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Best Online ADN Programs

Badge for our ranking of best online ADN programsCan I get my associate degree in nursing online? The answer is yes. There are some online ADN nursing (associate’s degree in nursing) programs out there that can help you get your healthcare career started in a way that fits your busy schedule.

This article will help you find the best online associate’s nursing program for you.

While nursing is consistently included in lists of in-demand, growing professions, getting a degree in nursing can be time-consuming. The solution for this, as with many other majors, is to find a school that offers ADN programs online. The flexibility of online classes allows students to fit required classes around their schedule. On the other hand, the nature of a nursing program, with intensive courses and the clinical requirement, is not a natural fit with online classes. Because of this, programs that offer real online associate’s degrees in nursing are rare.

The following colleges feature our top online ADN programs. They are ranked according to three factors: the graduation rate, the cost, and first-time score that nursing graduates receive on the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX), which is the test that nurses must take before receiving their license. 

How can I get my associate’s degree in nursing online? The top ADN nursing programs online we found are:

1 – North Central Missouri College

2 – Idaho State University

3 – University of Arkansas Community College – Batesville

4 – Pratt Community College

5 – Northwest Technical College

6 – Allegany College of Maryland

7 – Northwest Michigan College

8 – Minnesota West Community and Technical College

9 – Arkansas State University

10 – Excelsior College

Ranking Your Best Associate Degrees Nursing Online

10. Excelsior College

Albany, New York
Online Associate of Applied Science in Nursing


Excelsior College, an online university, offers a fully online associate’s degree in nursing. The program requires 66 credits, and students have the option to transfer in up to 31 credits. In this competency-based AAS program, students have the opportunity to build their knowledge through educational experience and prove their competency in clinical settings. The program is delivered in eight-week online courses, and students have the flexibility to take these courses at their own pace. Throughout the program, students have full access to tutorials and webinars, and they have access to the nursing faculty and an academic advisor.

Tuition: undisclosed

9. Arkansas State University

Jonesboro, Arkansas
LN to AASN Online


At Arkansas State University, students can earn an associate’s degree in nursing primarily through online study. All of the courses in the online degree program are taught in seven-week terms beginning in the fall and ending with the second summer term in August. Every didactic course is offered online for the convenience of the students. All clinical hours are scheduled for selected weekends in Jonesboro healthcare facilities, limiting travel to weekends only. The 66-credit program takes just under two years to complete.

Tuition: $13,281

8. Minnesota West Community and Technical College

Worthington, Minnesota
Associate of Science in Nursing Online


Minnesota West Community and Technical College offers an online associate’s degree in nursing. This program is designed for LPNs who wish to obtain the ASN degree. The program contains 64 credits of study and includes clinical experiences. Online students can expect to take all of their courses online, but they will need to participate in hands-on clinical experiences in healthcare facilities. These clinical sites are located in Southwest Minnesota, and students will be required to travel to their assigned location.

Tuition: $11,244

7. Northwest Michigan College

Traverse City, Michigan
Associate Degree in Nursing Online


At Northwest Michigan College, students can take advantage of the online/hybrid option for an associate’s degree in nursing. The online program starts each fall, and is only offered to full-time students. All nursing theory and academic courses are delivered online, but students are still required to report to campus for lab and clinical courses. The 70-credit program can be completed in two years. Graduates of the program have the skills necessary for immediate employment, as well as the knowledge needed to pass the NCLEX-RN licensing.

Tuition: $8,431

6. Allegany College of Maryland

Cumberland, Maryland
LPN to RN Program Online


The LPN to RN program at Allegany College of Maryland is unique in that it never requires students to report to campus. This online associate’s degree in nursing offers all of its courses through distance learning, and all clinical requirements can be completed at a location of the student’s choice, eliminating any need to travel. The program is authorized in six states – Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Texas. Students can graduate from the program in 18 months or less, depending on the evaluation of their transcripts, and upon graduation, students are ready to take and pass the NCLEX-RN.

Tuition: $9,772

5. Northwest Technical College

Bemidji, Minnesota
Nursing- Generic Associate of Science Online
Nursing LPN to RN Online


Northwest Technical College offers two options for those looking for online associate nursing programs. The first option, the generic nursing AD, takes two years to complete. They also offer a three-semester LPN to RN program that is designed specifically for LPNs who are looking to advance in their career. Both programs require students to spend some time on campus for lab and clinical courses, and these dates are provided at the beginning of the program. Upon completion of either program, graduates are eligible to take the NCLEX-RN.

Tuition: $11,008

4. Pratt Community College

Pratt, Kansas
Associate Degree in Nursing Online


The online associate nursing program at Pratt Community College is designed as a paramedic/LPN to RN bridge program that provides the paramedic or LPN with the opportunity to enter the profession as a registered nurse. The program is offered both on-campus and online. The online option still requires students to report to campus almost weekly for onsite clinicals. The 70-credit curriculum contains 19 general education credits and 51 program-specific credits. Many options for financial aid are available to the online students.

Tuition: $8,522

3. University of Arkansas Community College – Batesville

Batesville, Arkansas
Online LPN to RN Associate of Applied Science


The University of Arkansas Community College-Batesville offers an associate’s degree in nursing that can be completed almost entirely online. This online nursing degree requires students to meet weekly deadlines, and does not function as a “work at your own pace” program. Beginning each spring, this 67-credit program takes only 11 months to complete. Students should plan to meet with faculty on campus up to seven or eight times throughout the year. These dates are given in advance, and the faculty tries to keep the in-person requirements to a minimum.

Tuition: $7,322

2. Idaho State University

Pocatello, Idaho
Associate of Science in Nursing Online


Idaho State University offers an associate degree in nursing that can be completed almost entirely online. The coursework for the 62-credit program is offered through web-based and distance-learning methods, with the exception of mandatory clinicals and on-campus intensives. The two-year program is designed for current LPNs who wish to further their career. The application process for the program is competitive, and graduates of the program have an impressive 97% job placement rate.

Tuition: $12,999

1. North Central Missouri College

Trenton, Missouri
Associate Degree in Nursing Online


NCMC’s PN to ADN program is ranked as the #1 program on our list and gives students options when it comes to earning associate degrees nursing online. The 48-credit program is fully accredited by the Missouri State Board of Nursing. All work is delivered in an online format, and all testing can be completed at home. Students are required to report to campus two to three times per semester for on-site labs or clinicals, and these dates are posted in advance for the convenience of the student. The online program accepts 36 students per year, beginning each August. 85% of graduates pass the NCLEX-RN on their first attempt.

Tuition: $8,679

Online ADN Frequently Asked Questions

When choosing an associate’s degree nursing program, and specifically an online ADN program, there are many factors that come into play as well as many questions that may be asked when evaluating options. The following section will address some of the most common questions, and hopefully provide some practical answers. 

What are the benefits to choosing an online ADN program?

As with any online program, convenience is the most common reason to choose an ADN online program. When pursuing an online nursing education, a school can be chosen based on much more than its geographical location. Online ADN classes are often offered on a more flexible schedule, and earning a degree can be done while still holding down a job. Many online programs allow students to work at their own pace, as well as to learn from a wider variety of classroom methods. Additionally, many prefer to not be confined by the limitations of an on-campus college degree program. 

Lastly, choosing an online ADN program is a money-saving option, as students can pay only the fees associated with tuition and need not spend money on room and board.  

What kind of nursing jobs can I get with just an ADN in nursing? 

All that is required for an RN to be hired for an entry level position is that they pass their NCLEX exam, and this exam can be taken with either an ADN or a BSN. Although a BSN is often preferable, it is still very possible for an RN with just an associate’s degree to find a good job. Registered nurses with just an ADN will usually be hired for more general jobs, as opposed to a more specialized nursing job. To be hired as a specialty nurse, it is usually necessary to have either a BSN or significant experience in the specialty field.  Some examples of entry level jobs for someone with just an ADN in nursing are: home care nurse, emergency room nurse, ambulatory care nurse, hospice nurse, or patient coordinator.  

What are the benefits to choosing an ASN program as opposed to a BSN? 

The most obvious benefit to choosing an associate’s degree program instead of a bachelor’s degree program is time. The typical associate’s degree program can be completed in two years, while a BSN program typically takes twice as long to complete. If someone is eager to enter the workplace in any capacity, then an associate’s degree program is likely the way to go. Additionally, there are many situations in which a RN can be hired with only an associate’s degree in nursing, and their employer will offer to pay for their continued education while they work. Many hospitals offer their nurses either tuition assistance, coverage, or reimbursement for the RN to BSN program. This is a good option for those who need to start making money immediately.  

Is it possible to earn an online ADN without setting foot onto a college campus?

Most online associate nursing programs require students to come to campus for some clinical experience and lab work. The frequency of these on-campus visits depends on the program. Some require weekly visits, while others require less frequent and more concentrated time on-site. There are benefits to each of these options. Short, weekly visits to campus allow students to keep their normal work and family schedule while spending minimal time on campus for hands-on work. Programs that require less frequent visits are a convenient option for those that live at a greater distance from campus. In this case, students can plan to travel to campus only a few times throughout their degree program. These on-campus requirements are always planned ahead of time, allowing for planning ahead. There are a few programs which allow the clinical requirements to be completed at an approved location of the student’s choice. This convenient option allows the student to earn an online ADN with little to no travel. 

Do I need an LPN before earning an ADN?

No, it is not necessary to be an LPN before studying to earn an associate’s degree in nursing. There are some programs that are specifically designed for those individuals who have already earned an LPN, and these programs are usually less comprehensive than others, taking less time to complete and requiring less credits. Most ADN online programs are designed for those who have not previously earned any nursing credentials.

How many credits are typically needed to complete an online ADN?  

Credit requirements for graduation vary from program to program. Most programs require between 60 and 70 credits in order to graduate. Some programs, such as those designed for nurses who already have the title of LPN, require as little as 48 credits to complete the program.  

How long does it take to earn an associate’s degree in nursing?

Although the length of time for degree completion can vary, students should plan on needing about two years to earn their BSN in nursing, and this timeline is usually the same for those earning their nursing degrees online. Because of the fact that flexibility of schedule is a perk of earning an online ASN degree, the degree will sometimes take longer to complete. This option of taking longer to complete the degree can be an advantage to those students who can not afford to stop working while they earn their degree.  

Will an online ADN program prepare me for the NCLEX-RN?

If the online ADN program is fully accredited, then all of the qualifications would be the same. When taking the next step after nursing school and attempting to pass the NCLEX, there will be no discrepancy between a degree earned online and one learned in-person. No matter the method of study, each student must complete all in-state licensing requirements.  This will almost always include added hours of hands-on experience. It is often beneficial to earn this experience in a specialty area. After passing the NCLEX-RN, an individual will have the RN credential, which immediately makes them eligible to be hired as a registered nurse.  

Are there disadvantages to earning an ADN online?

Once awarded a degree, there is no difference between an online degree and one earned in an on-campus program. If the online ADN program is a good fit for the student, then learning online is a great option for earning an associate’s degree in nursing and beginning this exciting career.  

Related to online ADN programs:

OAD Staff
June 2021

This concludes our ranking of the best online associate nursing programs.