The Ultimate Guide to Online Nursing Degree Programs (2023-2025)

The Ultimate Guide to Online Nursing Degree Programs

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1 The Ultimate Guide to Online Nursing Degree Programs

Are you considering a career in nursing or looking to advance your existing nursing career? Pursuing an online nursing degree can be a fantastic option that provides flexibility and accessibility while maintaining the high educational standards required in the field of healthcare. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into various aspects of online nursing degree programs, including the types of nursing degrees, top colleges for nursing programs, common nursing programs, typical courses in RN programs, popular nursing courses in 2023/2024, trending nursing specialties, and common nursing school prerequisites. Whether you’re a prospective nursing student or a current healthcare professional seeking further education, this guide has got you covered.

Table of Contents

  1. Types Of Nursing Degrees And Levels
  2. Best Colleges for Nursing Programs
  3. Common Nursing Programs
  4. Common Courses In RN Programs
  5. The Most Popular Nursing Courses in 2023/2024
  6. Trending Nursing Specialties
  7. Common Nursing School Prerequisites
  8. Conclusion

Types Of Nursing Degrees And Levels

Nursing offers a wide range of degree options, each catering to different career goals and levels of expertise. Here are the most common types of nursing degrees:

1. Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA)

A Certified Nursing Assistant is the entry-level position in nursing. CNAs provide basic care and assist patients with activities of daily living. To become a CNA, you’ll typically need to complete a short training program, which can be done online in some cases.

2. Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN)

LPNs/LVNs provide more advanced care than CNAs, including administering medications and performing basic medical procedures. LPN/LVN programs usually take around 12-18 months to complete.

3. Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN)

An ADN is a two-year program that prepares students to become Registered Nurses (RNs). ADN programs are widely available online and offer a solid foundation in nursing theory and practice.

4. Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN)

A BSN is a four-year degree that provides a more comprehensive education in nursing, including additional coursework in leadership, research, and critical thinking. Many online BSN programs are designed for registered nurses looking to advance their careers.

5. Master of Science in Nursing (MSN)

An MSN is a graduate-level degree that allows nurses to specialize in various areas such as nurse practitioner, nurse educator, or nurse administrator. Online MSN programs offer flexibility for working nurses seeking advanced practice roles.

6. Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing (Ph.D.)

These terminal degrees are for nurses looking to reach the highest levels of expertise in clinical practice or research. Online DNP and Ph.D. programs are available for nurses who wish to pursue these prestigious qualifications.

Best Colleges for Nursing Programs

Choosing the right college for your nursing program is crucial for your career success. Here are some of the best colleges known for their online nursing degree programs:

1. University of Phoenix

The University of Phoenix offers a wide range of online nursing programs, including BSN, MSN, and DNP degrees. Their flexible scheduling options make it suitable for working professionals.

2. Walden University

Walden University offers online nursing programs at various levels, with a strong emphasis on advanced practice roles. Their faculty includes experienced healthcare professionals.

3. Chamberlain University

Chamberlain University specializes in nursing education and offers a variety of online nursing degree programs. They have a strong support system for their online students.

4. Kaplan University

Kaplan University provides online nursing programs with a focus on practical skills and real-world experience. Their programs are designed to prepare students for the demands of the healthcare industry.

5. Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University offers online nursing programs that emphasize Christian values, ethics, and community service. Their curriculum prepares students to be compassionate and skilled nurses.

These colleges have established reputations for delivering high-quality nursing education online. However, it’s essential to research each program’s specific offerings and choose the one that aligns with your career goals and preferences.

Common Nursing Programs

Nursing programs can vary widely depending on the level of education and specialization. Here are some of the most common nursing programs you can pursue online:

1. Online Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) Programs

Online CNA programs are typically short and focus on the fundamental skills required for patient care. These programs cover topics like infection control, patient hygiene, and basic nursing procedures.

2. Online Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) or Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) Programs

Online LPN/LVN programs offer comprehensive training in patient care, medication administration, and nursing ethics. Graduates can become entry-level nurses in various healthcare settings.

3. Online Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) Programs

Online ADN programs provide a well-rounded nursing education, preparing students to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam and become registered nurses. Courses include anatomy, pharmacology, and clinical rotations.

4. Online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) Programs

Online BSN programs cater to registered nurses seeking to advance their careers. The curriculum often includes courses in nursing research, leadership, and community health.

5. Online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) Programs

MSN programs online offer specialized tracks like nurse practitioner, nurse educator, and nurse administrator. These programs prepare nurses for advanced practice roles and leadership positions.

6. Online Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) and Ph.D. Programs

Online DNP and Ph.D. programs are designed for experienced nurses looking to excel in clinical practice or research. These programs often require a dissertation or capstone project.

Common Courses In RN Programs

If you’re pursuing a Registered Nurse (RN) program, whether it’s an ADN or BSN, you can expect to encounter a mix of theory and clinical courses. Here are some common courses you’ll likely encounter:

1. Anatomy and Physiology

These foundational courses delve into the structure and function of the human body, providing essential knowledge for nursing practice.

2. Pharmacology

Pharmacology courses cover the principles of drug therapy, including drug classifications, actions, and side effects.

3. Nursing Fundamentals

This course introduces basic nursing skills such as patient assessment, wound care, and vital sign measurement.

4. Medical-Surgical Nursing

Medical-surgical nursing courses focus on caring for patients with various medical conditions, surgical interventions, and postoperative care.

5. Pediatric Nursing

Pediatric nursing courses prepare students to care for infants, children, and adolescents, addressing their unique healthcare needs.

6. Maternity and Obstetric Nursing

These courses cover pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum care, as well as neonatal nursing.

7. Psychiatric Nursing

Psychiatric nursing courses explore mental health assessment, therapeutic communication, and the management of psychiatric disorders.

8. Community Health Nursing

Community health nursing courses teach students how to promote health and provide care within communities.

These courses collectively build a solid foundation for nursing practice and prepare students for the challenges they may encounter in the field.

The Most Popular Nursing Courses in 2023/2024

The field of nursing is constantly evolving to meet the changing needs of healthcare. In 2023 and 2024, some nursing courses are particularly in demand due to emerging trends and challenges in healthcare:

1. Telehealth and Telemedicine Nursing

The rise of telehealth and telemedicine has created a demand for nurses who can provide care remotely. Courses in telehealth nursing equip nurses with the skills needed for virtual patient assessment and care.

2. Palliative Care Nursing

As the aging population grows, the need for palliative care nurses is on the rise. Courses in palliative care focus on providing compassionate end-of-life care.

3. Gerontology Nursing

With the increasing number of elderly patients, gerontology nursing courses prepare nurses to address the unique healthcare needs of older adults.

4. Crisis and Disaster Nursing

In times of crises and disasters, nurses play a crucial role in providing emergency care. Courses in this area teach nurses how to respond effectively to such situations.

5. Nursing Informatics

Nursing informatics courses are becoming more important as healthcare institutions adopt electronic health records and data-driven decision-making. Nurses with informatics skills are in high demand.

Trending Nursing Specialties

Nursing offers numerous specialties that cater to various interests and career aspirations. Here are some of the trending nursing specialties in 2023/2024:

1. Nurse Practitioner (NP)

Nurse practitioners are advanced practice nurses who can diagnose and treat patients, prescribe medications, and provide primary care. NPs often specialize in areas such as family medicine, pediatrics, or mental health.

2. Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist (CRNA)

CRNAs administer anesthesia and oversee patients’ safety during surgical procedures. They are highly skilled and well-compensated healthcare professionals.

3. Nurse Educator

Nurse educators work in academic settings, teaching the next generation of nurses. They play a vital role in shaping the future of nursing.

4. Nurse Administrator

Nurse administrators manage healthcare facilities, ensuring smooth operations and high-quality patient care.

5. Clinical Nurse Specialist (CNS)

Clinical nurse specialists focus on a specific patient population or clinical area, using their expertise to improve patient outcomes.

6. Forensic Nurse

Forensic nurses work at the intersection of healthcare and law enforcement, often assisting in cases involving trauma or violence.

Common Nursing School Prerequisites

Before applying to a nursing program, you’ll need to meet certain prerequisites to ensure you have a strong foundation for success. Common nursing school prerequisites include:

1. High School Diploma or GED

You’ll need to have completed high school or its equivalent to be eligible for nursing programs.

2. Prerequisite Courses

Nursing programs often require specific coursework in subjects like biology, chemistry, and anatomy. These prerequisites ensure you have the necessary background knowledge.

3. Minimum GPA

Most nursing programs have a minimum GPA requirement for admission. The exact GPA varies by program but is typically around 2.5 to 3.0.

4. TEAS or HESI Exam

Many nursing programs require applicants to take standardized nursing entrance exams like the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS) or the Health Education Systems, Inc. (HESI) exam.

5. Criminal Background Check and Drug Screening

Due to the sensitive nature of healthcare, nursing programs often require students to undergo a criminal background check and drug screening.

6. Letters of Recommendation

You may need to provide letters of recommendation from teachers, employers, or healthcare professionals who can speak to your qualifications and character.


Pursuing an online nursing degree can open up a world of opportunities in the healthcare field. Whether you’re just starting your journey as a nursing student or seeking to advance your career with specialized training, there is a nursing program tailored to your needs. Remember to research colleges, explore program options, and ensure you meet the prerequisites for your chosen program. With dedication and the right education, you can embark on a fulfilling and rewarding career in nursing, making a positive impact on the lives of patients and the healthcare system as a whole.

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