Most nurses’ careers begin with a two-year associate’s degree in nursing. But when the Institute of Medicine, the AACN, and other leading organizations are calling on nurses to get their BSN, is the ADN worth it? For one, when asking is an associate’s in nursing worth it, a person should consider what he or she wants to do for a living. Is practicing as a nurse something the person desires, or would a person rather handle the office end of nursing as part of a management position? A person should also ask if he or she is compassionate and wants to help people.
A person should also take into consideration that an ADN is enough to take the NCLEX-RN to receive his or her nursing license. Becoming an RN is a critical step that helps set up all others, including earning specialized certifications and going to a bachelor’s in nursing later. However, if you want to go the extra step and earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing, an associate’s degree is still the best place to start, considering it can be transferred to an online or accelerated BSN program.
How We Ranked the Best ADN Programs in America
Nursing School Hub editors are dedicated to pointing prospective nursing students to the best programs for their time and money, so for the best associate degree in nursing programs ranking, we feature accredited, recognized schools. Programs are ranked according to their cost, reputation, and salary potential.
1. University of Texas at Arlington
The University of Texas at Arlington Professional Nursing Pathways from the Nursing College of Health Innovations (UT Arlington Online) offers an opportunity for nursing students to begin earning their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree while simultaneously completing their Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN). The University of Texas at Arlington’s best associate degree in nursing programs have received accreditation from the CCNE. These best ADN programs from the University of Texas include coursework in nursing research, community health nursing, and holistic care of older adults, plus a nursing capstone course, among others.
The University of Texas (UT Arlington) was established as a public university in 1895. The Arlington campus of UT covers more than 410 acres, with a global enrollment of approximately 59,000 students, with about 42,400 students enrolled domestically.
Highlight: The University of Texas at Arlington is considered among the region’s largest employers with more than 5000 staff and faculty.
2. University of Charleston
The University of Charleston offers an ACEN approved Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program that is ranked among West Virginia’s best associate degree in nursing programs. These best ADN programs are available on the Charleston and Beckley campuses. UC’s associate’s degree in nursing requires nursing students to complete 60 semester credits in classes that include interprofessional practice, pathophysiology & pharmacology, medical-surgical nursing, health assessments, mental health nursing, lifespan & development, obstetric nursing, pediatric nursing, plus a host of clinical rounds and labs.
The University of Charleston (Charleston) was established in 1888 as a seminary and then as Morris Harvey College, thirteen years later. However, the university has been on its current campus, along the Kanawha River, since 1947. The school operates a second campus about an hour away in Beckley.
Highlight: UC is a recognized Military Friendly School.
3. Dickinson State University
The Nursing Department at the College of Education, Business & Applied Sciences at Dickinson State University offers an Associate in Applied Science Degree – Practical Nursing (AASDPN) that prepares students for sit for their nursing exams. As one of North Dakota’s best associate degree in nursing programs, students must complete 66 semester units to graduate. Classes for this best ADN programs include microbiology, anatomy & physiology, nursing concepts, mental health nursing, pharmacology, and intro to psychology, to name a few. Dickinson State University’s nursing programs have received accreditation from the ACEN.org.
Dickinson State University (Dickinson) was established in 1918 as a normal school for teachers. Dickinson State is often ranked among nationally recognized schools in the state of North Dakota.
Highlight: Dickinson State University, with approximately 1,350 students, is a member school of the state’s university system.
4. Mercy College of Health Sciences
Mercy College of Health Sciences offers one of Iowa’s best associate degree in nursing programs with its Associate of Science Degree in Nursing (ASN). Mercy College’s best ADN programs have received accreditation from the CCNE and can be finished in only six semesters. Clinical rotations are available at the Des Moines Medical Center or other local healthcare agencies. Classes for Mercy College’s associate degree in nursing include professional nursing skills, nursing health promotion across the life span, caring in a diverse healthcare environment, and role transition to professional practice, to name a few.
Mercy College of Health Sciences (Mercy) was established as a hospital training school in 1899. The curriculum for Mercy’s programs is designed to be flexible enough for working learners.
Highlight: Mercy College of Health Sciences holds the distinction of being the only Catholic college situation in Central Iowa with its many accreditations.
5. Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College offers an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) that is one of the best associate degree in nursing programs in the state. NWTC’s best ADN programs have received accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. This two-year degree in nursing from Northeast Wisconsin Technical College has a graduation rate of 94%. Coursework for NWTC’s includes developmental psychology, nursing pharmacology, clinical care across the lifespan microbiology, and complex health alternatives, for a total of 70 semester credits.
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (Northeast Wisconsin) was established in 1912. NWTC maintains five branch campuses throughout Wisconsin and offers more than 200 academic degree and certificate programs. The student enrollment at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is approximately 2,650 students.
Highlight: The campuses and facilities run by Northeast Wisconsin Technical College are located in Green Bay, Marinette, Sturgeon Bay, Aurora, Oconto Falls, Shawano, Crivitz, and Luxemburg.
6. Front Range Community College
Front Range Community College offers one of Colorado’s best ADN programs with its Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree in Nursing. Front Range Community College’s best associate degree in nursing programs prepare students to sit for the nursing licensing exam. Degree candidates must finish 71.5 semester credits to graduate over five semesters. Classes included in Front Range Community College’s associate nursing degree program include psychiatric mental health nursing, human growth and development, pharmacology, math for clinical calculations, and advanced concepts in nursing, to name a few.
Front Range Community College (FRCC) was established as a two-year school in 1968. Front Range Community College operates several campuses in Westminster, Ft. Collins, Longmont, Loveland, and Brighton. The community college’s student enrollment is approximately 27,650 students.
Highlight: Front Range Community College holds the distinction of being the largest community college in the state.
7. Idaho State University
Idaho State University’s Technology College offers an Associate’s Degree Registered Nurse (ADRN) degree program, which has been designed for those nursing students who already hold an LPN license. Idaho State University’s College’s best associate degree in nursing programs have received ACEN accreditation. Students enrolled in Idaho State University’s associate degree in nursing requires the completion of 62 semester credits. Grads from these best ADN programs find rewarding and well-paying careers in nursing facilities, hospitals, medical clinics, home health facilities, as well as emergency rooms, among others.
Idaho State University (Idaho State) was established in 1947 as the result of a legislative effort. Idaho State University offers nearly 300 academic certificate and degree programs, with a student enrollment that exceeds 12,350 students.
Highlight: Idaho State University holds the distinction of being one of the 100+ colleges that were used in the training of navy military members.
8. Rasmussen College
Rasmussen College offers a professional nursing degree program with the ultimate degree of an Associate’s Degree in Nursing that prepares students to sit for the NCLEX registered nursing licensing exam. Rasmussen’s best ADN programs require students to finish 102 semester credits. Coursework for these best associate degree in nursing programs includes behavioral health nursing, dimensions of nursing practice, the role and scope of professional nursing leadership, to name a few. Rasmussen College’s nursing programs are accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing.
Rasmussen College (Rasmussen) was founded as a for-profit higher learning institution in 1900. Rasmussen’s campuses serve more than 15,150 students in Wisconsin, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Florida, and North Dakota.
Highlight: Rasmussen College holds the distinction of being the county’s #1 nursing school in the nation, as noted by IPEDS.
9. Montgomery College
Montgomery College offers an Associate of Science degree in Nursing that is recognized as one of Maryland’s best associate degree in nursing programs. The best ADN programs are available at the college’s Silver Spring/Takoma Park location, where nursing degree candidates must complete 70 semester credit hours to graduate. Classes for Montgomery College’s associate degree in nursing program includes basic health assessment, nursing in health & illness, pharmacology, lifespan management in nursing, nursing care of special populations, and professionalism in nursing, among others. Montgomery College’s nursing programs are accredited by ACEN and approved by the state’s Board of Nursing.
Montgomery College (Montgomery) was established in 1946 as a public school. Montgomery College maintains multiple campuses in Montgomery, Silver Spring, and Germantown. The student enrollment at Montgomery College is approximately 54,950.
Highlight: Montgomery College began operating on a local high school campus in the Chevy Chase/Bethesda area.
10. Excelsior College
Excelsior College offers two of New York’s best associate degree in nursing programs with its online Associate of Science in Nursing degree and the Associate of Applied Science in Nursing degree. Excelsior College’s best ADN programs require degree candidates to complete 66 semester units. Students from both nursing degree programs graduate ready and eligible to take the NCLEX-RN exam. The core curriculum for Excelsior College’s associate nursing degree programs includes health & safety in nursing care, foundations in nursing practice, health differences across the life span, and contemporary nursing practice, plus a clinical practicum that includes a capstone project.
Excelsior College (Excelsior) was established in 1971 by the state’s regent board. The student enrollment for Excelsior College is approximately 21,000, equally divided between men and women.
Highlight: There are more than 35 academic degree programs offered by Excelsior College across six study topics.
11. Fortis College
Fortis College’s School of Nursing offers one of the best associate degree in nursing programs from their locations in eight states. Classes for these best ADN programs include biology, nutrition, anatomy, physiology, and nursing pharmacology, plus emergency care procedures, among others. Fortis, along with its partner school Denver College of Nursing, offers graduates of the ADN program the opportunity to pursue their RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) or Master of Science in Nursing degree (MSN). Most students complete the Associate degree in nursing program from Fortis College in two to three years.
Fortis College was established in 2008 as a 2-year higher learning institution that operates as a for-profit organization. Fortis College maintains more than 30 facilities in Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Indiana, Tennessee, Utah, and South Carolina.
Highlight: Student enrollment data for Fortis College demonstrates a diverse student population from racially and ethnically heritages and backgrounds.
12. Denver College of Nursing
The Denver College of Nursing offers an Associate Degree in Nursing program (ADN) that is recognized among Colorado’s best ADN programs. The Denver College of Nursing’s best associate degree in nursing programs prepare students to sit for the national licensing exam for registered nurses. Students enrolled in DCN’s associate nursing degree program will complete the degree in 1.5 years or six quarter semesters. Classes for this degree include basic pharmacology, gerontological nursing, pathophysiology, basic nutrition, and differentiated practice, plus a culminating clinical capstone experience.
The Denver College of Nursing (DCN) is a higher learning institution that is dedicated to educating health science majors. The student to faculty ratio for DCN is an impressive 16 to 1. More than 900 nursing students attend classes each year.
Highlight: The Denver College of Nursing offers a variety of levels of nursing degrees.
13. Modesto Junior College
Modesto Junior College’s Allied Health School (MJC) offers a four-semester degree program that offers students an Associate Degree in Nursing program that is recognized among California’s best associate degree in nursing programs. These best ADN programs from Modesto Junior College requires degree candidates to finish 65.5 to 67.5 semester credits to graduate. Students graduating from Modesto Junior College’s associate degree in nursing program will have completed approximately 975 hours of clinical and nursing experiences. MJC’s NCLEX-RN pass rates for 2019/2020 was near 93%. Classes included in Modesto Junior College’s associate nursing program include pharmacology, geriatric nursing process, anatomy, advance medical and surgical principles for nurses, and mental health nursing practice, among others.
Modesto Junior College (Modesto) was established in 1921 by a legislative effort and operates dual campuses in Modesto. The college’s campuses are home to more than 25,500 students. The first transfer student from MJC was to Stanford University in 1922.
Highlight: Modesto Junior College is a federally recognized Hispanic-serving higher learning institution.
14. Columbia Basin College
Columbia Basin College offers one of Washington’s best associate degree in nursing programs with its ADN – Associated Degree in Nursing degree program. Students graduating from Columbia Basin College’s best ADN programs are prepared and eligible to sit for the national RN licensing exam. This nursing degree at the associate level from Columbia Basin College has received accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing. Students enrolled in Columbia Basin College nursing degree program will take classes in pharmacological classifications, nursing labs 1,2,3,4, a practical nursing lab, health care informatics & information technology, and professional nursing issues, to name a few.
Columbia Basin College (Columbia Basin) was established in 1955. The college’s rural campus in Pasco, Washington, is home to approximately 11,250 students. Columbia Basin College was founded to serve Franklin and Benton counties.
Highlight: Columbia Basin College operates its health science center about ten miles from its main campus in Pasco.
15. John A. Logan College
John A. Logan College offers one of Illinois’ best associate degree in nursing programs with its ACEN-approved ADN – Associate Degree in Nursing designed for those nursing professionals who already possess a practical nursing license. These three-semester best ADN programs require admitted students to hold an active and unencumbered LPN license from the state of Illinois. Classes for this degree in nursing include pharmacology, fundamentals of nursing, human anatomy & physiology, mental health nursing, and medical and surgical nursing, to name a few.
John A. Logan College (Logan) was established by an act of Illinois congress in 1967 as a junior college. The community college’s campus in Carterville serves approximately 4,425 students.
Highlight: John A. Logan College is named to honor a Civil war general who also represented the state in the senate and congress.
16. Nightingale College
Nightingale College offers a 20-month ADN program (Associate Degree in Nursing) that is recognized as one of Utah’s best associate degree in nursing programs. Nightingale College offers a blended hybrid delivery of its best ADN programs. Degree candidates enrolled in Nightingale’s associate nursing degree program receive online didactic instruction but also receive hands-on experiential learning opportunities, including supervised clinical rotations in healthcare facilities. Classes include human anatomy and physiology (with labs), introduction to psychology, statistics for health care professionals, pathophysiology, nutrition, and microbiology, among others.
Nightingale College (Nightingale) was established as a for-profit higher learning institution in 2010. The college’s campus is home to approximately 850 health care students. Nightingale College offers students an impressive 8 to 1 student to faculty ratio.
Highlight: Nightingale College offers advanced placement for qualified licensed practical nursing professionals.
17. Minnesota West Community & Technical College
Minnesota West Community & Technical College offers an Associate of Science degree in Nursing that is among the best associate degree in nursing programs in the state. The MWCTC best ADN programs require applicants to already hold an unencumbered Licensed Practical Nursing licensee. Degree candidates enrolled in Minnesota West Community & Technical College must finish 64-semester credits in classes that include patient-centered care, health promotion, acute care clinical, skills lab, and principles of professional nursing, to name a few.
Minnesota West Community & Technical College was established in 1997 by a merger of four schools. The college maintains campuses in Worthington, Canby, Jackson, Pipestone, and Granite Falls.
Highlight: The oldest of the four schools that merged to created Minnesota West Community & Technical College date back nearly three-quarters of a century.
18. ATA College
ATA College offers one of the best associate degree in nursing programs from its campuses in the Sunshine State and New York. These best ADN programs offer students a fast-track, an online option that can be finished in 19 months. Students graduating from ATA College’s best ADN programs are prepared to sit for the national RN licensing NCLEX-RN exam. Students graduate to find rewarding work in skilled care centers, home health agencies, surgical clinics, assisted living facilities, and hospitals, to name a few. Students are provided laptops to students to study those portions of the program available through the school’s distance learning platform.
ATA College is a for-profit higher learning institution that was established in 1985. ATA College has received accreditation from the ABHES.
Highlight: ATA College maintains two campuses in Florida and Kentucky and one campus in Ohio, and another in Oklahoma.
19. Northwest Technical College
Northwest Technical College offers Minnesota’s best associate degree in nursing programs with its Associate of Science degree (AS) program in Nursing. Northwest Technical College’s best ADN programs can be finished in about 24 months. Students enrolled in NTC’s associate nursing degree are eligible to sit for the national NCLEX-RN licensing exam upon graduation. The nursing programs offered by Northwest Technical College have received accreditation from ACEN and require degree candidates to complete 64 credit units. Classes for this nursing degree include physiology, ethics, chemistry, intro to psychology, and microbiology, to name a few.
Northwest Technical College (Northwest Technical) was established in 1965 for vocational training. Northwest Technical College is one of the 30+ community colleges that make up the MN State Colleges & Universities System.
Highlight: Northwest Technical College offers customizable diploma, certificate, and degree programs to meet every student’s career and educational objectives.
20. Arkansas State University
Arkansas State University’s Nursing & Health Professions College (ASU) offers several Associate of Applied Science degree programs in Nursing (AASN) that are recognized among the state’s best ADN programs. The available best associate degree in nursing programs from Arkansas State University includes a traditional AASN, or two LPN to AASN, with one of these ADN degree program available entirely online. All of Arkansas State University’s nursing programs have received accreditation from ACEN. The traditional AASN program includes testing requirements for all applicants. Students graduating from Arkansas State University’s associate nursing degree programs are eligible to sit for the national RN licensing exam.
Arkansas State University (Arkansas State) was established in 1909. The university’s 1,250+acre campus in Jonesboro is home to approximately 14,050 students.
Highlight: The faculty to student ratio at Arkansas State University is 1 to 17.
21. Southern Maine Community College
Southern Maine Community College offers an Associated Degree in Nursing program that is ranked among the available best associate degree in nursing programs by RNCareers.org & RegisteredNursing.org. Students enrolled in SMCC’s best ADN programs are required to complete 69 semester credits, typically in 4.5 semesters. Additionally, graduates of SMCC associate degree in nursing may opt to transfer to nearby schools to complete their baccalaureate degree in nursing. Southern Maine Community College’s nursing degree programs have received accreditation from ACEN.
Southern Maine Community College (Southern Maine) was established in 1946 and is a member school of the state’s community college system. The college’s suburban campuses in South Portland and Brunswick (and other locations and online) is home to approximately 6,950 students.
Highlight: Southern Maine Community College maintains the Shoreway Arboretum along the shoreline of the coast.
22. Gwinnett Technical College
Gwinnett Technical College offers several of the best ADN programs with its Associate Degree Nursing Paramedic Bridge Option, the RN- ADN nursing program, or the associate degree nursing bridge option. Students graduating from Gwinnett Technical College’s best associate degree in nursing programs are prepared and eligible to sit for the national licensing exam – the NCLEX-RN. GTC’s nursing programs have all received accreditation from ACEN. The traditional program requires the completion of 71 semester credits, whereas the bridge programs require 61 semester credits. The program does have a minimum age requirement for entrance into the degree of 18 years old.
Gwinnett Technical College (Gwinnett) was established in 1984. Gwinnett Technical College focuses its programs on technical career training. The student to faculty ratio for Gwinnett Technical College is 20 to 1.
Highlight: Gwinnett Technical College offers more than 140 certificates, diploma, and degree programs to its approximately 9,550 students.
23. Sampson Community College
Sampson Community College offers one of North Carolina’s best associate degree in nursing programs with its ADN – Associate Degree in Nursing program. Graduates of Sampson Community College’s best ADN programs are eligible and prepared to sit for the NCLEX-RN license exam. Sampson Community College’s associate degree in nursing has received accreditation from ACEN. Degree candidates must finish 67 semester credits in classes that include developmental psychology, anatomy & physiology, family health concepts, holistic health concepts, and professional research and writing, to name a few.
Sampson Community College (Sampson) was established in 1967 under the provisions of a state statute. The college’s small-town campus in Clinton is home to approximately 1,950 students.
Highlight: Sampson Community College began as an outreach center of the local Wayne Community College two years before the college began operating as an independent higher learning institution.
24. Surry Community College
Surry Community College offers one of North Carolina’s best associate degree in nursing programs with its ADN – Associated Degree in Nursing degree program. Students enrolled in Surry Community College’s best ADN programs are required to complete 69 semester credits to graduate. Classes for SCC’s associate nursing degree program include pharmacology, anatomy & physiology, general psychology, holistic health concepts, health system principles, complex health concepts, and health-illness concepts, to name a few.
Surry Community College (Surry) was established in 1964. SCC was established to serve the working learners and students living in the Yadkin and Surry counties of North Carolina. The schools’ rural campus in Dobson (and several other satellite educational facilities) is home to approximately 3,325 students.
Highlight: Surry Community College offers certificate, diploma, and degree programs across more than 35 areas of study.
25. Allegany College of Maryland
Allegany College of Maryland offers an associate degree in nursing program (ADN) that is recognized among the best ADN programs in the Atlantic Coast region. Students graduating from Allegany College of Maryland are prepared to sit for the NCLEX national license exam. This ADN program has received accreditation from the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, INC. Degree candidates find rewarding work in community clinics, physician’s offices, pediatric or obstetric facilities, hospitals, or emergency care agencies, to name a few.
Allegany College of Maryland (Allegany) was established in 1961. Allegany College of Maryland’s campuses through Pennsylvania (and Maryland) serve more than 18,600 students who are studying for degrees to completing continuing education requirements. The student-faculty ratio at Allegany College of Maryland is an impressive 12 to 1 (2019).
Highlight: Allegany College of Maryland is a member school of the state’s community college association.
Should I Get an Associate’s in Nursing?
When a person decides if a career in nursing is worth it, it’s important to understand that there is funding available for nurses on a state and local level. Therefore, when a person asks is an ADN worth it, he or she should consider the fact that he or she may be able to go to school at little to no expense to him or her. A person should also consider the options of employer reimbursement as well as private grants and scholarships when considering is an ADN worth it. These can also help make the degree program more affordable.
In addition, it’s important to consider pay. An average registered nurse (RN) makes anywhere from $52,080 to $111,220 per year, with the median wage being $73,000 annually. Therefore, when a person is questioning is an associate’s in nursing worth it, a person should consider the wages before deciding if the degree is worth it. A person should also further research because the average salary of an RN varies based on location as well as specialty.
How Do I Choose an ADN Program?
When a person is looking into ADN programs, it’s important to start with a search for ADN programs near me. With a search for ADN programs near me, a person can find schools that offer this program. A person can also make sure he or she can stay locally for school.
Besides looking for ADN nursing programs near me, a person should also look into the reputation of the school. Therefore, once a person finds options for ADN nursing programs near me, a person should look at what the student to educator ratio of the school is. Additionally, a person should look into how well the school ranks and any other information available about the school on its website.
A person may also want to send a message to the school with any specific questions he or she has.
In addition, an individual may benefit from looking at reviews from all the options he or she has for ADN nursing programs near me. When a person is looking at those reviews of associates degree in nursing programs, he or she should look at what students have to say. He or she should specifically focus on whether or not an associate’s degree in nursing programs from those schools was rewarding and how many felt like they had adequate support.
Finding where to get an associate’s degree in nursing may include a nursing school or community college or technical school. When considering where to get an associate’s degree in nursing, a person should also take into consideration if he or she has a license to practice nursing. An LPN can complete an ADN mostly online.
Once a person takes all of these factors into consideration, it’s possible to find the best schools for an associate’s degree in nursing. Specifically, a person will find the best schools for associate degree in nursing for him or her.
Is it Hard to Get into an ADN Program?
First and foremost, a person has to have a high school diploma or GED as the first step to how to get into an ADN program. Each program will have its own specific requirements in terms of a person’s grade point average, so a person will have to compare the requirements. A person should also look into what type of entrance exam the school requirements since how to get into an ADN program does include a test to get into the school.
Moreover, a person will have to follow the other entrance requirements implemented by the school when considering how to get into an ADN program. For instance, a person may need to write an essay to get into the school. The person may need recommendations. While certain requirements are static, others vary based on the school.
Although work experience or volunteer work isn’t necessary to get into a nursing school, specifically an ADN program, a person may want to work as a nurse’s aide or become a certified nursing assistant to gain firsthand experience in the field. This could help him or her in terms of knowledge to pass classes during his or her program.