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Online Nursing Degree


Article Sources

Methodology

To be included in our rankings for the top colleges for online degrees in nursing by degree level all colleges had to meet the following 4 requirements:

  • Offer a degree or certificate program in that subject, either in an online or hybrid format
  • Have at least 1% of students attending some form of distance education
  • Have awarded at least one degree or certificate in that subject in 2015-16
  • Have reported data for all 19 ranking variables for associate/bachelor’s and 11 ranking variables for master’s (listed below)

We then ranked colleges and universities in the United States that fit our criteria, using 2016-17 data from the National Center for Education Statistics and the weights specified. The final totals were:

  • 38 colleges for online associate degree in nursing
  • 334 colleges for online bachelor’s degree in nursing
  • 212 colleges for online master’s degree in nursing

We then scored the final list of colleges by degree level on a 100-point scale using these specific data points:

Associate/Bachelor’s

  1. Associate’s/Bachelor’s Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded via distance education in 2016-2017 were in this particular subject
  2. Ratio of undergraduate students participating fully or partially in Distance Education to Total Enrollment
  3. Average in-state tuition for undergraduates
  4. Retention rate
  5. Percent of undergraduate students awarded federal, state, local, institutional or other sources of grant aid
  6. Average amount of federal, state, local, institutional, or other sources of grant aid awarded to undergraduate students
  7. Student-to-faculty ratio
  8. Variety of Programs, based on the number of similar topics for programs in relevant CIP codes that are offered via distance education at any level
  9. Total electronic library collections, including digital books, databases, and media
  10. The availability of any tuition plans (Payment, Guaranteed, Prepaid, Other)
  11. Services (Academic/Career Counseling, Placement for Completers)
  12. Credit offerings (Dual, Life, AP, Military)

Master’s

    1. Master’s Program prominence, based on how many of the degrees and certificates awarded via distance education in 2016-2017 were in this particular subject
    2. Ratio of graduate students participating fully or partially in Distance Education to Total Enrollment
    3. Average in-state tuition for graduates
    4. Credit offerings (Life, Military)
    5. Services (Academic/Career Counseling, Placement for Completers)
    6. The availability of any tuition plans (Payment, Prepaid, Other)
    7. Total electronic library collections, including digital books, databases, and media

Methodology Sources

      • Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) 2016-17, National Center for Education Statistics, http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/

Sources :

    • ADN, Associate Degree in Nursing, Chamberlain University, http://www.chamberlain.edu/academics/nursing-school/associate-degree-in-nursing, Accessed April 2018
    • Benefits of Accreditation, Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing,http://www.acenursing.org/benefits-of-accreditation/, http://www.acenursing.org/benefits-of-accreditation/, Accessed April 2018
    • CCNE Accreditation, American Association of College of Nursing,http://www.aacnnursing.org/CCNE">http://www.aacnnursing.org/CCNE, Accessed April 2018
    • Certification Exams, National Certification Corporation, https://www.nccwebsite.org/Certification/HowdoIapply.aspx#available-certification-exams , Accessed April 2018
    • Courses, Bachelor of Science in Nursing, Penn State World Campus,https://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/degrees-and-certificates/nursing-rn-to-bs-bachelors/courses",https://www.worldcampus.psu.edu/degrees-and-certificates/nursing-rn-to-bs-bachelors/courses, Accessed April 2018
    • DNP Careers for Advanced Nurse Practitioners, Maryville University, https://online.maryville.edu/online-doctorate-degrees/doctor-nursing-practice/careers/,https://online.maryville.edu/online-doctorate-degrees/doctor-nursing-practice/careers/, Accessed April 2018
    • DNP Fact Sheet, American Association of Colleges of Nursing, http://www.aacnnursing.org/News-Information/Fact-Sheets/DNP-Fact-Sheet, http://www.aacnnursing.org/News-Information/Fact-Sheets/DNP-Fact-Sheet, Accessed April 2018
    • Doctor of Nursing Practice, University of Louisiana at Lafayette,https://online.louisiana.edu/degree-programs/nursing/doctor-nursing-practice-dnp, https://online.louisiana.edu/degree-programs/nursing/doctor-nursing-practice-dnp, Accessed April 2018
    • Get Certified, American Association of Critical-Care Nurses,https://www.aacn.org/certification/get-certified">https://www.aacn.org/certification/get-certified, Accessed April 2018
    • Improving access to healthcare one state at a time, 30th Annual APRN Legislative Update, Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc., January 2018,https://ruralprep.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/30th-APRN-Legislative-Update.pdf, https://ruralprep.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/30th-APRN-Legislative-Update.pdf
    • Master of Science in Nursing, John Hopkins University,https://nursing.jhu.edu/academics/programs/masters/index.html"https://nursing.jhu.edu/academics/programs/masters/index.html, Accessed April 2018
    • Nurse Anesthetists, Nurse Midwives, and Nurse Practitioners, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-6, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/nurse-anesthetists-nurse-midwives-and-nurse-practitioners.htm#tab-6, Accessed April 2018
    • Nurse Practitioners, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Wages and Employment,https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291171.htm, https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes291171.htm, Accessed April 2018
    • Nursing Degree ADN, ECPI Institute,https://www.ecpi.edu/programs/nursing-degree-adn-associate-degree, https://www.ecpi.edu/programs/nursing-degree-adn-associate-degree, Accessed April 2018
    • Nursing: Supply and Demand through 2020, Center on Education and the Workforce, Georgetown University, 2015, https://cew.georgetown.edu/wp-content/uploads/Nursing-Supply-Final.pdf, accessed August 2018
    • Online Master's Degree, Southern New Hampshire University,https://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/masters/ms-in-nursing"https://www.snhu.edu/online-degrees/masters/ms-in-nursing, Accessed April 2018
    • Our Certifications, American Nurses Credentialing Center,https://www.nursingworld.org/our-certifications/", https://www.nursingworld.org/our-certifications/, Accessed April 2018
    • Registered Nurses, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook,https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm#tab-2, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/registered-nurses.htm#tab-2, Accessed April 2018
    • State Practice Environment, American Association of Nurse Practitioners https://www.aanp.org/advocacy/state/state-practice-environment https://www.aanp.org/advocacy/state/state-practice-environment, Accessed April 2018
    • Summary Report for Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses, O*NET Online,https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/29-2061.00, https://www.onetonline.org/link/summary/29-2061.00, Accessed April 2018
    • Supply and Demand Projections of the Nursing Workforce: 2014-2030, Resources and Services Administration, July 2017, https://bhw.hrsa.gov/sites/default/files/bhw/nchwa/projections/NCHWA_HRSA_Nursing_Report.pdf,">
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It's a busy world for healthcare professionals today. Nurses have long comprised a significant part of healthcare teams, but today, more than ever, they have increased independence on the job. Nurse practitioners enjoy Full Practice Authority (FPA) in 46 percent of states enabling them to practice without the oversight of a physician.

With the median pay for an advanced practice registered nurse, such as a nurse practitioner, reaching $103,880 (BLS.gov; 2016), it may be time to consider a nursing career, particularly when nurses are expected to be in short supply up to 2030 in 33 states, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration.

The economy will create 1.6 million job openings for nurses through 2020.

The various tasks of a nurse can differ based on a nurse's level of skill and even the setting, ranging from doctor's offices to healthcare facilities, nursing homes and even hospitals. For example, a nurse working in an emergency room is likely to have different responsibilities than a nurse working in a long-term care facility. However, in general, nurses may be expected to be able to:

  • Administer certain medications to patients
  • Apply bandages, dressings and splints
  • Assist a physician or doctor during a procedure
  • Carry out diagnostic tests to assess patient health
  • Document patients concerns
  • Help patients and families to understand steps for follow-up care
  • Take vital signs, such as blood pressure and temperature

Prospective students with an interest in healthy living and a desire to help others may be a good fit for nursing degree programs. Nurses spend much of the day on their feet and must have the physical stamina and dexterity to perform heavy lifting. Above all, nurses must exhibit an attitude of caring and compassion while attending to sick and injured patients.

Benefits of earning a nursing degree online

Online nursing degree programs generally allow students to take most of their classes through distance learning. Many online nursing degree programs collaborate with local hospitals or clinics allowing students to complete clinical-based components to gain hands-on experience in the area in which they live. Here's a quick look at the benefits:

  • With round-the-clock access to online course materials and video lectures,nursing students can complete assignments any time.
  • The flexibility of an online program allows students to continue working full-time or part-time as well as maintain family or other commitments.

We’ve used factors that students that are especially useful for students interested in online nursing programs. To present you with the best opportunities, our methodology has taken into consideration factors like number of online programs offered in nursing, tuition, ratio of students participating in distance education programs compared to the total enrollment, student-faculty ratio, services such as academic and placement, and more.

Associate
Bachelor's
Master's
1
Oklahoma Wesleyan University
Bartlesville, OK
Average in-state tuition
$24,710
No. of online programs
10
% of students in distance education
30%
Avg. amount of Aid
$11,133
Admissions Rate
62%
Graduation Rate
45%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
2
National University
La Jolla, CA
Average in-state tuition
$13,032
No. of online programs
120
% of students in distance education
77%
Avg. amount of Aid
$4,083
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
42%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
3
Western New Mexico University
Silver City, NM
Average in-state tuition
$3,927
No. of online programs
25
% of students in distance education
67%
Avg. amount of Aid
$12,255
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
27%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
4
Great Basin College
Elko, NV
Average in-state tuition
$2,820
No. of online programs
48
% of students in distance education
82%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,615
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
28%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
5
Governors State University
University Park, IL
Average in-state tuition
$9,390
No. of online programs
4
% of students in distance education
43%
Avg. amount of Aid
$8,748
Admissions Rate
66%
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
6
Indiana University-East
Richmond, IN
Average in-state tuition
$6,601
No. of online programs
15
% of students in distance education
75%
Avg. amount of Aid
$5,350
Admissions Rate
70%
Graduation Rate
36%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
7
Mayville State University
Mayville, ND
Average in-state tuition
$5,255
No. of online programs
12
% of students in distance education
64%
Avg. amount of Aid
$4,413
Admissions Rate
48%
Graduation Rate
35%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
8
North Carolina Central University
Durham, NC
Average in-state tuition
$3,728
No. of online programs
16
% of students in distance education
43%
Avg. amount of Aid
$8,233
Admissions Rate
83%
Graduation Rate
44%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
9
Midway University
Midway, KY
Average in-state tuition
$23,700
No. of online programs
25
% of students in distance education
77%
Avg. amount of Aid
$9,573
Admissions Rate
57%
Graduation Rate
52%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
10
Texas Woman's University
Denton, TX
Average in-state tuition
$5,150
No. of online programs
17
% of students in distance education
58%
Avg. amount of Aid
$6,485
Admissions Rate
86%
Graduation Rate
36%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
1
Kaplan University-Davenport Campus
Davenport, IA
Average in-state tuition
$13,356
No. of online programs
114
% of students in distance education
100%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,772
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
39%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
2
Grand Canyon University
Phoenix, AZ
Average in-state tuition
$16,365
No. of online programs
94
% of students in distance education
90%
Avg. amount of Aid
$7,736
Admissions Rate
67%
Graduation Rate
41%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
3
The University of Texas at Tyler
Tyler, TX
Average in-state tuition
$5,880
No. of online programs
11
% of students in distance education
63%
Avg. amount of Aid
$6,159
Admissions Rate
65%
Graduation Rate
42%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
4
Stony Brook University
Stony Brook, NY
Average in-state tuition
$6,670
No. of online programs
42
% of students in distance education
18%
Avg. amount of Aid
$8,754
Admissions Rate
42%
Graduation Rate
72%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
5
Lamar University
Beaumont, TX
Average in-state tuition
$5,832
No. of online programs
23
% of students in distance education
65%
Avg. amount of Aid
$6,403
Admissions Rate
82%
Graduation Rate
30%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
6
University of Cincinnati-Main Campus
Cincinnati, OH
Average in-state tuition
$9,322
No. of online programs
48
% of students in distance education
41%
Avg. amount of Aid
$7,099
Admissions Rate
76%
Graduation Rate
69%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
7
Clarkson College
Omaha, NE
Average in-state tuition
$12,384
No. of online programs
19
% of students in distance education
100%
Avg. amount of Aid
$5,251
Admissions Rate
62%
Graduation Rate
74%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
8
Liberty University
Lynchburg, VA
Average in-state tuition
$15,734
No. of online programs
127
% of students in distance education
90%
Avg. amount of Aid
$6,937
Admissions Rate
30%
Graduation Rate
47%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
9
Eastern New Mexico University-Main Campus
Portales, NM
Average in-state tuition
$3,661
No. of online programs
22
% of students in distance education
70%
Avg. amount of Aid
$6,019
Admissions Rate
60%
Graduation Rate
33%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
10
Angelo State University
San Angelo, TX
Average in-state tuition
$4,061
No. of online programs
28
% of students in distance education
37%
Avg. amount of Aid
$6,271
Admissions Rate
74%
Graduation Rate
37%
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
1
Rowan-Cabarrus Community College
Salisbury, NC
Average in-state tuition
$2,432
No. of online programs
19
% of students in distance education
43%
Avg. amount of Aid
$4,516
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
2
University of Arkansas Community College-Batesville
Batesville, AR
Average in-state tuition
$2,064
No. of online programs
1
% of students in distance education
27%
Avg. amount of Aid
$4,357
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
3
North Central Missouri College
Trenton, MO
Average in-state tuition
$4,350
No. of online programs
28
% of students in distance education
38%
Avg. amount of Aid
$4,093
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
4
Snead State Community College
Boaz, AL
Average in-state tuition
$3,570
No. of online programs
N/A
% of students in distance education
75%
Avg. amount of Aid
$5,445
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
N/A
5
Minnesota West Community and Technical College
Granite Falls, MN
Average in-state tuition
$5,146
No. of online programs
34
% of students in distance education
55%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,515
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
6
Northwest Technical College
Bemidji, MN
Average in-state tuition
$5,190
No. of online programs
43
% of students in distance education
74%
Avg. amount of Aid
$4,209
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
7
Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College
Bowling Green, KY
Average in-state tuition
$3,888
No. of online programs
14
% of students in distance education
37%
Avg. amount of Aid
$3,016
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
8
Pratt Community College
Pratt, KS
Average in-state tuition
$1,952
No. of online programs
6
% of students in distance education
30%
Avg. amount of Aid
$4,101
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
9
Lincoln Land Community College
Springfield, IL
Average in-state tuition
$5,808
No. of online programs
21
% of students in distance education
30%
Avg. amount of Aid
$5,021
Admissions Rate
N/A
Graduation Rate
N/A
Career Counseling
Yes
Placement Services
Yes
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Below is a list of nursing occupations, along with important related data aspiring nurses should consider when making a career choice.

Career
Employment
(2017)
Average Salary
(2017)
Projected Job Growth
(2016 - 26)
Nurse Practitioners179,650$110,03036%
Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary55,710$81,35024%
Nurse Midwives6,250$106,91020.6%
Medical and Health Services Managers372,670$113,73019.8%
Nurse Anesthetists43,520$174,79016%
Registered Nurses2,951,960$75,51014.8%
Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses701,690$47,05012.2%
Nursing Assistants1,450,960$29,58010.9%
Orderlies50,100$29,8408.1%
Source: 2018 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

Choose a degree program to help you meet your career goals

Each type of nursing degree program comes with a different timeline and financial commitment. Nurses who have earned more advanced degrees are often able to perform more duties, which could lead to increased opportunities for career advancement and higher pay. Students would do well to consider their career goals prior to enrolling in a particular nursing program.

Here's what you can expect to learn under each nursing degree program, the length of time it may take to complete the program and the possible outcomes.

What can I expect to learn in an online associate nursing degree program?

An associate program can help students acquire the education to earn their nursing license, including the clinical knowledge and problem-solving skills needed to treat patients on a daily basis.

Typical duration: Two years

Coursework: Students can expect to learn from both general knowledge classes and coursework specific to nursing. The core curriculum in these programs typically includes subjects such as the nursing process, therapeutic communication, ethical issues in nursing, and computer applications used in the profession.Examples of course topics may include:

  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Adult health
  • Healthcare concepts
  • Lifespan development
  • Nursing concepts
  • Patient care
  • Pharmacology

Online students, like their on-campus peers, are required to take on-campus laboratory courses, as well as supervised hands-on clinical tests. These sessions are designed to give students practical experience in the different types of duties they may be performing throughout their careers.

Possible electives:Sociology classes, health informatics, ethics

What can I do after earning an associate degree?

Graduates with an associate degree in nursing (ADN) can pursue employment as a:

  • School nurse
  • Pediatric nurse
  • Psychiatric nurses
  • Traveling nurse

Depending on the scope of the program, an associate degree can help prepare graduates to sit for either the licensed vocation nurse (LVN) or registered nurse (RN) exam through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing. Online RN to BSN degree programs also are available, allowing students with prior nursing knowledge — like from an associate degree program — to complete a four-year bachelor's degree program.

An additional option for a recent associate degree graduate is to progress in education toward a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

What can I expect to learn in an online nursing bachelor's degree program?

Nursing is the single largest profession in the entire U.S. healthcare workforce with RNs and LPNs making up the two largest occupations in this profession.

An online bachelor's degree or online RN nursing programs help students to obtain general education in areas like math, science and writing as well as to complete classes specific to nursing. Given that a bachelor's degree program is usually four years in length, general education and nursing courses typically reach a greater depth.

Typical duration: Four years

Typical coursework: Core curriculum typically focuses on topics such as case management, community nursing techniques, anatomy and physiology, data management, and the psychology of nursing. Courses may cover a wide range of subjects such as:

  • The history of nursing care
  • The administration of drugs
  • Clinical care principles
  • Therapeutic communication
  • Nursing ethics

Fundamental courses could include any of the following:

  • Advanced health assessment for the Registered Nurse
  • Forensic nursing
  • Introduction to nursing research
  • Nursing care of the elderly
  • Nursing informatics

Possible electives: Maternity nursing, mental healthnursing, nursing leadership, healthcare law and ethics, and epidemiology

Students must gain hands-on clinical experience in a supervised healthcare setting, according to the BLS. Like an associate degree program, clinical hours are required as part of online RN nursing programs, enabling students to build real-world experiences with patients in a health-care setting.

What can I do after earning a bachelor's degree?

Graduates of online bachelor nursing programs can work as a registered nurse (RN) in a traditional setting, such as a doctor's office or hospital, but also in areas as diverse as:

  • Community and public health
  • Education
  • Insurance
  • Management
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • An area of specialization

Before students can begin their careers, they are required to pass the National Council Licensure Examination and meet other state requirements.

As nurses gain experience, they may seek more autonomy or want to take on more responsibility. Their bachelor's degree can become the starting point for a more advanced education at the graduate level and also help to prepare them to seek certification in some nursing fields.

What can I expect to learn in an online nursing master's degree program?

Typical duration: Two years

Students enrolled in master's degree programs in nursing are generally required to choose a specialization, which can help them hone their skills in a specific area of nursing, such as mental health, cardiovascular, critical care, women's health, or surgical nursing. Students could be required to complete a master's thesis or a comprehensive examination in order to obtain their degree. Some programs also include hands-on training sessions or labs.

Typical coursework: The curriculum in these programs aims to give students an advanced knowledge of nursing science, while applying theory to the real world of healthcare. Core offerings include subjects like public health, information technology, health economics, and healthcare management. Examples of course topics can include:

  • Human resources management
  • Advanced pathophysiology
  • Advanced pharmacology
  • Evidence-based practice

Note: Those who have no nursing experience or credentials may find an online nursing degree for non-nurses an option worth exploring. These programs allow those with a bachelor's degree in a non-nursing field to study directly towards a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN).

What can I do after earning a master's degree?

Online schools for nursing with master's degree programs may help prepare students to expand the scope of their practice by becoming an advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), or a nurse practitioner (NP). In some states, you may even be allowed to prescribe medication and to work more autonomously. Check the AANP website for more details on these states.

Other occupations that usually require a master's degree include:

  • Nurse anesthetist
  • Midwife
  • Nurse educator
  • Nurse manager

Many certifications become available to advanced practice registered nurses at this level through the National Certification Corporation or a specialty certifying board. Certification can be essential to validating skills and attractive to employers.

What can I expect to learn in an online nursing doctoral degree program?

Online doctoral degree programs in nursing can help professionals learn how to affect positive change in the nursing field and ensure future nurses are ready for the challenges that await them. Nursing students can choose to pursue either of these two terminal degrees in nursing practice:

  • A professional degree – Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) which can possibly lead to becoming advanced practitioners in a specific area of nursing
  • A research degree – Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Nursing which can possibly lead to leadership roles in the healthcare industry

Typical duration: Three years to seven years

Typical coursework: Core curriculum in these programs may include healthcare research methods, healthcare policy, fundamentals of nursing education, the relationship between nursing theory and nursing practice, and ethical and legal considerations that influence the nursing profession. Examples of course topics include:

  • Biostatistics
  • Epidemiology
  • Ethics and healthcare policy
  • Organizational theory and systems leadership
  • Preventative care for populations

Students enrolled in Ph.D. programs are required to write and defend a dissertation on a specific nursing theory topic while those in DNP programs may have to complete a comprehensive examination, clinical practicum and/or capstone project.

What can I do after earning a doctoral degree?

Completion of a doctoral degree program can set up nursing graduates to be the most well-educated and advanced in the nursing field. A nurse with a doctoral degree could pursue a career as a:

  • College professor
  • Chief nursing officer
  • Director of nursing services
  • Health policy analyst

They may be able to find employment in a vast number of fields, as varied as advocacy, consulting, medical offices (maybe their own!), education, government, hospitals, management, research and private-sector healthcare organizations. A career in academia could be another choice with a Ph.D. in nursing.

Nursing Specialties

As a nurse, you can choose from a wide variety of specializations. A specialization may be of interest to you if you like working with a certain type of patient population, in a specific care setting or in a specific area of care. Here are a few examples:

  • Cardiac and vascular: In this field, nurses might work with doctors and other specialists who provide care for the heart and the vascular system. Nurses might be employed in an office setting or outpatient care.
  • Critical care: Nurses in this field work with a patient population in need of immediate care. This could lead to work in an intensive care unit at a hospital.
  • Gerontological: Generally, nurses who specialize in gerontology work with the older population and are knowledgeable about issues related to aging. Their setting of employment could be a doctor's office or a site like a long-term care facility.
  • Pediatric: If you like working with kids and providing basic care, a pediatric specialty could be for you. These nurses usually work in a pediatric office, where care is provided to patients under the age of 18.
  • Psychiatric-mental health: In this field, nurses work with patients who struggle with mental health and psychological conditions. Nurses could be employed in a treatment facility or a more general type of office setting.
  • Surgical: Nurses who like assisting with surgery or aiding patients about to undergo a procedure may like the surgical field. Often, nurses of this type can find employment in an outpatient-care facility or hospital.

Of course, there are many other specializations available, too. Some of these include addiction, genetics, hospice care, informatics, midwifery, neonatology, nephrology, obstetric and gynecology, oncology and rehabilitation.

Accreditation

Individuals interested in enrolling in online nursing degree programs should check to make sure their school is accredited through either the Accrediting Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN). These organizations assess nursing schools on the quality of programs, academic rigor and other factors.

Accreditation also can be important for a nursing graduate who seeks licensing, certification and advanced education. Graduation from an accredited program is needed for many follow-up career steps. Additionally, the ACEN reports that accreditation can be valuable for:

  • Admission of a nursing student to a graduate-level program
  • Transferring nursing credits to another nursing program
  • Some state nursing boards
  • Employers who are seeking qualified graduates

The type of license needed is usually determined by the level of degree with which the student graduates.

  • State licensure. Licensing is required to be employed as a nurse in any state. Licensing is generally overseen by a state's board of nursing and requires candidates to pass a nursing exam through the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, or NCSBN. A nursing degree is a step toward preparation for the exam.
  • Certification. Certifications are typically available to nurses who have education in a specific field of nursing. Certification can be found through organizations such as the National Certification Corporation, the American Board of Nursing Specialties and many others.

Employment Statistics

Nursing Instructors and Teachers, Postsecondary

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Junior Colleges Technical and Trade Schools Colleges
  • Universities and Professional Schools
  • Business Schools and Computer and Management Training
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals
States with highest employment level
  • New York
  • California
  • Texas
  • Pennsylvania
  • Ohio
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metropolitan Division
  • Camden, NJ Metropolitan Division
  • New York-Jersey City-White Plains, NY-NJ Metropolitan Division
  • San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA Metropolitan Division
  • Atlantic City-Hammonton, NJ

Nurse Practitioners

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Offices of Physicians
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals
  • Outpatient Care Centers
  • Offices of Other Health Practitioners
  • Colleges, Universities and Professional Schools
States with highest employment level
  • California
  • New York
  • Texas
  • Florida
  • Ohio
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville, FL
  • San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA Metropolitan Division
  • Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA
  • Alexandria, LA
  • Peabody-Salem-Beverly, MA NECTA Division

Nursing Assistants

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Nursing Care Facilities
  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Assisted Living Facilities for the Elderly
  • Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals
  • Home Healthcare Services
States with highest employment level
  • California
  • New York
  • Florida
  • Texas
  • Pennsylvania
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA Metropolitan Division
  • Salinas, CA
  • Fairbanks, AK
  • Nassau County-Suffolk County, NY Metropolitan Division
  • Tyler, TX

Nurse Anesthetists

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Offices of Physicians
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals
  • Outpatient Care Centers
  • Offices of Other Health Practitioners
  • Federal Executive Branch
States with highest employment level
  • Texas
  • Ohio
  • Pennsylvania
  • North Carolina
  • Tennessee
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA Metropolitan Division
  • Providence-Warwick, RI-MA
  • San Diego-Carlsbad, CA
  • Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, CA Metropolitan Division
  • Spokane-Spokane Valley, WA

Nurse Midwives

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Offices of Physicians
  • Offices of Other Health Practitioners
  • Outpatient Care Centers
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals
  • Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals
States with highest employment level
  • California
  • New York
  • Georgia
  • Florida
  • Maryland
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA Metropolitan Division
  • Oakland-Hayward-Berkeley, CA Metropolitan Division
  • Worcester, MA-CT
  • Los Angeles-Long Beach-Glendale, CA Metropolitan Division
  • Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia, NC-SC

Registered Nurses

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • General Medical and Surgical Hospitals
  • Specialty (except Psychiatric and Substance Abuse) Hospitals
  • Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals
  • Outpatient Care Centers
  • Home Healthcare Services
States with highest employment level
  • California
  • Texas
  • New York
  • Florida
  • Pennsylvania
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA Metropolitan Division
  • Salinas, CA
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  • Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA
  • Vallejo-Fairfield, CA

Licensed Practical and Licensed Vocational Nurses

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Nursing Care Facilities
  • Home Healthcare Services
  • Continuing Care Retirement Communities and Assisted Living Facilities for the Elderly
  • Offices of Physicians
  • Psychiatric and Substance Abuse Hospitals
States with highest employment level
  • Texas
  • California
  • Florida
  • New York
  • Ohio
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco, CA Metropolitan Division
  • Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA NECTA Division
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  • Salinas, CA
  • Napa, CA

Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

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