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Online ADN Programs

By Seph Anderson | Updated December 27, 2022
Quick Facts
Accreditation: AANA, ACEN, ACEN, ACME, CCNE
Average Tuition: $26,562
Alumni Salary: $61,540

An online associate degree in nursing, or ADN, helps students get into the healthcare field as quickly as possible. In addition to completing the ADN, students must also take and pass the National Council Licensure Examination, or NCLEX-RN, in order to become a registered nurse (RN). There is a wide range of job opportunities available for ADN graduates in a range of settings, such as a hospital or a physician’s office. To qualify for an online ADN program, most applicants must meet certain GPA and course requirements in high school, particularly in math and science. Once achieved, an associate degree in nursing can lead to a fulfilling career as a nurse providing hands-on care for patients in a number of environments.

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Most Popular Accredited Online ADN Programs

Visitors to our site are most interested in these schools
Rank School Annual Tuition Recommend Rate
# 1 #1 Purdue Global $14,436 72% (560 reviews)
255 Programs, 1 Associate in Nursing (view all)
255 Programs, 1 Associate in Nursing
  • Associate of Science in Nursing (Hybrid)
# 2 #2 Purdue University - Main Campus $28,794 94% (213 reviews)
79 Programs, 1 Associate in Nursing (view all)
79 Programs, 1 Associate in Nursing
  • Associate of Applied Science in Veterinary Nursing
# 3 #3 The University of Texas at Arlington $29,299 71% (171 reviews)
34 Programs, 1 Associate in Nursing (view all)
34 Programs, 1 Associate in Nursing
  • Professional Nursing Pathways Program (ADN)
# 4 #4 Rasmussen University Online Not Provided 34% (308 reviews)
77 Programs, 2 Associate in Nursing (view all)
77 Programs, 2 Associate in Nursing
  • Associate Degree in Nursing (Hybrid)
  • Professional Nursing (ADN) Associate's Degree
# 5 #5 Albany State University $17,433 90% (10 reviews)
48 Programs, 2 Associate in Nursing (view all)
48 Programs, 2 Associate in Nursing
  • Associate of Science in Nursing - Healthcare Professional...
  • Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) (Hybrid)
# 6 #6 Excelsior University Not Provided 63% (211 reviews)
46 Programs, 2 Associate in Nursing (view all)
46 Programs, 2 Associate in Nursing
  • Associate of Applied Science in Nursing
  • Associate of Science in Nursing
# 7 #7 Georgia State University $24,517 86% (152 reviews)
71 Programs, 1 Associate in Nursing (view all)
71 Programs, 1 Associate in Nursing
  • Associate of Science in Nursing (Hybrid)
# 8 #8 Missouri Baptist University $30,548 60% (5 reviews)
27 Programs, 1 Associate in Nursing (view all)
27 Programs, 1 Associate in Nursing
  • Associate of Science in Pre-Nursing
# 9 #9 Western Kentucky University $27,000 97% (38 reviews)
73 Programs, 1 Associate in Nursing (view all)
73 Programs, 1 Associate in Nursing
  • Associate of Science in Nursing (LPN to ASN)

Online ADN Degree

Students interested in earning an associate degree in nursing (ADN) will find a number of well-respected online ADN degree programs offered through community colleges and four-year institutions. While online ADN programs consist largely of virtual instruction, students must complete a certain number of clinical experience hours in person.

Among the many topics covered in ADN programs are nursing foundations, behavioral health, pharmacology, adult and elderly healthcare, maternity, and childcare.

The fastest route youcan take to ultimately become a registered nurse (RN), an online ADN can lead to a number of professional opportunities across a variety of unique healthcare settings — including hospitals, home health, medical clinics, specialty clinics, and more.

Upon earning their degree, aspiring nurses must successfully achieve licensure by taking and passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).

To learn more about the field of nursing and what educational pathway is right for you, check out our Guide to Online Nursing Programs.

How Long Is an ADN Online Program?

While the amount of time required to complete an ADN program online varies from one institution to another, most programs typically take students between 18 and 24 months to complete.

That being said, the amount of time it takes to earn an ADN online can vary greatly from one student to another. Whereas some focus all of their time and energy on their academic endeavors, other students may have to balance school with personal and professional responsibilities. For instance, a student who works part time and has kids at home will likely take longer to complete the program.

What Can You Do With an Online ADN?

Students curious about what they can do with an online associate degree in nursing should become familiar with the industry and job market trends to better understand specific nursing occupations that may pique their interest.

Basically, there are three routes you can take:


Some students earn their online ADN and immediately enter the workforce upon passing the NCLEX-RN exam.


On the other hand, many students choose to earn different nursing certifications to boost their credentials and earnings.


Similarly, other students choose to continue their education by pursuing a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) — or a higher degree — to increase their marketability.

Work environments are varied and can include emergency rooms, intensive or progressive care units, neonatal ICUs, operating rooms, skilled nursing facilities, outpatient clinics, or physician’s offices, among other settings.

Alternatively, nurses less inclined to work directly with patients often pursue careers in which they can utilize their nursing skills by working for insurance companies; local, state, and federal government agencies; community health facilities; and a wide range of schools.

Graduates of an online ADN program can go on to pursue the following:

Registered Nurse

Annual Mean Salary:  $82,750

RNs enjoy career opportunities in a wide range of healthcare settings, such as community health centers, hospitals, and specialty clinics. RNs are trained to provide essential care to patients, the degree to which varies according to the setting.

Outpatient Care Center Nurse

Annual Mean Salary:  $93,070

Outpatient care centers have become increasingly prevalent in today’s healthcare environment. This type of nurse cares for individuals requiring visits to outpatient care centers for a wide range of medical procedures which do not require overnight care.

General Medical and Surgical Hospital Nurse

Annual Mean Salary:  $85,020

General medical and surgical hospital nurses assist doctors and surgeons in providing patients with medical care. They are often exposed to a vast array of medical experiences, resulting in a broader knowledge base than other types of nurses.

Home Healthcare Nurse

Annual Mean Salary:  $78,190

Compared to nurses working in clinics, hospitals, outpatient care centers, and related fields, home healthcare nurses provide patients with in-home medical care. These nurses often get to know their patients very well due to the one-on-one care provided.

Physician’s Office Nurse

Annual Mean Salary:  $73,860

Nurses employed in physician’s offices provide medical care to patients as directed by office physicians. They are often the first medical professionals a patient meets within a physician's office and they are typically involved in providing care to patients throughout their visit.

Specializations and Certificates

In addition to the aforementioned nursing occupations, ADN program graduates may pursue a variety of more specialized nursing jobs in functional areas — such as radiology, fitness, and nutrition, plastic surgery, labor and delivery, and dialysis care, to name a few.

While some online ADN graduates continue their nursing education at the bachelor’s master’s, or even doctoral level, others focus on earning one of many professional certifications, like a legal nurse consultant certification. Not only can certifications increase marketability, but they usually merit some degree of an increased mean-salary.

FAQs About Online ADN Degrees

What Is the Difference Between an Online ADN and an Online BSN?

An online ADN is a two-year associate degree, while an online BSN is a four-year bachelor’s degree. While graduates of either program typically qualify for the same entry-level positions, a BSN-prepared RN can also be eligible for more advanced positions and higher pay. An online ADN program, on the other hand, can be completed more quickly and requires less tuition.

Do Hospitals Hire Nurses with Associate Degrees?

Yes, hospitals hire nurses with associate degrees. Although, it is becoming increasingly common for employers to prefer BSN candidates. However, with such a dramatic labor shortage in the medical field, nursing professionals with any degree are still in demand — both in hospitals and in other healthcare practices.

Do Accelerated ADN Programs Exist?

Most online ADN programs take at least two years to complete when classes are taken full time. Those who hold an associate degree in nursing and wish to advance their career, however, can complete an accelerated RN to BSN program. This degree typically takes two additional years of study to complete.

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