Ready to launch your nursing career? NurseZone can help, with information on nursing schools and nursing programs throughout the country. Regardless of the nursing degree or credential you seek, you'll find easy access to the best nursing programs for prospective student nurses as well as nurses seeking advanced nursing degrees or advanced practice certification.

From nursing schools offering traditional classroom-based instruction to online nursing programs, you'll find a wide variety of options. You can also find information on accelerated registered nursing programs and national accrediting bodies like CCNE and NLNAC. Start here to find the nursing program and school that fit your lifestyle and your ultimate career goals.

Choose your Educational Path

Associate's degree

When you consider what your educational path toward becoming a nurse should be, you should base your decision on several factors. Your financial situation, previous education, age, relocation plans and other factors all come into play.

Associate's degree

For many students, the AD or ADN (associate's degree or two-year community college program) is the best path to take, especially if cost and time are factors.

After graduating with your ADN, you will be ready for nursing positions in hospitals and other inpatient and outpatient facilities. This program is popular for many seeking a second career. It is a shorter program and is not as expensive as some of the baccalaureate programs available. The emphasis is on basic nursing skills and applying them to your patients.

One disadvantage of this path is that your career choices and salary levels will be more limited: more employers are now seeking nurses with BSN (bachelor's of science in nursing) degrees for many levels or positions in their facilities. Also, some states, like North Dakota, for example, require a baccalaureate degree to take the NCLEX exam.

After weighing the options, you may decide that an associate's program is the best choice for you right now. You always have the option of furthering your degree later. If you decide to do that, you can try to find an employer that offers tuition reimbursement or obtain financial aid through your school, student association, local community or other government program. 

Bachelor's degree
Bachelor's degree

For many high school graduates who were already planning for a four-year degree, a bachelor's program can be a very good idea. Many employers also favor nursing applications with a BSN degree.

The advantage of completing a baccalaureate degree is in the more extensive training that prepares you for advancement opportunities. A BSN will qualify you for positions in inpatient and community settings and will help you on the road to an advanced degree, if you choose to pursue one. Some colleges are now offering accelerated programs.


Diploma (Three-year hospital-based) program

Although diploma programs are not as common as they once were, they do still exist, often at hospitals in the Eastern United States. Diploma programs are usually three-year programs based in hospitals and held in conjunction with local community colleges. Bridgeport Hospital School of Nursing in Connecticut is one hospital that offers a diploma program. The hospital has also arranged with a local community college to help its students obtain an associate's degree by completing some other coursework with the college.

A diploma program requires more clinical work than most degree programs, which can ease the adjustment into a permanent hospital job for newly-licensed nurses. However, if you finish a diploma program and later return to school for your bachelor's degree, you'll find that you have a lot of credits left to complete.

Other options

There are schools and colleges in the United States with programs specifically designed to put you to work as a nurse sooner than most traditional programs. These college programs lead to the Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN) or Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) designation. Visit the National League for Nursing for more information on these programs.

RN-to-BSN program

If you are a registered nurse (RN) with a diploma or associate's degree, you may want to consider enrolling in a BSN program, especially if you are interested in furthering your nursing career. Universities offer these programs through traditional learning methods at the university setting and many are now offering online BSN programs. Visit Peterson's website, where you can log in and search for RN-to-BSN programs.

Select a School

Traditional schools

Once you decide on your program and where you'd like to work after graduation, it will be much easier for you to decide on a school. There are numerous schools to choose from throughout the United States-some public and others private. Finances, family life, work situations and other factors come into play when making your decision.

An important tip: make sure the nursing school program you choose is accredited by either the National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission (NLNAC) or the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE). Accreditation by the NLNAC ensures that the program you select meets the requirements set by nursing leaders and professionals to adequately prepare you to practice as a nurse (or registered nurse). Likewise, the CCNE ensures the quality and integrity of nursing education programs to effectively turn out qualified nurses. In addition, the CCNE is officially recognized by the United States Secretary of Education as a national accreditation agency that serves the public interest by identifying programs that engage in effective educational practices.

Non traditional learning paths
Online programs

Today, increasingly more working professionals are using online programs to complete their educational goals. Usually, entry level nursing students will have a hard time completing a degree program online because of the need for clinical experience. Registered nurses usually find the most advantage in these types of programs. Here are a few online nursing programs to check out: University of Phoenix, Sacred Heart University, Regis University and Johns Hopkins University. Visit Peterson's or Top Online Colleges for more online nursing school programs available.

Distance/blended learning

Distance education and blended learning are non traditional educational options for today's students. Sometimes distance learning involves online courses, but it can also involve books, CD-ROMs, audio and video instruction obtained via U.S. mail or downloaded from the computer. Blended learning is a format that allows the student to access all means available for learning, removing any barrier to securing his or her educational goals. Visit these nursing schools for a sample of distance education programs available: Jacksonville University, Clarkson College, Syracuse University, Duke University, Indiana State University and Medical College of Georgia.

Complete listing of schools

Check out these sites for a comprehensive listing of nursing schools and programs throughout the United States:

Directory of Schools (Online Programs)
The College Network Nursing Degrees Online

Research nursing schools and nursing programs before you make a decision. NurseZone provides information on many nursing programs throughout the country.