A Guide to Online Nursing Degrees Accredited Online Degree Programs in Nursing

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Are you considering an online degree in nursing? Nothing has brought the importance of nurses to the forefront like the global Covid-19 pandemic. With the stresses, burnout, and danger of nursing in these times, there has never been a greater need for nurses to enter the field, for working nurses to increase their credentials, and for knowledgable nurses to pass on their knowledge. Covid had changed how we learn, but an online nursing degree is not just an investment in your future – it’s an investment in the future of humanity.

Benefits of nursing degrees include increased earning potential, advancement opportunities, and the ability to pursue almost any career path that involves the use of nursing skills. Graduates who have earned a nursing degree can find employment using their basic skills or they can choose a specialty that allows them to pursue their passion. Pediatric nursing, trauma care, emergency room nursing, geriatric nursing, or mobile nursing are all viable avenues a nurse can take once they become licensed. Nurses who have spent years honing their skills can turn towards a career in teaching that will allow them to help others reach their goal of becoming a nurse.

What Does a Nurse Do?

The job description of a nurse will depend on whether they are a general practice nurses or if they have chosen to pursue a specialization. The basic job description for a nurse is to provide both direct and indirect care to the patients they serve either in an office setting or as a patient in a hospital or other healthcare facility. Nurses are able to pass medications, assist physicians, take vitals, and offer comfort as they care for their patients. For many, nursing is a passion and comes just as naturally as caring for themselves.

Depending on the type of specialization they have chosen, nurses can perform a wide variety of tasks. Mobile or flight nurses travel extensively as part of their job. They fly with patients from one destination to another providing whatever level of care is needed throughout transit. Emergency and trauma nurses are required to work in highly stressful situations. They must be able to think and react on split second notice. Each specialization requires specific skills and knowledge that are unique to the responsibilities of the position.

Most Popular Schools with Online Nursing Degree Programs

CareerEmploymentAverage SalaryProjected Job Growth
Nurse Practitioners200,600$111,84028.2%
Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary59,680$83,16020%
Medical and Health Services Managers394,910$115,16017.6%
Nurse Anesthetists43,570$181,04017%
Nurse Midwives6,930$108,81015.7%
Registered Nurses2,982,280$77,46012.1%
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses697,510$48,50010.7%
Nursing Assistants1,419,920$30,7208.9%
Source: 2020 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2019-29 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Most Affordable Online Nursing Degree Programs

How Do I Become a Nurse?

Becoming a nurse starts with having the motivation and compassion that is required to care for patients no matter their age or the severity of their condition. The next step is to enroll in a degree program that will allow them to earn the skills they need to pursue a career in whatever nursing specialization they choose. Once they have completed their chosen degree program, they will need to apply for their state board examination. If the future nurse has met the eligibility requirements, they will be invited to take the test and become licensed in their state.

After a nurse becomes licensed, they will have to take a specific number of continuing education hours each year to keep their nursing license current and in good standing. If a nurse chooses to take an additional degree program, this will help them to meet their continuing education goals. Earning an additional degree can open many doors for the graduate. This can include promotions, increases in pay, and the opportunity to take a management or administrative position.

What Can You Do With a Nursing Degree?

Having a nursing degree opens the door for many employment opportunities. In addition to becoming a nurse or nurse practitioner, graduates can work as paramedics, EMTs, or personal care providers who provide nursing services in their clients’ homes. Some of the best nursing jobs can be found outside of a hospital or office setting. Many of the highest paying nursing careers involve working in administrative positions. This allows nurses to use their years of experience to guide others who are working in the field.

In addition to nursing, graduates can also establish a solid career in the field of education. Teaching future nurses the skills and abilities they need to be effective when providing quality care can be extremely rewarding. Nurses who have experience working in different specializations bring valuable experience to the classroom that they can pass on to their students.

Nursing Degree Types

There are several types of nursing degrees that will allow future nurses to get the education they need. By starting with an Associates’ degree, students can lay the groundwork for other degree programs that will help them advance their career and teach them skills they will need both in and out of work. Many classes can be taken online allowing students to continue their education while maintaining a full work schedule.

Online Associate’s Degrees in Nursing

An Associates’ degree program includes basic or general education courses as well as a few of the most common nursing courses. The general courses as well as the more basic nursing courses will lay the foundation for future degree programs. Once the student has completed their Associates’ degree, they can begin to work in the healthcare field as an aid. The skills that are learned in an Associates’ degree program are designed to provide nurses with the abilities they will need throughout their careers. It is up to them to continue to hone those skills as they continue to move forward.

Individuals who pursue an Associates’ degree in nursing can also use what they have learned to go in a different direction. Instead of becoming a nurse, they may choose to become a paramedic or an occupational therapist. While both consist of some degree of patient care, the type of care being offered is much different than what would be received in a doctor’s office or a hospital/healthcare facility. Because of the general nature of an Associates’ degree, students can follow almost any path they choose and still lay the foundation for a long and lucrative career. 

Online Bachelor’s Degrees in Nursing

With a Bachelor’s degree in nursing, a graduate will have earned the next set of skills they will need to provide the highest quality of care to each patient they serve. There are many Bachelor’s degree programs that offer classes that will allow the graduate to start directing their education toward the specialization they are most interested. A Bachelor’s degree program provides enough information that will allow a graduate to sit for and successfully pass their state board nursing exam.

Bachelor’s degree programs can include online course work that gives students the flexibility of studying while they are at work. Earning hands-on experience while attending school is the best way to retain the information that is being presented within the degree program. It also gives the nurse the option of studying when it is most convenient for them. Not only does this flexibility make it easier for the student to learn, but they will also be able to actually devote time to their studies. Being able to focus on what they are learning is extremely important with this type of degree program.

Online Master’s Degrees in Nursing

A Masters’ degree in nursing provides a graduate with so much more than simply the skills that are needed to be a nurse. While ethics courses are included in a Bachelor’s degree program, they go much further in-depth when included in a Masters’ degree program. The same is true for management skills. With a Masters’ degree in nursing, students have been taught many of the most advanced skills that nurses require. As they advance to this level, however, they receive various types of management training that prepares them to take charge if the need arises.

In nursing, management can take several forms. A nurse can manage a team within her department or take control of the nursing staff of an entire floor. Nurses who have managed to take on this level of responsibility are often looked at as candidates for administrative positions within their facility. A Director of Nursing or a Nursing Administrator has the experience and the education that will allow them to lead a large number of nurses and effectively manage an entire department. Nurses who have earned a Masters’ degree can also turn their focus on education, using their knowledge and experience to guide others along their nursing career path.

Online Doctoral Degrees in Nursing

Doctoral degree programs in nursing normally take one of two avenues, research and practical application. Research doctoral degrees focus on the educational or research aspect of the degree program. For many nurses helping patients is the passion that drove them to enroll in a nursing program. Other nurses who have worked in the field for many years, understand that they have a level of knowledge that cannot be achieved in a classroom. They return to the classroom not as a student, but as an experienced teacher who can make a difference in the future of their students.

Students who pursue a doctoral degree often do so simply because they want to be able to have the advanced skills needed to not only treat patients but also manage other nurses. Nurses who reach this level can work actively with patients and still manage a department or they can choose to leave the direct care of patients to the nurses they manage. As a DON, a nurse can use all of the skills they have learned throughout the years and act as a mentor to young nurses who are just starting out.

Nursing Program Accreditation

Accreditation means that a degree program has surpassed the strict standards set by the industry. CCNE (Commission of Collegiate Nursing Education) and ACEN (Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing) are the two most well-known accrediting boards that certify degree programs to ensure they meet or exceed the expectations of the nursing industry. Accreditation is the best way to ensure that you are receiving the best quality education. Academic excellence is extremely important when you plan on working in an industry where a patient’s health must always be a priority.

Accreditation is not a one-time certification. Depending on the type of class, the accrediting board will review the coursework that is being offered to ensure that the lessons and skills being taught are as current and up to date as possible. The board also ensures that the technology being used is also as advanced as possible. These thorough evaluations are used to maintain the highest quality degree programs within the nursing field. The value of accreditation is immeasurable when you consider that the lessons a nurse learns while in school lay the foundation for the hands-on care they provide to their patients. 

Certifications and Licensure for Nursing

Becoming a licensed nurse requires meeting the eligibility requirements for the state you plan on working in. Graduates must have completed an accredited nursing degree program that meets or exceeds industry standards. Nurses who work across state lines must be certified nationally or receive a license from each state in which they are wanting to practice. Flight nurses or nurses who work on the road will have to be licensed through an agency that is recognized by each state.

State licenses and most certifications require that students take a pre-determined number of continuing education courses each year. Completing these courses and turning in your certificate or a transcript that shows you earned a passing grade will keep your certificate or license in good standing. There are several certification programs that can be taken that will meet these requirements and allow students to gain the contuing education hours they need. If a nurse is ready to move forward, enrolling in the next degree program will provide them with more than enough continuing education hours for the duration of their schooling.

Nursing School Scholarships

Scholarships are available for nursing students at all levels of their education. Although scholarships can be found for almost any degree program, nursing students who are working toward a Masters’ degree or Doctoral program may want to look into an educational grant specifically for nursing. Both scholarships and grants are considered to be gifts and do not have to be paid off like a student loan. Grants, however, are sometimes much larger than scholarships and are sometimes given for multiple years.

Students who are applying for a scholarship or grant must make sure the application and all of the required paperwork are submitted prior to the deadline if they want to be considered. In most cases, the money received through a grant or scholarship can be used for any educational expenses. There are situations, however, where the money is intended only for tuition, books, or supplies. It is extremely important to thoroughly read through all of the instructions before you apply so that you understand all of the eligibility requirements.


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