What Are the Different Types of Online Associate's Degree Nursing Programs?

T. Carrier
T. Carrier
A nursing assistant checking the blood pressure of a patient.
A nursing assistant checking the blood pressure of a patient.

An associate’s degree in nursing may be obtained from many online outlets. This degree will usually qualify an individual for licensure as either a registered nurse (RN) or a licensed practical nurse (LPN). The online associate's degree nursing programs may be classified as an Associate of Science in Nursing, an Associate of Applied Science, or an Associate of Science and Healthcare Administration. In addition, programs may either be categorized as traditional or online-exclusive depending on what type of institution is providing the nursing degree.

Other higher education degrees differ from associate's degrees in a couple of significant ways. For one, associate's programs are more likely to be found at small colleges or technical institutes because classes are generally more oriented toward practical application than traditional textbook learning. Further, an associate’s nursing degree can generally be completed in under two years. Other positives of an associate’s degree include lower tuition and more immediate employment opportunities. Individuals may use an associate’s program as a pathway towards a bachelor’s degree as well, particularly in nursing.

Two broad types of online associate’s degree nursing programs may prepare students for a nursing diploma. Prospects may enroll in an Associate of Science in Nursing program. These programs mostly comprise traditional classroom methods like slide lectures, written assignments, and testing. An abundance of programs, however, also require work in a clinical setting through internships or other means. Gaining practical experience may be arranged via the base institute or the student may be responsible personally for seeking out these opportunities.

If an institution does not offer a direct associate’s nursing degree, students may still gain similar knowledge and experience by completing an Associate of Applied Science program. Courses may differ somewhat from an Associate of Science degree. Classes emphasizing healthcare, technology, math, and communication methods are likely to be prominent, however. A more inclusive associate’s nursing degree could arise from an associate degree in healthcare administration as well, which prepares students for managing daily healthcare operations.

With a specific associate’s nursing degree, individuals may find programs that offer concentrations in one of the major nursing subfields. At the entry level, a certified nursing assistant helps with basic tasks like grooming patients or monitoring vital signs. An LPN may administer certain medications and preparatory treatments, but must work under the supervision of more advanced nurses. A nurse with an associate’s degree plus higher education will usually be employed as an RN, which means that the nurse can directly fulfill physician requests. The prospect enrolled in an RN-targeted program may further focus on specific specializations such as psychiatric nursing.

Online associate's degree nursing programs may also be classified by what type of institution is offering the degrees. A rising number of traditional colleges and universities provide online-focused nursing programs. In addition, certain institutes only offer online degrees for several disciplines. Many of these institutes are accredited by proper education certification boards. Some online-only programs are even devoted exclusively to nursing education.

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    • A nursing assistant checking the blood pressure of a patient.
      By: Izaokas Sapiro
      A nursing assistant checking the blood pressure of a patient.