thus, online students should keep in mind that although they can start school at any time, the funding may not be ready by their start date if they did not file the FAFSA® by its set deadline.

Technology

Online learning relies heavily on the use of information technology, and nursing students should be comfortable using a variety of tools. Here are a few they can expect to use in a virtual classroom:

Learning Management System

An LMS is software specifically designed for delivering courses online. Learning management systems, such as Blackboard and Moodle, are used on a daily basis because they facilitate communication and content sharing between teachers and nursing students or among students themselves.

Email

From news on the latest change in healthcare policies to pushing back the date for a physiology exam, email notifications can keep online nursing students abreast of discussion posts or assignments so they do not have to remain constantly logged into an LMS.

Discussion Boards

Online discussion boards are one useful tool for asynchronous learning and are crucial for a collaborative field like nursing. Many professors make class participation via the discussion board a part of the student’s grade, which means nursing students will be required to share their thoughts on the shifting demographics in patient populations, ask questions regarding new technology, or debate the pros and cons of new health information privacy policies.

Wiki

Whereas discussion boards are designed for communication, Wikis are designed for collaboration. Students may be asked to use a wiki for group projects.

Video Conference

Smaller synchronous courses can use video conferences to hold group discussions during class time.

Podcasts

In addition to regular lectures or videos, professors can use podcasts to discuss special interest issues, such as patient demographic changes, affects of technology, or the consequences of increased healthcare coverage. Such podcasts can serve as supplemental material for nursing students.

Video Presentation

Content delivery is not a one-way street. Nursing students may be asked to record video presentations or to demonstrate an aspect of patient interaction to verify that they understand course materials. For nursing students, video presentations can be particularly helpful in science, biology, and courses that focus on bedside manners.

Clinical and Hands-On Experience

While general education courses often translate easily to online learning, clinical requirements, which require hands-on work with patients in healthcare settings, can prove somewhat of a dilemma for online nursing students. Online nursing degree programs have different approaches to address this challenge.

Some, such as the RN to BSN bridge program offered at the Tyler campus of the University of Texas, have designed their online nursing programs in a way that calls for minimal clinical time, using the reasoning that their students are already nurses employed in the profession. This is common to many bridge programs, which often share the goal of advancing students quickly through the degree process and may allow students to apply work experience toward their clinical coursework.

Nonetheless, clinicals are still a requirement, and students are discouraged from using preceptors from their current workplace. Instead, they must find their own clinical experiences and then confirm with the school that their choices meet program requirements. Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, for example, negotiates each graduate clinical placement after consulting with the student. However, because of the large number of online students throughout the U.S., there is an extensive national pool of preceptors that popular schools can call upon. Some schools, such as Simmons College, employ staff whose sole job is to find preceptors—a service that can be a big selling point for busy online students.

International students should make special note of clinical requirements; they may need to plan for additional time and expense, as clinicals must generally be done in the US. It’s important that students, US-based and international, speak with an administrator to get full details on how clinicals are handled at the school and what would be expected of the student in order to graduate and seek proper licensure for employment.

Evaluating Online Nursing Schools

In order to choose the online nursing school that best suits their individual goals, students would do well to thoroughly investigate the content and overall performance of several programs. Here are five things to keep an eye on while searching:

High NCLEX Pass Rates

A primary goal of any nursing program should be to prepare students to pass the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX PN or RN), which is required to work as a licensed practical or registered nurse. In 2015, 85.5 percent of students educated in the U.S. passed the test the first time. Each state publishes a list of its nursing schools’ pass rates online, typically for the past five years, so prospective students can check how well a particular school stacks up. Students should keep in mind, however, that lower pass rates do not necessarily mean an inferior education, but may indicate admission of students with more academic needs.

Accreditation

Another standard requirement of state licensure is graduation from an accredited school, meaning one that has been evaluated by educators and judged to provide a worthwhile education. There are two layers of accreditation: the school as a whole, as well as the individual nursing program. There are two recognized accrediting bodies for nursing programs. The first is the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (formerly the National League of Nursing Accrediting Commission), or ACEN, which accredits all levels of schooling. The second is the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE), which exclusively handles bachelor’s and master’s degree programs.

Clinical/Hands-on Experiences

Experienced nurses provide a higher overall quality of care, pointing to the importance of clinical hours as a barometer of success in the professional setting. Whereas tests demonstrate that students have attained theoretical and practical knowledge, their ability to apply such knowledge is part of a separate skill set, one that must be nurtured. Current nurses taking part in a bridge program may feel they need fewer clinical hours, but non-practicing nurses will find them vital. The number of required clinical hours may vary significantly between programs, so potential candidates should analyze their needs and choose a program that has sufficient hours. Although accreditors set clinical requirements, only 11 states and territories require a specific minimum number of clinical hours for ADNs.

Specialties

Nurses at all levels have the opportunity to specialize. Throughout the course of a general nursing program, ADNs and BSNs will likely gain specialized experience as they complete rotations through several different wings of a hospital. For example, a new nurse may spend four months at an oncology unit and another four months in the pediatrics unit, before finishing up the year in cardiology and deciding where to work permanently. At the advanced level, nurses seeking MSNs and DNPs are required to specialize. These graduate-level nurses should ensure a program offers a program within their specialty.

State Agreements

Although the lure of online education is that it can be done from anywhere, the reality is that state regulations and variations in educational requirements will affect a student’s choice of school. Completing clinical hours may be a sticking point, as certain states do not have reciprocity agreements allowing for on-ground programs to be virtually administered. Prospective students should always check with the admissions office about state agreements before applying.

Other Popular Online Nursing Degrees

Although most of nursing involves working with patients, there are important roles for nurses that go beyond direct patient care. Below are three examples of popular online nursing degree programs for those who want to gain – or enhance – skills outside the clinical realm.