Can You Get Your Associate's Degree in Nursing (ADN) Online?
Written by: Chaunie Brusie, BSN, RN
If you’re looking to earn your Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) online, we have good news and bad news. The good news is that you can complete almost all of your coursework through an online nursing program --but the bad news is, you will still have in-person clinical skill requirements that can’t be done entirely online.
With the advent of COVID-19 changing the landscape of both healthcare and education, it remains to be seen what the future will hold for potential expanded online education, but for now, all ADN programs are a mix of both online and in-person learning.
Here’s what you need to know about pursuing your Associate’s Degree in Nursing online.
In-Person ADN Requirements
As of right now, in order to earn your associate’s degree in nursing, if you want to attend an online program, you have to enroll in an online hybrid ADN program, which means that the program will be a mixture of both in-person and online classes.
Some programs require that when you enter, you attend an in-person orientation, meetings throughout the year, and clinicals in cooperation with the school. Some schools may work with you to find a clinical site that is local to you, while others will require that you travel to site placements near the school -- which is why you want to be sure to choose a school whose practicum requirements you will be able to meet.
ADN Programs Can’t Be 100% Online
Be Aware! Even programs that are advertised as “online ADN” programs aren’t 100% online, because state nursing boards require a set number of in-person clinical hours in order to become a Registered Nurse. The exact number of clinical hours varies by state, but is usually somewhere around 70 clinical hours. Clinical requirements are necessary because that’s where you will learn the hands-on skills you need to perform as a nurse -- everything from placing an IV to inserting a catheter to working with equipment and patients in person.
And, of course, after fulfilling your academic program and your clinical hours requirement, you still have to pass the NCLEX exam to be an official RN. All three components together -- your academic courses, your clinical hours, and successfully passing the NCLEX -- are needed to be granted a Registered Nurse’s license in your state.
ADN Nursing Classes You Can Take Online
While the clinical portion of your ADN program will have to be completed in-person, along with any required orientation and class meetings that some programs mandate, there are many classes from your nursing program that you can complete online.
In general, you can expect that many of the general education requirements that you need for your Associate’s can be completed online, as well as any introduction to nursing classes, and the majority of nursing theory and classes outside of clinicals, such as pharmacology and biology.
As an example of what an online ADN program might look like, here’s an overview of the types of courses in an ADN curriculum that can be completed online:
- Technical Writing
- Fundamentals of Nursing
- Nursing Essentials
- Nursing Lectures--i.e., Lifespan, Mental Health, Geriatrics, Acute Care, etc.
Top Associates Nursing Programs that Offer Online Classes for 2020
Finding an accredited online ADN may be a little tougher than, for instance, finding an RN-BSN online program. Unlike an RN-BSN program, ADN programs provide the foundation of your education as an RN, so programs may be more limited.
Some online ADN programs also require that you have your LPN license or equivalent work experience as a prerequisite, so you’ll have to carefully check if you meet all the admission requirements.
It can be helpful to first start by checking if your local community colleges or schools offer an online option for your ADN--that way you can do the bulk of the academic work online, but still stay local for lab and clinical requirements.
The following schools also offer accredited online ADN programs that combine in-person learning with online courses:
Nightingale combines online learning and local placements for clinicals, as well as offers advanced placement for those who already have an LPN license. Their program overview clearly outlines which classes can be taken online, so you can get a good sense of the time commitment you’ll need in-person.
This community college admits full-time ADN students to its online program every fall semester. All nursing theory and academic classes are available in an online format, but labs and clinicals are in-person. Students in the program should expect to attend 2-3 days per week of clinicals and labs once in that portion of the course in the Traverse City, MI area.
With both a hybrid online ADN program and a traditional nursing program, you can choose which option works best for you. Entry is restricted to a limited number of applicants each year, and preference is given to residents of Illinois.
Only 10 students are accepted to this hybrid LPN to ADN online every fall, and as the name gives away, you must have your LPN license or 2,000 equivalent hours of experience in a medical facility before applying.
You can choose this program to earn your ADN, and if you already have your LPN license, you can advance to earn your RN in as little as one year with this hybrid online ADN program.