Online Nursing Degree Programs: Meeting the Demands of a Changing Healthcare System

In response to the evolving healthcare system and the growing need for nurses, the range of nursing degree programs has expanded significantly. Obtaining the right education and training is crucial for success in the nursing profession, as there are various roles available at different levels of education and experience.

A starting point for a nursing career is obtaining a certificate or diploma as a licensed practical nurse (LPN). This program typically takes one year of full-time study to complete. While the LPN’s role is more limited compared to a registered nurse (RN), they still play a vital part in patient care, including monitoring patient health, assisting with tests or procedures, recording patient histories, and consulting with RNs.

The Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) degree is another option, taking approximately 1.5 to 2 years of full-time study. Many universities, community colleges, and career-focused schools offer this program. After completing the ASN degree, graduates can apply for the national NCLEX-RN® exam and become a registered nurse. With an RN license, nurses have the opportunity to work in various healthcare settings, such as emergency nursing, perioperative nursing, family practice, geriatric care, maternal and pediatric nursing, mental health nursing, and medical-surgical nursing.

For RNs looking to enhance their skills and pursue advanced roles, a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is the next step. Many RNs choose to earn their ASN first and then pursue a BSN after gaining some work experience. Employers in the healthcare field often require a BSN, and some even set deadlines for RNs to earn this degree. Completing an RN-to-BSN program, either on-campus or online, is a wise choice for working RNs who want to advance their careers.

RN-to-BSN programs prepare nurses for greater responsibilities and open doors to advanced nursing career paths. Graduates can pursue opportunities in community education and public health, nursing case management, nursing management and leadership, patient care coordination, nonhospital employment settings, healthcare administration, and more.

At the next level of nursing education, the Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) builds upon previous learning and practical experience, providing opportunities for leadership and independent practice. Purdue Global’s online MSN program includes specialized courses in organizational theory, health care finance, health policy, human resources, information technology, and healthcare systems. Students can specialize in various pathways aligned with advanced nursing roles. The MSN program even offers a direct pathway to a doctoral degree in nursing (DNP). Popular career options for MSN graduates include directors of nursing, medical and health services managers, postsecondary nursing instructors and teachers, and advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs) such as nurse practitioners.

The Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) is the terminal nursing degree that prepares nursing leaders to practice at the highest levels of the profession. Pursuing a DNP program online while continuing to work is a possibility. Graduates with a DNP can pursue careers in executive leadership and a variety of advanced practice nursing roles. APRN roles include nurse practitioners, certified nurse-midwives, certified registered nurse anesthetists (CRNAs), and clinical nurse specialists (CNSs).

In addition to these degree programs, our School of Nursing also offers online postgraduate certificates for advanced practice nurses. These include adult-gerontology acute care nurse practitioner, adult-gerontology primary care nurse practitioner, family nurse practitioner, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, and executive leader.

For further information, please refer to the Notes and Conditions section.