Looking to become a registered nurse in the quickest, most affordable, and most flexible way possible? Then you may want to look into 2 year RN programs online!
These Associate Degree in Nursing programs allow you to complete all or most of your academic courses online. Overall, this can be super helpful for working professionals who need a more flexible study schedule.
While you will need to complete lab simulations and clinical experiences in person, the online coursework flexibility can make the process of earning your degree much more manageable.
So, in this article we’ll touch on the different types of online 2 year RN programs, what to consider when selecting a program, and some of the top online ADN programs available.
Table of contents
- Types of Online 2 Year RN Programs
- Why Enroll In 2 Year RN Programs Online?
- Are There Any 100% Online Associate Nursing Programs?
- What Is The Best 2 Year RN Program Online?
- Best 2 Year RN Programs Online
- Cheapest ADN Online Programs
- How To Choose A 2 Year RN Program Online
- Should You Enroll In Two Year RN Program Online?
Types of Online 2 Year RN Programs
The type of online 2 year RN program that’s right for you will depend on your current credentials.
While there are programs available for those with no prior nursing education, there are also programs for current LPNs looking to advance their careers. Read on to learn a little more about both types of programs.
Online Associate Degree In Nursing (No Prior Experience)
When most nurses think of a 2 year RN program online, they’re referring to an Associate Degree in Nursing for students with no prior healthcare credentials.
The curriculum for these programs typically includes coursework covering:
- Basic nursing skills
Additionally, these programs require you to complete on-site clinical experiences. This hands-on experience is typically completed at a designated healthcare facility or on-campus simulation lab.
While many top-tier healthcare facilities often prefer to hire BSN-educated candidates, an online ADN is the quickest way for aspiring nurses with no prior healthcare experience to begin practicing.
Remember, you can always continue your education after earning your associate degree if you want to earn your BSN and advance your career later.
Better yet, it takes less time for ADN-educated nurses to earn their Bachelor’s degree because of their existing nursing knowledge, skills, and qualifications.
LPN to BSN
If you’re a Licensed Practical Nurse, you may want to consider an LPN to RN bridge program. You can complete your ADN degree in as little as a year, or you can enroll in a two year LPN to BSN program.
In this article, we’re focusing on online two year RN programs for students with no prior experience. However, if you’re an LPN looking to become a Registered Nurse, you should check out our list of the best online LPN to RN bridge programs.
Why Enroll In 2 Year RN Programs Online?
There are quite a few reasons to consider entering an online two year RN program. Not only are these programs more flexible, but they are faster and less expensive than most of the other options. Below, we discuss all the benefits in greater detail.
One of the best reasons to enroll in a 2 year RN program online is the flexibility. Since most or all of the coursework is completed online, you can often complete your classes wherever and whenever is most convenient for you.
These programs are often designed with working professionals in mind, meaning you don’t have to sacrifice your income for your education.
While you will have to complete clinical experiences in person, many schools often only require you to travel to the clinical site once a week. In fact, some programs even carry out clinicals over an intensive one or two week period.
Accelerated Career Path
While many aspiring nurses choose to go for their BSN right away, this pathway usually takes twice as long as the ADN pathway.
Now, for many nurses, a BSN can be the better option because of the advanced knowledge and skills they gain. Additionally, many high-quality healthcare facilities prefer bachelor’s-educated candidates.
However, if you’re looking to start working as a registered nurse as quickly as possible, an ADN is the way to go. It can allow you to start gaining RN experience in just two years, and you can always advance your education to a BSN after earning your ADN.
Better yet, many online RN to BSN programs accept work experience as credit, meaning you can advance your education rather quickly.
Finally, one more benefit of two year online Associate Degree in Nursing programs is that they are the most cost-effective way to become a registered nurse.
Earning your BSN can be quite expensive, making the online ADN a great option for those looking to save money.
Since associate degrees are usually offered by community colleges, it’s far less expensive than a BSN from a traditional four-year university.
Additionally, if you decide to go for your ADN, you can choose to enroll in an online BSN program later on. These programs specialize in online education, and are typically far less expensive than more traditional universities.
Overall, a two year online Associate Degree in Nursing is the quickest and cheapest way to get started as a registered nurse.
Are There Any 100% Online Associate Nursing Programs?
While some 2 year RN programs allow you to complete all of your coursework online, all programs involve a clinical component. This means there are no 100% online associate nursing programs.
Additionally, unlike many online BSN and MSN programs, clinical experiences are usually completed at a specific location.
Online Bachelor’s- and Master’s-level programs often allow you flexibility in your clinical location, whereas online ADN clinicals require visits to campus or a designated hands-on learning facility.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for 2 year RN programs online, you’ll likely need to live in close proximity to your chosen school’s campus or lab simulation center.
What Is The Best 2 Year RN Program Online?
The best 2 year online RN program is Purdue Global University. We ranked this the top program because they:
- Specialize in online education
- Have multiple lab simulation sites
- Offer simple pathways to further your education after earning your ADN
However, the biggest factor impacting which online Associate Degree In Nursing program is best for you is your location.
You’ll need to complete clinical experiences or lab simulations at designated locations, meaning you likely need to be able to commute to campus at least once a week.
For example, while Purdue Global University has multiple lab simulation sites, they’re only located in two states: Iowa and Maine. Meanwhile, some hybrid programs, like Albany State University, require you to come to campus once a week.
Overall, if you’re looking to enroll in a 2 year RN program online, you’ll likely want to research some of your local community colleges to see if they offer an online or hybrid option.
Best 2 Year RN Programs Online
The best online 2 year RN program for you will depend on a number of factors. However, it’s important to keep in mind that all of the programs we looked at have specific clinical experience locations. This means you’ll need to find a school that offers clinical locations close to you.
So, since location is a major factor in deciding which online ADN program is right for you, not all of the following schools may be viable options.
However, we discuss in detail what makes these programs great, so you know what to look for when looking for a program close to you.
1. Purdue Global University
Purdue Global University is an excellent online two year online RN program for several reasons.
Firstly, they offer multiple locations where you can complete your clinical experience requirements. In fact, you can complete lab and simulation experience in any of the following areas:
- Cedar Rapids, IA
- Council Bluffs, IA
- Des Moines, IA
- Waterville, ME
Additionally, you have the option to seamlessly transition into their RN to BSN program. This can fast-track your education if you’re looking to earn your Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing degree.
In fact, you’ll earn bachelor’s-level credits throughout your ADN program, shortening the time it takes to get your more advanced credentials. Better yet, you’ll receive a 20% BSN tuition reduction if you opt for this pathway.
A few more things that makes this program a great option include:
- 100% Online Courses: While you’ll need to complete your clinical experience in person, all of your coursework is completed online
- Manageable Course Load: This two year online RN program typically requires you to put in 15-18 hours of course effort each week
- Potential To Complete In Under Two Years: While many students take two years to earn their ADN, some students are able to complete the program in as little as a year and half
- Multiple Start Dates: Unlike traditional universities and community colleges, this school offers five different start dates throughout the year. Better yet, the application deadlines are only a few weeks prior to each start date
- Expert Faculty: 98% of faculty members hold advanced degrees, 51% hold doctorate-level degrees, and faculty members logged over 38,000 professional development hours in 2021-2022
- Clear Degree Plan: This school clearly and transparently communicates all the courses you will take to earn your degree
2. Albany State University (Hybrid)
While the online ADN program at Albany State University in Georgia isn’t quite as flexible as Purdue, there are lots of things to like about it.
The school offers three different tracks for earning your associate degree in nursing:
- Traditional ASN Track
- Evening ASN Track
- Hybrid ASN Track
The first two tracks are not online, but courses in the hybrid ASN track are mostly completed through the school’s online platform, GeorgiaVIEW.
However, this program does require you to travel to campus once a week for lecture, testing, and clinical experiences. Additionally, the one time a week you do have to go to campus, you can expect to be there from 8AM to 5PM.
It’s worth noting that Albany State refers to this track as a “working professionals” track, meaning it’s specifically designed to allow you to work while you earn your degree. Additionally, you’ll be able to complete your clinical experiences in locations such as:
- On-campus clinical skills lab
- Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital
- Other healthcare facilities within the surrounding area (as needed)
One more nice thing about this program is that the school clearly lays out your program of study and curriculum pattern from the beginning. This way, you know exactly what to expect throughout the duration of your study.
You should keep in mind, however, that the course start dates are a bit limited for this program. In fact, they only accept new students into the program each Spring semester of every odd year.
So, if you’re looking to get started as soon as possible, this may not be the best option depending on when you’re reading this.
However, if you reside in Georgia and there is an odd year coming up, this could be the right two year online RN program for you.
3. Northwestern Michigan University
Unlike the previous school, Northwestern Michigan University’s online ADN program is designed for full-time students. So, this can be a good option if you’re not looking to work full-time while you earn your degree.
You’ll complete all of the nursing theory and academic classes online. However, this program does require you to go to campus two to three times per week for labs and clinical courses.
If you live in the district of Traverse City, MI, this can also be an extremely affordable option. In fact, in-district tuition is just $147 per contact hour, which is more than half the price of many of the other programs we looked at.
So, if you live in the Traverse City area and you’re looking to enroll full-time, Northwestern Michigan University can make a great option.
Cheapest ADN Online Programs
The cheapest online ADN programs will largely depend on your location. For example, as we mentioned with Northwestern Michigan University, in-district tuition can more than halve the price of your total tuition.
Similarly, in-state tuition is typically significantly cheaper than out-of-state tuition.
So, if you’re looking to enroll in the cheapest online ADN program possible, you should start your search locally. Then, if you don’t see any good options close by, start expanding your search to other community colleges in your home state.
Finally, if you still don’t see any choices that are right for you, you may want to expand your search to out-of-state schools.
However, generally speaking, the closer your chosen school is to your home, the more money you’re likely to save in earning your degree.
How To Choose A 2 Year RN Program Online
When choosing an online 2 year RN program, there are a few key factors you should keep in mind. Below, we discuss these various factors in detail so you can find a school that fits your needs.
It may seem strange to make location a key factor in your selection of a predominantly online program. However, it’s actually one of, if not the most, important things to think about when choosing your online ADN program.
Since these programs all require some sort of commute to complete lab simulations and clinical experiences, you’ll need to live within driving distance to these locations.
Additionally, community colleges typically charge different tuition rates based on:
- In-district tuition
- In-state tuition
- Out-of-state tuition
So, considering location is not only important for completing your degree requirements, but also for saving money in earning your degree.
Another key consideration to make when choosing your two year RN program online is the cost to earn your degree.
Like we just mentioned, schools often charge different rates depending on where you reside.
Additionally, you may want to compare the costs of a few different programs to find the most affordable option.
Finally, you should also think about additional costs, such as books and other course materials. You may even want to think about indirect costs, like how much it will cost to commute to campus or clinical sites.
One more thing to think about is your preferred program format. For example, you should ask yourself whether you plan to enroll full- or part-time.
While some schools offer both full- and part-time pathways, others only offer a full-time option. For example, Northwestern Michigan University only offers a full-time online track.
Additionally, different schools offer different levels of online flexibility.
For instance, Purdue Global University allows you to complete 100% of your nursing theory and academic classes online. However, schools like Albany State require you to travel to campus once a week.
Should You Enroll In Two Year RN Program Online?
If you want to become an RN in the fastest, most affordable, and most flexible way possible, a two year online ADN program could be right for you.
While you will need to complete clinical experiences in person, most of these programs are designed with working professionals in mind.
Better yet, once you earn your associate degree in nursing, you’ll have a ton of flexible online RN to BSN programs to choose from.
Overall, it’s important to do some research to find a program that fits all of your needs. However, once you find the right school, you’ll be on track to quickly enter the world of healthcare as a licensed RN.
Nurse Luke is a CRNA who specializes in Nursing content and still enjoys a very busy career with Locum, Per Diem and Travel nursing in the greater midwest. He has over 25 years of experience in the healthcare field and received his CRNA masters degree from the Mayo Clinic School of Healthcare. He is passionate about helping nurses explore the options of becoming a travel nurse as well as spending time with his Family.