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Top 7 Online Associates Degree in Nursing in 2017

online associates degree in nursingFor many people who are researching an online associates degree in nursing, attending college as a full-time, on-campus student simply isn’t feasible.

In that light, you may already be working as a certified medical assistant or a licensed practical nurse (LPN). You may be looking into an online associates degree furthering your education and knowledge on how to become a nurse while you are working within a different vocation and you are not able to quite while looking into attending college classes. You may also be a single parent and scheduled class times which keep you away from your children and other home responsibilities will not work.

Whatever your circumstance might be, an associates degree in nursing online might be the answer for you. The online  ADN programs give you the flexibility to work around your schedule and to earn your degree remotely (or at least part of it).


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Top 7 Online Associates Degree in Nursing

1. John A. Logan College

2. Allegany College of Maryland

3. Hutchinson Community College

4. Western Iowa Tech

5. Excelsior College

6. Pratt Community College

7. Northwestern Michigan College

Some Clinical Instruction Must Be Completed Offline

Unfortunately, you can’t earn your ADN degree entirely online. The fact of the matter is that nursing is a hands-on profession, and that means a certain portion of your education must take place in a classroom, laboratory, or clinical setting, with qualified instructors.

However, you can earn part of your associate degree in nursing online. Some schools offer an LPN to RN bridge program, meaning you must get your hands-on training at another institution and become a licensed LPN before enrolling in the online program to earn your associate nursing degree and become an RN. Other nursing schools offer a hybrid online ADN program, which means your clinical classes must be taken on campus, and the other courses can be completed online.

Online Associate Nursing Degree, Why?

Studies by the United States Department of Labor indicate that the demand for nurses will be increasing more so than any other occupation in the decades to come. RNs, who have earned at least an associates degree in nursing, will continue to be in high demand, and that means better pay, job security, and more career opportunities compared to only being a medical assistant or LPN.

Do Your Research

Before you enroll in an associate nursing degree online, make sure to check with your state board of nursing to see if the program is approved by your state. Some programs might only qualify you for an RN license in the state where the school conducts business. Some states, like California, don’t approve any online nursing programs at the ADN level at all. One other option you might want to look into are accelerated rn programs.

Due to these limitations, online ADN programs can be difficult to find, and that’s why we’ve done the groundwork for you and found the best online associates degree in nursing.

Detailed Explanation Of The Top 7 Online Associates Degree in Nursing

1. John A. Logan College

John A. Logan College is a community college in Carterville, Illinois that was founded in 1967. It offers affordable tuition, online learning, and has easily transferable credits in case you ever decide to transfer to a 4-year college and earn your bachelor degree. In fact, the college has partnerships with several universities that make transferring easy. Also, John A. Logan College provides job placement assistance to graduates, which means your transition into becoming a working RN will go smoothly.

A Hybrid Online ADN Program

John A. Logan College offers an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in nursing through a hybrid online program, meaning clinical courses are taken on campus, and other courses are taken online. It is designed to be a two-year program once you’ve completed your prerequisite courses and offers career mobility. Most importantly, John A. Logan College has a proven track record of preparing graduates to pass the NCLEX-RN exam and become an RN.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 93.0%
  • Program Length/Credit Hours: 73.5
  • Admission Requirements: prerequisites with minimum of C grade in all courses, entrance exam
  • Tuition: $97 per credit hour (in-district), $315 per credit hour (out-of-state students)
  • Accreditation: Yes (IDFPR and ICCB)

2. Allegany College of Maryland

Allegany College of Maryland is a high quality, low-cost community college offering associate degrees, with a goal of serving a diverse range of students, including veterans, homemakers, and working individuals looking to further their careers. The college regularly receives exemplary ratings from students and is ranked in the Top-20 “Value-Added” Colleges by the Brookings Institution.

Fully Online LPN to RN Bridge Program

The associates degree in nursing at Allegany College of Maryland is specifically for students who are already LPNs. Because LPNs have already completed their hands-on training, there are no on-campus classes to attend. What makes this program especially lucrative for those who don’t live in the immediate region, is that it has been designated as a Health Manpower Shortage Program, meaning that Maryland residents from outside Allegany County who enter the program may be eligible for in-county tuition rates. Out-of-state students still must pay out-of-state tuition, however.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 90.3%
  • Program Length/Credit Hours: 70
  • Admission Requirements: LPN license, 2 years work experience as LPN, minimum 2.5 GPA, entrance exam
  • Tuition: $114 per credit hour (in-district), $257 per credit hour (out-of-state)
  • Accreditation: Yes (ACEN)

3. Hutchinson Community College

Hutchinson Community College, similar to the other colleges at the top of this list, is a community college that offers flexible learning schedules, including online learning, at a very affordable rate. Hutchinson Community College has graduated over 90,000 students and is widely considered to offer some of the best academic programs in the state of Kansas.

An Online Program with a Personal Touch

Hutchinson Community College offers an LPN to RN Online Bridge. Like other bridge programs, this one allows you to take all your courses online because you must first have received your hands-on training and be a licensed LPN. Graduates from the online bridge program have a 100% job placement rate.

What makes Hutchinson Community College’s program unique, is that while the classes are online, you also get one-on-one access to a counselor. When it comes time to do your clinicals at the end of your studies, your counselor will help you arrange your clinicals at a healthcare facility near you.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 83.1%
  • Program Length/Credit Hours: 70
  • Admission Requirements: LPN license, minimum C average, entrance exam
  • Tuition: $99 per credit hour (in-state), $130 per credit hour (out-of-state)
  • Accreditation: Yes (ACEN)

4. Western Iowa Tech

Western Iowa Tech is a publically supported comprehensive community college that offers a range of vocational and educational programs, including online/distance learning. The school was founded in 1966 and has a history of providing accessible higher learning to a diverse student body. Online classes have been offered at Western Iowa Tech since 2002, so online learning is not a new concept for this institution.

A Flexible Hybrid Online Education with an LPN Bridge Option

At Western Iowa Tech, you can earn an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in nursing through a hybrid program on either a full-time or part-time schedule. It is a 1+1 program, meaning the first part of the program is designed for you to attend classes on-campus in Sioux City, Iowa and become an LPN. The second part of the program is then completed primarily online, and you can earn your AAS degree and be eligible to take the NCLEX-RN exam and become a licensed RN.

If you are already an LPN, you also have the option of transferring into the online program to earn your AAS degree as a distance learner.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 81.6%
  • Program Length/Credit Hours: 73
  • Admission Requirements: high school diploma, prerequisites
  • In-state Tuition: $139 per credit hour (in-state, on-campus), $140 per credit hour (out-of-state, on-campus), $162 per hour (online courses)
  • Accreditation: Yes (IBN, NCSBN)

5. Excelsior College

Excelsior College is a private, non-profit, educational institution that offers a wide range of degrees for adult learners. The college is aimed toward meeting students’ needs both academically and geographically, and all their programs are career orientated.

Earn Your Associate Degree at Your Own Pace

The School of Nursing at Excelsior College has been designated as a 2011-2016 NLN Center of Excellence in Nursing Education by the National League for Nursing. The school offers various nursing degrees, including online Associate of Science and an Associate of Applied Science degrees. The associates degree in nursing is an LPN to ADN bridge program, meaning you must be an LPN and have your hands-on training before enrolling.

What makes the ADN program at Excelsior College appealing is that it can be completed at your pace. You can take classes whenever you want and work at your own pace. Also, Excelsior College offers a large library of online learning resources, study guides, and exam-preparation materials.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 77.2%
  • Program Length/Credit Hours: 67
  • Admission Requirements: LPN license
  • Tuition: $490 per credit hour
  • Accreditation: Yes (ACEN)

6. Pratt Community College

Pratt Community College is a two-year community college in Pratt, Kansas with an emphasis on “maximum student learning, individual and workforce development, and high-quality instruction and service.” The College is a Top 150 recipient of the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence for 2015.

A Full-time Hybrid Online Program

The ADN program at Pratt Community College is an intensive hybrid online program that requires you already hold your LPN license. 100% of the theory courses are taught online, and the clinical courses are taught on campus. The ADN program is a full-time program, and the school recommends that students treat it as a full-time job.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 60.7%
  • Program Length/Credit Hours: 71
  • Admission Requirements: LPN license, prerequisites with minimum of a C in all courses
  • Tuition: $147 per credit hour plus $60 per class nursing fee
  • Accreditation: Yes (ACEN)

7. Northwestern Michigan College

Northwestern Michigan College is a public community college with a student population of over 50,000 students in the Grand Traverse region of Michigan and beyond, thanks to its online learning programs. Unlike most community colleges, Northwestern Michigan College offers both Associate and Bachelor degrees.

No Nursing Experience Needed

Northwestern Michigan College offers a Nursing Online Option, which functions as a hybrid program. You must attend lab and clinical classes in person at Northwestern Michigan College, but all the other classes are online, and you need not have your LPN license before beginning. The program is intended for full-time students, is accredited by ACEN, and has articulation agreements with several four-year universities in case you decide to go on to earn your bachelor degree in nursing.

  • NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: Not Available
  • Program Length/Credit Hours: 70
  • Admission Requirements: Prerequisites with minimum 2.5 GPA
  • Tuition: $96 per unit (in-district), $249 per unit (out-of-state)
  • Accreditation: Yes (ACEN)

Follow-Up and Get Started

Because becoming a licensed RN requires hands-on training, there’s no way around spending some time in the classroom or lab to get your clinical training. Be wary of online programs that claim otherwise. You don’t want to waste your time and money on an online associates degree nursing program that won’t allow you to become a licensed nurse in your state.

But don’t get discouraged. There are online options out there that can help lighten your classroom time and provide you flexibility with your education. The 7 schools listed here that offer the top online associates degrees in nursing are a great start. Before you enroll anywhere, just make sure to check with your state board of nursing to find out whether the school is approved in your state or not.

If you have a hard time finding an online associates degree nursing program that’s eligible for your state, your other option for online study is to become an LPN and then transfer into an online LPN to BSN program. Ironically, there are more LPN to BSN online programs than there are LPN to ADN programs, including programs from top-notch universities like Indiana State University.

With options like these, there’s no reason you can’t overcome whatever obstacles you have and get started becoming an RN, and for additional assistance you can take a moment to review a registered nurse job description. If you think money might be an issue, then there are scholarships for nursing students that you might be interested in.

How The Schools Were Ranked

The top online associates degree in nursing programs were ranked based upon their student passing rates on for the NCLEX test for Registered Nurses. A weighted score was given to each school, based on their last three to four years of student scores, with the most recent years weighted more heavily.

NCLEX-RN scores were obtained from public records from each state, with the exception of Michigan, where records were not readily available. In cases where NCLEX-RN scores were equal, rankings were based upon tuition rates for the nursing programs, with lower tuition rates warranting a higher ranking.

Information on job projections in the nursing field was based upon data from the United States Department of Labor.