Online nursing education programs, also known as distance education programs, are popular and increasingly accessible, especially within the growing healthcare field. Online nursing programs are typically focused and catered to current nurses. The following are some of the top online nursing degrees available:
- Online RN to BSN (the most popular Bachelors in Nursing degree for current RN's)
- Online RN to MSN (Masters in Nursing degree created for current RN's)
- Online BSN to MSN (MSN graduate degree, but only for nurses that have their Bachelors in Nursing)
- Online Nurse Practitioner (Typically a Graduate degree)
We have 560+ Online Nursing Programs in our database.
There are numerous online nursing degrees. Which is the best for you? Simply stated, it depends on your current level of education and whether or not you have a certification. There are numerous online programs for nurses that have passed the NCLEX-RN (Registered Nurses), and many different options if you have your BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing). Read our guide to learn more about the different types of online nursing degrees.
What Nursing Programs Are Available Online?
Technology is used to facilitate learning, which takes place asynchronously (where every student participates when able) or synchronously (where every student participate at the same time). Some programs offer courses only in the classroom setting; some only through distance education. Some programs offer a hybrid of both.
Read on to learn more about specific online nursing degrees and different university options.
Online LPN to RN / LPN to BSN
Choosing to become a nursing profession is a decision that will change an individual’s life. One of the most popular programs for entry level nurses is the licensed practical nursing path. This path gives individuals experience in the medical field that will provide for a great foundation for further learning. The responsibilities of a professional at this level are limited.
LPNs cannot administer some of the same tests that higher level nurses can. Since this is a common degree choice for nursing professionals, the job availability at this level is also lower than higher degree programs. Obtaining a higher degree is an option for professionals at this level to increase the possibilities of their career. As a licensed practical nurse, individuals can further their career opportunities by enrolling into LPN to RN programs.
Online degree programs provide a quality education that allows students to really explore their own ability to learn. They allow for individual scheduling while still providing the thorough education that is required of healthcare professionals. These programs can be completed in about eighteen months and provide a wealth of opportunity for those completing them. In recent years, the standards for nurses has changed, making it almost necessary for nurses to continue on a bachelor’s level path.
For an LPN seeking the most out of his or her education, the most beneficial path for further education is the LPN to BSN program. These programs can be completed in 2-3 years on average, which is less time than it takes to complete a bachelor’s degree on its own.
Online RN to BSN
Nurses have always been the center of the medical field. As a first hand support system for patients and physicians, nurses are a vital piece to health care. Their importance goes well beyond any other medical assistance throughout the field.
The nursing curriculum is one of the most importance factors in influencing an effective nurse. In the last ten years, the addition of training procedures and information has become so vast that most hospitals are requiring their nurses to have at least a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing.
For those with only an associate’s degree, the only option to these changing requirements is to go back to college to get a higher degree. RN to BSN programs are offered most frequently online, which gives learners the flexibility needed to continue working while pursuing a higher degree.
These programs involve in-depth studies of new scientific material and thoughtful classroom instruction. Online students experience the same expectations as traditional learners, being required to take part in classroom discussions and team projects. The emergence of online degree programs has allowed for more individuals to get a higher degree.
For RNs seeking that extra bit of flair in the job market, online RN to BSN programs are definitely a great option.
Below are a few featured online RN to BSN programs that are currently accepting applicants. These universities have entirely online RN to BSN programs and they are all accredited. Simply click on their listing or the More Info button to get more information from their admissions department.
Online RN to MSN
The increases in scholarship opportunities and the convenience of online education has allowed more people to enroll in degree programs. Nursing is one of the most popular choices for new students, since it provides a great financially stable lifestyle. The benefits to having a bachelor’s degree greatly outweigh the cost of the hard work it takes to get the degree.
However, with more people entering into the working field, it may be even more beneficial to move forward into an even higher degree program. Just like undergraduate programs, a master’s degree can be obtained easily through online learning. Graduate programs encompass more of the research aspect of learning, allowing students to find solutions and study independently.
- The Online RN to MSN program at the University of Texas - Arlington is an accelerated program allows you to earn your MSN in less time—and save more money—than if you complete the RN to BSN and MSN programs separately.
- Simmons College - Nursing@Simmons' online RN to MSN program has a rigorous curriculum that helps prepare students to pass the FNP board certification exam on their first attempt and to become recognized as clinical experts, scholars, and leaders in their field.
The additional 2 years of education can provide a great increase in pay, opportunity, and job satisfaction. Online RN to MSN degrees provide learners with further education in employee mandates, business, and science. The additional information learned throughout this higher degree program will prepare learners for careers in management and research in nursing.
Online degree programs such as this one allow learners to set their own schedule; accounting for other daily responsibilities. The field of nursing is one that is always changing, which makes current higher education a must-have for nurses currently working in the field.
Below are a few featured online RN to MSN programs that are currently accepting applicants. These universities have entirely online RN to MSN programs and they are all accredited. Simply click on their listing or the More Info button to get more information from their admissions department.
Online Accelerated BSN
The field of nursing is constantly growing. New professionals are constantly being sought out to fill open positions in both hospitals and private practices. As the elderly population increases and technology adds to the potential of health professionals, more nurses are needed to assist with caring for large numbers of patients.
In order to provide ample nurses for the cause, universities have designed programs that allow non-nursing professionals to obtain a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing in under 2 years. The accelerated bachelor program can be completed online, making the transition much easier for those with current obligations or family responsibilities. These programs can change the scope of individual possibility and open doors in settings that may not have seemed possible.
These programs have prerequisite course requirements including biology, anatomy, and nutrition. If these courses were completed during a previous degree program, applicants are more likely to be accepted into the program. Learners must also have at least a 2.5 grade point average for most schools and a 3.0 for some.
The information learned within this program will assist learners in gaining relevant knowledge in the field of nursing that will provide for a fruitful career in the future.
Clinical requirements are still in effect outside of an online accelerated degree program and vary by school. Clinical experience can usually be obtained through local health organizations.
Online Accelerated Second Degree BSN
Some people may feel like they are stuck with a degree they are not happy with. Having a degree that is not fitting can really discourage individuals from doing their very best in careers and in life. In order to have a degree that will provide well for individuals and families, students must work hard to obtain the degree that they truly desire.
For those interested in the field of nursing, there are options for transitioning from a degree in other specializations to a degree in nursing. Programs have recently been introduced that allow graduates of different degree programs to fast-track their way to a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing. These online degree programs provide essential knowledge for those that desire a career in the medical field.
With introductory courses in research and youth to geriatric health, these programs set the stage for a successful and well-providing career. Online accelerated BSN programs can be completed in 1-2 years depending on location. These programs allow for students to transition from a degree in another field to a Bachelor’s degree in Nursing with ease.
Most colleges require that applicants have at least a CNA certification prior to being accepted. This ensures that all students have the basic clinical knowledge needed to be an effective professional in the field. Clinical training is part of most online accredited second degree programs, which promotes successful practice for bachelor’s level learners.
Online Doctorate of Nursing Practice
A successful nurse is always looking for something to boost his or her opportunity in the medical field. With the high influx of new nurses each year, it is vital that nurses consider higher paths for success throughout their journey.
Some find it comfortable at the bachelor’s level, which is the new minimum requirement for a lot of employers. Others find it more profitable to work at a graduate level.
For those seeking the absolute most out of their degree program, online Doctorates of Nursing Practice may be the best fit. These programs include more leadership-oriented material. Since nurses at this level work in higher positions, it is necessary that they have knowledge of employee management as well as the business aspect of nursing.
The courses in this program further student knowledge of the field of nursing and the issues that surround the field. This degree programs provides the most information possible for learners and can be completed in 2-4 years depending on how many courses are taken each semester and which college is chosen.
Engaging in an online program allows for learners to continue in their current positions while still receiving a reliable and thorough education.
Online Nurse Practitioner
For nurses that are determined to get the very best out of their degree program, online nurse practitioner programs are the best answer. Being a licensed nurse practitioner provides a meaningful career that pays of financially.
This career option contains different specialties, from infant health to elderly care. The online nurse practitioner programs prepare students for a career working hands on with patients in a clinical setting.
- Simmons College - Nursing@Simmons' online Master of Science in Nursing program has a rigorous curriculum that helps prepare students to pass the FNP board certification exam on their first attempt and to become recognized as clinical experts, scholars, and leaders in their field.
- Georgetown University’s online Family Nurse Practitioner program gives qualified BSN-prepared nurses the opportunity to earn their Master of Science degree in Nursing from Georgetown’s highly regarded School of Nursing & Health Studies (NHS).
According to the BLS, the need for nurse practitioners is expected to rise within the next decade. As the demand goes up, the earning potential and job availability will also rise. It is vital that nurses interested in entering this field be familiar with the standard aspects of nursing which are typically learned in lower degree programs.
Students will be expected to take part in clinicals, which will assist in providing reliable professionals in the field. Nurse practitioners provide direct care to their own patients, giving care that most nurses cannot administer at lower levels.
Nurse practitioners can have their own private clinics and can work independently from doctors. They can prescribe medications and are also licensed in diagnostics. Families that are seeking an alternative to traditional doctors find nurse practitioners to be an effective solution to their ailments.
In a private setting, these nurses can assist families with illnesses and injuries with varying degrees. Providing an educated and trained hand to families in need is just one of the many possibilities in this field. Most nurse practitioners are found in small clinics or private practices, and welcome families from all walks of life into their practices.
Family nurse practitioners are a first choice for families that are seeking a qualified health professional without having to commit to a doctor or specialist. Since nurse practitioners are licensed to treat minor illnesses and injuries, individuals find it beneficial to see these professionals in comparison to long waits in hospitals and doctors’ offices.
Nurse practitioner are also common in facilities that deal directly with the aging geriatric population. These nurses assist patients with living fulfilling lives, whether still living at home or in retirement homes. Nurse practitioners can assist patients with acute illnesses or minor injuries.
The elderly population needs constant assistance with pain management, which is one of the major responsibilities of nurse practitioners within this specialty. Gerontological nurse practitioners can prescribe medication and diagnose patients in need of medical help.
With job responsibilities similar to that of gerontologists, these nursing specialists are a valuable asset to the facilities in which they work. This specialization of nurse practitioners is one that is in constant need, especially with the increasing number of elderly patients in the medical field.
Below are a few featured online Nurse Practitioner programs that are currently accepting applicants. These universities have entirely online Nurse Practitioner programs and they are all accredited. Simply click on their listing or the More Info button to get more information from their admissions department.
Online Nursing Informatics
Behind every great nursing professional is a well-thought out procedural system. These procedures are developed by hard working individuals that have the knowledge to design and implement effective programs throughout the nursing field.
Online nursing informatics programs prepare learners for a career in the research behind effective nursing practices. These professionals are responsible for up-keep of nursing databases and even some financial aspects of their respective facilities.
Alongside the education in nursing, an informatics professional provides technical assistance to the medical facility in which he or she works. This career truly partners nursing with information technology to create a priceless addition to any medical center. This degree is offered online at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral level.
While in this program, students will indulge in varying aspects such as information technology, training strategies, and system maintenance. This program is designed to create knowledgeable professionals that can truly increase the productivity of nurses currently working in the field and enhance the user experience.
Since these programs are found predominantly online, nurses can continue in their current positions without interruption. After completion, nurses can find careers in a higher tier of the nursing field with ease.
How Do You Know if an Online Nursing Program is for You?
By Tamara Dolan, RN, MSN, OCN
Although distance education has many advantages, it may not appeal to every student. How do you know if it’s right for you?
Consider your schedule
Students with demanding schedules and responsibilities may appreciate the flexibility distance education offers. Rather than attending classes at specific times and in specific locations, distance education schedules tend to be less rigid.
“The biggest advantage for me was the flexibility of the program,” says Pam Mason, RN, MSN, C, who earned her master’s of science in nursing through a distance education program at Walden University. “When I started in the program, I was still working 7 am to 7 pm three days a week. I could plan my [coursework] around my work schedule. It also allowed me to attend my boys’ sporting events without ‘missing’ class.”
“Students with demanding schedules and responsibilities may appreciate the flexibility distance education offers.”
Although they are less rigid, distance education programs are not necessarily less demanding. “I actually think that I spent more time with an on-line program then if I had gone to a brick and mortar school,” says Mason.
They also require a high level of commitment. “You have to plan the time to do the work, just like if you were in class,” Mason warns. “If you cannot be disciplined to do the work, you will fall behind and then never catch up.”
Consider the availability of programs in your geographical area
For Mason, not having to commute was a significant factor in her program selection. “The option not to have to travel an hour or more for class during the week or on the weekend was very appealing,” she explains.
If you live in a remote setting, move frequently, or are interested in programs not available in close geographical proximity, distance education programs may be a good way to meet your educational goals.
Consider your comfort level with technology
To succeed in a distance education course, you must have the right equipment and a basic proficiency with the technology. Programs typically list the equipment and skills required, and may even offer classes and support if you think you needtutorials or basic assistance.
Consider other program-specific requirements
Some programs may require students to spend a certain number of hours on campus each year or to attend regional conferences. If your program of choice requires a clinical component, be sure one can be arranged where you live. Every program has different requirements. Know what is expected of you.
Consider how the program complements your learning style
Because the communication methods are different in a distance education setting, students typically must be able to express their opinions, analysis and feedback in writing. Written communication skills and typing, although needed in any program, may be even more critical for distance learning.
“I thought that I would miss the classroom interaction and relationships that you create in a brick and mortar class,” says Mason. Thanks to efforts by the faculty to provide timely feedback and to enhance student interaction through the use of a virtual “lounge,” Mason did not. She also benefit from her classmates’ unique experiences. “The experiences of the nurse who worked on the Indian reservation, the military hospital, in rural North Carolina and Canada was a perspective that I would not have been able to get locally,” she says.
Not all distance education programs are alike. These are just some of the factors you should consider. Be sure to ask specific questions before enrolling in and committing to a program.