While a nursing degree can't be earned completely off-campus, the coursework in both associate's and bachelor's programs are available online. Students watch lessons, complete assignments and interact with classmates and instructors via the internet. Each degree program is heavy on clinical experience, and those parts of the curriculum can usually be completed at a healthcare facility near the student's home.
In these nursing degree programs, students must complete general education requirements in math, English, science and social studies. Nursing instruction covers anatomy, pharmacology and nursing theory. During the clinical portion of the program, student nurses get hands-on experience, working with real patients under the supervision of a registered nurse (RN).
Completing an accredited associate's or bachelor's degree program qualifies a student to take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN), which all states require for a nursing license. States may have other requirements for licensing as well. Students must have their high school diploma or GED to qualify for the programs.
Associate Degree Programs in Nursing
The online RN program is intensive to the sciences. Through it, students study concepts in health and nutrition, nursing management and patient care. The courses in these programs teach students to take patient histories, analyze medical records and provide comfort to waiting family members. To be eligible for this degree program, students must have at least a high school diploma or the GED equivalent. There are several online nursing programs available at the associate degree level.
Information and Requirements
The associate's degree program in nursing takes about two years to complete and is technically a hybrid program, because not every part of the program is available online. While courses are available online, students must complete clinical experiences in hospitals, doctor's offices and nursing homes. To access the online portion of the program, students log onto the school's Web-based applications, where they can watch video lectures, interact with classmates and turn in assignments. Clinical experiences are completed locally, and the school works with local healthcare facilities to set up the experiences.
To complete the online associate's degree program, students must have a working computer and reliable Internet access. They also need a word processing program, Adobe Flash and Acrobat Reader. Some professors may have additional requirements.
List of Common Online Associate-Level Nursing Courses
While students may be required to complete the degree program in a certain amount of time, the online classes are self-paced, allowing students to complete all of the lessons and turn in assignments at their convenience.
End of Life Care
This course teaches students how to care for patients who are dying. Students learn to provide comfort to family members and help patients take care of legalities or preparation requirements. They also study the history of death and its meaning in various cultures.
Students taking this class learn to assess the seriousness of a wound and perform healing techniques. They also learn to prevent, manage and treat all kinds of wounds.
In this course, students study how healthcare works in the United States and how the current system influences people, taxes, government and insurance. They learn how medical bills are paid and explore the history of the healthcare systems in the U.S.
Bachelor of Science in Nursing
The online bachelor's degree program in nursing offers students an opportunity to work as an RN and become familiar with how the human body works, assessing patient health, human development and nutrition. Students study skills in providing nursing care, nursing management and healthcare promotion. Applicants to this program must have an associate's degree or have completed the necessary general education requirements.
Information and Requirements
While the courses for a bachelor's degree program in nursing are available entirely online, students must also complete a clinical practicum. A practicum allows students to work in hospitals, nursing homes or schools and experience a wide variety of medical and healthcare situations. Students can access lectures anytime by logging onto universities' Web-based applications, where they watch videos, complete assignments and read professor's notes.
Students must have a working computer and reliable Internet access to complete the program. They also need to have Adobe Flash, QuickTime, Acrobat Reader, PowerPoint and a word processing program. Some courses may also require a Webcam.
List of Common Online Bachelor's-Level Nursing Courses
These courses are available in a flexible format, so students can complete lessons and assignments entirely on their own time.
Nursing Administration and Organization
Students study concepts in managing other nurses and patients in this course. They learn to organize patient care to ensure that everyone is receiving the proper attention and medication.
This class covers techniques for assessing patient health. Students learn to conduct physical exams for patients of any age.
Family Health Concepts
Students teach families and communities about ways to engage in healthy lifestyle practices. They learn about diseases that spread quickly and ways to protect patients' health.
Career Information for Graduates
With an associate degree in nursing, students can become RNs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics the demand for nurses is expected to grow by 16% between 2014 and 2024. This is much faster than the average career growth for other occupations. In 2015, the median annual salary for RNs was $67,490 (bls.gov).
With a bachelor's degree in nursing, students are eligible for graduate degree programs. Master's degree programs can be completed in two years and offer specialization opportunities in nursing. Nurses with a graduate degree can specialize in cardiac care and women's health or act as a primary care practitioner to patients.
Both associate's and bachelor's degrees in nursing are available online, though clinical components are generally part of these programs as well. At the associate level, students can can become registered nurses, then qualify for bachelor's programs, which allow students to continue working.