Best Online Associate in Pre-Nursing Programs of 2024

Explore our list of the best online pre-nursing courses and discover which online prerequisites for nursing you need to start your educational journey.
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Updated February 23, 2024

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Are you ready to discover your college program?

If you are confused by what an associate in pre-nursing is, then you are in good company because colleges can define it differently.

Some schools offer a pre-nursing direct transfer agreement pathway. Other pre-nursing programs teach the prerequisites for a bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) program or conclude with an associate degree in nursing (ADN).

Find out what an associate in a pre-nursing program is, how it contributes to an ADN or BSN program, and what to expect.

Popular Online Nursing Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Online Associate in Pre-nursing Programs Rankings Summary

Rank School In-State Tuition Out-of-State Tuition Acceptance Rate
#1 Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College
Perkinston, MS
$3,300 $6,600 Not provided

Best Online Associate in Pre-Nursing Programs

#1 Best Online Associate in Pre-Nursing Programs of 2024

Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College

  • Perkinston, MS
  • 2 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing

Cost per Credit:

In-State | $165

Out-of-State | $330

Credits to Graduate: 66

NCLEX-RN Pass Rate: 97% 

The prelicensure associate program in nursing at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College offers tracks that prepare registered nurses and licensed practical nurses. The online curriculum includes courses in adult health, advanced concepts of nursing practice, dosage calculations, and maternal-child health. After completing the first semester, students can opt to take the Certified Nurse Assistant Examination. 

Admission requirements include an ACT score of at least 18 or a GPA higher than 2.5 in degree-required courses, including anatomy and physiology I and II, and microbiology. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$3,300
Out-of-state
$6,600
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
Not provided
Out-of-state
Not provided
Retention Rate
66%
Acceptance Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
8,208
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
59% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

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What Is an Online Associate in Pre-Nursing Degree?

An online associate in pre-nursing programs confers a two-year associate degree in nursing. This degree allows you to get your nursing license, complete prerequisites for a BSN, and get the foundational knowledge and skills for a nursing career.

Pre-nursing programs are typically offered at community colleges or larger colleges and universities to prepare you for a nursing career or a BSN program. You may also choose an associate degree in nursing (ADN) or an associate of science in nursing (ASN). These two-year degrees make you eligible to take the NCLEX-RN, get your RN license, and practice as an RN.

The coursework requirements for an online associate in pre-nursing programs are the same as a traditional in-person program when attending an accredited one. Accreditation also enables you to apply your credits to continue your education.

Should You Get an ADN or BSN as your First Nursing Degree?

The path you choose to begin your nursing career depends on your circumstances. However, the AACN reports that many employers prefer hiring BSN-prepared nurses. The current nursing workforce is younger and more diverse, and more of them hold a BSN degree than before the pandemic, according to the 2022 National Nursing Workforce Study.

Benefits of Starting with an ADN

  • Lower cost and less time to complete than a BSN
  • Typically have more flexible schedules and locations
  • Can start working quickly
  • Easier admission to school
  • Credits can be transferred to complete a BSN

Benefits of Starting with a BSN

  • Higher employment rate
  • Better salary potential and career opportunities
  • Professional recognition and credibility
  • Preparation for an advanced practice degree
  • Stronger clinical and leadership skills

What to Expect From a Pre-Nursing Program

An online associate in pre-nursing typically teaches the essential skills for nursing practice. The curriculum may vary depending on your college, but most programs cover these subjects.

Pre-Nursing Curriculum

What Online Nursing Prerequisites Do I Need to Take?

Applicants for an ADN program must meet specific prerequisites to qualify for admission, including coursework and other requirements. Prerequisites generally include:

  • High school diploma or equivalent (GED)
  • Minimum GPA requirement, typically ranging from 2.5 to 3.0
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Microbiology
  • Mathematics
  • Program-specific requirements like CPR certification or Basic Life Support (BLS)
  • Letters of recommendation and personal statement or essay

Nursing Licensure

ADN graduates must complete several steps before they can practice as an RN. You can obtain an RN license after graduating with an ADN or BSN degree and meeting the following requirements:

Nursing Careers for ADN Graduates

$32.47
Average Hourly Wage for ADN Graduates
Source: Payscale

6%
Projected Job Growth for All RNs
Source: BLS

After passing the NCLEX-RN and getting licensed, graduates of an associate in pre-nursing program are eligible to work as RNs in a variety of healthcare settings. They may work as staff nurses in specialty areas, such as critical care, emergency nursing, pediatrics, or psychiatric mental health nursing. They may also work in community settings, home care, physician's offices, schools, correctional facilities, or outpatient clinics.

The responsibilities of an ADN-prepared RN include assessing a patient's health status, helping to develop and implement nursing care plans, monitoring patients' conditions, educating families and patients, and administering medications and treatments.

According to Payscale data from Jan. 2024, an ADN graduate's average base hourly rate is around $32 an hour, and the average annual salary is $76,000. Your salary can vary depending on geographical location, years of experience, and additional specialty certifications.

Your hourly wage can also depend on the specialty in which you work. Some nursing practice areas have a higher salary potential than others.

Median Hourly Wages of Nursing Careers for ADN Graduates
Career Median Hourly Wage
Emergency Room Nurse $34.87
Critical Care Nurse $35.49
Psychiatric Nurse $35.08
Labor and Delivery Nurse $33.93
Pediatric Nurse $31.08
Source: Payscale
Note: Hourly wages were used because the hours nurses work per week vary by work setting.

Nursing Certification and Continuing Education

ADN-prepared nurses have options to advance their practice through many avenues. Most states have mandatory continuing education requirements to renew your RN license. Attending workshops, seminars, and conferences helps you meet those requirements while staying up-to-date on evidence-based practice and learning new skills.

Earning a specialty certification demonstrates expertise in a specific area of nursing, such as critical care, pediatrics, or gerontology. Consider completing an RN-to-BSN bridge program, which is designed for RNs with an associate degree to gain the added skills needed to practice as a BSN-prepared nurse.

You might also consider advancing your education by utilizing an ADN-to-MSN degree program to get your master’s in nursing. These specialized tracks allow you to practice as an educator, nurse practitioner, administrator, or informaticist.

Choosing an Online Nursing Program

Students should consider program cost, nursing degree options, admission requirements, and accreditation when finding the right online nursing program. Other factors worth considering include in-state tuition options, residency requirements, and synchronous and asynchronous delivery types. The links below can help learners pick the right online program.

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Pre-Nursing Programs

What is the difference between a BSN and an Associate RN?

The main difference is in the length of your education and the scope of your career opportunities. An ADN is a two-year program, while a BSN is a four-year program. You spend two extra years of schooling expanding your clinical knowledge and learning critical thinking and leadership skills. BSN-prepared nurses can pursue various leadership roles and have a higher earning potential.

Should I get my ASN before a BSN?

Whether you get an associate or a bachelor's degree in nursing depends on your circumstances. If you obtain an ASN first, your initial education will be less expensive and shorter. You'll be able to start working far quicker than if you complete a BSN. You can also work while advancing your education by enrolling in an RN-to-BSN program. Yet, with an ADN, your salary potential and career opportunities are more limited than a BSN.

Do hospitals prefer ADN or BSN?

Most hospitals prefer hiring a BSN-prepared nurse because they achieve better patient outcomes and contribute toward the healthcare institution achieving Magnet status. In an American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN) survey, 25% of hospitals required BSN-prepared nurses, and 70% preferred hiring BSN nurses.

What can a BSN do that an RN Cannot?

ADN and BSN nurses share many core competencies. Still, a BSN degree prepares nurses for more opportunities and responsibilities, including leadership roles as managers, charge nurses, or directors to oversee patient units, coordinate staff, and manage budgets.

BSN-prepared nurses can critically evaluate research literature and can work as nurse researchers. They are qualified to work as educators in clinical settings or community health organizations.

Do ADN and BSN make the same amount of money?

Typically, BSN-prepared nurses make more money than ADN-prepared nurses. According to Payscale, the average hourly salary is $32.50 for an ADN nurse and $35.80 for a BSN-prepared nurse. These are averages and geographical location, additional certifications, and years of experience influence individual salaries. However, a BSN-prepared nurse generally makes more money than an ADN-prepared nurse.

Note: The insights on this page — excluding school descriptions — were reviewed by an independent third party compensated for their time by TheBestSchools. Page last reviewed February 22, 2024.

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