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A pre-nursing degree is an associate degree that fulfills prerequisites for a BSN program. Most BSN programs consist of four years of nursing education, but students with a pre-nursing degree are often able to transfer into a four-year school to finish the final two years of a program. Pre-nursing degrees are offered at community colleges and as an introduction to nursing at four-year institutions. Now is a great time to start your career as a nurse. According to the BLS, careers in nursing are projected to rise 15% from 2016-2026, much faster than the national average job growth.

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Accredited Online Schools

Best Online Pre-Nursing Programs

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Online Pre-Nursing Degree Program Ranking Guidelines: We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.

The motto of is Finding the best school for you. Here is how we do it:

The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.

To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):

1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]

  • Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
  • Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
  • Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
  • Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
  • Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
  • Considers range of electives within that discipline
  • Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline

2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]

  • Considers education background of the faculty
  • Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
  • Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
  • Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
  • Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources

3. Reputation [weight = 20%]

  • Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
    • Faculty
    • Curriculum
    • “Freshness” of academic knowledge
    • Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
    • Suitability of graduates for the workplace

4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]

  • Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
  • Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants

5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]

  • Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
  • Considers range of degree subjects offered, such as art & design, computers & technology, education & teaching, criminal justice, and business

6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]

  • Considers the following of the online classes:
    • Types of online technology used to deliver content
    • Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
    • Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
    • Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
  • Considers the following of instructors:
    • Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
    • Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
    • Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
    • Ratio to number of students in a class
  • Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees

Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.

To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:

  • Accreditation
  • Public or private status
  • Acceptance rate
  • Retention rate
  • Graduation rate
  • ACT/SAT requirements
  • Cost in-state / out of state
  • Undergrad, grad, or both offered
  • Region
  • State
  • City

Get the best rankings here AND get them to suit your personal needs. That’s advantage!

If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.

Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!

Best Online Pre-Nursing Programs

Holmes Community College View School Profile Goodman, MS 52% Holmes Community College is regionally accredited from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC).

Holmes County Community College operates a central campus in Goodman, Mississippi as well as satellite campuses and regional centers in Ridgeland, Kosciusko, Grenada, and Webster County. Originally an agricultural high school, HCC began offering community college courses to working professionals in the community in the early 20th century.

Since then, HCC has continued its evolution by offering several programs online, including one of the nation's strongest online pre-licensure nursing programs. This associate program prepares graduates to transfer to a bachelor of science in nursing program. All students must complete 64 credits total of a curriculum that combines general education courses with a comprehensive slate of pre-nursing studies, including psychology, chemistry, biology, nutrition, anatomy and physiology, and human growth and development. This particular degree usually takes students four semesters — two years — of full-time study to complete. The program's only admission requirement is a high school diploma. There are no tuition differences between online students, on-campus students, Mississippi residents, or out-of-state students.

HCC delivers online coursework in the program both synchronously and asynchronously through the Canvas platform. HCC holds membership in the 14-college Mississippi Virtual Community College, which allows students in HCC's pre-nursing program to take online courses at any of the other 13 schools. All students who enroll in the pre-nursing program gain access to HCC's library, IT support, academic advising, and NetTutor services.

Georgia Military College View School Profile $ Milledgeville, GA 32% GMC is regionally accredited from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCC).

Georgia Military College operates its central campus out of the former state capitol building, although the majority of the school's students attend classes at a satellite center or online. GMC consists of a middle school, high school, junior college, and military-specific junior college. As a whole, GMC primarily focuses on the liberal arts. Nevertheless, the college also includes pre-professional studies, offering one of the best online pre-licensure nursing programs in the country.

GMC's pre-nursing program allows students to choose between an associate of arts and an associate of science degree. In either case, students complete a set of general education requirements and a set of pre-nursing concentration courses. These offerings include studies in biology, psychology, and either math, chemistry, or physics. In both cases, students must complete between 93 and 98 quarter hours, a process that takes the usual four semesters, or two years.

GMC does not list admissions requirements beyond a high school diploma and charges students the same tuition regardless of location or delivery method. When students enroll in the pre-nursing program at GMC, they gain access to dedicated admissions, financial aid, and academic advisors who focus specifically on online students. Additionally, GMC provides students in the program with the option of either completing the program entirely through asynchronous online coursework or through blended learning.

Allen County Community College View School Profile $ Iola, KS 49% Allen Community College is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Although Allen operates physical campuses in Iola, Kansas and Burlingame, Kansas and provides its six-county service area with a variety of on-campus degrees, the school began focusing more on distance education over the past decade. Allen now offers several of its programs online both synchronously and asynchronously through Interactive Television, including a pre-nursing degree.

Allen's associate of science program in pre-nursing requires students to complete 67 credits, which usually take the customary two years — four semesters — of full-time study. Differentiating itself from comparable associate programs, Allen's pre-nursing curriculum limits general education courses in favor of a more robust pre-nursing concentration. Consequently, all students in the program must complete courses in anatomy and physiology, microbiology, nutrition, chemistry, developmental psychology, and biology. Furthermore, the program's curriculum includes at least one lab course each semester and five in total. This quantity of lab courses constitutes a more extensive requirement than most online pre-nursing licensure programs.

Prospective students must hold a high school diploma in order to apply to the program. Aiming to assist its graduates, Allen maintains transfer agreements with nursing programs at six Kansas schools: the University of Kansas, Wichita State University, Newman University, Emporia State University, Pittsburg State University, and Washburn University. All online students at Allen pay the same tuition as both Kansas residents and on-campus students.

Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College View School Profile $ Hayward, WI 82% LCOOCC is regionally accredited from the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa Community College aims to serve Anishinaabe communities — an indigenous people primarily based in the upper Midwest and Canada, including in and around LCOOCC's Hayward, Wisconsin campus — through postsecondary education. LCOOCC, operated by the Ojibwa tribe, strives to advance Ojibwe culture, history, and language. As such, LCOOCC maintains a policy of never refusing admission to Native American students, who make up a sizeable portion of the college's population.

Nevertheless, LCOOCC welcomes students from all backgrounds, especially to the school's online programs, which include one of the country's best online pre-licensure nursing programs. This associate degree requires students to complete 68 or 69 credits, a process that typically takes full-time students two years. The curriculum includes pre-nursing courses in specific areas like nutrition, microbiology, and chemistry. The program also prepares graduates to meet Native American healthcare needs. Therefore, all students must also complete an introductory course in Ojibwe culture.

The program uses a blended learning model, requiring students to complete 13 courses on campus and six courses online through Moodle and asynchronous coursework. LCOOCC does not list any requirements for admission to the program beyond a high school diploma. Additionally, as a community college, LCOOCC charges online students the same tuition as on-campus and in-state students.

Choosing an Online Pre-Nursing Program

Most pre-nursing programs offer similar curricula, covering coursework such as anatomy, chemistry, nutrition, nursing practices, and microbiology. These classes provide a foundation of medical knowledge and skills for students looking to enter a BSN program at a four-year school. Pre-nursing degrees are offered at community colleges and as prerequisite courses at a college or university. Prior to selecting a program, you should decide if you would like to complete classwork online or on campus, since many schools provide both options. Some on-campus hours may be required as all nursing programs offer a combination of classroom learning and hands-on clinical experience.

Four-year institutions that offer a nursing program may include a pre-nursing program as a concentration, which allows students to tailor their education toward a specific area of nursing. If this option is present at your school, you may be able to enroll in elective coursework. Elective classes are often tailored toward a niche subject and can help you pursue a career in a specialized area of nursing. Some of the most common nursing concentrations include courses in medical terminology and nutrition. When choosing a program, it is important to know what you hope to get out of your degree, both during school and after graduation.

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What Else Can I Expect From an Online Pre-Nursing Program?

While every pre-nursing program is likely to have a similar curriculum and cover foundational nursing coursework, you can expect some variances in classes depending on the school. Accredited nursing programs require intro classes such as anatomy, nursing practices, and chemistry. Many schools offer degrees with concentrations and electives specific to their program.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Program in Pre-Nursing

Curriculum for an Online Pre-Nursing Program

  • Anatomy:
    Introductory courses in human physiology and anatomy cover topics like the function and structure of cells, the skeletal system, the muscular system, and the nervous system. Some classes are dedicated to common diseases.
  • Microbiology:
    Microbiology classes study microorganisms and focus on life at a microscopic level. Students learn the basics of eukaryotic cells, bacteria, protozoa, and viruses.
  • Human growth and development:
    Classwork is devoted to examining human development throughout the lifespan. Emphasis is placed on theory, research, and common cognitive, physical, and social milestones.
  • Nutrition:
    Nutrition coursework covers topics such as diet, dietary needs and sources, intake levels, and the function of major nutrients in diets.
  • Biostatistics:
    Biostatistics is a branch of statistics and data focused on living organisms. Classes in biostatistics focus on how data is gathered and the best practices for reading and reporting theoretical and physical findings.
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Accredited Online Schools

Careers with an Online Pre-Nursing Degree

Most careers in nursing require an RN to be considered, but there are many employment opportunities for individuals with this degree. Pre-nursing degree holders find work in most areas of medicine, in hospitals, hospice centers, schools, and other medical facilities. Growth opportunities and salary increases are also available to professionals who complete continued education coursework. The list below details three common careers for individuals with a degree in pre-nursing.

  1. Emergency Medical Technician (EMT):
    EMTs provide emergency medical care to people outside of a hospital. Typical work includes taking vitals, applying splints and bandages, performing CPR, taking patient assessments, and assisting a paramedic on the scene. EMTs must complete a nondegree program for certification.
    • Median Annual Salary: $33,380
    • Projected Growth Rate: 15%
  2. Nursing Assistant:
    Nursing aides and assistants offer patient care in a number of settings, including nursing homes, hospice facilities, correctional institutions, and schools. Aides help patients with everyday maladies under the direct supervision of a registered nurse. Nursing assistants must complete a separate education program.
    • Median Annual Salary: $27,510
    • Projected Growth Rate: 11%
  3. Monitor Technician:
    These professionals work in a medical facility and oversee monitors, looking for a change that could indicate a health problem. Technicians communicate problems with nurses. Most monitor technicians receive on-site training, but some hospitals require the completion of an EKG interpretation class prior to hiring candidates.
    • Median Annual Salary: $65,620
    • Projected Growth Rate: 17%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

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