How to Get an RN Degree Online


If you are interested in becoming an RN and you have access to the Internet, then you may want to consider enrolling in an online nursing program. Many universities will allow you to pursue a nursing degree online from the comfort of your home. And many students enjoy the flexibility and convenience of taking online classes. However, there are a few important things that you must do in order to get an RN degree online.

  • Inquire about your state's nursing requirements. If you are interested in earning an RN degree online, you should first contact your local state nursing board to find out the specific requirements needed to become a registered nurse. The nursing board can provide you with helpful information on approved online nursing programs, along with details about course requirements and licensure information for the state in which you reside (see Resources below).

  • Research the different online nursing programs. There is an abundance of information on the Internet about online RN programs (see Resources below). You should take time to review the admission criteria and program requirements for each college that you are interested in applying to. Be sure to speak with an admissions representative or enrollment counselor at those particular schools if you have additional questions about their nursing programs.

  • Enroll in the appropriate courses. Once you are accepted into a nursing program, you can begin taking classes that are needed to earn an RN degree online. Your academic counselor or adviser can tell you the specific courses that you need to become an RN. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the nursing program curriculum varies per state, but more than likely you will need to take and pass the following courses: anatomy, physiology, chemistry, nutrition, microbiology, general psychology (and other behavioral science courses) and nursing courses. You must also complete the required core curriculum courses (such as history, math and English composition), along with electives.

  • Complete the required internship. Although you are earning your degree through an online program, you must still complete a supervised clinical internship at an appropriate hospital or medical facility. The internship normally takes one to two years to finish (depending on your state's guidelines), and you should work as an intern in the area that is related to your interests and goals (such as pediatrics, maternity, surgery or psychiatry).

  • Pass the nursing examination. The final component of the registered nursing program is to pass the NCLEX-RN (national licensing exam). This examination is administered by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing (NCSBN) in all 50 states. You may contact the NCSBN to receive more information about this exam (see Resources below).

Tips & Warnings

  • Please keep in mind that since you are taking online courses, most of your communication will take place via email or over the telephone. Most online programs do not provide you with the option to meet face-to-face with counselors or instructors.

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