Top Five Online Nursing Education Degree Programs

five nursing professionals

By Laura Thramer

Online nursing education allows busy individuals, like yourself, the opportunity to advance your career, obtain a desired degree, or start a new career without putting your life on hold to spend hours in a classroom.

For those of you already enjoying a rewarding career in nursing or for those of you looking to join this highly demanding profession, you should be aware of the online nursing education opportunities for career advancement and diversity.

The top five degrees you can earn through online nursing education–one of which was voted the fourth best profession in America–are degrees that can help you achieve career goals that might include higher compensation and an even higher level of job satisfaction.

Top Five Online Nursing Education Degrees

5. Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN): If you are new to nursing or if you are a registered nurse looking to diversify, pursuing your BSN through online nursing education can help you break into a new profession or open doors to nursing specialties that require a BSN. According to 53-year old Kim McAllister, who after 31 years as a registered nurse (RN) decided to pursue her BSN, "I personally, have a deeper knowledge of my profession than I had before," she observed. "I have a better understanding of why I do what I do as an RN and an increased ability to think critically about patient care and what I, as an RN, can provide."

4. Nurse Educator: Combining a passion for teaching and a passion for their profession, online nursing education allows experienced RNs to pursue their Master's in Nursing (MSN) with an emphasis in Nursing Education, without putting their current careers on hold. Becoming a Nurse Educator means you can provide future nurses with a quality education, which ensures that future patients receive superior attention and care. Additionally, because of the ongoing demand for nurses and the knowledge and experience required of MSN graduates, Nurse Educators enjoy tremendous job security and compensation.

3. Legal Nursing: If you are looking to diversify an already fulfilling career as an RN, consider exploring the online nursing education option of obtaining your Legal Nursing Certificate. Legal nurses act as consultants, offering valuable insight and analysis on medical-related issues relevant to legal cases and claims. Legal nurses work with lawyers, insurance companies, government offices and hospital risk management departments as witnesses, strategists and researchers. Many legal nurses open independent consulting firms while other legal nurses continue to work full time, but enjoy the added income that comes with contracting out their services and expertise.

2. Forensic Nursing: Popular shows, like "CSI" and "Law and Order," have helped make forensic science a rapidly developing and intriguing area of study. A relatively new medical practice, forensic nursing combines the health care profession with the criminal justice system. Forensic nurses are specially trained to treat victims of violent assault to minimize psychological trauma while collecting critical evidence to ensure effective investigations. If you are interested in forensic nursing, online nursing education offers several forensic nursing certificate programs that will help you learn, not only how to treat victims of assault, but also how to gather evidence, aid in investigations, and work closely with other forensic professionals.

1. Nurse Practitioner: Unlike RNs, nurse practitioners can diagnose patients, write prescriptions, and assume responsibilities that were once reserved only for physicians. Online nursing education offers registered nurses the opportunity to advance their careers and increase their compensation by offering specialized online NP programs in specialties like psychiatrics, women's health and pediatrics.

Benefits of Online Education

Online nursing education makes pursuing any of these top five online nursing degrees more accessible and obtainable than traditional campus education. Here are some of the benefits to consider when thinking about choosing an online nursing education program over a campus program:

  • Freedom to choose when and where you learn and study
  • Save money by working while incorporating online classes into your current schedule
  • Learn at your own pace and style, in an online environment

Characteristics of Successful Online Students

Success in any educational environment, whether online or in a classroom, is going to depend upon the student. According to online BSN student and registered RN, Pat Newberry, "Online programs are not for everybody. It takes some personal discipline to do things at home. But it works very well for me, and I'm doing well in it." As an online nursing education student, you need to be aware of the characteristics that will help make you successful:

  • Strong time-management skills
  • Self-motivated
  • Willingness to take responsibility and initiative for your education

The Truth about Online Education

Despite common misconceptions, online nursing education classes are not easier than traditional campus programs. You will receive a quality education regardless of how or where you earn your degree. Online nursing students must fulfill the same lab requirements as nursing students on college campuses. As an online student your lab time will be scheduled by your school at a location close to your home. Finally, be aware that degrees earned online, as long as they are through an accredited school, are as well-respected as those earned in a traditional classroom environment.