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Hospital Based Nursing Schools in the U.S.

Hospital-based nursing programs train students to become registered nurses. Students may choose from diploma and associate's degree programs based on several factors, such as accreditation and specialties offered.

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How to Select a Hospital-Based Nursing Program

Select hospitals across the country offer diploma and associate's degree programs in nursing. Students who select an associate's degree program must take general education courses at a local college and may be awarded both a diploma and an associate's degree.

Summary of Important Considerations

  • Accreditation
  • Prerequisites and program length
  • Specialty interests
  • Scheduling options
  • Graduation and job placement rates


When choosing a hospital-based nursing program, students need to ensure that it's accredited. The National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission accredits programs and provides a state-by-state list of approved programs ( Students can also check with the state board of nursing in the state they want to work in for a list of approved programs. Graduating from an accredited program makes students eligible for the National Council Licensure Examination.

Prerequisites and Program Length

Another consideration is the prerequisite coursework required by some programs and the corresponding program length. Some programs take only two years to complete, but require about a year's worth of college credits prior to enrollment. Other programs do not have these prerequisites, but rather include them in their curricula. Consequently, these programs take three years to complete. If a student already has some college coursework completed, he or she may want to consider finishing the prerequisites necessary to enroll in a shorter 2-year program.

Specialty Interests

Students interested in specializing in a particular area of nursing should make sure that clinical rotations are available in that focus area. Examples of focus areas include cardiac nursing, critical care nursing, neonatal nursing, emergency nursing, obstetrics, surgery and trauma.

Scheduling Options

Scheduling and time commitments may be considerations for students with pre-existing responsibilities. Some full-time programs have evening and weekend enrollment options, and other programs offer a part-time option that requires four years to complete.

Graduation and Job Placement Rates

Students may want to consider the on-time graduation and job placement rates of programs. Nursing schools are required to publish these statistics and provide easy access for prospective students. Attending a program with high graduation and job placement rates may help a student's chances of securing employment.

Hospital-Based Nursing Program Overviews

Diploma in Nursing

Diploma programs combine theory classes with clinical experience. Clinical experience trains students to work as part of a healthcare delivery team alongside physicians and other nurses. Some programs have an agreement with nearby community colleges that allow students to complete the additional coursework for an associate's degree while they earn their diploma. Diploma program coursework topics include:

  • Pharmacology
  • Pathophysiology
  • Nutrition
  • Psychology
  • Psychosocial factors in nursing

Associate's Degree in Nursing

Students that choose to complete an associate's degree fulfill the same theory and clinical requirements as students in a diploma program. In addition to these courses, students complete general education requirements that may transfer over to a 4-year college. The general education courses are typically taken at an affiliated college rather than in the hospital setting. Courses in these programs include:

  • Human anatomy and physiology
  • Human development
  • Pharmacology
  • Microbiology
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