The 15 Best Online Associate in Registered Nursing (RN) in 2023 – Best Schools and Info Guide

If becoming a Registered Nurse is your calling and you want to start working in the field as soon as possible, consider getting an online Associate’s in Registered Nursing degree.

For those already practicing in the medical clinic or hospital field as a medical assistant or licensed practical nurse, this program gives you a solid footing in the RN field.

Summary of this article:

Featured Programs

The Lowdown
Healthcare in the United States is dominated by the nursing profession. As nurses take on expanded roles, they become more experienced in providing comprehensive care for patients of all ages and diverse health conditions. Whatever your situation, you can enroll in top-rated online Associate’s in Registered Nursing programs–also called Associate in Nursing or ADN programs–and earn your degree at your own pace.


With online ADN programs, a student can get started with becoming a licensed registered nurse. While that may sound easy, choosing the best college that matches your academic goals takes work and research.

Here are the top online ADN programs and the features that make them stand out:

  • Offered either 100% web-based that can be completed online or delivered in a hybrid format that allows for flexible scheduling. Both learning format options benefit students who seek to earn an RN associate degree and maintain their home or professional obligations at the same time,
  • An associate’s degree program coursework that imparts foundational RN knowledge and skills to students so they gain a solid footing in the discipline, and transfer to a bachelor’s degree program or seek entry-level employment,
  • A Transfer Pathway arrangement with reputable colleges for students’ seamless transition from online associate nursing programs to a bachelor-level ADN program,
  • Teaching personnel who hold terminal degrees in the field of nursing or RN,
  • Financial assistance programs for RN students at the associate degree level,
  • Excellent reputation in the academic community, as evidenced by positive student and alumni feedback.

For more information, see our Methodology page.

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The Best Online Associate in Registered Nursing

Arkansas State University

Arkansas State University
Online Associate in Nursing

During the associate degree in nursing program at Arkansas State University, students complete seven-week courses on campus, never having to visit campus. Courses in:

  • nursing mental health,
  • role development,
  • and microbiology are among the 66-credit curriculum.

The didactic portion of all courses will be delivered online, whereas the clinical component will take place in a more “traditional” setting.

The Jonesboro area health care facilities will host clinical hours during selected weekends throughout each term. A practicum experience consists of six parts at the candidate’s job site and different health facilities in their city.

Career Services’ job guides assist nursing students in advancing their careers after graduation. These are accessible through the Handshake platform, significantly modified for online learners in A-State.

Students seeking an associate degree in nursing should have a minimum 2.5 GPA, be licensed as a practical nurse, and have at least one year of work experience.

Residents of Arkansas are the only ones eligible to apply for this associate degree program. The university offers six institutional scholarships, and each one requires its own application.

Herzing University

Herzing University
Online Associate in Nursing

You can move from LPN to RN with Herzing University’s Online Associate in Nursing program. This is a hybrid program where you can study general education courses online and core courses on campus.

You can attend and choose from four of their campus locations, such as those in Birmingham, Tampa, Akron, and Orlando. The program takes about 20 to 24 months to complete, requiring you to finish 72-73 credits. They allow transfer credits of up to 54. This is the best degree pathway if you ever want to pursue a BSN or MSN.

Upon graduation from their associate degree nursing program, you will be prepared to sit for the NCLEX-RN or National Council Licensing Examination for Registered Nurses and become a licensed professional nurse. Your ASN can be earned in less than two years, depending on transfer credits. 

North Central Missouri College

North Central Missouri College
Online Associate of Science in Nursing

Practical nurses can advance their careers and salary potential by enrolling in NCMC’s ADN program. This typically runs for nine months. The curriculum includes:

  • nursing for adults,
  • pharmacology,
  • and leadership for nurses.

Online learners perform a simulation lab about three times during the semester. They must maintain a GPA of 2.0 to stay in good standing.

Student Support Services helps students balance work and education. It offers mentoring sessions, skillset workshops, and opportunities to explore outside scholarship opportunities.

Accessibility services are also provided to degree-seeking students with disabilities. Students without dual-credit or transfer credit are eligible for this plan. Take into account previous college credits to avoid repeating courses. 

An LPN license, a passing score on an entrance exam, and a 2.0 undergraduate GPA in previous college courses are all requirements for admission to an online ADN program.

In the admissions process, students must submit a negative drug test and a clear criminal background record. No matter where students live, their tuition rate remains the same. Federal and state financial aid is available to some students.

Allegany College of Maryland

Allegany College of Maryland
Online Associate Degree in Nursing

Allegany College of Maryland offers associate degrees at a low cost to students of all backgrounds. In addition to receiving excellent student ratings, the college is ranked among Brookings Institution’s Top-20 “Value-Added” Colleges. Allegany College of Maryland offers an associate degree in nursing to students who are already licensed as practical nurses.

On-campus classes are no longer required for LPNs because they have already completed hands-on training. This program is especially attractive for those living outside the immediate region, as it has been designated as an HMS program, which allows Maryland residents outside Allegany County to qualify for in-county tuition rates. Even so, out-of-state students must still pay out-of-state tuition.

Western Iowa Tech Community College

Western Iowa Tech Community College
Online Associate Degree in Nursing

Western Iowa Tech is a community college supported by the state and offers an array of educational and vocational programs, such as online/distance learning.

A diverse student body has long enjoyed access to higher education at the school, founded in 1966. WIT has offered online courses since 2002, so online learning isn’t a new concept here.

Their hybrid program offers a full-time or part-time Associate of Applied Science (AAS) nursing degree. This is a 1+1 program, meaning you will attend on-campus classes in Sioux City, Iowa while becoming an LPN in the first part of the program.

The second part of the degree is earned online, and you are eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN exams and become a licensed RN upon completion of the program. You can also transfer into the online program as a distance learner if you are already an LPN.

Programs in this area prepare students to provide health care to sick, disabled, and infirmed individuals and provide care to others. The training involves:

  • assisting a physician during treatment and examinations,
  • prescribing medication and treatments to patients,
  • referring patients to specialists,
  • and organizing patient health education.

Excelsior College

Excelsior College
Online Associate Degree In Nursing

With an Associate’s Degree in Nursing from Excelsior College, you can take your career to the next level. With 8-week, fully online courses, you can work at your own pace toward your nursing degree. The Excelsior organization offers free preparation for the NCLEX-RN to associate degree graduates.

Excelsior teaches ADN program learners throughout the country with its fully online curriculum, even though it is located in Albany. It offers AS and AAS degrees in nursing. It provides a general education component in the AS programs. These programs emphasize different subjects like the anatomy and physiology of humans and microbiology.

The Excelsior Career Development (CD) website is an excellent tool for ADN students to learn about job opportunities, diverse companies, interview tips, and optimize their resumes.

A total of 17 states are represented by Excelsior. LPNs and LVNs are required. In addition to professional experience, students must also take the Test of Essential Academic Skills. Students can pay one uniform online tuition fee at Excelsior, and it offers a variety of institutional scholarships.

Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College
Online Associate of Science In Nursing

Ivy Tech’s nursing and practical nursing programs equip students with valuable skills and experiences by supporting them in several clinical settings, including lab simulations.

In nursing schools, simulations allow students to take on unattainable roles in clinical settings, allowing them to make critical decisions and observe the results of those decisions.

The Associate of Science in Nursing program at Ivy Tech Community College offers a variety of online learning options for achieving a nursing associate degree:

  • LPN to ASN,
  • Traditional Track,
  • Military Medic to ASN,
  • Medical Assistant to ASN,
  • and Paramedic to ASN.

To earn a degree, students must take general education classes and nursing courses. All general education courses can be taken entirely online.

Nursing courses, however, are offered on one of the many campuses affiliated with ITCC throughout Indiana. Clinical hours are also completed at healthcare facilities in the student’s community.

Students at Ivy Tech receive individualized tutoring and mentoring from nursing faculty members. Nursing graduates in Indiana are highly sought after, as their statewide aggregate pass rates are consistently high.

Northwestern Michigan College

Northwestern Michigan College
Online Associate in Nursing

The traditional nursing program at NMC is available online each fall semester. Full-time ADN students are eligible to enroll in this program. You can take all nursing theory classes online.

However, for labs and clinical, you must be present in person. There will be 2–3 days of attendance per week for the labs and clinicals in Traverse City.

As long as you follow the full-time model schedule, the college will provide online courses as long as you are enrolled in the online option. In the event you decide to leave the full-time program, or if you get your studies out of order, you need to switch to the traditional plan. 

At Northwestern Michigan College, you must attend labs and clinicals in person, but all other classes can be taken online, and you do not need to have your LPN license before beginning.

In case you decide to continue earning your bachelor’s degree in nursing, this program articulates with several four-year universities. It is a full-time program accredited by ACEN.

Barton County Community College

Barton County Community College
Online Associate Degree in Nursing

The Barton Community College offers an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing degree to students living in Central Kansas interested in becoming licensed RNs. Two different programs make up BCC’s AASN program.

The Practical Nursing program takes one year to complete, after which students can partake in the NCLEX-PN examination to become licensed practical nurses.

As second-year learners, students become eligible for the NCLEX-RN exam and become fully licensed Registered Nurses if they pass the test. In addition to general education courses taken online, students can take nursing classes and labs at Barton County Community College Great Bend campus. 

Care Hope College

Care Hope College
Online Associate of Science in Nursing

Care Hope College’s Nursing (ASN) program prepares graduates to become licensed Registered Nurses. There is an in-class and an online option. This program prepares students to work as Registered Nurses in various medical settings.

As part of the program, theory and clinical components are integrated to address the roles of professionals in nursing:

  • caregivers,
  • educators,
  • communicators,
  • and managers.

Columbia College

Columbia College - Logo
Associate of Science in Nursing

Columbia College offers an AS in Nursing program that prepares students to take Nurse Generalist roles and is open to those without prior nursing education and those with a Licensed Practical Nursing (LPN) license. The program’s curriculum aims to develop a strong background in the sciences, such as:

  • microbiology and chemistry
  • and knowledge of mental health and infant health.

The Associate of Science in Nursing program contains 77 credit hours and is offered as either a traditional residential program or a hybrid program that features online coursework. Students must complete all general education, science, and mathematics courses before taking nursing-specific courses. 

Students must possess current CPR certification by the American Heart Association and pass urine drug tests and criminal background checks. If students do not hit any grounds for disqualification, they will be eligible to take the Registered Nursing Licensure Examination upon graduating.

On top of the comprehensive curriculum coursework and the required clinical experience, students can use Columbia College’s state-of-the-art simulation laboratories.

Likewise, class sizes are kept small to ensure maximized student-to-teacher interaction and focus. Columbia College’s ASN degree program is approved by the Missouri State Board of Nursing and is accredited by ACEN.

Columbus State Community College

Columbus State Community College
Associate of Applied Science in Nursing (AAS)

Columbus State Community College offers its AAS in Nursing program in a traditional format, as an Advanced Standing Program for LPN License holders, and as a Blended/Partially Online format. This degree program is aimed at preparing graduates to provide direct care to clients with common health problems in various settings. 

The AAS degree program spans five semesters, where students will be exposed to various practice settings. Aside from core nursing courses, the curriculum includes courses on the humanities and the sciences, and the curriculum design emphasizes psychomotor skills.

The Partially Online format blends online coursework with hands-on experience, and students who choose this format are expected to be able to commit to attending clinical and laboratory sessions for 1-2 days per week.

The in-person components will be taught at either Columbus State’s skills lab or in a clinical setting within the Central Ohio area.

Students will, upon graduation, be eligible for the NCLEX-RN licensure examination. As a reminder, though, space in the traditional in-person format is limited should students decide that online learning doesn’t suit them and wish to switch to the in-person program. The Columbus State’s AAS in Nursing program is approved by the Ohio Board of Nursing and is accredited by ACEN.

Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC)

Community College of Baltimore County
Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN)

CCBC offers an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) degree program to prepare students to enter the profession of Registered Nurses (RNs). Graduates become eligible for the NCLEX-RN licensure exam.

The program features a curriculum that prepares students to become Nurse Generalists, work in various clinical settings, and work effectively as members of the typical interprofessional healthcare team. 

The CCBC ASN degree program is offered as a day program, an evening/weekend program, and a blended program that combines online didactic coursework with face-to-face campus labs and seminars.

All programs likewise contain a clinical component. CCBC offers its ASN as a selective admission program, and competitive admission for the blended program occurs twice each year during spring and fall.

The program contains a total of 70 required credit hours. Students must maintain a C grade for the General Education and Nursing courses. It is also recommended that they complete all non-nursing coursework before starting any of the clinical nursing courses.

Likewise, General Education English and Math requirements must be completed within the first 24 credits of enrollment. Lastly, aside from being accredited by the Maryland State Board of Nursing, the CCBC ASN degree program is accredited by ACEN.

Rasmussen University

Rasmussen University
Associate’s Degree in Professional Nursing

Rasmussen University offers a highly flexible Associate’s Degree in Professional Nursing (ADN) program that has eight start dates annually, and can be completed in a minimum of 18 months of full-time study, or 12 months, for LPN holders who take the LPN to RN bridge program option.

This ADN program is also taught on 19 campuses throughout five states and delivered in a hybrid format, mixing online and on-campus courses with on-site clinicals.

The ADN degree program contains around 25 courses, equivalent to 102 credit hours. Students get introduced to various classes and topics, such as nursing care for older adults, mental and behavioral health nursing, nursing leadership, and multidimensional care.

Students can expect to gain skills in patient care, hone their professional confidence and decision-making skills, and be informed by industry insights from faculty with real-world experience.

Rasmussen also offers students a range of opportunities to cut down on tuition costs, including using transfer credits and self-directed assessments, as well as loans, grants, and scholarship opportunities.

Military discounts may also apply to qualified students. Rasmussen University’s ADN program is accredited by ACEN and the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Blackhawk Technical College

Blackhawk Technical College
Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

Blackhawk Technical College, which forms part of the Wisconsin Technical College System’s constellation of 16 schools, offers the Associate Degree in Nursing degree program. Blackhawk is one of a number of these schools that offer the option to take the ADN program in hybrid or flexible formats.

Blackhawk’s ADN program is designed to prepare students to take a more Generalist role, providing nursing care to a wide age range of patients. The curriculum contains a total of 65 credit hours.

As part of its expanded range of flexible options, Blackhawk offers what it calls MyEdChoice for some of its courses, where students get to choose how to attend, either in person, through live video-conferencing, or online at any time. Other courses are also delivered in online, hybrid, and in-person formats. 

After completing the first two semesters, students in the Blackhawk ADN program can take the examination required to earn a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) license. After completing all four semesters of required nursing courses, they will become eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN examination.

Blackhawk’s ADN program is regarded by the Wisconsin State Board of Nursing as among the best in the state and is accredited by ACEN.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the job outlook for nurses?

What is the job outlook for nurses?

ADNs are still in demand despite some hospitals preferring nurses with BSNs over their ADNs. The data presented by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that the nursing profession will have a 6% increase in its demand for employment from 2021 to 2031. The demand for this profession also includes those that have acquired an associate degree in nursing. 

ADN nurses may still be able to land a job in a hospital setting after graduating from college if they plan on working there right out of college. One of the opportunities to explore is the nursing professions offered in rural hospitals if you can’t find job vacancies in urban areas.

Should you pursue an ADN, it might be worth asking your employer if they will assist you in earning a BSN when the time comes. In some hospitals, ADN nurses may be able to apply for tuition reimbursement if they wish to return to nursing school and earn a BSN.

Why consider an Online Associate Degree in Nursing?

It’s not too late to enter the nursing field with an ADN. Here are what awaits you if you decide to proceed with an associate degree in nursing education:

  • Become a Registered Nurse.

The NCLEX RN exam does not care if you earn an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing or Bachelor of Science in Nursing during your first few years in the field. RNs with a BSN may have greater long-term career benefits, but if you’re unsure if you want to specialize in an area of care, an ADN could be just right for you.

RNs with an Associate’s degree can earn a Bachelor’s degree through bridge programs like RN to BSN. These programs consider their previous education and experience. 

  • Earn more.

Registered nurses made $77,600 in median annual wages in May 2021. This figure also includes BSNs and ADNs but ultimately, the salary is determined by a professional’s work setting more than anything else. RNs earn more when they are employed by the government or the country’s leading hospitals.

  • Get a sense of purpose.

As a field of academic discipline and a profession, RNs know all about using a set of skills to save lives! An online Associate in Registered Nursing degree program leads to jobs that are not of a glamorous nature but directly affect patients’ lives.

  • Gain the employment advantage because RNs will continue to be high in demand.

According to a study by USAHS, there will be a shortage of 1.2 million nurses by 2030. Now more than ever, nurses are needed to care for an aging population living longer and living into their retirement years. RNs seeking employment in long-term care facilities or those providing in-home patient care can expect to have a substantial career outlook.

How much do students pay for an Online Associate in Nursing programs?

The online associates in nursing programs have varying tuition costs. In-state, public universities have the lowest tuition. Private schools incur the highest tuition.

Students can apply for scholarships and grants to cover their degree costs. An ADN can be completed in two years by full-time students.

However, students who take accelerated programs can graduate earlier. These programs usually offer eight-week intensive courses. Discounts may be available for online learners. In some states, online learners can obtain in-state tuition rates no matter where they live.

Parking and housing are not charged to online learners. However, other components might need budgeting, such as internet expenses and computer or gadget expenses. Some online programs require campus visits, so consider the transportation costs if needed.

Finally, you also need to prepare for the application fee for taking the NCLEX-RN exam as well as the professional licensure cost. 

Is an associate degree in Registered Nursing online worth pursuing?

Is an associate degree in Registered Nursing online worth pursuing?

In addition to helping you jumpstart your career as a registered nurse, an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) prepares you to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) later on in your career.

You can become an RN with an ADN, which takes only two years to complete compared to a bachelor’s degree in nursing, which typically finishes after four years.

What can students expect from an online Associate Degree in Nursing curriculum?

Although some topics are covered in almost all ADN programs, the content areas might differ from each other. Prospective students will take prerequisite courses and nursing courses.

Some of the foundational courses to expect are Behavioral Health, Microbiology, Communications, English, and Chemistry. 

Clinical hours are typically required for most ADN programs. To apply for licensure/registration as a nurse, you may need to complete clinical hours. Clinical hours will enable you to apply what you have learned in the classroom to real scenarios encountered in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and other medical settings.

What specific careers are a match to an online associate degree in Nursing?

ADNs are advantageous because they can open up several career paths and employment opportunities. In addition to pursuing your RN license, you can pursue the following nursing careers with your associate’s degree, such as:

  • public health nurse,
  • private nursing care,
  • personal care nurse,
  • registered hospital nurse,
  • rehab nurse,
  • and physician’s office nurse.

ADNs allow you to choose from various registered nurse career paths based on your interests. Credentials may also be required to become a nurse and pursue additional specialties.

What’s the average salary for an online associate nursing degree graduate?

RN salaries can vary greatly depending on your work setting, tenure, experience, and nursing position. However, the average median salary for nurses is around $93,815 per year.

Registered nurses are expected to see increased employment as the healthcare system evolves, so it is essential for those planning to enter the field to keep this in mind.

online associate in registered nursing students

Key Takeaways

Getting your clinical training in the classroom or lab is essential since becoming a licensed RN requires hands-on training. Hence, while some online programs don’t require your physical attendance, hybrid programs would typically do.

The key is to match your needs and the curriculum of the associate degree program in nursing. You can lighten your classroom time by taking advantage of online options that offer flexibility.

Ensure that your state board approves the school of nursing before enrolling anywhere. For those who cannot find an online associate degree nursing program in your state, another alternative is to become an LPN and then transfer into an online LPN to BSN program.

If you have options like these, it shouldn’t be difficult for you to become a registered nurse in no time.