The nursing profession encompasses one of the largest and most diverse segments of the healthcare industry. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), there are more than 3.1 million registered nurses (RNs) licensed to practice in the US alone, which is more than four times the number of physicians. This large workforce is comprised of different types of nurses with distinct clinical specializations, varying levels of training, and separate yet interdependent roles across the vast American healthcare system. At every level of nursing and in every specialized area of patient care and healthcare administration, nurses must receive formal clinical and didactic training in a range of subject areas pertaining to the evidence-based practice of nursing and the proper and ethical delivery of health services.
Online nursing degree programs are designed to offer specialized instruction and advanced training to RNs who hold a valid state license to practice. Students in online nursing degree programs receive all or most of their classroom instruction online. They are able to complete programs without incurring the cost and inconvenience associated with commuting to a physical campus. Most online nursing degree programs also include practicums, internships, and other types of supervised clinical training. Depending on the type of nursing degree program, the area of specialization, and the certification and licensing requirements in that field of nursing, the number of supervised clinical hours required can vary greatly. This clinical training has to be completed on site at a facility approved by the program.
Online nursing degree programs are an option for licensed RNs who are looking to further their careers by adding an area of specialization or addition skills to the training they have already received. These programs may offer different pathways for RNs with different educational backgrounds. For example, most online nursing programs admit RNs who have successfully completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree program. Some programs may also accommodate RNs with a non-nursing bachelor’s degree, and/or RNs who received their training in an Associate’s Degree in Nursing (ADN) program or nursing diploma program.
OnlineEducation.com conducts independent research into online nursing degree programs. Programs that require more than three campus visits per year are not categorized as online programs by OnlineEducation.com, and are not included on the site at this time. Programs with three or fewer required campus visits are classified and grouped based on their curricular objectives and the level of degree offered. Currently, OnlineEducation.com groups nursing programs into the following categories:
In addition to maintaining an up-to-date, independently researched database of online nursing programs, OnlineEducation.com provides several other resources for students interested in pursuing a nursing degree or learning more about careers in nursing. We provide detailed information on program structures, accrediting bodies, state and national certifications, and other aspects of nursing education and career advancement. In our FAQ section, we address relevant questions about nursing specializations, careers in nursing, and the various pathways to becoming a nurse. We also provide a full complement of expert interviews and informational resources for students who want to learn more about online education.
Online Master of Science in Nursing Clinical Nurse Leader programs offer a combination of advanced clinical training and instruction in the healthcare management, evidence-based practice, and professional communications skills necessary to advance into a career as a CNL.
Online nursing administration and nursing executive leadership MSN programs provide training to RNs who are aiming to transition from clinical positions into managerial, administrative, and executive positions in hospitals and healthcare organizations.
Online MSN-to-DNP programs provide licensed RNs with a master’s degree a pathway to advance in their careers by earning a practice-based doctoral degree in the areas of Advanced Clinical Practice, Executive Leadership, Nurse Educator, and Nurse Practitioner.
Online nurse educator programs offer instruction and training to RNs seeking to advance into nurse educator positions at colleges, universities, hospitals, and medical centers. RNs who enter these programs learn theories and practices of nursing education, as well as advanced clinical skills.
Online post-master’s NP certificate programs provide RNs who hold a graduate degree in nursing with a pathway to add a new NP specialization in one to two years without having to commute to a campus for classes.
Online RN-to-BSN degree programs are designed for licensed RNs who have graduated from an ADN or nursing diploma program and who want to advance in their careers by earning a full Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, typically in less than four years.