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Are you prepared to realize your aspiration of working as a registered nurse (RN) in the field of healthcare? The Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) stands out as the most expedient educational route to securing the RN license without incurring exorbitant tuition fees.
We have compiled information on the 10 most economical ADN programs available in 2024, offering details on coursework, prerequisites, requirements, and salary expectations.
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What Is an ADN?
An ADN constitutes a two-year nursing degree program. Some individuals pursue this program to advance their careers following the completion of a licensed practical nurse (LPN) program, often referred to as the LPN-RN bridge. Alternatively, certain students embark on an ADN immediately after completing high school.
This degree can be attained through either full-time or part-time studies, commencing with foundational courses such as anatomy and chemistry. After completing general education requirements, students engage in both classroom and hands-on experiences, delving into more specialized nursing courses.
When earned from an accredited college or university, the ADN fulfills the prerequisites for sitting for the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. Upon completion of an ADN program, nurses receive training to assume entry-level positions across diverse healthcare settings, including:
- Medical Office
- Long-term Care Facility
- Medical Office/Clinic
- Home Care/Hospice
- School Nurse
- Public Health
ADN Program Prerequisites and Requirements
Prior to applying to an ADN program, candidates must possess a high school diploma or GED and provide transcripts from previous college coursework. Most programs stipulate a minimum GPA, the specific value varying by institution. Additional prerequisites for entering an ADN program encompass an entrance exam, basic life support (BLS) certification, a criminal background check, drug screening, and a comprehensive health examination, including immunizations.
ADN students typically complete a set of core classes before advancing to nursing courses. Some institutions integrate these general courses into the nursing program itself, covering subjects such as:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Nursing Principles
Following the general courses, nursing students transition to more specialized classes, which include both classroom instruction and clinical experiences. These encompass:
- Medical-Surgical Nursing
- Pediatric Nursing
- Maternal Nursing
- Nursing Care of the Older Adult
- Critical Care Nursing
Further Education and Career Path
Many ADN-prepared nurses choose to enhance their education by pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, a Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree, or even a Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in nursing.
Cheapest ADN Programs in 2024
Tuition costs vary significantly among colleges and universities, with in-state tuition generally being lower than out-of-state fees. Schools may adopt different fee structures, charging per semester or per credit hour. Most ADN programs offer financial aid and scholarship options to assist students with the associated costs.
The selection of the following schools is based on the Online Nursing Papers Writing methodology, which involves surveying readers to understand their priorities in selecting schools. Factors considered include NCLEX pass rates, graduation rates, student-faculty ratio, price, mode, duration, and admission rates for numerous prominent nursing schools in the United States.
Cayuga Community College, with two campuses in New York, provides an in-person ADN program that can be completed in four semesters.
To qualify, in addition to obtaining a GED, applicants should have completed high school or college-level biology and chemistry with a minimum grade of C (or 70%), while maintaining a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.5.
This nursing program is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN).
Price: In-state tuition is $2,568, and out-of-state is $5,136 per semester.
Length: 24 months
Howard College offers students a robust foundation in nursing education and clinical skills. In the second year, students can opt for online learning, providing flexibility for those with diverse schedules or work commitments. The program is officially approved by both the Texas Board of Nursing and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
The tuition fees are structured as follows: In-district residents pay a base amount of $150, plus $72 per semester hour, while out-of-district residents pay a base amount of $180, plus $132 per semester hour.
Length: 24 months
Situated at the Charleston and Blakely campuses in West Virginia, the ADN program at the University of Charleston offers a hybrid option with both online courses and in-class learning. Students are required to achieve a passing grade of 60% on the TEAS exam. The program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
Price: $380 per credit hour with an approximate total program tuition of $22,800
Length: 61 credit hours; 16 months
With 19 campuses across five states, Rasmussen University provides flexibility in completing its ADN program. This hybrid program offers multiple start dates annually and is dual-accredited with the HLC and ACEN.
Price: $409 per credit hour
Length: 102 credit hours; 21 months
Available on 19 campuses across nine states, Galen College of Nursing offers a hybrid learning experience, combining online and classroom instruction. The program has no specific prerequisites, as the nursing curriculum includes all required general classes. Accreditation is provided by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
Price: $435 per credit hour
Length: 24 months
Situated in the Bay Area in southern California, Chabot College’s ADN program accepts 40 applicants annually with a fall start date. The program boasts a 100% NCLEX pass rate for the past seven years and is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC).
Price: $7,000 per semester
Length: 24 months
Excelsior College offers a fully online nursing program in New York that can be completed in 24 months. Some previous college coursework may be transferable, reducing the total program cost. A passing score of 58.7% on the TEAS exam is required for admission. Accreditation is provided by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
Price: $550 per credit hour
Length: 66 credit hours; 24 months
Located in Newark, New Jersey, Essex County College hosts a highly competitive ADN program. Graduates enjoy credit transfers to bachelor’s degree programs at local universities. The program is accredited by the ACEN.
Price: $9,141 per semester
Length: 89 credit hours; 16 months
ECPI University’s ADN program is available across various campuses in four states. The number of credit hours ranges from 71 to 72, depending on the state. A passing score of 60% on the TEAS exam is required for admission, and the program is accredited by the ACEN.
Price: $9,900 per semester
Length: 71-72 credit hours; 20 months
Situated in the heart of Kentucky, Midway University’s ADN program offers on-campus day and evening classes. Students can also pursue further nursing studies with Midway’s RN to BSN program. The program is accredited by the ACEN.
Price: $849.33 per credit hour for full-time, $950 per credit hour for part-time, and $395 per credit hour for Summer
Length: 64 credit hours; 18 months
Cheapest ADN Program Costs
The costs associated with the most affordable ADN programs can fluctuate based on several factors:
Tuition: The tuition for the mentioned ADN programs varies from $2,500 to $10,000 per semester. Factors influencing costs include in-state versus out-of-state fees, the nature of the institution (public or private), program duration, and other considerations.
Books and Supplies: Allocate funds for essential items such as books, supplies, and uniforms, as these can contribute significantly to overall expenses.
Technology Requirements: Consider budgeting for necessary technology, such as laptops or tablets, with potential options that are more budget-friendly.
Housing and Living Expenses: Take into account affordable housing options (on-campus or off-campus) and factor in living expenses such as food and transportation.
Clinical Rotations: Plan for potential travel and transportation costs associated with clinical rotations, which can vary based on location.
Licensing Exam Fees: Include standard fees for the NCLEX-RN exam in your overall budgeting for nursing education.
ADN Nursing Salary Expectations in 2024
Registered Nurses (RNs) are in high demand across various healthcare settings, and job opportunities are on the rise. The nursing shortage, driven by retiring nurses, declining nursing school enrollments, and a growing aging population, has led to numerous RN job openings. This increased demand creates a competitive market, impacting salary growth.
According to Payscale, ADN nurses can earn up to $32.17 per hour, contingent on factors such as experience, skills, education, and the city of employment. Some ADN nurses may earn even higher, reaching up to $43 per hour, translating to an annual rate of $76,000. The top three states with the highest pay for individuals with an associate degree in nursing are California ($112,872), Alaska ($102,700), and Washington ($80,600).
Furthermore, data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that RNs earn a mean annual wage of $89,010 or $42.80 per hour. It’s essential to note that this figure doesn’t differentiate between ADN- and BSN-prepared RNs.
It is crucial to recognize that salaries can significantly vary based on geographic location, workplace, urban versus rural settings, and years of experience. While some employers may offer higher pay for a BSN degree, many provide excellent tuition reimbursement to support advanced degree pursuits.
Are the Cheapest ADN Programs Worth It?
When evaluating the affordability of Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) programs, considering various factors is vital to determine their value for individual students.
Pros of Cheapest ADN Programs:
1. Affordability: The primary advantage lies in the reduced financial burden, making these programs accessible to a broader student population.
2. Eligibility for RN Licensure: Graduates are eligible to sit for the NCLEX-RN exam, similar to graduates from more expensive programs.
3. Basic Nursing Skills and Knowledge: These programs impart essential skills and knowledge necessary to initiate a nursing career.
4. Opportunities for Advancement: With an ADN, graduates can commence working as nurses and potentially pursue further education in the future, often with employer support.
5. Respect in the Nursing Community: Graduates from accredited and state-approved programs are generally respected as competent entry-level nurses, irrespective of program cost.
Cons of Cheapest ADN Programs:
1. Limited Resources and Facilities: Lower-cost programs may lack access to the same level of resources, facilities, or cutting-edge technology available in more expensive programs.
2. Potential Perception Issues: Some employers and peers might perceive cheaper programs as less rigorous, possibly impacting job opportunities or professional networking.
3. Restricted Access to Specialized Training: Cheaper programs may offer fewer opportunities for specialized training or electives available in more comprehensive or expensive programs.
4. Competitive Job Market: Graduates may encounter a more competitive job market, particularly in areas where employers prefer nurses with a BSN degree.
5. Need for Further Education: Advancement in certain nursing roles or specialties may require additional education beyond the ADN level, leading to additional educational expenses in the future.
FAQs and Additional Readings
Q: What if I can’t afford to get my ADN degree?
A: Most students seek assistance with tuition costs. Financial aid options include scholarships, grants, and loans. Consult with the financial advisor at your college or university to explore available options.
Q: Can I work if I am in nursing school?
A: While nursing school demands commitment with classroom, laboratory, and clinical work, many students find ways to work while in school. Some start jobs as nursing assistants in hospitals to gain healthcare experience during their studies.
Q: What if I don’t want to work in a hospital as a nurse?
A: Hospitals represent only one sector where nurses work. Numerous opportunities exist in healthcare outside of hospitals, including health departments, schools, and extended care facilities. Clinical experiences in nursing school encompass various settings, enabling students to discover their passion.
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