Overview of Part-Time Nursing Programs

Read about part-time nursing programs. Get an overview of these programs offered at various levels, and get details on prerequisites, courses and career options for completers.

Essential Information

Individuals who are looking for a part-time nursing program, either because they want to maintain a full-time job while getting an education or because they want a flexible class schedule, have many educational options. Several schools provide students with the opportunity to take nursing classes at night and on weekends while they work towards a degree.

Part-time nursing programs are available at the associate's, bachelor's and master's degree levels. Associate's degree programs are sometimes designed for those new to the field of nursing, though many part-time programs are intended for licensed vocational or practical nurses who want to advance their training. Master's degree programs typically require applicants to hold a bachelor's degree and be licensed RNs. All program levels prepare students for licensure, whether as RNs or advanced practice nurses.

Associate's Degree in Nursing

A part-time associate's degree program in nursing provides further training in the care and treatment of patients. Students add to their base of knowledge about the human body and its ailments in learning to perform diagnostic tests, record medical histories, administer medications and devise treatment plans. An associate's degree may be earned in 3-4 years if a student is attending part-time.

Education Prerequisites

Admission to a part-time associate's degree program requires a high school diploma or GED certificate. Many nursing programs prefer candidates who have completed training as a practical nurse.

Program Coursework

Courses, such as composition, psychology and sociology, which often make up the general education component of an associate's degree program, are considered important supplements to the work of nurses. Medically-related nursing courses might include the following:

  • Anatomy and physiology introduction
  • Nutrition
  • Pharmacology
  • Health assessment
  • Adult patient care

Popular Career Options

Earning a nursing associate's degree qualifies graduates to take the licensure exam to become registered nurses. Possible employers of registered nurses include:

  • Private physicians' offices
  • Hospitals
  • Home health care services
  • Schools

Continuing Education Information

Registered nurses can open up more opportunities for advancement by earning a bachelor's degree. Many schools offer transfer programs that allow students to apply their associate's degree credits towards a bachelor's degree

Bachelor's Degree in Nursing

A part- time bachelor's degree program in nursing builds fundamental theoretical and practical knowledge in a range of medical disciplines and introduces students to nursing specialties that can provide a basis for graduate studies. Program content encompasses biochemistry, microbiology, pharmacology pathophysiology and mental health. Students hone their skills in critical thinking, patient management and treatment outcome evaluation. Internships provide the opportunity to gain clinical experience in pediatric, acute, natal or geriatric care. When enrolled on a part- time basis, students may earn a bachelor's degree in 6-7 years.

Education Prerequisites

First-time applicants need a GED certificate or high school diploma for admission to a bachelor's degree program. Some schools require students to complete courses in chemistry, microbiology, history and statistics before they are permitted to enroll in a nursing program.

Program Coursework

The curriculum in bachelor's degree programs typically includes liberal arts courses in history, literature or the arts. Course topics addressing health and patient care include:

  • Clinical nursing theory
  • Pathophysiology
  • Child and youth care
  • Maternal and pediatric care
  • Surgical nursing
  • Mental health nursing
  • Nursing ethics

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

Graduates of a bachelor's degree program in nursing are qualified to work as registered nurses in clinics, hospitals, nursing homes and other medical settings. Over the years 2010-2020, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 26% growth in the number of positions for registered nurses. The rate of growth is expected to be high in hospitals, private physicians' offices and home health care services. Registered nurses earned median salaries of $65,470 as of May 2012, reported the BLS.

Continuing Education Information

All states and U.S. territories require registered nurses to be licensed. With minor variations among states, licensure minimally entails completion of a qualified nursing program and passage of the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses.

Master's Degree in Nurse Practitioner

A part-time master's degree program in nurse practitioner enables registered nurses to further expand their practical and theoretical knowledge of health care delivery. Programs offer concentrations in acute care, pediatrics and women's health as well as other areas. Clinical rotations provide opportunities to collaborate with physicians and other medical professionals on providing primary care to patients of all ages, performing diagnostic tests and managing hypertension, diabetes and other chronic conditions. Students also learn to advise patients on healthy lifestyle choices and self-care. Part-time students may earn a master's degree in 4-5 years.

Education Prerequisites

A bachelor's degree in nursing is required for admission to nurse practitioner programs. Schools may also require an undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 or better and one year of full time RN work experience.

Program Coursework

Part-time programs provide for a reduced course load of 1-2 classes per semester rather than 3-4. Some programs require completion of a thesis or capstone project. Possible courses in a nurse practitioner program might include:

  • Biostatistics applications
  • Advanced clinical assessment
  • Clinical decision making
  • Health care economics
  • Health care delivery systems
  • Nursing informatics

Popular Career Options

Nurse practitioners typically train for and work in a specialization. Master's degree holders can become:

  • Family practice nurses
  • Adult practice nurses
  • Pediatric nurses
  • Geriatric nurses

Continuing Education Information

Certification as a nurse practitioner is available from the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) to nurses who graduate from a master's degree program. Attaining certification requires passage of an exam consisting of 150 multiple choice questions. The AANP has established exams for adult, family and gerontologic nurse practitioners.

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