Meeting the nation’s growing need for highly educated registered nurses is being facilitated by the influx of online nursing degrees. Distance education, in fact, has been particularly useful in rural areas and in places where access to baccalaureate and graduate degree nursing programs are scarce.

“The surge in online nursing programs extends into the graduate arena given the increasing number of professional opportunities open to nurses prepared at advanced levels.”

What’s changed?

Nursing schools are moving to offer more programs via distance education in response to student demand and employer expectations. This growth has been most dramatic in the area of baccalaureate degree completion programs, which are commonly referred to as RN to BSN programs. This educational pathway provides an efficient bridge for diploma and associate degree-prepared nurses wishing to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree.

According to recent data, almost 600 RN to BSN programs are offered at least partially online, and 289 of these programs may be completed without stepping into a traditional classroom. These programs build on entry-level nursing preparation with course work to enhance professional development, sharpen clinical reasoning skills and provide a better understanding of the issues that affect patients and care delivery.

A range of degrees

The surge in online nursing programs extends into the graduate arena given the increasing number of professional opportunities open to nurses prepared at advanced levels. Over 500 schools of nursing now offer master’s programs (MSN), with 202 of these institutions operating RN to MSN programs at least partially online. Doctoral programs are also moving online, with 26 nursing Ph.D. and 99 Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) programs now offered completely online.

Those considering an online nursing program are encouraged to contact schools to find out more about admission requirements and student expectations, as well as to discuss what supports are in place to facilitate your success.