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Online Nursing Vocational Schools: Home Study Degree Overviews

Find out about online nursing courses and in which degree and certification programs they're most commonly offered. Get course descriptions, program info and online requirements to make an informed decision.

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Essential Information

Certificate, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree programs in nursing are all available for online learners. The most common way to enter the nursing profession is to obtain an undergraduate degree in nursing that prepares graduates for the national registered nursing exam. While these entry-level nursing programs can be found with online coursework, they also require extensive clinical requirements. Additionally, online and hybrid programs are available for registered nurses who wish to add a bachelor's degree to their nursing credentials, pursue a graduate degree or specialize in a certain field. Some of these programs also require some degree of on-campus work, like participation in a colloquium, or clinical hours.

The University of Alabama - Huntsville

The University of Alabama - Huntsville utilizes an online course management system for its bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs; in which, students take many of the courses and examinations online. Master's students at Huntsville take several on-campus colloquiums of about three days and complete clinical hours near their homes. Doctoral candidates can complete all components online, keeping in contact with advisors via email and phone.

UAH offers many online nursing degree programs. The university's online course management system allows students to view course syllabi, take online examinations or access handouts and audio or video presentations. All online degree programs use interactive video in addition to the Internet.

Bachelor of Science in Nursing

This program is designed for registered nurses with associate's degrees in nursing or bachelor's degrees in other fields who decide to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Prerequisite courses in general chemistry, biology, anatomy and English composition are required before starting upper-level nursing courses. However, credit hours received in students' previous degree programs should meet these requirements. Upper level classes include theoretical applications in nursing practice and leadership in professional practice.


Master of Science in Nursing

This advanced program is for nurses interested in developing as leaders in the health care profession. Through courses in budgeting, health care informatics and case management, students learn how to implement effective policy change in the areas of information technology and personnel management. Graduates of this program are prepared for a variety of managerial roles in health care and education.

Most course material can be completed online with the exception of two sequential courses in residency in leadership. Each course requires a three-day experience on campus with faculty and peers. Students take the first course in their first semester. The second course is completed in a student's final semester. In addition to online coursework, some classes also require students to log clinical hours under the supervision of professionals at the student's choice of health care facility.


Doctor of Nursing Practice

This program is for nurse practitioners who already hold an advanced master's degree such as a specialization in family nursing or women's health. The online Doctor of Nursing Practice program also prepares graduates to take on leadership roles in the health care industry. A special emphasis is on preparing students to fulfill educational roles as clinical faculty.

Students can enroll full- or part-time and complete all degree requirements online. Courses include population health in advanced practice nursing, health policy and statistical methods. The program culminates in a scholarly project that is also completed via an online correspondence with faculty.


Indiana State University

Indiana State University's family nurse practitioner program requires several hours of weekly clinical training in addition to online coursework. Students are expected to complete the clinical hours at a facility near their home.

Indiana State's online graduate nursing certificate program is for registered nurses who already hold a master's degree in nursing and wish to specialize in family care. Applicants must show proof of a current R.N. license. After completing the program, students can apply for certification in their specialization through the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners or the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

Family Nurse Practitioner Graduate Certificate

Most coursework for this 16-month program can also be completed online. Some courses, such as the diagnostic laboratory course or the preceptorship, require approximately 15 hours of clinical training per week; this element requires cooperative work with health care facilities in the area. Otherwise, students can complete all certificate requirements at home. Additional coursework includes health assessment and health promotion, pharmacology and advanced pathophysiology. Students whose master's degree did not have a nurse practitioner focus are required to take two additional courses in family nurse practitioner role and theoretical foundations of family health care.

Distance learners can consider certificates, bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in nursing, many of which are offered in a hybrid format; some fully online programs are also available. The University of Alabama - Huntsville and Indiana State University are two of the numerous schools across the country that offer online nursing programs.

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