The Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) degree, also known as an associate’s degree in nursing (ADN), is one of the most desired nursing degrees for individuals who wish to enter a clinical nursing environment as quickly as possible. This degree runs its course in two years and focuses on technical skills rather than on leadership qualities and philosophical courses. A graduate of an ADN program can become an RN upon course completion and can begin work immediately upon certification. This degree also is considered the first step in obtaining a BSN degree. It is ideal for those who cannot immediately afford a four-year course of education.

Prerequisites for Earning an ADN

ADN degrees are available only in the United States, although students the world over can obtain an ADN through these programs. Generally, candidates must complete one or more preparatory courses in related fields and provide an SAT score of at least 940. Foreign candidates must provide a minimum of five Cs on the GCSE. U.S. high school students may find it possible to obtain a nursing education while still attending high school. Graduates of these programs are presented with an LPN (Licensed Practical Nurse) or LVN (Licensed Vocational Nurse) certificate, depending upon the institution. This is highly desired by nurse students, as many schools that offer the ADN will accept only those students with the LPN/LVN certifications.

How to Get an ADN

The ADN two-year degree usually is offered through most community colleges and through some four-year universities. Most two-year nursing degrees are hands-on or technical degrees that bypass most basic education requirements to get to the meat of working in clinical environments. Most students who choose this option do so because of financial or time constraints. Interestingly, most ADN graduates earn little less than RNs who graduate from BSN programs; however, the BSN graduate will have opportunities to move on to leadership roles, whereas the RN with an ADN degree will need to obtain further education to meet those goals.

Careers Available After Obtaining an ADN

The ADN degree is considered a standard requirement for registered nurses who seek to enter the workforce as quickly as possible with an accredited degree. Upon graduation, however, many hiring institutions will require that the graduate take the NCLEX exam in a given state after earning the ADN degree. Upon certification after passing the exam, many jobs are open to RNs outside hospital administration and nursing management; with that said, nursing shortages in many environments have pushed individuals with a minimal degree into leadership positions, depending upon experience.

One other way to work up the career ladder outside the BSN is to achieve professional nursing certifications. These certifications are specialized exams that you can take to prove your expertise in a specific field beyond the skills required for an RN license. The exams are provided by the American Nurses Credentialing Center (ANCC), an organization that offers generalist, advanced practice and clinical specialist exams in almost 30 areas.

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Top 10 Online Nursing Schools

University of Phoenix
University of Phoenix — BSN, MSN, and Certificate. The University of Phoenix is the nation's largest online university and currently offers several nursing programs at three different degree levels, based on previous nursing education and experience.

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Kaplan University
Kaplan University — Bachelor's, and Master's Nursing Degrees. Kaplan's School of Nursing offers specializations for nurse administrators and nurse educators.

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Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon University — BS in Nursing (BSN) and MBA/MS in Nursing. Grand Canyon University offers a unique MBA/MS in nursing degree program that teaches students about the business aspect of healthcare, specifically nursing healthcare. Current nurses who want more business experience will find this may be an ideal fit.

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Liberty University
Liberty University — RN to BSN Degree and MSN Degree. The Department of Nursing at Liberty prepares students for baccalaureate level nursing, putting strong emphasis on Christian ethical standards and viewing nursing as a ministry of caring.

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Walden University
Walden University — M.S. in Nursing (RN Track), M.S in Nursing (BSN Track). Walden offers a wide variety of nursing degrees and certificates that are all accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education.

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