An associate’s degree in nursing is a perfect start to a rewarding, stable career. Even more importantly, it’s a start to a career that doesn’t have to cost a fortune or bury students in student loans. Most students pursuing their ADN are paying their own way, whether at a community college, a small state college, or even a major university. And in most cases, affordability is the name of the game.
Finding cheap accredited colleges offering associate’s degrees in nursing isn’t a hard task. Smaller community colleges will often cost less than universities with larger campuses and more extensive degree offerings. The key is looking for schools that offer online course options and that don’t have a lot of overhead expenses. Most colleges base their tuition rates on several factors, including how much of the degree program is completed online. Other factors include the area in which the university is located and what other programs they offer.
How We Ranked the Most Affordable ADN Degree Programs
For the Most Affordable ADN Degree ranking, Nursing Degree Hub editors focused on reputable, accredited colleges and schools. For the ranking order, one factor was foremost – tuition cost, according to current IPEDS numbers.
1. South Texas College
The Associate Degree Nursing (ADN) program at South Texas College is designed to prepare students for employment in the field of nursing. A student that’s successful in their completion of the degree can take the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) and become a registered nurse (RN) upon passing. The course itself trains students to take care of patients in a variety of health care settings, provide physician support, and prepare patients for health care procedures.
South Texas College is part of the public university system and awards a bachelor’s of applied technology degree along with an associate’s in applied science, arts, and science. It offers over 100 degree and certificate programs and is headquarters for the North American Advanced Manufacturing Research and Education Initiative to train students in advanced manufacturing techniques. The school has an average student body size of 31,000 that’s spread across six different campuses.
2. Glendale Community College
Glendale Community College offers a Registered Nursing program that’s approved by the California State Board of Registered Nursing. It also offers an RN to BSN program and a Foreign Nurse Graduate program. Some of the classes in the program include pharmacology, mother-child health, medical-surgical nursing, and psychiatric. Students also undergo clinical experience to practice skills learned in the classroom.
Glendale Community College (GCC) is part of the California Community Colleges System and offers associate’s in arts and sciences as well as certificate programs. Associate degrees for transfer are also available. The school prides itself on a wide array of educational offerings and offers credit for life experience. Its athletic teams participate in the California Community College Athletic Association.
3. Houston Community College
The Associate Degree Nursing Program at Houston Community College is an associate of applied science (AAS) in the study of health sciences. Students who have no nursing experience can take the program in order to learn how to interact with patients, how to work with medical professionals, understand basic anatomy, and how to care for patients of all ages. Licensed Vocational Nurses with sufficient work experience can also enter the program to earn their AAS and take the NCLEX-RN exam.
Houston Community College is part of a small community college system known as the Houston Independent School District. It features multiple athletic teams that include golf, volleyball, basketball, and soccer. The school operates a television studio and broadcasts a channel known as Houston Community College Television on various cable systems.
4. North Central Texas College
The Associate Degree Nursing Program at North Central Texas College offers an associate degree in nursing (ADN) and prepares students to become an RN. The program is approved by the Texas Board of Nursing and is fully accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education In Nursing Inc. Upon completion of the program, a student will be capable of providing proper care to patients at all stages of life, advocate for patient safety, work as a member of a health care team and provide support to all who need it.
North Central Texas College (NCTC) is part of the public university system in Texas and offers associate degrees in the arts, science, teaching, applied science, professional certificates, and occupational skills award. The school features instruction in arts and social sciences, math, and sciences, career and technical education, health sciences, dual credit, adult and continuing education, and student success.
5. Richland Community College
The Nursing Program, also known as the Associate Degree Nursing program at Richland Community College is an associate of applied science in nursing and qualifies a student to sit for the NCLEX-RN upon completion of the program. Students who wish to go on to earn their bachelor of science in nursing (BSN) can transfer some of their credits to a four-year institution. The Nursing Program is designed to prepare students to work with a diverse population and be capable of providing compassionate healthcare to all patients who are in need.
Richland Community College (RCC) is a public community college that offers education in workforce technology, technical, health, and bachelor degree transfer programs. The school serves around 3,300 undergraduates each school year and has around 1,300 non-credit students. It features a main campus, two extension centers, and off-campus sites to reach as many students as possible.
6. Citrus College
The Registered Nursing – Associate Degree Nursing program at Citrus College is an associate degree in nursing (ADN) program and designed to train students to work as an entry-level nurse upon successful completion of the program. The program trains students in a holistic fashion in order to give a student the tools they need to work effectively as a nurse in a diverse community. Upon completion of the program, a student will be qualified to take the NCLEX-RN and get their California nursing license.
Citrus College is part of the Citrus Community College District and offers associate degrees in the arts and in science. Associate degrees for transfer to four-year schools are also available. The school has a broad selection of academics that include the arts, music, science, physics, English, mathematics, and more. Campus amenities include a golf driving range, learning center, art gallery, aquatic center, and athletic facilities.
7. Jones College
The Associate Degree Nursing program at Jones College is an associate of arts degree and takes five semesters to complete. The course prepares students to apply for their RN license at the state and federal level. Successful graduates will be able to work in a variety of healthcare settings including nursing homes, hospitals, clinics, and more. Licensed Practical Nurses can enter into the program in order to earn their ADN and work as an RN. The curriculum includes classes such as psychology, adult nursing, nutrition, and caring for mothers and children.
Jones County Junior College, also known as Jones College, is a public community college that serves eight counties in Mississippi. It offers an associate in arts, associate in applied science, technical and career certificates, and adult education and workforce credentials. Students learn the latest in industry standards for their chosen career field and graduate with the knowledge they need to succeed as an employee.
8. Midlands Technical College
The Registered Nurse program at Midlands Technical College is an ADN program that imparts the skills needed for a student to work as an RN. The curriculum combines biological and social sciences with the skills a student has learned as a Licensed Practical Nurse. Students learn in a variety of settings that include the classroom, nursing skills labs, and an up-to-date simulation lab. Clinical hours are arranged through local healthcare facilities that are affiliated with the school. Upon successful completion of the program, students will be qualified to take the NCLEX-RN exam.
Midlands Technical College is a public technical college with six campuses across three counties in South Carolina. The school averages about 16,000 students during an academic year and makes it one of the largest community colleges in the state. It offers over 150 programs through eight schools of study and classes are offered in-person, online, virtually, and in hybrid formats. Programs range from the advanced manufacturing trades to science, information, technology, and more.
9.College of Western Idaho
The Professional Nursing Program at the College of Western Idaho is an associate of science in the nursing degree that provides basic education to students seeking to become a registered nurse. The program is designed to train students to work as RNs in healthcare settings of all kinds and provide quality healthcare to all patients. Students are taught through a combination of laboratory and theoretical instruction along with clinical experience in working healthcare facilities. Students who satisfactorily complete the program are eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam.
College of Western Idaho (CWI) is a comprehensive community college and features two main campuses in two different locations along with locations spread throughout the Treasure Valley. It offers over 60 educational programs, an associate of arts or science degree, an associate of applied science, and certificates. High school students can earn dual credits and fast-track career training is available for working adults who want to enhance their career prospects.
10. Lehigh Carbon Community College
The Nursing Associate Degree Program at Lehigh Carbon Community College is accredited by ACEN and maintains full approval status with the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing. The program is designed to prepare graduates to perform holistic nursing care and promote health and well-being to patients. Students receive clinical and classroom instruction and engage in clinical instruction. Graduates of the program must successfully complete the Virtual ATI NCLEX-RN review course in order to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam.
Lehigh Carbon Community College is part of the public community college system with one main campus and multiple satellite campuses in the surrounding area. The college offers degrees and certificates in programs that include the arts, communication, design, business and administration, computer sciences, education, health care, manufacturing, and more. The athletics program is known as the Lehigh Carbon Cougars and features six different types of sports with four women’s teams and four men’s teams.
11. Georgia Highlands College
The Associate of Science in Nursing program at Georgia Highlands College is designed to prepare students to work as an entry-level nurse generalist that is capable of using their knowledge and skills in an effective manner. Students are taught the science and art of nursing in order to be effective at treating patients who are in need of help regardless of their gender, income, race, or age. The program utilizes Patricia Benner’s stages of learning and skill acquisition along with Jean Giddens’ conceptual framework for delivery of the curriculum to provide students with a well-rounded educational experience.
Georgia Highlands College is part of the public college system in Georgia and enrolls about 5,700 students during an academic year. It features campuses in five different locations and enrolls students from Alabama and Tennessee as well as Georgia. The school offers associate degrees, bachelor’s of science, and a bachelor of business administration degrees. It offers two of the bachelor programs in an online-only format.
12. Community College of Philadelphia
The Nursing program at Community College of Philadelphia is an associate in applied science degree and is accredited by ACEN. The program is one of 15 in the U.S. that’s been chosen as a Center of Excellence by the National League for Nursing and recognized for “Enhancing the Professional Development of Students”. Students attending the program are trained to work in the community, acute, and long-term care settings. Students who decide to take the traditional course sequence will attend during the fall/spring semesters for two years while students who decide to take the post-baccalaureate accelerated program will complete the degree in about 14 months’ time.
Community College of Philadelphia is part of the public college system and features four locations in the city of Philadelphia. The school offers associate degrees, and academic and proficiency certificates. Students can attend classes during the day, night, weekend, and online. It also features transfer agreements with four-year schools, giving students the option to earn a bachelor’s degree.
13. Southwestern College (Chula Vista, CA)
The Associate Degree in Nursing at Southwestern College is a two-year degree that qualifies a student to take the NCLEX-RN exam in order to work as an entry-level nurse. Students learn how to handle the basic duties of nursing and apply the skills they learned in the classroom and clinical settings. Graduates of the program are qualified to work in pediatrics, the emergency room, critical care settings, and the operating room, and anywhere a registered nurse is a necessary part of a healthcare team.
Southwestern College at Chula Vista is a public community college that is part of the California Community College system. It also provides education at off-campus sites and extensions in and around the South San Diego County area. The school features over 300 programs throughout 11 fields of study that result in earning an associate’s degree. It also has transfer degrees and 12 industry sectors that have a total of 60 career education programs.
14. College of DuPage
The Associate Degree Nursing program at College of DuPage is a two-year program that has been approved by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation/Board of Nursing and the Illinois Community College Board. It’s also accredited by ACEN. The program takes four sequential semesters over two years to complete and prepares students to care for patients across all stages of life and their medical needs. Students learn how to communicate with patients and coworkers, learn about health and illness concepts, how to make decisions in a clinical setting, and pharmacology basics.
The College of DuPage is a public community college with one main campus and satellite campuses in neighboring communities. It enrolls over 28,000 students in an academic year and is the second largest provider of two-year degrees in the state of Illinois. The school offers nine associate degrees with 79 different options, 161 professional certificates, dual credit for high school students, and multiple study programs that cover a variety of interests and disciplines.
15. Bakersfield College
The Bakersfield College Associate Degree Nursing Program is approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing and is designed to prepare students to work at the entry-level of nursing in the healthcare field. Students learn how to use critical thinking and analytical skills in their treatment of patients, respect cultural sensitivities, and work in almost any health setting where nurses are part of the healthcare team. Students who wish to apply to the program are required to have a valid Heart Association BLS card and maintain the card during their schooling.
Bakersfield College is part of the Kern Community College District and enrolls an average of 31,000 students each academic year. The school features a main campus and three satellite campuses. It offers associate degree and certificate programs along with career pathway programs. Some of the available programs include bookkeeping, agricultural business, fire technology, forestry, engineering technology, retail management, and more. Bakersfield’s athletic teams are known as the Renegades and compete in the Western State Conference apart from football and wrestling.
16. Ivy Tech Community College
The Nursing and Practical Nursing Program at Ivy Tech Community College prepares students to earn their LPN or become eligible to take the NCLEX-RN exam upon completion of their education and awarding of the associate of science in nursing (ASN). Students who wish to enroll in the program at Ivy Tech must take the TEAS exam prior to applying. The LPN program is separate from the RN program, but students have the option to return to the school and earn their RN. Graduates of the RN program can transfer to a partnered four-year university to earn a BSN.
Ivy Tech Community College, also known as Ivy Tech, is part of the public community college system and has over 40 locations spread throughout Indiana. It enrolls around 200,000 students in an academic year and offers over 150 programs that lead to certificates or associate’s degrees. It features over 100 transfer programs that are affiliated with in-state and out-of-state institutions.
17. John Wood Community College
The Associate Degree in Nursing program at John Wood Community College prepares students to take the NCLEX-RN exam. The school also offers a one-year LPN-to-ADN for LPNs who are seeking to advance their careers. Students who earn their associate degree at John Wood Community College can opt to enter into a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree through an affiliation with Blessing-Rieman College of Nursing and Health Sciences. Individuals who want to earn their LPN must complete all of the first-year semester and semester 2 courses, complete required general education classes, and earn 53 semester hours.
John Wood Community College is a public community college and is a two-year, open-admission school. It offers degree and certificate programs in communications, agriculture, business, emergency services, fine arts, and much more. The school has seven intercollegiate sports programs that compete in Division II of the National Junior College Athletic Association.
18. Mississippi Gulf Coast College
The Associate Degree Nursing Prelicensure program at Mississippi Gulf Coast College is a five-semester program that prepares students to become qualified RNs or PNs. The coursework consists of one semester of pre-requisite classes and four semesters of coursework relating to the ADN. Students learn how to treat the whole patient as opposed to their condition or issue, be culturally sensitive and aware, work with an interdisciplinary health care team, use research to inform their decisions and judgments as a nurse and use the latest technologies in the treatment of patients.
Mississippi Gulf Coast College is a public community college with three campuses and six centers located across multiple counties. The school has a strong technical program in multiple manufacturing fields as well as centers located at Kessler Air Force Base and the Naval Construction Battalion Center. Academic pathways are available for students who wish to transfer to a four-year degree program after earning their associate’s degree.
19. Parkland College
The Associate Degree Nursing Program at Parkland College is designed to prepare students to work at the entry-level in the healthcare field. Coursework is designed to teach students how to work as part of a team, support senior staff, and be capable of facing the many challenges that come with working as an RN. Coursework includes topics such as microbiology, medical-surgical nursing, nursing for a specific population, and psychology. Students also spend time in lab and clinical settings during the program.
Parkland College is part of the Illinois Community College System and averages a student enrollment of 20,000 during an academic year. It offers over 100 degree and certificate programs that prepare students for a career or further education at a four-year institution. The campus features a planetarium, performing arts theater, and an art gallery. It also operates a college radio station.
20. Grand Rapids Community College
The Associate Degree Nursing program at Grand Rapids Community College trains students to become licensed registered nurses upon successful completion of the program. Entry into the program requires taking and passing high school chemistry and biology courses with a C or higher and demonstrate math competency through the SAT, ACT, MA, or ALEKS. Students who enter into the program learn the basic concepts of nursing, human anatomy and physiology, how to apply nursing skills, and how to handle common health issues in a local or given population.
Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) is a public community college that serves around 16,000 students every academic year. It offers associate degrees and certificates in the arts, applied arts and sciences, business, nursing, fine arts, music, general studies, and an advanced certificate. Degree programs are designed to help students enter the workforce after two years of education or transfer their credits to a four-year institution and earn a bachelor’s degree.
21. Durham Tech
The Associate Degree Nursing program at Durham Tech is an associate in an applied science degree program. Students learn how to provide healthcare to patients in a program that’s designed to integrate classroom and clinical skills and help students build upon previously learned knowledge. New students to the program are required to have certification in CPR and have a Certified Nursing Assistant I certificate before starting courses. Licensed Practical Nurses can enroll as an advanced-standing student in order to earn their ADN.
Durham Tech is part of the public community college system in North Carolina and has an average of 20,000 students in an academic year. The school offers over 100 degrees, certificates, diplomas and has a university transfer program for students who wish to earn a bachelor’s degree in their chosen academic field. The school has seven campuses across Durham and Orange counties as well as an online education option.
22. Northwestern Michigan College
Northwestern Michigan College offers an associate degree in nursing program with the option to attend classes online or in-person. Students who decide to attend online are still required to physically attend clinical and lab courses. Classes include fundamentals of nursing, pharmacology, helping patients at various stages of their lives and in various healthcare settings, ethics of being a nurse, and mental health nursing care. Upon completion of the program, students can apply for their state of Michigan nursing license and take the registered nurse exam.
Northwestern Michigan College (NMC) is part of the public college system and enrolls around 5,000 students each academic year. It’s a two-year college that offers associate degrees and professional certificates. The Dennos Museum Center is a fine art museum affiliated with the college and is located on-campus. NMC is also home to the Great Lakes Maritime Academy.
23. North Central Missouri College
North Central Missouri College has a Practical Nursing program and an Associate Degree in Nursing program. The Practical Nursing (PN) program lasts 11 months and consists of classroom, laboratory, and clinical education settings. The PN program is approved by the Missouri State Board of Nursing. Students can opt to return to the school at a later date to earn an associate degree in nursing (ADN). The PN to ADN program lasts 9 months and qualifies a student to become licensed to nurse in Missouri and take the NCELX-RN.
North Central Missouri College, formerly known as Trenton Junior college, is part of the public community college system. The college enrolls around 1,500 students each academic year and has campuses spread around the Trenton area. The school has an athletics program, student residential halls, agricultural programs, and manufacturing skills programs.
24. Greenfield Community College
The Registered Nursing program at Greenfield Community College is a state-approved associate degree in a registered nursing program. Students who earn the degree will be able to work in a collaborative environment with other health professionals, act in a reasonable and ethical manner, think in a creative fashion when the need arises, and communicate in medical language as well as explain information in plain language to patients. About 80% of students who take the program will earn their associate degree in six semesters and be qualified to take the NCLEX-RN.
Greenfield Community College (GCC) is part of the public community college system and has an average enrollment of 2,400 students in an academic year. It offers 114 certificate and 213 associate degree programs. The school also offers a transfer degree program that enables students to enroll at a 4-year college and earn a bachelor’s degree. Courses at GCC primarily focus on career options and continuing education for students who want to update their skills.
25. Allegany College of Maryland
The Nursing Program at Allegany College of Maryland offers an associate of science degree in nursing. Students who pass their first semester of classes are eligible to work as a Certified Nursing Assistant or Geriatric Nursing Assistant. Students who complete their first year of classes and a five-week summer course are eligible to take the NCLEX-PN or become a Licensed Practical Nurse. Completion of the two years enables a student to take the NCLEX. The program teaches students practical applications of nursing in the classroom as well as 1400 hours spent in clinical settings.
Allegany College of Maryland (ACM) is part of the public university system of Pennsylvania. It offers 53 associate degrees, 23 certificates, 21 letters of recognition, and continuing education programs for working adults. The school’s athletic teams compete in the National Junior College Athletic Association.
How Do I Save Money on an ADN Program?
Finding a cheap accredited college that offers an Associate’s degree in nursing isn’t always the answer. Instead of focusing on the cheapest colleges and universities, look for ones that offer quality programs that will accept scholarships and grant funds. Scholarships and grants do not have to be paid back and can be used for many different purposes aside from your tuition. Many grant awards are good for multiple years, unlike scholarships that are more often than not, a one time gift. Applying for both grants and scholarships will help you cut the cost of your college tuition if you receive them.
Another way to save money on your Associate’s degree in nursing is to talk to your employer about an education reimbursement program. With nurses being in such high demand, many employers will gladly cover the cost of your education if you commit to working for them once you graduate. For this program to work, you will have to pay for your education outright. Every time you pass a course or earn a certificate/degree successfully, you submit your transcript to your employer and they will reimburse you for the money that you have spent toward your education.
What is an ADN in Nursing?
What is an ADN in Nursing? ADN is short for an Associate’s degree in Nursing. An Associate’s degree in nursing is one of the first steps in becoming a Licensed Practical Nurse or Registered Nurse. An Associate’s degree normally includes the most basic courses that are needed to move forward with any degree programs. An Associate’s degree in nursing does include, however, the foundation courses that a nurse will need to start working toward their career. Because an Associate’s degree in nursing lays the groundwork for the Bachelor’s degree, it will provide enough information to give the future nurse a good head start.
Individuals who work in healthcare facilities often go back to school to advance their careers. A CNA, for example, provides basic care to patients. CNAs, or Certified Nursing Assistant, will often enroll in an ADN program so they can be considered for more responsibilities and higher pay. As they gain more experience, continuing on with their education seems only natural. Students who are interested in an ADN can enroll in an online program and earn their degree while they continue to work as a CNA or other healthcare professional.
An ADN in nursing is also a good start for individuals who want to pursue a degree in occupational or physical therapy. EMT’s and paramedics may also choose to start their educational journey by enrolling in an ADN. Starting out with an ADN in nursing is a great way to embark on a career in healthcare even though you may not be sure which way you want to go as you move forward.
How Much Can I Make with an ADN in Nursing?
An RN who has an ADN in nursing can earn approximately $70,000 a year. Not all RN’s have ADN degrees. Some RN’s may have chosen to complete BSN degrees that included courses from an ADN degree. A nurse who has just graduated and has very little hands-on experience will make much less starting out than a graduate who has been working within the healthcare system for several years. Nurses who start with an ADN and move on to a Bachelor’s degree will increase their earning potential over time.
No matter what direction a person takes with their career, the more experience a graduate has the more they will be able to make. While $70,000 is an average salary across the board, those who work in larger cities may make more than a nurse who chooses to work in a rural area. There are many factors that contribute to the earning potential of a nurse with an ADN or higher. Once they have their ADN degree in hand, they can begin to look for the type of position they want. In order to become a nurse, the graduate will have to sit for their state boards.
A person with an ADN can go into almost any type of work within the healthcare field. The average pay for an ADN graduate will depend on what other degrees they may have as well as any other experience they may have accumulated over time. The career path they choose will continue to influence their average salary potential.