Nursing students looking for more convenient ways to earn a nursing degree are bound to explore online nursing schools. Learning from home is certainly appealing, especially for those who also work, but is nursing school online hard? There are several pros and cons of online nursing classes, so let's explore this option and how you can start your nursing degree online.
Are online nursing degrees real?
Online nursing degrees are real, though you must pick an accredited program. In regards to colleges, accreditation refers to upholding a specified level of standards and best practices in education. These standards ensure students are receiving quality education, and are set and enforced by various academic bodies, including the U.S. Department of Education.
In order for an online nursing degree to be real, it must come from a nursing school that holds one of the two types of accreditation:
Regional accreditation: Regionally accredited schools often have stricter standards and more selective admission processes. These schools are viewed as more prestigious and offer students more flexibility in transferring credits.
National accreditation: Nationally accredited schools often focus on vocational or technical training, including nursing, design, or other trades. National credits can only be transferred between other nationally accredited schools.
Nurses must earn a degree from an accredited program in order to apply for licensure. While it does not matter how you obtained the degree (e.g. online vs. in person), where you studied will come into play. Without licensure, nurses cannot practice nor put their education into action.
Most online nursing programs allow students to complete core nursing subjects online but will still require in-person clinical experience. This critical component teaches students how to deliver care to real people, and is challenging to replicate through an online-only approach.
Is nursing school online easy?
Once you’ve found an accredited online nursing school, your next question will likely be, “Is nursing school online hard?” The short answer is yes: nursing school is hard, regardless if you take classes in person or from home.
Any nursing program challenges students to think critically and compassionately, balancing technical procedures with an empathetic approach. Learning how to think on your feet while caring for those in distress is not easy, but this fast-paced approach prepares you for the realities of the job ahead.
Pros and cons of online nursing classes
While online nursing school is not necessarily easier, it does offer some benefits that can make managing school more convenient.
Pros of online nursing classes:
Better work/life balance: Learning from home makes it much easier to balance your personal and professional responsibilities. Not having to be in a classroom cuts down on commuting and childcare costs.
More flexibility: Online programs often have more class times than traditional schools, making it easier to fit education into your busy schedule.
Save money: Not going to a physical location means you’ll save money on gas, room and board, and other hidden expenses like eating out or to-go coffees. Plus in many instances you may not need to pay for textbooks when you study online.
Cons of online nursing classes:
Limited personal interaction: If you’re used to a typical school environment where you’re surrounded by your peers, online nursing classes may be a big adjustment, since you’ll only be connecting with others through chat boards and email.
Requires self discipline: Unless your program has advisors that help keep you on track, you’ll need to stay highly motivated and organized in order to stay accountable.
Technology barriers: Online classes require lots of screen time, which may make it harder to focus if you’re not used to sitting in front of a computer for long periods of time. Students must also be comfortable with technology in order to access classes.
When weighing the pros and cons of online nursing classes, the most important factor is finding a program that fits your life and long-term goals. Ask prospective nursing schools about their schedules, support systems, and more to ensure your needs align with their offerings.
Is it good to study nursing online?
Whether it’s good to study nursing online will ultimately depend on your personal preferences and learning style. While some students thrive in a classroom environment, others may feel more comfortable learning from home. Thinking about how you learn best will make a big difference in what method brings you more success.
Not all online nursing classes are taught in the same way. Programs that present lessons synchronously vs. asynchronously offer much different learning experiences.
Synchronous classes: This method teaches material to all students at the same time. These lessons are taught live and require students to log in at set times.
Asynchronous classes: This method teaches material to any student at any time. These lessons are prerecorded and allow students to work through at their own pace.
Synchronous classes are best for students who want added support from professors and classmates, and who don’t want the pressure of understanding complicated material all on their own.
Asynchronous classes are best for students who feel comfortable learning new things on their own and don’t need outside support or accountability to stay on track.
Can I start my nursing degree online?
Yes! You can start your nursing degree online, even if you don’t intend to complete all your education requirements from home. The first step of any nursing degree is to complete a series of nursing prerequisites: these general education classes lay the foundation for your core nursing education.
Nursing prerequisites range in subjects including math, science, history, and composition. Because they are required for your degree, but don’t necessarily pertain to what you’ll be studying long term, they are great candidates for online instruction.
A system called credit by exam that allows you to bypass taking an entire semester-long class while still earning the same prerequisite credits. Students can “test out” by passing a proficiency exam that proves their subject comprehension. This saves a lot of time, helping nursing students get to their core nursing classes sooner.
Earn nursing credits online with Achieve
Achieve Test Prep offers the most flexible, supportive path to an RN. We help you test out of nursing prerequisites so you can make progress in less time with more convenience. While we are not a school, we provide real-world learning solutions that empower working adults pursuing higher education. We’ve helped thousands of busy CNAs and LPNs work towards their RN, and we can do the same for you. Connect with our Advisor team to learn more.