Online Nursing Programs in Missouri


Schools, Licensing Requirements, and Resources

By Sara Walters




Nursing schools in Missouri offer degrees online, on campus, and through hybrid programs. This guide provides information on four different types of online nursing programs in Missouri: registered nurse (RN), certified nurse assistant (CNA), licensed practical nurse (LPN), and nurse practitioner (NP).

In Missouri, all four of these nursing occupations hold employee vacancy rates of over 7%, which makes for an increased demand for nursing professionals in the state. By pursuing an online nursing degree, you can kickstart your nursing career in Missouri, joining a growing number of prospective nursing professionals in this in-demand industry.


Why Attend Online Nursing Programs in Missouri?

Despite a decline in staffing vacancies for RNs in Missouri, the demand persists for qualified nursing professionals, particularly those in specialized areas. Compared to neighboring states like Iowa, Illinois, and Kentucky, Missouri boasts slightly lower average tuition rates. Missouri also ranks seventh in the nation for overall affordability and fourth for cost of living, making it a great state to live and work in. Missouri expects demand for employees in healthcare to continue to surpass demand in other industries.


How to Become a Nurse in Missouri

The Missouri Board of Nursing oversees nursing licensure in the state. All nursing professionals follow the same general process to obtain licensure, but costs and procedures vary by license type and candidate background.

  • 1. Choose the Path That's Right for You

    Each nursing licensure applicant needs to complete a recognized nursing program. Candidates can apply for RN licensure with an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) degree, offered by most nursing colleges in Missouri.

    After obtaining an online nursing degree and licensure, RNs may aspire to specialized or advanced nursing roles, such as NP or nurse midwife, which require master of science in nursing (MSN) degrees. Experienced nurses who want to train nursing students at the college level should pursue a doctor of nursing practice (DNP).

  • 2. Earn Your Nursing Degree

    Admission and program requirements vary by online nursing degree. Basic RN programs in Missouri granting ADNs generally require high school transcripts and ACT scores. Most ADN programs take two years to complete, but some accelerated nursing programs in Missouri allow students to graduate in one year. Practicing nurses who wish to continue their studies can complete online RN-to-BSN programs in Missouri.

    Advanced MSN and DNP degrees require previous nursing training and take 2-4 years to complete. All online nursing programs require students to participate in clinicals, and some programs place candidates in fellowships and internships.

  • 3. Pass the Licensing Exam and Earn Your License

    Nursing candidates in Missouri must take the NCLEX. This exam tests for competency in basic standards of care and treatment, costs $200, and takes five hours to complete. Online RN programs in Missouri prepare students to pass the NCLEX, but most candidates spend additional time familiarizing themselves with the test format. Although a nursing license does not guarantee a job, passing the NCLEX is necessary to obtain RN licensure and apply for nursing positions.



Online Nursing Degree Programs in Missouri

To practice as a licensed nurse at any level, you must first pursue some form of nursing education. Nursing education for various nursing roles include semester-long courses and bachelor's, master's, and doctoral programs. Students pursuing online nursing programs in Missouri can benefit from programs around the state, with the flexibility to continue working full time.

What Courses Are Part of an Online Nursing Degree Program in Missouri?

Online nursing schools in Missouri offer many different course options. These options vary from school to school, and each degree level may hold different requirements. The courses below illustrate some examples of common foundational courses for nursing students.

Human Anatomy

This course, sometimes offered in multiple levels, explores the skeletal, muscular, cardiovascular, nervous, and circulatory systems. Faculty members emphasize applying nursing skills and activities to understanding system functionality.

Health Assessment

In this course, students develop skills in acquiring health histories from patients and conducting assessments of physical health. Students practice interviewing patients, and different issues to address across the human lifespan.

Pharmacology

Enrollees explore topics in basic pharmacology, including drug classifications and the ways drugs interact with different bodily systems. The course also examines best practices for administering medication.

How Do Online Nursing Degree Programs Work?

Prospective nursing students in Missouri have more than 50 online programs to choose from in the state. Many online nursing schools in Missouri offer courses entirely online with no required campus visits, and others offer hybrid options that allow students to take classes on-campus and online. Regardless of the type of program you choose, all nursing students must complete some form of clinical practicum, often available at sites local to each student.

Many online nursing schools in Missouri offer courses entirely online with no required campus visits, and others offer hybrid options that allow students to take classes on-campus and online.


The time it takes to complete an online nursing program varies based on several factors. Different degree types have different requirements, and some schools offer accelerated options that allow students to complete their degrees faster. However, pursuing an online nursing program in Missouri offers students more flexibility to continue working while earning their degrees.

Online nursing programs hold the same requirements as their on-campus counterparts, and students who graduate from online programs receive the same degree. Online programs also generally include the same admission requirements.


Nursing Licensure in Missouri

The Missouri State Board of Nursing governs and regulates all nursing practice and licensure in the state. All prospective nurses must apply through the board to obtain the required license to practice. In Missouri, each nurse must hold a license to practice. However, CNAs must only complete the required training and testing and maintain active status with the Missouri registry.

Missouri offers a funding program for eligible nursing students earning any level of nursing degree at an approved state institution. The program awards up to $5,000 per year for professional nursing students and up to $2,500 per year for LPN students.

Licensure requirements change by nursing type. The following sections explore these requirements in greater detail.

State Requirements by Nursing Type

In Missouri, each type of nursing license maintains different requirements. The table below outlines the educational, clinical, renewal, and continuing education requirements for each license.

Certified Nurse Assistant

CNAs in Missouri do not hold traditional licenses like other nursing professionals in the state. Working as a CNA requires candidates to complete a state-approved training course and maintain active status on the state's CNA registry. The training course, mandated by Missouri's Omnibus Nursing Home Act, specifically prepares students to work in long-term care and nursing home facilities.

The course entails 75 classroom hours of traditional instruction and an additional 100 hours of job training. Upon completion of the course, students must pass a two-part exam, which includes both practicum and written elements. The test covers topics emphasized in the training course, including resident safety and rights, basic skills in nursing, and caring for patients with mental deficiencies such as memory disorders.

CNAs must work at least one day in every two-year period to maintain active status. After five years of inactive status, CNAs must retake the course to reinstate active status.

Missouri Licensure Requirements

  • Education: State-approved training program consisting of 75 classroom hours and 100 hours of training in the field

  • Additional Clinical Hours: 100 hours, fulfilled in training program

  • Exams: Two-part final exam following the completion of the training program

  • Renewal Frequency: Every two years

  • Continuing Education: CNAs must show proof of at least one workday as a CNA in each 24-month period to remain on active status

Licensed Practical Nurse

LPNs in Missouri hold formal licenses, unlike CNAs. To obtain licensure, prospective LPNs must first complete an approved nursing education program. This includes associate and diploma programs designed for practical nurses. The state board mandates the requirements for approved LPN education and training programs.

Upon graduating, students may apply to sit for the NCLEX-PN. This exam measures competencies covered in the training program, and upon passing, students may practice under graduate nurse licensure until their official license is processed.

In Missouri, LPNs do not need to complete any state-required continuing education. However, individual employers may hold different requirements. LPNs must renew their licenses every even-numbered year. Licenses expire on May 31, and LPNs should receive renewal notices well in advance of this date.

Missouri Licensure Requirements

  • Education: Professional nursing degree or diploma

  • Additional Clinical Hours: Fulfilled in nursing program

  • Exams: NCLEX-PN

  • Renewal Frequency: LPN licenses expire on May 31 of even-numbered years

  • Continuing Education: None

Registered Nurse

Missouri's Board of Nursing requires RNs to graduate from an approved professional nursing program. The board approves associate and bachelor's programs that meet set criteria for curriculum and exam pass rates. Prospective students can check with the board for approved programs and detailed information on education requirements.

Prior to graduating, students may apply to sit for the NCLEX-RN. Candidates may take the test once approved by the board. Before receiving official scores, students may practice as graduate nurses for up to 90 days on a graduate nursing license.

Nurses do not need to complete continuing education requirements to renew their licenses. RNs renew their licenses each odd-numbered year. RN licenses expire on April 30 of those years. Nurses should check with their employer for any workplace-based continuing education requirements not imposed by the state.

Missouri Licensure Requirements

  • Education: ADN or BSN

  • Additional Clinical Hours: Fulfilled in degree program

  • Exams: NCLEX-RN

  • Renewal Frequency: RN licenses expire on April 30 of odd-numbered years

  • Continuing Education: None

Nurse Practitioner

In Missouri, advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs), or NPs, must complete a graduate nursing program intended to prepare students for advanced practice. This includes master's and doctoral programs that meet the minimum educational standards set by the state nursing board. Many graduate nursing schools require each student to hold an RN license in good standing prior to beginning a program.

Missouri requires an NP to hold and maintain a valid RN license and a national NP certification provided by an approved certifying body. Each certifying body holds different requirements for certification and renewal. NPs must provide the board with ongoing proof of maintaining an active certification.

NPs in Missouri work under restricted practice status, requiring a collaborative practice agreement with a licensed physician to prescribe medications and provide certain patient treatments. APRNs without national certification may obtain and maintain licensure under different regulations.

Missouri Licensure Requirements

  • Education: MSN or DNP

  • Additional Clinical Hours: Fulfilled in degree program

  • Exams: Certification exam from an approved certifying body

  • Renewal Frequency: Maintain RN license (renew every odd-numbered year) and maintain national certification (requirements vary)

  • Continuing Education: N/A


Online Nursing Degree Programs and Licensing in Missouri FAQ

What Nursing Field Makes the Most Money?

Salary depends on several factors, including geographic location, employer, position, education, and experience. Generally, NPs and APRNs tend to make the most among nursing professions.

How Should I Choose What Nursing Field to Go Into?

This depends on each nursing student's interests. For example, those interested in working with children and infants may wish to pursue a pediatric or neonatal specialty, and those interested in working with patients of all ages may excel in an emergency nursing specialization.

Does an Online Nursing Degree Have the Same Value as an On-Campus Degree?

Yes. Online degrees require the same level of academic rigor as their on-campus counterparts. Both degrees prepare students to meet the required education standards for nursing.

How Long Does it Take to Get an RN License in Missouri?

This depends on several individual factors. Prospective nurses must apply and submit necessary supplemental documents, including transcripts, test scores, and background checks. The time it takes to earn a license can vary from applicant to applicant.

Is Missouri a Nurse Compact State?

Yes. Missouri became a part of the nursing compact in 2010. This compact allows nurses in Missouri to obtain multi-state licenses and practice in other compact states without applying for additional state licenses.


Missouri Nurse Salaries and Employment Trends

Salary and job growth depend on many factors, and no education or specific degree guarantees a set salary or employment. Data shows salary for nursing professions in Missouri tends to run lower than the national average and lower than averages in neighboring states. However, the state has implemented some incentive programs to attract more nursing professionals and address a growing nursing shortage in the coming years.

The state offers student loan repayment and forgiveness programs for nurses working in eligible areas, and funding opportunities for nursing students still in school. Additionally, the University of Missouri Health system boasts a range of incentives for new nurses, including retention and referral awards.

The table below offers more data on average salaries for nursing professionals in Missouri and neighboring states.

Nurse Salary and Projected Job Growth in Missouri, by Type

  Annual Mean Wage Projected Job Growth
(2016-2026)
Certified Nurse Assistant $23,100 8.8%
Licensed Practical Nurse $42,580 7.8%
Registered Nurse $65,130 15.8%
Nurse Practitioner $102,470 28%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Projections Central



Annual Mean Nurse Wages in Nearby States

  Certified Nurse Assistant Licensed Practical Nurse Registered Nurse Nurse Practitioner
United States $29,580 $47,050 $75,510 $110,030
Arkansas $25,770 $39,570 $60,780 $104,300
Oklahoma $25,690 $41,260 $63,080 $103,280
Kansas $26,210 $43,240 $61,030 $99,430
Nebraska $28,730 $43,160 $64,470 $103,800
Iowa $29,120 $42,820 $59,130 $106,290
Illinois $28,810 $51,080 $73,890 $105,800
Kentucky $26,800 $41,920 $63,100 $99,790
Tennessee $26,400 $40,120 $61,320 $95,990

Source: BLS


Certified Nurse Assistant

CNAs in Missouri do not need a license to practice; instead, they must complete a training course and maintain an active status on the state registry. This lower level of required education, which affords CNAs only certain job duties, may also contribute to the lower average earnings for this position. CNAs in Missouri earn less on average than neighboring states and less than the national average. The projected job growth rate for CNAs in Missouri closely mirrors the national rate.

Licensed Practical Nurse

Each LPN in Missouri holds a formal license and works under the supervision of a licensed RN. This position requires less education than an RN and more than a CNA, so their average salary falls between the two. Fortunately, LPNs in Missouri tend to earn more on average than some neighboring states, including Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kentucky. However, the job growth rate for LPNs in Missouri sits below the national average of 11%.

Registered Nurse

Missouri expects to see a potential nursing shortage in the coming years and will need qualified nursing professionals to fill available jobs. Each RN in Missouri must hold at least an associate degree, and many hold BSNs. This level of education earns these professionals a generous mean annual wage, higher than some neighboring states such as Kansas and Iowa.

Nurse Practitioner

NPs, as APRNs, must work under a collaborative practice agreement in Missouri. This restricted status requires them to work with a licensed physician, particularly when prescribing medication. However, NPs in Missouri earn relatively close to the national average, and the state's job growth rate for this field surpasses the national rate for NPs.


Nursing Resources for Missouri

  • Missouri Nurses Association This organization serves nurses across Missouri by improving health standards and contributing to professional development. Members receive access to continuing education, webinars, networking opportunities, and conferences.
  • Association of Missouri Nurse Practitioners This organization aims to improve advanced practice standards and support NP practice across the state. Members can access a private job board, discounted conference fees, continuing education courses, and legislative updates.
  • Missouri Board of Nursing The Missouri Board of Nursing regulates all nursing practice in the state. All LPNs, RNs, and NPs must go through the board to apply for, earn, and maintain their licenses. The board's website offers information on board meetings, policy updates, and renewal information.
  • Missouri Nursing Students' Association This nursing student organization provides support and resources for students in Missouri. Members can access discounts, nursing publications, and conferences.
  • Missouri Association of School Nurses With over 400 members around the state, this organization aims to enhance nursing practice through professional development and leadership. Members receive access to professional development, mentor programs, legislative updates, and networking opportunities.

Accredited Online Nursing Programs in Missouri

Missouri boasts many reputable online nursing degree programs. The following database of Missouri nursing schools details all accredited online nursing programs in the state, including ADN, BSN, RN-to-BSN, MSN, and DNP programs.

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