Best Online Associate Degree in Nursing Programs of 2024

An ADN can help you become a registered nurse in just 1-2 years. Explore our picks for the best online ADN programs and get advice from real nurses.
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Updated February 6, 2024

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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.

Online ADN Programs Rankings Summary

Rank School In-State Tuition Out-of-State Tuition Acceptance Rate
#1 Weber State University
Ogden, UT
$5,329 $15,745 Not provided
#2 Western Kentucky University
Bowling Green, KY
$10,992 $27,000 98%
#3 Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
Perkinston, MS
$3,300 $6,600 Not provided
#4 Bristol Community College
Fall River, MA
$576 $5,520 Not provided
#5 Davidson-Davie Community College
Thomasville, NC
$2,072 $7,504 Not provided
#6 Excelsior University
Albany, NY
Not provided Not provided Not provided
#7 Seminole State College
Seminole, OK
$3,120 $9,360 Not provided
#8 Missouri State University-West Plains
West Plains, MO
$4,080 $8,160 Not provided
#9 John A Logan College
Carterville, IL
$5,640 $6,660 Not provided
#10 Minnesota West Community and Technical College
Granite Falls, MN
$5,650 $11,300 Not provided

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

  • Ogden, UT
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

Total Program Cost:

In-State | $5,471

Out-of-State | $16,164

Credits to Graduate: 63-80 

Weber State University's PN-to-RN program is designed for working practical nurses and takes place at both Weber's Ogden and Davis campuses, satellite locations, and in a hybrid-online format. Students can choose to earn an associate of applied science or an associate of science degree, requiring approximately 68 or 76-80 credits, respectively. 

After completing prerequisites, students can expect to finish both semesters of the program in eight months. Applicants must be licensed practical nurses or NCLEX-PN eligible in Utah.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$5,329
Out-of-state
$15,745
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$7,880
Out-of-state
$17,459
Retention Rate
65%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
29,774
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
48% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#2 Best Online Associate Degree in Nursing Programs of 2024

Western Kentucky University

  • Bowling Green, KY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $551

Out-of-State | $707

Credits to Graduate: 61

Western Kentucky University's LPN-to-ASN bridge program combines online lecture courses, challenge exams, clinical hours, and credit for previous education. Students must complete clinical hours on campus or in local clinical facilities. 

The HESI A2 assessment exam is required for admission. All applicants with fewer than 10 college-level credit hours must submit ACT scores. Those with 10 or more earned credit hours must have a cumulative grade point average of 2.75. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$10,992
Out-of-state
$27,000
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$12,140
Out-of-state
$18,340
Retention Rate
73%
Acceptance Rate
98%
Students Enrolled
16,750
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
57% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#3 Best Online Associate Degree in Nursing Programs of 2024

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

  • Perkinston, MS
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $165

Out-of-State | $165

Credits to Graduate: 66

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College's LPN-to-RN hybrid program blends on-campus learning, online learning, and clinical experience. MGCC's hybrid courses offer weekday, weeknight, or weekend scheduling and include a minimum of 25% in-person classroom time.

Applicants need to provide evidence of two years of LPN experience, two letters of recommendation, ACT scores, and ATI TEAS 7 scores. Students begin with a summer course focused on transitioning to the RN role. A passing grade is required to proceed with the program.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$3,300
Out-of-state
$6,600
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
66%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
8,208
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#4 Best Online Associate Degree in Nursing Programs of 2024

Bristol Community College

  • Fall River, MA
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $231

Out-of-State | $437

Credits to Graduate: 69-70

The associate nursing program at Bristol Community College offers a hybrid learning option, featuring online classes and in-person clinical and lab experiences. Students receive learning material prior to class, and classroom time focuses on furthering students' understanding of the material through discussion and guided problem-solving activities. 

Program admission is competitive. Applicants with a 3.5 GPA or higher in prerequisite courses receive priority. Admission requires a total composite score of 65% or higher on the ATI TEAS exam. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$576
Out-of-state
$5,520
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
60%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
5,977
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
98% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes New England Commission on Higher Education

#5 Best Online Associate Degree in Nursing Programs of 2024

Davidson-Davie Community College

  • Thomasville, NC
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $76 

Out-of-State | $268

Credits to Graduate: 66

Davidson-Davie Community College's LPN-to-ADN associate of applied science program is offered in a hybrid format, with a combination of virtual classes, online coursework, and travel to the Davidson, North Carolina, campus. 

Courses focus on the domains of healthcare, nursing practice, and the holistic individual. The program also emphasizes the nurse's role within an interdisciplinary team. Applicants need an LPN license, current LPN employment, and documentation of at least 3,328 work hours to qualify for admission. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$2,072
Out-of-state
$7,504
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
65%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
3,636
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
66% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#6 Best Online Associate Degree in Nursing Programs of 2024

Excelsior University

  • Albany, NY
  • 4 years
  • Online

Programmatic Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education

Cost per Credit:
$550 per credit 

Credits to Graduate: 66

Excelsior University offers an associate in science in nursing program and an associate of applied science in nursing, both of which allow students to progress through eight-week, online courses at their own pace. Online tutorials and webinars are available for additional support.

Both programs comprise 66 credit hours and have an identical nursing component. However, they vary slightly in their general education course requirements. Students must travel to a clinical site to complete two in-person practicums, including clinical and laboratory experiences.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
Not provided
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
17,166
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#7 Best Online Associate Degree in Nursing Programs of 2024

Seminole State College

  • Seminole, OK
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $107

Out-of-State | $318

Credits to Graduate: 70

The Seminole State College LPN-to-RN online program only accepts applications once per year by a February 1st deadline. Successful applicants take a mandatory five-week summer course prior to beginning the program in the fall. Didactic courses take place online, while clinical assignments are face-to-face and arranged by the school. 

Admission is competitive, with 10 students accepted for each program cohort. SSC selects students for the nursing program by a points system, which considers GPA, ACT scores, and years of LPN experience.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$3,120
Out-of-state
$9,360
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
49%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,530
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
65% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#8 Best Online Associate Degree in Nursing Programs of 2024

Missouri State University-West Plains

  • West Plains, MO
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $179-$201

Out-of-State | $298-$402

Credits to Graduate: 65

The Missouri State University-West Plains LPN-to-RN bridge program offers both a spring and fall start time, with only 15 seats available in the online cohort. Students are required to visit campus at the beginning of the program, once in the summer, and for NCLEX review near program completion. All clinicals are self-scheduled with a preceptor at an approved facility close to students' place of residence. 

Courses comprise liberal arts, science, and nursing. Applicants must hold an active LPN license, pass the Kaplan Nursing Admissions Test, and demonstrate a minimum 2.5 GPA in prior coursework.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$4,080
Out-of-state
$8,160
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
58%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
1,960
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
62% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#9 Best Online Associate Degree in Nursing Programs of 2024

John A Logan College

  • Carterville, IL
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $160 (In-District), $188 (Out-of-District)

Out-of-State | $242

Credits to Graduate: 66.5

The John A. Logan College's hybrid ADN program prepares qualified Illinois LPNs to pursue RN licensure. Courses primarily take place online, supplemented with weekly on-campus labs and in-person clinical experiences at local healthcare facilities. Following completion of necessary prerequisites, this full-time program takes four semesters to complete. 

Admission requirements include ACT or SAT scores, proof of graduation from an approved LPN program, a current unencumbered Illinois LPN license, and successful completion of the TEAS pre-entrance exam. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$5,640
Out-of-state
$6,660
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
64%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
2,954
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
45% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#10 Best Online Associate Degree in Nursing Programs of 2024

Minnesota West Community and Technical College

  • Granite Falls, MN
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

Cost per Credit:
$229 per credit

Credits to Graduate: 64

The Minnesota West Community and Technical College's associate of science in nursing degree prepares licensed practical nurses to become licensed RNs in the state. Although didactic courses take place online, prospective students should note that all clinical experiences require travel to assigned healthcare facilities in southwest Minnesota.

Admission requirements include an active LPN license, a cumulative 3.0 GPA in prerequisite courses, and a qualifying score on the National League for Nursing NACE I Foundations entrance exam.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$5,650
Out-of-state
$11,300
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
60%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
3,347
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
48% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

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.

State

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
Job Average 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

What's the difference between an ADN and an RN?

An associate degree in nursing (ADN) is an educational program, while "RN" refers to a license and job title. An ADN prepares you to become an RN. Completing an ADN doesn't automatically make you an RN, however. You'll need to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and apply for state licensure to work as an RN.

Is an ADN the same as an LPN?

No -- licensed practical nurse (LPN) refers to a career path, and an ADN is a degree program. LPNs must complete a one-year program and take the NCLEX-PN. LPNs provide basic nursing care under the supervision of RNs. ADNs are associate-level nursing programs that take two years and prepare you to take the NCLEX-RN and become an RN.

Is it better to earn your ADN online or on campus?

Both online and on-campus ADN programs are valued by employers. As long as the program is accredited, both delivery methods will have the same basic curricula and educational quality. An online program may be more affordable and can offer a more flexible schedule for working professionals. On-campus programs can provide benefits like direct peer-to-peer interaction and easier access to clinical placements.

Is it worth getting an ADN in nursing?

An ADN can be worthwhile for quickly entering the nursing profession and earning a nursing salary. Online RN-to-BSN programs are often tailored to working nurses' busy schedules, allowing you to increase your marketability and earn a BSN after you've accumulated some experience as an RN. However, with the push towards BSN-prepared nurses as a sign of nursing excellence, New York and 25% of employers require nurses to hold BSNs.

How long is an ADN program?

An ADN program typically takes two years to complete for full-time students. If you have a bachelor's degree in another field or an LPN license and choose an accelerated program, you can graduate in about a year. You may also opt to attend school part-time, extending your graduation timeline.

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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