So, you want to go to nursing school. Online nursing courses are a great option for parents of children who simply don’t have the time to go to a college campus.
One can get an affordable degree online but there are a variety of things to consider. How much will it cost? Is the school accredited? What kind of nurse do you want to be? Is there a graduate degree option?
Questions like these matter to the potential nursing student. Nursing school will prove to be an amazing experience which will change your life and the life of your family.
How We Choose Our Ratings
Much goes into the consideration of the best nursing course. We’ve taken the time to consider the cost per credit hour, accreditation, curriculum and type of degree each school has to offer.
The ideal nursing program will save you money while getting a great education which will prepare you thoroughly for the NCLEX.
Each school on this list is rated out of 5 stars. 5 stars being the best and 1 star being the worst. Each school on this list is fully accredited so you won’t have to worry about that.
Let’s Take a Look at the Top 7 Nursing Courses
1. The University of Alabama at Birmingham
The University of Alabama has an exceptional nursing course. Their annual tuition is $ and they give credits for experience in the medical field. Their graduation rate is at 53% which is a good rate for an online school.
Our favorite thing about this college is the opportunity to get a Bachelor's, Masters or Doctorate Degree in nursing. Depending on the specialty you choose, you can become an advanced Nurse Practitioner through their programs.
2. The Ohio State University College of Nursing
The Ohio State University offers an exceptional nursing program as well. This school offers full-time and part-time online courses.
They’re known to have great academics and have been around since 1914. Their nursing school has over a century of experience in teaching upcoming nursing students.
For this school, you'll pay $ per credit hour.
3. Ball State University
This school is located in Muncie, Indiana. Ball State gives the option of both on campus and online schooling. The annual tuition for this school is $$.
About 48% of their students receive some sort of financial aid. The graduation rate is 60% and has an average NCLEX pass rate of 94%. Their website has additional information about each of their programs.
Bachelors, Master's and Doctorate Degrees are all an option for this school. They even give the option of a part-time Doctorate Degree program for those interested.
They also offer a variety of scholarships for nursing students.
4. Fort Hays State University
This school is located in Hays, Kansas. Their tuition is only $ per year but they have a 44% graduation rate. The school website offers information about their recent class statistics.
What really sticks out about this school is their 100% NCLEX pass rate. This school also offers a simulation lab where students can practice in a real-life environment. The simulation lab has patients, nursing stations, and medical charts for students to become accustomed to.
5. Drexel University
This is a private university based out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. This school has been consistently ranked in the Top 10 Best Online Nursing Schools ranking.
Drexel University is a research school dedicated to evidence-based practice and enhanced learning. They offer post bachelor’s certificates which range from psychiatric nursing, faculty education, nursing education and nurse practitioner.
Unlike some nursing schools, this program offers classes every 10 weeks so that students can complete their degree or program quicker.
6. George Town University
This research nursing school has been around since 1789 and is based out of Washington D.C. This is a Catholic institution which offers Master's degree programs ranging in, Nurse-Midwifery, Adult-Gerontology, and Family Nurse Practitioner.
To gain admission into this school students will have to have a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing already and be a licensed RN.
7. Walden University
This school is known for its nursing program across the nation. It's accredited by 3 different agencies. They offer Bachelor's, Masters and Doctorate degrees.
Their graduate degrees are offered in studies such as Hospital Administration and Management. They offer 7 different Master’s courses including Family Nurse Practitioner, Administrative, and Gerontology.
They've been around since the 1970's as a completely online school. You must have obtained an RN licensure before going to this school to finish your nursing education.
Online courses give many options and flexibility. These are especially helpful for parents, or nurses who are already in the work-force with rigorous hours.
Nursing is a demanding career field and furthering your education may seem impossible without an online class setting.
This way you can study on your own and submit assignments from the comfort of your own home. Some schools require students to go in for certain examinations.
Online nursing courses are best for those who are independent learners. You must be highly motivated to finish your degree and obtain your goals. This option is very popular for people with an Associate’s degree in Nursing who want to pursue a Bachelor’s.
Considerations Before Choosing a Nursing Course
For the majority of online nursing courses, you will at least have to have an Associate’s degree in nursing as well as your RN (Registered Nurse) licensure.
This is because the expectation is that you have already completed clinical rotations. These are on-site examinations of your performance in a hospital or nursing home setting. Once these are completed in an Associates program you can finish your education with an online school.
Online nursing courses are a great way to save time and money. Many schools that offer on-site nursing courses require additional clinical hours. This is usually not the case with an online school.
Some online schools offer more flexibility than others. Online schools have the option of mandating clinical hours on site, and if your school is far away it will be a hassle to get there.
Various Career Choices
Nursing is a very broad career choice. Student nurses have the option of choosing from Pediatric Nursing, Oncology, Adult Geriatrics, Psychiatric Health Nursing, Administrative Nursing, Midwifery, Legal Nursing, or Nurse Case Management.
Each career choice comes with different requirements. There is a variety of certificate's one can obtain after getting their Bachelor's degree in Nursing. Certificates in nursing allow the student to become specialized in a certain field.
Graduate degree’s such as Master’s and Doctorate degrees are required in some specialties. The specialties that require a Master’s degree are Nurse Practitioner, Advanced Practice Nurse, Nurse Midwife, Legal nurse consultant and NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) Nurse Practitioner.
Doctorate degrees in nursing are usually used for teaching purposes or administration. With a doctorate in nursing, one can become a college professor, open a nursing school or become an administrator in a hospital setting.
What’s the NCLEX?
This acronym stands for, “National Council Licensure Examination.” This is a state test which determines whether or not you obtain an RN (Registered Nurse) licensure.
All nursing students must complete this test to become LPN's (licensed practical nurse) or RN's. There are two separate versions of this test for each nursing license.
The NCLEX examination can last for 4-6 hours with up to 265 questions. This is usually a computerized examination in which you need to obtain a certain pass rate. The pass rate depends on the number of questions given to you.
Students receive different questions in different amounts based on how well they do during the exam. The computer will tailor the questions to your needs.
Tuition for nursing school varies widely across the board. The most expensive nursing schools are those which are private schools designed for a profit.
Private schools are good for those who don’t want to take all the prerequisites usually required in a university program.
The downfall of private schools is their cost. The school chooses how much they would like to charge the students.
University’s offer different tuition rates depending on the books, simulations and required clinical rotations. Be sure to look at specific costs in your state to determine which is best for you.
What exactly is accreditation? As it pertains to online nursing courses this term refers to who or what allows the school to function. Some private schools use different accreditation which means without a degree you may not be able to transfer credits.
As long as you obtain a degree from a private school you shouldn’t have trouble finding a nursing job. Many students choose to play it safe and go to online schools which are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
If your specialty is elder care or Geriatrics, it’s easier to get a job without having to consider the specific accreditation of your degree.
If your specialty is Trauma, Oncology, or Midwifery you will want to go to an accredited online nursing course. Hospitals usually only hire from colleges which prove their curriculum to the Higher Commission.
The Difference Between an LPN and RN
Choosing to be a Licensed Practical Nurse or Registered Nurse depends on various factors. If you live in a big city with large hospitals, you may want to choose RN. LPN’s in these locations usually only work in nursing homes or psychiatric units.
Pay rate and skill set are the differentiating factors between these two careers. In the medical setting RN’s are in charge of what LPN’s do. RN’s may be the manager in their workplace.
LPN’s can do almost as much as RN’s with the exception of starting IV’s. Some states offer IV certification for LPN’s who want to use this valuable skill set.
When choosing the right nursing school think of the cost, curriculum needs, and your end goal. If you know you may want to further your education in the future pick a school with transferable credits and graduate programs.
It’s easier to get into a graduate program if it’s from the same school you obtained your undergraduate degree.
Location of the school matters as well. Even if the school is online you want to choose an online school close to you. At least in the same state. Some online nursing schools require clinical rotations and on-site examinations.
Class size is something to consider as well. Do you learn better with small or large class sizes? Will you need extra help with certain course work?
Class sizing during clinical rotations is important as well. In the clinical environment, you want to have time to ask your instructor if you don't understand something. Clinical rotations determine whether or not you get to graduate. Take them seriously.
A career choice in nursing will prove to be worth-while. You’ll do rewarding work while earning a steady income for yourself or your family.
The workforce needs more nurses now more than ever. Nurses work in a variety of health care settings and even work in hospital administration.
The sky is the limit with this career and choosing the best online nursing course will help get you to where you want to be. There are many decisions to be made but hopefully, this list gives insight into where you may want to start your online degree.