Best Online Associate’s Degree in Nursing Programs

Badge for our ranking of best online ADN programs

Can I get my associate degree in nursing while studying online? The answer is yes. There are some online ADN programs (associate’s degree in nursing) 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 healthcare professions, getting a degree in nursing can be time-consuming. Not everyone can afford to put their life on pause in order to complete the necessary training to take the next step in their nursing career.  The solution for this, as with many other majors, is to find a school that offer an ADN program 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 are required to take before receiving their license. 

How can I get my associate’s degree in nursing online? The top ADN 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 Degree in Nursing


associate degree in nursing from excelsior college

Excelsior College, an online university, offers an associate’s degree in nursing that can be completed online. The program requires the completion of 66 credits, and students have the option to transfer in up to 31 credits. In this unique competency-based AAS program, students have the opportunity to build their knowledge through educational experience as well as to prove their competency in clinical settings. The program is delivered in eight-week online courses.  These short courses make for flexible scheduling. Additionally, students have the flexibility to take each of 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


associate degree in nursing from Arkansas State University

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 convenient seven-week terms. This nursing degree is designed specifically for LPNs working in acute or long-term care who are looking to earn their Associate of Applied Science in nursing.  Every didactic course is offered entirely online for the convenience of the students. All of the required clinical hours are scheduled for selected weekends in Jonesboro healthcare facilities, limiting travel to weekends only. Students can plan ahead to travel to campus for the required on-campus clinical work.  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


ADN associate degree from MWCTC

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 complete all of their coursework online, but they will need to participate in hands-on clinical experiences in healthcare facilities. These clinical sites are located throughout the Southwest Minnesota region, 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


ADN associate degree from NMC

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 only 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 will have all of the skills necessary for immediate employment, as well as the knowledge that they need to pass the NCLEX-RN licensing.

Tuition: $8,431

6. Allegany College of Maryland

Cumberland, Maryland
LPN to RN Program Online


ADN associate degree from ACM

The LPN to RN program at Allegany College of Maryland is unique in that it never requires students to report to campus.  This makes it one of the best options for those looking to earn an associate’s degree in nursing online. This convenient online associate’s degree offers all of its courses through distance learning. All of the clinical requirements can be completed at a location of the student’s choice, eliminating any need to travel. It is important to note that this  program is authorized in only eight states – Maryland, Florida, North Carolina, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Texas. In order to enroll in the program, students must be a permanent resident of one of these states, and remain a resident for the duration of the program.  Students can graduate from the program in 18 months or less, depending on the evaluation of their transcripts. After graduating, students are fully prepared 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


ADN associate degree from NTC

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. Northwest Technical College also offers a quicker LPN to RN program that is designed specifically for LPNs who are looking to advance in their career path. This LPN to RN degree program can be completed in just three semesters.  Both of these programs require students to spend some time on campus for lab and clinical courses.  These dates for on-campus clinical work are provided at the beginning of the program, which enables the student to plan ahead. 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


ADN associate degree from PCC

The online associate nursing program at Pratt Community College is designed to function as a paramedic/LPN to RN bridge program.  This bridge program 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 clinical, so this option would be best for someone living fairly close to the campus. The 70-credit curriculum contains 19 general education credits and 51 program-specific credits. Many options for financial aid are available to not only on-campus learners, but to the online students as well.

Tuition: $8,522

3. University of Arkansas Community College – Batesville

Batesville, Arkansas
Online LPN to RN Associate of Applied Science


ADN associate degree from UACCB

The University of Arkansas Community College-Batesville offers an associate in applied science 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, making it one of the fastest options.  The curriculum consists of 27 general education credits and 47 registered nursing credits. LPN students must complete 58 of these credit hours, and will be rewarded 9 additional credits for PN education after the successful completion of the program.  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

ADN associate degree from ISU


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 a few mandatory clinicals and on-campus intensives. The two-year program is designed specifically 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.  The program only accepts applications from August to early October each year. 

Tuition: $12,999

1. North Central Missouri College

Trenton, Missouri
Associate Degree in Nursing Online


ADN associate degree from NCMC

NCMC’s PN to ADN program is ranked as the #1 program on our list. This affordable online ADN program 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, thanks to the use of secure online testing software. 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. There are a few local options for both the labs and the clinicals. The exclusive online program accepts only 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

best online associate nursing programs

When choosing an associate’s degree nursing program, and specifically an online ADN program, there are many factors that come into play as well.  There are also many questions that may come to mind throughout the process of  evaluating options. The following section will address some of the most common questions, and will 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 just its geographical location. Students can evaluate the particular school, as well as the ADN program and its strengths, weaknesses, and areas of specific focus.  Additionally, 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 nursing programs allow students to work at their own pace, as well as to learn from a wider variety of classroom methods. Many nursing students prefer to not be confined by the limitations of an on-campus college degree program. Another important consideration is that choosing an online ADN program is a money-saving option.  When studying online, students can pay only the fees associated with tuition and they do not need to 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 nursing job that requires a specialization. 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
  • 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 simply a matter of the time it takes to complete the degree program. 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 are in a situation in which they 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. Some hybrid programs only require visits to campus once per semester. 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.   However, this would only be an option if the school was relatively close to the student’s home address.  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 students to work out their schedule ahead of time. 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.  Not only that, but these specially designed programs usually take less time to complete and require less credits.  It is important to check whether your program of interest is designed for those already holding LPNs, or for those entering the field for the first time.  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.  Many programs accept transfer credits, so it is a good idea to look into how many previously earned credits can be transferred into your online ADN program of interest. 

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 designating about two years to earn their BSN in nursing, and this timeline is usually about 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. When choosing to study on a part-time basis, this will obviously extend the amount of time needed to complete the degree program. 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.  It is important to choose an online ADN degree program that best fits your personal timeline and career goals. 

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. It is important to realize that 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. This often makes it easier to secure a job in your particular area of specialization.  After passing the NCLEX-RN, an individual will have the RN credential, which immediately makes them eligible to be hired as a registered nurse.  

online associate nursing programs

Are there disadvantages to earning an ADN online?

When you are looking at nursing schools, you are trying to decide if an online degree will work. Once awarded a degree, there is no difference between an online degree and one earned in an on-campus program. As stated earlier, online programs in the field of nursing are few and far between, because so much of the training needed in the field requires hands-on instruction.  However, the nursing schools covered in this article have created efficient and exciting programs that give students many options when it comes to online nursing education. 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.  

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