Associates in Nursing: Degree Program Overviews

Students who are interested in becoming a licensed registered nurse (RN) can begin their studies with an associate's degree program in nursing. These 2-year programs contain lecture courses, laboratory work and clinical experiences, and are readily available through community colleges, nursing schools and technical schools.

Essential Information

Admissions to an associate's degree program in nursing might have numerous stipulations due to a limited number of openings. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED and commonly must meet a minimum grade point average. Some programs require students to be active Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) with several months of experience. Students also might be required to be certified in CPR, provide proof of specific immunizations, have a negative drug screen and pass a criminal background check. Degree options include an Associate of Science in Nursing, Associate of Applied Science in Nursing or Associate Degree in Nursing. Graduates with any of these nursing degrees will be qualified to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses (NCLEX-RN).

  • Program Levels in Nursing: Associate of Science in Nursing; Associate of Applied Science in Nursing; Associate Degree in Nursing
  • Prerequisites: High school diploma or GED; minimum grade point average; Active Certified Nursing Assistants with several months experience (some programs); Possibly required: certified in CPR, proof of specific immunizations, negative drug screen, criminal background check
  • Program Length: Two years
  • Other Requirements: Possible nursing seminars and practica

Associate's Degree in Nursing

Coursework in a nursing associate's degree program might contain general education requirements in addition to nursing courses. Students also might partake in nursing seminars and a practicum. Examples of courses include:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Nursing basics
  • Nutrition
  • Pharmacology
  • Pediatric nursing
  • Clinical nursing

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of RNs was expected to increase 19% from 2012-2022 ( This anticipated increase was due to technological improvements in patient care, which could allow for more treatment options, as well as a rise in the number of elderly people in need of nursing care. As of May 2014, the annual median salary for RNs was $66,640.

Licensure and Continuing Education Information

According to the BLS, those who wish to work as registered nurses in doctor's offices, hospitals or healthcare clinics must graduate from an accredited nursing program and pass the NCLEX-RN to obtain a license. Each state determines continuing education requirements for license maintenance.

Bachelor of Science programs in nursing can prepare students for supervisory roles in healthcare facilities. Master of Science programs typically offer areas of concentration, including nurse practitioner, certified registered nurse anesthetist, clinical nurse specialist or certified nurse midwife. Those who want to specialize in research and clinical functions may opt for a Doctor of Nursing Science program. Doctor of Nursing Practice programs can prepare nurses for leadership roles in clinical care and patient outcomes, research and system management.

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