Are you ready to fulfill your dream of working as a registered nurse (RN) in healthcare? The associate degree in nursing (ADN) is the quickest educational path to achieving the RN license and doesn't need to be expensive.
For those seeking a quality education with a budget, we've compiled the 10 cheapest ADNs available in 2023. We've also provided information on the coursework, prerequisites, requirements, and salary expectations of an ADN.
What Is an ADN?
An ADN is a two-year nursing degree program. Some students enter an ADN to advance their careers after completing a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) program, often called the LPN-RN bridge. Other students start an ADN directly out of high school.
Students can achieve an ADN degree through full-time or part-time studies and will start their higher education with courses like anatomy and chemistry. After covering the general education courses, students experience classroom and hands-on experience in more specific nursing courses.
When from an accredited college or university, this degree will fulfill the requirements needed to sit for the NCLEX-RN licensure exam. After completing an ADN program, nurses receive training to work at entry-level positions in various settings:
- Medical Office
- Long-term Care Facility
- Medical Office/Clinic
- Home Care/Hospice
- School Nurse
- Public Health
ADN Program Prerequisites and Requirements
Before applying to an ADN program, you must have a high school diploma or GED and obtain transcripts from previous college coursework. Most programs require a minimum GPA, varying depending on the school. Other prerequisites for starting an ADN program include an entrance exam, basic life support (BLS) certification, criminal background check, drug screening, and a health exam, including immunizations.
Most ADN students must complete a core group of classes before progressing to nursing courses. Some schools combine these general courses within the nursing program. They include the following:
- Anatomy and Physiology
- Nursing Principles
After the general courses, nursing students will move to more specific nursing classes. These courses include classroom and clinical experiences in areas like the following:
- Medical-Surgical Nursing
- Pediatric Nursing
- Maternal Nursing
- Nursing Care of the Older Adult
- Critical Care Nursing
Often, ADN-prepared nurses will further their education by returning to school to complete 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 2023
Tuition costs vary significantly among colleges and universities, with in-state university costs being lower than out-of-state tuition. Some schools charge per semester and others per credit hour, and most ADN programs have financial aid and scholarship options to assist with the fees.
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 rates of hundreds of the most prominent nursing schools in the United States.
With two campuses in New York, Cayuga Community College's in-person ADN program offers completion in four semesters. This program requires a passing grade of 65% on the Test of Essential Academic Skills (TEAS). The Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing (ACEN) has accredited this nursing program.
- Price: In-state tuition is $2,496, out-of-state is $4,992
- Length: 24 months
This ADN program has multiple start dates for flexible scheduling. Students can complete general classes online or in person. After graduating with the ADN, students can then further their education in the RN-BSN program. Accreditation is through the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE).
- Price: $257 per credit hour
- Length: 92 credit hours
Located at the Charleston and Blakely campuses in West Virginia, this ADN program has a hybrid option for online courses and in-class learning. Students need a passing grade of 60% on the TEAS exam. The program holds accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
- Price: $380 per credit hour
- Length: 61 credit hours; 16 months
With 19 different campuses in five states, there are many options on where to complete the Rasmussen University ADN program. This hybrid program has multiple start dates every year. Unlike most colleges or universities, this program is dual-accredited with the HLC and ACEN.
- Price: $409 per credit hour
- Length: 102 credit hours; 18 months
The Galen College of Nursing is available on 19 different campuses across nine states. This hybrid of online learning and classroom learning offers no prerequisites needed, as the nursing curriculum includes all general classes. Accreditation for this program is by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
- Price: $435 per credit hour
- Length: 24 months
Located in the Bay Area in southern California, Chabot College's ADN program enrolls only 40 applicants yearly with a fall start date. Chabot College has reported a 100% NCLEX pass rate for the past seven years. The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) accredited the program.
- Price: $7,000 per semester
- Length: 24 months
Students can complete this fully online learning nursing program in New York in 24 months. Some previous college coursework may transfer, lowering the program's total cost. They require a passing score of 58.7% on the TEAS exam. Accreditation is by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
- Price: $550 per credit hour
- Length: 66 credit hours; 24 months
This very competitive ADN program is in Newark, New Jersey. Graduating from Essex County College offers credit transfers to a bachelor's degree program at local universities. The ACEN has accredited this program.
- Price: $9,141 per semester
- Length: 89 credit hours; 16 months
ECPI University's ADN program offers various campuses located across four states. Credit hours range from 71-72 credits students complete for graduation, depending on the state. Students need a passing score of 60% on the TEAS exam before admission to the nursing program. Accreditation is by the ACEN.
- Price: $9,900 per semester
- Length: 71-72 credit hours; 20 months
Located in the heart of Kentucky, students can complete Midway University's ADN program offers on-campus day and evening classes. Students can also further their nursing studies with Midway's RN to BSN program. The ACEN has accredited this program.
- Price: $849.33 per credit hour
- Length: 64 credit hours; 18 months
Salary Expectations with an ADN in 2023
RNs are in high demand in many healthcare settings, and these job opportunities will continue to rise. Due to aging nurses retiring, nursing school enrollment numbers declining, and a growing aging population, the nursing shortage has left many RN job openings needing to be filled. This growth in job openings makes for a competitive market for increasing salaries.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the mean annual wage for an RN is $89,010. The top-paying states were California, Hawai'I, Oregon, Massachusetts, and Alaska, with yearly salaries ranging from $103,310 to $133,304. It is important to note that salaries will vary significantly depending on geographic location, workplace, urban vs. rural setting, and years of experience. While some employers offer more pay for having a BSN degree, many will provide excellent tuition reimbursement to help fund your advanced degree.
FAQs and Additional Readings
Q: What if I can't afford to get my ADN degree?
A: Most students need assistance with the cost of tuition. Financial aid can come from scholarships, grants, and loans. Meet with the financial advisor at the college or university you have been accepted to and discuss options.
Q: Can I work if I am in nursing school?
A: Nursing school can be challenging with classroom, laboratory, and clinical work. Many nursing students do work while in school. Some students even start jobs in the hospital as nursing assistants to gain healthcare experience while in school.
Q: What if I don't want to work in a hospital as a nurse?
A: Hospitals are only one area where nurses work. There are many other opportunities for nurses in healthcare outside of a hospital. Your clinicals in nursing school will be in areas other than the hospital, such as health departments, schools, and extended care facilities, giving you the experience to help find your passion.
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