8 Best ADN Programs in Minnesota in 2024

Unlock your potential in Minnesota's thriving healthcare sector with our carefully curated list of top ADN programs, providing a solid foundation for a successful career as a registered nurse. Programs


Becoming a registered nurse (RN) in Minnesota involves exploring several educational pathways. Among them, the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) is one of the fastest and most popular options.

Considering this, we've provided everything you need to know to apply for an ADN in Minnesota, along with salary expectations after graduation and recommendations for the best programs in the state.

Best ADN Programs in Minnesota

The following schools have been selected based on allnurses' methodology of surveying our readers to understand what they value most while selecting schools with the addition of NCLEX pass rates, graduation rates, student-faculty ratio, price, mode, duration, and admission rate of hundreds of the most prominent nursing schools in the United States.

1. North Hennepin Community College

North Hennepin Community College, located in Brooklyn Park, offers an ADN program with an estimated annual tuition of $10,367. The program demonstrates an 87% NCLEX pass rate and holds ACEN accreditation, providing students with a solid foundation for their nursing careers.

2. South Central College

South Central College in North Mankato provides an ADN program with an estimated annual tuition of $10,438. With ACEN accreditation and a 77% NCLEX pass rate, the program equips students with the necessary skills and knowledge to succeed in nursing.

3. Northland Community and Technical College

At Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls, students can pursue an ADN program with an estimated annual tuition of $12,493. The program maintains an 87% NCLEX pass rate and holds ACEN accreditation, ensuring students receive a nursing education that prepares them for future careers as registered nurses.

4. Ridgewater College 

Ridgewater College in Willmar presents an ADN program with an estimated annual tuition of $11,477. The program holds ACEN accreditation and demonstrates an 81% NCLEX pass rate, providing students with dependable nursing education and preparing them for success in their future nursing careers.

5. Minnesota North College 

Minnesota North College, located in Hibbing, features an ADN program with an estimated annual tuition of $10,069. The program is actively pursuing NLN CNEA accreditation and currently showcases an 88% NCLEX pass rate, reflecting its dedication to offering respectable nursing education and preparing students for successful careers.

Score School Program City Estimated
NCLEX Pass Rates
(Avg. 2018-2022)
98.13 North Hennepin Community College ADN Brooklyn Park $10,367 87% Yes
92.92 South Central College ADN North Mankato $10,438 77% Yes
91.92 Northland Community and Technical College ADN Thief River Falls $12,493 87% Yes
91.89 Ridgewater College ADN Willmar $11,477 81% Yes
89.50 Minnesota North College ADN Hibbing $10,069 88% No
88.83 Minnesota State Community and
Technical College
ADN Fergus Falls $10,470 89% No
87.26 Pine Technical & Community College ADN Pine City $11,006 89% No
81.02 Central Lakes College-Brainerd ADN Brainerd $12,802 87% No

What Is an ADN?

An ADN is an entry-level degree that provides students with the necessary knowledge and skills to become RNs. Upon completing an ADN program, students can sit for the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN) to become licensed.

ADN Coursework

The robust curriculum, including a blend of classwork and hands-on coursework, means students will be well prepared to take the NCLEX-RN exam and begin in a clinical nurse role upon graduation. Since ADN students work towards an associate of applied science, coursework in general education and nursing is required. Standard classes include:

  • Fundamentals of Nursing
  • Nursing care of adults
  • Community Health Nursing
  • Behavioral Health
  • Microbiology
  • Humanities
  • Psychology
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Chemistry

Can ADNs Be Taken Entirely Online?

Acquiring nursing skills requires hands-on learning and real-life practice, which can't be fully replicated in an entirely online environment for an initial nursing degree. Because of this, ADN programs aren't entirely online, as in-person skills training and direct patient care experiences in healthcare facilities are needed. However, many ADN programs offer online coursework options, providing a hybrid environment for working students or those requiring more flexible schedules.

Where Do ADN-Prepared Nurses Work?

Nurses with an ADN have many career options and opportunities and can practice in most care settings, including:

  • Hospitals
  • Nursing Homes
  • Home Care Agencies
  • Physician Office
  • Educational Services
  • Government Agencies
  • Schools
  • Community Centers
  • Hospices
  • Dialysis Centers
  • Telephonic and Virtual Care Settings

ADN Prerequisites and Requirements

Acceptance to an ADN program comes with several prerequisites and requirements, including:

  • Proof of Prior Education: Verification of high school diploma or GED.
  • Prerequisite studies: Research your program for the exact courses needed.
  • Pre-Entrance Exam: Tests like the TEAS or HESI.
  • CPR Certification: Varying depending on the program.
  • Criminal Background Check: To ensure patient safety.

ADN Program Cost in Minnesota

The costs involved in obtaining an Associate Degree in Nursing in Minnesota are influenced by multiple factors. Here are essential financial considerations when planning your nursing education budget:

  • Tuition: There is significant variation in tuition fees among public and private institutions in Minnesota, and between resident and non-resident students. Typically, private institutions and out-of-state tuition rates are higher.
  • Supplies: Costs in this category can include textbooks, medical supplies, and other necessary educational materials. These costs may range from several hundred to a few thousand dollars.
  • Technology Fees: Students in hybrid or online ADN programs might face additional costs for technology, software, or digital learning tools.
  • Lab & Clinical Fees: Some courses might involve fees for specific materials or equipment needed for hands-on training.
  • Miscellaneous Fees: Commonly overlooked, these fees may include application and graduation fees, along with other administrative expenses vital to your education.
  • Living Expenses: The cost of living—which includes food, housing, utilities, and personal expenses—is especially relevant for students planning to study full-time without employment or those considering relocating for their studies.

Gaining a thorough understanding of the costs associated with an ADN program in Minnesota is crucial for effective financial management and focusing on your educational goals. Exploring the Most Affordable ADN Programs available in 2024 can further assist in managing your educational finances.

ADN Salary Expectations in Minnesota

In the fluctuating environment of nursing salaries, the difference in earnings between ADN-prepared and BSN-prepared registered nurses is significant. Although BSN RNs typically have higher incomes, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not specify salary variations based on these qualifications.

RNs nationally earn:

  • Mean Hourly Wage: $45.42
  • Mean Annual Wage: $94,480.00

According to the BLS, registered nurses in Minnesota earned salaries right around the national average in 2023. With 66,700 RNs employed, Arkansas ranks in the 50-75th percentile nationally for RN employment.

 RNs in Minnesota earn:

  • Mean Hourly Wage: $45.59
  • Mean Annual Wage: $94,830.00

The highest paying states for RN's are:

  • California: $137,690.00
  • Hawaii: $119,710.00
  • Massachusetts: $113,440.00
  • Oregon: $111,030.00
  • Alaska: $109,210.00

While the BLS does not provide data to compare ADN RN to BSN RN salary, ZipRecrutier's reports identify a difference in salary. 

BSN RNs in Minnesota earn an average wage of:

  • Hourly Wage: $41.00
  • Annual Wage: $85,880.00

ADN RNs in Minnesota earn an average wage of:

  • Hourly Wage: $35.00
  • Annual Wage: $72,227.00

Cities with the highest ADN RN salary in Minnesota are: 

  • Plymouth: $86,631.00
  • Woodbury: $84,715.00
  • St. Cloud: $82,018.00
  • Maple Grove: $80,466.00
  • Brooklyn Park: $79,607.00

Is Pursing an ADN in Minnesota Worth It?

An Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) offers a swift and cost-effective pathway into the nursing profession, aligning well with the ongoing demand for healthcare professionals in Minnesota. Like any significant decision, enrolling in an ADN program comes with both benefits and challenges.

Pros of ADN Programs in MN

  1. Quick Entry to the Workforce: ADN programs usually take two years to complete, allowing graduates to enter the nursing field faster than those who undertake a four-year BSN.
  2. Cost-Effectiveness: ADN programs are generally more affordable than BSN programs, particularly those offered at community colleges, which are noted for their lower tuition rates.
  3. Broad Accessibility: Numerous community colleges and technical schools across Minnesota offer ADN programs, providing education to a diverse student body.
  4. Thorough NCLEX-RN Exam Preparation: These programs thoroughly prepare students for the NCLEX-RN, the mandatory licensure exam for nurses.
  5. Flexible Scheduling: ADN programs often provide flexible scheduling options, such as evening and weekend classes, to accommodate students with personal or professional commitments.

Cons of ADN Programs in MN

  1. Career Advancement Limits: Some employers, especially in specialized or leadership roles, may require a BSN, which can limit career progression for ADN graduates until they further their education.
  2. Competitive Disadvantages: In a job market that increasingly values BSN-prepared nurses, those with an ADN may face disadvantages, particularly in healthcare settings with stringent educational standards.
  3. Future Educational Needs: With the nursing field trending towards a BSN requirement for RNs, ADN graduates should consider pursuing BSN bridge programs to stay competitive and meet evolving employer expectations. According to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN), nearly 28% of employers require a bachelor's degree, with 72% strongly preferring baccalaureate-prepared nurses.
  4. Limited Opportunities in Specialized Fields: Advanced roles in research, public health, or management are often more accessible to those with a BSN or higher qualifications.
  5. Continued Education Requirements: While an ADN qualifies you to work as an RN, advancing into specialized or administrative roles typically necessitates additional education, such as a BSN or an MSN.

Choosing an ADN in Misnnesota provides significant advantages and lays a robust foundation for a nursing career. However, it's crucial to weigh your long-term career goals and educational needs when making this decision.

How to Choose a Nursing School

Reasons for choosing a nursing school will vary per student and their specific needs. Some students value the cost of education, while others may place greater emphasis on NCLEX pass rates, academic reputation, or other factors.

Although it will vary by individual, a survey by allnurses revealed the top 11 reasons nursing students chose their programs:

  1. Cost
  2. High NCLEX Pass Rate
  3. Location
  4. Academic Reputation
  5. Availability of Financial Aid and Scholarships
  6. Length of Time to Obtain Degree
  7. Flexibility of Schedule
  8. Curriculum
  9. Campus and Surroundings
  10. Nursing Clinicals Location
  11. Availability of Online Courses

Ultimately, prospective students should assess their needs and pick schools that best fit them.

Importance of ADN Program Accreditation in Minnesota

Accreditation is a pivotal consideration when selecting an ADN program in Minnesota, especially for those planning their career and educational paths. Here's why accreditation is indispensable:

  • Educational Quality: Accredited ADN programs in Minnesota adhere to stringent standards in curriculum development, faculty qualifications, resource allocation, and clinical training, ensuring that the education provided meets or exceeds national benchmarks.
  • NCLEX-RN Exam Preparation: Enrollment in an accredited program significantly enhances your preparation for the NCLEX-RN exam, improving your chances of success on the first attempt.
  • Licensing Flexibility: While a state-approved program allows you to practice within Minnesota, lacking accreditation may hinder your ability to secure licensure in other states without undergoing additional accredited education.
  • Employment Prospects: Employers often prefer graduates from accredited programs, as their education aligns with national standards, aiding in job placement and facilitating smoother career transitions.
  • Credit Transferability: Credits from an accredited program are more likely to be accepted by other educational institutions, crucial for those aiming to further their education with additional degrees such as a BSN, MSN, or DNP.
  • Professional Reputation: A degree from an accredited program boosts your professional standing by aligning your education with recognized standards and promoting the advancement of nursing practices.
  • Access to Financial Aid: Accreditation is essential for eligibility for federal financial aid, a critical resource for many students.

Prospective Minnesota nursing students are encouraged to choose programs accredited by esteemed organizations such as the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) or the National League for Nursing's Commission for Nursing Education Accreditation (NLN CNEA). While the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE) is highly respected, it focuses primarily on BSN and higher degree accreditations and does not accredit ADN programs.

FAQ and Additional Readings

Q: How do I transfer my nursing license to Minnesota?

Minnesota is not part of the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), so you'll be required to apply for licensure with the Minnesota Board of Nursing.

Q: Are there specialization programs for nurses in Minnesota?

Many schools in Minnesota offer advanced nursing degrees, allowing RNs to specialize in pediatric, geriatric, family nurse practitioner, acute care, and more.

Q: Is it better to have an ADN or a BSN?

While obtaining an RN license after completing an ADN is possible, the opportunities after graduation and beyond are more significant with a BSN degree. BSNs focus more on research, leadership skills, and evidence-based practice, whereas an ADN primarily focuses on clinical skills.

Additionally, many healthcare institutions now require BSN-prepared RNs to fulfill various accreditation and Joint Commission requirements and achieve Magnet status's prestige.

Edited by Erin Lee

Editorial Team / Admin

Erin Lee has 12 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Critical Care, Procedural, Care Coordination, LNC.

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