Top 3 Pros and Cons of Online Nursing Classes

5 Min Read Published December 3, 2019
Top 3 Pros and Cons of Online Nursing Classes

Most nurses understand the benefits of furthering their education. Higher salary, more opportunities, and a personal sense of accomplishment are at the top of many lists. But working a full-time job and going to school isn't an easy task. Many nurses consider online nursing programs to help lighten such a heavy load. Before deciding to pursue your next nursing degree online, take a look at the pros and cons.

Popular Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Programs

Sponsored
Grand Canyon University

GCU's College of Nursing and Health Care Professions has a nearly 35-year tradition of preparing students to fill evolving healthcare roles as highly qualified professionals. GCU offers a full spectrum of nursing degrees, from a pre-licensure BSN degree to a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) program.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Western Governors University

WGU's award-winning online programs are created to help you succeed while graduating faster and with less debt. WGU is a CCNE accredited, nonprofit university offering nursing bachelor's and master's degrees.

Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Georgetown University
Nursing@Georgetown delivers Georgetown University’s MS in Nursing program online, preparing RNs with a BSN to pursue certification in an APRN specialty. Students can earn their degree in as few as 19 months.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide, excluding NY and WA.

Liberty University
At Liberty, you’ll benefit from 30+ years of learning, growing, adapting, and innovating for the distance learner — and more than a decade of researching the needs of the online student. You can be confident that we’ve taken the time to learn what’s important to you.
Accreditation
CCNE
Location
Online
Prerequisite
RN Required

Enrollment: Nationwide

Pros

1. Convenience. Work schedules, family life, and other priorities may make it difficult to commit to a school's schedule. Many online programs offer the flexpath track, allowing you to work at your own pace. Often, with no set class schedules, extended deadlines, and no on-campus requirements, the flexibility of online nursing programs is attractive to busy nurses. 

2. More choices. Location may be a significant deciding factor when considering traditional nursing programs. Many choose not to further their education because of limited options in their area. But, with online programs, you can enroll in colleges and universities hundreds or thousands of miles from home. 

3. Save money. Online nursing courses are often less expensive than on-site courses. Additional fees such as parking, technology, student center, and sometimes out-of-state tuition may be waived for online students. It may be possible to purchase books online or use digital editions, which can be less expensive than actual textbooks. Also, students will save money on gas, car maintenance, and let's not forget room and board.  

Cons

1. No interactions with your instructors and classmates. In a traditional classroom setting, it's not uncommon for students to gain great rapport with instructors. Some of the best friendships form in nursing school.  A physical classroom setting offers immediate feedback and clarification from professors, as well as tips and help from fellow nursing students. In online programs, you'll rely on emails, whiteboards, and forums. 

2. Difficulty staying on task. Since a lot of online programs offer the "at-your-own-pace" option, you may be tempted to postpone assignments and lessons. Exhaustion from a hard shift or family life makes it difficult to encourage yourself to complete tasks. If you're not motivated to complete assignments or lessons on time, it will be easy to fall behind and get off track. If you're a procrastinator, online classes may be a big hurdle to jump.

3. Lack of accreditation. Nursing students who attend non-accredited programs, whether an ADN or BSN program, will face challenges obtaining gainful employment. Firstly, they are ineligible to sit for the NCLEX and without the NCLEX exam they will not become a Registered Nurse. Accreditation is a process that ensures all schools and programs are held to and satisfy specific high-quality standards. Primarily, a form of quality control, certain criteria must be met, among those are qualified faculty, quality and competent course content, and program quality.

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Online nursing school accreditation is important for several reasons:

  • Ensures all nursing school graduates have the same level of education
  • Only students attending accredited programs are eligible for federal financial aid
  • If you decide to transfer, many schools won't accept credits from non-accredited programs
  • Many employers won't hire graduates of non-accredited programs

Be sure to check the school’s and their nursing program's accreditation before committing to attend. All schools listed here are accredited. 

There are two main accrediting bodies for nursing programs. They are:

Is an online nursing program right for me?

Enrolling in an online nursing degree program is a convenient way to further your education, advance your career, and learn new skills. Considering the pros and cons of any programs will help ensure a program meets your needs. 

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Portia Wofford
LPN
Portia Wofford
Nurse.org Contributor

Portia Wofford, known as The Write Nurse, is an award-winning nurse, writer, and content marketer. After dedicating her nursing career to creating content and solutions for employers that affected patient outcomes, these days, Portia empowers brands to increase growth opportunities and promote health equity through diverse, engaging content that connects and converts. Follow her on InstagramLinkedin, and Twitter for her latest. When Portia’s not writing you can find her at sporting events with her son or promoting her platform of health equity as the reigning Ms. Black Alabama USA, 2022.

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