Associates in Nursing Degrees & Programs Guide

Find The Best Colleges and Highest Paying Associates Nursing Positions

What is an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)?

An Associate of Science in Nursing is a degree program that provides you with the educational material you need to learn so you can apply for licensure as a registered nurse (RN), as long as you successfully pass the NCLEX-RN national exam.

When you walk into your first job, you’ll have the skills you need to give safe, effective care to each one of your patients. You may care for patients of all ages or you may choose to specialize in one particular age group.

If you choose an accredited program, then you will be able to request federal financial aid. Your salary offers may also be higher. Also, if you decide to return to school for classes in advanced nursing, your entrance application will be more seriously considered. As you work on entry into an ASN program, make sure you stay informed about academic requirements, prerequisites, and degree requirements.

Nursing Degrees & Career Paths


Difference of an Associate Degree (ADN) vs. Certification (LPN) vs. Bachelor’s Degree (BSN)

In a BSN program you learn similar material from the ASN program, but it goes into more depth and you receive added leadership training. You also get additional training in management and information management than you would receive in an ASN program. An LPN takes the same classes than an ASN graduate takes, but they choose to earn a certificate rather than a degree.

Your career goals will have a strong influence in the program you select. With a BSN, you may qualify for a larger range of RN positions, such as nurse practitioner, case manager, or a Health Educator.

The time it takes to complete a BSN is longer than the time frame for the ASN. You will have to commit four years of study rather than two years. This means your tuition costs will be higher if you choose to earn a BSN.

Employer preferences may also have an impact on your choice. Increasingly, employers are looking for BSN candidates and those with higher degrees as well (MSN and doctoral degrees in nursing).

As for an LPN, they will also provide direct patient care, but will do so under the supervision of an RN or physician. These nurses cannot work independently, where an RN with an ASN or BSN can do so. Your eventual salary will also be different. An RN may earn an annual salary of $70,000. An LPN may earn a little more than $45,000, this is because this professional earned a certificate rather than a diploma. Your pay reflects your level of training

Requirements to Enter an Associate Nursing Degree Program

You’ll need to have all of your paperwork ready to be submitted to the college of your choice. These include official transcripts from each college you may have already attended.

You have to complete a higher-level math course with a grace of “C” or higher; earn an ACT score of 23 or higher in math OR your ALEKS PPL Assessment, with a score of 30 or higher.

Submit your CNA license, if you hold one.

Some colleges will require that you complete some prerequisite courses before entering a nursing program. These may include classes such as English, physiology with a lab, and anatomy with a lab. You may be able to enter an ASN program straight out of high school after completing these prerequisites. You need a high school diploma or a GED equivalent; you should have a GPA of at least 2.5.

Important Questions to Ask

How Long Does It Take to Earn An Associate Degree in Nursing?

Expect to make a time commitment to earn your Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). This degree falls in the middle, above a practical nursing diploma and under a bachelor’s degree in Nursing.

You will spend between 18 and 24 months in an ADN program. Upon graduation and licensing, you will be an RN, with the ability to specialize your job role. You will also be able to work in one of many available healthcare settings.

If you are planning to earn your BSN, then you will spend about 3.5 years doing so. If you have a bachelor’s in another major, you may be able to earn your BSN in about 18 months with an accelerated program. If you already have an ADN and work as an RN, you may be able to enter an ADN to BSN Bridge program and earn your degree in a relatively short 12 months.

Potential Coursework

Example Courses:

  • Introduction to Pharmacology
  • Pharmacology
  • Family Health Concepts
  • Health & Illness Concepts
  • Mental Health Concepts
  • Acute Concepts
  • Complex Concepts

What is an ASN?

The ASN is an Associate of Science in Nursing, usually earned from a community college or vocational school. The program you choose should be comprehensive, offering a wide range of courses that culminate in your graduation with your ASN degree. In the program you select, you may have a few options from which to choose: generic, bridge, or accelerated.

Within this degree, you’ll undergo 24 to 30 months’ worth of classes that will give you the education necessary to take your National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCELX-RN). The courses you take may include math, Pharmacology, nursing skills, medical-surgical nursing, health assessment, community health, pediatric nursing, professional nursing leadership, obstetrical nursing, and psychiatric nursing.

This degree opens up a rewarding nursing career. Because of an ongoing shortage of nurses, you should be able to accept a job offer shortly after graduating.

What Options Do You Have for Employment with an ASN?

After you graduate and earn your RN certification, you have a wide range of employment choices. Your knowledge and skills are badly needed in many healthcare settings.

You can work in a specialty hospital, for home healthcare services or in a hospital. There’s also an option to work for an insurance carrier or for a nursing care facility. You may be hired to work in an assisted living facility or a continuing care retirement community (CCRC), or you may choose to work in the private practice of several doctors.

Maybe you want some of the job variety that comes with a hospital setting, but you don’t want that much stress. If that’s so, then working in an outpatient care center may suit your career goals.

You could work for other health practitioners in their offices. Professional schools, universities, and colleges often need RNs for their staff. Working here, you will be helping students who need medical care.

Job Outlook

Nurses are always in demand. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the employment of RNs is projected to grow about 15% between 2016 and 2026 - this is much faster than the average projected for all occupations.

Demand for healthcare drives this increase. Our population is aging, bringing more medical problems; Alzheimer’s disease, head injuries, and strokes require long-term care. Hospitals are under stronger pressure from insurance companies to send patients home, often before they are ready for discharge. This means long-term care facilities are taking up the slack. Job growth will be markedly faster in these facilities.

What are Your Options to Advance?

You can go on to graduate from a BSN program. While you will still be an RN, you will be qualified to take on more complex nursing and medical procedures while a physician supervises your work. In time, you may be put in charge of junior nurses. With your BSN, you can branch out and become a public health nurse, nurse educator, or work in another specialty.

Next, consider an option to move up from your RN position with an early admission to Master of Science in Nursing or a Doctor of Nursing Practice. You will enhance your career and give yourself the opportunity to advance.

Additionally, you could enroll into a Bridge program. Your options include earning your MSN, or becoming a Family Nurse Practitioner, Nurse-Midwife, or Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.

Finally, look at enrolling into a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration or a Master of Science in Healthcare Informatics. In both, you will be working in administrative positions.