ADN - Associate Degree in Nursing (2023)

Many community colleges and vocational schools across the county offer the ADN program. When researching programs, consider these areas:

  • Tuition
  • Additional Costs
  • Curriculum
  • Waitlists and length of the program
  • Clinical Hours
  • NCLEX-RN Exam and RN Licensure
  • Jobs to expect
  • Salary


Checking with local community colleges and vocational schools for tuition costs and what is included with tuition is a good place to start.

Community college courses for ADN students range from $2,250 for in-state tuition at Northwest Mississippi Community College and up to $12,123 for out-of-state tuition at Red Rocks Community College. Main College of Health Professions in Lewiston, Maine is priced at $9,520 for the 2-year degree. There is a wide price range exists between schools and states.

Reasons for more expensive tuition may include:

  • Shorter waiting list than in other schools
  • All prerequisite courses included in the program
  • Additional costs included in tuition, like uniforms and textbooks
  • A shorter length of program

Additional Costs

Costs that may not be included in tuition include supplies and transportation costs.

Nursing school supplies include:

  • Stethoscope, varies in cost and quality, from about $35 up to $500+
  • White shoes, most nursing schools require clean white sneakers or Dansko clogs
  • Penlight, usually just a couple of dollars
  • Uniforms, 2 or 3 sets of scrubs in required colors and with the school's name embroidered, approximate cost of $200
  • Textbooks, up to $1000 but may be included in tuition
  • Meals and incidentals during classes and clinicals
  • School and/or clinical location parking permits

Also, consider transportation to and from school and clinical locations (if required). The school's location is obvious, but ask the adviser where clinicals might take place. The usual healthcare settings for clinicals are hospitals, especially teaching hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and long-term acute care facilities.

Ask yourself:

  • How many miles will I have to put on my car?
  • How much will gas cost per week?
  • Do I need to take public transportation and if so how much will that cost?

Learn more about the cost of RN schools.

ADN Curriculum

Prerequisites and nursing classes make up the ADN. Exact titles and requirements vary but each school must meet the requirements outlined by each state's board of nursing.

Prerequisites for an ADN program:

(Video) ADN vs BSN Nursing Degree's | PROS & CONS

  • Microbiology
  • Anatomy and Physiology
  • Chemistry
  • English
  • Statistics
  • Psychology
  • Communications

Nursing classes for the ADN program include:

  • Foundations in Nursing
  • Nursing Care of Adults
  • Behavioral Health
  • Pharmacology
  • Maternal and Child Nursing Care

Waitlists and Program Length

Nursing School Waitlists Are Common

Due to the high demand for nursing programs many students find themselves on a waiting list before they can start the actual nursing program.

Some schools will allow prerequisite classes and volunteer hours to be completed while the student is on the waitlist and others require all prerequisites and volunteering to be completed prior to being listed. This is an important distinction when comparing schools because it may take up to a year to complete prerequisite classes for some institutions.

Long Waitlists

When considering the true value of higher tuition bear in mind that the longer a student waits to graduate the longer it will be before joining the workforce as an RN. RNs have a median starting salary of roughly $31 per hour which grows rapidly with experience and education or certifications. If the student is not earning more than $31 per hour before becoming an RN it may be wise to pay more money and finish school faster. Once the RN is working, those experience years begin to add up and more money will be earned over the RN's lifetime. But, this is a personal decision.

ADN programs are about 2 years in length. Many schools allow students to transfer credits from accredited schools which may shorten the program. Vocational schools may be designed to fast-track students by removing breaks, like spring or winter breaks. This may take a few months off of the program.

Clinical Hours for ADN

Clinical hours are required for most ADN programs. Each program may slightly vary, so it is important to review the requirements prior to beginning. Clinical hours are faculty-monitored real-world experiences that are part of the nursing school curriculum. Each state has a required amount of hours that need to be completed before the graduate can be eligible to take the NCLEX-RN exam. This exam must be passed for the graduate to be licensed as an RN.


Each facility should have a process for overseeing students and probationary employees which typically includes a checklist of skills. Once the preceptor, or person assigned to orient and train the student, has deemed the student capable of managing skills on their own, the preceptor can act as a resource to the student and no longer needs to oversee each task.

If the preceptor determines that the student is not able to manage the tasks on their own after appropriate instruction over time, the preceptor should consult with the charge nurse or manager so feedback can be provided to the school of the student’s failure to perform at the expected standard level.

(Video) What Is an ADN Degree in Nursing? Associates Degree in Nursing

Students should refer to their school’s policy or the policies of the institution for further clarification.

The main difference between the two is that the ADN is a college degree while the RN diploma is, well, a diploma. Both programs take about two years to complete, and both are considered “entry-level.” They also both prepare students to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam for licensure. However, RN diploma programs are typically hospital-based and might be offered in technical or vocational schools. Students gain valuable hands-on skills throughout the program and take courses specific to healthcare and nursing.

ADN students also gain clinical experience but are also required to complete general education courses to fulfill associate degree requirements, some of which may or may not include healthcare-related courses.

While both prepare students for licensure as a registered nurse, there are a few considerations one should keep in mind. Students should always check their state board of nursing’s website to determine educational requirements, and they should also find out what minimum education requirements are needed in places of employment. For example, some organizations or facilities prefer a minimum of an ADN, and some even a BSN.

Dispensing of medication can be described as preparing, packaging, labeling, and then providing the medication to a patient or their representative to be taken at a later time. Dispensing is different than administering medication where the medication is provided to the patient for immediate dosing via the prescribed route.

Nurses are responsible and accountable to provide safe, competent, and ethical care to the community and the patients they serve. Each state Board of Nursing determines the Standards of Practice through the Nurse Practice Act. Most states collaborate with the Business and Professions Code to further define, or amend, regulations for dispensing and administration of medications.

For example, in California, the California Board of Registered Nursing and the California Business and Professions Code was amended in 2013 to allow for registered nurses in that state to dispense certain medications under specific circumstances to aid in the distribution of contraceptive medication. A registered nurse may dispense medications such as self-administered hormonal contraceptives once the nurse has been trained and deemed competent in providing the ordered medications.

(Video) ADN vs BSN pros + cons + our experiences !

There are currently 16 states in the U.S. that allow RNs to dispense a limited number of medications under specific criteria. Nurses must refer to their individual state Board of Nursing for direction on dispensing medication in their state.

A 2-year associate’s degree in nursing is the minimum degree requirement to become licensed as an RN. Bachelor’s degree nurses are RNs who have completed a 4-year degree program. BSN nurses work in many of the same roles as ADN nurses. However, they have more career opportunities in areas including leadership.

So, the question remains: What leadership positions are available to ADN nurses?

In reality, it depends on the organization. Many large teaching hospitals prefer BSN-prepared nurses even for just bedside nursing. Some organizations don't have a BSN requirement. Depending on the facility, ADN nurses can work in the role of a charge nurse, which is the first step in clinical leadership. Some employers even allow ADN nurses to take positions in management or as house supervisors. In many cases, it depends on years of experience and work performance.

However, it’s important to note that the pendulum is swinging towards BSN nurses, especially in leadership roles. This does not mean ADN nurses are out of luck when it comes to leadership roles. As stated earlier, some employers hire ADN nurses into leadership and supervisory roles, and some hire into the roles and assist the nurse in earning a BSN.

Should I Consider an ADN or BSN Pathway?

NCLEX-RN Exam and RN Licensure

The required examination for registered nurses is the NCLEX-RN exam. It is a national exam that must be passed in order for the State to allow RN licensure.

Nursing schools teach students what they need to know to pass the NCLEX-RN exam.

NCLEX-RN Pass Rates

NCLEX-RN exam "pass rates" are the percentage of students who graduate from the school and successfully pass the NCLEX-RN. This information is available through both the school and the State's nursing board. Schools with higher "pass rates" are more desirable. These schools may also have higher standards than schools with lower "pass rates" and because of this many students who begin the program fail out of school. See nationwide NCLEX-RN exam pass rates.

Becoming Licensed as an RN

Once the ADN program is complete, the graduate should follow these steps to take the NCLEX-RN exam:


  • Learn about eligibility to take the NCLEX from your state board of nursing
  • Register with Pearson Vue and pay the application fee
  • Receive the Authorization to Testfrom Pearson Vue
  • Schedule the NCLEX-RN exam through Pearson Vue at a testing center near you before the Authorization to Test expires to avoid additional fees

The RN license will arrive in the mail from the State Board of Nursing once the graduate passes the exam. It will also be available to employers on NURSYS.

The RN can now start to look for nursing jobs!

Jobs to Expect

For most new graduate RNs the first job is an internship.

These are designed for newly graduated RNs, or New Grad RNs, who need to learn the complexities of a specialty. Specialties in nursing are usually explored during clinical hours while in nursing school so students have an idea of where to work after graduation.

Nursing specialties for New Grad RN Internships include:

  • Emergency Room
  • Critical Care – meaning Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or Progressive Care Unit (PCU)
  • Medical-Surgical
  • Labor and Delivery
  • Neonatal ICU (NICU)
  • Operating Room (OR)
  • Oncology
  • Telemetry
  • Orthopedics
  • Skilled Nursing Facility
  • Long-Term Acute Care
  • Outpatient Clinic
  • Physician's Office

See our complete list of nursing specialties.

Before starting an ADN program it is a good idea to search job requirements for various specialties of interest.

Some employers require a Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing (BSN). This is especially true for large teaching hospitals, research, and education. However, many RN to BSN bridge programs are available 100% online and have little to no waiting list. Once the RN is completed, clinical hours are not required for a BSN.


The median hourly wage for an Associate's degree-educated RN is $31.33 nationwidebut ranges between $24.68-$43.97 per hour.

The biggest influences on salary are location and experience. See more precise RN salary details.


Nursing salaries, like other professions, tend to align with the cost of living. Areas with higher costs of living usually pay more for staff nurses. The exception to this rule is for travel nurses. Travel nurses are contracted RNs who work for a third-party agency. Many travel nursing contracts in less desirable areas pay more than those in more desirable areas because the hospitals have trouble attracting enough staff to live and work in those areas.


Experience counts a lot in nursing. In fact, a nurse with less education, like an ADN, may actually make more money than a nurse with a Bachelor's degree. This is the case when the ADN-educated RN has more experience. For this reason, in part, many hospitals require ADN-educated RNs to obtain a BSN within a certain amount of time after hire.

Once some experience is gained the RN can become certified in his or her specialty. Not only do certifications validate and further education, but they also drive up the hourly wage for RNs. For most specialties in nursing, specialty certification is available.

(Video) Is Getting Your ADN (Associate Degree in Nursing) Worth It?

Becoming an RN is a great career choice and doing it as fast as possible to start working is how most students approach the RN education. Many schools offer the ADN program, and with a little research, a good fit is easy to find.


  • BSN
  • MSN
  • DNP
  • NP
  • CRNA
  • CNM


ADN - Associate Degree in Nursing? ›

An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is an undergraduate degree that allows students to gain core knowledge and clinical skills in the field of nursing. Most associate's programs are two-year degrees, but there are some programs that can be completed in as little as 18 months.

Is ADN equivalent to RN? ›

Is an ADN the same as an RN? An ADN is a two-year nursing degree that leads to becoming an RN. The RN credential is more than holding the degree: It includes earning an RN diploma, ADN, or BSN degree, passing the NCLEX, and completing state licensing requirements.

Is a AA degree the same as a ADN? ›

What is an ADN, or Associate Degree in Nursing? An ADN degree is a college-level nursing program that typically takes 2-3 years to complete and awards an associate-level credential. Some associate nursing programs specifically culminate in an ADN designation, while other ADN programs lead to ASN or AAS degrees.

What does ADN stand for in nursing? ›

As you've been looking into pursuing a nursing career, you've likely noticed a number of options to acquire the credentials you need. One that stands out is an associate degree in nursing (ADN) since you can finish a program in two years or fewer.

Is ADN nursing the same as ASN? ›

ADN focuses on comprehensive nursing courses and clinical practice. ASN focuses primarily on clinical practice while also providing nursing courses. AAS is a career-focused program that provides basic nursing education.

Is an ADN the same as an LPN? ›

For instance, a licensed practical nursing (LPN) certificate only requires about a year of study, while an associate degree in nursing (ADN) requires two years of study. However, while LPN programs prepare students to become a licensed practical nurse, ADN programs lead to becoming a registered nurse (RN).

Is it better to get a BSN or ADN? ›

The starting salary for a registered nurse with a BSN can be, at the beginning, similar to what an ADN nurse earns. However, RNs with an ADN degree may land entry-level positions that will provide them with $40,250 on average, while RNs with a BSN can earn up to a mean annual income of about $71,730.

Which is better AAS or ADN? ›

Compared to ASN and AAS, an ADN degree is the best option for transiting to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. Remember that every school is different regarding prerequisites and actual course material.

What is an ADN called? ›

ADN stands for Associate Degree in Nursing. You may also see associate nursing degrees referred to as ASN or AASN. These stand for Associate of Science in Nursing and Associate of Applied Science in Nursing, respectively.

Why get a BSN instead of ADN? ›

However, nurses with BSN degrees are sometimes tasked with a greater variety of duties than nurses with their ADN. The BSN degree can also open doors for leadership and management positions. Some nursing specialties, like public health, nurse education and nurse research may also require a BSN degree.

Is there a pay difference between ADN and BSN? ›

Both degrees will equip you with the skills that will land you a high paying job in the nursing field. But when you compare the average BSN vs ADN salary, those with a bachelor's degree make over $15,000 more per year than their colleges with an associate degree.

Do ADN and BSN take the same Nclex? ›

After earning their degree, BSN graduates are required to pass the same NCLEX-RN test taken by ADN candidates. As a result of the additional education, BSN-RNs are otherwise better positioned for certain nursing specialties, career advancement opportunities, and better pay.

What can a nurse associate do? ›

Nursing associates contribute to service delivery and patient care by: • assisting nurses with a greater range of care-giving responsibilities • improving patient communication • providing more patient-centred care and acting as patient advocates • identifying and escalating patients with deteriorating health • ...

How long does it take to get a BSN? ›

Timeline: Four years

Typically, the traditional BSN program is entry-level, meaning it is your first degree. Of course, the timeline of a BSN degree will vary by school. However, most entry-level BSN programs take four years to complete.

What does AAS stand for in college? ›

An associate of applied science degree, or AAS, is a two-year associate-level college degree with a focus on a particular applied science or technical skill. Students spend the majority of their coursework in technical courses directly related to their chosen area of study.

What is this nursing? ›

Nursing encompasses autonomous and collaborative care of individuals of all ages, families, groups and communities, sick or well and in all settings. It includes the promotion of health, the prevention of illness, and the care of ill, disabled and dying people.

What's the shortest nursing program? ›

Certified Nursing Assistant

A CNA program is a fast-paced program that only takes a couple of months to fully complete. After graduation, students can enter the field right away, assisting nurses with patient work in a wide variety of settings.

What is the difference between a CNA and a LPN? ›

The main difference between a CNA and an LPN is the kind of care they give. CNAs help patients eat and bathe, which they would typically do independently. LPNs do basic nursing tasks like giving patients their medicine, updating their medical records, and helping other nurses.

What is equivalent to an LPN? ›

Licensed vocational nurses (LVN) and licensed practical nurses (LPN) are similar positions. Both LVNs and LPNs provide basic care to nursing patients and work under nurses with more advanced titles, like a registered nurse (RN). The main difference is where the entry-level licensed nurse works.

Do hospitals prefer BSN over ADN? ›

Many hospitals favor hiring nurses with a BSN because they can reach the IOM's recommendation without losing ADNs who are close to retirement age. If hospitals do hire nurses with an associate degree, they may require them to complete a BSN program within two to five years.

Are ADNs being phased out? ›

The growing trend in the healthcare industry pushing for all nurses to have a BSN degree for hire will not phase out ADN nurses anytime soon.

Do you have to get an ASN before a BSN? ›

Nursing requires training, education and commitment. To be eligible to take the state certification exam and ultimately become licensed as a nurse, you must earn an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN). To take your nursing career to the next level, you can then obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN).

What is the biggest difference between ADN and BSN? ›

BSN, ADN, RN: The Difference in The Letters

BSN is a diploma from a 4-year program: A person with a BSN has graduated from a four-year nursing program at a college, university, or nursing school. ADN is a diploma from a 2-year program: A person with an ADN has graduated from a two-year nursing school.

How hard is the Nclex exam? ›

NCLEX Pass Rates

The second-attempt pass rate for domestically-educated students taking the test was 45.56%. These results demonstrate that it is a pretty difficult test. The questions are designed to test your critical thinking, knowledge of the nursing process, and assessment skills.

Are BSN nurses safer than ADN nurses? ›

ADN vs BSN Patient Care & Safety Situations

Several studies, such as the one by The National Center for Biotechnology Information has shown that hospitals with a higher percentage of nurses with a BSN or higher level degree have lower mortality and failure-to-rescue rates, especially when it comes to surgical patients.

How much do ADN nurses make in Texas? ›

$55,404 is the 25th percentile. Salaries below this are outliers. $112,567 is the 90th percentile.

What is a RN salary? ›

What type of RN makes the most money? ›

Highest Paid Nursing Jobs:
  • Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist – $202,000.
  • Nursing Administrator – $120,000.
  • Neonatal Intensive Care Nurse – $120,000.
  • General Nurse Practitioner – $118,000.
  • Critical Care Nurse – $118,000.
  • Certified Nurse Midwife – $114,000.
  • Informatics Nurse – $102,000.
  • Clinical Nurse Specialist – $95,000.
Dec 5, 2022

Does taking the NCLEX make you an RN? ›

NCLEX, which stands for National Council Licensure Examination, refers generally to one of the two standardized tests nurses need to pass in order to become either a licensed practical nurse (LPN) or a registered nurse (RN).

What percent of nurses have BSN? ›

As of 2018, the percentage of nurses that have graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing (BSN) or higher is about 57% (Campaign for Action, 2020).

Can nursing associates give injections? ›

Nursing Associates (NAs) can

- administer medication via oral, enteral, topical, Intramuscular, subcutaneous, inhalation routes and administer enemas and suppositories in line with a valid prescription.

What level is a nursing associate? ›

Nursing associates are members of the nursing team, who have gained a Nursing Associate Foundation Degree awarded by a Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) approved provider, typically involving two years of higher-level study, enabling them to perform more complex and significant tasks than a healthcare assistant but ...

Can nursing associates administer blood? ›

Nursing associates work as part of a care team, under the supervision of a registered nurse. Registered nursing associates contribute to patient care in a variety of ways, including: Performing and recording clinical observations, including blood pressure, temperature, pulse and respirations. Taking bloods.

What is the fastest I can get my BSN? ›

ADN programs can be completed in 2-3 years, whereas traditional BSN programs take four. After graduation, nurses with a BSN often have more employment opportunities and a higher earning potential due to additional training and education.

What state has the highest paid nurses? ›

In the United States overall, the average registered nurse salary is $82,750 and the median (50th percentile) is $77,600. California, with RN salaries averaging $124,000, is the highest-paying state for nurses as of May 2021 (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics).

How long is a nursing degree? ›

Approved full-time nursing degree courses last for three (or four years if taking a dual-field degree), or longer if taken on a part-time basis. Accelerated courses for graduates take two years.

Is an AA or as degree better? ›

In essence, A.A. degrees are of a more general nature and can help students further their education or enter various occupational fields. A.S. degrees are more narrowly focused and may require students to take on additional courses when they wish to expand their studies.

Which degree is higher as or AAS? ›

An Associate of Science (AS) degree is a 2-year degree offered by most community colleges and some 4- year colleges. The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree prepares graduates to enter a career immediately after graduation and have been considered terminal degrees.

Which is higher AA or AAS? ›

AA stands for Associate of Arts, AS stands for Associate of Science, and AAS stands for Associate of Applied Science. The difference between Herzing's associate degree options (AS, AAS) is in name only based on state requirements.

What do nurses wear? ›

Most hospitals and healthcare facilities demand that nurses wear scrubs, to promote all of the aforementioned benefits. And, at this point, it's almost taken for granted that nurses wear scrubs. Medical scrubs are sanitary, allow for easy identification, offer maximum pocket space and protect the wearer's skin.

What is basic nursing? ›

Basic nursing education is a formally recognised programme of study providing a broad and sound foundation in the behavioural, life, and nursing sciences for the general practice of nursing, for a leadership role, and for post-basic education for specialty or advanced nursing practice.

What's the difference between an RN and a nurse? ›

What is an RN? A registered nurse (RN) is a nurse who has completed all educational and examination requirements, and has been licensed to practice nursing in their state. You will also see 'registered nurse' as a job title or position.

Does ADN prepare you for NCLEX? ›

Both BSN and ADN degrees prepare students to take the National Council Licensure Exam for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) open_in_new to become registered nurses. The NCLEX exam does not differ for those on the BSN or ADN educational path. Last updated January 2022.

What is the main difference between an ADN RN and a BSN RN? ›

BSN, ADN, RN: The Difference in The Letters

BSN is a diploma from a 4-year program: A person with a BSN has graduated from a four-year nursing program at a college, university, or nursing school. ADN is a diploma from a 2-year program: A person with an ADN has graduated from a two-year nursing school.

Do ADN and BSN take the same NCLEX? ›

After earning their degree, BSN graduates are required to pass the same NCLEX-RN test taken by ADN candidates. As a result of the additional education, BSN-RNs are otherwise better positioned for certain nursing specialties, career advancement opportunities, and better pay.

Is it worth getting an ADN in nursing? ›

For those who want to become a registered nurse, an ADN degree can help them get into the field quickly. It can be a useful stepping-stone to receive a bachelor's degree in nursing or for other advanced medical degrees. Becoming a registered nurse can lead to a wide variety of opportunities and career paths.

What is the highest paid registered nurse? ›

What is the highest-paid nurse? Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetists! Earning $195,610 annually, CRNAs earn significantly more than any other type of nurse or nursing specialty.

Do you take NCLEX twice for ADN and BSN? ›

The main test that nurses take is the NCLEX, but you do not need to take it more than once after passing. Though there are no other required exams, you may want to take some of the certification exams available.

Can you take the NCLEX without a BSN? ›

Do you need a nursing degree to take the NCLEX exam? To take the NCLEX-RN, you'll need a four-year nursing degree from an accredited program. To take the NCLEX-PN, you'll need to complete a related diploma program or certificate course.

How long after graduation do you have to take the NCLEX? ›

Typically, you can take the exam 45 days after graduation [1]. However, the date varies state by state. The first step is to complete the two-step registration process on NCSBN.

How much does an ADN make in Texas? ›

ADN Nurse Salary in Dallas, TX $75,616 - ZipRecruiter.


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