Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

Meet Our Expert

Nurse Bass

ADN Candidate

What is an Associate Degree in Nursing?

Associate programs are a step between a high school diploma and bachelor’s degree. An associate degree in nursing refers to a number of different two year degrees:

  • Associate of Nursing (AN)
  • Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
  • Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN)
  • Associate of Applied Science in Nursing (AASN)

The differences between these degrees is relatively minor and pertains to additional coursework you will take outside of core nursing courses. What’s most important is that all of these degrees provide a quick, inexpensive path to qualifying for the NCLEX-RN exam and entering the nursing workforce.

Meet Nurse Bass: On His Associate Degree in Nursing Path

What Can I Do With an Associate Degree in Nursing?

Career Available with an ADN Career Unavailable with an ADN

Nursing CareerADN +Registered Nurse

Minimum Degree Needed *

ADN; but a BSN is recommended because of higher salary and better job outlook

Alternative BSN Route | Become a Registered Nurse

Nursing CareerMSNNurse Practitioner

Minimum Degree Needed *

MSN

Required MSN Degree | Become a Nurse Practitioner

Nursing CareerADN +Travel Nurse

Minimum Degree Needed *

ADN; certifications in specialty area recommended

Become a Travel Nurse

Nursing CareerBSNNurse Anesthetist

Minimum Degree Needed *

BSN, graduation from accredited graduate school of nurse anesthesia

Required BSN Degree | Become a Nurse Anesthetist

Nursing CareerADN +School Nurse

Minimum Degree Needed *

ADN; BSN recommended

Alternative BSN Route | Become a School Nurse

Nursing CareerADN +Psychiatric Nurse

Minimum Degree Needed *

ADN; more opportunity with BSN or MSN

Alternative BSN Route | Alternative MSN Route | Become a Psychiatric Nurse

Nursing CareerBSN +Nurse Educator

Minimum Degree Needed *

BSN; MSN or DNP to teach at BSN granting institutions

Required BSN Degree | Alternative MSN Route | Alternative DNP Route

Nursing CareerBSNFlight Nurse

Minimum Degree Needed *

BSN

Required BSN Degree

Nursing CareerMSNClinical Nurse Specialist

Minimum Degree Needed *

MSN

Required MSN Degree

Nursing CareerADN +Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse

Minimum Degree Needed *

ADN; BSN recommended

Alternative BSN Route

*Key: ADN = Associate Degree in Nursing; BSN = Bachelor of Science in Nursing; MSN = Master of Science in Nursing; DNP = Doctorate of Nursing Practice

Should I Get an Associate Degree in Nursing?

Whether or not you should get an Associate Degree in Nursing depends entirely on your personal situation and preferences. There is no one size fits all nursing degree! You need to take a look at your schedule, financial situation and educational background. However there are some overarching pros and cons to an associates degree in nursing:

Advantages to an Associates Degree in Nursing

  • Provides entry level requirement to become an RN
  • Allows you to try the field without committing to a 4 year program
  • Credits can transfer to another 4 year degree if you want to change paths

Disadvantages to an Associates Degree in Nursing

  • There are better options if you are sure you want to be a nurse
  • Less competitive compared to more educated candidates
  • Does not provide the necessary training to pursue a speciality

Need to Know: ADN vs BSN

When looking to start a nursing career, the first question most people grapple with concerns whether to get an ADN or a BSN. While the choice may seem confusing, it doesn’t have to be, the answer often comes down to a matter of personal preference.

Both associate degree in nursing and the bachelor’s degree in nursing will prepare you to take the NCLEX-RN, allowing you to enter the workforce as soon as you pass the test. The decision usually hinges on how much time and money you are willing to invest in school. We have outlined some of the primary differences below:

Associate Degree in Nursing

  • Short length to completion
  • Enter workforce quickly
  • Start working while pursuing degree completion
  • More affordable

Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

  • BSN educated nurses in higher demand
  • Lower initial pay
  • Less flexibility in working environment

If you do decide to pursue an associate degree in nursing as your entry level degree, remember there are a number of RN to BSN bridge programs available that allow you to earn your BSN in a shorter amount of time.

How Much Will I Make With an ADN?

Hourly:
$33.77
Monthly:
$5,403
Annually:
$64,839

How Do I Get an ADN?

  • Decide Type of ADN Program

  • Find ADN Programs

  • Apply to ADN Programs

  • Secure Funding for ADN Programs

  • Attend ADN Classes

  • Graduate with an ADN

What Kind of Classes Will I Take?

Anatomy and Physiology

Study and understand the systems of the human body.

Nursing Leadership and Management

Develop techniques to mitigate workplace conflict, effectively manage staff in a healthcare setting and communicate as a leader.

Expository Writing

This coursework generally covers how to communicate clearly and concisely through writing.

Nursing Practice

Learn the patterns and functions of nursing within the context of the modern healthcare delivery system.

Online Associate's Degree in Nursing Programs

An online associate degree in nursing (ADN) is an introductory nursing degree. Until very recently, the ADN was the most popular degree held by resident nurses in the field, and even today, many ADN graduates go on to become RN’s. Some prospective nurses also get an ADN along the way to a bachelor’s degree, choosing to pursue their associate first either to get work experience or to save money. ADN programs tend to be more affordable than other online nursing degrees, and by starting with an ADN, nursing students can save money on their education.

Online ADN programs typically take a year or two to complete. Students can expect to take introductory courses in nursing, and they’ll receive a broad introduction to the field. As of 2012, approximately 47% of graduating undergraduate nurses were in ADN programs. If you’d like to learn more about what to expect in an online ADN program, please visit our Online Nursing Programs page. Before enrolling, be sure to double-check that the online associate degree in nursing program is accredited, offered online during your period of study, and all eligibility and licensing requirements meet your situation.

Before enrolling, please be sure to double-check that the online associate degree in nursing program is accredited, offered online during your period of study, and all eligibility and licensing requirements meet your situation.

In alphabetical order, here is a list of some accredited online associates degree in nursing programs for your review.

If you are an accredited, not-for-profit institution that offers an associate degree in nursing online and that isn’t listed, please contact us with details about your program, a link to your program page and proof of accreditation.

Use our customizable database to find the best ADN programs for your needs.

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