Online Registered Nurse Training Programs

Becoming a registered nurse allows you to take a hands-on approach within the medical industry.

Whether you decide to work for a  hospital, a doctor’s office, or any other kind of facility, there are various online registered nurse training programs.

This allows you to get all or most of your education online to make it easier for you to get started in the career field.

What Courses Are in an Online Registered Nurse Training Program?

An RN training program can consist of several different courses.

Some of the courses you will take include nursing theory while others will be general education.

Much of it depends on the kind of registered nurse you want to be.

Some of the options include:

  • Addiction
  • Cardiovascular
  • Critical care/ICU
  • Neonatal
  • Gastroenterology
  • Medical/surgical

Once you decide on your specialty, you will take courses in these areas to learn about anatomy and more so that you can assist doctors and surgeons.

Can You Earn a Registered Nurse Certificate Completely Online?

You will have the ability to obtain your entire education online.

Your registered nurse certificate can be completed online in terms of coursework.

However, before you can become certified and work as a registered nurse, you will need to complete clinical hours.

The only way to complete clinical hours is by working at a physical location.

You can choose when and where you want to complete these hours so that they work well for your schedule.

The clinical hours are critical as they will provide you with hands-on knowledge of the job.

Depending on the online program, you may also have lab hours that need to be conducted on a college campus.

These can be scheduled during the morning or evening hours and some schools even offer weekend lab hours.

How Long Does It Take to Earn a Registered Nurse Certification Online?

To become a registered nurse, you need at least a certificate in Nursing or an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN).

However, some programs require that you have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

Most of the Registered Nurse Certificate programs online can be completed in 12 to 16 months.

It depends on the amount of time that you want to dedicate to the program.

You will have 24/7 access to many of the programs, offering a significant amount of flexibility.

Additionally, many programs have rolling admissions.

This way, you do not have to wait until the spring or fall semester as you would with a traditional college admission program.

Should you want to seek an ADN or a BSN, it can take up to four years.

If you have already taken some college courses, it may take less time.

How Much Does an Online Registered Nurse Training Program Cost?

A Registered Nurse training program can vary in cost depending on several factors.

You have to consider whether you are going to go to school in-state or out-of-state.

Out-of-state tuition costs can be nearly double.

However, if your state does not offer the program or you want to go to a more prestigious school, it may be advantageous to spend the money.

Additionally, you will want to consider whether you want to go to a state school or a private school.

An Associate Degree in Nursing, at a public university, may only cost around $6,000.

Meanwhile, a bachelor’s degree in Nursing at a private university may cost $80,000 or more.

As such, you have to consider the kind of degree you want and where you want to earn your degree.

There are plenty of options.

You may also be able to reduce costs based on scholarships as well as explore discounted rates if you are a veteran.

Benefits of Online Registered Nurse Training Programs

You will find that there are quite a few benefits of online nursing education.

Lower costs

When you learn online, you can often achieve lower costs because you will do all of your learning from home.

Most of your resources will be in the cloud, so you will not need to invest in textbooks.

Further, you can do everything from home, so you will not have to incur on-campus housing costs.


There is a significant amount of flexibility within your schedule.

You can even work in the healthcare field while you complete an RN training program.

Learn at your own pace

You will have the ability to learn at your own pace.

If you are quick to pick up concepts, you can move on without having to work around others.

If you need to spend more time on a concept, you can do so without feeling as though you are holding up the whole class.

Social distancing

You can comfortably socially distance yourself as you get your education.

This way, you can enjoy your learning experience without feeling crowded inside a classroom.

Tech skills

Finally, learning online helps you to develop valuable tech skills.

You will feel more comfortable around a computer and video conferencing, which is critical in today’s health environment.

Drawbacks of Online Registered Nurse Training Programs

There are a few drawbacks of taking an online RN training program that you should be aware of.


You will need to be extremely self-motivated and disciplined to log into your classes and complete the classwork.

Without this discipline, you can easily fall behind in class.

No direct interaction

You will not have direct interaction with peers or with the professors.

This can make it hard to collaborate, ask questions, and gain valuable insight into the lessons that are being taught.

Tech glitches

Tech glitches can be a frustrating part of online learning, too.

If you have an internet outage, you may have to pack up and head to a library or café just so that you can finish your lesson.

Clinical experience

Finally, the clinical experience that you need for hands-on learning is something that you will have to figure out on your own.

While you will not have labs with online learning, you still need to do the hands-on work.

You will have to find your clinical site to get this aspect of the learning done, which can be difficult.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Online Registered Nurse Training Programs – Summary Table

Benefits of Online Registered Nurse Training ProgramsDrawbacks of Online Registered Nurse Training Programs
Lower costsSelf-motivation
FlexibilityNo direct interaction
Learn at your own paceTech glitches
Social distancingClinical experience
Tech skills

Types of Registered Nurse Certifications

When you decide that you want to become an RN, there are a few RN certification programs to explore.

Nursing Diploma

A nursing diploma or certificate program typically is completed in 12 to 16 months.

These provide the nursing courses that are needed but do not include any college courses.

This is the fastest route to becoming an RN.

Associate’s Degree in Nursing

An Associate’s degree in Nursing (ADN) typically takes two years or four semesters.

These will include general education courses from the college.

Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

A bachelor’s degree in Nursing (BDN) typically takes four years or eight semesters.

These, like an associate’s degree, will require general education courses.

RN to BSN Programs

Once you start working as an RN, you can also seek out an RN to BSN certificate program online.

These programs take one to two years.

By gaining the BSN, you can increase your knowledge and increase your earnings at the same time.

4 Self-Study Tips for Registered Nurse Online Students

A variety of self-study tips can help you to succeed in an online learning environment.

Get Organized

One of the first things that you need to do is get organized.

You will not be going into a classroom, so you need to create a learning environment for yourself.

Whether you have a desk, an edge of a dining room table, or even a nightstand, get organized.

Decide where you will be watching instructional videos and where you will be reading your study materials.

Create a space that is dedicated to your learning. Get some headphones, buy some highlighters, and invest in some notebooks.

This way, you have the space you need and keep all of your stuff organized in one area.

Join a Study Group

When you take courses online, you miss out on the peer aspect.

Nursing school can be overwhelming at times, and there is no reason why you should go through it on your own.

Join a study group with other students who are taking nursing school online.

The study group can be online or local.

The contact will help you to have accountability for deadlines, provide you with people to study with for upcoming exams, and even a support line once you have finished school and are working in the real world.

Create a Set Schedule

Online schedules are a lot more flexible than on-campus classes.

However, that does not mean that you have full flexibility.

Too much flexibility can lead to you forgetting to watch a class or turn in an assignment.

Find a schedule that works well for you, whether it is morning, afternoon, or even in the middle of the night.

During your study time, make yourself unavailable.

Turn your ringer off, do not answer emails, and focus entirely on school.

You may even want to use an app that helps you to unplug notifications and prevents you from going onto social media during study times.

Take Student Assessments

A variety of assessments can be used to help you throughout your learning adventure.

First, take a diagnostic assessment to determine if you are a visual or audio learner.

This can help you decide if you are better off reading the text or hearing it read to you.

Study assessments can also be taken online to ensure you have a full understanding of the content before you take a test on it.

Various NCLEX informational factsheets are available online, too – and these study guides can ensure that you are gathering all of the knowledge that you need to be successful on your licensing exam.

Final Thoughts

There are all sorts of RN certification programs that you can enroll in online.

Much of it depends on the time and expense you want to incur to get started.

You can choose to start with a diploma program and, then, obtain a degree so that you can move up within your career field.

Take the time to compare the programs so that you can decide which one is right for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of exam is necessary for licensing?

Once you have completed either an accredited nursing education program or obtained a degree in nursing, you will need to take and pass the NCLEX-RN, which is the National Council Licensure Examination for registered nurses.

Do any states require a bachelor’s degree for being a licensed RN?

No, though it is being proposed as a requirement in many states.

Right now, there is no such requirement, which means that as long as you have basic education and pass the NCLEX-RN exam, you can become licensed.

It is also important to note that if you wish to be licensed as an Advanced Practice RN (APRN), many states require that you have a master’s degree in Nursing.

What are the requirements to become licensed?

This varies by state.

Most states have a process that takes several weeks.

You will show proof of education and passing the NCLEX-RN exam.

Finally, you will submit the necessary paperwork and the application fee.

You will need to obtain a license in every state where you work, which is particularly important if you are going to be a travel nurse.

What are the most common facilities for an RN to work?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 61% of RNs will work in hospitals.

Another 18% will work in doctors’ offices, home health, and outpatient care.

The remaining locations include nursing care facilities, government facilities, and educational facilities and campuses.

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