ADN Degree – Associate Degree in Nursing Programs

ADN stands for associate’s degree in nursing. ADN programs are designed to prepare students for entry-level positions in nursing. These programs typically take two years to complete and include coursework in anatomy, physiology, and other medical sciences. ADN programs may also have clinical components, allowing students to gain hands-on experience in a hospital or healthcare setting. RNs hold one or more practical degrees: an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), a bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN), a master’s degree in nursing (MSN), or a doctorate of nursing practice (DNP). 

There are many good reasons to pursue an ADN degree. Also referred to as associate of science in nursing (ASN) degrees, ADN programs can typically be completed in two years or less, making them an excellent option for those who want to enter the nursing field quickly. ADN programs also tend to be more affordable than bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) programs, making them a good choice for students on a tight budget or who simply want to try their hand at a nursing career before investing years of education. 

Additionally, ADN degrees provide students with the essential skills and knowledge they need to become successful nurses. While BSN programs may offer additional coursework in leadership and research, ADN programs provide students with a strong foundation in patient care and nursing fundamentals. As a result, ADN graduates are well-prepared to begin entry-level nursing careers and positively impact their patients’ lives.

RNs provide and coordinate patient care, educate patients and the public about various health conditions, and provide advice and emotional support to patients and their family members. RNs work in multiple settings, including hospitals, clinics, physicians’ offices, home healthcare services, and public health agencies. RNs often specialize in critical care, pediatrics, oncology, labor, and delivery. RNs may also work in a specific setting, such as a school nurse or industrial nurse. 

To become licensed as an RN, candidates must pass the NCLEX-RN exam to become licensed registered nurses. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that RN employment is projected to grow as fast as the average for all occupations between 2021 and 2031, creating 195,400 new positions. In addition, the demand for RNs is expected to continue to increase as the baby-boom generation ages and as healthcare services expand to include more outpatient procedures and home healthcare services. 

ADN degree holders currently make up a significant portion of the nursing workforce in the United States. According to Career One Stop, in December 2022, 30 percent of registered nurses held an ADN degree. Employers also widely recognize the ADN degree, and ADN holders often have no trouble finding employment after graduation. 

Read on to learn more about ADN programs, including program accreditation, admissions, clinical supervision hours requirements, 10 accredited online ADN programs, and career options for ADN graduates.

What is an ADN? Types of ADN Programs

ADNs are practical degree programs that provide students with a well-rounded nursing theory and practice education. 

There are several different types of ADN programs, but the three most common formats and time-to-completion are: 

  • On-campus ADN programs: Two years
  • Online ADN programs: 16 to 24 months

On-campus ADN programs are offered at community college campuses and take two years to complete. All coursework and clinical experiences occur in person on a college campus and a healthcare facility. 

Online ADN programs are typically offered at two-year colleges and can be completed in 18 to 24 months. 

Regardless of the learning delivery, all ADN programs include in-person clinical components at a local healthcare facility.

ADN Program & School Accreditation

The accreditation of an ADN program is just as crucial as the school’s accreditation. There are two types of accreditation: programmatic and institutional. Both are essential to ensure an ADN program meets the nursing profession’s high standards.  

The programmatic accreditation process for an ADN program is comprehensive and includes a review of the curriculum, faculty, facilities, and clinical rotations. In addition, the accreditation team will also interview students and graduates of the program to get a complete picture of the educational experience. If an ADN program has been accredited, it has met all of the criteria set forth by the accrediting body. 

Therefore, it can provide a high-quality education to its students. Two organizations accredit associate’s degrees in nursing programs: the Accrediting Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the National League for Nursing Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (NLN CNEA).

While not all ADN programs are accredited, prospective students are highly encouraged to seek out ACEN- and CNEA-accredited programs to be eligible to take the NCLEX exam, which is required for licensure in all 50 states. That being said, State Boards of Nursing (SBONs) also have unique requirements that may or may not require graduating from an accredited program to be an eligibility factor in taking the NCLEX. 

For example, the New York State Board of Regents requires RNs to complete an education program at the associate’s, bachelor’s, or master’s degree, or diploma program that’s registered by NYSED that qualifies as an RN license education provider but doesn’t specify that this refers to an ACEN- or CCNE-accredited program. 

By comparison, institutional accreditation is the process by which an outside agency evaluates colleges and universities to ensure they meet specific standards. This process ensures that schools provide quality education to their students and adhere to strict academic standards. Institutional accreditation is essential for students and employers, as it guarantees that graduates have received a quality education that will prepare them for success in their chosen careers. 

Institutional accreditation is also important for schools, as it helps them to maintain high standards and attract quality students. The most common type of institutional accreditation is regional accreditation. The US Department of Education recognizes seven regional institutional accrediting bodies through the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Finally, students seeking admission to online programs must research state authorization status. The state authorization process also allows institutions to offer distance education courses and programs to students who reside in other states. In addition, the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) is a voluntary, interstate compact that makes it easier for students to take courses and programs offered by institutions outside of their state of residence. This information is available on most program webpages, but prospective applicants should call programs directly to inquire about state authorization status. 

Typical Admissions Requirements for ADN Degrees

Admissions requirements for ADN degrees vary from school to school, but there are some standard requirements. Typical admissions requirements for ADN programs include:

  • A high school diploma or equivalent
  • A minimum GPA, typically 2.0 or higher
  • An essay or personal statement
  • An interview with admissions staff
  • CPR/First-Aid certification 
  • Criminal background check
  • Drug test
  • Grade of “C” or higher in science and mathematics courses
  • Letters of recommendation from instructors or employers
  • Test scores such as the SAT or ACT
  • Up-to-date immunizations

Nursing program admissions are competitive. Therefore, meeting these and other admissions requirements does not guarantee admission; however, meeting minimum requirements can put applicants in a good position to be considered.

Supervised Hour Requirements for ADN Degrees

While the supervised hours required for an ADN degree may vary from state to state, most programs require a certain number of clinical hours. This hands-on experience is essential for developing the practical skills needed to be a highly-qualified nurse. Hours vary per institution and state requirements. 

For example, RN programs in Oregon must “Include sufficient direct care and final clinical practicum hours to meet course and program outcomes and, at minimum, provide 51 percent of these hours across the nursing education program.” 

During clinical supervised hours, students can work with patients, assess their condition, and provide care according to the nurse’s scope of practice. They will also learn how to work collaboratively with other healthcare team members and communicate effectively with patients and families. 

By the end of their clinical supervised hours, nursing students should be well-prepared to begin their careers as registered nurses.

Featured Online ADN Degrees

Many accredited online ADN programs are available to students interested in becoming registered nurses. Online programs offer a flexible way to complete the coursework required to obtain an ADN degree. Most programs can be completed in as little as 16 months or up to two years. 

Many accredited online ADN programs allow students to complete their clinical requirements in person at a facility near their home, which can be a convenient option for busy students. In addition, in some cases, accredited online ADN programs typically offer lower tuition rates than traditional on-campus programs. As a result, accredited online ADN programs can be an excellent option for students looking for a flexible and affordable way to earn an ADN degree.

Purdue Global University

Purdue Global University’s ASN program is the perfect way to launch an RN career. Students can earn an ASN in under two years and get a head start on bachelor’s degree credits. The program provides an easy transition into an online RN-to-BSN (bachelor of science) nursing program. In addition, Purdue Global University offers flexible learning options that fit busy schedules. 

  • Location: West Lafayette, IN
  • Duration: 1.5 years
  • Accreditation: State Boards of Nursing in Iowa, Maine, and Nebraska
  • Tuition: $315 per credit

Rasmussen College 

The ASN program at Rasmussen College is designed for those who want to become registered nurses. The program is offered at 19 campuses in five states and is a hybrid ASN/RN program. There is no need for pre-nursing coursework, and qualified applicants do not need to wait to get into the program. 

The ASN program has eight start dates per year, and with a mix of online courses, on-campus lab simulations, and clinical experiences, students will be prepared to sit for the NCLEX-RN® licensure exam. In addition, already licensed practical nurses can take advantage of the LPN-to-RN Bridge, which can be completed in as few as 12 months.

  • Location: Altamonte Springs, FL
  • Duration: 12 to 18 months
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) 
  • Tuition: $48,563 total

Herzing University 

Licensed practical nurses (LPNs) who are interested in becoming registered nurses (RNs) can do so by completing an associate in nursing (ASN) program. LPN-to-ASN programs are explicitly designed for LPNs who want to continue their education and earn their RN designation. 

The LPN-to-ASN program at Herzing University takes 20 to 24 months to complete and requires a minimum of 72 credits. LPNs who complete the program will be eligible to take the NCLEX-RN exam and become licensed RNs. 

  • Location: Campuses in Birmingham, AL, Orlando & Tampa, FL, and Akron, OH
  • Duration: 20 to 24 months
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC) 
  • Tuition: $595 per credit

Excelsior University

Excelsior University’s associate in science in nursing program is designed for licensed practical nurses, licensed vocational nurses, paramedics, and certain military personnel who wish to enhance their knowledge of nursing theory and demonstrate RN-level competency in a clinical setting. 

The 66-credit program can be completed online, making it convenient and accessible for working students. Additionally, Excelsior provides ASN graduates free preparation for the NCLEX-RN exam, ensuring they have the skills and knowledge necessary to earn their RN license. Finally, Excelsior’s ASN program is easily transferable to the university’s BS in nursing for registered nurses program, making it an excellent choice for students interested in furthering their nursing education.

  • Location: Albany, NY
  • Duration: Two years
  • Accreditation: New York State (NYS) Board of Regents
  • Tuition: $510 per credit

Nightingale College

The LPN-to-ASN Program prepares learners to apply for RN licensure and take the NCLEX-RN exam. The LPN-to-RN online portal provides a wealth of resources to help LPNs transition into the ASN program, including information on prerequisite coursework, scheduling, tuition, and financial aid. 

LPNs currently enrolled in an accredited LPN program in one of the three participating states can apply for admission to the LPN-to-ASN program. Nightingale College’s LPN-to-ASN program is only offered in the following states: Iowa, Kansas, and Pennsylvania. 

  • Location: Salt Lake City, UT
  • Duration: 16 months
  • Accreditation: Utah State Board of Nursing 
  • Tuition: $825 per semester credit

North Central Missouri College 

The North Central Missouri College ADN program is designed for licensed practical nurses who want to become registered nurses. The program prepares graduates with the skills and knowledge to be successful nurses. To apply to the program, students must submit a nursing application and take the pre-entrance test (ATI TEAS), have a current unencumbered license as an LPN with IV certification, and be a graduate of a state-approved LPN program. 

  • Location: Trenton, MO
  • Duration: Nine months
  • Accreditation: Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (NLN CNEA) 
  • Tuition: $10,298 per semester

National University

National University’s LVN-to-RN certificate is similar to an ADN program. This option is suited for those already licensed as LVN and interested in becoming an RN. Students will take 44.5 quarter units in four-week courses. National University is a military-friendly school that allows students to learn online or on campus. 

  • Location: San Diego, CA
  • Duration: One to two years
  • Accreditation: California Board of Registered Nursing 
  • Tuition: $370 per quarter unit

Midlands Technical College 

The associate degree nursing program at Midlands Technical College is designed to provide students with the knowledge and skills they need to function as registered nurses in various settings. ADN nurses can work independently with more complex patients than those in the practical nurse role. 

Upon completion of the program, students are eligible to take the NCLEX-RN examination to earn their RN license. The ADN program at MTC is an affordable and convenient way to start a career in nursing.

  • Location: Columbia, SC
  • Duration: Five semesters
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) 
  • Tuition: $12,784 total

Northwestern Michigan College 

NMC offers an online version of its traditional nursing ADN curriculum for full-time students each fall semester. The program provides all nursing theory or academic online classes and requires lab and clinical courses. The labs and clinicals are generally scheduled in the Traverse City area and will require 2–3 days per week of attendance. Once students begin the online option, the college will ensure that the online courses will be available until they complete the program as long as the full-time model schedule is followed. 

  • Location: Traverse City, MI
  • Duration: One to two years
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN)  
  • Tuition: $246 per credit hour (residents); $320 per credit hour (non-residents)

Madison Area Technical College

The associate degree nursing (ADN) program at Madison College is a 62-credit program that prepares students for careers in nursing and healthcare. The ADN program offers online and in-person instruction and training for in-demand nursing and healthcare jobs. Graduates of the ADN program are eligible to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to become registered nurses. 

  • Location: Madison, WI
  • Duration: Four semesters
  • Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) 
  • Tuition: $12,816.96 total

Jobs for ADN Graduates

After completing an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN), many nursing students are eager to begin their careers. Generally, RNs with ADNs take on numerous responsibilities like taking health histories, giving medication, ordering tests, providing patient instructions, and assisting doctors with exams.

While some jobs may require further education, there are numerous positions for ADN graduates. Here are three jobs for ADN graduates:

Long-Term Care Nurse

Long-term care nurses provide care for patients with chronic illnesses or disabilities. They work with patients of all ages but often care for elderly patients. These nurses work in various settings, including nursing homes, assisted living facilities, and home health agencies. Long-term care nurses must have excellent clinical skills and effectively communicate with patients and their families. In addition, they must be able to provide long-term care plans and coordinate the care of their patients. Long-term care nurses often specialize in a particular practice area, such as Alzheimer’s or geriatrics. 

Most organizations hire long-term care nurses with RN licenses. According to (Dec. 2022), the average annual salary for long-term care RNs is $69,009 annually. 

Home Health Nurse

Home health nurses provide care in the comfort of patients’ homes. Home health nurses typically work with elderly or homebound patients and care for those recovering from surgery or illness. Responsibilities include coordinating care with the patient’s family, physicians, and other healthcare team members. Clinical skills include administering medications, monitoring vital signs, and providing education and support to patients and their families. 

Some home health nurses work independent, flexible hours while healthcare facilities employ others. According to (Dec. 2022), the average annual home health nurse salary is $66,968. 

Occupational Nurse

Occupational nurses are responsible for workers’ health and safety in various settings. They provide care and treatment for workplace injuries, promote worker wellness, and develop and implement occupational health and safety programs. Occupational nurses also play an essential role in emergency preparedness and response. Many occupational nurses are certified in occupational health nursing by the American Board for Occupational Health Nurses (ABOHN). 

Nurses with this certification have demonstrated knowledge and expertise in occupational health nursing. Occupational nurses must be able to communicate effectively with workers, employers, and other members of the healthcare team. They must also be able to work independently and make decisions in a fast-paced environment.

According to (Dec. 2022), the average annual occupational nurse salary is $73,309 annually.

Rachel Drummond, MEd

Rachel Drummond, MEd


At, Rachel Drummond has applied her extensive experience in education and mindfulness to elucidate the importance of self-care for nursing students since 2022. Through her writings, she underscores the role of mental and physical well-being in fostering resilient and compassionate healthcare professionals.

Rachel is a writer, educator, and coach from Oregon. She has a master’s degree in education (MEd) and has over 15 years of experience teaching English, public speaking, and mindfulness to international audiences in the United States, Japan, and Spain. She writes about the mind-body benefits of contemplative movement practices like yoga on her blog, inviting people to prioritize their unique version of well-being and empowering everyone to live healthier and more balanced lives.