Online nursing degrees are among the most popular of all online degrees and, as a quick Google search showed one elearning site to feature 117 of them, they are also among the most common and easy to find. Nursing degrees are offered online by accredited schools at both undergraduate and graduate level and range from the very broad associate degrees to the doctoral degrees that show extreme subject specificity.
Associate Degrees in Nursing
The average associate degree will take two years to complete. A student studying online, however, can usually set their own pace and complete a degree in less time than it would take if they were studying on campus and this is true for an online degree at either undergraduate or graduate level. Associate degrees cover an extremely wide range of subjects and serve to provide a student with an introduction into a specific field and an overview of the more detailed courses that are available at higher levels. An associate degree is an undergraduate degree.
There are far more online nursing degrees available at the bachelor's and master's levels then there are at the associate level as pre-bachelor level nursing study usually comprises the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) qualifications. Associate level degrees are available, however, and they mainly serve to prepare trainee nurses to take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN).
Bachelor's Degrees in Nursing
Bachelor's degrees usually take approximately four years to complete. If a student studies online and from the comfort of their own home, however, they can complete the degree in considerably less time. There is a great variety of online bachelor's degrees in nursing offered by fully accredited schools and only a few of the many available degrees are listed here. A bachelor's degree is an undergraduate degree.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing: Walden University
This degree can be completed online in as little as 18 months and, to be admitted to the program, a student must have a current, active nursing license. The degree is divided into five quarters and each quarter has its own core courses:
- 1st quarter: issues and trends in nursing; the context of health care delivery
- 2nd quarter: information and management in nursing and health care; pathopharmacology
- 3rd quarter: health assessment; research and scholarship for evidence-based practice
- 4th quarter: topics in clinical nursing; family, community, and population based care
- 5th quarter: public and global health; leadership competencies in nursing and healthcare
More information can be obtained from Walden University either at their website or by contacting them directly at 1-866-492-5336. Walden is also a fully accredited school.
RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing: Sacred Heart University
This degree is fully accredited with the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Courses are equally divided between practical and theoretical subjects, are all offered in web-based formats and are all designed specifically to prepare a student for graduate study. Examples of the courses offered as part of this degree include:
- Information technology for nursing practice;
- Introduction to microbiology;
- Bioethics; and
- Child development psychology.
Sacred Heart University can be contacted directly at 5151 Park Avenue, Fairfield, CT 06825 (tel: 203-371-7880).
More Accredited Bachelor Degree Programs:
- University of Illinois at Chicago
- Kent State University
- Jacksonville University
- Kaplan University
- Salem University
- South University
- Utica College
Master's Degrees in Nursing
A typical master's degree can be completed in two years of on-campus study but, again, online study could speed up the process. Master's degrees in nursing include far more specific courses than either associate or bachelor's degrees and a master's degree is also a graduate degree. There are many online master's nursing degrees to choose from and exactly which one is right for a particular student will depend mainly on which area that student wishes to specialize in.
Master of Science in Nursing/Master of Health Administration: University of Phoenix
This innovative "dual-degree" program offers students the opportunity to qualify in both nursing and healthcare on a master's level and is accredited by the CCNE. The course covers both practical and theoretical aspects of nursing as well as a variety of general healthcare concepts including quality improvement, marketing and strategic planning. Specific classes include:
- Influencing the future of nursing and healthcare;
- Developing and evaluating educational programs;
- Health care organizations and delivery systems; and
- Analysis of research reports.
Phoenix University can provide further course-specific information and their online education center can be contacted at 3157 E Elwood Street, Phoenix, AZ 85034 (tel: 866-766-0766 and website: http://www.phoenix.edu/).
For program disclosure information, click here.
While widely available, not all programs are available in all locations or in both online and on-campus formats. Please check with a University Enrollment Representative.
Master of Science in Nursing (Nurse Educator or Nurse Administrator): Kaplan University
Kaplan offers two master's degrees and students can therefore specialize in either nursing education or administration depending on their individual preferences. Both degrees have core courses in common, however, which include:
- Ethical and legal perspectives of the healthcare system;
- Advanced statistics for the health sciences;
- Inquiry and evidence-based practice; and
- Health policy, financing and organization of healthcare.
Kaplan is also fully accredited and can be contacted through their website (http://talent.kaplan.edu/home.aspx) or at 0-800-987-7734.
Doctorates in Nursing
There is no set timeframe in which to complete an online doctoral degree in nursing as exactly when the degree can be completed depends on when a student can complete their doctoral dissertation. Online doctoral degrees in nursing are not common but there are some available and they are aimed at registered nurses who already hold degrees at the master's level who want to specialize in a very specific area.
PhD in Nursing Education: Capella University
The area of specialization in this doctoral degree is nursing education and those who achieve this qualification will be able to teach nursing at an advanced faculty level. This degree is recognized by the National League for Nursing and the curriculum includes such subjects as:
- Teaching strategies;
- Curriculum design and evaluation;
- Advanced nursing theory and concepts; and
- Classroom assessment.
Capella University specializes in distance learning and is fully accredited. More information can be obtained from their website or their campus at 225 South 6th Street, 9th Floor, Minneapolis MN, 55402 (tel: 1-888-227-2736).
Doctor of Nursing Practice: University of Massachusetts
This doctoral program is designed to provide three highly specialized qualifications: Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, Family Nurse Practitioner and Public Health Nurse Leader. Core competencies that are covered in all three degrees include:
- Clinical prevention and population health for improving the nation's health;
- Scientific underpinnings for practice;
- Clinical scholarship and analytic methods for evidence-based practice; and
- Advanced nursing practice for improving the delivery of patient care.
The university can be contacted at 333 South Street, Ste 400, Shrewsbury, MA 01545 (tel: 877-698-6277).
Career Opportunities and Salary Scales
Career opportunities for those holding nursing qualifications are, on the most basic level, divided between those involving practical nursing and those involving teaching both nursing practice and theory. Exactly what field of nursing a student will wish to practice in also depends on factors like the level of qualification held by that particular student and what areas he or she is interested in. Common areas of specialization in the nursing sector would include hospice nursing, critical care nursing, cardiac nursing, and pediatric nursing. There are also further choices which consist of school nursing, clinical nurse specialist and psychiatric and home health aides. These are, of course, only a few of the many fields that registered nurses can practice in and there will also be many levels of occupation available in each field including those of orderly, attendant and aide. Should a student choose a teaching career in nursing, many different positions are available at all faculty levels.
Information concerning the average annual salaries paid to people in the nursing profession is available and has been divided into several levels depending on factors like area of expertise, level of training and level of occupation. The most up to date study includes information relevant to January 2009 and indicates that lower level nurses can expect an average annual salary of approximately $50,892 while higher level nurses can expect an average annual salary of approximately $88,061.
Online nursing qualifications are not difficult to find and they are available on every level. Students who are interested in nursing as a profession should seriously consider registering for an online nursing degree program as studying online is not only more cost-effective than studying on-campus, it can also take far less time to get qualified and students can study in comfortable surroundings.