Is an Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) worth your time and money?

The debate about educational paths in nursing has been going on for over 40 years now. The three paths — nursing diploma, associate degree in nursing (ADN) or bachelor’s degree in nursing (BSN) — all meet the requirements to sit for the national nursing licensure examination. But there’s a strong push to make the BSN the entry level for education and many hospitals prefer BSN-prepared nurses. So why would anyone want to get an ADN?

Money Matters

If money were no object… but money is nearly always an object. A BSN is expensive, with tuition alone running anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 more than an Associate Degree in Nursing at a public school, according to the American Association of Community Colleges. Private schools are even more expensive. Unless you’re lucky enough to live in or close to a university town, choosing a BSN means going away to college, with all the added living expenses. Associate Degree in Nursing¬†programs are often found in local community colleges.



Time Counts

A BSN typically takes at least four years, and if you add prerequisites it may take at least one more semester. An ADN usually takes two years, which means graduate nurses from an ADN program will have a two-year jump in the job market. Diploma programs also take two to three years, but one of the disadvantages of a diploma program is that if you want to go on for a degree, you may not be able to transfer credits. Diploma schools are usually hospital-based, and may not be affiliated with a college or university.

Making A Choice

No question, the BSN can open doors if you want to advance your career or move away from the bedside. But sometimes, an ADN is a better choice. If you already have a bachelor’s degree in something else, for example, and are thinking of a career change, an ADN will help get you there quickly. If your financial situation is such that you must count your pennies, the ADN may be a better choice. It’s probably a good idea to choose a program that will allow you to go on for a BSN once time and money permit. If you already have substantial clinical experience — perhaps you’ve been a licensed practical nurse or respiratory therapist for years — the ADN can be a good first step up.

Don’t fret about employment opportunities if you choose an ADN. Although hospitals may be pushing for the BSN, the ongoing shortage of RNs means the US Bureau of Labor Statistics is projecting a growth rate of 16% for RN jobs through 2024. There are also plenty of job opportunities in settings outside the hospital, like community clinics, retirement homes and rehabilitation centers.


Written by 3rd in depended party

2016-23967 Exp. 6/18