Best Online Associate Degree in Nursing Programs of 2024

Keith Carlson, BSN, RN, NC-BC
Updated February 6, 2024
Edited by
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Are you wondering if an online associate degree nursing (ADN) program might be a good choice for you? In terms of affordability, flexibility, and convenience, an online ADN can provide an ideal pathway for entering the nursing field. This guide explores why you might choose an online ADN program, how to choose the program that’s right for you, the path to becoming a registered nurse, and how much you’ll be able to earn as an RN. Continue reading to learn all you need to know about online associate degree nursing programs.

Popular Online Nursing Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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Top Online ADN Programs for Aspiring Nurses

Read our methodology to learn more about how we create our rankings.

#1 Best Online Associate Degree in Nursing Programs of 2024

Weber State University

  • Location-markerOgden, UT
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,090
  • Out-of-state$15,272
  • Retention Rate66%
  • Acceptance Rate100%
  • Students Enrolled29,641
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment48%
  • AccreditationYes
#2 Best Online Associate Degree in Nursing Programs of 2024

Western Kentucky University

  • Location-markerBowling Green, KY
  • 4 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$11,112
  • Out-of-state$27,000
  • Retention Rate77%
  • Acceptance Rate97%
  • Students Enrolled16,448
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment57%
  • AccreditationYes
#3 Best Online Associate Degree in Nursing Programs of 2024

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

  • Location-markerPerkinston, MS
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$3,300
  • Out-of-state$6,600
  • Retention Rate62%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled8,208
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment59%
  • AccreditationYes
#4 Best Online Associate Degree in Nursing Programs of 2024

Bristol Community College

  • Location-markerFall River, MA
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$576
  • Out-of-state$5,520
  • Retention Rate60%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled5,977
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment98%
  • AccreditationYes
#5 Best Online Associate Degree in Nursing Programs of 2024

Davidson-Davie Community College

  • Location-markerThomasville, NC
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$2,072
  • Out-of-state$7,504
  • Retention Rate65%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled3,636
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment66%
  • AccreditationYes
#6 Best Online Associate Degree in Nursing Programs of 2024

Excelsior University

  • Location-markerAlbany, NY
  • 2 year
  • Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$0
  • Out-of-state$0
  • Retention Rate0%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled14,584
  • Institution TypePrivate
  • Percent Online Enrollment0%
  • AccreditationYes
#7 Best Online Associate Degree in Nursing Programs of 2024

Seminole State College

  • Location-markerSeminole, OK
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$3,122
  • Out-of-state$11,447
  • Retention Rate49%
  • Acceptance Rate100%
  • Students Enrolled1,530
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment65%
  • AccreditationYes
#8 Best Online Associate Degree in Nursing Programs of 2024

Missouri State University-West Plains

  • Location-markerWest Plains, MO
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$4,080
  • Out-of-state$8,160
  • Retention Rate58%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled1,960
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment62%
  • AccreditationYes
#9 Best Online Associate Degree in Nursing Programs of 2024

John A Logan College

  • Location-markerCarterville, IL
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,640
  • Out-of-state$7,020
  • Retention Rate64%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled2,954
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment45%
  • AccreditationYes
#10 Best Online Associate Degree in Nursing Programs of 2024

Minnesota West Community and Technical College

  • Location-markerGranite Falls, MN
  • 2 year
  • Campus + Online
Average Tuition
  • In-State$5,650
  • Out-of-state$11,300
  • Retention Rate60%
  • Acceptance Rate0%
  • Students Enrolled3,347
  • Institution TypePublic
  • Percent Online Enrollment48%
  • AccreditationYes

Why Enroll in an Online 2-Year Nursing Program?

  • An associate degree in nursing can lead to various careers in healthcare, many of which are in high demand.
  • You can help people and make a positive difference in patients’ lives every day.
  • Online ADN programs typically offer flexibility for working students.
  • An online ADN program qualifies you to take the NCLEX and become an RN.
  • You’ll still need to complete clinical experiences on campus or at approved local sites.
  • An ADN program allows you to earn your degree — and start your career — in even less time than a bachelor’s in nursing.
  • Online degree programs are often more affordable than on-campus programs.

Did You Know…

Schools introduced ADN programs after World War II to address the post-war nursing shortage.

Does Accreditation Matter for ADN Programs?

It is critical to attend an accredited nursing program and school. The risks of attending an unaccredited school include being rejected for jobs, licensure, financial aid, and the graduate or doctoral program of your choice.

Accrediting bodies are independent organizations that give degree programs their stamp of approval. The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education award accreditation to nursing schools. These accreditors must receive recognition from the Council on Higher Education Accreditation and/or the U.S. Department of Education.

Online, on-campus, and hybrid degree programs can all receive institutional recognition through national and/or regional accreditation. Always research the accreditation status for any prospective schools.

What Will You Learn in an Online ADN Program?

Online ADN programs prepare you to pass the NCLEX-RN and earn licensure as a registered nurse. Core coursework typically covers nursing principles and fundamental subjects like pharmacology and microbiology. You’ll also get to practice your nursing skills through hands-on clinical training.

In addition, you’ll learn to examine medical records, track symptoms, and administer medications.

Common Courses in ADN Programs

  • Aging and Chronic Illness
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Foundations of Nursing
  • Maternal and Pediatric Nursing Care
  • Mental Health Nursing
  • Microbiology
  • Nutrition
  • Health Assessment
  • Pharmacology

How to Become a Registered Nurse

The path to becoming an RN includes the following steps:

  1. Complete the prerequisites for your nursing program.
  2. Earn an ADN or BSN.
  3. Pass the NCLEX-RN.
  4. Get a state nursing license.
  5. Gain nursing experience.

To become an RN, you can attend an ADN or BSN program. An ADN provides the fastest pathway to the RN workforce. Students with bachelor’s degrees in majors other than nursing can enroll in accelerated BSNs, which allow them to transfer previously earned credits.

Once you’re an experienced nurse, you can become certified to demonstrate your expertise in particular specialties. It’s important to note that some years of experience are required before you apply for many certifications. Some employers will even pay for your certification.

Some common nursing certifications include:

  • Critical Care Registered Nurse (CCRN)
  • Certified Pediatric Nurse (CPN)
  • Certified Emergency Nurse (CEN)
  • Oncology Certified Nurse (OCN)
  • Certified Wound, Ostomy, and Continence Nurse (CWOCN)

Requirements for becoming a registered nurse depend on your state. Check out the map below to see what your state requires to become an RN.

Choose Your State Below

How Much Does an Associate Degree in Nursing Cost?

ADN programs generally cost $8,000-$35,400 in total for tuition and fees, according to the National Center of Education Statistics for the 2021-2022 school year. You may pay more if you have to pay for housing on or off campus.

If you’re a licensed practical nurse (LPN) who enrolls in an accelerated ADN program, you may be able to graduate in less than two years, saving you time and money. The amount you pay for your ADN depends on factors like your specific program, state of residence, and financial aid package.

Online learners may qualify for cheaper tuition and reduced fees. For instance, some public schools offer in-state tuition rates to all domestic online students, regardless of their state. Don’t forget to budget for common online learning expenses, like textbooks and a high-quality laptop.

Most online nursing programs require some in-person learning in the form of hands-on clinical training and practicums, so be sure to factor in travel costs as well. Finally, ADN graduates must pay $200 to take the NCLEX-RN, in addition to state licensure application fees, which can range from $40 to $300, depending on your state.

How Much Money Can You Make With an ADN?

Once you have your ADN, you can often earn a good living as a registered nurse. According to Jan. 2024 Payscale data, nurses with an ADN earn an average of $76,000 per year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the mean annual salary for RNs is $89,010 but does not differentiate between nurses with BSNs and those with ADNs.

While it’s true that some employers may pay BSNs more or may only hire BSNs, you can generally command a good salary with an ADN. In terms of jobs, the BLS projects a 6% employment growth rate for registered nurses, which is about double the projected rate for all occupations in the 2022-2032 period.

Factors that can influence how much you earn as an RN include your years of nursing experience, certifications, the city or region where you live, and the state of the broader economy.

Popular ADN Jobs
JobAverage Hourly Pay
Travel Nurse$39
Oncology Nurse$36
Psychiatric Nurse$35
Emergency Room Nurse$35
Hospice Nurse$33
Long-Term Care Nurse$32
Pediatric Nurse$31
Critical Care Nurse$35
Source: Payscale (Jan. 2024)

Q&A With Real Registered Nurses

Q&A With Real Registered Nurses

Q: Why did you decide to pursue a career in nursing?

“I always had an affinity for science, but more specifically for anatomy and physiology. I also loved working with my hands and craved to be active while working, instead of being stagnant.”
 — Rachel Adams, Registered Nurse, University of Washington Medical Center
“I’ve always had a passion for helping others, but the older population are some of my favorite people to spend time with. … Few people realize that their bodies operate much differently as seniors — and I don’t mean just on a physical level. Nursing allowed me to explore those intricacies and allowed me to feel like I was giving back to my community through elderly care.”
 — Nancy Mitchell, Registered Nurse and Contributing Writer at Assisted Living Center

Q: What is something that surprised you about the field of nursing?

“Most professionals don’t mention how close nurses are with our patients. We spend the most time at their bedsides, nurturing a trusting rapport with those in need. Spending all this time with patients often makes nurses more empathetic to patient care than other healthcare professionals because it affords us deeper insight into the patient as a whole being.”
 — Nancy M.
“I was surprised by the emotional toll that my field took on my body. … You become fully engrossed in your patients’ lives, both their trials and tribulations, while you are taking care of them. You feel internally rewarded with improvements and grief when your patient declines.”
 — Rachel A.

Q: What is your biggest piece of advice to students considering becoming RNs?

“Like all careers, some people are suited for [nursing] and others are not. That said, embrace the mental trials and emotional lessons that nursing forces you into, because I wholeheartedly believe that you are a more well-rounded person due to you taking care of someone in some of the worst days of their life.”
 — Rachel A.
“Be sure that you have a passion for nursing. … Back-to-back night shifts and difficult patient care in the early days can make it challenging to see the reward in your profession. As with any career, your journey will be more enjoyable if your heart is all in.”
 — Nancy M.

Frequently Asked Questions About ADN Programs

Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by Accredited Schools Online. Page last reviewed November 22, 2023.

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