Do you want to become a Nurse; faster? Yes, there is a faster option, where you could become a nurse in just 18-30 months. Wondering how – with an Associate Degree in Nursing.

An ADN is an undergraduate Nursing degree that allows you to gain core knowledge and clinical skills in the field. Post-completion of the course all you need to do is, clear the NCLEX-RN exam, which you anyway need to pass even with a BSN degree.

In this article, we will guide you on the admission requirements to an ADN Program, the course curricula, their roles and responsibilities, the pros and cons of this degree option and the career opportunities it offers with their respective average annual salary, and so much more.

So, keep reading –

Associate Degree in Nursing

ADN Course Overview

Credits 70 credits
Program Cost  Between $4,000 and $19,000 
Course Completion Time   2 to 3 years 
License Exam NCLEX-RN

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ADN Admission Requirements

You need to check the below-mentioned requirements before enrolling in an ADN program. Also, do note that each school might have different sets of requirements.

  • A high school diploma or GED
  • Minimum GPA (depends on the school)
  • High school Chemistry and Biology (depends on the school)
  • SAT scores (wherever applicable)
  • A personal essay (wherever applicable)
  • HESI (Health Education Systems Incorporated) Exam (wherever applicable)

What Will You Learn in ADN?

Topics taught in the 2 schools might not be similar but there are some standard topics that every other school teaches.

Course Curricula of the ADN program

  • Microbiology
  • Foundations in Nursing
  • Nursing Processes
  • Nursing Care of Adults
  • Maternal and Child Nursing
  • Behavioral Health
  • English, Chemistry & Maths, and/or other common subjects
  • Communications
  • Clinical hours – must for licensing exam NCLEX-RN

Also Read:

-> What is Nursing?

-> Is Nursing a Good Career?

-> How Long Is Nursing School?

Which Associate Degree is Best for Nursing?


If you have come across the terms like ASN or AAS, and have wondered which one to pursue or which one is the best one; don’t worry, we will clear the confusion for you.

Actually; there are 3 types of associate degrees in nursing. They are known as –

ADN – Associate Degree in Nursing

ASN – Associate of Science in Nursing

AAS – Associate of Applied Science in Nursing

All three programs are almost the same in terms of courses offered, time duration, career options, and salary expectations; but the most popular and common degree sought for a career in nursing is the ADN. But why? Because –

  • It offers better flexibility in credit transfers to a Bachelor’s degree if intended in the future.
  • Also, BSN programs align better with ADN programs.
  • Lastly, keeping this option open is important, because in the future employers might ask you to get a BSN degree.

However, with any of these 3 associate degrees you can sit in the NCLEX-RN exam, so in this sense none is different and you can become a Registered Nurse. So, you could choose any of the degrees depending on your career goal, if you think you would never want to get a BSN, then it’s fine to go for ASN or AAS degrees.

Typically, ASN or AAS degrees are offered by community colleges or nursing-affiliated hospitals.

Other Degrees:

-> Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing

-> Master’s Degree in Nursing

Can I get my Associate Degree in Nursing online?

This is a bit of Yes and No.

Online learning is changing the landscape of education. The flexibility it offers of earning a degree besides working full-time and learning the coursework at your own pace, is amazing. But, with Nursing, it is a different game. 

Yes, there are ADN programs that offer online lectures that you may complete remotely. But, just like the nature of education and job, it requires more clinical training. You need to go through in-person clinical hours to perfect the role.

So, it is advisable to review which online ADN program works best for you. Mind you again, clinical hours are not only important for your license or course completion but are a deciding factor on the quality of professional you become. Try preferring the full-time option.

Know More:

-> 7 Best Online Nursing Degrees for 2023

-> Nursing Degree- Best Schools, Major & Programs

What Can a Nursing Associate Do? Job Responsibilities

Nursing associate’s job responsibilities:

  • You have to record patient information.
  • You’ll take and monitor vital signs.
  • You are responsible for patient assessments.
  • You’ll educate the patients and their families.
  • You’ll perform the diagnostic tests.
  • You’ll perform IVs or intravenous, and draw blood.
  • You should give oral and intravenous medications to the patient.
  • You should collaborate with other healthcare professionals to ensure high-quality patient care.

Pros and Cons of ADN

The Challenges of Nursing Career

Just like any other degree an associate degree in nursing too holds some advantages and disadvantages. It’s time we look into those and we leave it up to you to decide, if you want to move ahead with this degree option or not.

Let’s explore the advantages –

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Pros of an Associate Degree in Nursing

More Affordable

The talking point of the ADN is its affordability. Any 2 years program will cost less than that 4 years program. So, an associate degree in nursing is affordable compared to a BSN or other degrees in nursing.  

Faster Route To Workforce 

The ADN program takes about 2 years to complete, while some might take even more up to 3 years depending on their situation. Thus, this program offers a faster route to becoming a registered nurse, if you clear NCLEX-RN in your initial attempts. Post acquiring a license you can enter the workforce and start earning sooner than the ones enrolled in BSN programs.  

Work Environment

Post licensure you become eligible for employment in a variety of settings like – hospitals, home healthcare services, outpatient clinics, medical offices, schools, nursing care facilities, or even in the military.


Whether you are an ADN or BSN degree holder, you will become an RN post-licensure. The salary of an RN is the same for both degree holders. You may earn as much as $77,600 per year or $37.31 per hour, as per BLS.

Cons of an Associate Degree in Nursing

Let’s explore the disadvantages –

Career Advancement

Just like any associate degree program, an ADN also prepares you for entry-level nursing positions. You’ll have fewer opportunities for career advancement than RNs with BSN degrees.

The careers of most ADN nurses are limited to patient care, without any option for advancement into some higher-paying advanced or administrative roles.

Limited Job Opportunities

With an ADN you might get limited opportunities in the desired places of work, say a hospital. You will be easily out-competed by a BSN degree holder. Also, some states like New York have made it mandatory for its nurses to acquire a Bachelor.

Moreover, some healthcare facilities require or seek BSN-RNs for open positions, leaving ADN graduates with fewer job opportunities.

Less Comprehensive Education

It is acceptable that they can’t teach you everything in just 2 years. Associate degrees primarily focus on the technical aspects of nursing, and may not provide the depth of education. They won’t teach you the skills and knowledge necessary to advance to higher-level positions, in areas such as research and public health, that are only provided by the BSN programs.

Career Opportunities with an ADN with Salary

There are multiple career opportunities but it is mandatory to clear the NCLEX-RN exam and acquire the state license. Post that you are open to careers like –

Registered Nurse

Average Annual Salary – $77,600

Outpatient/Personal Care Nurse

Average Annual Salary – $97,200

Physician’s Office Nurse

Average Annual Salary – $72,320

Nursing Care Facility Nurse

Average Annual Salary – $69,950

Public Health Nurse

Average Annual Salary – $68,660

Labor and Delivery Nurse

Average Annual Salary – $68,720

Rehabilitation Nurse

Average Annual Salary – $86,876


Is Nursing a Good Career

What Percentage of the RNs Holds an ADN Degree?

In the United States of America, there exists 29.90% of RNs with an ADN degree.

What is starting salary of a New RN Graduated with ADN?

The moment you step out hunting jobs you can expect starting salary of approx. $56,180 per year.

Is an ADN the same as an RN?

You need an ADN to become an RN. Post-completion of your degree in nursing, associate or bachelor, you become eligible to apply for licensure, and post passing the NCLEX-RN exam you become an RN.

Is An Associate in Nursing Worth It?

Yes, it is worth it. You can become an RN in a faster time with low costs and join the workforce quickly. Also, in the future, if the situation demands you to advance your education and career, you can take up BSN by transferring the credits with no additional coursework.

Do BSN and ADN students take the same NCLEX-RN exam?

Yes. The NCLEX-RN exam is the same for both the BSN and ADN degree holders.

Is an ADN Right for Me?

Check what you want. If you want to just become an RN and confine yourself to patient care, getting an ADN is perfect for you. But if you intend for higher-level positions you might need a Bachelors’s like a BSN.

An ADN will make you eligible to become an RN in a faster time, affordable cost and you can start earning quickly, like in 18-30 months. So, decide what you want – higher level work, or patient care with a quick start. 

You May Also Like:

-> Nursing Degree Levels

-> Nursing Degree Online

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About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.