ADN - Associate Degree in Nursing || (2023)

ADN - Associate Degree in Nursing || (1)

The Associate's degree in Nursing, or ADN, is a 2-year degree and is the minimum amount of school required to become licensed as a registered nurse, or RN. Once the student graduates, he or she is eligible to take the NCLEX-RN examination which must be passed to become licensed by the State. An RN must be licensed to be able to work.

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 program
  • Clinical Hours
  • NCLEX-RN Exam and RN Licensure
  • Jobs to expect
  • Salary


Checking with local community colleges and vocational schools for tuition cost 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 other schools
  • All prerequisite courses included within the program
  • Additional costs included in tuition, like uniforms and textbooks
  • Shorter length of program

Additional Costs

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

Nursing school supplies include:

  • Stethoscope, vary in cost and quality, from about $35 up to $500+
  • White shoes, most nursing schools require sparkling white sneakers or Dansko clogs
  • Pen light, usually just a couple dollars
  • Uniforms, 2 or 3 sets of scrubs in required colors and with school's name embroidered, approximate cost $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. 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 ADN program:

  • 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 a RN. RN's have a median starting salary of $27.00 per hour ( which grows rapidly with experience and education or certifications. If the student is not earning more than $27.00 before becoming a 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.

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

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 make take a few months off of the program.

Clinical Hours for ADN

Clinical hours are required for most ADN program. Each program may slightly vary, so it is important to review the requirements prior to beginning. Clinical hours are faculty-monitored real-world experience which are part of the nursing school curriculum. Each state has a required amount of hours that needs 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.


Does a Student Nurse Need to be Supervised at all Times?

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.

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

What Is the Difference Between an ADN and RN Diploma?

(Video) ADN vs BSN: Which Pathway to Consider. What's the Difference?

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.

Can a Registered Nurse Dispense Medications?

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.

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.

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

What Leadership Positions Are Available for ADN Nurses?

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 (

(Video) Nursing School Curriculum for ADN | Associates Degree Nursing School Class Schedule

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

The RN can now start to look for jobs! Find an RN job.

Jobs to Expect

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

These are designed for newly graduated RN's, 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
  • Orthopaedics
  • 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's 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 $27 nationwide with the range being $20.80-$38.52 ( ).

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


Nursing salaries, like other professions, tend to align with 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. 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 for 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 because the ADN educated RN has more experience. For this reason, in part, many hospital 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, they also drive up the hourly wage for RNs. For most specialties in nursing a certification is available.

Here are a few popular certifications:

  1. CCRN, certification for Adult, Pediatric, and Neonatal Critical Care Registered Nurses (
  2. RNC-OB, certification for obstetric nursing (
  3. RNC-MNN, certification for maternal newborn nursing (
  4. RNC-LRN, certifcation for low risk neonatal nursing (
  5. RNC-NIC, certification for neonatal intensive care nursing (
  6. CEN, Certified Emergency Nurse (

Becoming a 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 bound to happen.

(Video) Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) - RN's are Needed and You Can Help!


  • BSN
  • MSN
  • DNP
  • NP
  • CRNA
  • CMN


What is the easiest ADN program to get into? ›

With an acceptance rate of 95%, Arkansas Tech University offers one of the easiest ADN programs to get into. The program is open to Licensed Practical/Vocational Nurses who wish to pursue an Associate of Applied Science degree in Nursing (AAS-RN).

Is becoming an ADN difficult? ›

Despite the shorter education, ADN programs are still extremely challenging and have a competitive curriculum. Most ADN programs expect students to earn a minimum of a C grade or higher, although some ADN programs require higher grades (such as a B-, or above 80%, for example).

Is an ADN the same as an 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 getting an associate's degree in nursing worth it? ›

The Benefit of an Associate Degree in Nursing

Rather, you are setting yourself up for success in many ways – For one, an ADN will qualify you to take the licensing exam and start working in the field within two years' time, putting you a step ahead other aspiring nurses pursuing a four-year bachelor's degree.

What is the shortest nursing program? ›

An LPN program prepares students to become practical nurses in as little as 54 weeks. After graduation and successful passing of the NCLEX-PN exam, students can enter the field and provide basic nursing care under the supervision of a registered nurse or doctor.

What is the easiest nursing school to pass? ›

Easiest Schools with Nursing Programs
School# of Nursing StudentsBSN NCLEX 1st Time Pass Rate
Cox College23690%
D'Youville College25985%
Herzing University – Madison24853%
The University of Texas at El Paso44598%
30 more rows
Feb 13, 2020

What is the hardest semester of an ADN program? ›

Health Assessment: the hardest semester of nursing school

Health assessment will likely be one of the initial courses you'll take in nursing school, and it involves delving into the various body systems and learning how to assess patients from head to toe.

Is an associate's degree good enough? ›

If you're deciding between no higher education degree at all and an associate degree, the answer is, quite simply, “Yes; getting an associates degree is worth it!” If you are hoping to break into a professional field and want to raise your job prospects, getting an associate degree is going to serve you much better ...

Is an ADN still good? ›

According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing, there is a national nursing shortage, and this means that Registered Nurses who have their ADN are in high demand.

What is a nurse with an associate's degree called? ›

Associate in Nursing (ASN)

You can become a registered nurse (RN) in just two years with your associate degree in nursing (ASN). RNs are the first line of care in many healthcare settings, and they are in increasingly high demand as healthcare organizations strive to accommodate a growing patient population.

Can you take the NCLEX with an ADN? ›

How are ADN and BSN degrees the same? Both degrees allow you to take the NCLEX licensure exam to become a registered nurse.

What does ADN mean in nursing? ›

The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is defined as a person that has earned a 2-year degree in nursing from an accredited college or technical program. Once they have finished the degree, the person must successfully pass the NCLEX exam.

What's the hardest part of nursing school? ›

Pharmacology. Pharmacology, or the study of medication, can seem scary because of the sheer scope of the course. "It becomes one of the hardest classes for nursing students due to the depth and amount of knowledge needed," says Megan Lynch, instructor at Pima Community College.

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 • ...

What is the fastest nurse to become? ›

If you're itching to enter the field, the fastest way to become a nurse would be taking the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) route. While you wouldn't actually be an RN, you could complete a Practical Nursing program and be well on your way to launching a nursing career in as few as 12 months.

Can I study nursing for 6 months? ›


As an Enrolled Nurse or Registered Nurse, you can develop your career by specialising in one or more post-basic fields of healthcare.

Is becoming a nurse easy? ›

You're headed for a great career, one that's rewarding, challenging, and always exciting. But nursing school is notoriously difficult. Most nursing programs require high GPAs and impressive scores in math, chemistry, biology, psychology, and other demanding subjects. It's also extremely fulfilling.

What state is the easiest to become a nurse? ›

Easiest states to become a nurse – Length of licensing process
  • Maine: 1-2 weeks.
  • Maryland: 2-3 days.
  • Missouri: 2 weeks.
  • Nevada: 1-2 weeks.
  • North Carolina: 1-2 weeks.
  • North Dakota: 1-2 weeks.
  • Texas: 2 weeks.
  • Vermont: 3-5 business days.

Why is nursing school so hard? ›

The main reason why nursing school is challenging is because it involves learning about complicated nursing concepts and practical skills, then applying that information into diverse patient care scenarios — going well beyond memorizing facts. While it is challenging, nursing school is not impossible.

Do hospitals look at nursing school grades? ›

in general, the answer to your question is no. however, the smarter recruiters who know their area know more about the area nursing schools than you can imagine. they keep contacts with the instructors and program directors at the schools as well as with managers and recruiters at other hospitals.

What state is the easiest to become a nurse? ›

Easiest states to become a nurse – Length of licensing process
  • Maine: 1-2 weeks.
  • Maryland: 2-3 days.
  • Missouri: 2 weeks.
  • Nevada: 1-2 weeks.
  • North Carolina: 1-2 weeks.
  • North Dakota: 1-2 weeks.
  • Texas: 2 weeks.
  • Vermont: 3-5 business days.

What are the easiest nursing prerequisites? ›

There are several prerequisite courses that will be dog-easy for the majority of students.
The Easiest Classes in Nursing School
  • Social Sciences (Intro Psychology, Sociology, etc.)
  • Humanities.
  • Intro to Speech (or Communication)
  • English Composition.
  • History.
  • Using Information Technology.

How can I get into nursing school with a low GPA? ›

8 Tips If You Want to Become a Nurse But Have Bad Grades
  1. Take General Ed Courses to Raise Your GPA. ...
  2. Consider a Waitlist Program. ...
  3. Get Involved. ...
  4. Work Your Way Up. ...
  5. Realize That Grades Aren't Everything. ...
  6. Meet with a Counselor. ...
  7. Just Ask For Help. ...
  8. Include a Statement Letter.
Nov 15, 2019

Can you get accepted into nursing school with a low teas score? ›

An assessment/readiness test (TEAS) is required. This is a basic test of reading, vocabulary, math and science that is highly correlated with success in a nursing program. A minimum score of 62 is required to apply to the nursing program.

Which semester of nursing school is the hardest? ›

Health Assessment: the hardest semester of nursing school

Health assessment will likely be one of the initial courses you'll take in nursing school, and it involves delving into the various body systems and learning how to assess patients from head to toe.

What is the fastest way to become a nurse? ›

If you're itching to enter the field, the fastest way to become a nurse would be taking the Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) route. While you wouldn't actually be an RN, you could complete a Practical Nursing program and be well on your way to launching a nursing career in as few as 12 months.

How difficult is 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.

What happens if I fail a nursing class? ›

It depends on your school. At my school you're allowed to repeat a class/clinical once if you fail, and you're not always guaranteed to take it the semester following your failure (so you'll probably be behind). If you fail the second time you get kicked out of the program for up to 5 years.

What math do you need for nursing? ›

Nursing in the "real world" generally requires very basic math skills, but almost all programs require at least one college-level math class — usually algebra. Some nursing schools may require a basic statistics course as well, so if you know what schools you're applying to, be sure to check for this requirement.

What grades are needed for nursing? ›

Holders of Diploma in Nursing Education/Administration from a recognized University should have a minimum of B+ average or second class upper. Holders of a Diploma in nursing from a recognized institution of nursing with a minimum of CGPA of 3.25.

How can I increase my chances of getting into nursing school? ›

8 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Getting into Nursing School
  1. Write Down Your “Why” for Nursing. ...
  2. Choose a Nursing School with Multiple Start Dates. ...
  3. Ensure You Meet Admissions Requirements. ...
  4. Create a Professional Resume. ...
  5. Connect with Your Admissions Counselor. ...
  6. Start Your Prerequisites Early. ...
  7. Spend Time with Patients.
Aug 26, 2022

Do grades matter in nursing school? ›

Grades Do Matter, but They Aren't Everything

The most important thing is that you are able to graduate through the program and pass NCLEX. However, I would encourage nursing students to work hard to keep their grades as high as possible, as there are also many benefits to maintaining a high GPA.

What happens if I don't pass the TEAS test? ›

The TEAS exam is high stakes in that it's a big component to your admission into a nursing program. But it's not an all-or-nothing, single opportunity. As long as you're willing to pay for the assessment, you're allowed to retake the test.

What GPA do you need for nursing school? ›

Most programs require at least a 2.5 GPA or higher. Some set their limit at a 3.0 GPA. This is important to find out during the research phase of your accelerated nursing program search.

What is a good GPA for nursing school? ›

A GPA above 3.0 would be a good GPA for nursing school. That's the requirement for some programs. If you have aspirations for graduate school, you might need a GPA closer to a 4.0, depending on the school or degree you want.


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