Nursing careers offer a wide variety of challenges and specializations for a prospective nurse; students interested in health and medicine can find some application of an online nursing degree to suit their interests. There are four levels of nursing; these include nurse’s aides, nurse assistants, Registered Nurses (RN), and Advanced Practice Registered Nurses (APRN). No matter which option you choose, at every level, nurses and other professionals work as a team to help educate patients and the public, diagnose patients, care for their medical treatment, and offer emotional support to patients and their families across the U.S. This may happen in clinical practice in direct patient care through community health nursing, educating other nursing students through one of the many online nursing programs available, as a clinical nurse specialist in healthcare facilities, in nursing informatics or healthcare informatics, and more.
Part- or full-time students can reach their professional goals by gaining a collegiate nursing education through associate or BSN programs, available through in-person and online courses. They can use a nursing certificate program to start as a nurse's aide or assistant, and they can get an associate in nursing to become a licensed practical nurse. If students complete a bachelor’s degree or BSN degree program, they can gain an RN license and become a registered nurse (RN). Nurses can grow into advanced nursing opportunities and leadership positions through nursing education and professional experience earned through clinical hours. A Master of Science or RN to MSN degree, when combined with clinical education, can qualify nursing students as leaders, educators, and experts in their fields.
Those with their nursing diploma or who have completed BSN programs and gained their RN license or more can work or become a nurse leader in many settings such as hospitals, community nursing clinics, schools, and doctor’s offices. Nurses serve in public health facilities and the military services. They can work in research facilities, in specializations such as pediatrics (children), gerontology (older persons), and surgical settings like nurse anesthetists that monitor patients under anesthesia during surgery. With the right prerequisite courses and and a willingness to meet clinical requirements, there's no telling what you can accomplish with an online nursing degree program.
Best Nursing Schools and College Programs
Located in the heart of New York City, Columbia University is one of the state’s oldest colleges. Students interested in pursuing a career in nursing can benefit from an extensive selection of program options at this prestigious college such as MSN, DNP, or PhD degrees. Students who would like to secure a master’s degree in nursing can choose from the Masters Direct Entry Program for non-nurse college graduates, the Masters in Nurse Anesthesia, and the Masters in Advanced Clinical Management and Leadership. In addition, there are several DNP programs for those interested in being a nurse practitioner or midwife. A Doctor of Philosophy is also available for those who see themselves as a nurse scientist. Columbia University nursing graduates report an annual income between $71,000 and $150,000 a year.
- In-State: $61,788
- Out-of-State: $61,788
- Rank: #1
- Total Enrollment: 31,077
- Graduation Rate: 96%
- Diplomas Awarded: 249
New Haven, Connecticut, is home to Yale University School of Nursing, a top college offering full-time and part-time options for students. The college ensures that students are on the right track toward a nursing career with several unique graduate programs including the master of science in nursing, doctor of nursing practice, and doctor of philosophy. A Graduate Entry Prespecialty in Nursing program is also offered to students who would like to receive knowledge about basic nursing and clinical specialties. As of today, there are roughly 324 students enrolled in the college’s program. Students who graduate from a nursing school can earn between $72,000 and $98,000.
- In-State: $55,500
- Out-of-State: $55,500
- Rank: #2
- Total Enrollment: 13,433
- Graduation Rate: 97%
- Diplomas Awarded: 118
At University of Pennsylvania, students are presented with several different nursing options including a traditional four-year bachelor’s, accelerated bachelor’s second degree, a direct entry BSN/MSN program, a wide variety of specialized MSN programs, a doctor of philosophy in nursing, and a doctor of nursing practice program. The university’s primary mission is to prepare students to achieve their career goals, whether they want to be a neonatal nurse practitioner, a registered nurse, a midwife, or to work in nurse education. Graduates of the University of Pennsylvania Registered Nurse (RN) programs can earn a starting salary of $82,960.
- In-State: $57,770
- Out-of-State: $57,770
- Rank: #3
- Total Enrollment: 25,860
- Graduation Rate: 95%
- Diplomas Awarded: 478
Duke University, located in Durham, North Carolina, is praised for its commitment in developing the next generation of nursing leaders. The college offers an accelerated bachelor of science nursing program for students who already have an undergraduate degree in another discipline. Students can also choose to purse a master’s, doctorate, or PhD nursing degree. In these programs, students learn exceptional nursing skills in a variety of different settings including modern classrooms, simulation labs, and affiliated medical facilities. The average salary for a Duke University graduate is $84,000.
- In-State: $58,031
- Out-of-State: $58,031
- Rank: #4
- Total Enrollment: 16,606
- Graduation Rate: 96%
- Diplomas Awarded: 353
Students attending Boston College can greatly benefit from this prominent institution as its goal is to help them achieve success in a multitude of healthcare careers, whichever they choose to pursue. Among the healthcare related programs offered at this excellent college include pre-licensure programs and more advanced degrees including a master’s, and PhD nursing degrees. Graduates of the Boston College Connell School of Nursing are qualified to serve in a variety of nursing roles in many different settings. The average salary of a Boston College graduate is $75,000.
- In-State: $57,910
- Out-of-State: $57,910
- Rank: #5
- Total Enrollment: 14,720
- Graduation Rate: 92%
- Diplomas Awarded: 109
The University of California campus, located in Los Angeles, is a prestigious public university that offers more than 160 areas of study for undergraduate and graduate students. The college’s nursing program is a popular choice for students as it includes degree options such as a traditional four-year bachelor’s, a Masters Entry Clinical Nursing degree, Master of Science in Nursing, a PhD in Nursing, and a Doctor of Nursing Practice program. The UCLA School of Nursing boasts a total enrollment of almost 600 students. After graduating from the nursing program, these students go on to earn an average yearly income of $75,000.
- In-State: $13,240
- Out-of-State: $42,994
- Rank: #6
- Total Enrollment: 44,537
- Graduation Rate: 91%
- Diplomas Awarded: 227
A private, not-for-profit college, Georgetown University has a total of 19,204 students enrolled. The college proudly offers almost 100 undergraduate and graduate programs with bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral nursing degrees being among its top studies. The O’Neill Family Foundation Clinical Simulation Center is available to help students hone their nursing skills, whether they are training to become a registered nurse or a family nurse practitioner. Students graduating from Georgetown University state that they earn an average of $78,000 a year.
- In-State: $56,058
- Out-of-State: $56,058
- Rank: #7
- Total Enrollment: 19,204
- Graduation Rate: 94%
- Diplomas Awarded: 322
University of Virginia in Charlottesville is a public institution and a great choice for anyone hoping to study nursing. The university features two undergraduate nursing degrees including a traditional four-year bachelor of science in nursing and an RN to BSN program for registered nurses who would like to receive a bachelor’s degree (BSN Degree). The college also provides advanced nursing degrees for students seeking a master’s or doctoral degree. University of Virginia prides itself on educating students who will earn an annual income of roughly $67,000.
- In-State: $17,798
- Out-of-State: $50,900
- Rank: #8
- Total Enrollment: 24,639
- Graduation Rate: 94%
- Diplomas Awarded: 217
Located in Nashville, Tennessee, Vanderbilt University is a private institution that prepares students for various healthcare careers. Students who would like to pursue a nursing career can benefit from several graduate level programs such as a master of science in nursing, doctor of nursing practice, PhD in nursing science, postgraduate certificates, and a postdoctoral program. Students are supported on their nursing journey with a newly opened state-of-the-art simulation and skills lab as well as scholarships providing financial assistance. Graduates of Vanderbilt University can expect to earn an annual income of about $80,000.
- In-State: $52,070
- Out-of-State: $52,070
- Rank: #9
- Total Enrollment: 12,824
- Graduation Rate: 94%
- Diplomas Awarded: 325
Chapel Hill is home to the University of North Carolina is a large public university with a total enrollment of 30,011 students. The college offers a few nursing degree programs including a bachelor’s, master’s, and PhD in nursing. These top notch nursing degree programs prepare students to be registered nurses, nurse practitioners, healthcare administrators, and nurse researchers/scientists The university is proud to boast a 97%first-time pass rate on a nursing examination known as the NCLEX. Students who graduate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill report earning around $79,400 mid-career.
- In-State: $8,980
- Out-of-State: $36,159
- Rank: #10
- Total Enrollment: 30,011
- Graduation Rate: 89%
- Diplomas Awarded: 261
A small, private Roman Catholic institution, Villanova University only enrolls 11,030 but has big goals of producing extremely knowledgeable nursing leaders. Students attending Villanova University have access to several traditional and accelerated nursing programs including a four-year bachelor’s program, a second degree bachelor’s, and an accelerated second degree bachelor’s of nursing. The college also offers master’s programs with a nurse practitioner concentration and doctoral programs to receive a PhD in nursing. Nursing graduates of Villanova University typically earn an average of $63,000 upon starting their career.
- In-State: $55,280
- Out-of-State: $55,280
- Rank: #11
- Total Enrollment: 11,030
- Graduation Rate: 91%
- Diplomas Awarded: 314
At the University of Florida in Gainesville, students can obtain nursing degrees at the undergraduate and doctorate levels. Available program options include a traditional BSN, accelerated BSN, RN to BSN, BSN to DNP, MSN to DNP, and a PhD in nursing sciences. The college also offers a postgraduate certificate program for students with a master’s or doctorate degree in nursing. University of Florida also boasts 90% passing rate on the NCLEX. Salaries for this college’s graduates are typically around $72,000 per a year.
- In-State: $6,381
- Out-of-State: $28,659
- Rank: #12
- Total Enrollment: 52,218
- Graduation Rate: 90%
- Diplomas Awarded: 223
Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland prepares over 1,000 students each year to serve in professional roles as registered nurses, nurse practitioners, nurse educators, and nurse researchers. Current Johns Hopkins University program options include a master’s of science in nursing for students with a bachelor’s degree in another discipline as well as DNP and PhD doctoral programs. Depending on the concentration, students can pursue the master’s degree program online. Students can also pursue postgraduate certificates to obtain specialization in certain fields. After graduating from this prestigious college, most students earn an average of $49,000 in their early career.
- In-State: $55,350
- Out-of-State: $55,350
- Rank: #13
- Total Enrollment: 26,152
- Graduation Rate: 93%
- Diplomas Awarded: 316
University of Washington in Seattle offers several degree options for students seeking to pursue or advance their careers in nursing. The college’s school of nursing provides a traditional four-year bachelor’s and accelerated bachelor’s for students would plan to take the NCLEX to become registered nurses. Students can also benefit from a master’s or doctorate degree in nursing, preparing them to become nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, nurse educators, or midwives. Graduates of the University of Washington typically make around $59,000 starting out.
- In-State: $11,207
- Out-of-State: $36,588
- Rank: #14
- Total Enrollment: 47,400
- Graduation Rate: 84%
- Diplomas Awarded: 165
University of Michigan in Ann Arbor prides itself on maintaining an impressive student enrollment of about 41,000 in 19 schools. The college provides students with nursing programs at various educational levels. A traditional, four-year degree is available for freshmen, while a master’s of science in nursing is available for students who already have a bachelor’s in nursing. University of Michigan also offers several doctor of nursing programs and certificate options, which are perfect for students who would like to specialize in certain areas of nursing. After graduating from this college, students report earning an average salary of $61,000.
- In-State: $15,558
- Out-of-State: $51,200
- Rank: #15
- Total Enrollment: 46,716
- Graduation Rate: 92%
- Diplomas Awarded: 178
Northeastern University prepares its students for nursing careers in a variety of settings such as hospice, pediatrics, geriatrics, and research through top notch programs including BSN, MSN, DNP, and PhD. Students who graduate from these programs will be eligible for licensure in Massachusetts and other states. The college also offers continuing nursing education opportunities for students who would like to learn the latest practices and innovations in healthcare. Early in their careers, students of Northeastern University make an average salary of $47,000, but graduates with advanced nursing degrees can earn much higher.
- In-State: $53,506
- Out-of-State: $53,506
- Rank: #16
- Total Enrollment: 21,627
- Graduation Rate: 88%
- Diplomas Awarded: 207
Situated in Atlanta Georgia, Emory University is a private Ivy League college that maintains a mid-size enrollment of roughly 14,458 students. The college provides an array of nursing degree options including traditional and accelerated BSN, MSN, and doctoral programs. The average starting salary for MSN graduates is $96,000 and 88% of students who received a BSN degree had a job within three months of graduation.
- In-State: $53,804
- Out-of-State: $53,804
- Rank: #17
- Total Enrollment: 14,458
- Graduation Rate: 90%
- Diplomas Awarded: 394
The University of Wisconsin ensures that its students obtain the academic support and hands on experience they need to succeed as nurses. The college provides an extensive array of offerings including a traditional, four-year BSN program that admits students each fall as well an accelerated option for students who already have a bachelor’s degree. Students can also choose to pursue an RN to BSN, DNP, or a PhD in nursing. The college offers on-campus and online certificate programs. Most students who graduate from the University of Wisconsin make about $72,000 every year.
- In-State: $10,725
- Out-of-State: $37,785
- Rank: #18
- Total Enrollment: 43,463
- Graduation Rate: 87%
- Diplomas Awarded: 210
Situated on a large 500-acre park, Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio is home to about 11,890 students. Many of these students are interested in careers in nursing, and the college offers several programs to meet this demand. At this college, students can obtain a BSN, MSN, DNP, or a PhD in nursing. These top notch programs are designed to prepare students to work as nurses in various settings such as hospitals, private practice, non-profit agencies, and much more. The average salary for a Case Western Reserve University graduate is roughly $75,000.
- In-State: $50,924
- Out-of-State: $50,924
- Rank: #19
- Total Enrollment: 11,890
- Graduation Rate: 85%
- Diplomas Awarded: 175
The College of New Jersey, a public university located in Ewing, is comprised of more than 50 programs including BSN and MSN options. Students interested in a nursing career can enroll in a traditional, four-year bachelor’s program, an RN to BSN program, or an RN to MSN program. The college also offers an MSN program for students who would like to become a clinical nurse leader, a school nurse, or a nurse practitioner. Students graduating from The College of New Jersey can expect to earn roughly $56,200 or more in their first year of working.
- In-State: $16,923
- Out-of-State: $28,901
- Rank: #20
- Total Enrollment: 7,686
- Graduation Rate: 86%
- Diplomas Awarded: 103
Ohio State University in the city of Columbus prides itself on preparing students for careers as registered nurses, clinical researchers, school nurses, and much more. The degree options at this college include a traditional BSN, online RN to BSN, online MSN, BSN to DNP, MSN to DNP, and a PhD in nursing. Students graduating from Ohio State University will usually earn an annual income of $70,000.
- In-State: $11,084
- Out-of-State: $32,061
- Rank: #21
- Total Enrollment: 61,170
- Graduation Rate: 84%
- Diplomas Awarded: 490
Since 1960, the University of Texas in Austin has opened its doors to a wide variety of nursing students. The university offers undergraduate and graduate options in nursing including a BSN, ADN to BSN, MSN, DNP, and PhD programs. The college also provides a master’s of nursing degree for students who have a bachelor’s in another field. The University of Texas produces graduate who earn a yearly income of about $74,000.
- In-State: $10,824
- Out-of-State: $38,326
- Rank: #22
- Total Enrollment: 51,832
- Graduation Rate: 83%
- Diplomas Awarded: 191
The School of Nursing & Human Physiology at Gonzaga University is home to several nursing programs including a BSN, online RN to MSN, online MSN, online second master’s degree, and online DNP. These online degrees meet the requirement set forth by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education. Graduates from Gonzaga University can expect to earn an average of $68,000 a year.
- In-State: $45,140
- Out-of-State: $45,140
- Rank: #23
- Total Enrollment: 7,563
- Graduation Rate: 86%
- Diplomas Awarded: 247
Students attending New York University can benefit from a private institution with a primary goal of preparing nursing leaders who will change the world. The college provides the following degree options for students: BS, MS, DNP, and PhD. New York University boasts a 90% pass rate on the NCLEX licensing examination. Salaries for graduates of this college are around $75,000 annually.
- In-State: $53,308
- Out-of-State: $53,308
- Rank: #24
- Total Enrollment: 51,847
- Graduation Rate: 85%
- Diplomas Awarded: 596
Binghamton University is recognized for its commitment to providing top notch nursing programs. The college proudly offers undergraduate and graduate degree options through BSN, MSN, DNP, and PhD nursing programs. These programs prepare students to become successful registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nurse educators. Binghamton University graduates earn roughly $75,000 every year.
- In-State: $10,201
- Out-of-State: $27,791
- Rank: #25
- Total Enrollment: 17,768
- Graduation Rate: 81%
- Diplomas Awarded: 240
Overview of an Online Nursing Education
Nursing is a broad field, and it covers at least four levels, from nurse’s aides to master’s degree specialists. Some broad ideas apply to every level of nursing and education as components of a successful career in nursing.
- Dedication to Healing
Nursing positions are high paid health professions because they carry many serious responsibilities. Patients rely upon nurses for a range of care that includes critical illnesses and a huge diversity of life-threatening conditions. The job requires a deep sense of dedication to helping people when they may be in severe distress.
- Communications and Interpersonal Relationships
Communications and personal engagement are critical skills in a profession that can frequently operate in severe emergencies and urgent conditions. Nurses must work well with colleagues, doctors, patients, and patient families. They must listen carefully and communicate clearly and precisely about findings, observations, info, and facts gathered.
- Critical Thinking
Nurses must be problem solvers. They must sometimes assemble pieces of information and develop plans of action based purely on the content of a patient's file and the information they gather from observing them. They must also follow instructions and use knowledge and experience as required by the circumstances.
- Compassionate Patient Care
Compassion is an essential part of the duties of a nursing professional; they must demonstrate this trait when dealing with patients, patient families, and the public full-time.
Nursing is a broad field and, historically, it was not a college-based profession. Hospitals were the primary source and training ground for nurses. They gained their credentials and nursing education through clinical rotations and clinical experiences. Schools of nursing grew as colleges and universities adopted standards for medical education and extended them to the staff and support personnel for medical practitioners and hospitals. Today, formal education, such as a nursing associate or baccalaureate degree program, is the primary path for entry into the nursing field and an RN license. The non-degree options include apprentice-type training and nurse assistant certificate programs. The main degree options are the associate degree, the bachelor’s degree, and the master’s degree, which can be gained through an online nursing school with fully online programs, a hybrid program with online courses, or in-person classes. No matter which you choose, you will have to complete a certain number of clinical hours through partner programs in order to complete online degree programs.
The medical care field has become increasingly specialized, both by population and fields of study. The US population has statistically gotten older, with longer lifespans, and a larger percentage of older persons. The senior population is a driving force in the expansion of medical care as well as healthcare reform laws that provide insurance coverage for millions of Americans that had previously gone uninsured. The demand for nurses has increased as have the numbers of persons seeking a healthcare education, jobs, and careers. The type of nursing degree, the nursing degree level you obtain, and your nursing experience will determine what career you may be eligible for.
- Decide this is the right field as an assistant, LPN, RN, or APRN.
- Decide whether to attend online, on-campus, or a mix of both.
- Select candidate programs from accredited schools and universities.
- Apply for admission to an associate, bachelor’s, or master’s level degree in nursing.
- Apply for financial aid and scholarships if needed.
Typical Nursing Certifications Needed
All nurse practitioners must pass the NCLEX-PN or NCLEX-RN, the licensure examination for eligibility to become an RN and gain an RN license. It consists of written and practical examinations for state licensure along with any state-specific licensing and registration requirements. Specialists will frequently require additional certifications and licenses. Certifications are legal processes for practice in some areas such as anesthesia. Certifications require special education and passing a practical and written examination.
The trend in nursing is towards greater use of certifications. For example, in the period of 2006 through 2010 the percentage of nurses with certifications grew from about 16% to about 42%. Some of the most widely achieved certifications were in HIV/AIDS, Certified Pediatric Nursing, Advanced Ontology Certified Nurse, Nurse Family Practitioner, and Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA).
At the other end of the spectrum, the Certified Nursing Assistant or CNA test consists of a written exam followed by a skills test. The practical phase requires candidates to demonstrate some basic elements of patient care and bedside approach.
The general academic standard is that when a graduate completes the Registered Nursing Program, then they will be able to function knowledgeably, safely, and effectively in a nursing environment. They will have training sufficient to ensure competence within a variety of healthcare settings and will be qualified for the licensing examination.
The ADN prepares a graduate to transfer to a four-year institution to complete a bachelor’s degree. The BSN degree prepares students to enter specializations in advanced nursing, certifications as specialized nurses, or a master’s nursing degree program with one or more specializations. Cultural competence is an important academic standard. Nurses must perform their duties with a sense of respect for every person
Exams and Experience Needed
The National Council Licensure Examination also called the NCLEX is the national examination administered by the Council on behalf of the fifty states and the territorial governments that must license nurses for the practice of nursing in their jurisdictions. The exam exists to protect the public by ensuring that nurses have the knowledge and skills needed to administer medicines and other prescribed treatments safely.
There are two types of NCLEX; they are the NCLEX-PN and the NCLEX-RN. The NCLEX-PN applies to vocational grads and associate degree holders that have qualified for the Practical Nursing exam under state law. The NCLEX-RN is for students that have qualified for the RN exam by earning a bachelor’s degree in nursing or by having a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) license and the further education or experience required under state law. Learn more below about the different types of nursing degrees available to future Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Registered Nurses (RN) and Nurse Practitioners (NP).
Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)
An associate degree in nursing, whether earned in-person or through an online nursing program, is the shortest path to a licensed nurse status. An associate degree is available at nursing schools, online nursing schools, and community colleges and typically takes two years to complete. The accredited institutions that provide the associate course of study prepare graduates to sit for the NCLEX-PN examination and qualify for a Practical Nursing License. The LPN is a qualification for Licensed Practical Nursing and a steppingstone to a bachelor’s degree and other educational levels in the field of nursing. You can become a registered nurse by gaining an associate degree and passing the NCLEX exam with a passing score.
An online associate degree in nursing requires between 65 to 70 semester hours of courses and laboratory work. Students can complete the degree in two to three years with full-time attendance. The coursework includes about one-third in general education and two-thirds nursing education and lab work.
- Introduction to Pharmacology
- Principles of Nursing Practice
- Health & Illness Concepts and Health & Illness Concepts Lab
- Mental Health Concepts
- Acute Concepts
- Complex Concepts and Complex Concepts Lab
Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)
An online bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) will gain you full participation in the profession. This level works with MDs and specialists and manages a segment of patient care. Registered nurses supervise nurse assistants and licensed practical nurses.
To become a nurse, traditional BSN programs require a total of 125 to 130 hours or about eight semesters for completion, which can take 4-5 years to complete. The prerequisite general education courses typically consist of about 28 hours of coursework. BSN programs typically consist of six semesters of nursing, laboratory, and general medical education.
- Introduction to Psychology
- Introduction to Human Nutrition
- Microbiology and Microbiology Lab
- Nursing Care of Acute and Chronically Ill Patients, I
- Health Promotion and Disease and Illness Prevention, I
- Behavioral Health
- Research and Evidence-Based Practice
Concentrations for Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing include:
Gerontology, Orthopedics, Psychiatric, Midwifery, Neonatal Practice
Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)
The online Master of Science in Nursing is an advanced nursing degree that qualifies graduates for educational, managerial, and administrator level positions. MSN graduates can conduct advanced healthcare assessments, diagnostic procedures, and treatment plans. They take coursework in promoting health and wellness, disease prevention and health counseling. MSN graduates play a key role in the delivery of quality health care locally and regionally.
The MSN requires a bachelor’s degree in Nursing or a degree in a related field plus additional coursework. The post-graduate coursework consists of about 40 to 45 semester hours, and specialization takes hundreds of additional hours of study under clinical supervision. An MSN program can take about 2-3 years to complete and can lead to a position as a Nurse Practitioner.
- Evidence-Based Practice
- Science Development, Study Design, and Statistics
- Advanced Nursing Practice
- Population Health in a Global Society
Concentrations for Master of Science in Nursing:
Administration, Nurse Informatics, and Nurse Adult-Gerontology
Earning Potential and Career Salaries for Graduates
Both experience and education have the effect of raising the annual salary and improving earning potential and career opportunities for nurses. There are clear correlations in national employment data between higher levels of education and higher median annual income. Work experience has a similar impact on salary. This pattern exists in nearly every profession and occupation. Employees with greater experience have higher annual wages than less experienced workers. The field of nursing follows the overall trend. Education and expertise raise the median annual income level.
Fields of Study and Median Salaries
- Anesthesia studies the application of anesthetic drugs in inpatient, outpatient, and emergency situations.
- Research in medical labs, universities, and commercial facilities makes important contributions to public safety, medical effectiveness, and innovation.
- Mental health and psychiatric work form critical parts of a comprehensive approach to healthcare. The focus is on patient needs but also on the families and others affected by behavioral disorders.
- Midwifery studies methods for assisting births in hospital and other settings. This field also involves care for newborns and mothers.
- Orthopedics is the study of muscle and skeletal problems and the effort to restore patient mobility and a symptom-free state.
- General Health is the field of study that includes prevention and wellness. This field also provides general care in areas that are chronically underserved. It is broad, but it is also an advanced field of study.
- Geriatrics focuses on diseases and treatment of elderly or older persons in the population. This field incorporates multilingual training and a high level of education.
- Neonatal studies concern premature and newborn babies that require critical care.
|Field of Study||Associate's degree||Bachelor’s degree||Master’s degree|
Salaries by Occupation
The nursing profession responds to increased demands for medical care as the US population ages and as healthcare reforms extend the availability of medical care. In many geographic areas, the number of nursing applicants has increased, and the supply of qualified nurses has also increased. In high competition areas, students can distinguish their credentials by specialization, certifications, and higher levels of education.
- Nurse Assistants perform many of the principal functions in hospital and other patient care settings. They often have extended contact with patients and in situations of urgent care.
- Licensed Practical Nurses manage patient care and treatments. They work closely with patients and families and handle important communications between patients and medical care providers.
- Registered Nurses assess health problems and carry out treatments. They provide education to patients and the public on diseases and wellness solutions.
- Oncologist nurses help manage the treatment of cancer patients providing care to inpatients or outpatients. This field is high stress and works with terminally ill patients and their families.
- ICU Nurses attend patients in critical care and work in a high-stress environment of severe illness and injury.
- Family Nurse Practitioners perform many of the functions of a general practitioner. They diagnose diseases and prescribe treatments and serve as primary care providers. They often serve as the primary point of contact in managed healthcare systems. Find some additional related salary and career information from Payscale and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) below.
|Nurse – Advanced Practice||$90,700||$97,900||$104,800|
|Family Nurse Practitioner||$91,000||$100,700||$104,000|
Important Questions to Ask (FAQ)
How long does it take to earn an online nursing degree?
The Online Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing is a four-year program that students can complete with four to five years of full-time attendance. The curriculum for a Bachelor of Science in nursing has general education courses meant to provide a background of knowledge and sound basic skills in math, science, English, and communications. Today, the broad experience should include some computer science and an understanding of operating systems.
RN to BSN is a shortcut version of the four-year BSN program that takes advantage of the associate's degree and RN experience that an applicant may have. The RN to BSN path can be two-to-three years in length which can save time and finances when compared to a four-year BSN program at an accredited school.
Please note that almost all programs which are meant to prepare you for a career as a nurse require classes for practical skills. These will not be accessible in an online format.
How much does an online degree in nursing cost?
Estimates for the costs of a nursing degree run from $40,000 to $100,000 per year depending on the university and its tuition charges. Community colleges and public universities charge lower rates for in-state students than out-of-state students. The difference can be remarkable.
Based on all schools and all majors, some estimates can help guide the student. Data from the College Board and the NCES provide ranges for costs that add tuition, living expenses, and fees into price ranges. Based on 2017 data, the costs of a four-year degree at a public school is in the range of $85,000 for in-state students, $150,000 for out-of-state students, and $190,000 for private school students. When projected to the year 2019 through 2020 one can anticipate an increase in the area of three to four percent.
Does the school have the major(s) you’re considering?
University HQ considers the choice of major to be an important decision for students when selecting nursing school for a bachelor's degree. Nursing is a broad field, and it has a wide potential for developing specializations and expertise. The student should pause and study the situation carefully. It is important to connect the choice of school with the career goals and employment objectives. Students should be sure that the school is well-equipped to provide high-quality education in the subject areas of greatest interest.
Students must look at the curriculum to determine if the subject will be covered thoroughly and in the areas of study that will be most beneficial. Laboratory work and clinical supervision are important features. Students can look at the number of lab-based courses. Medical services work environments have become computerized, and students must be sure that their training meets the standards of the types of environments they will encounter in the real world of healthcare delivery.
How many students graduate “on time,” in four years?
The graduation rate is an important piece of information. It measures the performance of the entire student body, and it is a good predictor of the experience each applicant can expect. Time is money when it comes to education. The longer time for completion means more tuition and fee payments. Each year in addition to the expected four years, adds about 25% to the total costs of a degree.
National statistics measure on-time degree completion using four-year and six-year marks. Private schools across the US and for all majors have a range of 53% on-time graduation and 65.6% within six years. In these schools, students can expect to finish on time if they attend full time and within six years with some part-time attendance. Public schools show a 35% on-time rate at four years and 59% at the six-year mark. Students at these schools must plan carefully to ensure that they can complete requirements for on-time graduation.
What kind of accreditation does the online program hold? How is it regarded in the field?
There are two major types of accreditation. The national accreditation typically applies to specialized and vocational schools, and this includes nursing schools. Regional accreditation agencies provide assessments of the entire institution (institutional accreditation) or a specific school or program (programmatic accreditation).
The US Department of Education designates accreditation agencies for colleges and universities. These regional agencies perform a robust assessment and a continuous monitoring of the quality of instruction and education. In the field of healthcare, the technical and medical requirements are important, and specialized education of this type also must have specialized accreditation. The leading program accreditation agency is the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) was formerly known as the NLNAC. ACEN has authority and recognition through the Council on Higher Education and the Department of Education. This organization accredits all levels of registered nurse (RN) programs including diploma or certificate programs, associate degrees, bachelor’s degrees, and master’s degrees. ACEN can accredit schools that do not have regional accreditation. Schools with regional accreditation can also choose to have program accreditation for their nursing education program.
The Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) accredits schools and colleges that offer baccalaureate and master’s level degrees. The CCNE focuses exclusively on master’s and bachelor’s programs. The CCNE has Department of Education recognition as a national accreditation agency. The Department of Education set the scope of its accreditation authority, and accredited schools may participate in Title IV funding programs such as federal student loans.
Software, Technology and Skills Needed
Nurses increasingly work in computer-based environments. Automation and innovation have touched nearly every aspect of medical examinations, diagnosis, and care. Modern medical facilities store and retrieve medical information in digital form and provide security for medical privacy. Nurses must be comfortable with a range of operating systems, data display formats, and enterprise software systems.
Technology and innovation have changed the types and uses of medical devices. Technology has also changed the types of nursing degrees and online options to obtaining a degree faster. Nurses must stay current on innovations and new technology particularly in standard and special diagnostic routines.
American Cancer Society Graduate in Cancer Nursing Practice Scholarship
Deadline: November 1
The American Cancer Society invests in advanced nursing education with scholarships that promote awareness and research in cancer cures. The awards support graduate students pursuing studies in cancer treatment and research. The program offers $10,000 awards for up to two years for master’s degree and Doctor of Nursing Practice candidates for work in cancer treatment or prevention. Applicants are not required to be US citizens.
Jane Delano Student Nurse Scholarship
Deadline: May 1
The Award honors Jane Delano, the woman that organized the American Red Cross Nursing Service during World War I. Ms. Delano was a hero of the American Expedition in Europe where she died in combat. This award promotes nursing education and nurse involvement with the American Red Cross. Eligible applicants must show a contribution of time and effort to the American Red Cross. Eligible applicants must be enrolled in a BSN program or MSN program, be in good standing, and have completed one or more years of coursework.
Latinos in Technology Scholarship
Amount: Up to $3000 over three years with renewal (Up to 100 awards)
Deadline: November 13
The awards for Latino students include scholarship funds and opportunities for internships in the summer months with Silicon Valley firms. The eligibility is for any STEM field, and in Nursing, there are information and computer-based fields such as nurse informatics, life sciences, and nursing statistics. Applicants must be graduates of a high school or attend a college in the region defined by the following counties: Graduate of a high school in the following Northern California counties: Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Marin County, Napa County, San Francisco County, San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, Santa Cruz County, Solano County, Sonoma County and Yolo County.
American Cancer Society Doctoral Degree Scholarships in Cancer Nursing
Amount:$15,000 (possible 2-year renewal)
Deadline: October 15
Eligible applicants will be enrolled or accepted into a doctoral program in nursing. Applicants must have a current license to practice as an RN. Applicants must also demonstrate a commitment to cancer research and treatment and need not be US citizens.
American Nursing Association
This large powerful association represents the interests of more than 3.4 million registered nurses. They engages in advocacy for health policy and improvement in the national health system. They also promote nursing standards, ethics, and greater participation in the health industry. Members can take advantage of education, continuing education, and information resources. There are 54 state-based affiliate chapters, and students can join. Students will benefit from discussions of current trends, best practices, and educational benefits. The association works to advance practical issues for nurses such as salary, greater professional recognition, and better working conditions.
Sigma Theta Tau
Sigma is an honor society that appeals to students and recent grads too. Operating through local chapters and affiliates, this global association funds grant and research opportunities. Its activities include networking, leadership, and personal and professional growth opportunities. Sigma represents more than 130,000 nurses across more than 90 countries. The association helps students access career counseling, coaching, and job placement assistance. Members can get up-to-date information about job openings and salaries based on current offers and salaries. Graduating students can get the benefits of association with members of their new profession.
International Council of Nurses
The council consists of about 130 national nursing associations. In combination, they represent more than 20 million nurses around the globe. The association promotes the nursing profession and advances health policies. They publish a peer-reviewed journal: The International Nursing Review. This scholarly platform provides a means of communication across national boundaries with insights about regulations, government policies, and the needs for more and better cooperation. The association advances health education on a global basis. Students can take advantage of educational resources and health information from around the world.
American Nursing Informatics Association
Members have a commitment to this specialty; Informatics integrates science, computer science, and information science. This field has the potential to change the way the profession manages and communicates data, information, knowledge, and wisdom in nursing practice. The goal of the association is to reinforce informatics practice as a specialty. Informatics is essential to the delivery of high quality, and cost-effective healthcare. Students can join this group and take advantage of the information and education resources. Graduates can move into this emerging information technology field for professional development.
The National Council of State Boards of Nursing
This independent and non-profit association represents the state boards of governance of the nursing profession. This body serves the vital role of reviewing and developing nursing examinations. It also provides a voice on policy issues of concern to public health and safety. The association operates events that provide opportunities for collaboration, participation, and networking.
Choosing an Accredited College
Accreditation is important to the value and usefulness of a degree. University HQ strongly recommends the selection of an accredited school and programs. The nursing profession has accreditation through specialized agencies in addition to regional accreditation from the primary Department of Education-approved agencies. Accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) and the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) are favorable; they provide additional assurance of quality nursing education when combined with regional accreditation.
Online vs. On-Campus vs. Hybrid
Online Registered Nurse (RN) programs are flexible and convenient for students. These courses are designed so that nursing students can set their schedules and access classwork on the school website from any place with an Internet connection. Online learning helps working students and those with needs or preferences that prevent on-campus attendance. However, students will still need to complete clinical hours, meaning their RN to MSN degree program or other master's programs cannot be completed fully online as some online programs can be. Instead, they will still need to find nursing schools nearby or facility locations that support nursing education, because this is something you can't skip.
On-campus bachelor's degrees and master's degree programs are the traditional classroom and lecture hall types of teaching. This traditional format has the advantage of face-to-face communications with faculty and connection to a campus-based community of scholars and students.
Hybrid programs can be issued from the school or selected and composed by the student. Hybrids combine on-campus and online learning into a program for completing the degree. Nursing is unlike some other areas of study in that nursing requires a license and an exam that requires preparation in laboratory education and supervised clinical teaching environments.
Does the College Have Post-Graduate Job Placement Help & Assistance?
University HQ recommends that students make a specific inquiry about job placement assistance programs at any school they consider for a degree program. Advanced institutions incorporate career planning into the two or four-year course of study for a bachelor’s degree or master’s in nursing. The school may host job fairs, business community awareness communications, and host interviews for employers from across the region.
The school of nursing, college, or university is a broad community of alumni, business sponsors, and corporate partners. Both new and established schools often have extensive local, regional, and national networks. The overall resources of the nursing school and the larger community can potentially assist in producing high levels of job opportunities and hires for recent graduates.
Some schools pair students with advisers, career counselors, and job coaches at various stages of their academic careers. Observers can see the results in annual satisfaction surveys, and the numbers of students that get interviews and offers of employment.
Why You Need to Consider the Overall National Rankings of the College and The Effects on Your Career or Salary
Students should consider the overall national ranking of the schools under consideration. The national ranking can affect your salary after graduation and the range of career options you can achieve. National rankings include many factors that are important to employers. The rankings include graduation rates and indications of graduate’s successful employment. The factors assessed include awards and Ph.D. degrees achieved by alumni.
Graduates from highly ranked nursing schools and highly rated degree programs have advantages in getting interviews, referrals, and hires. They can compete for high paying, competitive positions among the top graduates in their particular nursing fields. The overall ranking matters and University HQ recommends that students consider it when selecting a nursing school or degree program for an associate, bachelor’s, RN to MSN, or master’s degree.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why get a nursing degree?
Whether you are looking for the chance to help people or you want to earn a good living within a medical profession without taking seven years to start work, nursing might be the best option for you. Even those who are still on the fence about what they want to do in their professional lives might want to consider nursing as a good option. These professionals can get started quickly, they can make excellent money, and they are more in-demand than ever before.
How much do nursing majors make?
Those who graduate school with a nursing degree can expect to make an excellent living. Even an associate degree in nursing can mean that you’ll make as much as $72,000/year or over $30 an hour. If you earn a bachelor’s degree and work as a registered nurse, you can expect to make at least $67,000/ year. And the more experience you have, the more you can expect to make. A certified nursing assistant only makes around $36,000/year, but a nurse with trauma nurse certification can make up to $86,000/year. So, as you can see, you can get started quickly and earn a great paycheck no matter what degree you choose to earn.
How quickly can I get a nursing degree?
As mentioned before, you can become a nurse with little more than an associate degree. These degrees usually take about two years to earn and can be completed through online nursing programs. There are also accelerated courses for those interested in nursing, which can take as little as 11 months and still allow you enough time to work part-time while you work your way through school. So, no matter your schedule, you can get into nursing in less than a year if you are willing to put the time and effort into a degree.