Online ADN Programs: The Ultimate Guide

Online ADN programs are ideal for those who have jobs but want to earn an Associate Degree in Nursing. Learn everything you need to know about online ADN programs in this article.
Online ADN Programs

To break into the world of nursing as quickly as possible, earning an associate degree in nursing, or ADN, is a smart move. It typically takes only two years to complete this training, so it's faster than earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing, or BSN. Since many people who pursue ADN are busy, working adults, this degree is also offered online by some institutes. Read on to learn about earning ADN online.


Since online ADN programs are conducted over the internet, people often assume that they will cost less than traditional programs. However, the vast majority of schools charge the same rate of tuition for online ADN programs as they do for traditional, campus-based programs. You can expect to pay an average of $6,000 to $20,000 in public schools and $30,000 to $100,000 in private schools.


Online ADN programs generally have the same requirements as campus-based programs. To be eligible to enroll, you will need a high school diploma or GED. Online ADN programs typically require prospective students to submit their school transcripts to demonstrate that they meet the minimum GPA requirements. Please note that you will probably need your high school to send the transcripts directly. Many programs require students to pass entrance exams prior to enrollment. Before you can begin your training, you will most likely have to undergo a criminal background check and drug screening.


For the most part, you will complete the same courses during your online ADN training as you would in a traditional program. The exact curriculum may vary, but you can expect to complete courses such as anatomy and physiology, psychology, microbiology, pharmacology, and nursing principles.


Thanks to modern technology, earning an ADN online is easier than ever. Most online programs incorporate the use of a number of high-tech tools to facilitate effective learning. During the course of your online training, you will likely use a learning management system, or LMS, to virtually attend classes. Blackboard is a popular example. These programs also use video conferencing software, discussion boards, email, and wikis to ensure that students get the most out of their online learning experiences.

Clinical Training

As nice as it would be to complete all of your ADN training online, it isn't going to happen. That's because such programs also include hands-on clinical experiences that are required in order to graduate. These experiences are crucial because the licensing exam, the NCLEX-RN, includes a clinical skills portion. Most online ADN programs allow students to complete their clinical training in local healthcare facilities. There is usually a good amount of flexibility, so you should be able to find a location that works for you without too much trouble.

What to Expect from Online Training

As you can see, online ADN programs are largely similar to traditional ones. There are a few unique aspects of such programs, however, and it pays to be aware of them prior to enrollment.

First, unlike most traditional ADN programs, online programs usually have multiple start dates. This is because there is no need to get everyone together at one time to start their training. It is very convenient because it means that you can usually enroll in online ADN training programs throughout the year.

Online ADN courses are usually offered on either an asynchronous or synchronous basis. With an asynchronous class, students are given their assignments and a block of time during which they can complete them, so they can work at their own pace. With a synchronous class, everyone logs in at a predetermined time, and instruction is delivered in real time via video conferencing, chat applications, or other technologies.

Finally, most online ADN programs can be completed on a part- or full-time basis. The main advantage of completing one full time is that it is sometimes cheaper. Part-time programs are usually charged by the credit, while full-time programs are often charged with a flat rate. Consider your budget and availability to decide which option is right for you.

Now that you know quite a bit about online ADN programs, you should have a better idea of whether you want to pursue this option. Take your time exploring online ADN programs to find one that works for you, your budget, and your long-term career goals.

Top 5 Best Online ADN Programs

Choose from the following hand-picked, top schools that offer online ADN programs:

  1. Excelsior College
  2. John A Logan College
  3. Northwestern Michigan College
  4. Rasmussen College
  5. Sampson Community College


Online ADN programs are ideal for those who have jobs, but want to earn their associate degree in nursing. Learn everything that you need to know about online ADN programs in this article.

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