Online Pre-Nursing Degrees: Program Overviews

Dec 04, 2019

Essential Information

Online associate's and bachelor's programs in pre-nursing allow students to complete general education and other related courses prior to entering nursing school. These programs coordinate with an associate's degree or bachelor's degree in nursing. Due to the nature of the coursework, entirely-online pre-nursing programs are rare to nonexistent. Aspiring nurses may find hybrid programs that provide courses online, while labs and/or clinicals are on campus. Because registered nurses are required to be licensed, it's important when choosing a program to choose an accredited program that contributes toward the licensing requirements. A high school diploma or GED is required to enter the program.

For those looking for a fully online program, a RN to BSN program is available for licensed registered nurses looking to receive a bachelor's degree in nursing. The program can be completed in 2-3 semesters, excluding general educational requirements.

Associate's Degree in Pre-Nursing

Distance learning pre-nursing associate's degree programs allow students to take general education classes prior to nursing school. These programs also introduce students to the fundamentals of nursing. Students take such pre-nursing courses as medical terminology, anatomy and human development. Online associate's degree programs in pre-nursing typically take two years to complete. No prerequisites are necessary other than a high school diploma or GED.

Information and Requirements

Students enrolled in this type of program complete much of the required coursework online; however, onsite instruction is typically mandatory. Some pre-nursing programs include instruction in obtaining vital statistics. Students would be unable to demonstrate proficiency in these skills through online coursework. Courses that may be taken online uses audio or video files, Web conferencing, Blackboard or another virtual classroom tool and e-mail between the student and the instructor.

Students engaging in online pre-nursing coursework are recommended to have broadband Internet connectivity, up-to-date hardware and software, an e-mail account and a current Web browser. Courses involving video conferencing may require a software download, webcam and microphone.

List of Common Pre-Nursing Associate Courses

Pre-nursing distance learning courses at the associate's degree level tend to be introductory in nature.


Students enrolled in online microbiology courses explore the roles of cells and the immune system.

Biomedical Ethics

This distance learning course examines moral dilemmas, such as euthanasia, genetic engineering and resource allocation.

Human Anatomy

Students undertaking this online course learn to identify human organs and their functions.

Bachelor's Degree in Pre-Nursing

Online bachelor's pre-nursing degree programs enable students to complete general education and prerequisite nursing classes prior to beginning more advanced coursework. Upon completing the initial coursework, students move on to more advanced nursing classes and clinical instruction. Since entrance to nursing programs is competitive, some schools select students based on pre-nursing coursework grade point averages. Some pre-nursing bachelor's degree distance learning programs provide Registered Nurse to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) options. Prior to enrollment to a bachelor's degree pre-nursing program, students are required to pass a drug screen, physical examination and background check.

Information and Requirements

Distance learning pre-nursing bachelor's degree programs cannot be taught entirely online. Clinical aspects of nursing must be taught in a laboratory setting. In addition, pre-nursing students are required to perform clinical rotations under the supervision of a licensed nurse during the latter part of the program. Online aspects of pre-nursing instruction include virtual classes either taught in real time or archived as audio or video files to be downloaded at the student's convenience. Communication between the student and instructor is available through e-mail, chat or online discussion boards made available to the class only.

Students are required to have updated computer equipment and access to high-speed Internet. Special software may be required for some courses.

List of Common Pre-Nursing Bachelor's Degree Courses

Online pre-nursing bachelor's degree programs introduce students to the various areas of nursing.

Community Health Nursing

This online pre-nursing course familiarizes students with heath care program implementation within schools, families and communities.

Pediatric Nursing

Distance learning pediatric nursing courses introduce students to the specific health concerns of infants, toddlers and adolescents.

Gerontology Nursing

Students enrolled in this online pre-nursing course explore aging, socialization among the elderly, care giving and transitional stages.

Career Information

Students who have completed a pre-nursing bachelor's degree program either continue their education with a bachelor's or master's degree in of nursing or become registered nurses. Students desiring to enter the workforce as registered nurses should take the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses. Registered nurses are expected to see faster-than-average employment growth of 12% from 2018-2028. The 2018 median annual wage for RNs was $71,730.

Students who have earned an online associate's degree in pre-nursing typically continue on in their nursing education by enrolling in a bachelor's degree program. Students who prefer to enter the workforce at this level may obtain entry-level employment as a nursing assistant. The U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects job growth of 9% for this profession, faster than the average for all occupations, for this group between 2018 and 2028. Nursing assistants help patients with bathing, eating and dressing. The BLS listed the median wage for nursing assistants at $28,530 as of 2018.

Continuing Education Options

After achieving a bachelor's degree in pre-nursing, students may pursue master's or doctorate degrees to become nurse practitioners, midwives or nurse anesthetists. While some coursework for graduate nursing degrees may be completed online, the nature of the instruction and internships or residencies require these to be hybrid programs.

Online pre-nursing degrees are available in a hybrid format, while a RN to BSN program is available entirely online. The pre-nursing degree programs have a lab and clinical component requirement and cover basic nursing topics such as anatomy, biomedical ethics, and various nursing specialties.

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