The associate degree in nursing is a two-year course of study that prepares graduates for a career in institutional nursing. Graduates who successfully pass the examination for RN licensure typically work on hospital wards or in skilled nursing care facilities.
Associate nursing degrees are typically offered by community and junior colleges, but increasingly are offered by four-year institutions to fast-track RN licensure since the U.S. is in the midst of a nursing shortage. The associate curriculum combines classroom education in nursing core classes, patient skills labs and clinical rotations through actual patient care situations.
Contrary to popular opinion, there is no salary differentiation between an RN with an Associate’s Degree and an RN with a Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing. Starting salaries for both typically begin at $45,390, and the median salary for all nurses is $62,450 a year. Registered nurses are in high demand, and will continue to be in high demand over the next six years according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Ranking Associate Degrees In Nursing
According to a federal survey conducted in 2008, 58 percent of all new nurses are graduates of a community college. What are some of the best associate degree programs in nursing?
Kent State University
Although Kent State is a four year university, it offers an associate nursing degree consisting of 71 hours of coursework that can easily be completed in two years. The program is available at Kent State’s Ashtabula, East Liverpool, Geauga-Twinsburg and Tuscarawas campuses, is fully accredited and approved by the Ohio Board of Nursing. Tuition costs for Ohio residents is $6,218 per semester.
Georgia Perimeter College
Georgia Perimeter College offers a two year Associate of Science degree in Nursing that is open to high school juniors and seniors interested in pursuing dual enrollment. The curriculum focuses on core nursing classes with clinical rotations, as well as basic sciences, basic math and electives in the humanities.
The program generally takes four semesters to complete, not including the time it takes to complete Nursing General Education courses. Credits can be transferred to a four-year program if a student decides to continue his or her nursing education. In-state tuition runs $2,298 while out-of-state tuition runs $9,176. Georgia residents are eligible to win full tuition scholarships.
Northwestern Michigan College
Many good associate nursing programs have long waiting lists. Northwestern Michigan College, however, has an excellent two-year Nursing, Associate Degree program with no waiting list. Candidates are expected to complete core science, math and humanities classes before admission so that they can focus on core nursing programs. The program offers both on-campus and online spots and is affiliated with nearby Munson Medical Center for its clinical rotations.
Graduates are eligible to sit for the National Council License Examination that determines licensure for registered nurses. Northwestern Michigan College also offers a separate academic and clinical track for graduates who are interested in becoming licensed vocational nurses. The program requires 72 hours of classes. Total tuition for in-state residents is $5,911 and for out state students, $11,477.