Is it Possible to Obtain an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) Online?

If you are interested in pursuing an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) online, there are both advantages and disadvantages. The good news is that you can complete most of your coursework through an online ADN program. However, the bad news is that there are still in-person clinical skill requirements that cannot be fulfilled entirely online.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant changes in healthcare and education, and it is uncertain what the future holds for expanded online education. Currently, all ADN programs are a combination of online and in-person learning.

If you are considering an online ADN program, here is what you need to know:

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In-Person ADN Requirements

At present, in order to obtain an associate’s degree in nursing through an online program, you must enroll in an online hybrid ADN program. This means that the program includes a mix of in-person and online classes.

Some programs may require you to attend in-person orientation, meetings throughout the year, and clinicals in collaboration with the school. Certain schools may help you find a local clinical site, while others may require you to travel to placements near the school. It is important to choose a school with practicum requirements that you can meet.

ADN Programs Can’t Be Fully Online

Be aware that even programs advertised as “online ADN” programs are not 100% online. State nursing boards require a specific number of in-person clinical hours to become a registered nurse. The number of clinical hours varies by state but is typically around 70. Clinical requirements are essential for hands-on skill development, including inserting IVs, placing catheters, working with equipment, and interacting with patients.

Once you have completed your academic program and fulfilled your clinical hours requirement, you must also pass the NCLEX exam to become a licensed registered nurse. All three components – academic courses, clinical hours, and NCLEX success – are necessary to obtain a registered nurse’s license in your state.

Online ADN Nursing Classes

While the clinical portion of an ADN program must be completed in person, along with any required orientation and class meetings, many classes can be completed online.

Typically, you can complete general education requirements online, as well as introductory nursing classes and most nursing theory classes that do not involve clinicals. Examples of courses that can be completed online in an ADN program include English, psychology, algebra, technical writing, nutrition, pathophysiology, informatics, fundamentals of nursing, nursing essentials, pharmacology, and various nursing lectures.

Top Accredited Online ADN Programs for 2023

Finding an accredited online ADN program may be more challenging compared to finding an online RN-BSN program. ADN programs provide the foundation for becoming an RN, so the options may be more limited.

Some online ADN programs may require applicants to have an LPN license or equivalent work experience as a prerequisite, so it is important to carefully review the admission requirements.

Checking if local community colleges or schools offer online ADN options can be helpful, as it allows you to complete the majority of the academic work online while still fulfilling lab and clinical requirements locally.

Here are some schools that offer accredited online ADN programs combining online learning with in-person requirements:

1. Nightingale College

Nightingale College offers a combination of online learning and local clinical placements. They also provide advanced placement for individuals with an LPN license. Their program overview outlines which classes can be taken online, giving you an idea of the in-person time commitment required.

2. Northwestern Michigan College

This community college admits full-time ADN students to its online program every fall semester. All nursing theory and academic classes are available online, while labs and clinicals are conducted in person. Clinicals and labs usually require 2-3 days per week of attendance in the Traverse City, MI area.

3. John A. Logan College

John A. Logan College offers both a hybrid online ADN program and a traditional nursing program, allowing students to choose the option that suits them best. The program has limited entry, with preference given to Illinois residents.

4. Sampson Community College

This hybrid LPN to ADN online program accepts only 10 students each fall. As the name suggests, applicants must have an LPN license or 2,000 equivalent hours of experience in a medical facility.

5. Rasmussen College

Rasmussen College offers an ADN program that can be completed online. If you already have an LPN license, you can advance to become an RN in as little as one year through their hybrid online ADN program.