How to Choose a Nursing Program
When you’re looking at online schools for nursing, you need to understand accreditation. This will become very important if you ever want to acquire an advanced practice RN degree (eg. Become a CRNA).
In fact, this page is intended for the RN who wants to advance to the Masters or Doctorate degree level.
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There are two major types of accreditation: Regional and National.
There are six regional accrediting associations in the United States, governing over the six regions of the country. Regional accreditation is very broad, and generally offers accreditation to colleges and universities that offer a well rounded education.
National accreditation, on the other hand, is generally given to schools that offer a specialized or technically oriented curriculum. In nursing, this means that one nursing program can be accurately compared to another nursing program, rather than comparing a nursing program with a liberal arts program.
In most other disciplines, regional accreditation is the preferred type (state colleges and universities are all regionally accredited), and credits earned from a regionally accredited institution are easily transferred to any other school, whereas credits earned from a nationally accredited college or university are not always transferable to a regionally accredited school.
In the nursing community, however, nationally accreditation is preferred, by either the NLNAC (National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission) or by the CCNE (Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education). Some CRNA schools, for instance, will ONLY accept students who earned their bachelor’s degree from a CCNE or NLNAC accredited school (eliminating graduates from regional schools from even applying).
If you already have a nursing degree from a regionally accredited nursing program, don’t lose heart. Most advanced practice programs that will accept you.
National Accreditation: NLNAC vs. CCNE
With that established, it becomes a decision of whether or not to attend a school accredited by NLNAC or CCNE. Keep in mind that either will allow you entrance into a BSN, MSN or DNP program. Both are highly respected in the nursing community.
My personal opinion is that NLNAC is a better accreditation, because it supports a greater diversity of institutional missions. The CCNE, on the other hand, has a strong political agenda to eliminate the ADN (associates) degree from the RN profession. Practically, I wouldn’t let this issue weigh too heavily on my decision of where to get my nursing degree.
Online Schools for Nursing
Many people wonder if online schools for nursing are legitimate, and if an online nursing degree is accepted among the medical community.
To be fair, they are legitimate, and many are accredited through either the CCNE or NLNAC, making them technically good choices. Just keep in mind that though they offer a decent degree, some employers or masters/doctorate level nursing programs do not look highly upon for-profit schools.
Your safest bet is to obtain an online nursing degree through a brick and mortar school that offers an online nursing degree.
When speaking to admissions committees about your nursing degree, you’ll find that while some don’t look highly upon a purely online degree, others will recognize the school’s esteemed accreditation, and see that your degree is valid.
RN to BSN online
Since most of the visitors to my site have already obtained their RN license, I will give you several sites that I would use if I were choosing an RN to BSN online program.
Search by state to find NLNAC accredited nursing programs: nlnac.org
Search by state to find CCNE accredited nursing programs: aacn.nche.edu
Find info about online schools for nursing, including tuition cost and student reviews: GuideToOnlineSchools.com
Another helpful site that basically does the same thing is: OnlineDegreeReviews.org
For general information about online schools for nursing, visit: AllNursingSchools.com
Here’s a helpful AllNurses.com thread about RN to BSN online programs. Just beware that the tread is LONG! AllNurses.com
*This page was updated August 19, 2012*