Earning your Associate's degree in nursing can take 2 to 4 years to complete depending upon the prerequisites required and the length of the actual nursing curriculum. Many people can't afford to take a few years off from work though since they have a family to support, and this is one of the main reasons why more people are turning to the Internet to get an Associate's degree in nursing online.
Find an online nursing school. One of the most important steps in getting your nursing degree online is to first find a program that is online. While many colleges and universities are offering nursing classes online, not all do. You should check with local colleges or your state board of nursing to find one online. You can visit the website of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) as they have links to each state's board of nursing. Once on your state's site, look for an education section which should give you a list of approved nursing programs. This list will provide every accredited nursing program in the state and tell you whether it is available online. It is important to remember though that most require clinicals in which you must apply what you're learning online to actual situations in a health care facility.
Complete the prerequisites. After you've found a program that is offered online, you can begin working on completing the prerequisite classes the program requires for admission. Generally these include classes such as human anatomy and physiology, public speaking and English composition.
Apply for admission to the program. Each online nursing program has different criteria for admissions. Some require successful passage of the TEAS test (Test of Essential Academic Skills) while others require interviews with the nursing faculty or program director. Taking the TEAS test is nothing to fret about as the test simply measures your reading and grammar skills as well as your basic knowledge of math and science. You should contact the nursing program you wish to join for specific admission requirements as well as to find out the application deadlines.
Finish your courses online. Once you've been accepted you can begin taking your nursing classes online. These may take more time than some of your prerequisite courses since there is a lot of information to learn. Just because they are online you shouldn't feel bad for reaching out to your instructor by phone or email to discuss concepts in your classes that you are confused or unsure about.
Complete your clinicals. Most online nursing programs allow students to arrange their clinicals individually, while a few have set times and locations for all students. You will need to work with the faculty in your nursing program to ensure that you meet the clinical requirements of your program.
- An online nursing program traditionally costs more than a face-to-face program, thus you should expect to pay slightly more for your education.
- Make sure you find an online program that is approved by your state board of nursing, or you may not be able to get your license once you complete your degree.
Allison Dodge has been a writer since 2005, specializing in education, careers, health and travel. She has worked at educational institutions for more than 10 years. Dodge has a master's degree in education administration.