The Definitive List of Online Registered Nurse Programs

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated February 22, 2021 | Published February 25, 2020

Updated February 22, 2021

Published February 25, 2020

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

A registered nurse is a key individual that attends to the needs of their patients within a healthcare facility. Registered nurses must go through an extensive educational process to obtain a full-time position in this field. Once you receive a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing, you're eligible to earn your license to become a registered nurse. You might also have to pass other state exams to begin practicing nursing.

In this article, we discuss online registered nurse programs, the average salary for RNs, and the top types of online RN programs available.

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What is a registered nurse?

A registered nurse is a healthcare professional who listens and responds to patients' health concerns. They are charged with investigating symptoms, communicating test results and aiding in patients' rehabilitation. They also provide preventative education and emotional support to patients and their loved ones. Additionally, they collaborate with the practicing physician on research and patient care processes that can improve facility experience.

Some of the preferred qualifications that can give you an advantage when applying to jobs include:

  • Being fluent in more than one language

  • Having multiple years of professional experience at a physician's office or a hospital

  • Specializing in a certain type of care like pediatrics or psychiatry

  • Earning a Master's Degree in Nursing following the completion of your registered nurse's license

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Average salary

A registered nurse's salary can vary based upon practice size, experience and geographical location.

The average salary in the U.S.: $67,900 per year.

Types of online RN programs available

Registered nurses can either attend a university and take courses within a classroom or lecture hall. Also, they have the option of taking courses online while getting hands-on experience in a clinical setting, which is a requirement to become a registered nurse. Online coursework also grants you the flexibility to work from home and plan around family and job obligations.

Some of the nursing programs you can enroll in include:

  • Associate Degree in Nursing

  • Bachelor's Degree in Nursing

  • Master's Degree in Nursing

  • Doctor of Nursing Practice or a Ph.D. in Nursing

Associate Degree in Nursing

The high demand for nurses gives you a better opportunity to get an education in this field. An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) takes two years to finish, but the program's coursework relates to the technical skills you need to proceed in working in this field, along with basic medical knowledge. However, you still need to participate in labs or clinics to gain hands-on experience, so be prepared to drive off-site to receive applicable training.

You'll also acquire knowledge of the specific duties of a registered nurse in the program, such as:

  • Documenting patient symptoms

  • Guiding patients through preventative measures and their treatment

  • Speaking with the practicing physician about the patient's symptoms

  • Administering emotional support to patients and their loved ones

Bachelor's Degree in Nursing

Earning a Bachelor's Degree in Nursing is a recommended step to take if you're aiming to become a registered nurse. The degree gives you the chance to prepare yourself for the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) to become a registered nurse and get into a good master's program for nursing. It'll take about three to four years to complete depending on the program you enroll in.

During your bachelor's program, you'll learn about anatomy, biology, nursing trends and nutrition; how a clinical practice operates and how to diagnose patient health concerns.

Master's Degree in Nursing

If you plan on applying to a Master's of Nursing program, make sure you have passed the NCLEX exam and earned your bachelor's degree first. Competitive master's degree programs also prefer you to have professional experience within your specialization, which positions you to be a qualified candidate and increase your annual earnings. The good news is that you can still work in your full-time position while getting your master's degree. Some organizations may pay for you to get your master's degree if they're interested in you having longevity with them.

This part of your educational path focuses solely on the specialization your interested in pursuing. You'll spend a portion of your time working with a specialist and their patients to give you a better understanding of the nuances they experience on a day-to-day basis. You'll need at least two to three years to finish all your coursework and graduate from the program.

Doctor of Nursing Practice or a Ph.D. in Nursing

Both of these educational designations account for doctoral degrees in nursing. A Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) improves your leadership ability within your specialization. It also provides the evidence-based practice you need to address and solve advanced patient conditions. The curriculum involves a blend of direct patient care in areas like women's health or mental health and on organizational concepts including executive leadership and administration.

A Ph.D. in Nursing is more focused on researching advanced academic concepts that help administrative personnel within private practices. However, you can also learn a lot about public policy and the effects it has on patient care in addition to finding out the best methods that improve the health of patients at hospitals or other medical facilities. It's also the best option to take if you plan on teaching students nursing as the program involves mentoring them about their future, but it's advised that you combine this educational road map within professional work experience to advance your career.

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