Online Nursing Degree Programs

Online nursing programs don't only focus on healthcare. They also focus on helping people. That’s because nursing plays a critical role in the healthcare environment. Online nursing degree programs combine medical expertise with bedside care. That way, they can help their students prepare to be there for patients every day.

Whether you're new to nursing or have experience, online nursing programs could be available at your level. And in a flexible online program, those programs might even fit into your busy life.

We asked experienced professionals: What inspiration would you share with aspiring nursing students? 

"While nursing occasionally seems like a thankless job, it is just the opposite. I have an endless list of first hand experiences when I have been so thankful for my training and career as a nurse. If you are considering this path, I can truly say, you will feel invigorated and so inspired when you are able to put into practice what you learn and I am certain, like me, you will discover… CPR really does work."

Lorna Johnson - is an entrepreneur, philanthropist, advocate and diplomat - Online Nursing Programs
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- Lorna Johnson - MSN,NM,NP, Founding Partner and CFO of Advanced Family Care Medical Group


Things to Find Out about Online Nursing Programs

  • When looking at online nursing programs, make sure that the school is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing and/or the American Association of Colleges of Nursing. They are the two recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Find out if the state in which you plan to work will accept an online nursing degree from the school for your state nursing license.
  • Ask how clinical experience requirements are handled in online nursing schools. Will clinical work be done through the school, or will you need to arrange clinical rotations on your own?

What to Expect in Online Nursing Programs

Earning a nursing degree online could be a unique experience. How so might depend on the nature of your program. That could include factors like program level, area of focus, and the type of credential you're working toward. What do they have in common? They aim to help their students learn to help others heal.

It's how they go about doing that that might vary. Programs aimed at aspiring nurses might be broad. These might cover basic skills, theory, and knowledge. They might also survey a variety of care settings, showing students what nursing might be like across the board. More advanced programs, on the other hand, might build on prior experience, aiming to help active nurses improve their practice.

Online Nursing Degree Levels

Online nursing programs may be offered at a range of degree and certificate levels. That means you might find programs that work for you, whether you already have an advanced degree, or haven’t ever set foot on a college campus. Each of these program types may have unique qualities, focus areas, and prerequisites. Here's a basic run down of what you might find.

  • Online Associates in Nursing Programs: Many of these programs are designed to help students who have little or no experience. As such, many associates in nursing programs may focus on the everyday knowledge, skills, and responsibilities of being a nurse. Many programs particularly focus on LPN roles. However, some programs may also support students as they pursue recognition as an RN. 
  • Online BSN Degree Programs: Bachelor of Science in nursing programs could come in a few different varieties. In some cases, programs aim to teach the essentials of nursing to new students who aspire to be an RN. Other programs may aim toward active nurses who have already earned an associates degree. Those kinds of programs might be accelerated. They might also have different requirements for enrollment and completion.
  • Online Masters in Nursing Programs: Masters in nursing programs might offer a variety of options for study. For example, some masters in nursing programs (including direct entry MSN programs and accelerated MSN Programs) might examine the ins and outs of a potential nurse practitioner role. Others might spend time learning more about leadership roles or healthcare technology. Some may even focus on how to provide a certain type of care.
  • Online Nursing Doctoral Programs: Earning a doctorate in nursing may incorporate a range of study options. However, those options generally filter down to two categories: DNP (Doctor of Nursing Practice) and PhD. DNP programs tend to focus on applying graduate expertise in the field. That could apply to patient care or leadership roles. Meanwhile, PhD programs might focus on things like nursing and healthcare research. Some may even discuss how to teach other aspiring nurses in a university setting.
  • Online Nursing Certificate Programs: Certificate in nursing programs range from undergrad to graduate. At the undergraduate level, some certificates and diplomas may cover the basics. They might am to establish a broad foundation of healthcare knowledge and skills. Graduate certificates, meanwhile, may be more specialized. They could aim to support certain roles like nurse practitioners or leadership positions. Or they might focus on building expertise in certain practice areas. Examples include emergency medicine, pediatrics, or gerontology, just to name a few.

Online Nursing School Example Curriculum

The contents of your curriculum depend heavily on the kind of program you’re attending. In an associate degree program, for example, you might focus on different things than in a masters in nursing leadership program. However, nursing does tend to share essential knowledge and skills, which might be found in different programs at a variety of levels.

Here are a few examples of courses you might find in some nursing programs.

  • Anatomy & Physiology: These courses examine how the human body functions at all stages of development. They may also cover potential related health issues, and how that could affect patient care.
  • Microbiology: In nursing, microbiology doesn't just focus on the basics of microorganisms. It also might look at how those microorganisms interact with and impact human life. That could include diseases and their treatments and prevention.
  • Chemistry: In nursing, chemistry may look at how medicines are formulated. It could also touch on how different medicines might interact with one another, how to administer them safely, and more.
  • Psychology & Behavioral Health: This broad topic could be covered in multiple courses. Classes might study the basics of how humans think and behave. They might look at how people develop over time. Programs may even cover different psychological and behavioral disorders. Classes could even touch on treatment strategies in psychiatric care settings.
  • Nutrition: Many nursing programs might examine the nutritional needs of different types of people. Nutrition courses could examine disorders and health conditions that impact nutritional intake. This could also include strategies to help ensure patients’ nutrition needs are met.

Remember that these and other courses may vary between individual programs, and in some cases may not be present. This could be impacted by the program level, the concentration area of said program, and other factors. For more information on what you might learn, contact your programs of choice.

Earning a Nursing Degree Online: Field Experience

Some online nursing programs may incorporate requirements that need to be completed in person. This may include observation and clinical field experiences. Some online nursing schools that require field experiences may support or even arrange this on behalf of students. Others may leave that up to the individual student's discretion.

Additional Information & Requirements

If you're not already working as a nurse, you may have a few additional requirements outside your program to enter the profession. Currently, every state requires prospective nurses to become licensed. Specific licensure requirements may vary by state. Some example requirements include things like education, formal clinical experience, and passing a licensure exam. Follow up with your state nursing boards for more information on the specifics in your area.

Online Degree in Nursing Salary & Career Info

Careers in nursing are projected to grow. In fact, for LPNs and Registered Nurses, employment is expected to grow 9%.i Growth for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (or APRNs)—which includes Nurse Practitioners, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Anesthetists to name a few—are projected to grow by 45%, which is faster than most careers are projected to grow.ii  In fact, the Nursing field and demand for nurses is ramping up so quickly that there may be an actual shortage of nurses!

The following are a few example nursing positions nursing students might aspire to, along with the average salary from 2020.

  • Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN)/Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN): $48,820i
  • Registered Nurse: $73,330i
  • Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (AVPN): $117,670ii

Remember that specific salary information may vary. This could depend on level of experience, the type of healthcare facility, the state or locality, and more. Additionally, different areas and employers might have different prerequisites to apply. For more information on what you might need in your area, contact your school of choice.

Start Searching for Online Nursing Programs Here!

If you’re ready to begin your search for nursing school online, wants to help. You can begin by reviewing the sponsored listings here, or using the filters to narrow down your options. Simply select the program level you’re interested in. Then read up on potential programs. Once you find some you might like to attend, click on Request Info to get in touch.  Also, looking help to fund your nursing degree?  Check out the minority nursing graduate scholarship

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