Associate of Applied Science (AAS): Nursing Degree Overview

Aspiring nurses can gain the education they need by earning an Associate of Applied Science in Nursing. Course topics cover a wide variety of medical tasks, training students to work in critical, ambulatory, hospice, long-term and holistic care settings.

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Essential Information

Associate of Applied Science (AAS) programs in nursing are designed for students who want to become registered nurses (RNs). In addition to classroom-based learning, students have the opportunity to gain practical skills through lab practica and clinical nursing experiences. These programs can be completed in two years.

An applicant must have earned a high school diploma or GED equivalent to enter the program. Some programs require students to have completed courses in biology or college-level English prior to enrollment. Individuals who are already working as Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) may be eligible for advanced placement in an AAS nursing program.

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Associate of Applied Science in Nursing

Coursework in an AAS nursing program instructs students in a variety of nursing specialization areas and provides training in related healthcare subjects, like pharmacology. Graduates will be ready to sit for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed RNs. Common course topics include:

  • Maternal nursing and acute care nursing
  • Health assessment
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Pharmacology
  • Medical/surgical nursing
  • Medical terminology
  • Microbiology

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), registered nurses were projected to see 16% growth in employment opportunities from 2014-2024. Demand for nurses is likely to be greatest in long-term rehabilitation centers and resident care settings. In 2015, the BLS reported that the median annual salary for RNs was $67,490.

Licensing and Continuing Education Information

In all states, registered nurses must obtain licensure in order to work, which requires completing an approved nursing program and passing the NCLEX-RN. Voluntary credentialing is available through the American Nursing Credentialing Center, which offers designations in various fields, including pediatrics, ambulatory care and gerontology.

After earning an associate's degree, students can go on to obtain a bachelor's degree in nursing, which could increase job prospects, according to the BLS. At the graduate level, master's and doctoral degree programs are available in nursing, which could lead to careers as advanced practice nurses or educators in the field.

Earning an AAS in Nursing is one way to launch a career as an RN. Graduates of these programs are qualified to sit for professional RN licensure exams, and they can also pursue bachelor's degrees in nursing for career advancement.

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